Ireland’s elections punished the coalition  government, disappointed the “official opposition” and allowed Sinn Féin the main Irish Republican Party to make gains. These reflect the failure of the Labour leaders to fight for an alternative and their collaboration with Fine Gael in delivering the austerity on behalf of the Troika.

Sixteen years after the Good Friday agreement and ever so conveniently, just after the European Elections, the Stormont Assembly will shortly face a show down on the question of Welfare Reform, which is likely to illustrate just how toothless and lame the Assembly really is. But most importantly it will demonstrate the relationship between the DUP, Sinn Féin and the Westminster Government.

Alan Shatter’s resignations from the posts of Minster of Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence may have apparently “astonished” the Dáil as the Irish Times reported a few days ago. But it is unlikely that many Dublin workers would have been surprised at the allegations made by the Garda whistleblowers regarding corruption over the cancellation of penalty points. Now, however, the proverbial pigeons have come home to the roost and the Garda Commissioner has resigned together with Shatter himself.

This Easter, as every year, socialists and Republicans across Ireland will commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. Yet with only 2 years to go until the centenary, and with rumours that Her Majesty will attend commemorations in 2016 the aim of the Workers’ Republic that James Connolly, commander of the Irish Citizens’ Army and military leader of the rising in 1916 fought for, appears as far off as ever. Six years into possibly the greatest economic crisis since Ireland was partitioned in 1921 the left, if anything, has gone backwards. This reflects a bending to opportunism, short-termism and a lack of a far-sighted Marxist perspective within Labour or any of the small forces to their left.

American diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan , were invited to Belfast by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to seek an agreement over the issues of parades, flags and the legacy of the past. After a month long marathon of talks and discussions and brinksmanship over the last few days of December  Haass produced a seventh version of the draft agreement for the five largest parties to sign up to. Both the Unionist Parties rejected the proposals, while the SDLP and Sinn Féin accepted them.  Since then the SF Ard Comhairle has voted to accept the proposals. The position of the Unionist parties and those of Sinn Féin and the SDLP reveal much about the underlying contradictions and divisions in the North.

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