The cuts announced by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer represent around 6.9% in headline public spending cuts in the North over the next four years. This amounts to some £4 billion in revenue spending, but there is also a 40% reduction to come in capital spending on roads, hospitals and other public projects.

The Sunday Independent carried several articles in its October 10th edition leaving absolutely no room for doubt that the knives are being sharpened and the target is the Croke Park Agreement. Such is the venom for the trade unions and the working class that even James Connolly was dragged into the argument – on the side of the bosses! Here we outline some of the arguments from the Sunday Independent and we also let James Connolly speak for himself.

News that Green Party Leader John Gormley would like to see a National Government to sort out the crisis in the economy has now been replaced with the revelation that he believes it’s “too early” to talk about such things. However, it appears that moves are afoot on behalf of the Green Party to draw the opposition parties into cross party talks around plans for the €7bn super budget which will be presented by Brian Lenihan to cover the next four years.

It was announced last week on Thursday [September 30, 2010] that the cost of bailing out AIB has reached €29.5 billion, which might in fact be €34 billion; and that the total cost of the bailout could be €46 billion, some 32% of Gross Domestic Product. The implications of this are a recipe for class struggle and massive turbulence within the state.

The last few days have seen a flurry of activity, the AIB bill has been presented, the polls show Labour miles ahead of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The economy is faltering and there is a four year budget plan on the way, although it is unlikely to be delivered to Leinster House via a cement lorry. But what are the prospects for the main parties and how do the trade union struggles over the last two years fit into the equation?

Capitalism is in a deep crisis and the bourgeois are planning austerity programmes that could last for a generation. The crisis in the north took longer to hit, but that’s all changed. The Tories have already telegraphed the likely cuts in the north and the CBI has weighed in with its “advice” on how to deal with the crisis. But what would their proposals mean?

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