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.

Within the last couple of weeks there has been yet another outbreak of youth protest internationally with the huge movement in Spain which encompasses some 80 cities and now a new movement in Greece has erupted. Meanwhile in North Africa and the Middle East new waves of struggle are being prepared. However, if the Irish press are to believed the waves of struggle that are affecting everywhere else will barely cause a ripple in good ould Ireland. After all, with the royal and presidential distractions of the last few weeks, the only revolting youth to get any coverage in Ireland were Jedward.

The announcement that the Irish banking sector needs another €24 billion, that’s €24,000,000,000 in real numbers or another €5,500 for every Irish man, woman and child, is another sign of the capitalist crisis in the state. Standard and Poor’s one of the main international credit agencies has now downgraded Ireland by a further point.

Some commentators described it as a “democratic revolution.” They were not talking about the current uprisings in parts of North Africa or the wave of mass demonstrations across the Middle East. Rather they were talking about the results of the 26-county elections, which saw the dominant force, Fianna Fail reduced to a mere handful of seats, 20 in all.

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