European elections

joe higgins to stand in dublin

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD for Dublin West, who spent a month in jail last Autumn for fighting the bin tax, will be the Socialist Party's candidate in the European election for the Dublin constituency on 11 June.

The Socialist Party will fight the election on the general theme of the need to build a democratic, socialist Europe where the needs of working people come before the ruthless drive for profits by the multinational corporations. In particular, we stand against the privatisation agenda of the E.U. Commission, that is fully accepted by the FF/PD Government. The privatisation of our telecom industry shows graphically what privatisation is all about. Ordinary people were badly burned after being persuaded by huge propaganda to buy shares when Telecom Eireann was being sold off. The company inevitably passed over to billionaire capitalists who now make a fortune from a resource that properly belongs to the Irish people.

Big business in the E.U. forms powerful lobbies such as the "European Round Table of Industrialists". They have ready access to the E.U. Commission whom they meet regularly and to the national governments. In reality these lobbies dictate E.U. policy, which puts pressure on for privatisation and which attacks systematically the rights and conditions of public sector workers. It is these very same policies that are behind our Government's drive to privatise CIE, Aer Rianta, Aer Lingus and the postal system.

In many E.U. countries at present, there is a systematic attack on the pension rights of public sector workers. The Irish Government has just recently pushed though legislation that means workers like teachers and civil servants will not be able to get a pension until they are 65, no matter how many years' service they have.

In the European election campaign, the Socialist Party will be opposing all privatisation and calling for more investment in public services including in crucial areas like urban and rural transport. We want a major change in how public sector companies operate. We want democratic structures which bring the workers to the very heart of the management. We want these workers and users of the services to run them in order to provide quality public services with decent wages and conditions for the workers. This means kicking off the boards of state companies, the hacks appointed by the right wing political parties, who currently mismanage our public and semi-state companies.

The Socialist Party will raise the drive toward the militarisation of the EU as a crucial issue. Scandalously, the Irish Government is currently overseeing the co-ordination of an E.U. armaments industry as part of its Presidency of the E.U. Obscenely 55 billion euro is spent by E.U. Governments each year in the manufacture of weapons.

In the 1999 Euro election, Joe Higgins secured 10,4000 first preference votes. With much more awareness now about his record as an uncompromising fighter for ordinary people who went to jail rather than abandon the struggle against the bin tax, we hope for increased support. Winning a seat on this occasion would be a huge shock to the political establishment and a major upset in Irish politics. While for us, the campaign and the debate on the issues are the most vital, if such an "earthquake" happened, Joe Higgins would continue to accept only the wage equivalent to an average industrial worker and any other income would, as now, go to funding the fight for building a socialist alternative in Ireland and internationally.

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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