jump to navigation

Statement from the Irish Socialist Network February 14, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

The Irish Socialist Network has decided, due to financial constraints, not to contest the general election. We are asking supporters to vote against Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as both are the same. We would also ask supporters to vote for candidates/organisations who are on the left and will NOT go into coalition with FF or FG. The ISN will participate in the next local elections both North and South.


1. Peter - February 14, 2011

Could the ISN not officially endorse, the ULA, Workers Party, or like minded independents.


WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2011

I guess it does indirectly, but I presume it didn’t want to take on board looking like it was giving its imprimateur or telling people how to vote directly.


2. Tweets that mention Statement from the Irish Socialist Network « The Cedar Lounge Revolution -- Topsy.com - February 14, 2011

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Northern Ireland, Campaigntrail.ie. Campaigntrail.ie said: Statement from the Irish Socialist Network: The Irish Socialist Network has decided, due to financial constraint… http://bit.ly/dYIq3K […]


3. Peter - February 14, 2011

I still think the ISN should have endorsed people who they are happy to campaign with, say Cllr. Cieran Perry (who is actually featured in an article on the ISN website) not to mention those in the anti-bin charges campaigns now running under the ULA banner.


Starkadder - February 14, 2011

Seems like a wasted opportunity for the ISN, cutting themselves off from the surge of anti-FF,
anti-business sentiment appearing. As Peter says, there’s no reason why they couldn’t have
backed those campaigners running for the ULA.


4. Jim Monaghan - February 14, 2011

I have to say I regard it as a cop out. They should define the anti coalition candidates.
I regard this as a sectish move.


WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2011

Wouldn’t though it be more sectish to name names? THis way they’ve a clear approach, not FG/FF or the LP.


Jack Jameson - February 14, 2011

Maybe the ISN thinks we’re all big enough to decide for ourselves who’s Left and who’s Leftish without being told.


5. Mark P - February 14, 2011

Presumably it’s phrased a little ambiguously to leave it open whether or not they are including SF in their call for a left vote.


6. John Meehan - February 14, 2011

I agree with Jim Monaghan and Mark P. The ISN has perhaps expanded on its “ambiguous” statement elsewhere?

While on this topic see the People’s Movement General Election 4 :


A curiosity – why have they not endorsed Mick Wallace running in Wexford?

That was a nice encouraging opinion poll in today’s Irish Times about Cork North-Central for ULA Supporters – fingers crossed for Mick Barry.


7. Colm B - February 14, 2011

I’m no longer a member of the ISN (since I live in exile!) so I dont’ have an insight into their thinking on the election but IMO, as long as an organisation takes a principled stance, which the ISN clearly has since they encourage supporters to vote for anti-coaltionist left, I think snipping or scolding them is uncalled for. There is a difference between disagreement and just having a go.

For what its worth, personally my view on the issue is that radical left organisations should join the ULA and work to win as many ULA seats as possible which could open the possibility of building a democratic, pluralist radical socialist party in the future.


8. D_D - February 14, 2011

Joe Higgins was asked by a caller on the Pat Kenny radio show this morning how he should vote, there being no ULA candidate in his constituency. Could have been a provocateur (provo-cateur?) but the caller seemed genuine to me.

Joe answered that he should vote left and put it in broad terms very like that of the ISN. Though Joe could not really have been more than generic, there being no position or consensus in the ULA on the matter. A similar situation applies to transfers.

The ISN statement could perhaps afford to be a little more specific about their voting advice, and a bit more welcoming to the ULA.

If the ISN had stood in Dublin North West I believe they should have been given priority on the left (as well as encouragement to join the ULA), though the Workers Party, Andrew Keegan and the PBPA would probably have had other ideas.

There is too the complication, all over, in this election that Sinn Féin have, for this election, renounced coalition with FF or FG. Put that together with a candidate of the calibre of Dessie Ellis and black and white begins to shade into grey.

I’m sure the ULA (and Sinn Féin, and the Workers Party) also stands for policies such as(listed in the Peoples Movement statement):

“Repatriation of power from Brussels
Repudiation of the debt.
Opposition to EU competition
Defence of Irish neutrality and sovereignty.
National control of natural resources.”

I’m not so sure that Cieran Perry, Declan Bree, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle all support the policy of “leaving the Euro currency”. [Best wishes to these candidates too.]. And where’s Maureen O’Sullivan?


9. WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2011

I’m not sure I think we should leave the Euro just yet either. 🙂


10. Budapestkick - February 15, 2011

To be fair to the ISN I know they have been canvassing for ULA candidates in Limerick and Dublin


11. john O'Neill - February 15, 2011

The statement says we aren’t running because we cannot afford to do so how is that “sectish?”

