Sinn Féin & Syriza, taking a stand against austerity

Posted: June 8, 2015 in Austerity, Greece, Sinn Féin, Stormont Executive, Syriza

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.

Syriza were elected to oppose the failed Troika Memorandum. They pledged to fight for an alternative social and economic plan that would return Greece to economic growth while averting the countries humanitarian crisis.

Sinn Féin was elected to oppose the failed Tory cuts agenda. We pledged to use our mandate to secure a viable Executive budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.

Both parties reject the delusional idea that the cost of the crisis should be borne by those least responsible and least able to pay.

More importantly we reject the proposition that the cause of our economic crisis was excessive deficits and debts.

These were symptoms of a model of economic development that spiralled out of control in 2008.

But rather than deal with the real causes of the crisis –financial liberalisation, reckless banking hollowing out of the tax system, monetarist economic policy and a badly designed common currency- governments and EU institutions socialised the debt and heaped the cost onto ordinary people.

The spiralling deficits in Ireland, Greece and elsewhere from 2008 were a product of the inevitable collapse of the toxic policy mix that has dominated Europe for more than two decades.

Tragically the same broad policy parameters that drove the economic crisis continue to inform the thinking of political elites in Berlin, Brussels, London and Dublin.

Blaming lazy Greeks and reckless Irish (we all partied after all!) is a convenient way to avoid identifying and dealing with the real structural causes of the crisis.

This politics of denial was on display at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham last month as former ECB boss Jean Claude Trichet defended the role of the EU institutions with a mixture of arrogance and ignorance that was truly breath taking.

Unfortunately treating the symptoms as if they were causes is not only bad economics but has devastating social and human costs.

Both Greece and Ireland have seen the most dramatic rise in recession related suicides since 2007 as ordinary people struggle to cope with the impact of recession and austerity. Austerity literally kills.

This is just one of a long list of social indicators that reveal the devastating human cost of the policy group think of those in power.

And this is why events in Athens and Belfast are so important.

Finally after years of political leaders buckling under the weight of German intransigence we have administrations that are saying enough is enough.

The periphery is starting to fight back, and not just in Ireland or Greece.

The unprecedented victory of the SNP in the recent Westminster election and the massive gains made by Podemos and their allies in the Spanish local and provincial elections were directly related to their challenge to austerity.

In turn the intransigence of the EU core is stiffening. The unwillingness of the German government to display flexibility in the EU’s negotiations with Greece is the real cause of the deadlock.

David Cameron’s announcement of a further €3bn of cuts for the current financial year is a clear indication of how he intends to use his new Westminster majority.

And closer to home the Irish government has clearly demonstrated which side of this important contest they are on. Kenny and Burton’s tacit support for Merkel and Cameron is as craven as it is predictable.

They are like the small weak child cheering on the schoolyard bully for fear of getting another beating themselves.

The stakes have never been higher. The irresistible force of popular opposition to austerity has finally hit the immovable object of core Europe’s economic orthodoxy. It is a contest of David and Goliath proportions.

In an important article in French newspaper Le Monde last week Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Europe was at a cross roads. The choice, not only in the ongoing Greek negotiations but across the EU according to Tsipras, was either for a Europe of solidarity, equality and democracy or for rupture and division.

He is right. In six or nine months the electorate in this small peripheral corner of the European Union will get to make our choice in the upcoming general election.

We can chose to continue down the road of Fine Gael and Labours two tier recovery, punishing our own population for the failure of Fianna Fail and cheering on Angela Merkel as she punishes the peoples of Greece, Spain and elsewhere.

Or we can take a stand not just against austerity, but for a fairer Ireland and Europe based on equality, solidarity and democracy.

This could be the most important general election for a generation with repercussions not only for our own future but for the EU as a whole. It is an opportunity to be bold and brave and to stand up for what is just, an opportunity to say yes to a better fairer Ireland.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Business Post on June 7 2015

  1. Paul Doran says:


    I think you becoming delusional if you think that SNP will make a huge difference to the well-being of the working class in Scotland, They have already shown their subservient nature of wanting to stay in the EU and all the policies and tricks that entails for example staying within the deficit, and the massive cuts that will bring to the Scottish working class. I could go on.

    Sinn Féin a party that I supported since a boy in its struggle for the sovereignty of the Irish people and the long war against the most repressive Government in the world, is now blowing smoke in people’s eyes with how they and Syriza will be the vanguard against Austerity in the EU, Already Podemos in Spain have back-tracked of some of their original policies to make them amenable to the electorate, just like Sinn Féin who at one stage were possibly radical. The smell of power has cleansed Sinn Féin and the allure of more funds from the Gatekeepers they criticise is a powerful aphrodisiac.

    I will draw your attention the link below which clearly shows how Syriza have sold out and no more than Sinn Fein will do likewise, witness the latest call from their top brass Martin Mc Guinness who wants to have a separate referendum in the occupied six counties if the British Government pull out of the EU. It quite extraordinary how the one time officer commanding the IRA Derry brigade a man I had once huge respect for, because he took on the British to fight for Independence and now wants to be part of an even worse coloniser the EU and that institutions thirst for more power and the demonizing of the working class throughout the EU

    See link below

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