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Lugh Ildánach

Who Represents Ballyfermot? The government or the people?

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http://republican.ie/forum/index.php?/topic/89684-who-represents-ballyfermot-the-government-or-the-people/page__fromsearch__1

 

Who Represents Ballyfermot? The government or the people?

 

 

The following article is a piece from éirígí's Ballyfermot representative, Cllr. Louise Minihan in response to claims made by a number of Government TDs that those who took part in a 'Hands Off Our Children's Allowance Protest' in the area on the 5th October are not representative of the people of Ballyfermot.

 

Who Represents Ballyfermot? The government or the people?

In recent day’s a number of Dublin South Central TD’s have claimed that anti-austerity protesters are not representative of the people of Ballyfermot.

These same TD’s, Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne and Eric Byrne and Michael Conaghan of Labour, claim to represent Ballyfermot, yet they have consistently voted against the interests of local residents by supporting ‘slash and burn’ cuts to our community. The three government TD’s that represent Ballyfermot are strong supporters of:

 

<>·<>·

 

In recent years the Fine Gael/ Labour government have:

<>·<>·<>·<>·<>·<>·<>·<>·

 

 

Michael, Eric and Catherine, the so called representatives of the Ballyfermot people have supported all of the above.

 

 

Labour and Fine Gael are currently attempting to impose unjust property and water taxes across this state. The high numbers of people that continue to boycott the ‘household charge’ austerity tax across the local area gives some indication of just how un-representative of the people of Ballyfermot the coalition have become.

 

 

Michael Conaghan, Eric Byrne and Catherine Byrne have a combined income (not including their allowances) of €278,016 per year. That’s a huge €92,672 each. These wages are paid by us, the taxpayers of this state. According to the CSO the average annual earnings for workers is 2012 is just €33,327 per year. The basic payment for somebody on the social welfare is just €188 a week. TD’s receiving such huge amounts of taxpayers’ money in return for voting to cut our community and public services, cannot seriously claim to represent the people of Ballyfermot.

 

The anti- austerity protesters who forced Eamon Gilmore and Frances Fitzgerald to retreat from Ballyfermot, however, where and are representative of the anger of a proud community that feel’s betrayed by the professional political class. Those who protested in Ballyfermot last Friday (October 5) were mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who decided to take a stand against the proposed cuts to Child Benefit and the years of cutbacks that have devastated our community.

 

Some of those at the protest were community and political activists who are daily faced with the human cost of the austerity measures that Michael, Catherine and Eric vote for from the comfort of Leinster House.

 

The Hands Off Our Children’s Allowance protest showed that the anger against austerity in Ballyfermot is palpable. That protest showed that so long as government Ministers continue to launch attacks on the working class, they are not welcome in our communities. Michael Conaghan, Catherine Byrne and Eric Byrne would do well to take note of such anger and stand up for our communities against austerity and cutbacks. It’s high time they decided to do the job we pay them to do - represent the people of Ballyfermot and Dublin South Central.

The upcoming budget is predicted to be one of the harshest on record. By taking to the streets our communities can take a stand and fight back. The upcoming budget will also provide Catherine, Michael and Eric the opportunity to show they have grown a backbone and are willing to stand with the people who voted them into power.

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You can accuse éirígí of opportunism all you want, but the above statement is spot on, and it is important that this message gets out, from whatever quarter.

 

All that is missing from the statement is the alternative to be presented. Éirígí do not yet have that articulated, but with an analysis like this, I'd say it won't be long before some of their members or supporters start to find that alternative and expressing revolutionary ideas.

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The problem with this is that Éirígí themselves still have a superstitious reverence for representational democracy, and are happy to be part of that circus, whenever the opportunity arises.

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The problem with this is that Éirígí themselves still have a superstitious reverence for representational democracy, and are happy to be part of that circus, whenever the opportunity arises.

 

I agree with the statement. But I am suspicious of eirigi. I defended them a week or 2 ago, for taking action when others didn't, but I also think they are opportunist and their actions are tokanism.

They release great statements of resistance etc but like many republican groups they don't follow though. It was Lizzie Windsors visit that really put me off eirigi. When hundreds of republicans took to the street we seen republicans from all groups join together, 32s, RNU, IRSP, even RSF but eirigi decided to do their own thing!