Personally I think the ULA is a good start but both the biggest components are clear it is an electorial alliance, no more no less. I would like to wait and see if ULA TD’s will push for something more than that and how things develop.

The fact is the ULA have not sought to involve the ISN and neither the Socialist Party, the SWP have ever asked for a vote for the ISN nor has the WP ever encouraged people to transfer to the ISN. I suggest those who criticise the statement on being evasive should look closer to home first.

Despite this, ISN members are supporting / campaigning for ULA candidates and other left candidates who are opposed to coalition.


Jim Monaghan - February 15, 2011

If this fact of active support had been in the statement it would have meant a lot. ULA (warts and all) are the cutting edge of the opposition/resistance.I would have preferred that it was formed in an different way with explicit openings to the ISN and WP, plus decent independents.I would, also, have liked to win the lottery.But I accept the fact of it.I think of Lenins remark of knowing who represents the fight and avoiding sectarian sitting on the sidelines.
An explicit endorsement by the ISN would mean something. I say this as I have some respect for the ISN (a lot more than for the WP). It would also have the advantage of the ISN being seen as founders ( in the sense of being in from the beginning) of ULA. I say this as I hope that the momentum of this campaign allows ULA to transcend the SWP/SP/Seamus Healy and become something quit different.Having the ISN and independents influencing this and keeping it open and broad would be a good thing. This election is just a stage on the way. ULA are also better than just individual leftists. The fact of an alliance is the way forward, not the Gregory route which led nowhere whatever the motivation.And with all due respect the non ULA people who are anti coalition are Gregorys at most.


Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

“I would have preferred that it was formed in an different way with explicit openings to the ISN and WP, plus decent independents.I would, also, have liked to win the lottery.”

Is that really the situation? Is expecting those who founded the ULA to include genuine socialists from the word go really as unlikely as winning the lotto? The tragic thing is, I suspect that Jim is right.

So we have the situation that the ISN aren’t in the ULA – haven’t even been asked, it seems! – while people who were happy enough with Eamonn Gilmore a couple of weeks ago are in the fold. I know the ULA claim that democratic discussion involving all interested socialists is far too time-consuming, but surely there’s something wrong with this picture?


Mark P - February 15, 2011

Our old friend Shay arrives with his usual sniping.

As he knows, the ULA has never argued that “democratic discussions” (as opposed to undemocratic discussions?) with “genuine socialists” (as opposed to fake socialists?) are too time consuming.

What he’s been told on previous occasions when he showed up to do the same anonymous shit-stirring routine is that the model he seems to prefer of gathering together every group and grouplet which calls themselves left wing and having them talk endlessly at each other about the joys of unity has already been tried. And it was a complete failure. No alliance resulted from that process and no useful alliance was ever going to result from that kind of approach.

Instead, the groups which founded the ULA took the approach of holding initial discussions amongst those organisations which (a) represented the vast majority of socialist left candidates and (b) felt that they had enough in common politically to work together fruitfully. And unlike Shay’s preferred approach, it actually worked.

These two approaches have been put to the test of practice, to borrow an old cliche. One approach was a failure, the other a success. Shay might be better served making constructive suggestions (something I’ve yet to hear from him in any of his shit-stirring interventions here) than continuing to whine about how whatever group he is affiliated to had their poor little feelings hurt by not being invited at the start.

Let me emphasise that my impatience with Shay’s whining should not be taken to mean that no other individuals or groups are welcome in the ULA. Firstly, such decisions are not, sadly, taken in accordance with my whims. And secondly, I’ve heard nobody in the ULA express any problem with the idea of involving groups like the ISN and Workers Party if they wish to be involved and accept the political basis of the alliance. They have chosen not to get involved as organisations as of yet, and that is their right.


12. Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

I’m sure Mark P’s family are proud of having raised such a mannerly young man. But then, the touching of raw nerves does tend to have this effect.

It beats me why the ULA founders couldn’t have said to the ISN or the WP or Kieran Perry or others 4 or 5 months ago: Look, we want to set up an electoral alliance, time is short, we need to get things sorted by November. If they said no, grand, things could have gone ahead without them. But they should have been asked.

But I think Mark P’s problem is that they might have said yes. And he feels far more comfortable in the company of ex-Labour TD’s and councillors. That’s his definition of “success”.

And here’s a “constructive suggestion”. After the election, the ULA could invite the people I’ve mentioned to a conference to take practical steps towards setting up a left wing party. They could even put Mark P in the chair to make sure the discussions don’t get endless. If it’s a flop, then something else can be tried. But it’s the refusal to make a sincere effort in the first place that raises questions.

