Ireland: Socialist Party Conference

Build the fightback!

One hundred and twenty delegates attended the Socialist Party National Conference this weekend in Carlingford, Co Louth. The Conference discussions ranged over the crucial issues affecting working class people on this island North and South and in particular the acute economic crisis which is having a devastating effect on the livelihoods of ordinary people.

Speaking yesterday at the Conference, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin, Joe Higgins welcomed the massive votes of teachers’ unions to join the other public sector unions in the day of strike action on 24 November:

“This overwhelming vote sends a very clear signal to the government that workers are not prepared to meekly accept the establishment agenda of a four year programme of cutbacks in order to protect the interests of the bankers and developers.

“There has been a conscious effort by the government, media and right wing academics to demoralise people into accepting that there is no alternative to the capitalist market. Socialist policies are vital to defeat this ideological agenda and equip workers to defeat the programme of attacks.”

“We absolutely reject the prevailing torrent of propaganda in the millionaire owned press to the effect that working people must take an enormous hit in their living standards to allow capitalism to survive this crisis. Working people did not cause this crisis and they should not pay a penny to bail out the system. Increasingly, the idea of a socialist alternative will gain support as the limitations of international capitalism are laid bare.”

Socialist Party Councillor Ruth Coppinger spoke about her experiences as a teacher:

“Because of cutbacks and underinvestment, our schools and teachers are already under ferocious pressure. Now they want to go even further with more attacks. Standing together with other public sector workers on 24 November is an important first step in building the necessary united movement of all workers to defeat the government’s cuts plans.”

Clare Daly, a Socialist Party Councillor in Dublin North and shop steward in Aer Lingus outlined the attacks on workers in the public and private sector earlier today:

“It’s becoming crystal clear to workers that no matter what the employers demand from us, it’s never going to be enough, we will be continually hammered. The time to make a stand is long overdue. We need a fighting leadership from the unions. It is vital that the planned public sector strike goes ahead on 24 September. In addition, an escalation must be implemented, including a 24 hour general strike, in advance of the budget to force the government back as opposed to being used by the ICTU leaders a lever for more fruitless “partnership” talks.”

Domhnall O’Cobhthaigh, a former Sinn Fein Councillor in Fermanagh who has joined the Socialist Party explained why he made that decision and emphasised the need to build a cross community working class response to the agenda of cutbacks of the DUP/Sinn Fein led Executive:

“The final straw for me was Sinn Fein’s support for the bank bailout in the South. This confirmed that its neo-liberal trajectory was entrenched. I joined the Socialist Party because of the role it has played in organising successfully in both communities against the neo-liberal policies of the Executive. Against the sectarian tide, it has played a crucial role in supporting workers in struggle in the trade union movement and campaigning against water charges. I am confident that the Socialist Party will be in the lead in offering a cross-community working class alternative to the dead end of sectarian politics and neo-liberalism.”

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November 2009