Ireland

James Connolly and Jim Larkin founded the Irish Labour Party in 1912, based on the trade union movement as a means to express the political and social aspirations of the Irish working class. Connolly understood that the working class needed to organize to combat British Imperialism and the rack renting landlords and the slave drivers of Belfast and the sweated trades owners of Dublin.  Connolly went to his death in 1916 as a workers leader who had fought his whole life in the interests of working people.

There has been a certain feeling over the past three or four years that we are living through history, the sort of history, that is, which people pick over many years into the future when they try to explain the factors that led to a war or a revolution for example.

RTÉ and the Irish press report fairly regularly about the workings of the Troika and the discussions Enda Kenny (leader of Fine Gael) and Michael Noonan (Minister of Finance) hold with European Union and the IMF, although the edited highlights and the “communiqués” don’t mention the small print. As many people behind on the mortgage will have found out to their cost over the last few years, the devil is in the detail.

RTÉ and the Irish press report fairly regularly about the workings of the Troika and the discussions Enda Kenny (leader of Fine Gael) and Michael Noonan (Minister of Finance) hold with European Union and the IMF, although the edited highlights and the “communiqués” don’t mention the small print. As many people behind on the mortgage will have found out to their cost over the last few years, the devil is in the detail.

By any standards a country whose young people are forced to leave for want of a future can’t be healthy. The Troika and the European Bond Markets speculators judge the health of nations by the “success” of their austerity measures in slashing public spending and attacking services. Most working people would consider how the old, children and women are supported. Economists look at the statistics for trade, earnings and GDP. One measure looks at the scale of inequality within society.

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.

We are publishing an extended version of a speech delivered by Gerry Ruddy at the recent Marxist Summer School in London (June 2012) attended by nearly 100 comrades, in which he outlines how Ireland came to be dominated by international capital after “independence”, confirming what James Connolly had predicted long ago, and explains how genuine national independence can only be achieved through socialism.

The flurry of articles in the Irish press over the last few days attacking the Croke Park Deal should not come as any surprise. However, it is noteworthy that these ladies and gentlemen chose the days after the referendum vote to start putting the boot in. After all, it would have been highly inconvenient and counterproductive to attack a large section of the voters who might draw the conclusion that the government parties Yes campaign was merely trying to set the austerity programme of the last few years into stone.

The Irish Times reports that as soon as the result of the referendum on the treaty appeared to be in the bag, Enda Kenny was on the phone to Angela Merkel presumably for a pat on the head as he reported on the completion of his mission. However, an Taoiseach and to a much greater extent Eamon Gilmore should be concerned about the concentration of No votes in the working class areas of Dublin and the border areas in the North West.

At Easter every year in every parish in Ireland and in many places around the world Irish Republicans gather to pay homage to those men and women who died in the struggle for independence. This year, 2012, will be no different. However, whereas 50 years ago there was only one Republican Movement, today there are at least seven different republican traditions that have emerged out of the northern struggle.

This year as every year there will be marches and commemorations attended by the various strands of Irish socialism and republicanism to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising. There will be a remembrance of those who fell in the struggle for national liberation and socialism in 1916, during the War of Independence and since then. Attention is already being given to the possible events to mark the centenary of the rising in 2016.

Belfast in 1907 was a hotbed of militancy.  It was the fastest growing city in the British isles. Its most successful industries were labour intensive. 

Catholics who have been born and raised up in the North of Ireland will have had some experience of being on the receiving end of comments like the following: Having a child with ADHD is “punishment for sleeping with a Catholic” or “no longer hangs out her washing at home, the smell of Catholics being atrocious." These comments were made in a workplace, not in a factory, not among blue collar workers - as polite society would have us all believe is the only place where sectarianism lurks - but in a social work setting.

Just short of a year since the General Election and the Croke Park Agreement is in the news once more. This is no surprise, we explained in advance that because of the economic situation any deal that was struck would be short lived. On the one side the Government would come back for more and the commitment to no wage cuts for four years would be meaningless. On the other hand the agreement to “reform” public services under these conditions was a sign of serious weakness from the ICTU leadership, which could lead to a serious assault on the working class. Less than 11 months after the General election a number of Fine Gael TD’s have demanded that the deal is dumped. Here’s what the

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When the Irish Catholic priest Fr. Hugh O’Donnell decided it was time to build a Catholic church in Belfast he had a problem: it costs a lot of money to build a church. The Catholic population of Belfast was too small and too poor to provide enough money, so if he had to rely on the Catholics alone it would take forever. He had to seek help elsewhere. So he asked the Protestants of Belfast to help him out. As you do.

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