(Cue Mark P with shower of insults…)


Mark P - February 15, 2011

Another piece of complete dishonesty from our anonymous shit-stirrer.

Once more, discussions were held along the lines of the ones you apparently prefer. They were convened by the Irish Socialist Network. They were a failure. No lack of “sincere effort”, just a process that was never going to get anywhere given that the guest list consisted of a shopping list of groups and grouplets with no account taken of whether (a) those groups represented anything or (b) whether those groups had anything much in common bar a self-description of left.

Moving on from there to a new process which took as its starting point (note: not finishing point) three groups which (a) felt they had enough common ground for an alliance to work and (b) represented the overwhelming majority of prospective socialist candidates, was a wise move and one which has proven much more successful in actually creating an alliance. Many people from outside those groups have since joined the alliance, mostly as individuals, but also as groups in Laois/Offaly and Sligo.

The groups you mention have not chosen to join as of yet. That’s their decision and one they are entitled to make. It’s worth noting that none of them seem to be sulking about how they weren’t asked to the initial discussions, rather you are doing it unasked for on their behalf. I hope that groups like the Workers Party and ISN, and individuals like Perry, decide to get involved after the election – as far as I am concerned as an individual ULA member and as far as any other members I’ve heard express an opinion on the subject are concerned, the door is open to them.

But whether those groups choose to get involved or not, the ULA has so far been something of a success. Hopefully, the ULA will continue to take steps forward and will be able to move towards the creation of a party.


Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

Straight question, Mark: Would you be in favour of the ULA asking them to get involved in forming a new party? I know you don’t have a problem with them getting involved – but do you think it’s a good idea for the ULA to ASK them?


Worldbystorm - February 15, 2011

Shay maybe I’m missing something here but I see nothing wrong on Mark Ps responses. The ULA sensibly built on common ground, both Mark and D_D have said openly they’re in favour of new groups joining and named ISN and WP in particular. Just as I think the critique that the ISN is wrong to not name names in it’s statement is incorrect equally I don’t think the critique of the ULA us fair. And Mark P has actually been pretty reasonable in tone on this.


Mark P - February 15, 2011


Firstly, I don’t think that either the ISN or Workers Party are so infantile as to sulk about who should ask who first. It’s trivia. If there is a process to get involved in, they should push to get in and those forces already in the ULA should ask them. I really don’t care which happens.

Secondly, it is not certain at what rate the ULA will be moving forward after the election. Much depends on the level of ongoing involvement from people who are outside the existing left groups and on the momentum which the ULA can build. There will have to be a lot of political discussions within the ULA about how fast to progress and in what direction. It’s not as simple as announcing that THERE WILL BE A NEW PARTY and then calling a conference.

For instance, the ULA at the moment operates on a high level of consensus. That’s entirely appropriate for a loose alliance of forces. It’s less appropriate for an organisation which is moving towards being a party. At the same time, a simple individual membership structure with no account taken of the existence of distinct currents would be a recipe for vitriolic factionalism in the medium term. This is a process.


13. Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

Firstly, I don’t think a phrase like “shit-stirring” is very mature, nor do I think you’re having a proper discussion when you accuse the other person of “absolute dishonesty”. But this is a minor drop of water off a duck’s back.

There is a real difference here that I’m trying to get at. On the one hand you can say “Well, here we are. You can ask to join if you feel like it. We don’t mind. We won’t stand in your way.” Or you can say “Listen, we want you to be involved in this. Certain parameters will have to be set, and if it turns out we don’t have enough in common, we’ll proceed without you. But we would like you to be on board.”

That welcoming approach was adopted towards Seamus Healy’s group in Tipp and Declan Bree’s group in Sligo. Other groups were given the other approach, and only after the thing had been set up without them. We know the consequences in terms of who is in and who isn’t.

What I’m asking is, would the ULA consider adopting the welcoming approach to them now, or after the election? Not just letting them come along if they want, but going out of its way to ask them? I think that’s a fair thing to ask.


Mark P - February 15, 2011

Shay, we are talking about trying to build a socialist alternative in this country, not about who invites who to a school formal dance.

As I understand it, the Workers Party were in fact specifically asked to get involved after the initial discussion process but some time before the election. They declined at that time.


Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

“A school formal dance”? Were you educated in Eton in the 1920’s or something? They were called school discos in my day. (God knows what de yoot call them nowadays.)

If you think it doesn’t matter whether people are asked or not, then why were the WP asked when others weren’t?

