Congratulations to my friend & comrade Eileen Ní Fhloinn on her appointment to the Seanad.
It is long overdue that a Traveller held such a position in national politics. I know that Eileen will not only be a strong & fearless voice in representing Travellers, but on behalf of all the oppressed & exploited in Irish society. And the left will need all those national voices in the period to come.
Eileen’s appointment is a bright light in what was an overall depressing picture yesterday. One can look at the new government from many progressive points of view – class, sustainabilty, gender, minority community etc – & find reasons to leap off the Cliffs of Moher.
But politics ain’t just about parliament. It’s also about the workplace, the community, the street. All true progress for the majority comes from extra-parliamentary struggle. Repeal the 8th would not have happened without the mass protest movement which displayed its strength & forced the right to concede. Eileen’s experience as a leading figure raised to prominence by this mass movement will I hope be invaluable in forging the anti-austerity movements we must now build.
And It’s a pity that Micheal Martin, (a gombeen, a sleveen, a cheat, a liar, a gangster, and above all a two-faced chancer), thought it appropriate to balance Eileen’s appointment with the appointment of the Anti-Traveller racist Lorraine Clifford.
But that is how Fianna Fail (& Sinn Fein too by the looks of things #paddyholohan) play it – they want to appear progressive to some, reactionary to others, to pretend to care about human rights at the same time as dog-whistling to society’s most backward elements.
Parliamentary politics is a hoax played by the ruling class, & capitalist parliaments are, as Lenin famously remarked, a ‘dung-heap’. Socialists in the Dail or Seanad can’t change that fundamental underlying reality – the seanad in particular has about as much to do with democracy as Gandhi had to do with weapons manufacture.
But even in the likes of the Seanad, socialists can – if they firmly resist co-option – be an important & even a galvanising voice for those pressing for real change from outside the parliament.
I believe that Eileen, with her eloquence, passion, & committment, can be such a lightning rod for the mass movements we are going to need to survive the oncoming ruling class assaults on our livelihoods & our communities.
I hope therefore that Mícheal Martin may come to strongly regret boosting the profile of one of the most impressive socialist fighters to emerge on the Irish left in recent years.
Congratulations Eileen, & I look forward to hearing & seeing much more of you in the next few years, as the struggle spreads & deepens.