Fionn McCausland looks at why a socialist outlook may be needed to give Irish politics a clean slate.
People Before Profit have recently acquired a seat in West Belfast following the Northern Irish Election. Anti Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit are undergoing an image change under the new name, Solidarity. With the tumultuous political climate both North and South of the Border, does this mean a pivot in support on the political axel? Or will modern socialism fade into obscurity like it has before?
With very defined views on equality, water charges, immigration and most controversially, Brexit, the AAA-PBP have stirred the political pot quite significantly in recent years and have seen increased support in both the Republic and the North. The party appeal to those who feel disenfranchised and this is reflected in the name change.
Their influence is minor but significant. Most recently, the liberal pinch could be felt in the Water Charges discussion, where those who have paid will now be refunded, those who have not will not be pursued and debates on a water tax on excessive usage are currently taking place in Dublin. This will be voted on in the Dáil on April 14th.
This is something the vast majority of the Irish population have fought for, as have the left wing parties. The fight is not quite over but it is tipping in favour of the left and as long as the socialist parties continue to speak on behalf of the working and middle class then they will continue to accrue support.
Fine Gael are struggling; even Fianna Fáil opposed them and sided with mortal enemies Sinn Fein regarding Fine Gael’s plan to place new water metres in newly built or refurbished dwellings. When Fianna Fáil begin to take a stance against conservatism, it is clear that Irish politics is changing substantially.
Irish people are angry, for more reasons than one could possibly squeeze into a single article. Movements are taking place all over the country; just last week, an impressive number of the country's students went on strike for the Repeal the 8th March. Tesco and Bus Éireann have both held strikes recently and these pale in comparison to the protest at Apollo House. We are talking about a government that largely chose to not appear in the Dáil chambers to discuss the unlawful and horrifying deaths of children in a Magdalen Laundry in Tuam. A government that recently became entangled in a conspiracy against Garda Sargent McCabe involving serious police corruption.
It doesn’t take a seasoned political expert to see why Irish people are appalled with the men and women they have elected to stand on their behalf and fight for their rights, beliefs and liberties. The Left is capitalising on a wave of frustration and it is applying pressure to Enda and his cabinet.
The far left are prospering for the same reason that independents do, they take a stance juxtaposed to Mr Kenny and his motley crew.
The same tactic has been employed in the North. DUP leader Arlene Foster has taken controversial stances on topics such as abortion, marriage equality, the Irish language and Brexit. This has left many N.I citizens feeling disconnected to their representatives. That is without even dipping into the RHI scandal. They remain the leading party with 28 seats, a drop of 11 seats from 2011.
Brexit has shaken up Northern Ireland, with fears concerning the future border with the Republic. The PBP Alliance have even secured a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly with the Alliance Party securing eight.
As is the case with many countries around the world of late, non-traditional politics is gaining support as citizens have become disheartened by the consistent stalemates that the ruling parties reach. Socialism is an alternative to the otherwise repetitive cycle of Irish and Northern Irish politics. Whether or not the idealism of the far left will dissipate in the near future is another matter. It appears to thrive more South of the Border, while Independents are not as influential in Northern Ireland. Either way, it will be intriguing to observe if this will change through the battles that lie ahead.