The far-left is talking about a revolution but the way is unclear

The home page of Solidarity’s website this week was dominated by a large photograph of Paul Murphy, the Dublin TD acquitted last week on charges of false imprisonment of the former tánaiste Joan Burton.

Click on the picture and you are brought to an interview Murphy gave to a Solidarity activist immediately after the verdict. The radical left doesn’t trust the media; it does its own interviews.

“What next for the left?” Murphy was asked.

“We’ll try to use this as a launch pad, to say to people that a substantial, broad left should be built in this country,” he said.

There’s no question that the Jobstown trial has given Solidarity, and the radical left of which it is a mainstay, a political platform that it has not enjoyed since the height of the water protests in 2014.

But the water charges are no more, and the age of austerity is over. Fine Gael is in power, propped up by Fianna Fáil, and the Opposition benches are cluttered with small groups of various political hues. Sinn Féin is the largest group on the left, hyper-responsive to the threat posed to it by left-wing Independents and the small radical parties and alliances. Murphy and colleagues – Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity) and Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit) especially – have established themselves as a significant presence on the political landscape, enjoying a media profile and a political influence out of proportion to their numbers and support. But where to now?

Ruth Coppinger at a Solidarity press conference. Photograph: Stephen Collins/ Collins Photos
Ruth Coppinger at a Solidarity press conference. Photograph: Stephen Collins/ Collins Photos

The verdict in the Jobstown trial has catapulted Solidarity into the political front line, and the party has been scrambling to take advantage of the opportunity. It held a rally last weekend at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin, which was addressed by Eamon Dunphy, and the party has kept up a media and parliamentary offensive all week, demanding an inquiry into the Garda investigation.

Influx of new members

Since the verdict was announced, Paul Murphy says, Solidarity has been overwhelmed with applications for membership. More than 800 people have applied to join the party – a massive influx when you consider that Solidarity has about 400-500 active members, Murphy says.