Friday 21 July 2017

AAA-PBP agreement is already looking like a split

Richard Boyd Barrett, Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy at the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit launch of a common principles document. Photo: Photo: RollingNews.ie
Richard Boyd Barrett, Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy at the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit launch of a common principles document. Photo: Photo: RollingNews.ie
John Downing

John Downing

One of Ireland's newest political parties has launched its "common principles" for the upcoming General Election.

But the 'Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit' is already split on its attitude to would-be allies Sinn Féin.

The AAA element of the party - which includes Deputies Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger - cannot ask supporters to continue their voting preferences for Sinn Féin.

But the PBP end of the party - which includes Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett and Cllr Bríd Smith - can ask for transfers to Sinn Féin.

The group also revealed it will publish separate detailed policy documents in the coming weeks.

Both the AAA and PBP elements of the alliance defended their varied stance on policy. Both sides agreed that they could not support a coalition government which included Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil and expressed the hope of returning eight from 31 candidates around the country.

The AAA-PBP will recommend making foreign corporations pay a full 12.5pc tax - and move to raise it to 15pc.

It would boost the minimum wage to €11.50 per hour

It would tax earners above €100,000 more, netting €1bn per year.

It would have a wealth tax which could net another €1bn

Ms Smith said both groups in the party agreed on 90pc of all major political issues but retained the right to differ on certain matters.

"This is a common, left-wing platform and it is different," she said.

Mr Murphy said the grouping represented a different way of doing politics - and should not be judged by the traditional model of established parties.

Ms Coppinger summarised the AAA's misgivings about Sinn Féin.

She said it had supported policies of austerity in the North; it had been very uncertain about opposing water charges; and had not ruled out the prospect of coalition involving one or other of Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil.

"Sinn Féin are not our natural allies," Ms Coppinger said.

Ms Smith could envisage urging transfers to Sinn Féin - but would favour other left-wing candidates first.

Her PBP colleague, Mr Boyd Barrett, also returned to the matter to stress that Sinn Féin would come after other leftist candidates for transfers.

Mr Boyd Barrett argued that Dáil rules on party formation were too constrictive to represent the emerging left-wing changes to Irish politics.

The AAA-PBP was an effort to overcome this old framework.

What of the fledgling Social Democrat Party (SDP), including Róisín Shortall, Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy?

AAA-PBP's Limerick City candidate, Cllr Cian Prendiville, was polite but dismissive.

Ultimately, their talk of tax was "small change".

One was left to conclude that there must be a constituency for the alliance's message - if only it could stop framing puzzles for potential voters.

Irish Independent

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