Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Socialist Party’ Category

ULA Public Meeting : NO To Austerity, Build a Radical Alternative – Tuesday April 24 @8.00pm, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square

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United Left Alliance

Dublin Central Branch

Public Meeting

NO To Austerity, Build a Radical Alternative

Tuesday April 24 @8.00pm, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square

Speakers : Joe Higgins TD, Joan Collins TD,

Sheila Judge (DEIS campaigner)

Boycott the Household Tax

The Campaign to boycott payment of the Household Tax has won magnificent support. The anger expressed at meetings and protest shows people are prepared to face the government down.

The United Left Alliance (ULA) fully supports the Campaign. Our members, councillors and TDs support the boycott of the tax and stand with those resisting the charge.

Labour & Fine Gael Bail Out Bankers

Labour and Fine Gael promised to stand up to the EU-IMF. Labour even threatened to ‘burn the bondholders’. Now they have made a conscious decision to bailout bankers and speculators and every dirty trick in the book will be used to threaten people to force them to pay this unjust tax.

VOTE NO to Austerity Treaty on May 31

Austerity is being imposed to pay off the gambling debts of the banks. The government wants to enshrine these policies in the Constitution by signing up to a European Treaty that will restrict the ability of states to fund public investment to create jobs. The passing of this treaty will lead to ever more cuts in health and education and more misery for the majority of people. It must be opposed.

Wealth Tax Will Fund New Jobs

The ULA is opposed to all forms of austerity:

making ordinary people pay for a crisis that was not of their making. Ireland is not broke and austerity is not inevitable. The richest 5% have a combined wealth of €219 billion. A wealth tax on these resources and a refusal to pay bank debts could generate billions for a programme of job creation.

Build A Radical Political Alternative

The growing opposition to austerity must be linked. The ULA believes it is time to build a radical political alternative. The ULA stands for the creation of a new party for working people that stands for democratic public ownership of the resources of the economy that can guarantee a decent standard of living for all. It does not believe that there is a just or sustainable solution to the current crises based on the capitalist market and bowing to the power of speculators.

We believe there needs to be a wide debate, involving all those groups and individuals opposed to austerity, about the best way to build a new organisation to represent working people, the unemployed and the marginalised.

Come to the Public Meeting, join the debate and get involved in the fightback.

The ULA, formed in November 2010, is an Alliance of People Before Profit , the Socialist Party and the Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group. It has five TDs, an MEP, and councillors throughout the country. It is now building branches in all areas to provide active opposition to the austerity policies of the government.

For more information contact Donal at 087 7552559 or Colm at 087 2947100

United Left Alliance at

Debate on the United Left Alliance – Proposal for a Branch Delegate Council

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We continue the discussion on how to take forward the United Left Alliance (ULA) with this contribution from Henry Silke (Dublin Central ULA Branch)

Proposal for a Branch Delegate Council

by Henry Silke (Dublin Central ULA)


There is some frustration in the ULA on a several fronts: one has been the lack of cohesion of the organisation, with the component parts continuing to act separately; a second has been the lack of representation of members who are not aligned to the founding groups; and finally a general lack of development of branches and structure. The steering committee of the ULA has proposed a number of policies to deal with these issues. Firstly it has proposed to give non-aligned members representation (on the steering committee) which is a very welcome step forward. It does remain problematic in that it only gives non-aligned members an annual vote on representation (at conference) with no detail on how the representatives may stay in contact (if at all) with their constituency. The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) opposes this and are instead calling for a one person one vote annual conference where a steering committee (and I presume policy and strategy) would be voted on. This too is problematic for reasons already attested by Conlon and Young (see below), the main problem being that it could lead to passive if not active divisions and an alienation of the non aligned membership. Moreover even if a simple one person one vote conference did work without leading to a fight for delegates between the SWP and the Socialist Party (SP); it remains again only an annual vote without recourse, something which does not move beyond passive concepts of democracy where members are given a voice once a year. On a more long-term structural development the steering committee has also established a sub-committee on the structural development of the alliance and it is with this in mind that I have formulated this proposal. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

‘”The ULA badly needs a ‘third force’…”

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There has been little enough feedback on the 24th January article Where to now for the ULA? by Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young. But better quality than quantity. The quality of this response from John Cane prompted Tomás to invite it up as a guest post. Tomás would not use all the terminology, like “democratic centralism” or “Leninist”, in the same way, but let’s not quibble.


