Finally, Ireland had elected a Government of the Left. These were the real left, and they had won, despite the polls saying it wouldn’t happen and the media being universally against. True, the turnout had barely reached 40%, such was the disgust with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael’s politics-as-usual, but as the counting had progressed, it was clear that the Socialist Party/People Before Profit Alliance was going to scrape by the magic 83 seats.
The night of the count had set the tone. The media intercut images of Socialists getting elected with images of removal vans blocking up Ailesbury Road and Killiney and Foxrock. By the time the Dail convened and elected Higgins Taoiseach, the Central Bank was reporting that billions had beeen transferred from the country. Higgins’s finance minister, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, quickly imposed exchange controls, ordering the banks to cease transferring, but they ignored him, citing that he had no right to do so. When the bill giving him the power to do so was rushed through the Oireachtas in hours, it was appealed to the Supreme Court who ruled it a breech of EU law. By then it was too late anyway. Roger Cole TD, minister for foriegn affairs, was despatched to Brussels to demand change, and the government settled down to draft its emergency budget.
The most immediate cutbacks were reversed, and a massive hike in income tax, Capital Gains Tax and Corporation Tax was announced. The minister anounced that the help of the “vampires of the bond markets” would not be required. That was when the fun started.
Six months in, the Dept of Finance announced that the state was physically running out of money. The high taxes were all well and good but the rich had moved their cash out of the country. The banks were short of actual money, and closing ATM machines. The tax take was down, and capital gains weren’t actually happening to be taxed. A new property tax on the rich was going uncollected as businessmen and their families waited it out in the UK and the North. Such was the number in the North, Newry elected its first Fianna Fail MP in the British general election. Corporation Tax was performing but the big US companies had announced that they were pulling out soon.
” We shall seize the assets of the rich.” The finance minister announced. The secretary general of the Department frowned.
“What assets? They’ve taken their cars, their jewels, their furniture, their art, all that’s left is their homes”
” Then seize them!”
“And do what with them? They don’t provide cash”
“Then sell them!”
” To whom, minister? Anyone who could afford them has fled the country.”
“We must increase corporation taxes, so!” The minister announced, and he did.
The Americans pulled out. The indigenous firms started laying people off. The government announced that companies could not let people go without ministerial approval. The companies went bust instead.
The government announced that it would not let big firms fail, but nationalise them instead. When the Surpreme Court ruled that unconsitutional, the government appointed a majority of judges who would see things in the interests of the working class.
That still left them short of money, so the government looked for help abroad.
Hugo Chavez arrived in style, and sat down with the Cabinet in Merrion Square. Money? Venezuela was a bit short these days, with the nationalised oil company being so inefficient that the country had to import oil, but he could provide 100,000 militia to help fight counter-revolutionary forces. Taoiseach Joe escorted him quickly to the door.
Strikes and protests were now becoming a daily occurrence, as the state could not pay its workers and social welfare recipients, or the workers of the large nationalised companies, which was pretty much everyone. Smaller businessmen tried to flee the country, until the government ordered the border sealed with soldiers to enforce export controls. Many did escape, however, after soldiers refused to open fire on them.
The EU and US announced that they would not tolerate the nationalisation of their nationals’s assets, and demanded compensation. The USS Ronald Reagan and the Charles De Gaulle both loomed into Dublin Bay, just outside national waters, flying joint air patrols. A German submarine surfaced off the coast of Cork and signalled that they “wanted ALDI back”.
The minister for energy, Patricia McKenna, announced that she could not get a US or EU company to help bring ashore natural gas in Mayo because she could not guarantee that they would get paid. However, China was offering support. Provided Ireland denounced the Dalai Lama. Russia also made an offer, provided Ireland stopped harping on about human rights abuses in its colonies/Neighbouring Partner States. Roger Cole resigned in protest at the suggestion.
The strikes began to turn into riots, with the army and the Gardai, who were not getting paid either, getting less enthusiastic by the day. On the eighteenth month anniversary of the Government coming to power, riots broke out across the country, with a crowd breaking through the Garda cordon and setting fire to Leinster House, leading the Taoiseach and members of the government to be evacuated by helicopter. The Neutrality First! cutbacks in defence spending meant that there was only one functioning helicopter left in the Air Corps, and viewers on CNN and BBC News 24 were treated to live images of a well known socialist Women’s Rights minister rabbit-punching a female colleague in the nose so that he could get on the helicopter. Watching Garda Headquarters on fire, the pilot was instructed to take the helicopter to the only place the Taoiseach would definitely be safe.
The helicopter touched down on the USS Ronald Reagan five minutes later. A dishevelled soot-faced Richard Boyd Barrett immediately started shouting anti-imperialist slogans at the startled US Marine trying to help him out of the aircraft. In the distance, Dublin looked quite pretty as the summer sun went down and the flames spread.