Ireland

A remarkable document written by a Republican Socialist, Ta Power, while in gaol in Ireland in the mid-Eighties. The significance of the conclusions drawn by this young thinker and fighter, who made a careful study of Marxism whilst imprisoned, will not be lost on our readers. Above all the demand that politics and ideology must play the central role in the struggle for national liberation and socialism, in the building of a revolutionary party of the working class, will come as a surprise to many, especially knowing the period and the circumstances in which this document was written. With an introduction by Gerry Ruddy.

Voters in the north of Ireland have delivered their verdict on the Stormont Assembly. As we have consistently explained the Good Friday Agreement, and the institutions of devolution associated with it, could never begin to solve the problems facing ordinary working people no matter what their background. Indeed the divide between Catholics and Protestants has never been wider. The election result itself demonstrates a further polarisation in the shape of Paisley's DUP becoming the main Unionist Party, while Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP as the main Nationalist party.

The ongoing conflict between the management of An Post (the Irish state run postal services) and the Communication Worker’s Union (CWU) may end up with 1,450 workers losing their jobs, the reduction of workers’ incomes, and the subcontracting of deliveries of mail in rural areas, if the CWU doesn’t stand up against these attacks.

Voters in the north of Ireland have delivered their verdict on the Stormont Assembly. As we have consistently explained the Good Friday Agreement, and the institutions of devolution associated with it, could never begin to solve the problems facing ordinary working people no matter what their background. Indeed the divide between Catholics and Protestants has never been wider. The election result itself demonstrates a further polarisation in the shape of Paisley's DUP becoming the main Unionist Party, while Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP as the main Nationalist party.

In response to the way globalisation affects road transport workers the T&G in the UK and Ireland is launching a pilot project to recruit non-English speaking international drivers, whose pay and conditions are inferior to both EU and UK wages and conditions.

The Irish Republican movement has been struggling for a united Ireland for decades. Today it is no nearer this objective than when it was founded. Marxists understand that a united Ireland can only be achieved on a socialist basis. So long as capitalism dominates Ireland there will be division and strife. Therefore it is time to take stock of the past of the Republican movement and to draw a balance sheet. Only by such means can we build the revolutionary movement urgently needed to prevent a further descent into sectarian chaos and achieve instead the historic task of overthrowing capitalism and constructing the 32 county Socialist Republic.

In Southern Ireland, the economic miracle is well and truly over. As we have predicted and explained for some time now, the Celtic Tiger phenomenon, did not mean that capitalism had solved any of its contradictions. On the contrary the boom in the south was based on an increased intensification of the exploitation of labour through a series of so-called social partnership deals, and a heavy reliance on the world market. As the world market dips into recession and drags the southern economy along with it the bosses intend to turn the screw even tighter on the working class in an attempt to maintain their profits.

In Southern Ireland the economic miracle is well and truly over. As we have predicted and explained for some time now, the Celtic Tiger phenomenon did not mean that capitalism had solved any of its contradictions. Now in the context of a declining world market the only road open to the bosses to protect their profits will be an assault on workers living standards.

The devolved assembly at Stormont was suspended for the fourth time six months ago in October 2002. Now Blair, Ahern, Adams and Trimble are attempting to raise it from its coffin once more. Democracy, or what passes for it in Belfast, can be switched on and off like a tap it seems. The Stormont assembly represents not an attempt to solve the problems facing ordinary working people, but a scheme to share power between representatives of the main sectarian parties.

The election of a Labour Government in Britain has raised enormous expectations, not least by workers in Northern Ireland who are looking for a way out of the impasse they have faced for nearly a century. Yet the Labour leadership remain tied to a "bi-partisan" approach that has solved nothing in the past, and looks set to present more of the same for the future. In a short series of articles, Cain O'Mahoney examines labour's role in Northern Ireland and the lessons that must be learnt.

The partition of Ireland, following the Government Of Ireland Act in 1920, gave strength to the reactionary 'theory' that has always been perpetuated by pro-Unionist elements amongst the Northern labour movement that workers' interests were better served by maintaining the link with British capitalism.

After 1945, British imperialism had a different agenda for Northern Ireland. Ireland had been partitioned in 1920 to keep hold of the profitable industries of the North, as well as the important military bases that protected Britain's western flanks. More importantly however, Partition served to act as a break on the growing social revolution that accompanied the struggle for national liberation in Ireland, which had included land and factory seizures by the workers.

The decision by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson to send British troops into Northern Ireland in 1969 reflected that government's abandonment of any semblance of socialist policies. It was a squandered opportunity that tied the Labour leadership to the blind alley of 'bipartisanship' for the next three decades.

For the fourth time in its short existence the Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended. On Monday October 14, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, announced that London was once again imposing direct rule. The whole process has been like a perverse game in which the workers hopes are constantly sent sliding backwards.

The only way out, the labour movement

Recent events in Northern Ireland have shown the volatility and underlying weakness inherent in the 'peace process.' Despite the ceasefire, despite hours and hours of talks between all the various sectarian politicians and the governments in London, Dublin and Washington, little or nothing has changed.