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The revolution will be televised

Why this TD uses military metaphors and might nationalise Dunnes

Here’s what we learned from our extensive interview with anti-austerity TD Ruth Coppinger this week.

ruth coppinger

SINCE HER ELECTION to the Dáil last May, Ruth Coppinger hasn’t shied away from the airwaves or controversy.

The Dublin West Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD has been a prominent face of the anti-water charges movement and a fierce critic of government.

When she came into earlier this week we talked about the water charges boycott campaign, whether the Socialists, if in government, would nationalise Dunnes Stores, and lots of other things…

coppinger leader

1. The campaign against water charges is ‘a battle’

The language being used by the AAA in its opposition to water charges is increasingly militaristic with words like “counter offensive” and “army” used this week. There’s a reason for that:

“It is a battle in that the people who are opposed to it, which is, I’d wager, the majority in the country, are up against major forces here.”

Coppinger got a lot of criticism for her “dogs of war” reference in the Dáil earlier this year. We discussed that and the military metaphors:

Video: Paul Hosford /

2. Why should people join the boycott? 

We put it to Coppinger that some people are nervous about boycotting what is the law of the land. We asked her to explain why they shouldn’t be:

Video: Paul Hosford /

3. People weren’t abandoned over property tax 

Coppinger is almost offended by the idea that the anti-austerity movement abandoned people who didn’t pay the household charge or property tax.

We called for people to boycott it and 89 per cent of people paid it. So how could we have abandoned people? People opted not to follow our campaign.

When we put it to Coppinger that the 11 per cent who didn’t pay had been abandoned, she responded: “But sure what could we do about it?” Watch:

Video: Paul Hosford /

4. She would have nationalised Dell in 2009… 

Last November, Coppinger suggested that Dell should have been nationalised when it pulled out of Limerick six years ago with the loss of nearly 2,000 jobs. This was described as “reckless and ludicrous” by government and other opposition parties.

The Dublin West TD stood by her comments this week and said the same should have happened with Waterford Crystal. On Dell, she said:

“It wouldn’t have to necessarily be producing computers. It could be something else. It’s not like we don’t need things produced.

Video: Paul Hosford /

5. … and would consider nationalising Dunnes

With reports of Dunnes letting some employees go in the wake of recent strike action, we asked Coppinger if a Socialist government might intervene and nationalise the retail giant. She said:

“[That's] something you’d have to consider. But if you had a Socialist government presumably you’d have much better trade union strength, trade union rights and recognition.”

Video: Paul Hosford /

6. RTÉ has been fairer 

With RTÉ facing accusations from Labour that it is giving too much coverage to the anti-water charges movement, we asked Coppinger if she agreed. She said the broadcaster is considered “very biased in a pro-austerity fashion” within the anti-austerity movement but admitted it has improved of late. 

I think RTÉ has been a bit more balanced of late… in the last couple of months, since this became such an issue.

Video: Paul Hosford /

7. She doesn’t want to lead the AAA

Paul Murphy declared he had no ambition in politics when we spoke to him last year. Coppinger is of a similar mind although admits that she and Murphy are seen as “leaders of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the anti-water charges movement”.

Video: Paul Hosford /

WATCH: Why is this TD so incredibly upbeat about Fianna Fáil?

WATCH: 7 things we learned from our VERY revealing interview with Ronan Mullen

READ AND WATCH: Here’s what we learned from Enda Kenny’s one-on-one with…

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