Coppinger attacks Tánaiste at AAA/PBP launch

Thursday 04 February 2016 18.24
The Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group launches its campaign.
The Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group launches its campaign.

Fine Gael and Labour are trying to "bamboozle the public with an avalanche of election pledges that they simply cannot keep". That was the clear message from the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group at its general election launch today, writes Conor McMorrow of our political staff.

Attacks on the Labour Party were a dominant theme of the event in Dublin’s Buswells Hotel, with Ruth Coppinger drawing battle lines with constituency rival Joan Burton.

Outgoing TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed the coalition parties have been trying to confuse the public with an avalanche of election pledges that they simply cannot keep. He said that similar promises had been broken in the past five years.

He described the fiscal space as “fiction”, saying it was nothing more than a guess about economic growth.

He added that none of the government’s pledges had any credibility and it was engaging in fantasy economics.

Mr Boyd Barrett said that the choice for the electorate was between “a genuine left-wing radical alternative and leaving behind a past of cronyism, tribal politics and injustice”. The alternative was sticking with the status quo.

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger said that one thing they could confirm they were hearing on the doorsteps was a widespread sense of betrayal by the Labour Party.

She said the Labour Party’s Tesco ‘Every Little Hurts’ ad from the 2011 campaign was embedded in people’s minds.

She noted that Joan Burton has urged people to let Labour “complete the journey”. But the Tánaiste’s constituency rival said working people had begun a journey and “now let’s complete the journey of finishing off the Labour Party”.

Ms Coppinger said that the Labour Party’s messages were shallow and unconvincing.

She said that it could be the case where either she or the Tánaiste is returned.  She then asked people to ensure the Labour Party is “punished” in Dublin West and other constituencies.

It is believed that some private polling carried out in Dublin West by Fine Gael has pointed towards a battle between the Tánaiste and Ruth Coppinger for the last seat there.

"Joan Burton has lost the battle in working class areas. I read in the papers yesterday that Joan Burton will be canvassing with police protection. What does that say?” asked Ms Coppinger.

Buoyed up by Labour’s 7% poll showing in this morning’s Irish Times, Councillor John Lyons said that the election was “the beginning of the end for the Labour Party”.

AAA TD Paul Murphy said: "We want to be a left government. We need a left government that rules in the interests of the majority.”

He said that sections of the media are not aware of the level of politicisation in working class areas in Dublin.

Mr Murphy believes that it is possible for the AAA/PBP to reach the key threshold of seven Dáil seats that will give the group speaking rights in the 32nd Dáil.

And what about the split? There is a history of splits in movements of the Irish left. Will this group be any different?

Mr Murphy said things were different this time. The AAA and PBP were a registered party, Ms Coppinger said. She added: “This issue is not coming up on the doors. This is two major left forces coming together and there is more potential of us remaining as a merged entity than previous arrangements.”

By Conor McMorrow of RTÉ's Political Staff