I was just watching a video there of the day there was a dinner in dublin castle. They spend half the time calling for people to be "dignified" and not turn it into violence etc... For a self proclaimed militant group I think this truely pathetic. If there was one day for Republicans to unite and carry out militint action, that was it!

 

But sure what do you expect from a party who's leadership stayed with PSF through 90% of the GFA.

 

There is a space to be filled in Ireland by real militant activist group(s). Unfortunately eirigi are getting all the press at the moment.

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I was at that protest when éirígí shunned other Republicans and led half of the crowd away from the confrontation with the English monarch.

 

However, I wouldn't want this thread to turn into a discussion of the merits of éirígí, the content of their above statement is why I posted the above, and it is really important.

 

People are beginning to be able to articulate a complete rejection of governments. There still needs the link to be made to representative politics in their entirity, but the dynamic and awareness is there amongst the people. They are crying out for some alternative. Nobody is yet providing it. We need to step up to the mark, and quickly, before people are led down another cul de sac.

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Im not sure if the discontent is as widespread as the article suggests. If it was then the protest would have been bigger than it was. I think thag most people have realised that voting every few years for ff or fg or even labour does nothing. But thats over ridden by the fear of real change.

 

I think the challenge may be to try and extinguish that fear. Look at greece and spain. Two countrys who have a large amount of people who have been pushed and pushed to the point where they decided 'fuck it, i want change'! This has been expressed in two ways. One is the voting for far left and right wing groups and the other is the mass marches, protests and strikes.

Thats the point ireland must get to. Because imo there is still that fear of real change.

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Yes, you're right. The fear of the unknown is very powerful. There are two forces which counteract this. One is making people familiar with the alternative, the other is when the fear of the known becomes intolerable and worse than the fear of the unknown. We can only really control the first aspect, the unsustainable nature of the capitalist system however will provide the other force for us, but we should not rely on it by itself, it can push people in other directions too, as you've indicated.

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One huge problem is the power of the mass media. It stokes the fear of the unknown while trying to lessen the fear of the known. People see it every day, its this line pushed that everything was grand before recession. That the recessions only a blip and sure it will all be grand again afyer a few years.

 

I duno the solution to any of it to be honest. But im up for a revolution lol.

 

My new slogan might be, "Capitalism Kills, Kill Capitalism and its lackeys!" though im a fan of "¡Ya Basta!"

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One huge problem is the power of the mass media. It stokes the fear of the unknown while trying to lessen the fear of the known. People see it every day, its this line pushed that everything was grand before recession. That the recessions only a blip and sure it will all be grand again afyer a few years.

 

I duno the solution to any of it to be honest. But im up for a revolution lol.

 

My new slogan might be, "Capitalism Kills, Kill Capitalism and its lackeys!" though im a fan of "¡Ya Basta!"

 

And that's the danger at just organising these kind of events, and relying on the publicity that they generate. Unless you create structures that are capable of reaching into people's lives on a daily basis, then the media and the bourgeois system continues to exist uninterrupted.

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Guest Felix Rourke

lol, again with the Windsor Protest...

 

Ignoring the fact that the crowd that turned out for éirígí's protest was far smaller than predicted (though still larger than all the others combined), and that the mix of the crowd, consisting of families and children, hardly lent itself to attacking a vastly numerically superior Garda force consisting of riot police who were licking their lips at an opportunity to swoop and arrest portions of the march.

 

Ignoring the tactical facts of the day, do you think a good way to build a new socialist-republican movement is by associating with people who's names are tarnished and who between 1998 and 2011 had done next to nothing for Republicanism besides extort drug dealers to feather their own nests?

 

Talking about lack of ideology in éirígí, to what end would it have served the socialist-republican struggle to "unify" with groups whos armed wings have now joined together in a new formation whos purpose it is to reject politics?

 

the army/party model is dead. All the rubbish that comes with that murky underworld has done nothing but paint Republicanism in an ever poorer light since 1998, and your suggestion is for a group who has no connection to that, to throw themselves head first into it?

 

And no, éirígí do not have a "superstitious reverence" for elections. Would you have said the same with regards Seamus Costello and his tactical use of elections? do you think he was a superstitious character? I'm not comparing éirígí or anyone within the party to Costello, but in terms of elections the Costello model is the one éirígí want to follow and adapt to current conditions.

