Higgins pledges to build new party of left as five elected under ULA banner


UNITED LEFT ALLIANCE:PEOPLE BEFORE Profit councillor in Dún Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett was the last of five members of the United Left Alliance (ULA) movement to secure seats in the new Dáil yesterday.

Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins was the first member of the recently formed umbrella group to get elected at the weekend by regaining his former Dublin West seat and he said that the new deputies now intended to form a political party.

“We will have five TDs in the Dáil and we will work as a coherent, principled opposition. There is a need for a new party on the left for working people. We’re all agreed there is a huge vacuum,” Mr Higgins said.

“The intention is to form a party, but I don’t want people to think it’s going to happen tomorrow morning because there is a process here. We will discuss with supporters and activists about the next step.”

Also elected under the ULA umbrella were the Socialist Party’s Clare Daly in Dublin North, Joan Collins of People Before Profit in Dublin South Central and former Independent TD Seamus Healy in Tipperary South.

The ULA was launched last November when the Socialist Party, People Before Profit and the Tipperary-based Workers Unemployed Action Group came together to provide what Mr Higgins described as a “left alternative to the establishment parties”.

The group fielded a total of 18 candidates in the general election and campaigned on a platform of opposition to water charges and property taxes.

It was also against cuts in social welfare payments and pensions, calling for an end to “the bailout of banks and developers” and demanding that tax measures be focused on “the greedy not the needy”.

Mr Boyd Barrett took the fourth and final seat in the Dún Laoghaire constituency yesterday evening without reaching the quota on the 11th count after securing 10.9 per cent of first preferences, or 6,206 votes.

Mr Higgins was elected on the third count in Dublin West with 8,084 votes, or 19 per cent of first preferences. Ms Daly, a Socialist Party councillor on Fingal County Council, secured 15.2 per cent of first preferences with 7,513 votes, and was elected on the sixth count in Dublin North.

Ms Collins, a People Before Profit councillor on Dublin City Council, took 12.9 per cent first preferences, or 6,574 votes, and was elected on the 13th count in Dublin South-Central.

Mr Healy, a Clonmel-based member of South Tipperary County Council and member of the Tipperary-based Workers Unemployed Action Group, got 21.3 per cent of first preferences, or 8,818 votes, and was elected on the third count. Mr Healy was a TD in the 29th Dáil but lost out narrowly to Martin Mansergh of Fianna Fáil in 2007.

The ULA had also hoped that Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry would get a Dáil seat in Cork North Central, but he was eliminated on the seventh count.