Joe Higgins: "Democratic revolution betrayed"

"James Connolly would be ashamed by the Labour Party today". This is an edit of his speech to the Dáil on the nomination of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. A Wordle below outlines the most used words in his speech.

The very first sentence of the programme for Government states that a democratic revolution took place in Ireland on 25 February. The Oxford dictionary defines "revolution" as the overthrow of a government or social order in favour of a new system. That being the case, the programme presented by Enda Kenny is a grotesque betrayal of that revolution because it proposes, almost to the letter, to continue the reactionary programme of the old order of the late and unlamented regime of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, a regime that was rightly reviled, rejected and sent to oblivion by the Irish people for its economic and political crimes.

The outgoing regime indulged the profiteering speculators and grasping bankers, imprisoning a generation of young working people in monstrous mortgages and negative equity. When that greedfest inevitably choked on its own excess, it treacherously connived with the EU, IMF and ECB to save the skins of the major European banks that had their snouts deep in the feeding trough that was the Irish property market where they slurped as frenetically as any Fianna Fáil developer or big Irish banker.

For this, and the crash that inevitably resulted, we see the savage attacks on the living standards of our people, which Enda Kenny's government intends to continue. They attack public services and steal from the disabled and the poor. A revolution would overturn and reverse all that. However, Enda Kenny proposes to confirm and reinstate the discredited programme of a discredited Government. The poisonous cocktail of austerity, concocted by the witch doctors in Brussels and Frankfurt because of the sickness of the European financial system, is to continue to be force-fed to the Irish people by this new proposed Government.

The first paragraph of the first chapter of a proposal for Government that would be honest would try to answer the question: "Why should the Irish people have their economic life-blood drained to salvage the tens of billions of euro gambled and lost by private speculators in private deals for private profit in Irish property? By what moral code does a Government justify placing that millstone on our people?" We will put that question to them again and again until it is answered.

This is not the first time an Irish political establishment responded to an Irish and Europe-wide crisis by sacrificing its people. Nearly 100 years ago, the forebears of today's speculating European financiers and their political clients plunged into war in a vicious competition for markets, raw materials and profits.

The Irish Parliamentary Party of the day will forever be remembered in infamy for its campaign to dragoon a generation of youth to feed the insatiable appetite of the imperial war makers. Today, by sacrificing our people, our services and our youth to feed the equally insatiable appetite of the wolves in the European and world financial markets - faceless, unelected and unaccountable - first Fianna Fáil and the Greens, then Fine Gael and Labour play an equally shameful role as the Irish Parliamentary Party.

It was a great Irish socialist, James Connolly, who, in opposition to that conflict, called for a torch to be lit in Ireland that would "not burn out until the last throne and the last capitalist bond and debenture" was burned. How deeply ashamed James Connolly would be today that the Labour Party he founded marches into Dáil Éireann to become part of a Government that will burn not the bondholders, the speculators or the grasping big bankers but the Irish people, the working class, the unemployed, the poor and the low and middle-income workers.

We reject the right wing programme proposed by Enda Kenny. We reject the rule of the financial markets, which is causing such crisis and suffering among our people. We demand instead that they be brought to heel and brought into public ownership and democratic control in Ireland and Europe to be used instead as vehicles of major public investment to create projects that would quickly see tens of thousands of people returning to work from the tragedy of standing in the dole queue.

The incoming Government will have a crushing majority in this Dáil. It should not think from this that its economic programme of savage austerity will go unchallenged. We in the united left will facilitate the mobilisation of worker power, people power and community power to defend the living standards of the vast majority of people, who are attacked by this programme, to defend their livelihood and to oppose new and unjust stealth taxes.