Higgins and Boyd Barrett to contest election under left-wing alliance


SOCIALIST PARTY MEP Joe Higgins will contest the next general election under a new umbrella group, United Left Alliance, along with People Before Profit councillor Richard Boyd Barrett and former TD Seamus Healy.

Mr Higgins, who will attempt to reclaim the Dublin West seat he held in the last Dáil, said the grouping expected to run about 20 candidates, but stressed it was not a new political party.

The Socialist Party, People Before Profit and the Tipperary-based Workers Unemployed Action Group had come together to provide a “left alternative to the establishment parties”, Mr Higgins said. Clare Daly, a Socialist Party councillor on Fingal County Council and Joan Collins, a People Before Profit councillor on Dublin City Council, are also involved.

“The outcome of the forthcoming election is almost a foregone conclusion, insofar as Fianna Fáil and the Greens will be annihilated. Fine Gael and Labour’s sole virtue is that they are not Fianna Fáil, yet they are wedded to the same cutback agenda for the next four years,” Mr Higgins said.

He said the alliance would have a “fundamental difference” with Sinn Féin – which he said were prepared to support “a party such as Fianna Fáil” in coalition.

He predicted the Government’s four-year budgetary plan, published on Wednesday, would be an “absolute disaster” in economic terms. “The presence of a number of genuine left TDs in the Dáil offering a visible political alternative will be a massive pole of attraction to workers, unemployed and young people, and can become a real factor in the unfolding crisis.”

Mr Healy, who was an Independent deputy for Tipperary South in the 29th Dáil, said the alliance had already secured about 15 candidates, and hoped to have in excess of 20 contesting the general election. He said the existing political parties “have all bought into these austerity measures”, adding: “We will not rest until the interests of Irish workers, employed and unemployed, are the first priority in this country.”

Mr Boyd-Barrett, a councillor for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, said the Government should be driven out of office, and appealed to people looking for an alternative to join the alliance. The grouping was open to other “people of principle”, as long as they pledged to give no support to any government containing “conservative parties including Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael”. He said the alliance was based on “simple principles of solidarity and people power” and was not “talking about extremism”.

A document distributed during the alliance’s press event in Dublin yesterday said the grouping would not support budgetary cuts, and was particularly opposed to cuts in social welfare payments and pensions. It wanted to “end the bailout of banks and developers” and to “tax the greedy not the needy”. It also called for a 24-hour strike.