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Irish Times: Left alliance to field candidates, including Rossport Five supporters

By: Olivia Kelly,
Published: Nov 27, 2006

An alliance of left-wing groups, including Rossport Five supporters, anti-bin tax campaigners, and incineration protesters, is to run four candidates in the next general election.

The People Before Profit Alliance, formed last year, is to formally register to appear on the ballot paper next year and will run three candidates in Dublin, all of whom are members of the Socialist Workers Party, and one former Labour Party activist in Wicklow.

Prominent anti-war protester and former general and local election candidate Richard Boyd Barrett is running in Dun Laoghaire. Rory Hearne, involved in several campaigns including the protests against the Corrib gas pipeline and the Poolbeg incinerator, is to run in Dublin South East.

BrId Smith, an anti-bin charges campaigner, is contesting a seat in Dublin South Central. Carmel McKenna, who was a member of the Labour Party for 30 years and has contested general and local elections in Wicklow, is now running for the alliance in that county.

Despite the prevalence of Socialist Workers Party members in the alliance, Mr Hearne says it is not simply that party in a new guise.

“A lot of people involved are in the Socialist Workers Party, but a lot are not in any party or would be with the Greens, Labour or in Sinn Fein.”

There was no real opposition to the current Government from the “mainstream left parties”, which had generally accepted the Celtic Tiger model of low corporation taxes and low taxes for the wealthy, Mr Hearne said.

Mr Barrett, who got 8 per cent of the vote in Dun Laoghaire in the last general election, said the alliance would offer people an alternative to parties that put profit before people.

“There is a burgeoning discontent and huge numbers of people are looking for a left alternative, but wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as socialists. This movement is the coming together of people who have campaigned against Shell profiting from our natural resources, against the war in Iraq and other social movements.”

Ms McKenna left Labour four years ago after what she described as its “takeover” by Democratic Left.

“I am very much a campaigner and an issues-based candidate. I’ve been active in the local campaign for a children’s A&E in Loughlinstown hospital, and I think the alliance offers a voice to that type of smaller campaign and to groups that would otherwise be very isolated.”

Ms Smith said she is standing against privatisation and the “neoliberal agenda” of the Government.

“The notion of democracy is that you get the government you vote for, but what party ran on the platform of handing our natural resources to Shell, of withholding nurses’ pay or of maintaining appalling conditions in nursing homes? None of them said that was what they stood for, but in reality, it was,” she said.

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