We republish here an article by Gerry Ruddy, originally published in the The Red Plough (March 2011), which draws some important lessons from the mass movements in North Africa and the Middle East and their relevance to the struggle for a united Ireland.

Friday's election saw Labour gain the most votes and seats in its history. But Fine Gael came out as the largest party. Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny have established negotiating teams to prepare the way for a coalition government. While Labour's leaders have given the negotiations the go ahead any final decision must be made by the party conference which meets on Sunday. Fightback is wholly opposed to such a deal.

While the political arithmetic of the next Dáil won’t be clear until after February the 25th, the battle lines in the state have been drawn for some time. The Irish bourgeois are well aware that Fianna Fáil are a dead duck. Now Enda Kenny has decided to concentrate his fire on the Labour Party. There is one reason alone for this. The bourgeois want full control of the levers of power and to all intents and purposes they want a continuation of Cowen and Lenihan’s austerity programme, regardless of whoever leads the government.

The government had decided as far back  as December last year, when their latest drastic budget cuts were presented and passed, to turn student nurses into ‘free labour’, or, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has rightly called it, ‘slave labour’.

As the General Election approaches, the Labour Party leadership continues getting rid of the most radical aspects of its election programme. And, Labour Party members only get to know about these changes through the media.

Ireland may go to the polls on March 11th, but the huge implosion in the Fianna Fáil Party might yet bring that date forward. The FF and Green Party coalition government has eventually reached the end of the line, the Greens have left the government and will “support the finance bill from the opposition benches” Three years of austerity measures and a protracted period of political and financial uncertainty have completely transformed the political landscape in the state and affected the consciousness of all classes within society also.

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