Ireland’s unelected leader poses a risk to democracy in Ireland
Ireland’s new prime minister was part of the crooked Government that destroyed the economy a decade ago, is a career politician from a right-wing bubble, and was not selected by the Irish electorate. This situation poses a real risk to democracy in Ireland.
How did Ireland find itself in such a mess? It started with civil war
Let’s rewind back to Ireland’s general election, which was held on 8 February, 2020. Before we get into that, let’s rewind back to the Irish Civil War, 1921-22. The war was fought between Fianna Fail, which didn’t want to partition the island of Ireland (into the new Republic and Northern Ireland, which would remain part of the United Kingdom), and the precursor of Fine Gael, which wanted to do the deal. The Fine Gael side had all the military hardware left behind by the Brits, so they won. The Civil War caused decades of bad blood between the two sides, creating a duopoly in Irish politics. Both parties embraced the Catholic Church, landowners, landlords and right-wing, conservative policies. They were essentially the same thing, just the Civil War memories separating them.
Ireland’s dreadful political history
Almost a century of rule by Fine Gael or Fianna Fail left Ireland in a bad place. Despite being the world’s fourth-richest economy, Ireland has:
- An expensive, schizophrenic private/public health system.
- An education system that subsidises private schools, often run by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church still runs most public schools in Ireland, too! Yes, even after all the cases of paedophilia, slavery and child trafficking!
- A housing crisis with record numbers of homeless and Dublin regularly featuring in ‘least-affordable places to live’ lists.
- A reputation as a tax-avoidance base for US tech corporations, most paying far less than the country’s 12.5% corporation tax, if anything.
- Rich offshore resources, which were either given to the EU to protect farmers (fisheries) or given to oil corporations for free (Shell to sea).
- Bizarre sports and culture: The national sport is played nowhere else, parish against parish its weird, primitive mantra. Ireland is in Britain’s cultural and sporting shadow, with much media owned by British interests, and all media obsessing over British football (Dunfermline nil, St Mirren nil), which is actually creepy. While we’re pretty good at rugby, we seem to lack the self-belief of world champions.
- A weird quango called NAMA, set up in 2009 as a ‘bad bank’ (like the other ones are good?) to protect all the idiots that caused Ireland’s spectacular collapse. Suspected of selling off assets at stupidly-low prices.
The 2020 election
Led by Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein topped the poll for the first time, with 24.5% of the vote, up 10.7%. Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fail came second with 22.2%, down 2.1%. Incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael got 20.9%, down 4.7%. The Greens came in fourth on 7.1%, up 4.4%.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael spent months pretending to dance around issues like who gets the biggest state-funded car, when all they cared about was keeping Sinn Fein out of the Irish Government. So the Civil War was finally laid aside and they entered a coalition with the Greens. And Ireland got a government, 5 months after the election.
Crisis government for crisis times?
It’s important to remember that the last time Fianna Fail governed Ireland, Ireland was bankrupted, then bailed out by the IMF etc, to save the big German and French banks that loaned way too much money to an assortment of con merchants, cute hoors and downright incompetents. Ireland’s national debt currently (July 2020) stands at €185 Bn. It’s also important to remember that the Green Party kept Bertie Ahern in power for a long, long time, sowing the seeds of our destruction. And Micheal Martin, our new leader, served in the Governments – under both Ahern and Brian Cowen – that destroyed Irish society while protecting the rich.
With ‘Civil War politics’ now finished in Ireland, where is the new choice? There is none, beyond Sinn Fein. We have the appalling prospect of a permanent Fianna Fail/Fianna Gael Government: right-wing, conservative, and existing to protect the bankers, landlords and farmers that made Ireland shit. Democracy in Ireland really is at risk!
Of course, there is always hope for change, and we will continue to press for full legalisation of cannabis and hemp in Ireland, for industrial, medical and recreational uses.
God knows, we could do with a spliff!
Wikipedia on Ireland’s 2020 election: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Irish_general_election
The unbelievable truth of the richest countries in the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita
Wikipedia on NAMA, it’s all very (deliberately) confusing, but may start you off on an investigative path: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Asset_Management_Agency
Read our report on why Ireland needs to legalise cannabis.
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