Socialists and social democrats in the Republic of Ireland have shown a weak and over all negative response to a vote transfer pact with other progressive election candidates. Would this pact fail it would open the door to a further five years of right-wing government in Dublin.

Trade union leaders had urged all those who signed up to the Right2Water anti-water charge campaign to transfer to other affiliates of the group, now known as ‘Right2Change’.

The group included a broad coalition of trade unions, civil society organisations, Sinn Fein, progressive political parties and independents stemming from the Right2Water movement. They had drawn-up a range of left-leaning policies which they hoped would be implemented by the next government in Dublin.

So far though the reaction from groups such as the Anti-Austerity Alliance has been broadly hostile.

Using tones reminding of the sectarian policies of the North of Ireland, Anti-Austerity Alliance Ruth Coppinger, said her organisation would not agree to forming a government with Sinn Fein, even if the numbers allowed, because of austerity cutbacks in the North. She added that the Right2Change campaign had become a “prop” for Sinn Fein. Her colleague Paul Murphy, the Socialist Dublin South-West deputy, blankly said he would not participate.

The Social Democrats, the new ‘left of centre’ party formed by TDs Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly, also declined to sign up to the new progressive platform.

Independent TDs such as Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have indicated their inclusion, although Donegal independent Peter Pringle said he was concerned that Sinn Fein could be using it to “maximise its vote”.

Not hiding her delight, Labour leader Joan Burton said the political alliance between Sinn Fein and left-wing parties and Independents was “over before it began”. Clearly the division within the left would in the end benefit the Labour party.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was “unforgivable” for left-wing groups not to grasp the opportunity of the broad policy platform and transfer pact. “We believe – she said – there is a great opportunity in the forthcoming election. We believe we need an alternative and a progressive government”.

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