When you’re canvassing during the election, do you knock on people’s doors and enthusiastically ask them to support your candidate? Or do you just leave a bundle of leaflets at the end of the street for people to pick up if they feel like it?


WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2011

Seriously Shay, I still don’t see what irritates you so much about the ULA approach? As noted by John O’Neill individual ISN members are campaigning for ULA and other candidates. So their nose isn’t put out of joint, at least as far as we can tell from public statements.

There’s also another angle. Any of us around the left here for any time know that the level of trust between even the initial elements in the ULA wasn’t necessarily as high as one might hope for. That’s been a part of the ULA process, formations working more closely together in alliance.

Why further complicate an already delicate enough process (though one that to my eyes thankfully is becoming hardier) by over extending the process.

Surely, there are criticisms that might be made on one issue or another, only last week I was expressing my own issues over policy, but as a broad construct I think most Irish leftists, even those who might, say like myself, have a Republican socialist inclination, not merely wish the ULA well but are enthusiastic about how well it is actually doing (at least so far in terms of potential gains).


Mark P - February 15, 2011


Yes, I graduated from the Eton Class of 1927 and I’m 101 years old.

As I understand it, there was a meeting with the Workers Party because the WP is the largest socialist grouping outside the ULA and they were planning on standing a significant number of candidates.

I think, by the way, that you are fundamentally misunderstanding what the people involved in the ULA are trying to achieve. The aim of the project is not to cobble together all of the existing left currents. The aim is to reach out to a much wider audience. In so far as existing left groups have a compatible approach and want to get involved then that’s a good thing, but it is not what the ULA is setting out to achieve.

Personally, I have no desire to repeat what I understand to be the more negative aspects of the old Socialist Labour Party, which suffered greatly from a situation where a whole bunch of left currents bickered with each other without there being a substantial, engaged, wider membership.


14. Shay Guevara - February 15, 2011

There’s no question here of not wishing the ULA well. I only wish the old lax electoral register was still in force and I could cast 2 or 3 votes for them. The better they do, the better things are.

But I don’t think we should let the mere fact of an alliance prevent us from raising questions about how it works. If things had been handled better, if they’re handled better from here on in, this “broad construct” could be even more broad and even more constructive.

It’s true there were delicacies involved. The SP and SWP have traditionally been at each other’s throats. But to take the ISN as an example, as far as I can see they have never had any delicacies on the matter and have bent over backwards to push for unity when no one else was interested. They do have a habit of raising awkward questions about internal decision-making processes, but those are valid concerns.

My worry is that the ULA founders only wanted to reach out to people to their right, ex-LP and so on. Nothing wrong with getting such people in, but did they want to steer clear of any awkward competition on their left flank?

I don’t think discussing such issues detracts from supporting the ULA. In fact, it can help to bring the ULA to becoming something better still.


Mark P - February 15, 2011

Shay, you’ve already been told that the Workers Party were in fact asked to join and that Irish Socialist Network members have been out canvassing for ULA candidates.

You are wrong, by the way, to assume that “more broad” and “more constructive” automatically flow from each other.


15. Jim Monaghan - February 15, 2011

“My worry is that the ULA founders only wanted to reach out to people to their right, ex-LP and so on. Nothing wrong with getting such people in, but did they want to steer clear of any awkward competition on their left flank?”
There would probably be disagreements on this.
Who is to the left of ULA? I would dispute whether there are any further to the left.In fact I see lacunae in program being the problem. And I believe that friendly debate can deal with that.
First let me say I have no time and want to waste no time with Sparts (IWG etc.)and their ilk.They waste time and destroy conferences.Nitpickers par excellence.I think by endorsing ULA that Socialist Democracy avoided being totally relegated into that particular swamp.
Serious groups such as the WP, Eirigi and similar. Yes, I would like a dialogue to occur.I regret that the WP did not sign up, neither did the CP.Of them all I see most potential with Eirigi. They are not a typical Republican dissident lot, avoiding the trap of a parallel org. I would guess ULA left Dublin Central open if Perry wanted to sign up.
ULA is a start. A fragile one. Sweetness and light has not fully broken out with the constituent parts. I am sure internal sectarians and external sectarians would love to see squabbles break out and become splitting points.
I am leafleting in Dun Laoghaire.I am an awful leafleter and worse canvasser. I share this with Leo Vadaker if nothing else.I am impressed by Boyd-Barrets team.His election leaflet outlining his campaigns puts the lie to those who claim it is only electoral. I see them in lots of places, more than all the other teams, FF, Fg etc.Bodes well.Christy Moore is giving a benefit on Thurs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: