Business World

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Left-wing TDs here abandon Syriza after 'capitulation' to EU demands

Paul Murphy TD
Paul Murphy TD

Philip Ryan and John Downing

Left-wing TDs who hailed the Greek government as a "new dawn for Europe" have abandoned Syriza in wake of their "capitulation" to the austerity demands of the European Union.

However, Sinn Féin is continuing to back Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's government - despite the severe austerity programme it accepted on behalf of the Greek people after months of political posturing.

With Greek banks closed and fears increasing over imminent food shortages, Mr Tsipras signed off on a bailout agreement which included harsher measures than the deal on the table before he called a snap austerity referendum.

As the reality of Mr Tsipras's failed political power play emerged, left-wing TDs in Ireland who had pledged solidarity with his party began backtracking.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, in a clear reference to Sinn Féin, attacked what he called "Syriza sympathisers".

And Tánaiste Joan Burton also used Syriza's backdown to accuse Sinn Féin of "seriously lacking any realistic understanding" of the hardships a default could impose on a struggling country.

In response, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said it was "obscene" for the Government and Fianna Fáil to "lecture" the Greek people.

Their comments come as the Irish Independent reveals a group of 11 TDs signed a letter of support for Syriza before Greece went to the polls in January this year.

"We wish to convey our solidarity and hopes for a victory for Syriza in the elections now under way in Greece. We welcome your commitment to end austerity and to take measures to combat the human crisis which austerity has caused in Greece," it stated.

However, yesterday, the majority of the signatories moved to distance themselves from the letter.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who celebrated Syriza's election victory in Greece, said the party's leadership was "humiliated" after it "bowed down to a huge amount of austerity".

"Syriza is finished now as a vehicle for working people. It will now collapse in the opinion polls in the coming months," he told the Irish Independent.

His party colleague Ruth Coppinger accused Mr Tsipras of "capitulating" to the Troika and ignoring the hopes of Greek people who voted against austerity.

She also accused the Troika of using "economic terrorism" in order to "humiliate and subordinate" the Greek government.

Veteran Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said he stood over the message of last January - but said Mr Tsipras had let down the Greek people.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said he still supported the statement's call for a debt writedown, but said he no longer supported the Greek government.

However, United Left TD Joan Collins said she still backed Syriza and accused the EU institutions of "thuggery" against the Greeks.

Independent TD John Halligan said the statement needed to be "re-evaluated", but said Syriza was not entirely responsible for the economic crisis in Greece.

Independent Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan said she hoped the emerging deal was not too onerous for the Greek people but she also stood by her views as expressed last January.

Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle said he stood by the statement, especially its call for debt forgiveness for the EU countries hit by recession. Mick Wallace and Clare Daly did not respond to requests for comment.

Irish Independent

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