On 31 August sitting Socialist Party (SP) TD (Irish MP) Clare Daly resigned from the organisation. She will keep her seat as a member of the United Left Alliance (ULA).
In a statement posted on its website, the SP is adamant that Daly’s public support for tax-cheat TD Mick Wallace was at the centre of their differences. Daly, on the other hand, cited political differences with the SP, announcing that “the potential of the ULA has not been fully realised and it is now time that the component organisations prioritised the building of the ULA”.
Daly’s criticism that there has been a lack of emphasis on building the ULA is reasonable. Despite the profile of the Household Tax Campaign, the ULA has so far failed to take an identity that transcends the largest of its component groups, the SP and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
However, it is not impossible that Clare Daly has manufactured these differences after the event. SP leader Joe Higgins declares on his website that “the many discussions that took place between Clare Daly and leading party members in June and July were all focused on the question of her political support for Mick Wallace. Clare Daly simply did not raise any points relating to a greater emphasis on the ULA in recent months”.
Wallace, a property developer, was forced to come to a €2.1m settlement after he admitted that his company had under-declared VAT to the tune of €1.4m. Daly has not only refused to break with him but has continued sitting with him in parliament, even after the “Technical Group” of independent TDs to which Wallace belonged asked him to resign from the group. A failure to condemn Wallace’s behaviour is inappropriate for anyone publicly representing a socialist organisation.
James P Cannon used to say that in politics there were often two reasons: a good reason and the real reason. The contemporary applicability of this insight and the fact that we do not have information beyond the contradictory public statements of the SP and Clare Daly reflects badly on honest accounting in the socialist movement. More than this, it has allowed the right-wing press to distract from the real issues at the expense of the Irish left.
We do not know for certain whether the political differences cited by Daly are more apparent than real, or what went on within the internal organisational structures of the SP.
What we do know is that Daly continued to go out of her way to support a tax evading capitalist. Along with the SP, we believe this to be wrong.