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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019
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'I hate the viciousness of capitalism': People Before Profit hopeful on the need for an alternative

The self-proclaimed socialist says no one is representing the working-class people in Ireland or Europe.

Brid Smith
Brid Smith
Image: Photocall Ireland

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT’s candidate for the European elections in Dublin has hit out at Labour, stating that it is no longer a left-wing party and adding that people are looking towards an alternative.

The trade union activist and city councillor is seeking to capitalise on Labour’s dwindling support in the polls, stating that she expects her party to do well in the upcoming local elections. Smith said polls have shown that people are increasing their support for independents and others.

“Normal, working-class people are not being represented here or in Europe. The biggest disappointment for people in my area is the Labour Party because the voted in such large numbers for them in the last election and they are bitterly disappointed with them,” she said.

“There is a lot of disappointment and people are looking for an alternative based on people power and community,” she added.

“I don’t see Labour as a left-wing party, they are centre, not even centre-left. I don’t see them as that any more. Their roots used to be in the working class, but they have moved hugely away from that now.”

She said she believes that Sinn Fein’s support has grown as Labour’s has fallen and believes they will do “extremely well” in the 23 May elections.

A leading member of the People Before Profit party, Smith said they are attempting to build the party up nationally, stating that they are a 32-county party and pointed out that in the 2011 general election they came from nothing to having two TDs elected.

Brid Smith on….

The EU

“It’s becoming apparent that the EU is an extraordinary democratic tool that is being used to penalise people, poor people, workers, pensioners on behalf of the very wealthy and the banks… it’s apparent that democracy in Ireland and EU is being very badly eroded.

“I don’t think it is talked about enough. There is a huge amount of acceptance, with people saying: ‘Oh well, the financial collapse happened, and now we have to pay for it, better keep our heads down and don’t we have to pay for property and water charges, isn’t everyone else, isn’t it inevitable’.”

On being a socialist…

“I’m a socialist and I don’t make any secret of the fact that I’m a socialist. I hate the viciousness of capitalism and what it does for peoples’ lives.

“As a working class woman – I live in Ballyfermot – I see the level that it affects people, relationships breaking down, hardship, drink, drug problems, even suicide and it does my head in.

“I want to fight for equality – I think this is a good why for me to bring the fight for equality out in the open.”

On Irish Water…

“Water is one of the major issues of this election campaign. Globally they call it the new oil.

“The question of who controls water, who disseminates it and who makes a profit out of it has become a real focus for big business, hence the establishment of Irish Water.

“We are going to see the same as what happened in Europe, the privatisation of water services  - I have no doubt about that.

“We will see big companies coming here to compete for the biggest commodity we own here in Ireland.

“I meet people on the street and they say: ‘Well someone has to pay for it’. But we are paying for it. Who has been paying for it up to now? It’s been coming from our taxation.”

On uniting under a common cause…

“I think there needs to be  message of solidarity with other EU countries too.

“I am a trade union activist, the issue of driving down wages to make countries more competitive and increase profit – those things are not just causes for people in Ireland. They are universal. I think it is time that we unite under common causes with people in Europe mobilise on a global level.”

Property tax and revenue

“There is a deep bitterness about the property tax and the household charge and the way it is being imposed and the unfairness of it. You hear Revenue on radio saying that 95 per cent are compliant and makes it sound like we are happy to pay this tax, but in fact it is the most hated tax ever.

“It is being taken from people, they have no choice. They started taking it out of my council allowance, otherwise I wouldn’t have paid it. They are doing that for most people, there is no choice in the matter. This is still very much on the agenda.”

On the Dunnes apartheid protests in the 80s… (Smith helped organise solidarity pickets and collections for the Dunnes Stores strikers)

“I met the women after Mandela died last year and we went down together to sign the book of condolences in the Mansion House. There was a film crew with us as they are making a documentary about us that they plan to show at the anniversary this year.

“It was quite a moment as we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, but it was all under a veil of global mourning… those women played their role in an amazing period in history and the role they played in puncturing the apartheid regime was important.

“I was really very proud to be there with them and I’m proud of them.

“The 1980s was a hard time in terms of employment and recession and for those people to make that decision on a principled level and stick it out for for three years, it’s incredible.

“Recession doesn’t need to beat you down so badly that don’t act. I know it sometimes feels like that, that we are suffering from a population paralysis, but it is not always like that, things can surprise you.”

How many member states are in the EU:

28.

Who is the head of the European Commission:

Oh em, Barroso.

Who is head of the European Council:

Em, van Rompuy.

Who is the president of the European Parliament:

Martin Schulz.

Other candidates currently in the running for the European elections in Dublin include independent Nessa Childers, Lynn Boylan for Sinn Féin, Brian Hayes for Fine Gael, Emer Costello for Labour, Paul Murphy for the Socialist Party, Eamon Ryan for the Green Party, and Mary Fitzpatrick for Fianna Fáil.

TheJournal.ie intends to speak to all European Parliament candidates in the capital and elsewhere in the country before May’s elections.

Read: ‘MEPs are talking out of both sides of their mouths’: Sinn Féin hopeful hits out at Hayes and Costello

Read: ‘Let him give me his number one, that’ll be fine’: Mary Fitzpatrick on Bertie and FF’s recovery

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