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WUAG withdraw from ULA October 2, 2012

Posted by doctorfive in Uncategorized.

..fresh thread for discussion

Workers and Unemployed Action Group Leaves United Left Alliance

Workers and Unemployed Action Group (South Tipperary) at its Annual General Meeting has unanimously decided to withdraw from the United Left Alliance. WUAG will continue to campaign against government austerity, cuts in public services , against the household charge/property tax and for fair taxation including a wealth tax and higher taxes on the incomes of the super-rich.

Immediately after Mick Wallace TD announced that he had withheld tax from the revenue commissioners, WUAG proposed that the ULA call for his resignation from the Dáil. This proposal was vetoed by the Socialist Party. WUAG then publicly called for his resignation in its own name. We have continued with our efforts to persuade our allies of our point of view without success. A short time ago, we again formally proposed that the ULA call for his resignation. On this occasion our proposal was vetoed by People Before Profit/Socialist Workers Party in addition to the Socialist Party. As an organisation committed to tax equity and defence of public services, we now believe that we can more effectively campaign for these objectives outside the United Left Alliance.

In recent months we have become increasingly concerned by the factional activity of the Socialist Workers Party which is a component of the People Before Profit Alliance. The SWP has prioritised recruitment to the SWP over building the ULA. This was clear from an internal bulletin issued to its members on February 2nd last which has received wide circulation. Our efforts to persuade our allies to desist from this approach have been unsuccessful. A short time ago WUAG formally proposed that the ULA call on the SWP to withdraw the bulletin. This proposal was vetoed by the Socialist Party and People Before Profit Alliance/SWP.

It is regrettable that our allies have refused to prioritise the building of the ULA at a time when working people are being subjected to unprecedented attacks and the betrayal of workers interests by the Labour Party is being ever more clearly exposed.

The objective of WUAG has always been the formation of an alternative to the Labour Party with wide popular support on the basis of rejection in principle of coalition with conservative parties. We believe that we can now better further this objective outside the ULA. Accordingly we will shortly register as a national political party and seek support at national level. The foundation stone of the new party will be rejection in principle of coalition with conservative parties such as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Participation in such coalitions has repeatedly devastated the political arm of the labour movement. This is evident again to-day.

WUAG is the largest political labour movement body in the South Tipperary constituency. It has received far greater support than the Labour Party in the South Tipp constituency in several recent general elections. It is the largest party on Clonmel Borough Corporation holding 5 of the twelve seats, and holds two seats on South Tipperary Co Council, and a seat on Carrick-on-Suir Town Council.

We hope to build on this success at national level.

Seamus Healy TD

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1. WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

Ahah, so it’s true then…. I’d heard they might earlier today, well, well, well.

WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

Though this is a typical muddying of the waters by the media…

“The move is another blow for the Dáil Technical Group of Independent TDs, which has already seen North Dublin TD Clare Daly resign from the Socialist Party in the wake of the Mick Wallace controversy.”

What earthly difference does it make to the Technical Group?

ivorthorne - October 2, 2012

Technical Group/Independents/ULA/Socialists – It’s all the same!

WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

I guess to RTÉ that’s true.

que - October 2, 2012

the ULA has struggled in my opinion to establish a strong seperate identity to the technical group.
I dont think the media can be pilloried too hard if they lump them together. Sloppy by the media but…

dilettante - October 2, 2012

I know it’s breaking news a chara, but WAUG?

doctorfive - October 2, 2012


2. CMK - October 2, 2012

Great news for the government. Mick Wallace is going like a bull through the Left’s china shop. And, no doubt, he’ll keep doing damage. Had FG/FF/Lab/RTE/Independent/Irish Times/Newstalk must be delighted to Wallace reaching his full potential. However, the exit of one geographically limited political group within the Alliance does not mean the end of the alliance itself.

WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

It will be very instructive to see what happens next and who issues statements about this.

3. WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

BTW, looking at the WUAG’s blog at lunch today I was interested to see no mention at all about the ULA. Might have been there, but couldn’t find it.

4. doctorfive - October 2, 2012

statement up

5. Ian - October 2, 2012
6. WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2012

“We believe that we can now better further this objective outside the ULA. Accordingly we will shortly register as a national political party and seek support at national level.”

Bloody hell.

dilettante - October 2, 2012

Beyond South Tipp it’s hard to see where support at a national level will come from.
Maybe they see the potential for others in the ULA join them?
Is Bree set to leave the ULA as well?

irishelectionliterature - October 2, 2012

Isn’t Tipperary one Constituency the next time. WUAG already have a presence on Town Councild outside Clonmel. West Waterford is in the Clonmel Hinterland too.
There are depressed Country Towns that may be fertile ground for WUAG in a way the other parts of the ULA such as the SWP cant reach.
Bad news for the ULA project and Wallace the main cause.
What now for Bree and the Non Alligned ULA?

dilettante - October 2, 2012

True enough.
WUAG and ULA are both now one-county operations (with a slight edge for WUAG on the West Waterford front)

Blissett - October 3, 2012

well, in fairness, Mick Barry has a reasonable base as well

dmfod - October 3, 2012

Just not true dilettante. Besides Cork, SP branches in LImerick Carlow/Kilkenny and Laois/Offaly ran ULA candidates in the last election and SWP/PBPA did so in Cork North West and Wexford.

dilettante - October 2, 2012

“we will shortly register as a national political party”
(something the SP and SWP.PBP refused to allow ULA to do)

7. D_D - October 2, 2012

The departure of WUAG from the ULA may relieve an internal pain, but externally it is a grievous blow. WUAG may have kept at arm’s length from the ULA but their presence demonstrated that the ULA was not just an alliance of trotskyists (even though both Healys are originally from that stable themselves) and that it had local roots among “ordinary workers”, prejudices and all. Coming on top of the Clare Daly split it is very bad press indeed.

Giving Mick Wallace as the chief spring for the departure only shows how Wallace has become a kind of scapegoat, in the sense of loading all the problems on to a goat and sending it out into the desert, for much deeper and deep rooted problems of a divided left barely capable of seeing the big political picture beyond the boundary wall of their own organisations’ interests.

eamonncork - October 2, 2012

I’d imagine, and I could of course be wrong, that the Healys were pissed off at hearing people accuse the ULA of going easy on Wallace because he was one of their own and comparing it to FG and FF’s similar desire not to put the boot into their various miscreants. That’s how it seemed to play out elsewhere. Mark P and SP people have pointed out that this is unfair, that the SP never call for anyone’s resignation etc. but public perception isn’t always fair. I’d suspect that in the end WUAG thought the ULA connection, and the perceived Wallace link, would do them more harm than good at the ballot box and acted accordingly.

Tawdy - October 3, 2012

I have no difficulty in agreeing with you here.

Depps - October 2, 2012

I have to agree with all of the above. From a personal point of view even Healy’s departure makes ULA membership a far less attractive proposition to me.

Why would anyone who wasn’t previously involved in left politics join the ULA if it is nothing more than an amalgamation of the two trotskyist parties? Surely if a wanted to be part of either of those parties i already would be

CMK - October 2, 2012

Wallace isn’t a scapegoat, he was clearly the catalyst in the Clare Daly resignation, he is an ongoing open sore for the CAHWT in Wexford and he’s explicitly referenced by the WUAG in their statement. I also can’t see much evidence of strategic thinking from the WUAG in this instance. Are they going to now compete with ULA candidates in local and national elections?

It’s interesting that the two parties that have remained in the ULA are now being asked, implicitly, to explain themselves over this latest development, while those who have walked – in the face of the greatest crisis of the Irish working class in generations – are being clapped off the pitch. Very curious. Where do the non-aligned stand on this now? Are they going to walk, too? The demand that the ULA evolve from an electoral alliance, successful as it was, to a full blown political party, in the space of two years, appears to me to be the weak point. It is a success as an electoral alliance, a couple of years bedding down that success could have created space for it to develop further. But, alas, it will probably fragment and it’ll be the Trots wot done it.

dilettante - October 2, 2012

In one of the general election TV shows, Joe Higgins (as well as denouncing imperialism) announced that the ULA would be established as a political party.
Opportunity missed?

Mark P - October 2, 2012

The WUAG, amongst other complained that Joe had been too forward in saying that!

CMK - October 2, 2012

So, we’ve no ULA party and if things keeping going the way they’re going there’ll be now alliance either. And if an alliance can’t be maintained a party won’t be either. My view of the ULA is that the mad rush to create a mass party of the working class, when that working class was still voting for FG/Lab/FF/SF in hundreds of thousands, or not voting at all, had the potential to derail the whole thing. Added to that we have Mick Wallace coming over the horizon and doing the job that many thought sectarianism would do in pulling the ULA apart. As I said a couple of years as an alliance of the constituent parties and groups could have, then, if electoral success followed and campaigns like CAHWT grew and radicalised, then, moving towards a party would make sense. In any event, the ULA would always be complicated by Sinn Fein’s rise and a resurgent FF tapping into those disillusioned by the entrenchment of Trioka rule.

8. eamonncork - October 2, 2012

Mick Wallace has done an extraordinary amount of damage. That’s 40% of the ULA’s TDs gone because, or at least largely because, of him. And there’s not much point in ULA people sneering at the WUAG because they’re confined to just one county. The majority of constituences outside Dublin have never seen hide nor hair of a candidate from either the SP or PBP. What a bloody mess.
It strikes me that the SP ended up with the worst of all possible worlds. They appeared to soft pedal the Wallace question initially, thus pissing off the WUAG and damaging their own credibility. And when they changed tack, they lost Clare Daly. It’s a terrible bloody mess and this will distract to quite a serious extent from the Shortall/Labour story.

que - October 2, 2012

“this will distract to quite a serious extent from the Shortall/Labour story.”

No I dont think it will. Its kind of a non-story for the main stream media I’d suspect. He redesignates from one part of the Technical group to another, from a alliance that refused to become a party so its not even a leaves party story. He has a low national profile and will neither increase or decrease it. It aint going to make an impact.

I guess we see now how little the impact of the ULA really has been.

EamonnCork - October 2, 2012

You may be right. Though I think there will be a certain appetite for a few articles on the demise of the ULA.

que - October 2, 2012

Articles that ain’t far off accurate if they do

Mark P - October 2, 2012

Just to be clear, Eamonn, I don’t sneer at the WUAG for being confined to half a county. In fact, I think that there’s a lot to be learnt about the way in which they have built very solid support in half a mostly rural county.

I did however find it hard to take Paddy Healy lecturing the rest of us about how 32 county organisation is a point of principle when his own organisation was yet to attempt to organise in North Tipperary let alone Northern Ireland in decades of activity.

