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The latest mass anti-water tax protest, Dublin, Saturday, April 18

by Philip Ferguson

While the class struggle is at a record low in this country, in Ireland significant sections of  the working class in the south began battling in the aftermath of the financial sector meltdown there against attempts by the Fianna Fail/Greens coalition to impose austerity on them.  The anti-working class measures were stepped up when the Fine Gael/Labour coalition took power: they have tried to impose household and water taxes on the population, as well as cutting benefits and pensions.  Colluding with these enemies of the working class have been most of the trade union leadership.  There is now real hatred in working class communities for the Irish Labour Party and for many of the trade union leaderships, leaderships who have done their damnedest to obstruct and prevent the working class fighting back.

images (2)As long-time revolutionary Cork city activist James McBarron noted in a comment on Redline, these working class communities provided massive majorities in support of same-sex marriage in the recent referendum, indicating the depth of solidarity with all the oppressed and discriminated against.

In the north, too, there has been an increase in struggle, with rising protests against austerity, despite the attempts of trade union leaders to prevent and corral strike action.

One of the products of the growth of working class militancy has been the growth of socialist-republicanism in the tradition of working class leaders like James Larkin and James Connolly.  For instance, nine years old this year, is éirígí which has grown from a campaigns group of half a dozen people in Dublin into a militant socialist-republican party with circles across the island.

James Connolly polo

James Connolly polo

I had the privilege of being invited to speak at their 2011 ard fheis (national conference), and have returned since. I have been struck by the totally working class nature of the organisation and its embededness in core working class areas of Dublin and Belfast and other places.

One indication of how the political and economic establishment both sides of Britain’s border in Ireland fear the growth of socialist-republicanism is that the organisation is subject to continual harassment by the political police of the southern state, while in the north a whole panoply of repressive laws and practices remain largely in place from ‘the troubles’.

A number of éirígí comrades have been imprisoned at different times for their forthright leadership in working class communities.

Leila Khaled poster

Leila Khaled poster

As a movement largely of the poorest sections of the working class, éirígí is always broke and in need of funds to carry out political work.  One way that people in other countries can show solidarity with the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland in general, and éirígí in particular, is to buy stuff at the party’s on-line shop: http://www.siopaeirigi.org/

Here are just a few examples of what can be bought: t-shirts with Marx, Engels, Lenin and Connolly, hoodies with the party logo and hoodies and caps with the starry plough (historically the logo of the revolutionary elements of the Irish working class), a wide range of posters including Irish revolutionary figures and also international figures such as Lenin, Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Leila Khaled and many more.  There are key-rings, badges, candles, slates and engravings and much more, as well as a small range of books.

Below are some short clips of prominent party members speaking at some of the mass protests that have taken place in recent years against the household and water taxes in the south.

Louise Minihan speaking at rally of thousands in opposition to household and water taxes outside the Fine Gael party conference, 2012:

Ciaran Heaphey speaking at the rally of tens and tens of thousands in Dublin, 2014 against the water tax:

Brian Leeson speaking at a big rally in Dublin in February this year against police raids and arrests of several dozen anti-water tax campaigners:

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