Left Alliance will fight sale of state assets 'to the death'
THE planned sell-off of €2bn in state assets will only happen "over the dead bodies" of the new alliance of left-wing TDs, they claimed yesterday.
The United Left Alliance (ULA) is promising to use "people power" and a "forest of placards" to campaign against other policies of the new Fine Gael-Labour coalition such as water charges and voluntary public sector redundancies.
ULA TD Clare Daly used the strongest rhetoric by saying the sale of state assets would only happen "over our dead bodies".
"All state assets are strategic as far as we are concerned. We would strenuously resist privatisation," she said.
The ULA will have five members and is expected to pose a significant threat to the Labour Party in the new Dail by constantly criticising its policies and seeking to prise away some of its core support. It is going to take part in a "technical group" to ensure it gets Dail speaking time.
At a news conference in Dublin yesterday, ULA Dublin South Central TD Joan Collins said Labour had "absolutely ditched" its promise to oppose water charges.
"This will be an intolerable burden on ordinary people who are already cut to the bone," she said.
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, who went to jail as part of his previous campaign to oppose bin charges, was asked if he was willing to go this far again in the anti-water charges campaign.
"We've been sentenced to five years (in the Dail). You want us to have double imprisonment as well as double taxation," he joked.
Mr Higgins said his alliance's aim was to start a boycott campaign against water charges. He said Labour and Fine Gael's election promises to change the Fianna Fail plan had been a "totally cynical exercise".
"Despite all the talk of renegotiating, it's quite clear that all the cutbacks to living standards and services laid out by Fianna Fail and the Greens are to be maintained by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition," he said.
The ULA said the cutbacks needed to eliminate the €19bn deficit in the public finances could be avoided by introducing an "asset tax" on the rich.
They could also be avoided by reducing the sums paid for "privatisation" of public services. These claims have been repeatedly challenged by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.
Independent Tipperary South TD Seamus Healy was represented by his brother Paddy, who was expelled from the Labour Party's national executive in 1970.
He said it was "absolutely vomitous" to hear SIPTU president Jack O'Connor extolling the virtues of the coalition deal when it contained a promise for 25,000 voluntary public sector redundancies.