Ireland

The 12 July celebrations, 'The Twelfth', are the height of the marching season in Ireland. It's a day for Protestants and Unionists in Ireland to celebrate the defeat of the Jacobite forces by the Williamites in 1690. The parade was used politically by the Orange Order and reactionary loyalist forces to show their dominance in the North, especially in Belfast, often invoking sectarian riots and violence, which plague the Twelfth. In 1913, James Connolly, Irish revolutionary, explained his thoughts on this day, its real historical basis, and what it means to the people of Ireland.

"A week is a long time in politics”, or so the saying goes. 10 years in the political wilderness must have seemed a lifetime to the Green Party, those lackeys of Irish capitalism who so faithfully served Fianna Fáil as coalition “partners” in the Dáil of 2007-2011. There still exists intense, bitter feeling across much of Ireland toward that government for its criminal decadence and corruption, despite the suffering of ordinary Irish workers in the wake of the financial crash.

On 30 January, nurses and midwives across Ireland staged their first walkout in 20 years over the question of patient safety and pay. Of more than 40,000 nurses organised in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), 95 percent voted in favour of strike action. They were joined by the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA).

On 11 December, two weeks before Christmas, three middle-aged siblings – Anthony, David and Geraldine McGann – were brutally kicked out of the home that they shared on a farm in Co Roscommon, Ireland. The three were injured, as they were dragged by their ears and hair. Their assailants – a group of 20 private security personnel led by an ex-member of the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment – were executing an eviction order on behalf of KBC Bank. While this assault took place, the gardaí (Ireland’s police force) merely looked on.

On Friday 25 May, Ireland went to the polls to decide whether to repeal the 8th amendment of the constitution, which denied women the right to abortion as long as the unborn fetus had a heartbeat. Under these laws, which are part of the legacy of the Catholic Church’s domination of Ireland, abortion was illegal, even under the horrific circumstances of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities. The repeal of the 8th amendment is an epoch-making slap in the face against the Catholic Church and the establishment in the Republic.

Pro-choice rally in 2012

There were celebrations in the streets of Dublin as the conservative establishment in Ireland was dealt another heavy blow. The landslide vote to repeal the 8th amendment, which banned abortion in Ireland, follows the unexpected 'yes' result in the gay marriage referendum three years ago.

This week, on Friday 25 May, voters in the Republic of Ireland will go to polls to decide whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits women from obtaining an abortion. A Yes vote would pave the way for the government to legalise abortions, and would be a severe blow to the authority of the Catholic Church.

It has been nearly two years since the British public lobbed a grenade into the Tories’ lap by voting to leave the European Union. Since this particularly hot potato was chucked her way, May has made an art out of kicking the can down the road. But for how much longer? Recent events suggest her luck may just be running out.

One phone call from Arlene Foster to the British Prime Minister Theresa May was enough to halt a deal between the European Union and British government, already agreed on Monday 4 December. Arlene Foster is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland: a right-wing party with its roots in the anti-Catholicism of its former leader Ian Paisley. It is also pro-life, anti-gay and deeply reactionary.

On Monday 4 December, it was finally announced that a deal on phase one of the Brexit negotiations was about to be struck. The Financial Times lauded the Brexiteers' “surprising realism” in a negotiation described by one former head of the Treasury as more like a “drive-by shooting” than a negotiation.

As Brexit negotiations grind to a halt, big business is entering panic mode. A no deal, “train-crash” Brexit - the one scenario that capitalism wants to avoid at all costs - looms large. And caught on the tracks is Ireland, the only country that shares a land border with the UK.

TDs and Senators support #JobstownNotGuilty

Shortly after midday on 29th June, an eleven person jury delivered 6 unanimous verdicts of “not guilty” to spontaneous cheers in the courtroom at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The verdict brings to its conclusion a trial by means of which the Irish ruling class sought to bring an end to the fundamental democratic right to peaceful protest.

Tory-DUP coalition

After a thin Queen’s Speech and long negotiations, Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster finally appeared outside Downing Street earlier this week to shake hands on the deal that will keep May in power - for now.

The power-sharing deal in the North of Ireland, established with the Good Friday Agreement, has broken down. The old system of rule no longer works, an indication of the pressures that flow from the economic crisis. Gerry Ruddy looks at why and how this has come about.

After Bus Éireann, a subsidiary of Ireland’s state-owned public transport operator (CIÉ) responsible for bus travel outside of Dublin, announced a swathe of attacks against workers and bus services, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) declared an all-out strike effective from midnight on 23rd March. The bus drivers have reacted to these attacks with fierce militancy. This struggle is a clear indication of the growing discontent and class anger building up across Ireland.  As cracks open up in the Fine Gael-led coalition government over everything from water charges to police corruption, it is clear that this weak and divided government can be brought down.

In the traditional Irish rural community of yesteryear there was a saying, “never speak ill of the dead”. Martin McGuinness’s body was scarcely cold before the keyboard “warriors” were launching attacks on his reputation.

The elections on 2nd March to the Northern Ireland Assembly have served to shatter all of the old certainties enshrined in the sectarian monolith established by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), now languishing in crisis. The elections have done nothing to shift the political deadlock. Instead they have brought to the surface all of the contradictions in the North, reflected in a sea-change in the balance of forces, with unionism losing its majority for the first time since partition.

