Joe Higgins celebrates victory
The Socialist Party’s (CWI in Ireland) Joe Higgins has been elected as a member of the European parliament in Dublin, in a massive blow to the Irish political establishment. With 50,510 first preference votes, Joe beat Fianna Fail’s (ruling party) Eoin Ryan and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald, both sitting MEPs to take the third seat in the capital. This victory, a first for the CWI, comes as the result of tireless campaigning on the part of Socialist Party members and supporters and reflects the seething anger at the government and political establishment in ireland. Joe Higgins’ victory shows the potential for candidates putting forward a clear socialist alternative to achieve real success. His record of fighting for working people - including being jailed for 1 month in opposition to bin charges in 2003, leading the victorious campaign against water charges in 1997, and his leading role in the fight against the super-exploitation of mirgant labour in the 2005 GAMA dispute - while a TD (MP) between 1997 and 2007, during which time he received only the average workers’ wage has won him and the Socialist Party widespread respect and support. The Socialist Party won 6 seats in local couincil elections, which ran simultaneously with the EU elections, gaining 2 seats. More extensive analysis will follow.
Excerpt from the Irish Times, 8 June 2009
"Mr Higgins, who once spent a month in jail over a campaign against bin taxes, beat Mr Ryan by almost 7,000 votes for the final seat in the constituency, as dawn was breaking today.
"He declared elected at 5.15am after 400 counting staff had worked through the night at the RDS count centre. Mr Higgins picked up a massive 22,000 transfers from Ms McDonald to push him past Mr Ryan.
"Mr Mitchell was elected before midnight while Mr de Rossa reached the 101,658 quota shortly before 4am.
"Flanked by his elderly mother and dozens of young supporters, Mr Higgins said: “European countries are dominated by right-wing governments which are trotting out the same capitalist policies as here in Ireland and making working people pay for their mistakes.”
"He pledged to unite workers in Ireland and across the EU. When asked about how he would cope with the gruelling travel to parliamentary business in Brussels and Strasbourg, he said: “I’ve travelled far and wide in the interests of socialism and so I’m sure we’ll manage.”
"He said he would take the average industrial wage of his salary and his legitimate expenses would be published. Mrs Ellen Higgins, who visited her son regularly in Mountjoy Prison in 2003, said: “I’m proud of him. I think he’s very good.”
"A native of Co Kerry, Mr Higgins, aged 60, once studied for the priesthood but later became an atheist. His incisive contributions in the Dail made him a thorn in the side of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern from 1997-2007."
"His election campaign was funded on a shoestring budget and his black and white posters claimed he was: ‘The Best Fighter Money Can’t Buy’.