In this article, originally published in The Red Plough, Gerry Ruddy looks at the role of the working class in Irish politics: “Despite the influences of social democracy and reformism, despite the dominance of nationalist and unionist ideology, the working classes in Ireland still have tremendous revolutionary potential. That potential can be unleashed but only when both objective and subjective factors combine.”

The outcome of the ballots among the ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) affiliated unions over the Croke Park deal will be finally clear by next week when the SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional & Technical Union) and IMPACT (public and services union) ballot results are counted. A huge amount of pro deal propaganda has been brought to bear on the membership of the public sector unions, backed up by the trade union leadership who have been desperate to present the deal as the saviour of the Irish working class.

The isolation of electoral politics in the north of Ireland from that in Britain meant that the general election campaign and result were of a very different nature to the campaign elsewhere. The sectarian divide once again raised its ugly head as the dominant factor in politics in the north. Yet the result also highlighted discontent within the working class; Peter Robinson’s defeat in East Belfast demonstrated not just disgust at the actions of Peter and Iris Robinson but also with the expenses scandal and the degeneration of parliamentary politics.

The vote in the Dáil to force a by election in Donegal South West was defeated on the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle on Wednesday night (5th May). Although the vote was tied as a result (apparently an accidental result) of the failure of two FF TD’s to vote for their own side, it shows how wafer thin the position of the ruling coalition has become. This is a particularly bad situation for a government that seems hell bent on taking on the working class and holding the fort for the bourgeois.

The Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill is generating opposition from workers in the North because of its implications for trade union and political demonstrations organised by the trade union movement and protests against the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as community protests such as anti-racist demonstrations.

The next few weeks will be very important for the trade union movement in Ireland; either the Public Service Agreement will be rejected and the trade union leaders will be forced into organising action, or the government will get away with yet another attack on living standards and working conditions.

The ICTU leaders recently consulted their members over the “Public Service Agreement”. Most of the public sector unions have been rejecting the deal, which reveals that the workers are prepared to fight. But are the leaders up to the task?

A short report on last weekend’s commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising. This year the International Marxist Tendency was present at two of the commemorations in the north, and this report gives an assessment of the state of the republican movement at this juncture.

We are making available to our readers the editorial statement of the first printed issue of Fightback (Ireland), published just before Easter. As it states, “Neither social partnership in the south nor the TUV and ‘dissident’ republican terrorism in the north provides a way out. Connolly explained long ago that only the Irish working class stood alone as the incorruptible inheritor of the struggle for Irish freedom.”

This article which was written almost 70 years ago is interesting for a number of reasons, but we feel that it gives a clear exposition of the attitude that the Worker’s International League – to which the IMT trace our history, took towards the Republican movement.

We are delighted to announce the publication of Fightback: the magazine of the International Marxist Tendency in Ireland. The first edition of the magazine comes in two editions for the North and the South – they have different front and back pages and industrial material. This edition is full colour and has 20 pages.

Right across the British Isles public services are under attack. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have called two days of strikes against cuts in redundancy pay. The British Government has put a cap on redundancy and hope to save over £500 million. The union fears it is the beginning of both massive redundancies in the public service and also creeping privatisation of those same public services.

There is a lot of talk about normalising the statelet in the North of Ireland. But what has been “normal” here for the past century has been precisely civil unrest, sectarian violence and armed resistance to British rule. The way out of this impasse is to be found in directing discontent towards the road of class struggle.