The current coalition partners are driving a "race to the bottom" in workers’ pay and conditions, Socialist Party leader and TD Joe Higgins said today.
The following article appeared on the Irish Times website. It is a report of the Socialist Party’s launch of its election manifesto. Socialist Party 2007 election website (new window).
Socialist Party unveils manifesto
Mr Higgins was speaking at the unveiling of his party’s election manifesto in Dublin, and the sole Socialist TD in the Dáil is hoping at least one of his party’s three other candidates will be elected on May 24th.
But he vowed that even if the party had two or more TDs in the next Dáil, he would not go into government with either Fianna Fáil or a Fine Gael/Labour coalition.
Mr Higgins said the Socialist Party is "fighting for proper public services and to defend the rights of working people.
"We will use our positions in the Dáil to help communities and workers organise to defend their living standards and improve their quality of life.
"Fianna Fáil and the PDs failed to deliver on vital public services. Their promotion of profit and privatisation will mean that the health crisis, transport chaos and the deficit of infrastructure will get worse.
"They are driving a "race to the bottom" in workers’ pay and conditions through their privatisation policies most graphically shown at Aer Lingus," Mr Higgins said.
He said Fine Gael and Labour – "the so-called official opposition" – were fundamentally the same.
"They are committed to maintaining a two-tier health service and to increasing the influence and the profits of private health insurance companies at the expense of the public health system.
"They have been exposed by their failure to support the nurses’ demands for a 35-hour week and a 10.6 per cent pay rise. In power Fine Gael and Labour would be a big-business government that will continue the privatisation agenda."
Mr Higgins said the Socialist Party would fight for a free, publicly owned national health service, funded through a progressive tax system so that people would have no need for private health insurance.
On housing, the party called for an end to the "rip-off" of the private housing market.
"House prices must reflect the real cost of building," the manifesto states. The Socialist Party supported "a massive state building programme to develop quality social housing for all who need it, to buy or to rent", the party leader said.
It also said trade union leaders must organise to defend workers against the attacks on their rights in the public and private sector.
"Social Partnership must be ended – clearly the bosses or the government are not the partners of workers," the manifesto said.
The party’s strongest hope of winning another seat is believed to be Clare Daly in Dublin North. Ms Daly, a councillor on Fingal County Council, was jailed along with Joe Higgins in 2003 for their part in protests over bin charges in Dublin.
She secured over 5,500 first preference votes in the 2002 gelection or 12.5 per cent of the vote before she was eliminated on the eighth count.
Joe Higgins has been a TD for Dublin West since 1997 and unsuccessfully stood for election in both the 1999 and 2004 European Parliament elections.
The party is also running councillors Mick Murphy (Dublin South West) and Mick Barry (Cork North Central).