Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Socialist Party wins Euro seat in Ireland

Reading Time: 6 minutes

UPDATED: Big gains for the Socialist Party – Big blow to the government!
“Well done Mr. Higgins, not bad for a “failed person” as per “Loo Lah Bertie”. I think we all know who is the “failed person”. This is just one of the many comments that have come into the Socialist Party office in Dublin this morning.

By Socialist Party reporters

This comment reminds us that the discredited former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern once referred to Joe Higgins in the Dail as a “failed person” with a “failed ideology”. How things have changed!

Joe Higgins’ stunning victory in the Dublin Euro Constituency, getting 12.5% of the first preference vote, out polling Sinn Fein and defeating two sitting MEPs, was the final part in a weekend of drama and great election results for the Socialist Party in Ireland.

Joe higgins

As well as winning the Euro seat, in the local elections in Fingal, Clare Daly topped the poll in Swords with 3,192 votes (over 20%) and was re-elected; likewise for Joe himself in Castleknock with 3,787 votes (28%). The party got 2,747 votes (nearly 18%) in the Mulhuddart ward, which easily re-elected Ruth Coppinger.

The party got credible votes in all areas but made important gains, getting Terry Kelleher elected to Balbriggan Town Council and Frank Gallagher elected to the council in Drogheda.

Unfortunately, our councillor Mick Murphy lost out very narrowly in Tallaght Central in South Dublin, by two hundred votes. The difficulty of getting elected in this altered area was referred to in the last article on this site. The comrades ran an extremely strong campaign and in the Tallaght areas where Mick and the party are based, we got more than 20% of the votes in many areas and polled a very strong 2,159 first preference votes.

In reality Tallaght Central was subsumed into a bigger area as a result of the boundaries changes implemented last summer. That expansion and the swing to Labour made the election difficult, even though we came very close. This is a setback but it is one from which we can and will recover and fully develop our position in the months and years ahead.

Our councillor Mick Barry in Cork was easily re-elected and topped the poll with 2,096 votes, (26.5%) nearly one and a half quotas. Our second candidate in Cork, Dave Keating, standing late in the got a very credible 5.5% and the profile of the party has been significantly strengthened in the city.

In terms of county councils we are up one in Castleknock and down one in Tallaght but very importantly we achieved two break throughs in important town councils in Balbriggan, north Dublin and Drogheda.

Tight race

The Dublin Euro election was delayed because of a recount. As the early hours ticked by, the tension began to mount. It was clear this battle for the last seat in Dublin was now down to a battle royale between the Socialist Party verses Fianna Fail, the main capitalist party in Ireland and the party of government over the twelve years – between Joe Higgins and Eoin Ryan, former Minister.

Ryan was over 11,000 votes ahead. Sinn Fein’s MEP Mary Lou McDonald, who the Socialist Party had pushed into fifth position in the popular vote, was due for elimination and then her votes would be transferred to Ryan or Higgins or be non transferable, depending on the preferences of the voters. Someone said this is going to come down to the wire. The reply came “this is the wire!”

Of McDonald’s 55429 votes, Joe needed to get a significantly higher rate of transfers than Ryan does if he was to catch him. The indications were that a lot of her votes were not going to transfer to anyone, thereby potentially reducing the pot of votes for Joe to catch Ryan with.

Then the moment came. McDonald’s votes had been allocated and the count was effectively over, we were just waiting for an announcement. Some party members and supporters, as well as Fianna Fail, gathered around the returning officers podium. As that was happening the staff who had done the counting all day, streamed out from behind the barriers on their way home, leaving both groups of supporters to their respective fates in a huge hanger.

If transfers operated in the way expected, everything should be okay for a Joe victory but the possibility that a huge amount of the votes may not transfer could explode that scenario. And then there is always the possibility of the unexpected in proportional representation elections. The returning officer approached the podium.

Through the distorted mike the returning officer announced that Joe Higgins had got an additional 22,201 votes. People tensed as that was on the lower side of what we wanted. Was McDonald’s transfer to Ryan going to put him back in front and make him the winner? When it came out that Ryan got just 5,426, after a few seconds, there was then the realisation that we had indeed done it, that Joe was elected, the first CWI member in the European Parliament. Even though nearly 50% of the votes didn’t transfer, the 4 to 1 ratio meant we were elected with a good surplus of 5,410 votes.

The Local and European elections were a disaster for the governing Fianna Fail and Green parties, and now the administration is very shaky. We will deal with the political and economic situation in Ireland and what the Socialist Party should do now in future articles, but for now we’ll register this historic victory.

Click here to listen to Joe’s comments just after he was elected as a MEP.

Big blow to the Irish government and corporate Europe

Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party candidate in Ireland, was elected to the Dublin Constituency for the European Parliament at around 5.15am this morning (GMT).

By Socialist Party reporters

Joe, who is a member of the sister party of the Socialist Party in Australia, got 82,366 votes, with 50,510 first preference votes. He received 22,201 second preference votes from the eliminated Sein Fein candidate. Over the last few days, Joe Higgins was widely predicted in the Irish press to be best placed to take the third of three European Parliament seats in Dublin.

He told the Irish TV network that he would “serve the needs of ordinary people in the EU”, and that his appointment was bad news for corporate Europe and the big business culture of the European parliament. He said his election was a very positive result for working class people in Europe.

Higgins was branded the “only honest member” of the Irish parliament, when he held the Dublin West seat from 1997 – 2007. He received widespread publicity for his exposes of corruption. His most significant victory was struck, together with the Socialist Party in Ireland for the Gama workers, the super-exploited building workers who were not being paid their wages.

The Irish Socialist Party reports: Joe Higgins is a long time activist in the labour and trade union movement. Elected to Dublin County Council in 1991, he was a leading fighter against corrupt land rezoning in Dublin and for planning in the interests of communities rather than for speculators and major developers.

Joe Higgins was the Chair of the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charges Campaign which won massive support and forced the Fine Gael/Labour Government to abolish water charges in December 1996. Minister for Social Welfare, Mary Hanafin, said last year that had abolition not happened, each household in Dublin would be currently paying €700 per year in water charges.

Joe Higgins was elected to the Dail in 1997 and for the next ten years was a leading opponent of the right wing policies of the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrat Government. He frequently challenged the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Bertie Ahern, on a wide range of issues including land speculation and profiteering in the housing market, Government support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and in defence of workers’ rights.

In 2003 Joe Higgins was sent to Mountjoy Jail for a month over his opposition to Bin Tax, a new stealth tax on Dublin householders.

In 2005, with the Socialist Party, he exposed the horrific abuse of migrant workers by Gama Construction and struck a major blow against the ‘race to the bottom’ when that company was forced to pay unpaid wages of around €30million to its workers.

Joe Higgins was a key Leader of the opposition to the Lisbon Treaty last year because it would facilitate further privatisation of crucial services like Health, push the militarisation of the EU, increase arms spending and institutionalise the right of bad employers to attack agreed wages and conditions for entire industries.

The Socialist Party also won 6 seats in the local council elections, which ran simultaneously with the EU elections, gaining 2 seats.

More news and analysis of the election will be published on this site in the coming days. For more news from Ireland visit:


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