Ireland

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.

On 20th October 2012 the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions organised thousands of trade union and community demonstrators in a march in Belfast for an alternative to the Westminster government's austerity policies. Speaker after speaker lambasted the policies of austerity.

News that Enda Kenny has been chosen as “European of the year” by a group of German Magazine Publishers makes sense only in the context that recently the European Union itself recently won the Nobel peace prize. We would have to ask the question “European what of the year?”

The decision of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group to withdraw from the United Left Alliance is an unwelcome symptom of the growing impasse within the ULA, previously reflected in the controversy over Mick Wallace and the departure of Clare Daly from the Socialist Party. The WUAG has a long standing base in South Tipperary and its departure will have an influence on the development of the ULA at a national level.