Séamus McDonagh, Workers' Party

Séamus McDonagh, Workers' Party
Constitutency: Meath West

Personal Details

  • Address: Kells, Co. Meath
  • Year of Birth: 1948
  • Email address:: info@wpi-meath.org
  • Phone Number: 087 6596876
  • Twitter account: @wpi_meath
  • Facebook Page: Workers' Party of Ireland (Meath)
  • Website: http://www.wpi-meath.org
  • Occupation: Unemployed.
  • Previous Occupation: Steel fixer.
  • Financial interests: None.
  • Income (aside from income derived from political office): Unemployment benefit.
  • Approximate net worth of capital assets (aside from family residence): None.

Political Details

  • Are you an outgoing politician? Not a politician
  • How much money do you expect to spend in the election campaign? €3,000
  • What will be the sources of this finance? Personal credit union loan.

Record and Manifesto

Personal election manifesto: The Workers' Party candidate in the 2011 General Election for the constituency of Meath-West is Séamus McDonagh. Séamus, a native of Wilkinstown, is a lifelong member of the Workers' Party and currently a member of the Ard Comhairle / Central Executive Committee. Séamus was for many years a community development worker with the Dublin Inner City Drugs Network, and was involved in organising the Anti-Bin Charges and Anti- Water Tax campaigns in County Meath in the '80s and '90s. Séamus is also a member of the current national Anti-Water Tax committee. Séamus is also a member of the Jim Connell Society in Kells, which organises an annual socialist and trade union festival in Crossakiel to commemorate the author of the socialist standard "The Red Flag". The Workers' Party believes that for the vast majority of ordinary people this election will not only be about issues of local concern, no matter how acute. The election will be about the economic issues which are hurting every household in the country: Unemployment, Cutbacks, Emigration, Mortgage debt, Banks.

What in your record distinguishes you above the other candidates in your constituency? The Workers' Party offers voters in Meath-West a socialist alternative to the failed right-wing agenda of the mainstream political parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The Workers' Party last stood a general election candidate in Meath in 1987. However, the collapse of the global financial system, and the inability of rightwing and social democratic governments worldwide to implement policies which can resolve the structural contradictions of capitalism which led to this collapse, presents anew the opportunity for socialists to put forward a credible alternative vision of society and the economy, a vision which places the interests of ordinary people, the working class, in centre place. The Workers' Party is placing economic issues at the heart of its general election campaign.

What do you consider to be the main election issues in your constituency, and where do you stand on these issues? The Workers' Party recognises that key local issues for the people of Meath in the general election will be: Creation of local jobs, Re-negotiation of household mortgages at current property values, Local healthcare / Navan Hospital, Provision of adequate school places, Sub-post office for Johnstown.

What do you believe are the national priorities, and what do you propose in this regard? The Workers' Party Ten Point Programme:

  1. A complete change in the political system which has allowed corruption, cronyism and economic ruin to flourish.
  2. A commitment to exit the IMF / EU deal which has no democratic mandate.
  3. A commitment to bring back into the public exchequer the billions which bankers and developers immorally accumulated.
  4. A commitment to hold a referendum on the banks.
  5. A taxation system which ensures that billionaire tax exiles pay up and that those who can afford the most pay the most.
  6. A commitment to introduce a stimulus package which grows the economy, creates jobs and badly needed public infrastructure and generates tax revenues.
  7. The development of our vast oil and gas resources in the national interest and not private profit.
  8. The revamping of our state and semistate companies under democratic control and accountability, as the engine of economic growth and recovery.
  9. A commitment to reverse the cuts introduced in Budget 2010 to protect those on social welfare, the minimum wage, the working poor, the elderly and those on pensions.
  10. The introduction of a wealth tax, a levy on banks and use of the National Pension Reserve Fund to fund a National Economic Recovery Programme.

Specific Policy Questions

Do you support political reform, and why? What measures would you introduce to reform local and national politics? TheWorkers Party programme provides for:

  1. a central role for the state in developing and shaping our economy in the public good and not the interests of a wealthy few
  2. public ownership and control of the banks and other financial institutions
  3. a fair and equitable taxation system
  4. public ownership of our vast natural resources particularly our oil and gas reserves
  5. a complete review of the political system which has allowed corruption, croynism and economic ruin to flourish.

That is the choice The Workers; Party is offering voters in this election. This election is an opportunity to change the face of Irish politics. The futility of civil war politics has never been more obvious than in the present economic circumstances. That there are no real differences between FF and FG is now also clear. Both are committed to the pursuit of a right wing economic and political agenda. This election is an opportunity for the left to grow as a real force in Irish politics.

Should Church involvement in provision of education and teacher training continue? The Workers' Party is absolutely committed to the secularisation of the education system.

Where do you stand on the EU/IMF bailout? Reject the IMF/EU deal which has no democratic mandate. The Fianna Fáil / Green Party coalition had no mandate to negotiate the EU/IMF deal. The EU, the ECB and the IMF imposed a deal on Ireland in order to support the Euro and to protect major banks in France and Germany who had lent billions to the Irish banks during the past decade. It is a disastrous deal for the Irish people. It will impose at least five years of budget misery on the country with even more vicious attacks on the old, the vulnerable, health and education as well as the fire-sale of all our national assets. The Workers Party proposes a constitutional amendment so as to place the Common Good above the rights of private profit. We should follow the example of Iceland (a country with less than 500,000 citizens) who – by holding a democratic referendum - forced the international banking system to offer completely new terms.

Would you support holding a referendum decide the question of making any further payments from the citizens to bank creditors? Reform the Banking Sector Abolish the bonus system and culture in banks. Prioritise the people over the "bond holders". Remove from office directors who presided over failed lending practices. As the people now own 95% of Irish banks we would create three new banking entities:

  1. A National Investment Bank to facilitate family businesses and smaller companies.
  2. A specialised Domestic Mortgage lender.
  3. A normal high street Commercial bank.

We have always opposed the Nama project as it places an unfair burden on the taxpayer without any prospect of a return on that investment. Place a moratorium on the repossession of family homes and a process to renegotiate mortgages.

Do you support the Fine Gael policy for Health Reform? No. The Workers' Party rejects the privatisation of public services and the commodification of healthcare which are inherent in Fine Gael's proposals.

What job creation initiatives do you propose? Democratic control and accountability, as the engine of economic growth and recovery. The Workers Party believes the key to job creation lies in the development and strengthening of our publicly owned companies, the commercial semi-state sector. On a national basis some of the largest indigenous companies are publicly owned. The performance of these companies has, over the last two decades, been remarkably consistent. Our commercial publicly-owned companies employ 40,000 in secure, productive jobs. All these companies make a profit - which they give to the state in the form of a dividend. In eight years the ESB gave the state €800 million. These companies have the capacity to expand - and to double their workforce to 80,000 staff. These companies (eg Bord naMóna in 2009) can go to the international banks for money for expansion. * Create a State Energy Company with the ESB, Bord Gáis, and Bord na Móna. * Use this company to exploit our oil and gas and to expand into every modern energy sector. * Link Coillte, Bord na Móna and Teagasc for Wind Energy, food production and tourism. * Guarantee apprenticeships for school-leavers in these companies. We oppose completely the many calls from different right-wing parties and pressure groups, as well as from the ideologically driven ECB/IMF for the sale of our commercial state companies.

What measures do you propose to provide adequate housing and security of tenure to every Irish citizen? The Workers' Party believes that what was good enough for the banks should be good enough for their victims - those who are now carrying the can for the recklessness and greed of those banks and financial institutions who knowingly sold sub-prime mortgages to families and young people, in the full knowledge that such loans were never going to be repaid. The banks' involvement in fuelling property speculation has led to the situation where thousands of people, and young couples in particular, are now faced with huge monthly housing costs at a time when they are experiencing severe wage reductions and job losses. These victims must be helped and cannot be allowed to simply fend for themselves at a time when the government has put billions of taxpayers money into saving the banks from collapse. The government has bailed out banks on the double. First their was the grossly mistaken Bank Guarantee of September 2008 which has since been used to pump billions into technically insolvent banks like Anglo. The second massive donation of our money to banks occured in the IMF/ECB deal before Christmas where Ireland, as a state, has to borrow billions from these institutions, to secure loans by the big international banks of Germany and France. The amount of money needed to help homeowners in distress in minimal in comparison. The Workers Party demand that there be an immediate moratorium on the repossession of family homes, and that domestic mortgages taken out at the height of the artificial property boom be renegotiated to reflect current house values, wage levels and repayment potential.

Questions from Politico Readers

Will you ensure that natural resources remain under state ownership? (Chris Maher) Develop our vast oil and gas resources in the national interest - not private profit. It is a remarkable fact that the Norwegian government, as owners of Statoil, will make more money from the Corrib gas field than the Irish government? Ireland has vast resources of oil and gas. The Corrib field is well known. A further huge find has been located off the Cork-Waterford coast, and licences are presently being issued for exploration off the Clare / Kerry coast. The Corrib field alone is valued at €540 billion. Yet not one cent will come to the Irish people. Fianna Fáil, through corruption and incompetence, handed over this entire gas field to Shell and its allies for free. This is economic treason and must be reversed immediately. Control of our oil and gas resources would ensure: * Fuel security for Ireland for the next generation. * A massive improvement in our balance of payments situation. * A huge boost for our tax revenue * The possibility of developing a petro-chemical industry with huge numbers of modern high-skilled jobs.

If in Government what would be the first change you would seek in the Constitution and why? (Kevin Cooney) The Campaign for a Democratic Choice has been initiated by the Workers' Party but seeks support from all those who wish to see justice, and work towards the building of a sustainable economy. Our aim is collect over 50,000 signatures and then present them to the President of Ireland and call for the instigation of a referendum on this issue to be held alongside the one deemed necessary on Children's Rights. The goal of the referendum is to prioritise the principles of social justice and common good above the private ownership of goods, and by doing so to remove the legal loophole whereby the massive wealth of corrupt bankers, developers and politicians is placed beyond the grasp of the law via the transfer of said wealth to family members.

Would you support capping TD & Minister salaries at twice the average industrial wage, with €10,000 per annum expenses? (John Murphy) Yes.

What proposals do you have on debt reform? (Tara O'Grady): See previous answer on housing.