Ireland

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?

As part of his campaign for General Secretary of UNITE Jerry Hicks will be addressing a series of public meetings and visiting a number of workplaces across Ireland this week (beginning the 27th September).

There are storm clouds on the horizon for the economy in the North. While the recession took longer to bite than in the south this only reflects the weakness of capitalism and the predominance of public sector employment. There are now as many people who are economically inactive (26%) than work in “private industry”. But the crisis has now caught up with a vengeance and it is only going to get worse.

Symptoms are the physical signs of an underlying problem. At the moment the Irish economy has a series of symptoms which would send the average doctor fleeing to the hills. But according to the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, everything is stable and the economy is fine thank you very much. Of course Mr Lenihan’s analysis was designed for the press and to settle the nerves of the international speculators.

A ban on trade union donations to the Labour Party will not benefit anyone other than the enemies of the working class and the organised working class in particular.

The Green Party leader John Gormley has announced that the ban is to be introduced, alongside a ban on corporate donations, so much for the Green Party’s veneer of radicalism. This “radicalism” has become very stale and particularly mouldy also. Of course the proposed legislation is designed to appear even handed.

Recently we reported on the vote of the public sector unions to back the Croke Park Deal. We argued that despite the apparent victory of the ideas of “Social Partnership” as espoused by Peter McLoone and David Begg; under the present conditions it would be extremely difficult for any deal to be brokered that was worth the paper it was written on.

There’s been a steady procession of attacks on the public sector over the last couple of years. Wage cuts, levies and a deluge of propaganda. We’ve made the point elsewhere that the FF and the Greens are in a cul de sac, they are most likely going to be slaughtered in the next general election. So by all accounts they have nothing to lose. They have launched a one sided civil war against the working class at the behest of the bourgeois, the home grown variety of course, but also the multi nationals based in London and New York.

The Saville report, almost 40 years since the events, has declared that those killed by British paratroopers were indeed innocent, something the people of Derry had known all along. Now there is an attempt to distance the British authorities from those tragic events and put the blame solely on this or that officer or soldier. Gerry Ruddy comments on why those events took place, the results that flowed from them and the lessons that need to be learnt.

The strategy of British imperialism in the north of Ireland has changed; the emphasis has been to reach some sort of “truth and reconciliation”. That explains why 38 years on the Saville report has declared the victims to be innocent. But today the contradictions in the north are increasing and the cul-de-sac of the Stormont assembly represents no solution for workers from either a catholic or protestant background.