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29 January 2015

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Sinn Féin leader calls for formal discussions on Irish Left alternative

SINN FÉIN National Chairperson Declan Kearney calls in the February issue of An Phoblacht for formal discussions on building an Irish Left alternative in the wake of the success of SYRIZA in Greece.

Writing in An Phoblacht (in shops Friday), Declan Kearney says:

“This is the time for serious political discussion among progressive Irish political, community and trade union activists on ideas and strategies to ensure the future election of a Left coalition in the South...

“Those on the progressive and republican Left need to make that change irreversible by alter- ing the current balance of forces to create a new political realignment. That will only come about through popular support for a credible political alternative that can effectively challenge the conservative power blocs and their policies...

“Political engagement needs to take place among all those genuinely committed to democratic control of the economy, social justice and an agreed, united Ireland. Progressive political, social and community movements should collectively discuss the development of an agenda which mobilises the greater mass of Irish society in support of equality, protecting the most vulnerable, distributing wealth and resources according to citizens’ needs, and guaranteeing their rights.

"As new international political forces move towards governmental power, formal political discussion should commence in Ireland on how to forge consensus between Sinn Féin, progressive independents, the trade union movement, grassroots communities, and the non-sectarian Left. That process should concentrate on building durable, strategic, cross-sectoral, cross-community and political alliances North and South.”

Building an Alternative logo

Declan Kearney is writing in a forum under the heading 'Building an Alternative', with contributions by leading figures inside and outside Sinn Féin.

Dr Helena Sheehan, Chair of the Left Forum, writes in the same issue of her desire for a new party of the Left “converging with forces stemming from the republican tradition in an alliance with Sinn Féin that might eventually form the basis of a Left government”.


In July 2014, Mary Lou McDonald TD opened a forum for discussion by people inside and outside Sinn Féin on the way forward after the last elections and in which the Sinn Féin deputy leader said under the headline “Politics is not a spectator sport”: “We must ferociously challenge the status quo and build progressive alliances.”

An Phoblacht has since carried contributions from a wide range of figures, including:-

  • Peter Bunting (ICTU Assistant General Secretary) – Tough decisions
  • John Douglas (ICTU President and Mandate General Secretary) – Opportunities with challenges
  • Eugene McCartan (Communist Party of Ireland General Secretary) – Anger is an emotion, not a political strategy
  • Jack O'Connor (SIPTU General President) – The exciting possibility of a Left government
  • Jimmy Kelly (Unite Regional Secretary) – Beyond the politics of anti-austerity
  • Mark Langhammer (ICTU, in a personal capacity, and previously a prominent Northern-based member of the Irish Labour Party) – Border poll needs a wider canvass
  • David Connolly (SIPTU Community Sector) – Offering a real alternative for government
  • Nessa Childers MEP – Propaganda, rhetoric and manipulation of voters
  • David Begg (ICTU General Secretary) – Trade unions and ‘the titanic battle of ideas’
  • Dr Helena Sheehan (Chairperson of Left Forum) – Building an alternative involves imagining an alternative
  • Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane – Sinn Féin in Government: A government should not simply be about making up the numbers. It should be about vision, policies, goals and values

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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures

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