Lying low in Labour as austerity bites

WHERE are Jack and Emmet ?

WHERE are Jack and Emmet ?

As the Labour Party stands idly by while those it represents are forced to pay for the idiocy of those more likely to be represented by Fine Gael, the silence is deafening.

The biggest contribution of the Labour Party to social equality in last week’s Budget was a higher tax on properties worth over E1m.

Big, brave, bold, move that.

Labour looks like a party all to happy to have a hand on the reins of power having slithered under Fine Gael’s carpet.

A lot more could be expected from Labour TDs Jack Wall and Emmet Stagg, both veterans of politics who represent Kildare South and Kildare North respectively.

Wall’s heartland is Athy – a town with its share of social problems and unemployment. Stagg has, in the past, admittedly, been a convincing and articulate voice of the less well off.

Most reporters in this area know both well and they are decent souls.

But the voters will be entitled to expect more than silence from two men who are very well paid indeed for what they do by international standards.

It’s not clear if Jack will run again for the Dail and if he doesn’t his son Mark will be first off the bench. But Jack is sending young Mark into a game that may have been already lost.

Labour is beginning to look like an old boys club; a group of tired old men out of touch with their natural constituency and what’s happening on the ground.

Some families will see child benefit cut by E700 a year, special needs assistants have been reduced; the back to school clothing allowance has been cut; home care hours have been cut as has carers respite.

Where have you gone Jack and Emmet; a nation turns its lonely eyes......

Labour’s loss of identity or its takeover by Fine Gael is something that should concern us.

The wealth at the disposal of theBlackrock College educated Ruairi Quinn or Eamon Gilmore, whose wife has been appointed to another well paid State education post (having sold a piece of land for half a million euros) means that they have more in common with FG anyway.

Gilmore once accused Brian Cowen of economic treason and poor Brian wasn’t the better of it that day in the Dail. But if Gilmore’s Labour hasn’t let down the less well off in this country, then nobody has.

On a broader level, the dissolution of the left in Ireland is a worrying development.

Come the next General Election, Labour supporters will look for a left wing alternative and see only Sinn Fein and a refreshed Fianna Fail, cleansed of Ahern, Cowen, Dempsey et al.

The silence of Jack and Emmet and Labour’s capitulation to austerity inflicted on the weak, will likely consign them all to the shadows.

Jim Larkin would not approve.

- Paul O’Meara

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