A FORMER Mayor of Limerick who is standing in West Limerick in the local elections is hoping that members of the public who are unhappy with austerity can mobilise into a “militant” voting force.
Joe Harrington, a former Independent socialist Mayor of Limerick, will be seeking election in the recently-expanded Newcastle West electoral area as part of the ‘Anti-Austerity Alliance’ ticket.
Mr Harrington said that as one of up to a dozen alliance candidates running across Limerick city and county, he hopes the he and the alliance can stimulate a new wave of protest against the property tax, spending cuts and austerity.
“The reason we’re standing is not because we think the council are going to sort matters, but to pull together all the people opposed to the present policies that are doing down the working class, and organising them as a fighting force that can become a movement.
“We want to get people organised, militant and to stand up for themselves.”
The Newcastle West electoral area will return six councillors at next year’s elections, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail predicted to take at least five of those seats between them. As well as Mr Harrington, Independent anti-charges campaigner Christy Kelly and Labour’s Stephen Goulding have already declared their intention to stand in the area, while Sinn Fein are also expected to run at least one candidate.
Despite the difficult odds he is facing, Mr Harrington said that his time with Limerick City Council, particularly his experience with the anti-water charges campaign in Limerick in the late 1980s and early 1990s, will be an asset.
He added that the local elections will be an opportunity for unhappy voters to “get our own back” on the Government parties.
“I have been motivated by the betrayal of Labour and Fine Gael, who promised change but have failed to deliver. In fact, they have shown themselves to be no different to Fianna Fail. They have used the most draconian bully boy tactics to force austerity and the property tax down people’s throats. But next year’s local elections provide us with the opportunity to get our own back.”
He added that there remains strong opposition among the West Limerick public to septic tank inspection charges, water charges and the property tax. He described the imposition of these charges as being part of a “gravy train”.