Labour and the water protests


Sir , – I very much enjoyed the indignant missive from Ed Brophy (January 2nd) in relation to Julien Mercille’s review of Brendan Ogle’s book From Bended Knee to a New Republic (“Brendan Ogle’s balanced insider’s guide to water protests”, Weekend, December 20th).

In the last paragraph, Mr Brophy questions whether “the movement will have any enduring impact on our politics and wider society”.

What is clearer is the impact of Labour’s participation in a viciously neoliberal Fine Gael-dominated government: a rump Labour Party without a clear purpose; many thousands struggling to cover their own costs, as well as those of banks and speculators; the continuation of a two-tier health system that is entirely unfit for purpose and which, more than ever, is crumbling through a lack of investment; a third-level education system which is sinking; and an appalling homelessness crisis.

Perhaps its greatest impact on “our politics and wider society” is the abject failure to resist the rush to austerity and to instead offer an alternative approach to organising society, at a time when Labour had the support of almost 20 per cent of voters and when there was a demand for root-and-branch reform. Thus a real opportunity to promote progressive (dare I say socialist?) change was thrown aside, and with it the trust of much of the electorate. – Yours, etc,