A series of coordinated early morning police raids in south-west Dublin have seen at least seventeen people – including several left-wing politicians – arrested for attending a peaceful rally against water charges last November, amid claims of “political policing” and intimidation. Shortly before 7am on Monday February 9, six police arrested Anti-Austerity Alliaaul Murphy TDnce (AAA) TD and Socialist Party member Paul Murphy at his home while he was still in his pyjamas, having breakfast with his children.
Leading trade unionists, Irish republican party Sinn Fein and a range of other left voices have backed a call for a new anti-austerity force in Irish politics capable of winning government. In the wake of SYRIZA’s historic win in the Greek elections on January 25, Sinn Fein national chairperson, Declan Kearney, called for formal discussions to begin on building an Irish left coalition to cohere an anti-austerity government in the South.
Outrage and disbelief met a report in the December 30 Irish Times that British TV station Channel 4 was commissioning a comedy set to the backdrop of the Irish Famine. The Famine lasted from 1845 until 1852, with more than one million people dying from starvation and disease. Many of them were buried without coffins in mass pauper graves. Others were left where they dropped for fear of contagion, their mouths green from the grass they ate in desperation.
Up to 100,000 protesters shut down Dublin city on December 10 in the latest mass demonstration against the introduction of water charges. Protesters from across the country braved media hysteria, riot police and police barricades, and the threat of a fierce storm, to descend on the centre of Dublin, placing Leinster House – home of the Dáil (Irish parliament) – and other government buildings in “lock down”.
Faced with growing public revolt against the introduction of water charges and faltering support, the Irish government is in a deepening crisis. The government ― a coalition between the right-wing Fine Gael (FG) party and the Irish Labour Party ― came to power in 2011 on the back of public outrage over austerity and social spending cuts.
More than 200,000 people demonstrated on streets up and down the country in protest against water charges. Even in the smaller towns across Ireland, people marched in their thousands, while cities crowd numbers were in the tens of thousands. About 30,000 braved incessant rain in Cork city. The march took almost an hour-and-a-half to make its way through Cork city centre. Among the politicians protesting was Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien, who said: “The government needs to recognise the numbers on the streets. People are not going to pay, it is a tax too far.”
Huge crowds demonstrated against water charges on the streets of Dublin's city centre on October 12 as voters delivered a stunning message of “no confidence” to the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government in two by-elections. Traffic in Dublin’s city centre came to a standstill due to the unprecedented scale of the anti-austerity march. About 100,000 people took part in the march, which took one hour and twenty minutes to pass the Spire in O’Connell Street.
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Two representatives from Irish republican party Sinn Fein toured Australia from August to September 7, speaking to hundreds of people at public meetings about the campaign for Irish reunification. Sinn Fein vice-president and member of the Dail (Irish parliament) Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster in Ireland's north Francie Molloy, spoke in support of the campaign to end partition and unite the six counties still claimed by Britain with the 26 counties that make up the southern state in a democratic republic.
Representatives from Irish republican party Sinn Fein are touring Australia from August 30 to September 7, speaking at public meetings in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This year, Sinn Fein has emerged as the largest all-Ireland party on the basis of opposition to brutal austerity measures. In recent weeks, Sinn Fein has increased its solidarity with Palestine, inside and outside parliament, including demands Ireland expel Israel’s ambassador and for an arms embargo on Israel.