Ireland / European Parliament: Paul Murphy to replace Joe Higgins as Socialist Party MEP

Long-time Socialist Party activist and organiser, Paul Murphy (27), will be replacing Joe Higgins as the Socialist Party MEP for Dublin, following Joe’s succesful election to the Dail along with Clare Daly.

Here we repost Paul Murphy’s post on his blog, about the challenges, opportunities and tasks he faces.

Replacing Joe Higgins in Europe is a daunting challenge. I have seen close up the pioneering work he has done in providing a socialist opposition in the European Parliament as well as the vital assistance he has given to many different campaigns in Ireland and across Europe.

However, for me it is a continuation and an extension of the campaigning and activism that I have been involved in for over ten years. In that time, I have had the honor of fighting alongside ordinary working people, as an organiser and an activist, resisting the double tax bin tax, building two major student campaigns against fees, organising the strike of Turkish workers in Ireland being paid slave wages by Gama, as well as campaigning against the give-away of our oil and gas to Shell and imposition of an unsafe onshore refinery and pipeline near Rossport, County Mayo. In addition, the experience I gained through working with Joe as his Political Advisor in the European Parliament over the past two years will hopefully serve me well.

I am looking forward to continuing the work that Joe did in challenging the European Commission’s right-wing policies and the neo-liberal consensus that reigns in the European Parliament. I will relish the opportunity to challenge Mr. Barosso about the EU/IMF deal which shackles working people in Ireland with the debts of speculators and hedge funds and is an onslaught of attacks against these same people.

Although it was under-reported in Ireland, Joe made frequent interventions in the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament. I aim to further the work he did there – exposing and opposing the predatory nature of the EU’s trade policy which involves exploitation of people in under-developed countries for the benefit of European multinationals.

However, the role is not simply about attending meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg. I aim to use the position as a representative of people in Dublin to assist the building of campaigns to oppose the further attacks on people’s living standards that are planned by the Fine Gael / Labour government . When they introduce further double taxes like water charges and property tax, I will be using my position to the full to assist the building of mass non-payment campaigns like that which defeated the water charges in the past. Given my experience in building campaigns against the re-introduction of third-level fees like the Campaign for Free Education (2003-2004) and Free Education for Everyone (FEE), I am looking forward to the opportunity to use an MEP’s position to assist the building of a genuine student movement to fight for well-funded and genuinely free education.

The critical issue facing young people and workers in general at the moment is the question of unemployment and forced emigration. There are over 100,000 people in Dublin on the Live Register at the moment, while we have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe of 24.2%. The result is tens of thousands being forced to emigrate to look for work. A major campaign is needed to demand serious state investment to create jobs and redevelop the economy. I aim to use my position to assist unemployed workers and young people in building such a campaign.

I’ll be working closely with the two Socialist Party TDs and the other three United Left Alliance TDs to try to give real political representation for working people and organise mass campaigns against the coming onslaught of attacks by the Fine Gael / Labour government. Of course, in line with all Socialist Party public representatives, I will only be taking an average workers’ wage with genuine expenses, with the rest of my salary being donated to various workers’ groups and campaigns as well as the struggle for socialist change.

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