Category Archives: six counties

The 1932 Belfast Outdoor Relief riots and lessons for today

Seán Mitchell, Struggle or Starve: Working-Class Unity in Belfast’s 1932 Outdoor Relief Riots, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2017

Does intense class conflict with bosses, cops and government necessarily lead workers to draw radical conclusions asks Barney Cassidy? To put the question another way, does struggle mean that the working class becomes conscious of what is in its own best interests?

In 1922 striking miners defending their jobs in the South African town of Witwatersand fought gun battles in the streets killing about 70 troops. The political conclusion those white workers drew from their experiences was that they needed a Nationalist-Labour Pact with the Afrikaaner Nationalist Party. This was despite the involvement of the newly founded Communist Party of South Africa in the struggle. Even intense and bloody class conflict is no guarantee that the working class will necessarily act in its own best interests.

That’s a lesson it’s worth holding in mind when reflecting on politics in the north of Ireland.

Seán Mitchell, a member of Read the rest of this entry

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In review: UVF – behind the mask

I agree with most of this review.  And the review is well worth reading and thinking about, which is why I’ve reblogged it.  However, it also has a problem.  Mike M notes that whenever catholic and protestant workers have united, the protestant establishment has played the Orange card, and this has always succeeded in getting the protestant workers to split and line up again behind their exploiters.  Very true.  Yet, at the end of the review, what does Mike suggest? 

Well, he suggests protestant and catholic workers unting on economic issues!  The reason is that the political tendency Mike identifies with has never understood the importance of the national question.  At least, unlike the CWI followers in Ireland, they recognise that there is a national question; but they fail to integrate it into the reasons for the divisions in the working class in the north-east. 

So Mike falls back into suggesting as a road forward something he has already identified as failing!  Moreover, as Seamus Costello noted way back in the 1970s, you can’t trick the protestant working class into a false unity by ignoring the national question; they’re not stupid.  You have to be honest with them on the national question.  Instead of adopting a partitionist view which focuses on uniting wage-workers in the six counties across the sectarian divide, by ignoring the national question, it is necessary to counterpose the solving together of the national and class questions through uniting the mass of the Irish working class on an all-island basis.  This points to an all-Ireland workers’ republic in which the protestant workers would be free, instead of being the alienated tools of imperialism. – P.F.

Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask, Dublin, Merrion Press, 2017, £14.99; reviewed by Mike Milotte.

UVF: Behind the Mask is a vast if somewhat episodic account of the killings, feuds and internal factionalism of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force written by a lecturer at Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training college. It would barely merit mention in this journal* were it not for its underlying, yet never fully argued thesis that Ulster loyalism is a genuine expression of Protestant working class discontent, while the violent conflict in Northern Ireland in which the UVF played such a significant part, was an “ethnic civil war”.

The author, Aaron Edwards, comes from an area of Belfast where the UVF was particularly active. During the “peace process” he befriended several leading UVF figures, one of whom persuaded him to write this book. While he rejects UVF violence, the book itself is permeated with a sense of Edwards’ high opinion of some of its worst perpetrators.

Socialists or pro-imperialists?

Edwards expresses sympathy for the views of former UVF men who have declared themselves to be socialists, but his key formulations are clearly at odds with the view of most left-wing activists and writers for whom working class loyalism is a form of Read the rest of this entry

March for women’s right to choose, Dublin, Saturday, September 30

The 6th annual March For Choice is taking place this Saturday, 30th September, assembling at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square from 1.30pm, before marching to Leinster House at 2pm.

 

Rich and poor in Belfast and the six counties

From the latest Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report (#4) (with thanks to Liam O’Ruairc):

•In terms of being endowed with multi-millionaires, Belfast is proportionally banking way above its weight with 35.8 multi-millionaires per 100,000 population, third only to oil-rich Aberdeen (53.0) and London (51.6). Yet as a region, NI has the highest proportion of households with no savings accounts and the highest proportion of households deriving income from disability benefit.

•The “Wallace Park” council ward in Lisburn is the least deprived ward in NI. Whiterock in Belfast is the most deprived. Of the top 20 least-deprived wards, four have switched between the 2001 census and the most recent 2011 census from being majority Protestant to being majority Catholic: “that the four new areas are all in Peter Robinson’s Castlereagh constituency is evidence of a remarkable Read the rest of this entry

David Reed’s 1988 review of Republican POWs’ Questions of History

 

downloadby David Reed

The defeat of the hunger strike in 1981 was a severe setback for the Republican Movement. While initially, in the wake of the heroic sacrifice of the prisoners, certain political gains were made especially on the electoral front, the last few years have not seen any significant political advances by the revolutionary forces in Ireland.

The greater emphasis on electoral work and the decision to reject abstentionism in elections to the Dail has not led to the gains clearly expected. The work around ‘economic and social’ issues has not yet produced any substantial results. The revolutionary forces in Ireland have been unable to halt the growing collaboration between British imperialism and the puppet governments in the Twenty Six Counties. Finally, on the military level, the stalemate which has existed for some time between the IRA and the British and loyalist security forces remains.

Inevitably in such a period every revolutionary movement is forced to reassess and rethink its strategy if the impasse is to be broken. The Republican Movement is no exception. It is in this context that we should welcome Questions of History written by Irish Republican Prisoners of War and produced by the Education Department of Sinn Fein ‘for the purpose of promoting political discussion’. Part I has so far been made available and covers the period from Wolfe Tone to the Republican Congress (1934).

The book is a valuable historical document which uses the history of the Republican struggle as a vehicle for raising crucial Read the rest of this entry

Statement from Republican Prisoners Roe 4 Maghaberry 26/07/16

Statement from Republican Prisoners Roe 4 Maghaberry 26/07/16

Over recent weeks Republican Prisoners have noted increasing repression towards Republican Prisoners by the Jail Administration. During this time we have also witnessed the appointment of another Unionist Stormont Justice Minister, with DUP fundamentalists obtaining key positions also on the Justice Committee. Similarly, we have witnessed the appointment of a British Secretary of State with a background in security under a Thatcher style British Prime Minister.

It is against this backdrop that a new Read the rest of this entry

Speech by RNU’s Paul Crawford at July 3 Newry anti-internment rally

13393911_1728270154112192_6645445412543553767_n“I’d like to begin by thanking the organisers of today’s picket for asking myself to represent the Republican Network for Unity and our POW’s department Cogus here this afternoon. It’s a privilege and an honour to address you all.

“The fact that we are here for the 3rd year in a row is evidence that Internment as a tactic to disrupt political activity is very much alive but also that our opposition to Internment is equally alive.

“In order to oppose Internment we must first understand what it is and what it is used for. In many ways the word has been over used and as such has lost much of its impact and meaning. There are those who would say that everyone incarcerated by the British or the Free State are interned. There are those who would state that while all internees are political prisoners, not all political prisoners are internees.

“For our purposes, however, it is enough to state that the original definition of internment is correct. Those who are detained without charge for the political expediency of the state. People like my comrade Tony Taylor, a perfect example of internment by the state to prevent and hamper legitimate political activity.
Tony, like Martin Corey before him, has been remanded in custody at the behest of the British secretary of state. No semblance of a trial, no pretence of a trial. Secret evidence that can’t be disclosed and won’t be disclosed because it doesn’t exist.

“We have miscarriages of justice like the cases of the Craigavon 2, men who have been deliberately framed on the word of informers and Walter Mittys. Set up by the dirty hand of the British security apparatus and practically ignored by the political elite despite a growing realization that these men are innocent across the board. Read the rest of this entry

Maghaberry prison administration steps up aggression

13567179_1025555037513181_8802081204186951436_nStatement by prisoners, July 1, 2016:

Yesterday the naked aggression of the Maghaberry administration toward republican political prisoners was once again exposed. The day of sinister events began at 11am when the notorious riot team raided three cells on Roe 3 occupied by Cogús republican prisoners. The three political prisoners concerned were not present in Roe House during this lockdown raid due to parole, court and visiting arrangements.

The day’s events then culminated during the evening lockup when once again the riot team entered Roe 3 and forcibly removed political prisoner and current internee Tony Taylor from Roe House and moved him to the jail’s punishment block – the SSU.

The prison administration and particularly security governor Brian Armour and Ciaran McGuinness over recent months have been overt in their attempts to fuel conflict through introducing red herring arguments to deflect possible resolutions to the main issues and systematically playing Machiavellian games.

Yesterday’s events can only be seen as a plan to further intensify tensions in Roe House. Cogús republican prisoners will not stand idle and let such antagonistic actions go unchallenged, though in contrast to the bigoted reactionary forces, we will meet their provocations in a disciplined and an organised manner, employing an intelligent and practical strategy to ensure our rights as political prisoners are won.

Cogús POWs
Roe 3, Maghaberry
1/7/16

Workers and the way forward: a socialist-republican perspective

In order to get real action, the workers will need to act for themselves not rely on ICTU leadership

by Philip Ferguson

It seems a long time now since trade union members in the south of Ireland voted to reject Croke Park 11, a deal promoted by leaders of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in partnership with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government in Dublin.  The current coalition, like the Fianna Fail/Green coalition that preceded it, has sought to make southern Irish workers pay for the financial crisis of Irish banks and the meltdown of the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.

For several decades the bulk of the union leadership has pushed tripartite deals with the bosses and the state, a ‘partnership’ model which has been held up by union leaderships as far afield as New Zealand as worth emulating.  But these tripartite deals did not deliver to workers even during the ‘good times’ of the ‘boom’ periods in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Now the boom has turned to bust the partnership model has simply locked unions into accepting responsibility for the financial crisis and agreeing to the austerity measures demanded by the Troika.

Rhetoric v resistance

The leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has engaged in some token rhetoric about ‘sharing the  burden’ of the crisis and they have marched workers up and down the hill and then sent them home a couple of times.  But, in general, they have acted as faithful lieutenants of the state and capital, serving more to Read the rest of this entry

DUP-Sinn Fein cuts

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