On 9th January, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of the Stormont Assembly in Belfast, resigned in protest against the ongoing Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal. As the Assembly was unable to elect a new Deputy, new elections have been triggered, as required under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which are now scheduled for 2nd March.

On Sunday an official state ceremony was held in Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The officials present, including the men of the Church, represent a class that did not support the Rising in 1916, but who now wish to present themselves as heirs to that heroic struggle. Here Alan Woods exposes the utter hypocrisy of these people and recalls what the Rising was really about.

Irish voters have decisively voted in favour of marriage equality, making Ireland the first country to do so through the ballot box. This was a victory of the future against the past, of the young against the old, of reason against ignorance, of the forward-looking urban areas against the old backward rural Ireland.

Sinn Féin made a big surge in the Euro and Council elections. What are the reasons behind this development? What programme does Sinn Féin propose? And what does the growth of SF mean for workers across the Island?

Ireland’s elections punished the coalition  government, disappointed the “official opposition” and allowed Sinn Féin the main Irish Republican Party to make gains. These reflect the failure of the Labour leaders to fight for an alternative and their collaboration with Fine Gael in delivering the austerity on behalf of the Troika.

Sixteen years after the Good Friday agreement and ever so conveniently, just after the European Elections, the Stormont Assembly will shortly face a show down on the question of Welfare Reform, which is likely to illustrate just how toothless and lame the Assembly really is. But most importantly it will demonstrate the relationship between the DUP, Sinn Féin and the Westminster Government.

Alan Shatter’s resignations from the posts of Minster of Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence may have apparently “astonished” the Dáil as the Irish Times reported a few days ago. But it is unlikely that many Dublin workers would have been surprised at the allegations made by the Garda whistleblowers regarding corruption over the cancellation of penalty points. Now, however, the proverbial pigeons have come home to the roost and the Garda Commissioner has resigned together with Shatter himself.

This Easter, as every year, socialists and Republicans across Ireland will commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. Yet with only 2 years to go until the centenary, and with rumours that Her Majesty will attend commemorations in 2016 the aim of the Workers’ Republic that James Connolly, commander of the Irish Citizens’ Army and military leader of the rising in 1916 fought for, appears as far off as ever. Six years into possibly the greatest economic crisis since Ireland was partitioned in 1921 the left, if anything, has gone backwards. This reflects a bending to opportunism, short-termism and a lack of a far-sighted Marxist perspective within Labour or any of the small forces to their

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We republish here an article by Gerry Ruddy, originally written for the Red Plough, which looks at the politics of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein, who have accepted the capitalist system and ignored the class question in relation to the north of Ireland.

American diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan , were invited to Belfast by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to seek an agreement over the issues of parades, flags and the legacy of the past. After a month long marathon of talks and discussions and brinksmanship over the last few days of December  Haass produced a seventh version of the draft agreement for the five largest parties to sign up to. Both the Unionist Parties rejected the proposals, while the SDLP and Sinn Féin accepted them.  Since then the SF Ard Comhairle has voted to accept the proposals. The position of the Unionist parties and those of Sinn Féin and the SDLP reveal much about the underlying

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Michael Noonan’s Budget 2014 will take a further €2.5bn out of the economy;  in other words a figure of around €600 for every man, woman and child in the state. It is evident also that as anticipated the losers are the old, the sick and the young unemployed.

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)

While the opening skirmishes in the renegotiation of the Croke Park Agreement have played out behind closed doors, the battle lines have been drawn for some time. Within months of the General Election  Fine Gael TD’s were baying for Croke Park to be torn up or at least savaged. The employers organisations, and of course all the fine ladies and gentleman of the press have all weighed in. As we have reported previously one particularly unpleasant Independent journalist even tried to bring poor James Connolly in on the side of the Government. No one with even the minimum knowledge of Connolly, or the miserable counter revolutionary history of the Independent would be fooled by that

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Once again Irish workers, faced with redundancy have been forced to take action to fight for what is due them. HMV staff in Limerick, Cork and Dublin occupied their workplaces in an effort to ensure that the receive pay owed them by the company. These are but the latest example of workers with their backs to the wall taking sit in action. After discussions with the Administrators the occupations in Limerick have now ended and the workers will receive their back pay. Why? Because they disobeyed their master's voice.

It is now some six weeks since protestant demonstrations began after Belfast City Council decided to fly the Union flag over Belfast City Hall only on specific days, rather than on every day of the year. Last night and again today loyalists clashed with catholics near the Short Strand, a catholic area in East Belfast that has been subjected to many sectarian attacks over the years.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron uses words such as “shocking” to refer to the activities of his own security forces then you know something is up. He was responding to the publication of the de Silva report, a review of the papers accumulated from different investigations carried out by different agencies of the British state into the death of Pat Finucane, which show that there was indeed collusion between the British state and those who murdered him back in 1989.

The recent killing of a prison warden from Maghaberry prison, by an as yet unknown republican grouping, has sent shock waves through the body politic. Many had assumed that as a result of the outpourings of both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement the days of violence were behind us.

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