On behalf of the Workers’ Party, the Ard Chomhairle and Party President Michael McCorry would like to wish a prosperous 2023 to all workers and their families as we enter into the New Year.
2022 has been a tough year for working people. Just as it appeared that we were exiting the COVID-19 pandemic, we found ourselves thrust into an increasingly worrying cost-of-living crisis, with the price of essentials such as food, energy and fuel all rising.
The response from the Government has been half-hearted and short-sighted. The increase in the minimum wage announced in Budget 2023, for example, failed to catch up with inflation. The subsidies and once-off social welfare payments, while no doubt temporarily helpful, simply do not address the fundamental problems which have led to the crisis.
The government has, unfortunately, refused to entertain the idea of bringing energy back into public ownership, despite the fact that this could bring bills down for working families. A state-owned energy company could focus on providing workers with the basic necessity of heating and electricity on an affordable basis, instead of leaving it up to the price gouging profiteers of the private market. The price fluctuations of the international markets show the urgent need for Ireland to develop energy independence through a state led and owned nuclear power programme.
In the north, the cost-of-living crisis has been worsened by the refusal of the DUP to return to Stormont. MLAs steal a wage, while working people struggle to get by week to week. Regardless of religion, national identity or opinion on the Protocol, workers will suffer because of this decision.
The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is clear to see, as more and more working people are relying on foodbanks and charities. Those who haven’t yet been pushed into poverty are watching their bills increase with great alarm. The only winners are the capitalist class, who are laughing all the way to the bank with the money they’ve made from the rest of us.
Working people, and our young people in particular, are continuing to struggle in their search for housing security. They are not fooled by the efforts of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens to convince people that their plans to fix the housing crisis will work this time.
The failures of the Government are clearly visible. Roughly 3,500 children spent Christmas in homelessness, as many as 121,000 people found themselves waiting on hospital trolleys in our hospitals this year, and 3,000 people queued for Christmas food vouchers in Dublin this year. These are all astonishing figures.
State-ownership of key industries, such as energy, housing and healthcare, are crucial to the wellbeing of the Irish people. These are not playthings to be left at the mercy of the private market, which can not and will not provide for working people. The refusal of the government to entertain the idea of nationalisation shows not only how strong their ideological commitment to the failing private market doctrine of neo-liberalism is, but exposes to all who the real ruling elite are – the developers, the landlords, the multinational corporations. No matter if workers suffer – the capitalists must profit.
The backdrop and context to the worsening cost of living crisis is one of war in Ukraine and increasing international tensions.
In 2023, in cooperation with our sister organisations in the international workers’ movement, we will continue to campaign for peace, socialism, democracy and national sovereignty. We will continue to oppose the dangerous actions of the US Empire, and its NATO and EU allies, in their efforts to ratchet up tensions across the globe, targeting any state whose sovereignty challenges the ‘right’ of the US to act as imperial hegemon.
Domestically, we will continue to defend Irish neutrality and oppose the attempt to push us ever closer to the US Empire and to NATO membership.
In these times, the need for deeper cooperation and integration of the international workers’ movement is all the greater – to analyse and to organise, and to provide a socialist alternative to poverty, war, and climate catastrophe.
The Workers’ Party has spent 2022 continuing the fight for working people, putting forward socialist solutions to the problems facing workers and their families. We have campaigned for more efficient and wide-reaching public services, and our members have organised around the issues that matter to people in their local communities. We have remembered those who came before us in the struggle for a socialist and united Ireland, and we’ve continued to build up relationships with like-minded socialist and progressive forces internationally, including those in places like Cuba, Palestine, and Nicaragua.
On occasion, people will ask “Why the Workers’ Party? Why not another ‘left-wing’ party, or a different sort of organisation entirely?” Our answer is that we believe that the conflict between workers and the capitalist class is the defining feature of society and that the power of the working class lies in its ability to organise and to build its own party.
While some parties attempt to balance the interests of both classes, and others neglect or downplay class altogether, the Workers’ Party believes that only a party of the working class can challenge the manner in which society fundamentally operates.
Our task for 2023 is to continue the task of building the Workers’ Party. Branches must find themselves actively engaging with working people in their local communities. We must rebuild the reputation that we held previously of being on the side of working people. There should be no class issue too big or too small for the Workers’ Party.
There is no shortcut to political relevance. The Workers’ Party must once again carry out the hard work required if we are to achieve our goal of winning state power for the working class, and building a unified and socialist Ireland.