Draw a line in the sand
Draw a line in the sand


Voters in the 26 Counties are being urged to back republican/left candidates in Friday’s elections to send a message to the coalition government and limit the damage from opportunistic anti-immigrant campaigners.

Local and European elections are both being held on Friday. A poll out this week showed that the government parties are set to lose seats, but that up to a fifth of voters intend to instead support anti-immigration candidates, some of whom are backed by racist, anti-Irish groups based in Britain.

Those who orchestrated the riots that erupted in Dublin last November are lending their support to the electoral campaigns of “nationalist”, “patriot” and “freedom” parties and independents, none of whom have ever opposed the British occupation in the north of Ireland and some who have links to far-right British and loyalist groups.

Left, republican and anti-imperialist candidates are in a fight for the last seats in all three European constituencies.

In Dublin, they are Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan and Councillor Daithí Doolan, and left-wing independent MEP Clare Daly; in Midlands-North-West, they are Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew MP and MEP Chris MacManus, and Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD, and in Ireland South, they are Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion and Senator Paul Gavan, and left-wing independent MEP Mick Wallace.

The coalition government’s disastrous handling of the housing crisis has helped to fuel fears that Irish people are being “displaced” by refugees, particularly in rural and working class areas.

Over the election campaign, there have been a number of incidents of racist abuse, linked to arson attacks and violent protests against accommodations earmarked for asylum seekers.

Speaking this week as the party launched its campaign for Dublin City Hall, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Fine Gael’s failure to deliver affordable homes had resulted in the collapse of home ownership across the city.

“Fine Gael’s failure on housing is clear to see in Dublin. Many people in neighbourhoods right across our capital city are faced with the choice of continuing to live with their parents well into their 30s, paying extortionate rents or feeling forced to emigrate because they can’t see a future for themselves here in Ireland,” she said.

“Sinn Féin have set out our plan to get to grips with the housing crisis and deliver genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent in Dublin. We have set out how Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies can deliver homes for under €300,000, alongside the delivery of large-scale social housing.”

One of Sinn Féin’s top targets in the local elections across the 26 Counties on Friday is to elect party veteran Maurice Quinlivan as Mayor of Limerick. Friday will see the first ever direct election to the post.

Campaigning in the city, Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill called on voters to “seize this moment”.

She said that “people want to see strong leadership” that delivers positive change for workers and families.

“They want political leaders who stand strongly on the side of communities, and work to meet the everyday needs of people. Leaders who work to create a better future for our children, where they can grow up in a fairer society with access to well paid jobs, affordable homes, and good public services.”

Despite their high international profile as key anti-establishment voices in the EU parliament, sitting MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace of ‘Independents 4 Change’ are both in a battle to hold onto their seats.

The two activists recently secured endorsements from Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, singer Annie Lennox, as well as former republican MP Bernadette McAliskey.

“They’re speaking up loud and clear for international solidarity and social justice, for peace and for the oppressed people and I can’t tell you how much, how very important and how much that means to those of us in other places that are given hope by them and what they are saying, to hear that kind of truth,” Ms Sarandon said in a video.

“There are very few voices for peace in places of power and we need them more than ever now. Especially with what is going on in Gaza.”

Ms Daly said she was “blown away” by the support she has received during the election campaign.

“As a politician from a neutral country, the reach and resonance of our message – of peace, of international law, of human rights, and justice – is testament to the enormous importance of real, proactive Irish neutrality on the world stage,” Ms Daly said.

Meanwhile, Aontú leader and Midlands-North-West candidate Peadar Tóibín TD promised ‘accountability and common sense’ as he moved into the final stage of his party’s campaign.

“Ireland is a deeply divided country, not just North/South but in many other ways also,” he said.

“We have an overheating capital with the worst congestion in Europe where people cannot get housing or access to schools.

“We have a sprawling commuter belt where workers spend 2 or 3 hours a day commuting, some from as far as Munster, Connacht and Ulster. And we have rural Ireland that is emptying out of its young people.”

He said the referendums showed that the government and most of the opposition “are not listening to the people. The political establishment are distracted by the culture wars and have forgotten about the bread-and-butter issues concerning the people.”

First results from the elections are due to emerge when votes are tallied on Saturday morning.

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