We are now 1 year on from a historic general election, which saw the biggest shift to the left amongst voters in the history of the state.
Celebrating in the count centre that day in February 2020, no one could have anticipated the year we were facing into.
We knew we were facing into politically turbulent times, with tensions between the old conservative order and the masses of workers coming to boiling point.
But a global health crisis has exposed the cracks riven deep in our system faster than perhaps anyone could have anticipated.
Thousands of workers in Ireland lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19, with low-paid workers hit the hardest. Meanwhile, the super rich got richer. Billionaires like Larry Goodman and Denis O’Brien got a windfall, as the FF/FG/Green government made the ridiculous decision to rent private hospital beds, to the tune of 115 million per month.
The health service – already severely under-resourced – was pushed to breaking point, and healthcare workers as well as patients suffered the consequences.
Across society, existing inequalities worsened. Children with special needs and their families were repeatedly let down, as the government failed to implement the protections and supports needed for their education to continue.
Covid was allowed to run rampant through the nursing homes, a result – once again – of the complete lack of foresight of successive FF/FG governments, to properly fund and resource elderly care in this country. Direct Provision residents were also left completely exposed.
In all of this tragedy and injustice, there were waves of resistance too.
Black Lives Matter, the huge public backlash against the governments appalling decision to seal the Mother and Baby Homes archive, the politicisation of a thousands of student nurses, and the inspiring strike of the Debenhams workers reflect a changed Ireland. It’s becoming harder for this government to ride roughshod over us all. Their days are numbered.
Having socialists in the Dáil has been hugely important. We stand shoulder to shoulder with other activists outside parliament, and when we enter the Dáil chamber, we bring those voices with us, and amplify their demands and their struggle.
The establishment would love to get away with rushing covert bills through the Dáil, such as CETA, Mother and Baby Homes bill, raising the pension age, as well as their disastrous ‘Living with Covid’ strategy.
At every turn, we have held them up to scrutiny, we have blown their cover, and we have voiced the anger of thousands who’s voices are usually kept far away from the halls of power.
We can say with pride that we are doing what you voted for us to do. We are a thorn in the side of the posh boys club.
But the fight is far from won.
What happens in the Dáil is only part of the struggle. To really change Ireland, we need a big network of activists on the streets, in workplaces, in communities.
There has been a surge in our membership over the past year, something that is heartening to witness. If you haven’t joined yet but you’ve thought about it, please consider getting involved with us.