The death of former Fianna Fáil government finance minister, Brian Lenihan, has resulted in a by-election being called for the Dublin West seat of the Dáil (the Irish parliament). The Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) has selected councillor Ruth Coppinger to contest it and will be undertaking a major campaign to win the seat.
For all those disgusted at the abuse of power by bankers, builders and right-wing politicians who have crashed the economy, this by-election is a chance to strike back.
It could be turned into a referendum against the robbery of the Irish public by the bank bailouts and austerity. These policies were started by the former Fianna Fáil government and are now continued by the Labour/Fine Gael coalition government.
Electing Ruth would be a major boost to the campaign against the new household tax and water charges, which the coalition government wants to introduce in an attempt to make workers pay for the gambling debts of the speculators and big banks.
Ruth will be a workers' TD (member of Irish parliament) on a worker's wage, like Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins and Clare Daly.
Fuel poverty in the UK is set to soar by the next general election, expected in 2015. Most household energy bills by then will almost have doubled as a share of median income since 2004.
The average gas and electric dual energy bill has rocketed 117% since 2004 while median household income has only increased by 18%. By 2015 most households will be experiencing 'fuel poverty' ie spending 10% of their incomes or more on fuel bills. Currently over five million households are experiencing fuel poverty.
The 'big six' private energy companies have all recently jacked up the prices they charge their customers, so that the average annual dual fuel bill is now £1,293. These price hikes coincide with rising inflation and pay freezes for millions of workers.
These mega-profitable companies say they're the 'victims' of rising international wholesale prices. However, these price rises are mainly due to speculation, not 'supply and demand'. In fact there is a global glut of gas supplies according to the International Energy Agency.
Moreover, many gas companies have substantial stakes in gas fields making them handsome profits both as wholesale and domestic suppliers. The sooner the private energy utilities are renationalised, the better.
Despite the Fukushima disaster and the prohibitively high costs of nuclear generated electricity, the Con-Dem government is expected to press ahead with a new generation of nuclear plants. This follows a report from Dr Mike Weightman, the UK's chief nuclear inspector, giving the industry a clean bill of health.
"It's designed with one objective - to give the green light to a new generation of nuclear power stations, irrespective of the safety, environmental or rising financial costs of those nuclear stations," a Greenpeace spokesperson said.