And the election is ON!

And the election is ON!

Loading

The starting pistol has been fired; the referee has blown his whistle; the starting gates have been thrown open; and we are off the blocks.

And at the end of all those sporting metaphors I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that we are now in the midst of the general election.

There has been a sort of phoney election campaign going on for months.

All of the parties have been writing their manifestos and polishing off their policy documents. In the last three weeks anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I have been travelling across the south for the campaign launches of Sinn Féin candidates.

From Meath to Wicklow and Wexford, to Dublin, Cork and Galway. In Louth Imelda Munster and I had a great campaign launch. We are hoping to take two of the five seats. It’s a big ask but doable.

The mood among activists is expectant and positive. There is a widely held view that the party will do better this time than we did in 2011 when we won fourteen seats in the Dáil and three subsequently in the Seanad.

But we can take nothing for granted. This is senior hurling. Not a vote has been cast. So the next three weeks will be a frenetic round of public meetings, canvassing and media interviews. The leadership debates will undoubtedly attract a lot of interest. It’s not clear yet who will participate in what. The RTE debates could involve up to seven party leaders. That’s a lot. I don’t envy those who will have the task of ensuring impartiality and balance and equal time for so many.

It will come as no surprise that the establishment parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour seek a continuation of ‘business as usual’. That means continued political cronyism and policies that entrench inequality and unfairness.

The current Fine Gael/Labour coalition like its Fianna Fail predecessor, has presided over an unprecedented housing and homeless crisis, chaos in our hospitals, increased taxes on struggling families and workers, regressive budgets, the dismantling of vital public services and the abandonment of rural communities.

Fine Gael is clearly advocating a return to reckless ‘boom and bust’

policies which previously caused the collapse of the economy. The result will be a further erosion of public services and increased hardship for ordinary, working people.

The so-called ‘recovery’ they boast off and wish to sustain is a recovery only for those who have already benefited – high earners, bankers and property developers.

Fine Gael and Labour have continued to protect the Golden Circle. Just like Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party have continued political appointments to state boards and refused to act on high salaries for politicians, in banking and on state bodies.

Meanwhile they have ignored the demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens who have taken to the streets again and again to demand the scrapping of domestic Water Charges.

The outgoing government has also refused to engage with the British government in the consistent strategic way that is required to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday and other agreements.

One message that Sinn Féin canvassers will bring to the doorsteps is that a vote for Labour in this election is a vote for a Fine Gael-led Government. The Labour Party claim they are in Government to put the brakes on Fine Gael’s right-wing impulse. We’ve heard it all before and all the evidence demonstrates the opposite.

Labour Ministers have been the most enthusiastic proponents of vicious cuts to the welfare of ordinary families. As a senior Cabinet member, Joan Burton oversaw the implementation of water charges, the Property Tax, cuts to child benefit, removal of medical cards, cuts to health and welfare, and a succession of stealth taxes.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil cannot provide a credible opposition to the present Government which is merely implementing a policy plan laid out for it five years ago by Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin sat around the cabinet table for 14 years, developing the very policies now being implemented by Fine Gael and Labour. Domestic water charges, were Fianna Fáil’s brainchild.

Micheál Martin has ruled out going into coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin. He has effectively ruled Fianna Fáil out of Government. As a consequence Martin has made Fianna Fáil irrelevant to the election campaign.

So, this election boils down to a choice between two different visions for Irish society – between a Fine Gael-led Government which will continue unfairness and inequality or a Sinn Féin-led Government committed to a recovery for all citizens – in other words, a genuine republic.

Had anyone at any time in the last 40 years suggested that politics in this state would see Sinn Féin as the government in waiting they would run the risk of being told they were mad. Whatever the outcome this time one thing is certain – it’s no longer a matter of if Sinn Féin will be in government in Dublin – it’s a matter of when.

In just less than three very short weeks citizens will have the opportunity to elect a progressive, republican Government which will pursue a fair recovery, end the chaos in health and housing and stand up for ordinary citizens. In this Centenary year of the 1916 Rising isn’t that worth working hard to achieve?



Related Articles

KURDISTAN SENZA TREGUA

Loading

Torna sulle prime pagine dei giornali il conflitto kurdo-turco. I 26 (o 24 a seconda delle fonti) militari turchi morti in una serie di attacchi simultanei sferrati dai guerriglieri del PKK contro diversi obiettivi delle forze di sicurezza nella zona di Hakkari hanno fatto gridare a una nuova recrudescenza del conflitto. In realtà la guerra non è mai cessata, le operazioni dell’esercito turco non sono mai diminuite. Anzi, da agosto si susseguono bombardamenti in tutta la zona al confine con Iraq e Iran e spesso e volentieri gli F-16 turchi sono entrati nel Kurdistan iracheno colpendo non tanto o non solo le basi del PKK (il Partito dei Lavoratori del Kurdistan) ma soprattutto villaggi facendo molte vittime civili di cui nessuno parla.

Gli attacchi di ieri hanno suscitato reazioni molto forti, comprensibilmente. A parte il presidente della repubblica, l’islamico Abdullah Gul, che ha promesso “vendetta” e altro sangue, è stato il BDP (Partito della Pace e Democrazia), cioè il partito dei kurdi a fare la prima dichiarazione. “Basta – si legge nel comunicato – con la guerra. E’ tempo che le armi tacciano e si realizzino le condizioni per favorire la pace”. Parole che il BDP va ripetendo da anni ormai. In questo sostenuto dal PKK che (è bene ricordarlo) ha osservato un cessate il fuoco unilaterale fino al 15 giugno di quest’anno. Cioè fino a dopo le elezioni politiche che hanno visto kurdi e sinistra turca eleggere ben 36 deputati al parlamento turco. Quello che è successo dopo questo risultato serve a contestualizzare anche l’attacco di ieri, al quale i turchi hanno risposto con una nuova offensiva aerea in nord Iraq.

Uno dei 36 deputati, Hatip Dicle (in carcere), è stato privato del suo mandato per un ‘reato’ (lui che era già stato deputato con Leyla Zana e aveva già fatto 10 anni di carcere) di natura ‘terroristica’. Cinque deputati sono attualmente in carcere. Al giuramento, dopo un boicottaggio durato tre mesi e mezzo, si sono presentati in 30. Da marzo a oggi sono finiti in carcere qualcosa come ottomila tra amministratori locali kurdi, attivisti per i diritti umani, militanti del BDP con l’accusa di essere in qualche modo legati al PKK. Dal 2009 (anno della vittoria dei kurdi alle amministrative) sono sotto processo oltre quattromila politici kurdi. Dal 27 luglio il presidente del PKK Abdullah Ocalan (in carcere dal 1999 sull’isola di Imrali) non può vedere i suoi avvocati. Un divieto imposto dopo che per mesi uomini del premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan hanno incontrato il leader kurdo per concordare “protocolli di pace” poi gettati nel cassetto.

IPOCRISIA NUCLEARE

Loading

Jonathan Tirone. Bloomberg/ICH. Investigatori della Nazioni Unite che vennero incaricati di redigere un rapporto sulle capacità nucleari di Israele non

TANTI POPOLI UN’ UNICA LOTTA

Loading

Sabato 20 febbraio migliaia di persone hanno dato vita a Milano (Italia) ad una manifestazione in solidarietà con le lotte

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment