Ireland

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.

There are many ways to judge the health of a society. The speculators in the European Bond Markets judge the health of nations by the state of their public finances; socialists and trade unionists point to the way that old people and children are treated and especially the position of women in society. Economists look at the volume of imports and exports and at the rate of economic growth.  One measure looks at the scale of inequality within society.

While between 2 and 3 million struck in Britain, in the North of Ireland about 200,000 people took part in the Public Sector  strike action on 30th November. Schools and civil service offices were shut, as were job centres and council services. Rail and bus services were non-existent. Union members held marches, pickets, and rallies throughout the country over the issue of pensions. The main rally took place in Belfast city centre, where around 15,000 gathered and several thousands spread over Craigavon, Omagh, Armagh, Ballymena, Derry and other towns.

Last Thursday’s by election in Dublin West came down to a three horse race between Councillor Patrick Nulty of Labour who won and Councillor Ruth Coppinger of the Socialist Party who came third, while Fianna Fáil (FF) squeezed into second place after a tie for second and third place – on the basis that they had more first preference votes.

The Greek working class has moved decisively into action. The last few days in Greece have demonstrated that faced with an approaching economic calamity the workers are prepared to fight to defend their living standards and their jobs also. However, the bankers and the various competing European powers have no option but to fight for their own interests and will fight to the last gasp. The scene is set for further conflict in the euro zone between the increasingly divergent interests of the European states and between the classes in each of the European countries.

 The decision of the Secretary Of State to revoke Marian Price’s release from prison has been met with widespread opposition from the Republican movement. The justification given was that the threat that she poses has “significantly increased” and that she had been encouraging support for an illegal organisation based on her involvement in an Easter comm

The Nama Wine Lake Blog recently exposed the scandalous statistic that while there are some 300,000 vacant houses in the state, there are still some 100,000 households on the list for state housing. Nama Wine Lake estimates that this represents a minimum of 176,147 people. Even a very conservative estimate of the “overhang” of vacant properties – excluding holiday homes indicates that there are some 100,000 vacant homes - 23 -33,000 of which are on the so called “ghost estates”.

The 24 hour strike by UNISON members to defend Health and Education Services in the North is an indication of the scale of the crisis in the public sector. But its also the most significant trade union struggle to hit the North since the onset of the current economic crisis.

The UVF attacks on the Short Strand area of Belfast over the last days and the clashes between Catholic and Protestant youth demonstrate that despite the claims of the various ministers at Stormont, the underlying tensions and conflicts in the North have neither been resolved nor overcome.