Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What would Connolly say?

What would Connolly say? 

Would he say that launching an enquiry into why €21 million earmarked for vital extension work to a hospital was a waste of money? Would he say that it was still ok to spend such large sums on security for a pompous photo shoot of a foreign monarch in Dublin? Would he say that imposing unfair taxes on ordinary people while allowing the wealthy to escape much of the burden was ok?

Apparently this is what the Labour party believes James Connolly stood for.

This article is being written in response to a piece by the Labour mayor of Wexford. In his article (Never ask questions unless you know the answers), Cllr Ryan has a go at Wexford Sinn Féin for holding a picket outside Labour HQ in Wexford last May Day. This is to be expected and you cant argue with someone wishing to defend their party. However there are a few issues raised by the Labour mayor that need to be addressed.

1. "Connolly was an able man who showed that it was always necessary to cut a deal so as to protect your interests." - Perhaps, but would James Connolly have conceded to IMF dominance? Would he have put the interests of foreign financial institutions before the interests of the Irish people? Some deals should never be cut. 
Would Connolly have supported the Universal Social Charge, a grossly unfair tax? Would he have supported the idea of a pension levy on ordinary people while the wealthy were allowed to avoid it? Connolly lived his whole life in poverty. Putting the needs of the wealthy before the needs of the ordinary man would have surely sickened him. I have no doubt that he would have strongly opposed any group that supported this notion, whether they had a red rose or a starry plough as their symbol.
2. "Wouldn’t it be great if some of those who organised the picket at SIPTU in Wexford actually joined a union and perhaps read up on Connolly’s life?" - Is the Labour mayor of Wexford, a county where there are twenty thousand people on the live register not to mention those who are out of work and cannot claim benefits, suggesting that only Union members should be allowed to stage protests against the incompetence of our government? Are the Labour party planning on setting up a new union for the half a million unemployed citizens in Ireland? James Connolly spent most of his live out of work or moving from one dead end job to the next. Im sure he would be able to identify more with the unemployed of Ireland, who struggle from one day to the next, than with the wealthy leadership of the modern labour party.
Maybe it is Labour members of Wexford Borough council who should read up on Connollys life. Recently they voted against a Sinn Féin motion calling for the abolishment of the Universal Social Charge. I think anyone vaguely familiar with the life of Connolly would know which way he would have voted on that motion.

3. "Strikes me that James would have very little time for those in Wexford who used Mayday as a self seeking publicity stunt."- Kettle calling the pot black surely. As you can see from our photos, Wexford Labour had no problem getting their pictures taken at pickets up until they entered government. What a difference entering government can make. They've also forgotten many of their pre election promises.

4. "Perhaps they would have been better off coming up with an alternative that would contribute to getting our country out of the mess it was left by the wealthy insiders." - Sinn Féin is the only party on this island putting forward progressive alternatives which could get this nation back on its feet. Would we have introduced an impotent jobs initiative? No, we would have introduced a proper jobs stimulus to get this country back to work. We would put €600 million into a job creation and retention fund, €400 million in state childcare and the pre education sector and €1 billion into infrastructure projects. We would have also ringfenced €500 million into a Youth Jobs Fund to create 20,000 jobs for the under 25s. As always, our proposals are costed and could easily have been implemented by the Labour party in government. Unfortunately, it is the Labour party, and not us, who cannot come up with effective alternatives to the last Fianna Fail government and have instead condemned the people of this country to more bad government and further austerity budgets. What would Connolly say?  

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