The Labour Party entered government in Ireland this year, along with the centre-right Fine Gael. I had hope that they would pull Fine Gael at the very least to the centre-proper and give Ireland some semblance of a social democratic government. If I was still living in Ireland, I would have most likely voted for Labour (disclaimer: I was a member of the Labour Party for a few years, but not very active).
However, the realities of government have set in for Labour, and indeed the realities of governing a country in deep financial trouble.
Two important items which were contained in Labour’s election manifesto (the election took place barely three months ago) are now being pushed aside alright, and ignored by the party.
Labour pledged not to reintroduce third level student fees, or increase charges for students. However, they have now done a u-turn on this. According to The Irish Times, Labour Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn (a man I have massive respect for) has cited “new facts” about the scale of Ireland’s exchequer, giving him little room for maneuver.
Labour also were against water charges being introduced in Ireland. Now it seems that both a household annual charge, and later water charges, will be introduced, hurting householders.
This will all be very difficult for Irish people to take, on top of the universal service charge, increased health insurance costs and more. It is in fact a scandal, given the ordinary Irish householder did not cause the financial crisis, but are picking up the pieces from the actions of the profiteering banks.