 

I can tell you first hand that there is no such reverence in the party for representational democracy. We recognise the absolute necessity of building strong holds in working-class communities, and elections are a means to doing so. That they are merely a means is enshrined in party policy.

 

and laoch na nGael, what would you know? It's obvious you were sitting at your computer that day. For the record the RNU were protesting on a different side of Dublin Castle at parliament street while the main protests were up near Christchurch. Maybe you would like to ask them why that was? Also, I find it laughable that you would even include the IRSP among the groups who were protesting, as there was, no word of a lie, a grand total of 3 people from the IRSP there. Maybe you would do well to get your own house in order, maybe even get a few more activists, before you criticise the strategy and tactics of others.

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Elections may help build strongholds, but they do not build revolutionary strongholds. It is alternative revolutionary structures that build revolutionary strongholds.

 

I don't reject electoralism as a point of absolute principle, but as a result of observation on the role of elections in the history of Irish revolutionary organisations. There may be some conditions in which it is possible to use elections, but I think its abundantly clear that those conditions are not what we have. Let PSF and the other reformists put their faith in such institutions, in building their party by lying to the people by saying that they can represent them better than the current crowd.

 

Fair play to éirígí for organising this protest, and as I said above, I think the above statement from Louise is excellent and really important. She could have done us all a favour and include the local bourgeois parliamentary body that she sits in herself with her analysis. What is it that stops her from doing that?

 

Seamus Costello was prepared to stand in the council chamber and call it what it really is, a dung hill. Some of that rhetoric would demonstrate that éirígí were really following in those footsteps. Myself, I detect in Louise's statements that she is gradually coming to that conclusion. I wouldn't share Fodla's view that there is a reverence for representational politics, but what there is is a lack of clarity and a revolutionary alternative.

 

We have to be very clear on this, no government, no opposition, no local authority, is going to be able to get rid of capitalism. We must say that! This statement could be read to mean only that THIS government doesn't represent the people, it doesn't specifically say that no bourgeois government can ever represent the people. It says that the people of Ballyfermot are the ones who should be running Ballyfermot, but it gives no clarity as to how that will be achieved.

 

It is the building of revolutionary structures that is needed. People are ready for the next step, of not just rejecting individual governments, but rejecting bourgeois rule it its entirity. But if they are not presented with a practical alternative, they will succumb to one of two options, maintaining the tried and tested (and failed) politics of reformism, or giving up. If presented with a revolutionary alternative, a structure in Ballyfermot that really represents the people of Ballyfermot, then people will flock to it. But unless that is done, then all this statement equates to is a call for people to vote for Louise in the next election, actually it doesn't even amount to that, they could be asking people vote for whoever they think might be able to form a better form of bourgeois government. Given that the largest non-government party in Ballyfermot is probably PSF, it may as well have been a call for a vote for them.

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lol, again with the Windsor Protest...

 

Ignoring the fact that the crowd that turned out for éirígí's protest was far smaller than predicted (though still larger than all the others combined), and that the mix of the crowd, consisting of families and children, hardly lent itself to attacking a vastly numerically superior Garda force consisting of riot police who were licking their lips at an opportunity to swoop and arrest portions of the march.

 

That's exactly what happened when the eirigi-led portion left their comrades. A stand in solidarity would have been nice and would likely have prevented the coralling that occured. Nobody was getting through those garda lines that day, but the real glee amongst the gardaí would have been when they saw the opposition divide in two, and half of them walk away. Funnily enough éirígí leaders were seen later in the evening back at the scene without their crowds after their earlier actions had ensured that the protest didn't get out of control. There were however no eggs being thrown that day!

 

Anyway, I don't want to drag this thread into that kind of debate. Maybe in time we can forgive those whose names have been tarnised by these actions :lol:

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So despite anti-GFA republicans who refused to abandon their principles, endured the full rigours of state brutality, served sentences in Portlaoise, Britain, Maghaberry etc, while the Eirigi leadership at the time were in highly paid an pampered positions in the Provos, standing over Decommissioning, accepting the GFA with gusto, discrediting real republican activists, engaging in all the threachery PSF had to offer, all the while licking Adams arse

Republicans who refused to accept this carry on were all gangsters and extortionists out for themseleves?

