A referendum in Ireland to decide whether to support a European Union (EU) treaty to cut public spending has returned a yes vote by 60 percent to 40 percent. But the campaign for the treaty only won through fear and bullying—with the only enthusiasm coming from government parties and the bosses.
The treaty will mean that Irish governments will be bound by EU law to implement savage austerity—for at least the next 20 years. Ireland has been told to cut up to 5 billion euros from public spending per year over this time.
If Ireland doesn’t meet the deficit target of 0.5 percent of GDP it could be fined up to 160 million euros annually, with national budgets set by unelected EU bureaucrats.
This is on top of the ongoing cuts supervised by the troika of the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund as a consequence of the bank bailout.
It is potential suicide for the Irish economy. We are staring at a Greek style scenario.
The yes vote was based on fear. It was aided by the employers, some trade union leaders, farming organisations and the Labour Party, who are in coalition with the right.
It came mainly from the middle class, farmers and—to some extent—pensioners, who were really terrified of their future security.
But the no vote was the vote of the working class. Two Dublin and two Donegal constituencies returned a no majority. This includes my own constituency, Dublin South Central, which is the biggest working class constituency in the country.
The poorer the area the higher the no vote. Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot is a notoriously disadvantaged area with over 40 percent unemployment among young men. It has a large young population, no services, no jobs, no hope. That area returned a 90 percent no vote.
This reflects the anger of those who have been hit hardest by austerity. And the anger is palpable everywhere.
The anti-austerity movement now has a great chance of growing massively. There are already demonstrations being planned in the run-up to parliament’s summer recess.
Now we need to build a mass movement of civil disobedience, demonstrations and direct action. We need to link with our sisters and brothers in Greece and Spain and across Europe who are fighting austerity and trying to build an alternative to the capitalist system.
The treaty may be enshrined into law for now. But as that giant of Irish socialism James Connolly used to say, laws that attack workers are made to be broken.
Ironically it is almost 100 years ago to the day that Connolly founded the Irish Labour Party. He must be turning in his grave at what that same party are doing to the working class that Connolly died for.