This chapter offers a critical examination of the realities of the Celtic Tiger for Irish women. Changes in capitalism have resulted in a transformation of family structure, sex and sexuality and, ultimately, the lives of Irish women. The principal effect of the feminisation of the workforce has been to increase the already stark class divisions among women. The lack of state-sponsored childcare and its privatised provision discriminate against working-class mothers and force them out of the workforce. Unfortunately, the trade union movement, while continuing to lobby for better childcare facilities, has capitulated to the tax credit solution. An examination of abortion law in Ireland illustrates the difficulties facing many women today and the class forces that operate in Irish society. Ireland's membership of the European Union (EU), infrastructural development and a decreased economic dependence on the United Kingdom had transformed the Irish economy by the late 1970s.
This chapter seeks to explore how the political economy of Ireland's crisis has been reduced to the neoliberal ideological tropes of 'choice' and 'compliance'. It argues that to be properly understood it needs to be situated in the international, and specifically European, crisis of capitalism. This crisis is not only economic but also ideological in its dimensions, unleashing an intensive ideological assault designed to rid the political system of the last vestiges of democratic accountability. Mainstream political parties have seen a collapse in both active membership and passive political support, producing a crisis of standing, legitimacy and effectiveness within modern democracy. The chapter concludes by arguing that one of the major challenges of developing a radical left critique has to be to offer not simply a critique of the ideological assumptions of capitalism, but must include some alternative to the system.