The Wallace test
Mick Wallace has exploded the Irish left and split the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party argue that Wallace is a capitalist and a tax dodger. It is impossible to work with him and impossible to work with others who cooperate with him, a position the Socialist Workers Party largely share.
Mick Wallace is a capitalist who fiddled VAT tax returns (a common practice in the Irish building trade). He was bankrupted in the credit crunch and is a savage critic of the government. He supports the house-hold charge campaign and opposes the austerity.
Can socialists work with Mick? Why not? This is especially true in the household charge campaign, essentially a movement that itself stands for tax non-payment.
The moral outrage seems strange when we look at recent alliances in Britain. There was no difficulty with George Galloway. There was no difficulty with homophobic Muslims in the RESPECT alliance. The Socialist Party remained outside these alliances but was itself accused of accommodation with right-wing English nationalism. In Ireland there has been no savage break with the trade union leadership, including David Begg and Jack O'Connor, although they are joined with government and bosses in enforcing mass austerity. Massive scandals involving taxpayers money and SIPTU junkets go unremarked
And that is the issue. The problem is not with Wallace but with the SP and SWP. The Irish socialist movement has not broken from the union bureaucracy. Their main slogan, along with the British TUC, is a call for tax justice - a vacuous, moralistic bleat that calls on the rich to play fair while disguising collaboration with the bosses.
There have been many mass movements in Ireland. None have ever vetted their members - but then they weren't focused on the Dail or the union bureaucracy.