SOCIALIST Party councillor Mick Barry has responded to comments made by Labour TD Kathleen Lynch about the newly-formed United Left Alliance (ULA).
“In this morning’s edition of the Cork Independent Deputy Lynch is quoted as saying in response to the establishment of the ULA, ‘Voters will decide between Labour and Fine Gael, its a two-horse race. I think that anyone who fragments the left vote might as well be voting for Fine Gael. We now have the possibility of a real left or right politics and people will have to make up their minds on that basis.
“The United Left Alliance is an alliance between the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance and the Tipperary-based Workers and Unemployed Action Group. One week after the formation of the ULA a Red C poll showed Independents/Others to have risen from 8pc to 11pc and the ULA is considered to have a serious chance of six seats in the next Dáil.”
Cllr Barry said that Deputy Lynch was “entirely right to be concerned about the right wing agenda of Fine Gael”.
He said that Fine Gael are “opposed to a strong public sector, favour privatisation on a massive scale and promote the interests of a big business elite at the expense of working class people”.
He said that, “for example, their recent ‘Reinventing Government’ document promotes the dismantling of our public health services and advocated wholesale privatisation within the health service. However, it is the Labour Party, not the ULA, which has decided to embrace Fine Gael and enter Government with them after the next election”.
Cllr Barry said that “not only had Labour decided to enter Government with this right-wing party that Deputy Lynch warns people about but, unfortunately, Labour had now chosen to support policies supported by Fine Gael that cut sharply against the interests of working people.
“Unfortunately, Labour have chosen to join Fine Gael in supporting the IMF target of a 3 per cent budget deficit by 2015. This target cannot be met without massive cutbacks and tax increases on working people. In this weeks’ Budget debate Labour has advocated a €4.5 billion budget ‘adjustment’ for 2011. This is far closer to the policy of Fine Gael than it is to the views of the vast bulk of the 100,000 people who marched against austerity on November 27.
“Labour has joined with Fine Gael in advocating the re-introduction of domestic water charges rather than standing with the majority of ordinary people in opposition to them.
“Fianna Fail’s Micheál Martin indicated on RTÉ’s Frontline programme last Monday night that he thought Fianna Fáil should operate a strategy somewhat like the Tallaght Strategy in the next Dáil and support a Fine Gael/Labour Government on economic issues.
“This raises the prospect of Deputy Lynch’s party being in a formal alliance with Fine Gael and an informal alliance with Fianna Fáil in pressing home cuts and tax increases on working people. In the week that this prospect is raised Deputy Lynch tries to deride the ULA and brand it with the charge of ‘fragmenting the Left’.
“This crude tactic is an insult to the intelligence of ordinary people and will not work.”
He challenged Deputy Lynch to debate the issues raised by her comments with him in a public forum in Cork city at a date before the next General Election.
Cllr Barry concluded by saying that the “Socialist Party and the ULA will continue to oppose all privatisations and all cuts and tax increases that harm the interests of ordinary people; continue to support all mobilisations by working class people against this agenda”, and claimed that this was “the way to develop what Deputy Lynch described as ‘real left politics’ in this country”.
He said that he expected “criticism from Labour to grow louder” the closer they got to government with Fine Gael but that the Socialist Party and the ULA were “well-equipped to withstand criticisms of that type”.