It’s worth noting, in reference to some other comments here, that the Socialist Party (although somewhat less so People Before Profit) isn’t confined to Dublin at all. In fact, a minority of its members are in Dublin. What it is almost entirely confined to is urban Ireland, a category much bigger than Dublin. The WUAG are a loss not because they ever did much for the ULA in practical terms (a bare handful of them ever bothered to take out formal ULA membership) but because it represents the loss of a successful left wing group in a mostly rural area.

sonofstan - October 2, 2012

@ Mark P

Clonmel is hardly ‘rural’.

Mark P - October 2, 2012

No, but it’s a smaller town than anywhere else where the left has a real base and their vote isn’t just in Clonmel. You are right though that Clonmel, as a large town with an industrial base, is pretty unusual in Ireland.

sonofstan - October 2, 2012

Not unique by any means; Bree in Sligo, Sherlock in Mallow a generation ago…..

And there are plenty of large towns with an industrial working class.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Unusual, not unique. Waterford is probably the biggest example.

sonofstan - October 3, 2012

True. Waterford is fascinating in that regard. I wish there was someone from there commenting here regularly.

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012

industrial employment only makes up 7 per cent of the workforce. Think you need to update your definition of working class there just a tad.

Also, the long and complex history of the rural working class may not not part of the irish education system – but that’s no excuse for the Irish left to be as equally ignorant of it.

John Cunningham who occasionally comments here has written with great depth and insight on this topic, as has Dan Bradley.

But, even in terms of industry and an industry/factoy-based working class, Wexford, Athlone, Mullingar, Castlecomer, Mountmellick, Carlow, Naas, Navan, Limerick, etc ,etc ,etc.

I’m not sure how lefty Dubs think how milk ends up in cartons, or cows as meat, but, you know, it’s not by magic….

Mark P - October 3, 2012

I think you’ll find that I didn’t say a single thing about the existence or otherwise of a working class in rural Ireland or in small towns, either way “oirish toimes”. Clonmel is unusal, but not unique, as a sizeable town with an industrial base and that has long shaped the politics of the place. Acknowledging that doesn’t imply anything in particular about the rest of Ireland.

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012

By the way, Waterford is not a town.

Just saying…

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Yes it is, as is Kilkenny, as is Derry, despite the formal status of each as cities.

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012

all the creameries and milk processing plants – factories going back pre-independence…

all the factory occupations during the civil war…

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012


Waterford is a town?

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Yes, there’s nobody here unaware of the occupations, or of the existence of creameries and other industrial employers. Which doesn’t change the fact that large towns with significant industrial bases have been unusual in Ireland and that fact has often played a big role in their politics.

Do you actually have a point here other than arguing agaisnt a view of Ireland as one endless sea of cows and thatched cottages that nobody has actually put forward?

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012

“a view of Ireland as one endless sea of cows and thatched cottages..”

what, something like ‘rural’ yeah?

oirisn toimes - October 3, 2012

and a Dub designating Waterford as a “town”… dear oh dear…

fergal - October 3, 2012

On a serious note what is Dublin’s industrial base?The docks?Guinness?What does an industrial base mean in 2012?Microsoft in south county Dublin?Intel in Kildare?For those of us on the non -Marxist left this obsession with an industrial base is a throwback to the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution and this country didn’t have an industrial revolution apart form Belfast.When the French and Italian Communist parties were at their peak they gained votes in areas defined by agriculture,Limousin and the Pyrenees in France and rural Emilia Romagna and Tuscany in Italy
A visitor to any provincial town today will see dozens of shops and supermarkets staffed by locals and immigrants working long hours for little reward. A similar story would emerge in this town’s bars,restaurants and hotels. The council estates are usually located on the outskirts of the town where unemployment is high and where Marx’s notion of a lumpenproletariat not needed by 21st century capitalism has much credibility. The shadow army of hospital staff and council employees might escape the visitor’s attention All types of tradespeople live here;electricians,plumbers,plasterers,carpenters,fitters,
mechanics etc. Most of these need and have
labourers and apprentices, There are plenty of small businesses(do Marxists still call this”objectively
reactionary”?);taxis,car repairs and parts,dressmakers,bakers,butchers,computer repairs
etc etc.Plenty of office staff for these small businesses,banks,schools and hospitals etc.Still no sign of an industrial base.There is of course a meat factory,a creamery and there used to be a tannery.There’s a call centre and an American multinational that pays poor wages,doesn’t have a union,threatens its workers by comparing their productivity to other plants. It sponsors the local fun run and organises a Christmas party for the old folk and is viewd by the local grandees as a good employer.

labourersand apprentices
might eattentionlitrestauranthotleshotels,restaurantsstory

WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2012

Excellent point fergal. I’m probably more inclined to Marxism than you – but I’d agree entirely. I’ve actually worked with industrial workers and organised them in unions in my career and found them neither more nor less open to unionisation etc or progressive ideas than other workers. And it seems a category error of some proportions given how the workplace has changed for most people to reify the industrial over all else (and there are obvious contradictions, if it was that significant why isn’t Belfast and the North an hive of socialism given that it was the most concentrated industrial centre on the island at one point – not sure about now).

Dr.Nightdub - October 3, 2012

@ WBS: Try and track down a copy of “Labour and Partition” by Austen Morgan, it deals with the history of the Belfast working class in the first two decades of the 20th century. I don’t agree with everything he wrote but the dedication at the very start is devastatingly on the money: “To the ‘rotten prods’ of Belfast – victims of loyalist violence and nationalist myopia.”

WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2012

Will do. BTW, I don’t want my previous comment to interpreted as disdain for industrial workers either (or to suggest that there were none in Belfast) but conditions, environment, and as we know in the North sectarian and other influences etc. Nothing is predestined.

Ed - October 4, 2012

“I’ve actually worked with industrial workers and organised them in unions in my career and found them neither more nor less open to unionisation etc or progressive ideas than other workers. And it seems a category error of some proportions given how the workplace has changed for most people to reify the industrial over all else (and there are obvious contradictions, if it was that significant why isn’t Belfast and the North an hive of socialism given that it was the most concentrated industrial centre on the island at one point – not sure about now).”

Well, there is a sound argument that a large factory-based working class tends to be a good social base for militant trade unionism and socialist politics, there’s many examples of that, from Petrograd and Turin in the early 20th century, to the car workers in Britain, France and Italy in the 70s, to the rise of trade unions in South Africa or Brazil or South Korea in the 80s.

So it’s not just dogmatism for Marxists to value the development of large-scale industry, although both of you are right, it certainly would be useless dogmatism to suggest that ONLY industrial workers can offer a base for socialist politics; we’d better hope so anyway, otherwise there won’t be much future for socialism in large parts of the world; there needs to be a lot of serious thought and effort put into organising those members of the working class who aren’t based in factories. The leftist governments in Bolivia and Venezuela came to power largely without the support of industrial workers (most of the Venezuelan workforce is in the informal sector; Bolivia’s urban proletariat was scatttered to the winds by neo-liberalism in the 80s). Although we should still be staking a lot of hopes on big factory towns producing militant working-class movements, because the future of China hangs on whether or not that happens, and the outcome there will affect the rest of the world very strongly.

Belfast is an exception to the rule because of sectarianism, in a nutshell – even there, there were examples of major class struggles, especially the engineering workers’ strike after WWI, but unfortunately sectarian divisions prevailed over the long run. If the Belfast working class had been mostly based in services rather than industry things would likely have been the same.

Daniel Sullivan - October 3, 2012

Is this Paddy Healy, Seamus’s brother who was running from Dublin as an ex TUI candidate for the Seanad? Or a different one?

irishelectionliterature - October 3, 2012

Yes .

Daniel Sullivan - October 3, 2012

So has he moved to north Tipp or is he doing this remotely?

NollaigO - October 4, 2012

@Daniel Sullivan
So has he moved to north Tipp or is he doing this remotely?
Clonmel in North Tipp?!
Shorely Shome Mistake

9. dmfod - October 2, 2012

Agree WUAG could be using Mick Wallace as a scapegoat as there were much bigger issues, such as its fear of proposing any increase corporation tax, which is pretty basic to any left programme of redistribution, never mind a socialist one. Healy was also AWOL during the vote on the abortion bill.

In my personal opinion, this departure has at least as much to do with how issues like that play in the local politics in Tipperary, especially in the context of the reunification of the constituency.

Mark P - October 2, 2012

I suspect that there’s an element of truth to that. The WUAG’s persistent veto on raising the issue of corporation tax was certainly a result of them being worried about how it would play in electoral terms in their (and your) neck of the woods. I never did get a straight answer about Seamus’s no show for the abortion vote.

10. Nigel - October 2, 2012
11. sonofstan - October 2, 2012


Do you think there might be some mileage in a non-Dublin centric leftist party, as Healy appears to be suggesting? The likes of Healy, Bree, Pringle etc represent a distinct republican, union- based, non-Trot stream that doesn’t seem to mesh comfortably with the almost entirely Dublin-centred SWP/ SP.

I suppose you could add the entirely distinct tradition in Waterford to that as well.

12. que - October 2, 2012

I have commented a number of times that thought I wished the ULA well I didnt see them lasting.

Wallace did damage alright but sometimes you have to roll with the punches. That WUAG, SP and SWP couldnt move beyond it is depressing.
I dont doubt for one moment that if they hadnt fallen out about this there would have been any other number of issues which would eventually done the same.
So now we have the WUAG, the SP, SWP and I suppose the ULA (i.e Daly) all fairly independently looking to build mass movements of the working class.

Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the scorpion swimming across the river springs to mind. Half way across the scorpion stings the tortoise. Knowing they will now both die the tortoise asks why. Its in my nature answered the scorpion. Nobody can be surprised.

The ULA is now a dead force. Pity.

13. The Caretaker - October 2, 2012

Don’t see how you can blame Wallace for this, it was the response by the SP that was completely and botched and the antics of the SWP should be no surprise to anyone. The organised Left seems to be way beyond rehabilitation in Ireland. The financial crisis is into its fifth year and this is where they’re at.

Mark P - October 2, 2012

What does that even mean? What exactly are the Socialist Party supposed to have done here?

By the way, the statement at the head of the thread is the longest political statement I’ve ever seen from the WUAG or from Healy in over a decade of watching them. It still doesn’t say very much about the actual political beliefs of the WUAG, which beyond opposition to coalition, a positive attitude towards workers in general and a fear of saying anything about corporation tax remain something of a mystery to me. They have always been very effective local organisers, from whom there is much to learn, but they have always remained bland and vague about their politics in so far as they talk about them at all.

