Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Zero Tolerance for intimidation – Anthony McIntyre reports on a Labour Party Public Meeting in Drogheda – Unity in Action Against a Common Far-Right Racist Enemy

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Differences exist on the left-wing spectrum in Ireland – some of them concern fundamental disagreements about political principles. One clear example is opposition to entering any coalition government with right wing ruling class parties in Ireland such as Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Democratic Unionist party or the Alliance party.

Other issues place a duty on parties in the broadly left-wing spectrum to put aside tactical differences, and explore methods of practical co-operation. Building effective practical opposition to the dangerous growth of far-right racism in Ireland is on the agenda today. In this spirit we re-publish an Anthony McIntyre article which reports on a well-attended Irish Labour Party rally in Drogheda which tackled the issues of racism, immigration, and Russia’s fascist and genocidal invasion of Ukraine head-on.

Anthony pulls no punches discussing his political differences with the Labour Party!

John Meehan February 3 2023

link :

Zero Tolerance For Intimidation

Anthony McIntyre Wednesday, February 1, 2023

It has long struck me that the Irish Labour Party more than any other has abandoned the constituency that returns it in pursuit of office. It promises a left package then delivers the Rabbitte punch to the recipients of the promise so that it may become the prop sustaining governments which view left packages much as a dog does a lamppost.

Whatever the Labour leadership sought to project onto the screen, the filtering process left the electorate feeling that it had just viewed Pensions Before People. Last time out those who had voted the party in such numbers in the previous general election followed through on Eamon Gilmore’s promise, while still with the Workers Party, to destroy the Labour Party. Since then Labour has struggled to make any impact on the Irish political scene.

None of that stopped me from turning up at a Labour Party Town Hall meeting in Drogheda’s D Hotel on Monday evening. I actually left Dublin early to make the event which was attended by around one hundred people. I had never been at any of the party’s gatherings before although any time I have approached its elected representatives or party workers, the response has been nothing less than helpful. Their members also have been to the fore in defusing the moral panic that the far right has been trying to stoke and amplify over a range of issues, most notably refugees.

With a new leader, Ivana Bacik, in place the party hopes once again to make a pitch to an electorate which thus far has proven tone deaf to its discourse, its ears more attuned to the populism of Sinn Fein.

I went along to listen, with little intention of asking questions framed by the sentiment expressed above. Ultimately, I was disappointed. Not because of anything Ivana Bacik had to say – she was quite impressive. It was down to my reason for being there, as a listener, being thwarted by hecklers and others determined to subvert that vital democratic function – free inquiry.

While elements of the far right seemed to be in attendance, it would be unfair for me to say that they were the main architects of the disruption. On occasion, those making what appeared to be anti-refugee sentiment themselves could not be heard because of the howling and interjections from the floor. More than once I found myself straining to hear a speaker because a fishwife, fluent in gibberish, near the front of the hall continuously heckled. Badly executed performative posturing, there was more sense to be heard at a silent movie than from her.

For the most part, the two women who most assertively voiced the anti-refugee concern, couched in the language of being worried about some threat to their own children, made their points and desisted from roaring or badgering. Nevertheless, concerns about the safety of children fail to impact on me when the supposed threat is identified as being from the refugee community. This in a society that has seen its children raped and abused by the monstrous men of god and then have it covered up by the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The last time the far right stood outside a Catholic Church in Drogheda was to rail against refugees and not those in charge of the building.

Despite the theatrics of staged walkouts – at which point, it might be posited, the average IQ of the hall seemed to go up – Drogheda Mayor Michelle Hall handled the meeting adroitly, promoting zero tolerance for intimidation while never once being intimidated from the bully pulpit. When Ivana Bacik arose to address the issues, she unapologetically traced her immigrant antecedents and swept aside both hate and fear mongering. An Garda who were present were not called upon. Ultimately, the measure of matters is to be found in the comments of Louth TD Ged Nash:

Despite attempts from a handful of loud voices from anti-vaccination and anti-refugee campaigners to disrupt the meeting, the vast majority of those who attended made it clear they came to listen to the Labour leader outline her vision for the party and the country.

In a democratic forum, discourse and the exchange of ideas is vital. Participants have a right to speak which no one on the night was denied, but they also have a right to hear, which was on occasion denied. Those whose purpose in turning up at this type of public event is to drown out should be escorted out.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Anthony McIntyre (born 27 June 1957[1][2]) is a former Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteer, writer and historian. He was imprisoned for murder for 18 years in Long Kesh, spending four of those years on the no-wash protest. After his release from prison in 1992 he completed a PhD in political science at Queen’s University Belfast and left the Republican Movement in 1998 to work as a journalist and researcher.[3][4] A collection of his journalism was published as a book in 2008, Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism

Ivana Catherine Bacik (born 25 May 1968) is an Irish Labour Party politician who has been Leader of the Labour Party since 24 March 2022 and a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin Bay South constituency since winning a by-election on 9 July 2021. Bacik previously served as Leader of the Labour Party in the Seanad from 2011 to 2021, and a Senator for the Dublin University constituency from 2007 to 2021.[1] She previously served as Deputy leader of Seanad Éireann from 2011 to 2016.

Bacik is known in particular for her abortion rights campaigning since the 1980s, and her high media profile

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