People Before Profit and Solidarity fail to galvanise voters
Anger at housing crisis does not translate into support in same way as water charges
Dún Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd Barrett: “I think realistically once Clare Daly ran it was always [the case] that she was going to take the left vote...” Photograph: James Forde
After a weekend of peaks and troughs for the Greens and Sinn Féin, another group of politicians and activists who will be licking their wounds over the coming days will be the People Before Profit/Solidarity parties.
With a poor showing in both the local and European elections, it is clear they have failed to galvanise voters affected by the housing crisis in the same way as they galvanised support from the water charges movement.
“I think realistically once Clare Daly ran it was always [the case] that she was going to take the left vote and that is what has happened. She would be seen by most people who vote left as kind of similar to ourselves.”
As of Sunday evening, Solidarity and People Before Profit were polling below the Social Democrats, Labour and Sinn Féin.
Much like Brendan Howlin, Boyd Barrett said there is “not a shadow of a doubt” that left-leaning parties should think about uniting, adding “it should have done so a long time ago.”
He said sometimes it is only small differences or tactical differences that keep them from doing so.
“This is very bitter stuff,” Boyd Barrett retorted, adding that such comments were the reason Labour’s vote had collapsed. Such interactions do not auger well for a potential mega-alliance of the left.
Some in the People Before Profit group have personalised their housing campaign by directly targeting Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.
Alongside a group of protesters, he demanded that Murphy resign before a number of gardaí gathered in a ring around the Minister. Such tactics have not won favour with voters, it appears.
Speaking today, Mr Dooley rejected any suggestion that he had personalised the issue: "It is not about Eoghan Murphy, it is about the issues, it is about people being evicted."
He said he had tried to ask questions of the Housing Minister at the count-centre, before the minister was quickly surrounded by his supporters and by members of the gardai: "I didn't harangue anybody, I didn't assail anybody.
"It was just a question. People are being evicted around us every day, it was about the issues. The Anti-Eviction Bill has been before the Oireachtas for the last six months and it has been held up by Fianna Fail and by Fine Gael."
People are facing eviction every day because of the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, said Mr Dooley, leaving many families at near-permanent risk of being put out of their homes.
Questioned about People Before Profit's performance in the local and European Parliament elections, Mr Dooley said the party's vote had been affected because many tenants do not feel secure enough where they live to register to vote.
* This piece has been amended to add quotations from People Before Profit local election candidate, Peter Dooley