It seems to me from your analysis that both the SWP and the SP have proved incapable of changing their spots – and that they are not going to anytime soon. They are both irredeemable “vanguardist” groups and thus must always put “party-building” first.

I would think this is a major problem for the “non-aligned” groups and individuals in ULA due to the combined weight of the SWP and SP in the organisation (though, of course, I understand that they rarely operate in concert). Frankly, I don’t see any chance of progressing the ULA “project” (of establishing a viable “revolutionary/reformist” grouping in Ireland, as I understand it) as long as it is being driven by the politics of either or both of these “vanguard” revolutionary groups.

The ULA badly needs a “third force” to counteract and challenge the SWP and SP. This can, surely, only come from organising the “non-aligned” groups and individuals on a separate basis within the ULA, to pursue separate goals (when necessary), by separate means (when necessary) – all within the ULA framework, of course. It’s a good step forward to see a separate meeting for the “non-aligned” at your forthcoming conference.

In my opinion, the sooner a new “third force” begins to define itself the better. It should have a name (how about Independent Left?). It should agree on why it thinks it needs to be separate (the rejection of “vanguardism”?; the rejection of “democratic centralism”? ; the rejection of “revolutionism”?). It should decide how inclusive it wants to be (surely very inclusive i.e. anyone not in “parties” or groups espousing the above).

The new grouping (“tendency”?) would, I think, only be able to challenge the SWP and SP (never mind supersede them) if it actively seeks to become a pole of attraction both to those inside the current ULA (i.e. all “non-aligned” and disillusioned SWP and SP members) and, critically, lefties of all stripes outside the current ULA (i.e. disillusioned LP members, groups like Plan B and Occupy, and local-based organisations).

One specific problem in establishing “Independent Left” is, perhaps, the existence of PBPA (especially the “Crumlin group”). It seems to me that there is no point to the PBPA as it stands now. If it is effectively controlled by the SWP then all “non-aligned” groups (including “Crumlin”) and individuals should simply leave it and join Independent Left if they wish to.

All going well (!), the great majority of currently “non-aligned” groups and individuals in ULA would see the value of setting up and working within an “Independent Left”-style “tendency” along the lines above and, this accomplished, it’s hard to see how SWP or SP would have any other option than to accept it as a “third force”. If they didn’t, they would have to fold the whole ULA “project” (and be seen to be doing so). “Independent Left” is, after all, an entirely legitimate exercise in left political plurality (in contrast to the “democratic centralism” of both SWP and SP). As such, its establishment, if conducted openly and fraternally, would be hard for even Leninists and Trotskyists to oppose.

If you could get away with all this, then, I would think you’ll be well on the way to “building” a viable “revolutionary/reformist” left ULA grouping in Ireland (though not a “new mass workers party”, I think!). Perhaps something along the lines of the old SLP and other “Two-and-a Half International” groupings, with “Independent Left” providing the essential (and hopefully, before long, dominant) broad, pluralist, non-vanguardist input.

And even if you don’t get away with it, well, would you be any worse off? There’s no future much for the ULA “project” as it stands now.

22nd February 2012

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 7, 2012 at 12:36 am

Why this really is an Austerity Treaty

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New Statesman – The EU treaty is a disaster for the left

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Read an excellent short article on why all shades of the left are assaulted by the European Union Fiscal Pact

Genesis 11:5-8

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Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young published their article on the ULA (Where to now for the ULA? – now on the Australian Links site BTW) on 3rd February. The response from the main constituents of the ULA has been ‘no reply’ so far, but it is early days and people are very busy these days. Though their inveterate bloggers have stayed their hands too. In it Eddie and Brendan wrote:

As a bottom line the emphasis should shift from constituents running their own campaigns when they cannot get agreement in the ULA to agreeing to focus on campaigns where everyone is in agreement.”

Of course it is not a direct response to this, more an illustration of the point they were addressing, but on 6th February the Socialist Party announced:

Paul Murphy MEP launched the Socialist Party campaign for a referendum to be held on the Austerity Treaty and an online petition,, for members of the public to sign [and] build pressure on the government to allow the people to vote on this treaty.”

