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11 June 2009 Edition

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Another View by Eoin Ó Broin

Left alliance in Dublin City now possible

Dublin city has voted Left. That is the clear message from last Friday’s election. The people of the city have delivered a verdict on the failed right wing policies of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Labour, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and a number of progressive independents have a clear majority on the Council.
The question many people are now asking is whether Labour will form an alliance with Fine Gael or work with others to form a left wing Council.
Throughout the election Sinn Féin said that we needed to end the dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in Southern Irish politics. We called for real change. Crucially we argued that such change would only be possible if Labour, Sinn Féin and others worked together.
Today that change is available in Dublin City.
However nobody should be under any illusions that building a left alliance would be easy.
There are many in the Labour Party, including some of their councillors, who would be opposed to such a deal, some for political reasons, some for electoral reasons.
There are others who would support a Left alliance, with others undecided but open to a conversation.
The key question for Sinn Féin is how do we engage the Labour Party in Dublin, and their broader support base in the trade unions and civic society, in order to ensure the kind of outcome that the electorate of Dublin voted for last Friday.
Any meaningful deal with Labour and others must be based on a progressive and credible agenda for change for the city. A Programme for Dublin based on jobs retention and creation, housing provision, sustainable development, cultural diversity and social justice could form the centrepiece of a real transformation of local government policy and services.
Such a programme would ensure that a Left alliance would be policy driven, rather than focusing on which party or politician secures the greatest number of committee chairs or turns in the Mayor’s chair.
Sinn Féin needs to outline what we believe such a Programme for Dublin would require.
However we also need to be open to the ideas, concerns and needs of others. A Left alliance in the city would be a profound departure from previous years and would require trust and honesty if it is to succeed.
Despite the closeness of many of our policies, there are many obstacles to be overcome if a lasting relationship is to be built.
Sinn Féin is committed to delivering a politics of change in Dublin. We are not strong enough to do it on our own. We need to work with others inside Dublin City Council and beyond to build the relationships and political capital to transform Dublin into a prosperous, diverse and equal city for all who live here.
If Dublin City Council can secure a strong, competent and successful left wing administration delivering a new kind of political programme for the city, then just imagine how much easier it would be to win the argument across the rest of the state.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1