An event of profound importance took place in Brussels during the early hours of Monday last.

The significance of the European summit negotiations extends well beyond the immediate –and devastating- consequences for the people of Greece.

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The increasingly belligerent tone of Fine Gael and Labour towards the Greek people and their government is a timely reminder of the values underpinning the coalition.

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Historically the Irish left has suffered from two weaknesses – a poverty of ambition and a lack of credible alternatives. These weaknesses, more than anything else, are the reason why the south of Ireland has never had a left wing government.

Last weekend’s conference organised by the five Right2Water trade unions –Unite, Mandate, CPSU, CWU, OPATSI- sought to address these weaknesses.

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Imagine your teenage son and three daughters are abroad visiting family. They get caught up in a street demonstration that turns nasty. They take refuge in a nearby church.

While running for cover your son is shot in the hand, caught in gun battle cross fire between the army and anti-government forces.

After the fighting dies down the army storm the church and arrest 400 hundred people including your children. They are thrown into a decrepit overcrowded jail.

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Something important is happening in Belfast and Athens. Sinn Féin and Syriza are taking a stand against austerity.

Contrary to the lazy commentary of some this is not a case of weak Governments unwilling to take hard decisions.

It is a rare example of politics with backbone, of politicians honouring their election pledges.

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In his thoughtful and timely blog –Left may have squandered opportunity– Ronan Burtenshaw wonders if the Left has failed to capitalise on the anti-establishment surge that is the Right2Water movement.

His argument is based on a cross reading of the massive mobilisations against the Government’s water charges in 2014 and early 2015 and the establishment parties standing in the opinion polls.

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In Scotland there was change. In England there was drama. But here in Ireland there was neither.

The 2015 Westminster election confirmed the broad patterns in the North that have been established since 2001.

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