Category Archives: six counties

The birth of The Pill

Given the excitement caused in Ireland, north and south, by The Pill folks might be interested in this new book called The Birth of the Pill, reviewed by a friend of mine here:


Bloody Sunday commemoration: Belfast-Derry bus

A chairde,

éirígí Béal Feirste will be providing transport to the Bloody Sunday march in Doire on Sunday.

The bus will leave our Belfast office on the Springfield Road shortly after 10.45am. Return ticket is just £10.

Return will be approximately 1 hour after the march and seats are limited so please get in touch asap by replying to this email or messaging our Belfast Facebook page at

Go raibh maith agaibh,

éirígí Béal Feirste

Belfast public meeting on organising against austerity


éirígí calls for building of radical campaign against cuts in the 6 Counties

The following statement has been released by éirígí

stop-stormont-cuts-orange1In December 2010 Stormont agreed a budget that would see £1,500,000,000 (£1.5Billion) slashed from our public expenditure. They have implemented this budget without hesitation and wreaked havoc across working-class communities in the Six Counties, with one Stormont Minister commenting that, “It would be a good Christmas present for the people…”.

The Stormont coalition partners, Sinn Féin and the DUP, oversaw an economy where more than 100,000 people currently want meaningful work but cannot get it. 1 in every 4 young people aged 18-24 are without a job. 1 in every 5 children lives below the poverty line – this figure increases to 43% of children in West Belfast. Families struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food, heating or clothing. 21% of Pensioners also live in poverty. Nearly 40,000 households sit on housing waiting lists. They have closed the City Hospital Accident & Emergency department and the MS respite unit at Dalriada. Further closures are to come for minor injury units in Armagh, Whiteabbey and Bangor. Beds at the Mid-Ulster Hospital, Downe Hospital and Lagan Valley will be axed, adding additional strain across the board.

Not content, and in order to squeeze every remaining penny from the working class people of the Six Counties, Sinn Féin and the DUP are now in the process of Read the rest of this entry

Remember the Housing Action Committees – don’t we need them now?


Pictures: above, Dublin Housing Action Committee protest, late 1960s; top left, homeless person in the six counties; top right, ghost estate

Pictures: above, Dublin Housing Action Committee protest, late 1960s; top left, homeless person in the six counties; top right, ghost estate

In the 1960s there were militant grassroots campaigns for access to housing, both north and south.  In Derry and elsewhere in the six counties they campaigned for equal access to housing and fought sectarian discrimination; they demonstrated and they occupied.  In Dublin they also demonstrated and occupied, demanding that more houses be built and that empty houses be provided to people who needed them.

Today there are 90,000 people on housing waiting lists in the south, while 14,000 houses and flats are unoccupied, including 700 ghost estates – and that’s not counting the ghost estates that have been bulldozed.  NAMA holds most of the abandoned properties and, while 4,000 of these have been earmarked for public housing, this isn’t exactly proceeding quickly.  Moreover, 4,000 is a ridiculously low number – in Kildare alone, for instance, there are 5,000 people waiting for homes.

Indeed, reports by the BBC and The Guardian in April 2010 suggested there were as many as 300,000 fairly new, empty properties in the south.  Karl Whitney reported, for instance,  “A recent report by the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Planning estimated that there were over 300,000 empty, newly built properties in Ireland’ (The Guardian, April 8, 2010).

In the north, the situation is proportionately similar.  The Department for Social Development itself noted in its official action plan released last year, “as of December 2012 there were over 40,000 people on the Waiting List with approximately half of these applicants in housing stress”.  Not that Read the rest of this entry

Exchange with Sinn Fein

Much to my surprise I received an official email from Sinn Fein inviting me to join their on-line supporters’ group.

I replied to it as below. I could’ve said a lot more, but there’s no point in sending them a tirade of abuse (which was what was going through my head when I opened their email!) or trying to convince them of the error of their ways.

Here is my response; below that is their original email (I guess I got it because at some point I read AP/RN on-line or I ordered something from their on-line shop):


To: New Sinn Fein

I received your email with interest.

Since Sinn Fein has abandoned not only socialism but also, eventually, republicanism, I will not be taking up your offer to become an on-line supporter of New Sinn Fein.

Instead, I have joined Clann éirígí as I wish to give my support to the struggle for a 32-county socialist republic.

The Provisional leadership, or the main part of it, opted for an internal settlement in the north and is helping the Brits in running the six-county state, including administering capitalist austerity and hobnobbing with the parasites who sit atop Read the rest of this entry

Get involved in the éirígí local election campaigns

This May will see éirígí candidates stand for election to local authorities in Wexford, Wicklow, Dublin and Belfast. Although éirígí previously fielded candidates in the 2011 local elections in Belfast, this will be the first time that the party will contest elections on both sides of the border simultaneously.

A total of eight candidates will represent the party from the rural hinterland of New Ross on the Wexford / Waterford border, to the flats complexes of Dublin’s inner city, to the sprawling housing estates of West Belfast. Citizens of the towns, cities and counties that gave birth to the 1798, 1916 and 1969 insurrections are again on their streets, calling for the overthrow of the ancien régime and the establishment of a new all-Ireland socialist republic.

Between them the eight éirígí candidates have many decades of experience of political struggle in all of its forms. Trade unionists, community activists, Irish language advocates, former political prisoners all coming together to stand on a single, coherent ideological platform. The candidates are: Read the rest of this entry

UNITE and organising against Croke Park III

imagesby James Fearon

Rank-and-file Unite union members have expressed angry opposition to the Croke Park III agreement (called Haddington Road to protect the guilty.) The recent Belfast Conference saw the Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, using language that echoes James Connolly’s ’Old Wine in New Bottles’, say that workers would not be deceived by a deal that was the contents of the ‘Croke Park bottle’.

The radicalism did not last long. No sooner than we have been marched up the hill than the leadership are instructing us to turn around and march back down again. It should come as no surprise; we have been at this point of departure before when Unite rejected Croke Park I. Jimmy made exactly the same noises then but later went in to avoid being ‘victimised’. 

Only the incurably naïve could suggest that we take the bureaucracy’s rhetoric at face value. Radical speeches are followed by a climb down, in this case by means of a re-ballot with a recommendation to ‘accept’ coming from the leadership. 

For years the trade union leadership have hidden their betrayals behind the low level of industrial struggle and the concomitant low level of self confidence among workers. Promises of success at the negotiating table were always linked to reminders of unsuccessful attempts at industrial action. No mention is made of course that the lack of success was as often as not due to the Read the rest of this entry

Yes to industrial action, but a new political movement is needed too

ICTU head David Begg: an example of what Connolly thought of as the labour lieutenants of capital

ICTU head David Begg: an example of what Connolly thought of as the labour lieutenants of capital

by Philip Ferguson

Free State taoiseach Enda Kenny’s reaction to the public sector workers’ rejection of Croke Park 2 has been to declare that workers in this sector, by their vote, have stripped themselves of protection from redundancies.  In effect, on April 24 he was saying that public sector workers, no matter how they voted or how the bulk of people in the 26-counties see things, had to accept either pay cuts or redundancies.

Welcome to all capitalism has on offer to workers in Ireland, either side of the British state’s border.

Meanwhile the latest Red C / Sunday Business Post poll, the results of which appeared in last Sunday’s SBP (April 28), indicate that less than a third (30%) of respondents support cuts to public sector pay, while 56% of respondents said the government should accept the position of the unions following their rejection of Croke Park 2.  Just over two-thirds of people also thought that if there was any spare funds in the system these should be used to reduce taxes on working people.

The rejection of Croke Park 2 seems to have caught both government parties, Fine Gael and Labour, on the hop.  Labour’s Brendan Howlin, responsible for public expenditure, had already compiled budget figures based on acceptance of the deal; namely, €300 million of pay cuts.   On RTE radio’s This Week on April 28 Labour junior minister Alan Kelly reiterated that, while there was Read the rest of this entry

The Re-Imaging Programme in the six counties

by Irvine Forgan

“Our theatre critic Peter Crawley, writing in today’s paper of Friel’s portrait of lives ‘suspended between memory and hope, a misty past and uncertain future. . .’ could be describing the way many young people now see themselves. In truth, if we are redefining ourselves – our Irishness – at the moment, it is unfortunately largely in a discourse dominated by the negative. We are not Greeks. We are not Icelanders. We are not rich. We are not the citizens any more of a vibrant, confident state, but of a broken polity. We are no longer the masters we believed ourselves to be of our own fates, but hapless players of hands dealt to us by others, by huge uncontrollable forces beyond our understanding.”                                                           —The Irish Times, editorial of 17th March 2010.

A mural appeared in 1998 on the gable end of a house on Tavanagh Street in the mainly protestant Village area of Belfast. The iconography in this mural is a representation of Iron Maiden’s Eddie figure carrying a rifle, but no flag, with the scythe-carrying reaper in the background. Surrounded by the crests of the UFF and UDA and the writing —Ulster Freedom Fighters The Village, Donegall Rd, Ormeau Rd, Roden St, Lisburn Rd, Sandy Row” — it was located alongside an adjoining wall bearing the following message: —Through the lonely streets of Ulster, the Reaper come’s to call, he travel’s from town to city, right down to Derry’s wall. When the UFF they call him, to come and join the fight, he say’s if the bullet doesn’t kill them, they’ll surel’y die from fright. So when you’re in your bed at night, and hear soft footsteps fall, be careful it’s not the UFF and Reaper come to call.


Loyalist mural – Iron Maiden’s Eddy

Homi Bhabha’s term ‘grotesque mimicry’ is an appropriate classification of the representation in this mural. As part of his foundational analysis of colonial discourse and the emergence of ‘inappropriate’ colonial subjects, Homi Bhabha (1994) argues that the racial stereotype gives access to an identity that is predicated as much on mastery and pleasure as it is on anxiety and defence, that is to say it is a form of Read the rest of this entry


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