Article from the May 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
The Socialist Party is standing Dublin West TD, Joe Higgins, for the Dublin constituency in the European Election and is putting up 14 candidates in the Southern Local Elections. Polling day is on June 11th and all our candidates are receiving a warm welcome on the doorsteps of working class communities in Dublin, Drogheda, Limerick and Cork.
Feature by Gary Mulcahy
Socialist Party launches electoral challenge in South
Fighting inequality and poverty
THE MASSIVE shift of wealth from workers to the super-rich elite has created huge inequality in the South. According to a United Nations report published in 2002, Irish society is one of the most unequal among Western countries - the richest 10 % is 11 times wealthier than the poorest 10%.
Southern Ireland also has the highest level of poverty in the Western world outside the US.
Now that the record-breaking growth levels of the 'Celtic Tiger' are gone, workers are being made suffer through stealth taxes, privatisations, and cut-backs.
None of the opposition parties, including Sinn Fein and the Greens have been able to represent workers and carry out a battle against these attacks. It has been noted by people across the country that the only serious resistance to the Government was the campaign against the bin tax. The Socialist Party was correctly seen as the only party capable and willing to lead a militant struggle against this unjust tax.
The political establishment in the South have been glaringly exposed as being completely rotten. Corruption scandals have given people a taste of how much the main parties are merely puppets of big business.
Workers share of wealth is down 25% over the last 15 years yet workers still pay the vast bulk of all taxes. However the massive tax cuts to big business, over 1 billion euro a year just from recent Budgets, means social spending on health, education and housing is the lowest in the EU. A recent report showed that 2/3 of the price of a house is profit!
The Socialist Party is also building opposition to the Governments racist 'Citizen Referendum'. This is yet another cynical attempt by the Government to distract attention away from their damning record in power. The Socialist Party is pointing out that it is the Government, not refugees, who are to blame for cuts in health and education.
The Socialist Party is standing in these elections to provide a real alternative to the capitalist parties. As Joe Higgins and Clare Daly have shown, the Socialist Party will use council positions to assist and build struggles of working class and young people.
Joe Higgins fights for European seat
ON 11 JUNE, millions of voters across Europe will be asked to elect candidates to the European Parliament. In most cases, the choice will be between crooks and gangsters. But in the Dublin constituency, there will be a clear choice between those who want to maintain a bosses' Europe and Joe Higgins TD of the Socialist Party.
Since being elected to the Dail in 1997, Joe has been the real opposition to the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrats Government. Joe was the chair of the anti-water charges federation, led by the Socialist Party, that mobilised thousands of householders across Dublin in a mass campaign of non-payment which forced the Government to drop the hated charges. Since then, Joe has been the only voice in the Dail speaking for workers, young people and the poor.
Joe is opposed to the imperialist war on Iraq. While politicians from all the main Northern parties wined and dined with George Bush and Tony Blair in Hillsborough, Joe spoke to those protesting outside, pointing out the hypocrisy of 'peace process' politicians.
When building workers in Dublin were being jailed for taking part in strike action, the Government tried to silence Joe by suspending him from the Dail. Joe has also been the only TD who has consistently opposed the sell-off of public services and privatisation. Last September, Joe along with fellow Socialist Party rep., Cllr. Clare Daly, was jailed for a month for standing with working class communities in opposition to the bin tax.
This approach stands in stark contrast to MEPs living it up in Brussels. As well as receiving a salary of over E100,000, they also receive an average of just under E100,000 in travel and tax-free expenses every year! Joe has pledged to donate all of his MEP's salary to the fight to change society.
The privatisation bonanza for big business, the imposition of the bin tax in the South and the water charges in the North are promoted by the EU. The Socialist Party is proud to stand for a socialist Europe where the needs of people and the environment come before profit for the few.
Socialist Party members from the North will be travelling down South to help out with the campaigns in the North Dublin area. The candidates we will be working for include:
CLARE DALY was elected Councillor in 1999. Clare spent a month in jail last September for her role in the anti bin tax protests. Clare is a shop steward in Aer Lingus in Dublin Airport and has organised consistently in opposition to the privatisation of Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta.
MICHAEL O'BRIEN, aged 27 and living in Swords, has worked alongside Councillor Clare Daly on many local issues in the Swords ward. He is an active trade unionist in the Public Service Executive Union, and is a steering committee member of the Irish Anti-War Movement.
FRANK GALLAGHER is the candidate in the Laurence's Gate Ward. Frank is secretary of the Drogheda Trades Council and has worked and campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the wider trade union movement.
TADGH KENEHAN is the candidate in the Balgriggan Ward and the Balbriggan Town Commission. Tadhg has worked on many local issues, such as crucial planning matters in Balbriggan and Rush and traffic management in Skerries.
The other Socialist Party council candidates are:
Cllr. Ruth Coppinger - Fingal; Susan Fitzgerald - Fingal; Helen Redwood - Fingal; Brian Greene - Fingal; Diarmuid Naessens - Dublin City; Mick Murphy - South Dublin; Lisa Maher - Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown; Ashling Golden - Limerick; Mick Barry - Cork; Francie McCafferty - Letterkenny