It is no surprise to see people such as Sean Counihan calling for a merger of Fianna Fáil and Labour. In my opinion, this should have happened many years ago, given that both parties have been competing for the votes of the same socio-economic classes for many years.
That both parties continue to appeal to sectional interests only serves to fragment the increasingly scattered Irish Left, with Sinn Féin waiting to pounce. While personally I find Sinn Féin and their faux concern abhorrent, given their past record, I welcome attempts to coalesce a left-wing alternative to the austerity being peddled by Fine Gael. However, this comes with a warning: many attempts have been made to coagulate the myriad ideologies contained on the Irish Left, from social democrats to hardline Marxists and Stalinists. All have failed.
Any new political movement seeking to provide a viable and practical alternative to swingeing cuts and massive tax increases must set out their vision for Ireland in, say, 2020. Only when this has been accomplished can voters have any real alternative, rather than the messy, fragmented and frankly deplorable situation in which the Irish Left finds itself currently.