 

Pretty serious allegation to make, have you any credible proof other then Sunday World articles to back up such a serious claim?

And is this an attitude held by your Eirigis member?

 

Are you serious? I'm not even going to bother getting into that debate. Is that all you can say? oh well the rag tabloids said it therefore there is absolutely no truth in it? It's a completely immature position to take

 

The dogs on the street within republicanism know that many (not all) in these groups are up to their eye balls in all manner of dodgyness

 

The notion that these groups who are mixed up in the criminal underworld (not saying they're criminals) have not got dirt on their hands and are pure, the IRA etc, needs to be debunked amongst republicans before we can move on and restore our image (and our reality) as a virtuous one to the Irish people

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So despite anti-GFA republicans who refused to abandon their principles, endured the full rigours of state brutality, served sentences in Portlaoise, Britain, Maghaberry etc, while the Eirigi leadership at the time were in highly paid an pampered positions in the Provos, standing over Decommissioning, accepting the GFA with gusto, discrediting real republican activists, engaging in all the threachery PSF had to offer, all the while licking Adams arse

Republicans who refused to accept this carry on were all gangsters and extortionists out for themseleves?

 

Pretty serious allegation to make, have you any credible proof other then Sunday World articles to back up such a serious claim?

And is this an attitude held by the your average Eirigis member?

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I would be concerned at this statement. Nobody is calling for unification of groups, well certain elements are, but they are usually the least political of all. What is needed however is practical unity. People standing side to side, on everyday political issues, regardless of political faction or background. If someone "tarnished" stands beside me to oppose an element of capitalism, they are doing a lot more in that moment than someone who may have impeccable social standing but who refuses to take part in the protest in case he is seen with such people.

 

But that's not dealing in reality. If an organisation associates with elements who have a bad name (rightly or wrongly) then they've already lost the battle of bringing new members on board

 

It is of course true that the person who is standing beside you is doing more to oppose an element of capitalism than someone who sits at home but is "respectable". But we have to be calculating about this. We want to build a mass movement, not be standing at protests in 50 years time where there are still only a dozen people. Unfortunately the media and society stigmatises people for a variety of reasons, but this is the reality and if we choose to ignore those in the name of a misguided righteousness we will get nowhere.

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Guest Felix Rourke

Elections may help build strongholds, but they do not build revolutionary strongholds. It is alternative revolutionary structures that build revolutionary strongholds.

 

I don't reject electoralism as a point of absolute principle, but as a result of observation on the role of elections in the history of Irish revolutionary organisations. There may be some conditions in which it is possible to use elections, but I think its abundantly clear that those conditions are not what we have. Let PSF and the other reformists put their faith in such institutions, in building their party by lying to the people by saying that they can represent them better than the current crowd.

 

éirígí put no such faith in these institutions as the paper that was adopted at the 2009 Ard Fheis makes clear

 

“Any éirígí engagement will be on the basis of a clear understanding that the existing elected institutions must ultimately fall before a new, genuinely democratic system can emerge. The primary purpose of éirígí tactically participating in elections and elected institutions will therefore be to expose the limits of the current system and give voice to those whose interests lie in direct contradiction to the capitalist system.”

 

http://www.eirigi.or...9/elections.pdf

 

They are also serious about building a state within a state. To do that, you need strongholds in working-class communities where people have come on board with socialist-republicanism. Elections are a small step in getting them to cross the psychological barrier where they support the socialist-republican alternative in opposition to the establishment parties. Elections also bring a host of practical logistical benefits. People will automatically claim that this is only to advance eirigi as a party, but in reality if the party is not strong and does not have a presence in an area then there is no hope of turning that area into a revolutionary stronghold. It's what we do with the support displayed by elections for eirigi that counts.

 

Fair play to éirígí for organising this protest, and as I said above, I think the above statement from Louise is excellent and really important. She could have done us all a favour and include the local bourgeois parliamentary body that she sits in herself with her analysis. What is it that stops her from doing that?

 

Nothing, she criticises that body all the time. Most recently here http://www.eirigi.or...test111012.html

 

Also, there is a strong argument for making a distinction between local councils and the 'national' bourgeois assembly. Some would argue that councils could play a part in propagating the revolution at a local level. I'm not saying they would, one way or another.

