The Irish government was pushing through its latest austerity budget on Tuesday of this week.
The budget details are mostly already known since they were part of the “bailout” deal brokered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union and the European Central Bank.
The IMF deal to save the European bankers who lent hundreds of billions to Irish banks means huge cuts.
Ireland’s minimum wage will be cut by 13 percent and all households face a new £257 a year property tax. Welfare payments, including jobseekers allowance and child benefit, will be cut by 5 percent. And some 25,000 public sector workers will lose their jobs.
This has led to a massive political crisis in the ruling coalition government of Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
The Irish government may yet fall.
It is dependent on the votes of two independent TDs (MPs) who, after a bit of horse trading for benefits to their constituencies, looked set to vote for the budget as Socialist Worker went to press.
There is almost certain to be an election in the New Year. So in addition to numerous protests, a new electoral coalition has been launched.
Over 350 people gathered for the launch rally of the new United Left Alliance last week. It brings together the People Before Profit Alliance (and within that the Irish SWP), the Socialist Party, Independents and the Tipperary Workers Action Group.
The United Left Alliance intends to run candidates in at least 14 constituencies in the general election, including Dublin MEP Joe Higgins, former Tipperary TD Séamus Healy and People Before Profit councillor Richard Boyd Barrett.
To add to the government’s crisis, Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said that the union would put proposals for a national strike to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in the weeks ahead, and would seek support from other unions.
“We are absolutely convinced that marching in the streets for the rest of this year and into next year will not achieve the pressure that we need to put on those politicians,” he said. “We are saying we need to look at the alternative which is striking as part of the protest.”
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle