Ireland

Following a wide scale and carefully orchestrated police operation aimed at disrupting ‘dissident republican’ activity and two nights of rioting in Lurgan, it would appear that the north of Ireland’s social peace has not been in such a fragile state since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement eleven years ago.

The NAMA legislation will be introduced into the Dáil this week. Numerous experts and organisations have been involved in trying to cobble together what is effectively a toxic dump to store the bad debts and poisonous relics of the “good old days”, days that is, which are well and truly gone. The economy is in crisis and the government is in deep trouble.

Karl Marx once observed that by means of Bourgeois Democracy the ruling class establishes an executive committee drawn from its own ranks that ruled in the interest of private property. During “normal” times the flotsam and jetsam of politics passes by without provoking much interest, but from time to time; particularly in times of acute economic and political crisis, the class nature of society is made absolutely clear. The next few weeks in the Oireachtas will reflect the crisis and the bourgeois response to it.

The resignation of two Fianna Fáil TDs from the party whip and the trickle of resignations of Sinn Féin councillors over the past period are both indications of the underlying issues and factors in Irish politics at the present time. Although the two parties face very different scenarios the uniting factor is the deep crisis in the Irish economy and the political situation that flows from it. The mass organisations of the working class, the trade unions and the Labour Party are also under strain, workers are looking for a way out of the current impasse

The view that the North had escaped the troubles and that there was a future based on a booming economy has been fast turned into its opposite over the last few months. Riots in nationalist areas following the Real/Continuity IRA attacks on the police and British army as well as increased violence surrounding this year’s orange marches have displayed an increase in social and political tensions. These events were not created in a vacuum and mirror the crisis in the economy. It was revealed this week that unemployment reached 51 000 in July. (Belfast Telegraph 12/8/09)

The Thomas Cook workers who occupied their shop for four days have now been released by the High Court having “purged their contempt”. But it’s going to take more than that to purge the contempt that many workers will feel for bosses who were prepared to use the law courts and, 80 heavy handed gards who turned up at 5am – when they thought there wouldn’t be an audience, to manhandle the 27 workers down to the courts. If ever anyone needed convincing of the way that the state apparatus acts in the interests of the bosses then this is a perfect example.

The AECI, one of the two employers organisations in the Registered Employment Agreement for the Electrical contracting industry has voted to reject the 4.95% settlement agreed in the Labour court recently.

After a week long strike that saw some 240 sites being picket by TEEU members the union has instructed the 10,500 strikers to return to work, following the decision of the Labour Court to recommend a 4.9% deal – to be paid in two installments; 2.5% in September and 2.4% in January. But, it would be a mistake to suggest that the dispute is over and done with.

The TEEU strike, that started Monday, might well represent a new sharp turn in the course of events. The 10,500 electricians punch well above their weight; they have industrial power beyond their numbers. They can stop constructions sites and factories nationwide. They deserve the full backing of the whole of the Irish labour movement.

The spending cuts recommended by An Bord Snip Nue will this time be extended to the unemployed and to child benefits. They reveal once more the class nature of the state and the FF/Green government. They will provoke a general reduction in living standards of workers. To reverse these attacks, unions must stop wasting precious time in useless negotiations with the government and start mobilising.

Irish civil servants face wholesale restructuring and even the closure of some departments. Public sector pay is also threatened. The An Bord Snip report, yet to be officially published, is a recipe for class conflict and the trade unions should act accordingly.

We share the revulsion of the hundreds of Belfast workers who demonstrated on the Lisburn Road against these racist attacks in Belgravia Avenue and Wellesley Avenue over the last week. We applaud the efforts of those workers who gathered together and offered their moral and practical support to the Roma people who were forced from their homes by the fascist thugs using the name of Combat 18 – the British fascist terror group.

The elections in Ireland revealed a historical opportunity for the left if the correct approach and ideas are adopted. In Dublin, in particular, there was a marked shift to the left. Now the workers will expect some real change from the left, which however is only possible by changing the right-wing reformist policies of the Labour Party, and building a united front of the left wherever possible.

If you hadn’t noticed, there is an election or rather a number of elections this week, what with the Euro Elections and the Council ones. Every lamp post, telegraph pole or slow moving animal has been festooned with posters for weeks. All of the hopefuls smile at you as you walk past, each photo carefully doctored so you can’t see the vampire fangs.

The workers of Ireland are feeling the pinch. The so called "Celtic Tiger" has proven itself to be an illusion. The Irish economy is now in free fall and the  government and the bosses are doing their best to make the workers pay for the crisis. The only way to stop this onslaught is through co-ordinated industrial action.

Recent weeks have seen Ireland bear witness to two factory occupations that subsequently inspired similar actions across Britain. These events are significant developments in class struggle in that they pose the question of whether power resides with the boss or the workers. It is fitting that these events should coincide with the ninetieth anniversary of the Limerick Soviet.

We publish for the interest of our readers this article from The Plough, the journal of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, as it makes many relevant points about the situation in Northern Ireland today. In particular it highlights the need for working class unity and class struggle as the only way out.

Despite being regarded as a central point in Irish history and an event that is widely recognised as pivotal to the traditions of republicanism little of the events of 1916 are retained in their popular representation as they have been surrounded by a systematic campaign of distortion almost since they took place.