 

Seamus Costello was prepared to stand in the council chamber and call it what it really is, a dung hill. Some of that rhetoric would demonstrate that éirígí were really following in those footsteps. Myself, I detect in Louise's statements that she is gradually coming to that conclusion. I wouldn't share Fodla's view that there is a reverence for representational politics, but what there is is a lack of clarity and a revolutionary alternative.

 

eirigi and Louise have come to that conclusion officially several years ago.

 

What do you mean by clarity and a revolutionary alternative exactly?

 

eirigi's goal is to build strongholds that can practice street politcs in a way that will make those areas autonomous

 

 

We have to be very clear on this, no government, no opposition, no local authority, is going to be able to get rid of capitalism. We must say that! This statement could be read to mean only that THIS government doesn't represent the people, it doesn't specifically say that no bourgeois government can ever represent the people. .

 

you seem to be basing what you know of eirigi on this statement alone. They constantly articulate that no bourgeois government can ever represent the people, the main campaign being this one from a few years back http://www.eirigi.or...difference.html

 

but if you read through many of the statements eirigi release in relation to FG/Labour and FF governments before them, they carry the message that all bourgeois governments are doomed to failure

 

 

It is the building of revolutionary structures that is needed. People are ready for the next step, of not just rejecting individual governments, but rejecting bourgeois rule it its entirity. But if they are not presented with a practical alternative, they will succumb to one of two options, maintaining the tried and tested (and failed) politics of reformism, or giving up. If presented with a revolutionary alternative, a structure in Ballyfermot that really represents the people of Ballyfermot, then people will flock to it. But unless that is done, then all this statement equates to is a call for people to vote for Louise in the next election, actually it doesn't even amount to that, they could be asking people vote for whoever they think might be able to form a better form of bourgeois government. Given that the largest non-government party in Ballyfermot is probably PSF, it may as well have been a call for a vote for them.

 

you seem to be taking this one statement, of which eirigi issue scores a month similar, as the definitive philosophy of the party, which is clearly a folly.

 

All this statement wanted to achieve was to put it up to the bourgeois lies that the anger displayed at that protest was not representative of Ballyfermot, that's all! you can't say everything in every statement...

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Guest Felix Rourke

That's exactly what happened when the eirigi-led portion left their comrades.

 

?

 

never happened. the 32s marched up to eirigi's protest with nothing to say and no plan and were told where to go. Approaches had been prior to the day in an effort to formulate a coherent tactical plan, but these were shunned (because of a misguided pseudo-militancy). These groups didn't even bother to advertise to the public when and where they were going to meet! And eirigi were told that this would be the case and so wisely decided not to become involved.

 

nobody left anybody. The 32s marched back down and began to justifiably attack the Garda, but to what end? they were easily corralled. Are we supposed to believe that the Garda who outnumbered even the 32s + eirigi's numbers wouldn't have corralled eirigi as well if they were attacked, considering that the composition of eirigi's march would have made it even easier?

 

Funnily enough éirígí leaders were seen later in the evening back at the scene without their crowds after their earlier actions had ensured that the protest didn't get out of control. There were however no eggs being thrown that day!

 

 

yes, because members of the 32s rang eirigi leaders for legal help as they were surrounded by a ring of garda, and Leeson and MacCionnaith went down to help them, to see if they could diffuse the situation

 

It appears that you have been lied to about the facts of the day

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Guest Felix Rourke

 

Are you serious? I'm not even going to bother getting into that debate. Is that all you can say? oh well the rag tabloids said it therefore there is absolutely no truth in it? It's a completely immature position to take

 

The dogs in the street within republicanism know that many (not all) in these groups are up to their eyeballs in all manner of dodgyness

 

The notion that these groups who are mixed up in the criminal underworld (not saying they're criminals) have not got dirt on their hands and are pure, the IRA etc, needs to be debunked amongst republicans before we can move on and restore our image (and our reality) as a virtuous one to the Irish people

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?

 

never happened. the 32s marched up to eirigi's protest with nothing to say and no plan and were told where to go. Approaches had been prior to the day in an effort to formulate a coherent tactical plan, but these were shunned (because of a misguided pseudo-militancy). These groups didn't even bother to advertise to the public when and where they were going to meet! And eirigi were told that this would be the case and so wisely decided not to become involved.

