Saturday, 7 May 2011

A tick for éirígí won’t split the vote- Pádraic Mac Coitir

Standing among more than 700 republicans and socialists in Milltown Cemetery on Easter Monday, the thought of belonging to a “micro-group” never entered my head.

Nor, dare I say, did it enter the heads of the many ex-POWs, young people, community activists, trade unionists, gaeilgeoirí and relatives of our republican dead who were standing beside me.

Sitting in An Chultúrlann in January with éirígí activists from as far south as Cork, as far north as Donegal, from every part of the six counties, from our capital city and from many other parts of Ireland, I had a sense of belonging to an idea that was on the move and gaining in momentum with every day that passed.

Over the last five years, I have joined éirígí activists in sit-down protests in Ardoyne and Mayo, marched with them in Dublin and Newry, and campaigned with them on a diverse range of political, social and economic issues in the working class communities of West Belfast. On every occasion, I have been struck by their commitment, enthusiasm, intelligence and positive ideas on how to drive forward the struggle for revolutionary change in today’s Ireland.

This is why I decided to join éirígí and why I was proud to become their candidate for the Upper Falls in Thursday’s council elections. I know John McCusker is equally proud to be representing the party in the Lower Falls.

Since the election campaign began, however, I have been struck by the negative campaigning of others. While éirígí has campaigned on the cutbacks that are being brought in by Westminster and its Stormont administration, encouraging our community to take a stand against these anti-social measures, those who feel most threatened by our intervention in this election have been reduced to muddying the waters. In the latest attack, delivered through the pages of this paper (April 30) it was alleged by a man who should know better that éirígí is a “micro-group”, that its aim is to split the republican vote and that Sinn Féin somehow own the council seats they currently occupy. Let’s get a few things straight. A party that is organised in every province of this country, that has scores of activists rapping thousands of doors in West Belfast and that has played a prominent role in every major progressive campaign in Ireland over the last five years is patently not a micro-group.

As for splitting the vote, éirígí is standing in two constituencies – Lower Falls and Upper Falls. There are no unionist candidates standing in the Lower Falls. In the Upper Falls, there is one DUP candidate standing. The last time a unionist candidate stood in Upper Falls, in 1997, they received 201 votes or 1.4 per cent of the vote. Somebody needs to check their facts, and it’s not éirígí. Any party that believes it has an automatic right to possess seats that are granted by the electorate is guilty of breathtaking arrogance.

A vote for éirígí on Thursday is a vote for stronger republican representation, it is a vote against the cuts and it is vote of confidence in our community’s ability to overcome against the odds.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

Pádraic Mac Coitir,


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