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GUE/NGL Study days in Ireland: Left must continue fight against austerity

The final day of the GUE/NGL study days to Ireland saw MEPs and guest speakers alike discuss both the ongoing resistance to austerity as well as the challenges ahead for the Left.

This morning the MEPs heard interventions from guest speakers about the austerity fightback in Ireland.

Peadar Toibín (Sinn Féin TD) from the Save Navan Hospital Campaign described the community response to savage cuts to health services, and Jimmy Kelly (UNITE Regional Secretary) explained that a lack of union recognition in Ireland was rendering freedom of association rights meaningless.

Matthew Waine (Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes) talked about the unfair nature of making working people pay for the crisis and the effectiveness of mass mobilisation through a boycott of the tax. Michael McCabe (Centre for Independent Living) outlined the practical and physical effects of cuts to disability allowances, describing how many people are being effectively institutionalised in their homes.

GUE/NGL MEP Paul Murphy said: “Austerity is a nice word for robbery. It is a weapon that moves wealth from the poor to the rich and from labour to capital. We are told that Ireland's economy is recovering but we need to explode that myth.”

The afternoon session saw invited guests set out possible economic alternatives.

Michael Burke (Socialist Economic Bulletin) explained that investment was needed and not cuts. He also called for debt cancellation to be given serious consideration. Dr. Sheila Killian (University of Limerick) mooted the idea of equality proofing budgets and taking real action on tax evasion.

Stavros Evagorou (AKEL), Jarmo Linden (Finnish Left Party), and Niels Jongerius (Dutch Socialist Party) explained their respective parties' approaches.

GUE/NGL MEP Martina Anderson said: “The Irish government might choose to blame the Troika for the austerity policies it is pursuing, but the fact is that governments have choices. The Dublin government has made a conscious choice to place the burden of the crisis on those who can least afford it. Taxation of wealth in order to invest in jobs and growth are essential in order to get out of the crisis.”

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “We need a new approach that redistributes wealth to the most marginalised. We need to mobilise people. National governments play the national card in order to pit people who have been affected by the crisis against each other. We need real European solidarity to help those who are being forgotten.”

Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party are two of the 17 political parties that make up the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), a European Parliamentary Group made-up of 34 Members hailing from 12 European countries.

Study days are held biannually in different regions by each European Parliamentary Group. It is a chance for MEPs to meet with local activists, experts, and national parties.

Press contact in Ireland:
Emily Macintosh
[email protected]
Tel: 0032 470 850 508