Ireland: New government promises more cuts

No honeymoon for new coalition of austerity

Enda Kenny is Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Eamonn Gilmore his second in command in the new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, which was formed on 9 March. They have the biggest majority of any government in parliament. Many people voted them in because they thought it might make a difference. However, on day one of the new government, it was made clear by Fine Gael and Labour that Fianna Fail may be gone but their legacy of austerity, cuts and bank bailouts lives on!

By the end of March, Fine Gael and Labour will implement another bank bailout of €10 billion. They are starting as they mean to go on – putting the interests of the bankers, the bondholders and the rich before ordinary people.

As Joe Higgins (Socialist Party – CWI in Ireland), newly re-elected as TD (Irish MP) said on his first day back in the Dail (parliament), “The poisonous cocktail of austerity concocted by the witch doctors in Brussels and in Frankfurt because of the sickness of the financial system is to be continued to be force-fed to the people”.

This government’s fate is already decided. They will become as hated as the previous government because they intend on implementing a draconian programme of cuts and attacks on working class people.

The claim to be putting job creation at the top of their agenda yet they are getting rid of 25,000 public sector jobs. IBEC (bosses’ union) has come out and said that this will only be achieved by sacking public sector workers, something which they advocate.

These job losses come on top of the 17,000 jobs that have already been cut in the public sector and these are not overpaid senior managers. They are Special Needs Assistance in schools, language support teachers, and teachers. These are the much needed nursing posts and junior doctor positions that are not being filled, or the unfilled fire fighter vacancies which are putting people’s lives at risk.

Socialist Party (CWi) and United Left Alliance TDs march with supporters to take seats in parliament

With 450,000 unemployed, the last thing this society and economy needs is to lose another 25,000 jobs. The coalition partners claim that they will unveil a “jobs budget” during their first 100 days. Fine Gael talk of a job stimulus package of between €6 – €7 billion. Even if this happens, it would only be enough to potentially create 60,000 – 70,000 jobs.

They plan to help fund this stimulus by selling off our public assets by privatising the ESB (Electricity company), Bord Gais (gas), Bord Na Mona (turf), Irish Rail, Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus, Coillte (forests) and so on. Privatisation of profitable state companies will result in thousands of job losses. They are getting rid of 25,000 public sector workers and their privatisation programme will lead to thousands of more job losses. Do the maths – at the end of it, all there will still be at least 400,000 unemployed and 1,000 a week emigrating.

That is not all. The new government’s Programme for Government will be a deflationary drag on the economy which will lead to even more job losses as they plan to take upwards of another €9 billion out of the economy and pay back the bankers and speculators debts, that will cost €10 billion a year in interest alone by 2014.

This government will not have a “honeymoon”. There is an element of a “give them a chance” attitude amongst some people but very quickly, this will dissipate as it becomes clear that nothing of substance has changed.

In Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and all around the Arab world, ordinary people have had enough and have risen in their millions to fight for change. In Ireland, people are at the stage of literally being unable to take anymore austerity and cuts. They too will emulate the people of North Africa and the Middle East by fighting back against a government that is going to drive them into poverty just so that faceless bankers and bondholders can get their “pound of flesh”.

The answer to austerity and cuts is to stand up and fight back to call a halt to the madness of the capitalist market. The breakthrough in the elections for the Socialist Party (CWI) and the United Left Alliance is of historic significance and we believe that support for a real left and socialist alternative will grow as the opposition to this government grows.

Now is the time for people to get active, to step forward to play a part in building a real socialist opposition to austerity. Contact the Socialist Party today – stand up, get active, make a difference!

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March 2011