Ireland

It was announced last week on Thursday [September 30, 2010] that the cost of bailing out AIB has reached €29.5 billion, which might in fact be €34 billion; and that the total cost of the bailout could be €46 billion, some 32% of Gross Domestic Product. The implications of this are a recipe for class struggle and massive turbulence within the state.

The last few days have seen a flurry of activity, the AIB bill has been presented, the polls show Labour miles ahead of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The economy is faltering and there is a four year budget plan on the way, although it is unlikely to be delivered to Leinster House via a cement lorry. But what are the prospects for the main parties and how do the trade union struggles over the last two years fit into the equation?

Capitalism is in a deep crisis and the bourgeois are planning austerity programmes that could last for a generation. The crisis in the north took longer to hit, but that’s all changed. The Tories have already telegraphed the likely cuts in the north and the CBI has weighed in with its “advice” on how to deal with the crisis. But what would their proposals mean?

As part of his campaign for General Secretary of UNITE Jerry Hicks will be addressing a series of public meetings and visiting a number of workplaces across Ireland this week (beginning the 27th September).

There are storm clouds on the horizon for the economy in the North. While the recession took longer to bite than in the south this only reflects the weakness of capitalism and the predominance of public sector employment. There are now as many people who are economically inactive (26%) than work in “private industry”. But the crisis has now caught up with a vengeance and it is only going to get worse.

Symptoms are the physical signs of an underlying problem. At the moment the Irish economy has a series of symptoms which would send the average doctor fleeing to the hills. But according to the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, everything is stable and the economy is fine thank you very much. Of course Mr Lenihan’s analysis was designed for the press and to settle the nerves of the international speculators.

A ban on trade union donations to the Labour Party will not benefit anyone other than the enemies of the working class and the organised working class in particular.

The Green Party leader John Gormley has announced that the ban is to be introduced, alongside a ban on corporate donations, so much for the Green Party’s veneer of radicalism. This “radicalism” has become very stale and particularly mouldy also. Of course the proposed legislation is designed to appear even handed.

Recently we reported on the vote of the public sector unions to back the Croke Park Deal. We argued that despite the apparent victory of the ideas of “Social Partnership” as espoused by Peter McLoone and David Begg; under the present conditions it would be extremely difficult for any deal to be brokered that was worth the paper it was written on.

There’s been a steady procession of attacks on the public sector over the last couple of years. Wage cuts, levies and a deluge of propaganda. We’ve made the point elsewhere that the FF and the Greens are in a cul de sac, they are most likely going to be slaughtered in the next general election. So by all accounts they have nothing to lose. They have launched a one sided civil war against the working class at the behest of the bourgeois, the home grown variety of course, but also the multi nationals based in London and New York.

The Saville report, almost 40 years since the events, has declared that those killed by British paratroopers were indeed innocent, something the people of Derry had known all along. Now there is an attempt to distance the British authorities from those tragic events and put the blame solely on this or that officer or soldier. Gerry Ruddy comments on why those events took place, the results that flowed from them and the lessons that need to be learnt.

The strategy of British imperialism in the north of Ireland has changed; the emphasis has been to reach some sort of “truth and reconciliation”. That explains why 38 years on the Saville report has declared the victims to be innocent. But today the contradictions in the north are increasing and the cul-de-sac of the Stormont assembly represents no solution for workers from either a catholic or protestant background.

In this article, originally published in The Red Plough, Gerry Ruddy looks at the role of the working class in Irish politics: “Despite the influences of social democracy and reformism, despite the dominance of nationalist and unionist ideology, the working classes in Ireland still have tremendous revolutionary potential. That potential can be unleashed but only when both objective and subjective factors combine.”

The outcome of the ballots among the ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) affiliated unions over the Croke Park deal will be finally clear by next week when the SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional & Technical Union) and IMPACT (public and services union) ballot results are counted. A huge amount of pro deal propaganda has been brought to bear on the membership of the public sector unions, backed up by the trade union leadership who have been desperate to present the deal as the saviour of the Irish working class.

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