In 2020, as the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic raged, students campaigned using coordinated social media actions, petitions and huge online rallies, to cancel the Leaving Cert and won. Now in early 2021, student action has put the cancellation of the Leaving Cert on the agenda, pressured opposition parties to somewhat support students’ demands, and cornered the government into making a decision . With sustained coordinated action, we can fight not only to win cancellation of the traditional leaving cert this year, but point towards what kind of education system is needed.
In the deepest sense, it is more of the same and a betrayal by the Greens of the vote for change they benefited from in February and in last year’s local and European elections. Fine Gael, who led the last Government, and Fianna Fáil, who propped it up, are the two biggest parties in this one.
General Election 2020 was historic. It was only the second time that the combined vote of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael went below 50%. 2016 was the first, when it dipped just below 50% by 0.2%. However, this time it plunged to just 43.4% — an historic low.
There is an urgent need for a genuinely cross-community, left-wing labour force in Northern Ireland. The surge in membership of the British Labour Party locally in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership shows the potential such a party could have if the trade union movement swung its weight behind the project. However, to break through the sectarian morass, a labour alternative here will need to be both anti-sectarian and also adopt left and anti-austerity policies, rather than the failed politics of Blairism or the Irish Labour Party.