Two years of the Irish Left hiding behind NPHET’s skirt came to an end this weekend as Dublin saw mass mobilisation for a march against the Cost of Living Crisis.
Headlined by Taoiseach in waiting Mary Lou MacDonald and the expected chancers on the Marxian left, the march easily totaled north of 10,000 in a considerable non-sectarian show of force by the general left.
Consisting of a variety of interest groups from rural populists, farmers, trade unions and every groupsicle under the sun, the march can be seen as the final victory lap on the way to the Republic’s Syriza moment when a jaded Merrion Street hands the keys over to left populists.
Beginning 2.30pm Parnell Square before making its way towards the Dáil and with the platform shared between competing factions, I was keen to gain a register on the current standing of a left on the cusp of power.
First to bat was Gary Ganon who serenaded the crowd with warning that the powers that be will attempt to obfuscate blame on asylum seekers rather than their own actions, ignoring the reality our government has the embrace of mass migration as a central economic and moral tenet.
A good case for Donegal secessionism was made by a Mica redress speaker, with a standard spiel on the plight of Irish farmers given followed by a Spanish Extinction Rebellion speaker advocating further dissolution of the nation’s energy infrastructure as a means to help the poor.
On full display, the neanderthals at the IRSP crawled out from under their rock parading alongside what appeared to be a black bloc consisting entirely of American accented trannies. Even the ideologically muddled Anti-Imperialist Ireland looked positively cheerful under the September sun outside Doyles, trying to posit Maoism as the solution to an Irish energy crisis in 2022.
A four person Aontú contingent sheepishly walked alongside groups that would happily have them banned or worse, while a tartish looking but otherwise quite sweet PBP activist tried to flirt her way into getting me to join the Communist revolution through the invite for drinks back at Foley’s. Appreciated but declined.
The tankies that time forgot appeared in the form of the CPI, as well as the stickies further back,all having the appearance of being unable to Gulag themselves out of the O’Connell Street queue to Penny’s by their current meek standing.
Of all parties the most normal looking came in the form of the sizeable Sinn Féin contingent with their SIPTU rank and file and party faithful out in full gusto.
Bar the permanent odour of weed and blaring of Blindboy tracks there were no public order incidents though a brave member of what appeared to be a rural contingent brandished a sign calling for migration control.
The Irish branch of British trotskyism in the form of People Before Profit were arguably the second largest faction on show, though may have spread their forces with their much criticised tactic of passing out signs to non-members.
As formidable as the numbers were, one does feel that the left is living off electoral reserves from the post-Crash period. The notion of a challenge from the right is slightly less laughable than it was even 3 years ago as tectonics in Europe prompt nationalists to power and economic woes set in.
Regardless, as is almost a cliché among the dissident right in Ireland, Sinn Féin must and will shoot their bolt in government before the green shoots we see now manifest themselves in tangible political and social successes.
While the march did feature something of a counter-protest by anti-vax groups around the Garden of Remembrance, no mention was made of covid, green policies fueling the crisis or even the current war with Russia especially as the Shinners surreptitiously bury any notion of genuine Irish neutrality.
A year ago most of the left factions of the march were still in favour of keeping the population under Pfizer’s lock and key with covidmania, ignoring the wider economic and social ramifications. On Saturday they rememerged to lament the sudden precipice we find ourselves in.
Clear profiteering aside by energy companies, the world is not any greedier than it was 12 months ago with the behemoth of covid, green policies left entirely unaddressed by the political leaders of last Saturday’s march.
The demographics of the crowd is also worth noting. Parnell Square is minority Irish at the best of times as is that patch of the North inner city more generally, however one would be hard to ignore the near homogeneity of the crowd-bar the odd European or British leftist out for the day.
Try as they might there is no cross-ethnic solidarity coming from the hodgepodge of groups that make up the New Irish, drawn from a variety of social and political backgrounds largely detached form Irish politics due to their transience or unless their identity group is mobilised.
The backbone of these marches since the time of the Water Protests has been the urban working class and rural populists electorally coaxed by Sinn Féin and the Left. It is this demographic profile the left wages its war hardest against in all aspects of its programmes.
The juxtaposition of the interest groups made me contemplate how cynical the populist game is for Sinn Féin,riding the tiger on a socio-economic coalition it knows it cannot entirely placate and will shatter come a harsh Winter in government.
There is no end to the Cost of Living Crisis short of breaking free from the appendages of the green agenda, mass migration, NATO militarism and Brussels-all issues the left roadblocks in its worldview and feted praxis.
Credit where its due, the march had more youthfulness than pro-life gatherings or coherency than what was seen with anti-lockdown demos. Through these demonstrations the left has been able to break out of its ideological core into a wider electoral thrust.
A populist government of the left has my full blessing if only to move on from the 6 years of zombie FG-FF swan song coalitions we’ve stumbled through as the world moved on.Mary Lou could have saved herself and ourselves a lot of time and marched the crowd into Government Buildings last Saturday, and for all our sakes may she do so shortly.