Friday 20 October 2017

Vote result exposes great social divide

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

SINN Fein, the ULA and other left-wing campaigners yesterday reaped the rewards of an emerging class divide on European issues -- eating into Labour's core support.

Joan Burton, Labour's director of elections and deputy leader, attempted to dismiss the clear divide as "19th-Century Marxist analysis".

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also sidestepped the issue when questioned last night, and accused Sinn Fein of exploiting the referendum campaign for "electoral and party political advantage".

But there was no hiding the inroads being made by Sinn Fein as a result of its No campaign -- UCD academic James McBride noted on RTE yesterday that the Yes vote was 6pc down on the national average in constituencies where Sinn Fein had a TD.

Ms Burton said the No vote mostly came from people without jobs, and this was as likely to include architects as it was manual workers.

However, the No vote was up in working-class areas suffering from unemployment and welfare cuts. "The vast majority of people on the Yes and No side simply want to see economic recovery," Ms Burton said.

"I've heard a lot of 19th-Century Marxist analysis. I think that people from all income groups voted Yes and some people from all income groups voted No."

However, the class divide was evident in some constituencies and will worry Labour, which has been suffering in recent opinion polls.

As well as the two Donegal constituencies, which have recently voted against EU treaties, three of Dublin's most working-class constituencies voted No.

Dublin South West narrowly went No, by a margin of 50.7pc to 49.3pc. The constituency includes Tallaght.

Dublin North West takes in areas such as Ballymun, and it also went No, by 53.2pc to 46.8pc, as did Dublin South Central, with areas such as Crumlin, by 50.9 to 49.1pc.

But other working-class areas, such as Rinsgend in Dublin South East, went Yes.

Trouble

Earlier yesterday, it was also thought Cork North Central, with working-class areas such as Knocknaheeny, Hollyhill, Gurranabraher, Blackpool, Farranree and Mayfield, might go No, but Yes eventually won by 52pc to 48pc.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Richard Boyd Barrett of the ULA claimed Labour was in deep trouble.

Mr Adams said the referendum was "slightly wider" than a battle between the haves and the have-nots, but it was "no accident" the majority of No voters were "people experiencing the worst excesses, the people who are without employment, the people who are struggling to get their children through school or college, those who have children away on foreign shores".

Mr Boyd Barrett said: "The biggest victims of austerity voted No. Labour has a very big reason to be worried; their manual working-class base has deserted them."

Irish Independent Supplement

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