The power-sharing deal in the North of Ireland, established with the Good Friday Agreement, has broken down. The old system of rule no longer works, an indication of the pressures that flow from the economic crisis. Gerry Ruddy looks at why and how this has come about.

After Bus Éireann, a subsidiary of Ireland’s state-owned public transport operator (CIÉ) responsible for bus travel outside of Dublin, announced a swathe of attacks against workers and bus services, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) declared an all-out strike effective from midnight on 23rd March. The bus drivers have reacted to these attacks with fierce militancy. This struggle is a clear indication of the growing discontent and class anger building up across Ireland.  As cracks open up in the Fine Gael-led coalition government over everything from water charges to police corruption, it is clear that this weak and divided government can be brought down.

In the traditional Irish rural community of yesteryear there was a saying, “never speak ill of the dead”. Martin McGuinness’s body was scarcely cold before the keyboard “warriors” were launching attacks on his reputation.

The elections on 2nd March to the Northern Ireland Assembly have served to shatter all of the old certainties enshrined in the sectarian monolith established by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), now languishing in crisis. The elections have done nothing to shift the political deadlock. Instead they have brought to the surface all of the contradictions in the North, reflected in a sea-change in the balance of forces, with unionism losing its majority for the first time since partition.

On 9th January, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of the Stormont Assembly in Belfast, resigned in protest against the ongoing Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal. As the Assembly was unable to elect a new Deputy, new elections have been triggered, as required under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which are now scheduled for 2nd March.

On Sunday an official state ceremony was held in Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The officials present, including the men of the Church, represent a class that did not support the Rising in 1916, but who now wish to present themselves as heirs to that heroic struggle. Here Alan Woods exposes the utter hypocrisy of these people and recalls what the Rising was really about.

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