The Troika Party and the Magdalene Laundries: A Response to Stephen Collins

This is a response to an article published in today’s Irish Times by its political correspondent Stephen Collins. No link to the article, for the usual reasons.

Readers should ask themselves whether any of what Stephen Collins has to say about Fianna Fáil matters an iota. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are all committed to the implementation of the same Troika-backed policies. They all engage in less-than-honest manoeuvrings in order to make it seem as though they had any intention of changing the current policy direction of perpetual austerity.Whatever their rhetoric in the search of votes, once ensconced in power they set about enacting policies so that the financial sector gets to party as much as it wants, and everyone else gets to clean up the vomit.

We would save ourselves a hell of a lot of hot air if we stopped worrying about how each of these three parties competes or collogues with one another, and started referring to them en bloc as The Troika Party. They are all committed to the rolling back of the welfare state, to forced labour for the unemployed, to the privatisation of public infrastructure and the outsourcing of public service functions, and to the neoliberal vision of Europe.

My friends, the Troika Party is not your friend, and it’s best not to get enthralled by the order in which its candidates fare at the polls. The real crisis in Ireland is not the resurgence of a Zombie Fianna Fáil on the back of years of sustained necrofiannaphilia by the country’s media; it is the incapacity of the political institutions at both local and central government level to operate in the interests of the majority of people who live in Ireland. The Irish government strips away social and labour rights because it is subordinate to the interests of financiers and compradors, not because Fianna Fáil are smelly rotters (which of course, they are).

The only other thing to be said about this piece –which reads as if it were dictated by a Fine Gael grandee- is the suggestion that a State apology should be avoided because of ‘enormous cost to the taxpayer’. This is one of the most obscene things I have ever read in this newspaper. The author has spent years presenting the transfer of tens of billions of euro in public money to private bondholders as a matter of urgent and self-evident necessity. Now he has the gall to claim that the Irish State should not make proper amends to people whom it stripped of basic human rights and whose slave labour it used. The Magdalene Laundries and the slave labour that sustained them give the lie to the fairytale that Ireland since the foundation of the State has been a continuously democratic entity. It was not then, and it is not now.

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