TODAY I BRING you greetings of solidarity from brothers, sisters and comrades in the Irish Trade Union movement. Greetings from a country which has been ravaged and laid waste by a marauding Troika intent on destroying the social fabric of Irish society, intent on attacking labour and intent on protecting and enriching the economic elite of Ireland and Europe.
Marx, I am sure, would have seen austerity policies for what they are – an instrument of class warfare. To those who say austerity is not working, I say you’re mistaken, austerity is working, it is working for those for whom it was meant to work, the capitalist class. On 18 October 2008 the Irish government was forced to agree a blanket bank guarantee scheme and in so agreeing the welfare of the Irish people and of future generations was sacrificed on the altar of financial capitalism, the bad gambling debts of the world’s elite were underwritten by every man, woman and child in Ireland. The results of this slavish surrender can be seen in every village and city in Ireland, the misery of mass unemployment, mass emigration, homelessness and poverty, even for those with jobs, as the relentless attacks continue on wages, conditions and welfare.
But we are not alone in our persecution. Across Europe, in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, workers have been attacked, 26 million have been told they are surplus to the requirements of the capitalist system, millions more have been driven from their homes and impoverished. Austerity was never designed to help working people, it is designed to establish greater inequality, to transfer wealth upwards, this is a class war and our class is losing.
The gombeen press coverage and back slapping which coincided with Ireland’s exit of the bailout programme in December 2013 portrayed Ireland as the poster child of austerity – is nothing more than a smoke screen. Our economy is broken beyond repair, the imposition of more austerity and debt ensures that any little economic independence we may have had is gone. Economic and policy decisions on Ireland’s future are now made in Germany and by the ECB, they are not made with the best interests of the Irish working class in mind, rather they reinforce the continued transfer of wealth from the Irish people to the global financial elite.
We need to stand together across Europe and build a people’s alternative, a vision of a new socialist economic order, to mobilise in every community and every factory, we must preach the gospel of discontent.
The rise of the right across Europe must be challenged by a united left alternative, we have a responsibility to those who went before us to shine a light into the dirtiest and darkest corners of the capitalist system, to expose its lies and abuses, to challenge the hate policies of the right. The Irish people and peoples across Europe have been sold into debt slavery for generations to come, we must mobilise and free our class.
In the words of Jim Larkin, the great Irish union organiser, “The great only appear great because we are on our knees, Let Us Rise”
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