Daly departure to hit allowances
Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins has said the party might now have to let staff go and he could not accede to former party TD Clare Daly’s request for money from his party leader’s allowance.
Ms Daly, who resigned from the party at the weekend in a row that appeared to be centred on her alleged support for Wexford TD Mick Wallace, is said to have sought a share of the allowance to allow her to continue to fund her activities as an Independent TD.
The Socialist Party received €120,000 from the exchequer last year, based on it having two members of the Dáil. The money is used towards funding organisational work and policy development, including the employment of four members of staff.
Mr Higgins said yesterday he intended to write to the Minister for Finance asking him to in future pay the Socialist Party leader’s allowance based on the party now having just one TD.
He said the legislation governing the payment of such allowances meant it could not be paid in respect of a non-party TD. This precluded him from keeping the allowance at the same level as previously and dividing it between the party and Ms Daly, he said.
While the move would have implications for the employment of up to four staff, Mr Higgins said the party would try to continue to fund the positions itself in the immediate future at least.
Ms Daly resigned from the party on Friday, saying it was time to concentrate on building up the United Left Alliance in the Dáil.
In a statement Ms Daly said she noted “with some regret” the “inaccurate content of the Socialist Party statement” issued on Friday last, but did not elaborate on what elements she alleged were inaccurate.
The statement said she had “no intention of engaging in a public war of words with the Socialist Party leadership. I am proud of my record as a Socialist Party activist and public representative, as a shop steward representing Aer Lingus workers and a campaigner with people across Dublin North and beyond”.
Ms Daly said she had resigned from the party because it was time to concentrate on building up the United Left Alliance in the Dáil, of which she remains a member. She would be “working closely with those who have made a priority of building the ULA and offer my support and assistance to branches and members in developing the ULA nationally. I hope to see a large number of ULA candidates running in the local elections.”
She added she would “continue to support all those fighting austerity. A real movement of people power needs to be built to stop the wave of attacks on ordinary working people.”
However, at a press conference yesterday the Socialist Party reiterated its charge that Ms Daly had supported Mr Wallace after he had admitted making a false tax declaration.
Mr Higgins said the issue was at “the core” of discussions between Ms Daly and the party. Mr Higgins paid tribute to Ms Daly’s record as a shop steward and a political activist and said the party had tried to persuade her not to resign. He said her resignation was “unfortunate”.
Mr Higgins added that the Socialist Party was campaigning on justice in taxation and it was impossible for Ms Daly as a Socialist Party TD to continue to offer support to Mr Wallace.
Two other resignations were recorded by the party in recent weeks. However, Mr Higgins said that while these expressed dissatisfaction to some degree with aspects of the party, neither had mentioned Ms Daly in relation to their decision to leave.
Mr Higgins, added that the party had declined a party whip’s allowance.
He said the €120,000 funding received was comparable to the €4.5 million paid to Fine Gael, some €4.4 million paid to the Labour Party and €2.6 million paid to Fianna Fáil.
Speaking this morning, Mr Higgins commented on the Socialist Party’s future relationship with the United Left Alliance, of which Ms Daly remains a member.
“We would have to be honest and say that if the same issues were to continue to emerge, that would pose a problem for a very many people, a majority inside of the United Left Alliance which has clearly stated already that it is not in favour of promoting politically the case of Mick Wallace in any way,” Mr Higgins said.
“The United Left Alliance, which is trying to build a principled Left alternative, will have to have a very clear line of demarcation".
“We absolutely are in favour of Clare, hopefully agreeing to work with us in the United Left Alliance, on the huge challenges that face us in the autumn”, he told Morning Ireland.