The US-based Jacobin magazine has a lengthy and well-informed article on the current situation here in Ireland, particularly as it relates to the re-emergence of the Left as a force in Irish politics:
“Throughout the past fall and again in December, people took to the streets in numbers rarely seen in Ireland. On December 9, organizers said there were 100,000 people marching in Dublin, 2 percent of the Irish Republic’s population of 4.5 million.
The impetus for the biggest protest movement in a generation — and perhaps since independence from Britain — is the Irish government’s plan to institute a new tax on water, ranging from €176 to as much as €500, depending on the size of the household. The demonstrations are creating the conditions for a seismic shift in Irish politics. Paradigms once entrenched are suddenly open to contest. The center-right government is finally feeling some pressure, and the Left appears emboldened.
Of all the PIIGS countries — Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, those suffering under the current unholy trinity of the European Union (EU)-International Monetary Fund (IMF)-European Central Bank (ECB) and from the virtual suspension of democracy over the past six years — it has been Ireland that has failed to mount a challenge to austerity, until now.
The resistance has often taken the form of direct action. At the local level, communities have come together to repel contractors sent to install water meters in their estates. An instructional video demonstrating how to sabotage the water meters, uploaded by the socialist party éirígí, has over seventy thousand views. (Again, staggering relative to the country’s population.)
The demographics at the protests cut across a large swath of Irish society. The university students in their late teens now were only adolescents when the crash happened and austerity began. But older generations, struggling to pay their bills and having seen their children emigrate for lack of work, are on board too.”
The paragraphs below are a telling summation of the socio-economic implosion that enveloped our island nation over the last several years:
“What distinguished the Irish crisis from the Spanish or Greek crisis was the size of the debt relative to the size of the economy, and the way in which the Irish state handled those obligations. The state guaranteed all of the bad debt without so much as a parliamentary vote or cabinet meeting, transforming a private banking crisis into a public sovereign debt crisis.
For comparison, the debt assumed by the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) worked out to just over $2,000 per US citizen. When the Irish government created the National Asset Management Agency to buy up roughly $101 billion of Irish banks’ bad debt, it amounted to almost $22,000 per citizen. If the number is scaled to the size of the workforce in Ireland, the socialization of this private debt is even more staggering.
When the Irish state could not come close to covering the debts of the banks and property speculators, representatives from the IMF, EU, and ECB came to Dublin for a good old-fashioned structural adjustment: minimum-wage cuts, public-spending slashes, and public-sector layoffs. From British colony to Vegas-style cesspool of capital, then back to indentured servitude under European capital in less than a century.”
The whole report deserves your attention, as indeed does the elegantly designed and presented “Jacobinmag” website in general. It’s reporting on Irish affairs makes a pleasant change from the distorting Anglophile-prism that Ireland is normally seen through by the American Left.