Daniel Sullivan - October 3, 2012

It might seem odd but I have to say that rather regret the slow implosion of the ULA. That the differences that evidently existed between the parties/action groups/umbrella organisations and personalities mattered so much to those involved but in truth would have matter much less to the voting public and that they couldn’t find some means to disagree while working together shows the root cause of the failure of so many fledgling parties down the years. Take abortion since it is being offered up, there are doubtless people in Labour who lean more in a pro-life direction than pro-choice while the opposite would be true in FG but both groups finding themselves in a minority find the ability to work together for larger objectives. That’s what stalled the ULA and will stall any other attempt to unify groups that can’t live with the idea of anything less tan 100% of their own existing platform being the basis of the new party.

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

I suppose the ULA has the disadvantage of largely being composed of principled people. It’s easier for people in Labour or FG to ‘work together for larger objectives’ because that larger objective, which is to gain power, trumps everything else. There is almost nothing that the average Labour TD won’t swallow in order to make it into government. But of course if this is your only objective it does raise the question of why you’re in politics in the first place. Pretend unity based on opportunism probably isn’t the solution for the far left either.
That this current problem stems from what Mark P called, in relation to Clare Daly ‘a stupid reason’ is the real tragedy.

RosencrantzisDead - October 3, 2012

Does the ULA have any internal grievance procedures or is there a set way to resolve disputes between members/constituent elements?

It would seem to me that other parties would have an internal system for dealing with things like this. The ULA, from what I can tell as an outsider, lacks this important part.

LeftAtTheCross - October 3, 2012

Eamonn, it depends on what the objective is though, doesn’t it. If the objective is to build the vanguard party as the route to the revolution then that’s one thing, but if it is to improve the situation of the working class than that’s another thing altogether. One can be principled about prioritising the benefit of working people, without putting the party first at all times.

LeftAtTheCross - October 3, 2012

Apologies, the fingers were ahead of the brain there again, that should read: “One can be principled about prioritising the benefit of any political decision for working people, without putting the party first at all times.”

Daniel Sullivan - October 3, 2012

Ah yes, the principles argument. Principles are supposed to underpin the method and means that you follow to realise them, not undermine or nipick to death any practical attempt to deliver on them. That’s why overwrought claims that the average person on the left would prefer to see everyone poor but equal than raise up the standards of most people even if it meant that it left some degree of inequality remaining, because it has the ring of familarity to it for most people whose door you would knock on.

Ye really don’t do yourselves any favours in terms of building support or achieving your aims that the reason that people who in theory are all about the cooperative effort are so unable to practice it in real life.

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

LATC, I know what you mean but I’m making the comparison with the Labour Party where unity within the coalition is prized to such an extent that the identity of the party itself has been lost.

LeftAtTheCross - October 3, 2012

Eamonn, I knew what you were getting at but I just wanted to separate out the idea that “principles” and “objectives” have to be one of two things, (a) stuck to rigidly in a negative sense that undermines co-operation with broader forces on the Left, or (b) totally abandoned to opportunism. The larger objective doesn’t have to be in the party’s interest, it can be in the broader class interest. Left Unity based on class interest rather than party interest. Why not? Is that not what is required to counter the austerity machine of the Right?

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

You’re right, I made a somewhat simplistic Either/Or point. I suppose one of the problems with the ULA is that it is composed of parties who are at best irritated with each other and at worst don’t trust each other at all. Witness how the SP and SWP talk about each other though they’re ostensibly allies. And you’re probably right that a capacious left wing organisation which can elide small differences is probably the only force which can challenge right wing hegemony. But we’re probably not going to see one.

14. Gearóid - October 3, 2012

Heard that abortion was a factor behind this, from someone relatively central to the ULA.

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

Presumably the implication here is that WUAG feared that being associated with parties which favour abortion would damage them electorally. Well, if that was the case wouldn’t they surely have thrown a line or two about abortion into their withdrawal statement to curry favour with their electorate?
This strikes me as nothing more than an attempt to salve the consciences of certain ULA parties by painting WUAG as a bunch of backwoodsmen who won’t be missed anyway.
As for the claim that WUAG were doing nothing at grass roots level, they do have a bigger presence at local level, proportionally speaking, than any other left wing party.
I’m afraid there’s no getting round the fact that the Wallace connection has been very damaging to the ULA. On an anecdotal basis I hear far more people, people who’d have the height of respect for Joe Higgins, talking about Mick Wallace than about abortion.
You can’t dismiss the whole Wallace furore as some right wing media conspiracy. The right wing media handed out similar doings to Lowry, Callely and most recently Reilly, among others.
I think that the SP were caught in a cleft stick on this one but that the SWP are using Wallace to embarrass the SP at the moment for some childish reasons of their own. And also that his continued presence will make a mockery of the CAHWT.
The problem for the ULA, as it is for any party, is that events which make it look incompetent or disunited will naturally impact on the enthusiasm potential voters or recruits feel about the parties involved and their policies.
As for the question of how left wing the WUAG actually are, I’d agree with Mark P that the left shouldn’t be clasping Roisin Shortall to their bosoms but the ULA should surely be adopting a broad front approach to local organisations and politicians to the left of the LP.
Finally, why not give WUAG the credit for telling the truth in the statement. When the SP made their statement on Clare Daly I was inclined to believe they were telling the truth and no hidden agendas were involved. So why not stop seeking hidden agendas for WUAG and accept that the issues they say concerned them were actually the issues that concerned them.
WUAG may not have a national presence but if there were similar left wing groups enjoying the same kind of success all oer the country the Irish left would be in a much, much stronger position. A couple of council seats surely mean more in terms of grass roots impact than running candidates in general elections who lose their deposits.
I’m looking at all this from the outside of course but I think anyone who doesn’t think this withdrawal following on the Clare Daly row damages both the ULA and the causes it espouses is codding themselves. Which is a pity because Irish politics needs (needed?) a strong ULA.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Eamon, I broadly agree with you that, unless there is some actual evidence to the contrary, there isn’t any need to go beyond the WUAG’s statement to explain their departure.

It is true that Seamus Healy failed to show up for the abortion vote, but I’m unaware of him or the WUAG making waves by opposing the motion or the stance or the rest of the ULA within the ULA. I remain curious as to why he didn’t show up, but don’t see any reason to believe that it caused their departure. Similarly, it is true that the WUAG long opposed the ULA taking a collective stance in favour of raising corporation tax, but as they got their way I don’t see how that would be a “secret” reason for their departure. The reasons given in their statement seem to me to explain their decision.

That said, I don’t think that those reasons reflect particularly well on them. In fact, they make them look somewhat frivolous.

In sum, those reasons amount to a complaint that the ULA while condeming Wallace wouldn’t call for his resignation to the Dail. And a complaint that some internal SWP newsletter was full of stupid bile about everyone else. Both of those reasons are true, neither are serious enough to justify a retreat into political isolation.

It is all the more irritating because with the WUAG gone, most of the other people within the ULA who were gung ho for demanding Wallace’s resignation when Clare Daly’s behaviour was the Socialist Party’s problem have now softened their cough drastically. That is to say that the SWP and many “independents” are terrified that Daly will leave the ULA if the ULA insists on maintaining a political distance from Wallace in the future. It may be that the continued presence of the WUAG could have helped stiffen some rather supple backbones.

As for the SWP newsletter, it was stupid, over the top and dishonest, but ultimately, they have a right to say what they like in their internal communications.

Gearóid - October 3, 2012

‘This strikes me as nothing more than an attempt to salve the consciences of certain ULA parties by painting WUAG as a bunch of backwoodsmen who won’t be missed anyway.’ That was my suspicion, never got the feeling that WUAG were overly reactionary on the issue.

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

You’re probably right that those aren’t sufficient reasons to leave an alliance if the WUAG were serious about it. I suppose what it probably boils down to is that they feel an association with the ULA might be more of a liability than an advantage for them in the long run.
Not surprised to hear that about Wallace but sorry to hear that he is going to cause yet more damage before this is out. I thought the SWP were pussyfooting around him just to spite the SP now that Clare Daly is gone. But surely if Clare Daly’s condition for remaining in the ULA is, to a certain extent, that the Alliance maintains friendly relations with Mick Wallace, this makes something of a joke of the ULA.
And before someone points out that this is a trivial matter compared to the serious tasks facing the left in this country, one of those serious tasks is the CAHWT which will be undermined greatly by the presence of Wallace on its podiums. No point in pretending otherwise especially because the CAHWT will hope to derive support from, and already has derived support from, a broad section of the electorate, some of whom don’t identify as left-wing and won’t see why Mick Wallace is any different from any other defaulting developer.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

It’s less that Clare has made such a demand and more that certain others are terrified of giving her cause to leave and desperately want to “put all this behind us” etc. Which, of course is understandable in a way but extremely short sighted because Wallace isn’t going to go away, more’s the pity, and the ULA is going to take more flak over him.

EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

And more flak than the likes of FG or FF would over an issue like this because, quite aside from politics, one of the big things the ULA had going for it was a reputation for integrity and a sense that its elected politicians didn’t behave in the same manner, (cronyism etc) that politicians from the bigger parties did. Which is why what may look like a small issue has the potential to do a lot of damage.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Yes, and even as the suddenly less gung ho “lets put it all behind us” brigade were whining about the Socialist Party continuing to raise the issue in the ULA, Clare was appearing in the papers again as a supporter of Wallace’s desire to get back into the technical group.

It’s as if some of these people think that if we do the whole see no evil speak no evil routine that somehow the issue will just go away. It won’t.

15. Julian Assandwich - October 3, 2012

Few alarmed comments above. The non-aligned/independents are non-affected by this most sign-posted of events. TDs are there to help build up the grassroots. The Tipperary group was not doing that within the ULA so not doing that outside the ULA wont make much of a difference.

D_D - October 3, 2012

I’m not so sanguine about it at all.

Ed - October 3, 2012

I guess in a way you’re both right – for the already-signed-up members of the ULA, this probably won’t make a huge difference, if WUAG didn’t involve themselves in much beyond their own base. But there’s a question about whether it makes it harder to reach potential supporters – someone made an interesting point further up about people like Healy and Pringle having won support in areas where the Trotskyist groups never have, and what could be learned from that.

Julian Assandwich - October 3, 2012

But that depends on what you are building. There is no benefit to the left having 20 TDs whose local parish-pump organizations are too timid to actually involve itself in the struggle or even speak its name. In fact it is far more likely to sell-out or fracture with the resulting damage being far greater to the left than the initial benefit of only nominally having them in the first place. See Wallace, Halligan, McGrath and the rest. Luckily this Healy departure looks to have made a minimal splash in the media.

WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2012

I think you’re right to some extent re the media. This is too esoteric to be of much significance there, but… it does without question weaken the ULA as a brand, and in terms of its attractiveness to those who might potentially join.

There’s more too, it pushes the ULA back into being more about SP/SWP interactions, which are – with all my admiration for the two formations – sometimes problematic. It will be more difficult to contain them without a larger neutral buffer (and let’s not understate how even in a passive sense the WUAG made up numbers and gave heft to the enterprise).

Then there’s Ed’s point about people getting support where the SP/SWP never have, and let’s be honest, most likely never will. WUAG was a template in that respect – and reading through their blog yesterday their aims seemed to me to be almost as one with those of the ULA so somehow they were managing to get a progressive message out, one vastly more progressive than Labour while simultaneously winning support. That could be the real problem. Now the ULA begins to look as if it is Dublincentric, with a few fairly marginal outposts of support, Cork most notably, but here and there. That’s important too.

None of this an utter disaster – indeed it struck me that if you saw either the SP or the SWP leave and the WUAG that would be a bigger hit (though I’d guess the WUAG would depart soonish if that had happened). But it’s far far from great.

16. shea - October 3, 2012

in terms of leinster hse was the ULA used to negotiate an extra or a co -ordinated fraction of speaking time with in the technical group? what does this mean in real terms?

17. EamonnCork - October 3, 2012

I’d be genuinely interested in hearing Revolutionary Programme’s take on this latest development.

18. Jim Monaghan - October 3, 2012

I wonder will te Healys make an approach to Eirigi.It confirms me as a fellow traveller of ULA

Jack Jameson - October 7, 2012

Given Éirígí’s penchant for TV stunts and publicity over politics, I’d steer well clear of them if I was the WUAG (or anyone else, come to that).

WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2012

There is that, but in fairness to them they’ve thrown themselves into the CAHWT and it will be instructive to see if they contest the next locals (I seem to recall they will) and how they do.

19. irspstrabane - October 3, 2012

The problem with an electoral alliance, is that its an electoral alliance. The IRSPs stance on the ULA had been vindicated, whoever thought the ULA was going to be anything else than a SP/SWP ego trip was sadly deluded.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

The IRSP has stances on things other than finger chopping? Who knew?

irspstrabane - October 3, 2012

We don’t chop of fingers anymore more Mark, get with the times, only toes now.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

And it’s been ages since the IRSM murdered even one nine year old girl.

irspstrabane - October 3, 2012

Yeah total tragedy, glad decommissioning took place and those dark days are behind us ,some horrible things happened.

WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2012

Not just slightly out of order Mark P but totally out of order. The kind of crap from Politics.ie that this site was established to get away from. Close enough to a banning offence to be honest.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Fair point. While I’d normally advocate a zero tolerance for Irpishness policy pretty much anywhere, you are right that it wasn’t appropriate to take that tone here. Apologies.

WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2012


irspstrabane - October 3, 2012

Our position on the ULA, if your interested Mark.

In the context of an onslaught on working class people involving a consensus for cuts among the establishment parties in a failing attempt to deal with capitalism’s latest collapse, a health service in crisis, continued unemployment and mass emigration particularly among young people, elements of the Irish left came together to form the ‘United Left Alliance’. The Irish Republican Socialist Party wishes to now put on record it’s position on the ULA. A core tenet of IRSP policy since our foundation, in the pursuit of our objective of a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic, has been the formation of a Broad Front to combat the malign influences of imperialism and capitalism in Ireland as effectively as possible. The creation of such a front would in effect see the development of a unified struggle against all the baneful manifestations of capitalism and would begin the process of creating a mass revolutionary party (consistent calls for such a party have been made from some quarters of the Irish left, these are calls we would like to echo) capable of offering leadership and mobilising as many people as possible towards our goals. Unity and co-operation amongst the left has consistently been a facet of IRSP policy.

Two questions arise for the IRSP out of the formation of the ULA, the ideological question and the tactical question. Ideologically speaking, while the IRSP is not in full agreement with the programme of the ULA, we view it as also containing ideas of substantial merit. However, a major failing is that the programme itself, while mentioning several components of a socialist system, fails to explicitly state that it is the programme of an organisation which seeks to establish a revolutionary socialist state in Ireland. One can only speculate as to the reason for this, most probably fears about alienation of the mass of working people and potential constituent members, but this is something we fundamentally disagree with. There must be no ambiguity among socialists about what we stand for and this point leads us on to the tactical question which will be developed below. Also notable by it’s absence is any mention of the national aspect to the revolutionary socialist struggle in this country. It is the duty of Irish socialists to combat the undemocratic imposition of cutbacks in the North, challenge the overt sectarianism which has been entrenched in the very structures of the Northern state and work towards the ending of partition.

This latest crisis must not be met with a strategy based around electoral gains, such a strategy is akin to inviting failure to our doorstep. The biggest flaw with the ULA is that such a coalition is aimed at winning elections, not building the working class mass fightback or pointing the way towards workers’ power. This is one of the most fundamental issues that divides revolutionary socialists from reformist social democrats. It is the capacity of the working class for action that is most vital in changing society, not winning votes.

The IRSP’s position on electoralism is clear. We do not believe there is a parliamentary road to socialism and thus any electoral intervention must not be characterised by a refusal to put right-wing parties in power or the demand for what can realistically be judged as a more progressive policy platform than a conservative administration, but by the clear pursuit of revolutionary aims. Central to our revolutionary aims is the building of working class power, which will not be built by uniting a couple of sects espousing reformist rhetoric and reformist demands. The current system of political administration in Ireland, a reflection of our economic system, is fundamentally undemocratic and cannot possibly cater for the needs of the Irish people. Any electoral success must be used to spread revolutionary socialist ideas and to expose the stark limitations of the current system. Most especially this must be channeled towards mobilising working people to the streets, not demobilising them, or putting them under the influence of trade union bureaucrat mis-leaders. As Ta Power said, “There is no easy way to the Socialist Republic, no shortcuts”, and yet some far left parties have a foolish history of ditching much of their core political principles for short-term electoral gains.

During the crisis, all efforts must be made to correctly identify and articulate the true causes of the economic collapse, namely, the inherent contradictions at the heart of the capitalist system. Populism around individuals and popular media scapegoats may be useful in garnering some minor electoral support, but does little to properly educate or radicalise working people. Concentrating on the symptoms of Ireland’s economic forms rather than widening the confines of political discourse in Ireland and directly outlining the inherent flaws in capitalism and that we see socialism as the solution, is a road to nowhere. Leading on from the ideological decision to neglect to mention socialism in their programme, the strategy of the ULA will naturally also mirror this tepidness.

We recognise this is a minimum programme and each constituent member may pursue their own strategy, but that calls into question the whole premise of the ULA. Should socialists sign up to something that in practice would be reformist and firmly in the realms of social democracy? The answer should be an unequivocal ‘no’. This returns usto the issue of how this alliance is being built: not by the broader layers of working masses, but by two main sects out to enlarge their vote.

Having said this, if the intention behind this formation is to simply begin negotiations and set in place the foundations for what would be a mass revolutionary party which is unambiguous about it’s socialist revolutionary credentials, then it must be wholeheartedly welcomed. Integral to this must be broad-based talks that include all organizations of the revolutionary left, including those who recognise the importance of the national question.

The position of the IRSP at this juncture is that while the formation of the ULA is progressive in our view, with many outstanding local activists involved, the IRSP’s revolutionary outlook in relation to the subject of electoralism and the struggle for Irish sovereignty do not run parallel to the views of the ULA. In a personal capacity members of the IRSP may aid ULA campaigns in their locality but we hope at some point in the near future to take part in the building of a mass revolutionary party that unashamedly stands in the tradition of James Connolly and socialist republicanism and which will work towards the ending of exploitation, capitalism and imperialist occupation. The interests of individual sects must be put aside in the interests of working people and to this end we envisage the establishment of a mass revolutionary organisation as the only vehicle through which our goals can be achieved.


Mark P - October 4, 2012

I’m not interested, thanks.

eamonncork - October 4, 2012

I am interested not least because I wouldn’t be familiar with the IRSP’s thinking on anything. And in fairness to the man, or woman, from Strabane at least they are engaging with the site and didn’t respond in kind when the boot got put in.

LeftAtTheCross - October 4, 2012

Mark P should be thankful that the IRSP doesn’t retaliate with more than a boot…

irspstrabane - October 4, 2012

I know its a bit of topic but here are some of our policies and stances eamoncork, http://www.irsp.ie/programme/,
and if your looking to get the IRSPs monthly magazine.

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

Thanks, I’ll have a read of those.

20. irishelectionliterature - October 3, 2012

As an aside , had a look at the couple of WUAG leaflets I have, no mention of the ULA in their General Election or Austerity treaty leaflets.

Mark P - October 3, 2012

Yes. They rarely talked about the ULA, didn’t hold ULA meetings and didn’t sign up their members to the ULA beyond a handful. They did everything locally as an independent or the WUAG.

21. D_D - October 4, 2012

Mark P:

“It is all the more irritating because with the WUAG gone, most of the other people within the ULA who were gung ho for demanding Wallace’s resignation when Clare Daly’s behaviour was the Socialist Party’s problem have now softened their cough drastically. That is to say that the SWP and many “independents” are terrified that Daly will leave the ULA if the ULA insists on maintaining a political distance from Wallace in the future. It may be that the continued presence of the WUAG could have helped stiffen some rather supple backbones.”

What utter self-serving tosh. The ULA nonaligned called at their June meeting for the ULA Steering Committee to demand Mick Wallace’s resignation. We didn’t get as much as an acknowledgement. At this time the Socialist Party were against a call for resignation.

Now when Clare Daly has resigned the Socialist Pary have raised Mick Wallace to a crucial issue in order to put the ULA into the same opposition to Clare Daly that they have themselves with their former member.

Talk of suppine backbones is as inconsistent as it is insulting given the Socialist Party’s softness on Wallace when it mattered, Maybe it was because they were terrified Clare Daly would leave the Socialist Party? Now that she has left the Socialist Party appear to want to damage Clare Daly and use the Mick Wallace connection to do it.

neilcaff - October 4, 2012

The SP didn’t call for Wallace’s resignation but did insist Clare distance herself from Wallace. We know the SP pressed home the point because Clare resigned in the end over it.

No lack of back bone on the SP’s part I’m afraid.

pat - October 4, 2012


What acknowledgement are you suggesting the nonaligned should have gotten?

The fact the non-aligned in the ULA and the SWP buckled under pressure from the right-wing media and called for MW’s resignation – following willfully the media’s logic that that specific demand was the crux of the issue (which conveniently took away from their own hypocrisy and that of the establishment parties) – is not really the best defense of a backbone.

There was no softness on the part of the Socialist Party. Our position was clear and remains so. Whatever blurring occurred was the result of Clare Daly’s actions while she was still a Socialist Party TD.

The reality is that the Socialist Party were and are prepared to lose a TD who politically supports a tax dodging property developer, if it is damaging to the struggle we are involved in. Others in the ULA are seemingly willing to make major concessions on their supposed principles, in order to avoid that.

Also, your assertion that the Socialist Party are simply out to damage Clare is pathetic. Deal with the issue, don’t look for ways to avoid it – that really is spinless.

eamonncork - October 4, 2012

So the idea that Mick Wallace should resign is a creation of ‘the right wing media’ which the SWP, the non-aligned members, Seamus Healy, John Halligan et al were foolish enough to fall for. Whereas the demand that Clare Daly distance herself from this victim of the right wing media is sound politics on the part of the SP.
Get up the yard. I’ve said several times on CLR that the SP can’t really be blamed for a situation which wasn’t of their making. They couldn’t, from a tactical point of view, have acted very differently. But they soft pedalled on Wallace initially because of the embarrassing situation vis a vis one of their TD’s support for him. So there’s no point in them getting self righteous about the attitude of other parties now that they’ve felt able to deal with the issue.
Once more we’re in a situation where surely the best thing is to credit people with meaning what they say. I believe the SP when they say Clare Daly left the party because of the Wallace situation rather than because the SP weren’t doing enough to build up the ULA. It seems to make sense.
And it also seems to make sense that those who called for Wallace’s resignation were doing so because they were genuinely upset by his behaviour. They didn’t need the right wing media to tell them what to think, they’re not sheep any more than the SP are surely.

pat - October 4, 2012

There’s no question that the media put pressure on those independents in the technical group to call for the resignation of MW, lest they be portrayed as giving him support due to being in the same technical arrangement. I’m not saying that they didn’t genuinely condemn what MW did, of course they did, but the idea that their was a political connection to MW because they were all in the technical group was absolutely a media concoction, which yes, they all accepted without questioning its false premise.

pat - October 4, 2012

Hence the reason none of the political parties felt the need to call for MW’s resignation – the media didn’t link MW with them.

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

Pat, fair enough, and I don’t mean to be digging at the SP. But I think, whether it’s fair or not, Wallace was associated in the public mind with the TG and thus seemed to be their problem. And, as I said before, the fact that a great deal of the ULA’s appeal rests on the perceived integrity of its TDs means that the connection is damaging.
Technically speaking, it might not have been incumbent on the TG to distance themselves from Wallace but pragmatically speaking it would have been a good idea. The SP ended up having to do it in the end anyway. Perhaps I’m being totally unfair by saying that the SP pussyfooted around the Wallace issue in the beginning but I don’t think it’s a completely outlandish reading of the issue. All those, ‘if you check back, the SP never actually calls for anyone to resign’ statements reminded me of those old rote SF ‘we condemn all violence’ comments at times of maximum embarrassment.
And the problem remains that Wallace will be for the CAHWT what Denis O’Brien is for FG, someone they could do without turning up at events beside them.
I believe in the integrity of the SP and its importance within the ULA but I believe you’re, understandably, trying to convert a pragmatically necessary approach into a principled one in retrospect.
But that’s just my own reading and things may look very different on the inside. I just think that anyone who fails to learn from the Wallace affair is condemned to repeat it.

militantsocialistpat - October 4, 2012

I agree that the integrity of the ULA TDs is central to its appeal and that any connection to Wallace is damaging, but we’re only responsible for whatever connection actually exists, not what the media tries to portray in order to damage us. If we go along with every attempt by the media to get us to do things we wouldn’t do if not for them pushing us, we’d find ourselves some pretty dodgy things.

We didn’t call for MW’s resignation, but we did try to distance ourselves from any connection the media made. Clare’s actions and comments, contradicted some of what Joe said and the position of the Socialist Party and certainly made this more of a problem than it would have been was it not for those actions and comments.

In between the outbreak of the Wallace controversy and Clare’s resignation, there was a concerted attempt by the media to damage Clare and the Socialist Party which was separate to the Wallace issue (the expenses stuff mainly). These attacks were baseless and we were able to fight back in our own way, and not be damaged in the eyes of working class people, despite the media’s best efforts.

The issue of calling for MW’s resignation is not one of principle, we never said it was, but based on the merits of the situation we didn’t think it was the right thing to do. I think that was the correct call. Having no political connection to him is one of principle, others in the ULA thought that too, now they’re willing to make concessions.

pat - October 4, 2012

Don’t know how my name and gravatar got joined up there…

WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2012

At the time this blew up we were told time and again that the SP doesn’t call for resignations. It certainly seemed to be a point of principle then – one we were told was to prevent left TDs being victimised in the future should they be within a sniff of power. The problem being that with the vote against Michael Lowry last year in the Dáil the SP didn’t stand up and say no, the whole issue was passed unanimously by the Dáil without going to a vote. So I hate to say this – and I don’t mean this as an attack on the SP – but that line is unconvincing.

As for the attack on the SP over the Summer. As someone I know long involved in the anti-drugs community campaign said to me if that was an attack then the SP doesn’t know how lucky it is. Their experience in that campaign and others was one of continual serious media and political antagonism. And as a former member of the WP I can attest to sustained and prolonged attacks on that party in the media throughout the 1980s (by the way, some of the attacks not without merit). A few newspaper articles and a fairly minor issue over expenses is simply not the same. It’s uncomfortable – and JH in particular has my genuine sympathy over what was a very unfair line of argument – but it’s entirely minor stuff. The articles in the Indo about JH and CD were no more attacks than this comment is. They were fairly silly colour pieces.

As for distancing from the protagonists. Well… I think EC has it right. the difference now between what is asked of CD as against the right wing media line forcing Healy et al to do what they did is also unconvincing.
I’ve enormous sympathy for the SP in this situation, it clearly knew when the issue broke initially this could lead to the loss of CD and naturally wanted to do all it could to minimise the chances of that, but again as EC says to paint this in terms of principle is hard to accept.

pat - October 4, 2012


Just to clarify a few things.

Firstly, whether to call for someone’s resignation should be judged on the merits of the situation, its not a principle for us to never call for someone’s resignation. Again we never said it was, Joe called for the resignation of Liam Lawlor for example (after he’d been in prison for the 3rd time, and had gone as far as one could go along the corrupt route. He was also in Joe’s constituency and we knew as well as anyone the damage he had done). The circumstances around the MW issue were completely different, the intention behind the media’s involvement was different.

Let’s be clear however, the Socialist Party hasn’t called for the resignation of Wallace or Lowry. Mainly because its not really an issue for us whether corrupt people are in the Dail, they’re all as bad as each other in the establishment parties, corrupt individuals who defend a morally corrupt system. It’s not necessary, and we’re not going to do it simply because the media want us to. There are democratic issues to be considered as well, but again we judge it on the merits of the situation.

At this stage, if a motion of censure against MW was proposed, I don’t think we would oppose that either.

As for the attacks, I don’t think they were as minor as you make out, but neither do I think they were as major as you make out I do. SF have been on the receiving end of worse, although they don’t respond in the way we do – often because they can’t. But nevertheless, a consistent stream of articles and editorials written with for the sole purpose of discrediting a particular organisation, raising spurious issues, over the course of a few weeks does in my opinion represent an attack of a certain type. The piece in the Indo that was supposed to be a profile of the Socialist Party, was a toned down version of what they were planning originally, I know that for sure.

I don’t understand what you mean by this:
“As for distancing from the protagonists. Well… I think EC has it right. the difference now between what is asked of CD as against the right wing media line forcing Healy et al to do what they did is also unconvincing.”

Also our primary concern throughout all of this, was not whether we would lose or keep Clare, it was preventing any damage to our reputation as a principled organisation.

WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2012

Where were you pat, four months ago, when we needed you for these clarifications? :)

But look, when one is told with a degree of certainty that the SP “never” calls for resignations, whatever the circumstances (and I’ll go back if you like and see if the word ‘principle’ was used or not), and a reason (re left TDs is given) and this by self-identified SP members then it is near enough impossible not to regard that as a point of principle. Indeed there were no qualifiers until very recently, despite the vote against Lowry being pointed out by me and others subsequently. And the Liam Lawlor case simply appears to have fallen down the memory hole – no one referenced it.

As regards the pressures on the SP over the Summer, I’m in no sense saying they didn’t exist – but they were as you point up yourself in your SF comparison simply not that great. I’ve noted there were two or was it three uncomfortable weeks and it was very unfair to JH in particular. But the SP weren’t unique in that. Every political party was getting more or less the same heat at various times over the same issue of expenses – SF got more arguably – and other supposed errors etc (the number of FOI’s floating around still in the Dáil is I’m told a thing to behold). The thing I suspect is is that the SP had never been exposed to anything like this before. Perhaps from your perspective this was earth-shaking, but for most others it was as the current era goes business as usual.

Not sure I understand you re the last point you make.

Mark P - October 4, 2012

There’s nothing remotely inconsistent about anything the Socialist Party is doing or saying, D_D. The Socialist Party thought it was vital that the Socialist Party and ULA put very clear distance between themselves and a property developer involved in a major tax scandal when Clare Daly was a Socialist Party member, and we think it’s vital that the Socialist Party and ULA put very clear distance between themselves and a property developer involved in a major tax scandal now that she’s not.

Those who howled with the wolves when Clare was a Socialist Party member but now are terrified that even discussing the issue is going to force her out of the ULA, on the other hand are, are not only lacking in backbone, they are short-sighted fools. Because Clare is determined to maintain a public, political, connection to that property developer, and neither she, nor the media, are going to allow the ULA to simply “put the issue behind us” and “move on”.

The Socialist Party wasn’t soft on Wallace previously – read our statements on him when Clare was still a member, there’s no fudging of the issue at all, which is why Clare refused to put her name to them. And we aren’t suddenly harder on him now than we were then: We haven’t suddenly crumbled to the media demand that we call for his resignation, but we do think it’s just as important now that there be no political association between the left and Wallace as it was then.

Of course, just as the SWP and certain ULA independents were discovering that discretion is the better part of valour, Clare was back in the news arguing vociferously in the technical group that Wallace should be allowed to rejoin. Raising the issue isn’t vindictiveness. It’s necessary, because no matter how much you’d prefer to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, the issue isn’t going to go away and the desire of those with supple backbones not to have to deal with it is simply going to do more damage.

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

That’s why I’d counsel against accepting the idea of Wallace as a victim of the right wing media. Because that’s precisely the argument that those who think that he can remain an ally of the ULA and CAHWT are going to make. And if accepted it will just ensure that he becomes the gift that keeps giving for Phil Hogan and his crew.

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

In terms of the right wing media in general, I don’t actually think they show any great partiality towards politicians of any particular stripe at the moment. The lionisation of entrepreneurs and technocrats which is such a staple of neo-liberalism almost requires a criticism of politicians tout court.

Mark P - October 4, 2012

Scenes from the last ULA branch council:

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

Scenes from the next one?

Mark P - October 4, 2012

Is unfortunately more likely. Or, if some people get their way:

22. Marion - October 4, 2012

the entire concept of ‘workers’ must be re-visited. at the turn of the last century ‘workers’ were an entirely different kind to the lot of nowadays. The sheer arrogance of some ‘assistants’ to someone who is unemployed is unreal. These in reality are capitalist lackeys, cutely recruited by the huge, national, legendary monopolies of this country.

EamonnCork - October 4, 2012

You just can’t get the help these days.

23. dilettante - October 4, 2012

I’m a bit puzzled by the discussion on the Technical Group. I seem to recall people arguing that it was/is a purely technical group (as the name suggests) in order to get speaking time, the right to propose legislation, etc. And that nobody who wanted to join could be excluded, precisely because it is a technical group.
That was why it was/is no problem for the left to have people like Shane Ross in it.

In my view there was always a tendency for some of the ULA and other TDs to try to develop the TG (or parts of it) to be something it wasn’t, but that’s another issue.

Isn’t the discussion about whether MW can rejoin the TG or not a bit of a non-discussion? Isn’t he entitled under Leinster House rules, to join if he wants to (and therefore to have access to speaking time, the right to propose legislation, etc.) the same as any other independent TD?

And isn’t such a discussion again an attempt to make the TG something it isn’t and was never intended to be?

The issue of how the ULA relates to other members of the TG (and others) in campaigning and parliamentary activities is a real one. It might be better to try to deal with that instead of getting sidetracked into an argument about a mechanism which is imposed by the rules of a bourgeois parliament.

WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2012

That’s a very interesting question. I can’t see how he can be prevented from rejoining, but then I couldn’t see how he could be forced to leave back in June. I suspect an awful lot of this stuff is made up on foot of events.

Mark P - October 4, 2012

He can’t be prevented from rejoining. However, the members of the group can make it clear that they don’t want him to. All of them have done so, with the exception of Clare Daly, who has argued repeatedly that he should be welcomed back, and, as I understand it, Ming Flanagan.

dilettante - October 4, 2012

If it’s a technical group then who cares?
I’m not saying you should bring out the bunting, but he has the same right to speaking time; etc. as any other independent TD through the TG – that’s what the TG is for.
Better to let it lie, and focus on more important stuff.

Mark P - October 4, 2012

Ideally, nobody should care. It is, after all, a technical arrangement.

But the media have used the technical group to link Wallace to other members of the technical group, so its members don’t want him in it. In circumstances where all of the independents are arguing that he shouldn’t be welcome, for the ULA to take a different approach would give the media yet more ammunition to pretend that there’s a relationship there. Clare, of course, has no sense at all when it comes to this issue and managed to end up in the papers as Wallace’s vociferous champion… yet again. She has no good reason to be opening her trap about him in the first place.

dilettante - October 4, 2012

Then better to tell the media what the TG actually is instead of tying yourselves in knots trying to take a principled position on something that’s not a principle.
Or at least just saying “we don’t want him to rejoin the TG” and leaving it at that.

Has he actually applied to rejoin?
Is there some procedure for vetting applicants?
Or can an independent TD just announce themselves to be a member and that’s the end of it?
If the latter then I’m not sure who benefits by continuing the argument?

Dreadnought - October 4, 2012

I agree with everything you have said.
But I do kinda’ wonder though. Are not there other independent TDs that are not in the TG. And yet, they speak in the Dail at times.
The TG may in reality be a Strategic grouping of left-leaning TDs? who accord their grouped speaking time to whomsoever in that group has the most current interest.
That’s just my guess.
The difference would be that M.Wallace has been a developer and has earned his living through the development, building and sale of properties; and thence from that occupation, derives his living, which would be subject to financial market fluctutations. Whereas the TDs in the TG are of a left-leaning stance a consider State down financial accounting of developments.

WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2012

But hold on a second Mark P, you were arguing strenuously when all this kicked off precisely that that it was just a technical group and that no political imputation could be made about membership and that it was wrong to of others to do so. Quite vociferous you were too about it. Indeed let me quote you:

A rather fundamental difference between your point of view and mine, WbS, is that I couldn’t really give a flying fuck if various soft leftish independents come to see the technical group as more than a technical arrangement because they develop an esprit de corps.


On that other note, I’ve yet to hear more than two sentences about Wallace and his supposed association with the left from anyone who isn’t the kind of person who comments on news articles or political blogs.

I also think you could restrain yourself from terms like ‘opening her trap’. Yesterday I had to ask you to stop behaving like a troll in relation to the IRSP person. Now I have to ask you to have a modicum of civility towards Clare Daly – or indeed any other leftist – whether one agrees with her or not. I understand from my own experience the depth of hurt that can be felt in relation to these issues for those on either side of events like those we’ve seen, but it might be best for you to think a little about precisely what you write in comments on here before you do so.

Mark P - October 5, 2012

Thanks for the patronising advice WbS. It’s much appreciated.

As for the two comments you dug up, I stand absolutely by the first one. I don’t care what soft left independents try to make the technical group into. I do care what ULA TDs treat the technical group as however.

On the second one, yes, I was entirely wrong. At the time I wrote that, I was of the view that the issue would fade rapidly and, crucially, that Clare would be successfully prevailed upon to end her unbelievably stupid political association with Wallace. It hadn’t really occurred to me at that point that she would double down, basically because I had too much respect for her political sense.

WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2012

Patronising? I’ve been through one split, and I lost friends in it so don’t come over sneering about what I’m saying. But I notice rather than addressing the fact your comments here in the last two days were entirely out of order – both the one to the IRP and the one about CD – you find it easier to try to get the digs in. These things are clues Mark. They really are.

Mark P - October 5, 2012

That’s a bizarre response, WbS. I’ve already said that my couple of one line digs at the IRSP were inappropriate here and apologised. What is it that you want me to say about them now?

As for using the expression “opening her trap” about Clare Daly saying something foolish and destructive, I think that you are being a little oversensitive. My view of the whole subject is that it’s bordering on the tragic to have an activist of her commitment, profile, work ethic and intelligence lose her political marbles in such a messy, prolonged and public way over something so incredibly stupid.

WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2012

Mark P, after having to call you out twice in twenty four hours I’ve no appetite at all for your playing innocent and talking about others being oversensitive or offering you bizarre responses. The tone of your interactions – something by the way that you acknowledge implicilty in regard to your response to D_D below – on this site is simply not acceptable and I’m running out of patience with all this.

24. BB - October 4, 2012

Concerning “scenes from the last ULA branch council” and those who “are terrified that even discussing the issue is going to force her [Clare Daly] out of the ULA”. Let us consider the facts.

The ‘discussion’ was held at the Branch Council for a considerable time. I commented that many Socialist Party concerns were legitimate and deserved to be discussed. The call by me, among others, to “move on” was predicated on the basis that:

a) ULA component groups had long since made their stand on the Wallace issue in public
b) A ULA SC group meeting with CD reached agreement on political association arrangements with MW and it would be helpful to allow time to pass and to put that to the test
c) The matter should come up for discussion in the branches and not via a SP parachuted motion

As regards, “supple backbones”, a Socialist Party that didn’t call for MW resignation in the first case beggars belief. The ULA non-aligned did.The Socialist Party were prepared to keep a TD who politically supported a tax dodging property developer. Who was afraid of loosing the crown jewels methinks?

We are told that “raising the issue isn’t vindictiveness”. I disagree. Take the example of the decision of the Socialist Party to forfeit half of its leaders’ allowance funding from the Exchequer to reflect its smaller Dáil population – opening a further rift with CD ULA TD, who had asked for €40,000 of the €143,000 annual funding to be given to her. When the law is in your favour, you should use it to your advantage. Instead the SP chose to give zero, zilch, nothing to a proven fightback deputy, and a reduction of €30,000 that could have been used by its own comrades. That’s playing dirty and scoring an own goal.

WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2012

Just on that thought, knowing CD only slightly but having quite some time for her, the thought she’ll be forced out of anything is quite a stretch. I find it hard to believe an amicable and politically appropriate agreement cannot be arrived at as you indicate in b) between all those in the ULA.

There’s another thing too. The ULA is surely not a party, but an alliance. It’s incredibly nebulous in structural terms. It seems odd that it’s being pushed towards having to impose party like discipline without the structural elements in place to do so. I entirely understand from their perspective why the SP parted company with CD, but it’s another matter to expect everyone else to view matters in quite the same light, particularly when the others made the running from the off.

Mark P - October 4, 2012

That, BB, is complete gibberish.

1) The Socialist Party is not entitled to give leader’s allowance money to somebody else. There is no “own goal” here. The Socialist Party was legally entitled to keep the money, but it – rightly – took the view that taking money for a TD we don’t have would be understood by most people as us gaming the system. So the SP decided not to keep the money.

But giving the money to Clare would be illegal. That option was not open to us. Anybody who seriously wants us to fiddle the allowance system for Clare’s benefit is a clown. That Clare demanded it speaks ill of her own good sense.

2) It is not in the Socialist Party’s gift to “keep” or not “keep” an independent TD in the Dail, as you well know. However, the SP took a very strong and clear stance on Wallace, as you can read in the statements we produced. That stance hasn’t changed in any way: The left should have nothing to do with a property developer at the centre of a major tax scandal. We didn’t want Clare associating the SP with him and we don’t want her associating the ULA with him.

3) The general attitude of a number of “non-aligned” members (not all of them) and the SWP is one of panic at the thought that taking their own supposed position seriously would result in Clare leaving the ULA. These same people who were howling with the media wolves while Clare’s behaviour was the Socialist Party’s problem, now desperately, want to “put the whole thing behind us”.

The problem being that Clare’s political association with Wallace hasn’t changed. The Socialist Party’s position hasn’t changed. And the timebomb that her continued determination to publicly and politically associate herself with Wallace represents hasn’t changed.

4) The day after her resignation from the Socialist Party, she showed up at a Campaign Against the Household and Water Tax committee meeting and was one of a handful of people who argued that it was OK for Wallace to appear on local campaign platforms, making an entirely spurious distinction (particularly in the case of a public figure) between the national and the local campaign. Speaking of supple backbones, Joan Collins disgraced herself by siding with Clare on this, against overwhelming opposition from everyone with the slightest lick of sense. After some Wexford members walked out, Clare sent them a message of support.

Clare’s Dail “compromise” of getting up from her seat beside Wallace to sit with the ULA for the duration of leader’s questions, only to return to Wallace’s side afterwards, has already brought more attention to her association in the media.

And in the very week when some of our allies were discovering the pressing need to “put behind us” something that’s beyond our power to declare “behind us”, Clare was back in the media arguing in favour of Wallace being welcomed back into the technical group.

5) The Socialist Party withdrew its (entirely reasonable) motion when procedural objections were made to it.

pat - October 4, 2012

“The Socialist Party were prepared to keep a TD who politically supported a tax dodging property developer.”

Not only is this not true, to anyone paying attention to the last few months its blatantly obviously not true. And a seat in the Dail is certainly not the crown jewels as far as we are concerned.

pat - October 4, 2012

Also BB, will you withdraw your accusation of vindictiveness now that you know that your understanding of the funding issue was completely off?

25. Jolly Red Giant - October 4, 2012

I want to go back to some comment made above about building a left group in small towns.

It is untrue to say that an organisation like the Socialist Party is confined to major urban areas like Dublin and Cork.

During my time as a member the Socialist Party has had branches in places like Charleville, Clonmel, Letterkenny, (for most of the 1970s and 1980s), Shannon (where it has had a presence since the ealry 1980s), New Ross, Athlone, Roscrea, At one time the Militant had a couple of members in west Clare who worked closely with a left-wing activist in the LP in Kilrush (he had been a member for 60 years and was a candidate in the 1950s) in a campaign against water charges in the early 1980s and had a base there again in the 1990s. Kilrush has a long tradition of left-wing politics going back to the Communist party in the 1920s. The economic recession in the late 1980s caused the loss of most of these branches through emigration. The Socialist Party has recruited members who were born and reared in rural parts of Kerry, Clare, Galway, Limerick, Donegal, Meath, Cork, Wexford etc. These days the Socialist Party has a presence in Laois, Offaly, Carlow, Drogheda, Tralee, Shannon and Ennis in Clare and several other smaller urban areas.

WorldbyStorm - October 4, 2012

I don’t think anyone is disagreeing that a party like the SP or an alliance like the ULA can organise beyond Dublin and Cork. I think it’s more a case that at this point in time the latter (and perhaps the former) is weak outside urban areas. Indeed the very point was that the WUAG had successfully organised in

I can cast my mind back as far as yours and well remember WP and SFWP members from across the island and in urban and in rural. Predominantly the former, but not exclusively. And in OSF it’s arguable that there was even greater rural representation. There was a significant push amongst them in the 70-73 period to organise rural workers something the WP unfortunately let lapse.

Michael Carley - October 5, 2012

Has anyone looked at the history of rural communism in Ireland? You mention the Communist Party in Kilrush in the twenties and Mike Milotte mentions the IRA breaking the Communist Party amongst miners in Castlecomer in the thirties. How widespread were these groups and how active?

26. Jolly Red Giant - October 4, 2012

I forgot to add – the Socialist Party has also had branches in many smaller urban areas in the North,

27. eamonncork - October 5, 2012

Perhaps we should just accept that the whole Wallace affair is, objectively speaking, nuts and leave it at that. The elephant in the room which we’re all too well mannered to mention is that Clare Daly, one of the oustanding left wing TDs of my lifetimes, is behaving in a way which makes no sense at all from a political point of view and which can apparently only be explained for reasons which I don’t want to go on about and I’m sure no-one else on CLR does either. That’s the crux of the thing and maybe there’s nothing sensible to be said about this. It’s like discovering Tony Cliff used to knock out a few episodes of East Enders in his spare time. How can anyone in the ULA have foreseen this? How can they reasonably be expected to deal with it?

pat - October 5, 2012

Clare’s behaviour is bizarre in my opinion and something I never thought I’d see, but I don’t think that is the crux of the thing. Clare has a broader than left orientation politically, she’s moving rightwards and away from socialist ideas and away from the struggle to change society that we are part of. Some may disagree with that, others will probably welcome it, but time will tell. There will be no mention of socialism or policies that break with capitalism in any of Clare’s political material again unfortunately, of that I’m certain.

28. D_D - October 5, 2012

Mark P’s insults, which could have the effect of bullying people out of the debate, will achieve nothing for his arguments.

Socialist Party bloggers here should consider the consequences of their words. Very few among the rest of the ULA, including the SWP, have raised the heat about Clare Daly’s resignation from the Party, or, as far I know, used anything publicly but proper political language. It is unfortunate that a stream of vitreol is being directed here at the nonaligned on this issue. And now at Joan Collins too. When the infamous SWP Internal Bulletin was leaked Mark P was a moderating voice. The SP seem to have wanted to calm troubled waters at that time, if not sweep the document under the carpet.

Despite the added blow of the WUAG departure, the original point of this thread, the ULA is still salvagable. Furthermore, it has to be: if it is not, the setback for the left will be immense. It might take time to recover, but there is no alternative – TINA – to doing so, except withdrawal to our various unlit corners.

BB’s point b) “A ULA SC [Steering Committee] group meeting with CD reached agreement on political association arrangements with MW and it would be helpful to allow time to pass and to put that to the test”, is worth fleshing out. This report was placed before the ULA Council meeting on Sunday before the Clare Daly-Mick Wallace issue was discussed (at length). The Socialist Party have said it is inadaquate and they wish to revisit the issue. On the other hand many in the alliance thought it was a stronger set of committments that they had hoped to press for.

The text of the report is:

Outcome of meeting with Clare Daly with Kieran Allen, Therese Caherty and Eddie Conlon on behalf of ULA Steering Committee

1. CD accepts the position of the ULA SC that “The ULA has no political connection with Mick Wallace and will have no political connection with Mick Wallace in the future”.

Clare is committed to building the ULA as a political priority and has no involvement with any other political project.

2. Clare fully supports the recent decision to withdraw from Technical Group meetings and to concentrate on forging a separate identity for the ULA outside the Technical Group.

We propose that the role of ULA “whip”, currently performed by Joan Collins, be enhanced and that the TDs agree to sit together for Leaders Questions and on other occasions when the ULA is making interventions in the Dail. JC will coordinate these arrangements.

There should be a discussion regarding whether the ULA should continue seeking TG support for its Private Members Motions, or simply sign the motion only in the name of the ULA TDs. The corollary of this would be that ULA would then be excluded from signing TG Private Members Motions but this may be preferable in establishing a ULA identity, particularly if speaking time can be agreed.

3. CD will be concentrating on developing her organisation as a part of the ULA and building the CAHWT Campaign locally and across the country.

Mark P - October 5, 2012

1) D_D, you quite often respond to me on the basis that my posts here in some way represent the Socialist Party. They don’t, and I’ve pointed that out a couple of dozen times here at minimum. If you are off on the ULA indies list reporting that “the SP” are being dreadfully mean or whatever, then you are simply being misleading. Nobody else in the SP is responsible for the tone I take here.

2) I have zero sympathy for your attempt to turn the discussion into one about “vitriol” and your poor boor bruised feelings. There’s nothing I’ve said which is insulting, beyond the perfectly correct observation that those who howled with the wolves when Clare’s behaviour when she was the Socialist Party’s problem, but now are terrified that too clear a display of principles would lead to her leaving are displaying “supple backbones”. That means the SWP and it means some, but by no means all, of the ULA non-aligned. If you really think that’s so incendiary that characterising it as “bullying” is reasonable, I can only wonder how you ever managed all those decades of political activism without shrivelling up and dying.

In this same discussion we’ve had a number of people characterising the Socialist Party raising the issue in the ULA as “vindictive” and claiming that we are motivated by a desire to damage Clare. We’ve even had someone, apparently seriously, claim that we were “playing dirty” by not illegally taking tens of grand from the state and giving it to Clare. I could pout and stamp my feet about the self-serving unfairness of these comments, but I don’t think that actually gets us anywhere. The Socialist Party has had exactly the same stance on Clare’s political association with Wallace in the Socialist Party itself, in the CAHWT and in the ULA. We are not motivated by some vindictive desire to get her back. Our motivation is to limit the ongoing damage to all of these groups.

3) There was no “vitriol” in my description of Joan Collins behaviour. She did indeed embarrass herself at a CAHWT steering committee by siding with Clare’s stupid line of argument differentiating between having Wallace on local and national platforms, and as I don’t think Joan is stupid, I can only conclude that she did so for other reasons. She was then caught out about it on the radio and ended up waffling unconvincingly. Joan is a fine activist, who I have a great deal of respect for, but she seems to be angling for some kind of internal realignment in the ULA with Clare and that strikes me as straightforward opportunism.

4) Yes, I had “moderate” opinions on the SWP circulating (actual) vitriol in an internal newsletter. I expected nothing better from them in the first place and I don’t think that crying about my hurt feelings is a useful response to someone being critical, even if they do it in terms that I think are unfair. The SWP have a right to their opinions, even when, as so often, those views are wrong. I’m more concerned about things like the SWP’s current approach of setting up new PBPA branches as a way of circumventing the ULA, or their regular attempts to set up broad “anti-austerity” fronts which duplicate work the ULA should be doing than I am with their slightly paranoid political evaluations of the rest of us. And indeed I thought it was something of an indictment of the good sense of some of our other allies (including but not only the WUAG) that they were more upset about a few harsh words.

5) I agree that the ULA is “salvageable”, but I don’t think that operation is helped by people trying to bury an ongoing issue that is beyond our power to bury. Whether the ULA does actually make progress remains to be seen.

6) Yes, that list of “commitments” is entirely inadequate. Since it was reached, Clare has been in the papers about Wallace again, and her “commitment” to sit with the ULA for leader’s questions led to the ludicrous sight of her getting up from her seat beside Wallace for the duration of those questions before getting back up and marching back over to him. Which also made the papers, of course.

Point one is particularly amusing for anyone who has already been through this in the Socialist Party, where Clare would claim to agree with our position when expressed in those kind of terms, but then would refuse to let that “agreement” impact on her behaviour.

29. D_D - October 5, 2012

Mark P point one of the ULA Steering Committee delegation report is “particularly amusing” to you?

I think your reply is further evidence of what I complain about, so I will leave it there in the hope that your posts on this thread have not represented the Socialist Party.

Mark P - October 5, 2012

Yes, D_D, it’s amusing to me, in a gallows humour sort of way. You would find it funny too, or at least find yourself with a laugh or cry response, if you had been in the SP for the last few months and were familiar with that sort of vague agreement in principle.

As for what the Socialist Party in general thinks, I’m often a lot blunter than most SP members, and the SP hasn’t taken a collective position assessing the attitudes of our ULA allies on this question. However, as individuals, anyone I’ve talked to regards the stance taken by those who bayed for the ULA to call for Wallace’s resignation when Clare’s behaviour was primarily our problem but are suddenly overwhelmingly conciliatory and determined to “put behind us” something that’s beyond our power to put behind us, as at best very short-sighted and at worst unprincipled. This is particularly true of those of our allies who not so long ago directly contacted the SP, complaining about Clare’s behaviour and demanding that we do something about it! That is rather difficult to stomach.