I don’t know if all the constituents of the ULA agree to a campaign for a referendum on the Treaty or if agreement was sought but here is a “Socialist Party campaign for a referendum to be held on the Austerity Treaty and an online petition”. Last year the SWP launched their ‘Enough!’ campaign for a referendum on the IMF/ECB/EU bail out. This was a solo run and, besides, the SP and others disagreed with the aim of seeking a referendum on the bail out. Since then ‘Enough!’ has campaigned on several other issues that an all-ULA sponsored body might have done.

Now the SP has launched an SP campaign for a referendum on the Fiscal Compact. A campaign that could surely and easily be undertaken by the ULA, or, indeed, subsumed into the broad campaign to which almost all the elements of the ULA are affiliated along with other forces. And do we now have two referendums in our sights? One on the bail out and one on the Treaty?

This is not to have a go at Paul Murphy, whom everyone has respect for. The thing to ask is – as with other ranging forays – can this initiative not be brought back to the main column and under the ULA umbrella? Otherwise another, frequently asked, question, will continue to be asked: ‘Where is the ULA’?

Des Derwin

“Be Patient and Never Give up the Struggle” An interview with Tommy McKearney

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International Viewpoint has published a stimulating interview with Tommy McKearney,


A Patient Revolutionary Socialist

Tommy McKearney - A Patient Revolutionary Socialist


We hope soon to carry a review of Tommy’s recently published book

Goodbye Armalite, Hello Ballot Box?

Tommy welcomes the United Left Alliance Project :

Q: In late 2010 the United Left Alliance came together to contest the February 2011 general elections in Ireland, winning five seats. What is you assessment of the ULA?

TM: The ULA is a positive and progressive development. The fact that organizations of the left have come together at any time is good and that these groups are doing so at this time of capitalist crisis is heartening and encouraging. The ULA has also given some needed visibility to the left through its articulate and high-profile spokespersons such as Richard Boyd Barrett and Joe Higgins.

Asked about Ed Moloney’s “Voices From the Grave” and the British state attack on the Boston College Belfast Project, Tommy says : Read the rest of this entry »

The Ghost of Captain Boycott and the Ladies’ Land League Stalks the Kenny-Gilmore Household Tax

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The Dublin North TD Clare Daly (Socialist Party, United Left Alliance) has written a thoughtful article on the Household Tax

which we have reproduced in full below.

In a previous article on this site

some recommended reading gives us a flavour of Irish Resistance in Mayo during the Nineteenth Century.

A question was asked

Is “Enda Kenny, the Mayo Deputy, the New Captain Boycott?”

Women organised independently through the Ladies’ Land League, which was  more radical than than its male equivalent – Anna Parnell was among its leaders :

Offices were given to the ladies but little help. The women held public meetings and encouraged country women to be active in withholding rent, in boycotting and in resisting evictions. They raised funds for the League and for the support of prisoners and their families. They distributed Land League wooden huts to shelter evicted tenant families and by the beginning of 1882 they had 500 branches, thousands of women members and considerable publicity.

Offices were given to the ladies but little help. The women held public meetings and encouraged country women to be active in withholding rent, in boycotting and in resisting evictions. They raised funds for the League and for the support of prisoners and their families. They distributed Land League wooden huts to shelter evicted tenant families and by the beginning of 1882 they had 500 branches, thousands of women members and considerable publicity.

Read the rest of this entry »

United Left Alliance TD’s, part of the Dáil Technical Group – Irish Times Review

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For a change, the Irish Times report is fair to the left-wing outsiders.

Debate occurred on this site after the February 25 2011 General Election on whether Luke “Ming” Flanagan could be grouped within the left – we presume that argument is over now.  Ming has sided with the United Left Alliance comrades on a variety of key issues since his election in Roscommon-South Leitrim – is the west awake for the left?

The article is discussed on the Cedar Lounge Revolution Site :

Ming Flanagan gets this mention: we are told the Independent TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim who has in the past proudly advertised his fondness for the odd cannabis joint

orbits in this area, but is less clearly explicitly left-wing and therefore perhaps more sensibly regarded as being a sometime fellow traveller on some but not all issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Can We Build the Socialist Movement in the 21st Century? by Dan DiMaggio

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Louis Proyect has delivered another very interesting post on organisation at his Unrepentant Marxist site. It’s a long article from Dan DiMaggio a US activist who was until recently a member of Socialist Alternative, the US affiliate of the Socialist Party’s international, the CWI.

Written by tomasoflatharta

Jan 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm