Ireland

A recent article by Gary Mulcahy in the July/August edition of The Socialist dealt with the emergence of residents’ groups in North Belfast. The article was in line with the narrative that the Socialist Party espouses. Here Gerry Ruddy looks at where such a narrative leads in the context of the sectarian divided in the North of Ireland.

Over 1,000 junior doctors, members of Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), have voted by 97% in support of escalating their campaign up to and including strike action in opposition to massive workloads that breach the European Working Time Directive and shifts that can last more than 24 hours at a stretch.

Despite some jostling for position between the Fine Gael back benchers and Labour TD’s, Michael Noonan’s forthcoming Budget is set to add yet more pressure and hardship on hard pressed families across the state. The troika target of €3.1 billion in cuts and tax increases represents some €677 for every man, woman and child in the state.  Fine Gael TD’s are arguing for more and Noonan himself has said that “the next budget will be tough”. Since 2008 the total amount of cuts has hit €28.1bn; around €5,000 per head.

Friday 9th of August the forces of loyalism directed by the UVF and the Belfast Lodges of the Orange Order took over the main street in Belfast, Royal Avenue to block an anti-internment march. They rioted attacked the police, burnt cars and tried to attack the marchers.

As this article was written on 14 July, during reports of a fourth day of rioting involving the throwing of a pipe bomb at police officers in Crumlin Road in North Belfast and other clashes involving the use of petrol bombs in East Belfast are starting to appear in the media.

The Dublin lockout which took place from the 26th August 1913 to 18th January the following year stands as one of the most marked episodes of entrenched class conflict in Irish history.  Over 20,000 workers and 80,000 dependents were directly affected as over 400 employers locked out members of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) for refusing to sign a pledge to resign from the union and against sympathetic strike action. The city was paralysed by the dispute and saw pitched battles between scabs with police backing and picketing workers who went onto organise the Irish Citizens’ Army.

Several public sector as signalled that they are willing to fight the Croke Park 2 deal. This could set in motion a domino effectof more unions voting for strike actions.

The outcome of the SIPTU ballot on Croke Park 2 means that the proposals cannot be ratified when the ICTU Public Services Committee meets. This a serious blow to the coalition, as the government’s “Plan B” across the board pay cuts backed up by legislation; would most likely provoke a huge wave of strike action and opposition.

The death of Margaret Thatcher has provoked sickening images of odious politicians praising her role in British politics. She put the “Great” back into “Great Britain”, it is claimed. On the other hand there were public celebrations in some parts of Britain (and private celebrations all over Britain) and public expressions of joy in working class nationalist districts in Belfast and Derry.

The question of the border and the National Question in the North have played an enormous role in the history of Ireland. As such the question of a Border Poll is of great importance. Not least as it is some 40 years ago since the last poll of this character was conducted. The result in 1973 was overwhelmingly against a United Ireland, but as Catholic voters boycotted the poll the reality is that the result was a foregone conclusion.

News that five trade unions the INMO, IMO, Unite, ASTI and the Civil Public and Services Union have recommended rejection of the proposed Croke Park Deal will be welcomed by workers across the State affected by the proposals. Significantly the unions cover workers across a large part of the public sector including Education, Civil Servants and Health. INMO, IMO, Unite and the CPSU organise 70,000 members. That combined with opposition within IMPACT and SIPTU, from other workers in the 24/7 Frontline Alliance indicates that the deal is far from done. Significant also is that they are considering opposing the deal even if the big unions accept.

The latest Red C poll is the third such poll that indicates that Fianna Fáil has recovered its strength in the polls. At 26% support FF is within 2 points of Fine Gael. The recovery in the FF vote should be a wakeup call to Labour Party members that coalition government and collaboration with Fine Gael’s austerity programme cannot solve the problems of working people in the state.

In Ireland a deal has been reached about another round of redundancies and pension and wage cuts called Croke Park II. Over the next few weeks the debate within the unions and in the press will be fierce. All of the forces of the ruling class and the government will be unleashed to try and sell this deal through the press and the media and through management pressure. We publish here two articles from the Fightbackwebsite on the question.

The National Basketball Arena in Tallaght has 2,500 seats. All these were filled tonight not to mention that more than 1,000 other people were standing in the aisles and around the doors. The 24/7 Front Line Alliance pulls together general and psychiatric nurses, paramedics, prison officers, fire services and gardaí. The mood from the rally was clear; no more pay cuts.

On August 2007 just before the melt down in world capitalism the unemployment figure in the North of Ireland was  23,700. In December 2012 that figure was 62,200. It is the largest figure it has been for more than 15 years. (Irish News 24/1/12)