"Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died?"
W B Yeats, September 1913
The Republic of Ireland (26 of Ireland's 32 counties) has been in the throes of economic revolution for more than two years, since the collapse of the "Celtic Tiger" boom economy. Now it is experiencing the consequent political revolution.
Dublin's Fianna Fail/ Green coalition government has collapsed. The small Green Party, with six members in the Dail, has withdrawn from the goverment. The hapless Fianna Fail Taoiseach (prime minister), Brian Cowen, has resigned as Fianna Fail leader, while remaining Taoiseach for now. A general election will most likely be held on 25 February.
Fianna Fail is the once-revolutionary republican party, the segment of the old revolutionary nationalist Sinn Fein party that lost the 1922-3 civil war. It has been the main party of Irish capitalism since 1932, when it first formed a government. Polls indicate that it will have less support in the upcoming general election than ever in its history, less even than in the August 1923 general election, shortly after the civil war, when its candidates pledged themselves not to take seats they won. (It abandoned "abstentionism" in 1927).
The alternative government to the Fianna Fail/ Green coalition is a coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party and, maybe, the supple-spined Green Party. All these parties, all the parties of both outgoing and income coalitions, agree on the savagely severe Fianna Fail/ Green Finance Bill that has been dictated to Dublin by the international bankers. All of them, Labour as well as the others. Labour aspires no higher than coalition.
Worse than that, and in its own way startling, is this. All four of the parties in government, or soon to be in government, are determined to pass this Bill, against which there is massive popular anger and opposition, before the upcoming general election! Before the electorate can have a chance to pronounce on it. The big conflict point between Fianna Fail and the other three parties is that the "outs" insist that Fianna Fail should pass the Finance Bill by this Friday, 28 January, and Fianna Fail insists that in terms of Dail and Seanad procedure this is not possible. They have compromised on Saturday 29th.
The living standards of the people and, in the first place the workers, have been cut by 10% or more. The Finance Bill is another assault. And the politicians want to pass the Finance Bill on the eve of the General Election.
This is worse, because more blatant and explicit, than what happened in Britain in the May 2010 general election. The Tories did not spell out any details of the cuts they would make. The Lib Dems, who are now giving the Tories the parliamentary votes to make the cuts, fought the election on a pledge to fight Tory cuts, and ratted on their voters after the election. In Ireland the politicians of the three main parties and the Greens are determined to prevent the voters "interfering" in the big business of government - the Finance Bill.
This acceptance of the dictates of the international financiers has already shown what the politicians' routine palavering about "Irish sovereignty and independence" is worth.
The collusion of the Irish rich, international money-makers, and international finance markets, has brought the 26 Counties to the edge of economic bankruptcy. And now the politicians rush to declare Irish democracy bankrupt!
An independent socialist candidate can expect to do well. But Sinn Fein is likely to be the electoral gainer from this obscene political and economic shambles. Sinn Fein denounces the main parties for not letting the electorate pronounce on the cuts dictated by international financiers. It tries to speak to the large part of the electorate which rejects and oppose the reduction in living standards.
Sinn Fein won a recent election in Donegal, long a Fianna Fail stronghold. Fianna Fail calls itself "the Republican party", and Sinn Fein is best place to appeal to Fianna Fail voters. It is standing candidates in almost all the (multi-member) constituencies, including Gerry Adams in Louth.
But Sinn Fein too is looking for a governmental coalition to join. Its strategy for a decade has been to become Fianna Fail's junior partner in government, to match its position in Northern Ireland where it governs in coalition with the DUP.
It was greatly disappointed by its vote in the last (2007) general election. All is changed. Now Sinn Fein has a pretty clear political field. This time Gerry Adams will very likely win a Dail seat.
Sinn Fein may be like the Lib Dems in the 2010 British election. And after it, too, when the dirty horse-trading and bargaining will begin.
Ninety years after nationalist Ireland won an independence that generations had fought and died for, the gombeen bourgeoisie has reduced things to this shambles. It is a bourgeois mockery of the aspirations of the best of those who worked and fought for independence.
Notes: The wild geese were Catholic Irish who fled to Catholic France, Spain, Austria, etc. as mercenary soldiers in the 17th and 18th centuries, when their people in Ireland were held in a sort of apartheid. Edward Fitzgerald was a leader of the republicans allied with the French Revolution, the United Irishmen. Yeats wrote the poem during the 1913-14 labour war in Dublin. Yeats sided actively with the workers, publishing an article in their paper, the Irish Worker.