Dublin City Council Shows Possible Future

Important political developments have occurred in Dublin City Council that could foreshadow changes at a national level.

Left-wing councillors from Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and People Before Profit all won seats on Dublin City Council. If Labour and the Greens had agreed to work with them, they could have broken the hold that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had on the city’s government.

As a result, discussions began at a formal and informal level about creating an alliance. People Before Profit entered these discussions with proposals to implement a different vision of Dublin.

We argued that a progressive alliance should agree to oppose the sale of public land to private developers; that it should re-municipalise waste collection with no bin charges; that it should increase council staff and bring agency workers in-house. It proposed these measures be paid for by a tourist tax and increased rates on big business.

However, in a dramatic move Labour and the Greens walked away from discussions on the possibility of an alliance. Instead, they agreed to form a majority block with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

One immediate result is that they will vote for a Fine Gael mayor of Dublin.

This scandalous move indicates that these parties are wedded to the idea of working in coalition with the right-wing parties. They prefer Ireland’s dominant ‘two and a half party’ system to creating a real united left.

These developments in Dublin city council are an important indicator for the future.

Despite the defection of the Greens and Labour, three parties – Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and People Before Profit agreed to form a wider opposition block with some left-wing independents

In a joint statement, the progressive alliance agreed on an agenda of inclusion which focuses on providing social and affordable housing, addressing fuel poverty, safer streets and better public services.

Speaking on behalf of People Before Profit, Conor Reddy said,

“Talks between councillors of the broad left on Dublin City Council have demonstrated that the left can unite to deliver on core principles and to provide a much needed alternative to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. This is a positive development as we approach a General Election and raises the prospect of breaking the 102-year cycle of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil rule.

By walking away from discussions with the left to speak to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party have shown where they stand, this is clarifying and should not be forgotten.

We should also remember that the powers and funds that councillors have to deliver change are severely limited by central government – recognising this, we will use our platforms to campaign and organise for change from the ground up.

Left alliances between political parties on the Council represent progress, but real change will only come when communities, workers and their unions are empowered to fight for it, we believe that the new Progressive Alliance can play a valuable role in this task”