I can also say that any SP members who I’ve heard discuss it were aghast at Joan’s performance at that CAHWT meeting and on the radio afterwards. And I’ve never heard anyone in the ULA defend it.

30. John Meehan - October 5, 2012

Readers can listen to an interview with Joan Collins on Clare Daly’s Departure from the Socialist Party here :


Joan makes several excellent points. Perhaps other ULA members or supporters agree with me, and her views do not strike people with overwhelming shock, amazement, sudden fright or horror – (that is Joan’s words may leave many people un-aghasted).

Mark P - October 5, 2012

Joan was, unfortunately, very poor in that interview. In so far as there’s anything of interest in it, it’s that she starts out by taking Clare’s statement about the ULA being at the heart of her decision to leave the Socialist Party at face value. What’s your view on that, John? Do you think that Joan was correct?

She is then caught out by the interviewer about her stance in the CAHWT over Wallace’s involvement. She first tries to sidestep it by saying that she didn’t have a vote and then gets increasingly incoherent as she tries to draw a spurious distinction between Wallace’s involvement in the Wexford campaign and his involvement in the national campaign, echoing the arguments she and Clare made at that meeting. She ends up, by as far as I can tell, opposing an expulsion of the Wexford campaign that never happened.

Perhaps you could give us your views on that stance, too? You don’t seriously believe that a distinction can be made between “local” and “national” involvement when the person concerned is a national public figure, do you? Do you think it’s a coincidence that Joan ended up taking this deeply silly position, or do you think it’s indicative of a desire for a political closeness with Clare?

Are these, the “excellent points” you refer to?

Mark P - October 5, 2012

Just to be clear, although I don’t actually expect John (or D_D) to answer those inquiries, they are intended seriously and not as rhetorical questions.

31. The Left and Elections in Rural Ireland 1973 to present « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 5, 2012

[...] recent thread on WUAG leaving the ULA asked about the strength of the Left in rural Ireland. Now I know electoralism is frowned upon by [...]

32. counterhegemonicperusals - October 6, 2012

Just want to say one thing, as someone who sits on the SC of the ULA, could Mark P, please shut up and go argue on Politics.ie with the conservatives he so completely emulates. You have no comradely respect at all. I welcome members of the IRSP into the ULA, it is because of imperialist-apologists within the ULA that we are not a 32-county organisation.

Mark P - October 6, 2012

From complaints about a lack of “comradely respect” to declarations that your allies are “imperialist-apologists” in just two sentences. Are you trying to break some kind or record?

CMK - October 6, 2012

That’s comradely: ‘imperialist apologists?’. FFS!

Mark P - October 6, 2012

CHP’s post is actually useful in a way, as it illustrates exactly why there is no basis for a 32 County ULA in present circumstances.

Individuals with his views on the national questions can coexist in a radical alliance in the South with people with the sort of views the Socialist Party have. On the other hand it would be absolute carnage if activists of CHP’s rather vigorously republican views were to try to coexist in an alliance in the North. Every single time any aspect of the national question arose, there would be complete and fundamental disagreement. For that matter, it is highly unlikely that Socialist Party activists in the North would be at all interested in giving someone of CHP’s views in Galway a say over their political orientation.

It does of course always baffle me why people like CHP would want to be in an alliance with people in the North who he views as “imperialist apologists” in the first place, but I’ve long given up trying to grasp the intricacies of left republican thinking.

WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2012

Mark P, whatever about the ineptness of CHP’s comment you rather proved his or her central point earlier in the week in your response to IRSPstrabane. I don’t think you’re in any position to take a moral high ground in that respect any time soon.

Mark P - October 6, 2012

I’m not taking the high moral ground, WbS, and I couldn’t give a monkeys if CHP thinks I’m an “imperialist apologist” either. I’m just pointing out some amusing hypocrisy.

He’s quite right that I have no “comradely respect” for the IRSP, by the way.

WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2012

Perhaps you’re right, moral high ground is probably the wrong term, but whatever about CHP’s hypocrisy it does seem – in some way – self-serving of you to be the one to say much of anything about it given that only two or three days ago you did precisely the same to someone else (and despite knowing full well the way this site seeks to self-organise itself in tone and moderation). Or to put it another way, at this point in time you’re just about the last person who comments on this site who is in any position to make a complaint about others transgressions – which by the way is in no sense to condone CHP’s pointless and absurdly un self-reflective comment.

Mark P - October 6, 2012

If someone makes an amusingly hypocritical jab at me, it seems to me that I’m reasonably positioned to point out that amusing hypocrisy.

I certainly wasn’t making a complaint to the moderators or anyone else about his “transgressions”, because as I’ve already said, I don’t give a monkeys what CHP thinks of me. I just thought that the “absurdity” of the way he had his pop at me was funny.

WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2012

Sure, but the thing is that you seem remarkably unreflective of your own interactions on here. Of course you didn’t complain, but you drew attention. There’s something, to use your own word ‘amusing’ about that given that s/he was simply echoing what you’d already done to someone else.

Mark P - October 6, 2012

There’s no double standard in pointing out the amusingly hypocritical nature of someone’s jab at me. If I’d gone moaning to you, or started sulking because he was rude, I’d be acting in a “remarkably unreflective” way. But I didn’t.

Sure, I’m sometimes ruder than you, as the owner of the site, would prefer and it’s fair enough for you to pull me up on it. But I’m not a hypocrite about it, and really don’t give a shit if someone whose opinion I couldn’t care less about is rude about me on the internet.

WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2012

It’s actually not a case of being ruder than I’d want you to be Mark P – it’s the fact that you know these interactions – which characterise the general tone you adopt – are entirely against both the spirit and letter of the moderation approach on this site and yet you continue to comment in that fashion.

And if not a double standard or hypocrisy (and I’ve not used either term precisely because this is more a matter of tone too) there’s certainly an irony, and an half amusing one – as I said in light of that.

33. CMK - October 6, 2012
Mark P - October 6, 2012

You have got to be kidding.

WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2012

I have to agree with you here Mark P, why on earth would he feel it necessary to bring this up (though a quick look at politics.ie seemed to indicate it had hit the news media back in June/July).

RosencrantzisDead - October 6, 2012

It is remarkably stupid if you happen to spot that Wallace is admitting to an illegal act; he has made notes of his own ‘goddamn criminal conspiracy’.

I almost want to see him prosecuted if just to demonstrate that wild stupidity has consequences beyond a job as a Newstalk presenter.

CMK - October 6, 2012

Perhaps the cops would actually do the left a favour here and prosecute Wallace for this. Though, I doubt they will. He’s doing a fantastic job for the establishment. In the space of several months he’s compromised one of the most outstanding Left politicians this state has produced; he’s been a major part of separating the WUAG from the ULA; he’s compromised the CAHWT in Wexford and, less so, generally and now this. I can’t see any reason why the establishment would want to see him reined in. There’ll be more, lots more, from Wallace in the months and years ahead.

34. Bartley - October 6, 2012

Anyone around this parish still clinging to the Mick-Wallace-as-decent-old-skin-brought-down-by-the-right-wing-media, just listen to the man betray his true character on Marian Finucane earlier today:


(from about 36:50)

In which good old Mick describes how he chased down the last the 20k of a 170k debt. His solicitor indicated he could recover 13k by legal means, giving an excellent 96% recovery in total. But not good enough for our Mick, no he ended up discussing strategy with a debt collector who would go around to the the mans house at 9pm, stick his foot in the door and produce a gun.

To avoid paying the that gunmans 4k fee, good ol Mick just put the word on the street that he had hired a hitman. That terrorized the contracts manager into producing 16k of the that last 20k owing. Or in other words, Mick recovered nearly 98% of the debt as opposed to 97% using the most obscene tactics.

Quote of the interview:

… to be honest, yeah, I wouldnta sent the gunman to his door

In the almost the next breath he is beal bochting about paying off his own debt to the taxpayers of Ireland at the rate of 22k per annum net, which would take a thousand years to pay off the principal never mind the accumulated interest.

Not scoring points here, but really the fact that a good chunk of the hard left in Ireland is tearing itself apart over loyalty to this chancer, really speaks to some severely lacking character judgement.

Mark P - October 6, 2012

It speaks to one person severely lacking character judgement, certainly.

EamonnCork - October 6, 2012

The striking thing about this rather self serving and silly tale is that Mick Wallace is lucky all the people he owes money to don’t adopt the same tactics. Though to be honest I don’t believe a word of it, having heard a dozen variations of this macho story in pubs over the years. L’esprit d’escalier I think they call it.
But, loath though I am to disagree with Bartley, I hardly think this stands as an indictment of the ‘hard left’ (oddly Thatcherite phrasing there) anymore than the travails of Michael Keating thoroughly discredited the Blueshirts in their day.

35. D_D - October 6, 2012

Didn’t Wallace mean – in the radio interview – he hadn’t used a hit man, and wouldn’t?

smiffy - October 6, 2012

But has no problem threatening someone with a hitman (regardless of whether the story’s true).

CMK - October 6, 2012

Once any reference to ‘hitman’ enters into any context surely we’re somewhere where no-one on the Left here wants to be? If he wouldn’t and hadn’t used a hitman then why mention it at all? Like, do we really need to know about how he went about collecting his debts? Even as a hypothetical or as bragging or oblique intimations it was incredibly poor judgement. I expect we’ll get to find out more about Mick’s past and the funny thing is I don’t think it’ll take a ideologically motivated witch hunt by the right wing media to do more damage. All that has to be done is put a microphone in front of Wallace and let him loose.

smiffy - October 6, 2012

Interestingly, he seems to have been touting this story around for years:


36. yourcousin - October 7, 2012

Can I just say, and maybe this is just me because I’ve had the wolves at my door during this recession, where I’m from going to man’s home at 9pm and brandishing a gun is a good way to get your cranium turned into a head canoe.

37. sonofstan - October 7, 2012

Not scoring points here, but really the fact that a good chunk of the hard left in Ireland is tearing itself apart over loyalty to this chancer, really speaks to some severely lacking character judgement.

The fact that the ‘hard’ left in Ireland is weak enough that its one potentially roadworthy vehicle can be derailed over something like this is much more the issue.

WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2012

That’s a very interesting point. One thing that strikes me is that in terms of PR and impact all these events, WUAG, etc, etc are in truth (and I think it was dmfod who made this point) low enough level in their media impact. Part of it is definitely that to those who are active or involved they achieve a much higher prominence. So problematic in themselves as these things are they seem more symptom than cause.

38. How federalism failed the Irish left - November 15, 2012

[...] practice the SWP has voted with its feet. It has relaunched People Before Profit and in the statement announcing its withdrawal from the alliance the WUAG said “The SWP has prioritised recruitment to [...]

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