Coalition talks are about to take place between Fine Gael and the Irish Labour Party on forming a government, as counting continues to allocate the last remaining seats following the Irish general election. However, the Unite trade union has called on the Irish Labour Party to resist the lure of coalition with Fine Gael, and opt instead to lead a ‘game changing’ opposition coalition of the left. UNITE Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, said today:
This election was about change. Part of the change was unequivocal; the removal of Fianna Fáil from power, but the rest is now in the hands of the Labour Party leadership. The people did not vote for a Fine Gael overall majority. Their policies on privatisation, austerity and income cuts did not attract enough support and should not now be facilitated by the tired old fall-back of coalition with Labour.
The Labour Party has an historic opportunity to become the official opposition in the 31st Dáil, leading a greatly expanded Left wing coalition. The prospect of a Left-led government in the short-term has been greatly enhanced. We can now see the end of the old and outdated political divisions that dominated Irish politics since the 1930s. The political dividing line is no longer determined by Fianna Fáil. They have been totally rejected and must not be given the oxygen of being an unwanted official opposition. The dividing line is now between the Left and the Right.
If Labour grasps this opportunity, the party can lead an invigorated Left opposition in the Dáil. It will have 60 seats in the new Dáil, with Labour at the head, Sinn Féin, the United Left Alliance and other independents in support. Campaigning with civil society groups, we now have an opportunity to present the Irish people with a real choice, a real alternative to Fine Gael’s programme of austerity, privatisation, and income cuts.
When Eamon Gilmore sits down with Enda Kenny he should explain that the old politics is over. Labour will not wait any longer. If Fine Gael wants to form a government, they shouldn’t expect the Left to be a crutch or a mudguard. They should go to those of similar policy and psychology like Fianna Fáil or right-wing independents.”
Labour should look to the interests of the nation and working people, create new alliances with an expanded Left inside the Dail and social organisations outside. A Fine Gael-led government would only last two to three years. Then, finally, the goal of a Left-led government can become a reality. Labour should hold its nerve.”