We haven’t gone away y’know!
The political class have returned to the Dail. A new budget will be set. A new offensive against the working class will swing into action, around denial of democratic rights, public sector pay, privatisation, and above all around the housing crisis.
Yet there is all to play for. The September Right to Choose rally of 45,000 showed a growing anger and unwillingness to accept the dead hand of the confessional state.
The old opposition is defined by the outcome of the water charges campaign. That mobilisation forced a tactical retreat by the government on the narrow issue of charges, but was unable to force the closure of Irish Water, the removal of the charging structure and the mechanism for in a continued privatisation.
A complicated jig is now taking place. Sinn Fein are headed towards a coalition government. The left trade union bureaucracy are trying to breathe life into a new version of the populist Right2Change campaign. The Communist party are working with republicans to try yet again to establish a “people's party.” The socialist groups have repudiated Sinn Fein and are edging closer to the trade union bureaucracy.
All these projects are focused on the conviction that activists are unwilling to fight and that Irish capitalism can be reformed to meet the needs of the workers and on a strategy of seeking change through the Dail or on magical thinking that changes to the constitution will produce a land of milk and honey. Yet, although Ireland is the poster boy of economic recovery, the suppression of working people continues – indeed the recovery depends on keeping wages and conditions down. As for manoeuvres in the Dail, everyone's experience is that a real defence of the working class cannot come from there. Junior coalition partners will be decimated. Left attempts at bills and resolutions will come to nothing in a chamber where the interests of the banks and the transnationals come first. The best that can be said of the Dail is that it can be used as a platform to build a movement on the streets, but only if street mobilisation comes first. The focus on the Dail will continuously distract socialists from the role they should be filling.
Now we are seeing that street mobilisation. We are seeing tens of thousands of young people on the streets. We see from the outcome of the Citizen’s Assembly that most of the population are in favour of women’s rights and this empowers the young and makes it difficult for politics to run on as normal.
We should unite now to support the women's movement and for the right to choose. We should recognise that the corrupt society we have will not be able to deliver and that we should raise the banner of a more general workers revolt.
There will be opportunity after opportunity to mobilise the workers; two tier wages in the public sector, privatisation of transport and other public services and above all around a catastrophic housing crisis fuelled by subservience to vulture capitalism.
The new Dail will operate against a background of European crisis and a hard Brexit border where the only tactic of the government is to pray for patronage and protection. They will fall back on their traditional prop that is the Catholic Church to try and hold power. We will see many new offensives and many attacks on women and the young. We should fight now to unite around a programme of revolutionary change that demands the right to choose, housing as a need rather than a commodity and the repudiation of the rule of the banks and the crony capitalists.