 

nobody left anybody. The 32s marched back down and began to justifiably attack the Garda, but to what end? they were easily corralled. Are we supposed to believe that the Garda who outnumbered even the 32s + eirigi's numbers wouldn't have corralled eirigi as well if they were attacked, considering that the composition of eirigi's march would have made it even easier?

 

 

 

yes, because members of the 32s rang eirigi leaders for legal help as they were surrounded by a ring of garda, and Leeson and MacCionnaith went down to help them, to see if they could diffuse the situation

 

It appears that you have been lied to about the facts of the day

 

What didn't happen? Nobody left anyone? Eirigi did leave, fact, you admit that. Afterwards the gardai swooped. There were only a couple of arrests, but the lack of numbers helped facilitate the coralling. I had no dealings with MacCionnath or Leeson other than seeing them there, if they were asked to come back, then fair enough. It would have been better that they hadn't left in the first place.

 

I wasn't lied to about the facts on the day, I was there and saw them for myself. But I really don't want this to get into a debate about that day.

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In relation to the other post, you are right that it isn't fair to eirigi to judge them on one statement, all I was doing was commenting on what was present and what was absent in this statement. I thought the statement was actually one of the better ones that they have come out with.

 

If there are other policy positions in the background that support building a state within a state and adopting the dual power strategy that we are talking about, then I look forward to seeing them being advanced in the future. What kind of state are talking about though? Is it something that physical force Republicans are going to be excluded from because of some view that they are somehow "tarnished"?. If they are serious about such an approach it will necessitate working with people who they may offend their sensibilities, it will need to be open to the entire working class, particularly that section of the working class that already adopts a revolutionary analylsis (ie, physical force Republicanism).

 

I would fundamentally disagree that the local authorities have any role in building a state within a state, they enshrine the existing state itself, or perhaps a slightly tweaked current system. They acclimatise those working in local communities for an eventual Leinster House placement, and do nothing to undermine the fundamental nature of the bourgeois political order. They are mini versions of Leinster House, how does taking part in them send out the message that the larger national system is flawed? A fundamental shift is required, local authorities are not capable of doing anything fundamental, and are about to be even more emasculated.

 

But I would accept that this is something up for discussion, and as most of the left still put some faith in the local authorities, I wouldn't hold that against eirigi particularly,

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éirígí put no such faith in these institutions as the paper that was adopted at the 2009 Ard Fheis makes clear

 

“Any éirígí engagement will be on the basis of a clear understanding that the existing elected institutions must ultimately fall before a new, genuinely democratic system can emerge. The primary purpose of éirígí tactically participating in elections and elected institutions will therefore be to expose the limits of the current system and give voice to those whose interests lie in direct contradiction to the capitalist system.”

 

http://www.eirigi.or...9/elections.pdf

 

They are also serious about building a state within a state. To do that, you need strongholds in working-class communities where people have come on board with socialist-republicanism. Elections are a small step in getting them to cross the psychological barrier where they support the socialist-republican alternative in opposition to the establishment parties. Elections also bring a host of practical logistical benefits. People will automatically claim that this is only to advance eirigi as a party, but in reality if the party is not strong and does not have a presence in an area then there is no hope of turning that area into a revolutionary stronghold. It's what we do with the support displayed by elections for eirigi that counts.

 

 

There's a contradiction here, a chara. To do well in bourgeois elections, you have to play by the rules of bourgeois elections. In practice, that means playing the media's game. It inevitably leads to carrying out actions - just for the sake of the cameras. More effort is put into media stunts than into building up real Proletarian institutions, and there is a tendency to avoid being seen with anyone the media doesn't like, i.e. "tainted persons."

 

I don't want to address these comments to Éirígí in particular. There are some great people in Éirígí, including your good self. It's a historical fact that all parties who have ever dabbled in parliamentary politics, in any part of the world, or at any time, have been sucked into the same cul-de-sac.

 

As for Seamus Costello, though I have the greatest respect for him, I feel he was mistaken in his willingness to become involved in electoralism. Having said that, I'm sure he felt that the military action of the INLA would be enough to counter-balance any corrupting influence from taking part in bourgeois elections. The other side of that coin, of course, was the more successful the INLA was, the less likely the sheepish, media brainwashed, herd were to vote for the IRSP.

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