Ireland

TDs and Senators support #JobstownNotGuilty

Shortly after midday on 29th June, an eleven person jury delivered 6 unanimous verdicts of “not guilty” to spontaneous cheers in the courtroom at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The verdict brings to its conclusion a trial by means of which the Irish ruling class sought to bring an end to the fundamental democratic right to peaceful protest.

Tory-DUP coalition

After a thin Queen’s Speech and long negotiations, Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster finally appeared outside Downing Street earlier this week to shake hands on the deal that will keep May in power - for now.

The power-sharing deal in the North of Ireland, established with the Good Friday Agreement, has broken down. The old system of rule no longer works, an indication of the pressures that flow from the economic crisis. Gerry Ruddy looks at why and how this has come about.

After Bus Éireann, a subsidiary of Ireland’s state-owned public transport operator (CIÉ) responsible for bus travel outside of Dublin, announced a swathe of attacks against workers and bus services, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) declared an all-out strike effective from midnight on 23rd March. The bus drivers have reacted to these attacks with fierce militancy. This struggle is a clear indication of the growing discontent and class anger building up across Ireland.  As cracks open up in the Fine Gael-led coalition government over everything from water charges to police corruption, it is clear that this weak and divided government can be brought down.

In the traditional Irish rural community of yesteryear there was a saying, “never speak ill of the dead”. Martin McGuinness’s body was scarcely cold before the keyboard “warriors” were launching attacks on his reputation.

The elections on 2nd March to the Northern Ireland Assembly have served to shatter all of the old certainties enshrined in the sectarian monolith established by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), now languishing in crisis. The elections have done nothing to shift the political deadlock. Instead they have brought to the surface all of the contradictions in the North, reflected in a sea-change in the balance of forces, with unionism losing its majority for the first time since partition.

On 9th January, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of the Stormont Assembly in Belfast, resigned in protest against the ongoing Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal. As the Assembly was unable to elect a new Deputy, new elections have been triggered, as required under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which are now scheduled for 2nd March.

On Sunday an official state ceremony was held in Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The officials present, including the men of the Church, represent a class that did not support the Rising in 1916, but who now wish to present themselves as heirs to that heroic struggle. Here Alan Woods exposes the utter hypocrisy of these people and recalls what the Rising was really about.

Irish voters have decisively voted in favour of marriage equality, making Ireland the first country to do so through the ballot box. This was a victory of the future against the past, of the young against the old, of reason against ignorance, of the forward-looking urban areas against the old backward rural Ireland.

Sinn Féin made a big surge in the Euro and Council elections. What are the reasons behind this development? What programme does Sinn Féin propose? And what does the growth of SF mean for workers across the Island?

Ireland’s elections punished the coalition  government, disappointed the “official opposition” and allowed Sinn Féin the main Irish Republican Party to make gains. These reflect the failure of the Labour leaders to fight for an alternative and their collaboration with Fine Gael in delivering the austerity on behalf of the Troika.

Sixteen years after the Good Friday agreement and ever so conveniently, just after the European Elections, the Stormont Assembly will shortly face a show down on the question of Welfare Reform, which is likely to illustrate just how toothless and lame the Assembly really is. But most importantly it will demonstrate the relationship between the DUP, Sinn Féin and the Westminster Government.

Alan Shatter’s resignations from the posts of Minster of Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence may have apparently “astonished” the Dáil as the Irish Times reported a few days ago. But it is unlikely that many Dublin workers would have been surprised at the allegations made by the Garda whistleblowers regarding corruption over the cancellation of penalty points. Now, however, the proverbial pigeons have come home to the roost and the Garda Commissioner has resigned together with Shatter himself.

This Easter, as every year, socialists and Republicans across Ireland will commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. Yet with only 2 years to go until the centenary, and with rumours that Her Majesty will attend commemorations in 2016 the aim of the Workers’ Republic that James Connolly, commander of the Irish Citizens’ Army and military leader of the rising in 1916 fought for, appears as far off as ever. Six years into possibly the greatest economic crisis since Ireland was partitioned in 1921 the left, if anything, has gone backwards. This reflects a bending to opportunism, short-termism and a lack of a far-sighted Marxist perspective within Labour or any of the small forces to their

...

We republish here an article by Gerry Ruddy, originally written for the Red Plough, which looks at the politics of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein, who have accepted the capitalist system and ignored the class question in relation to the north of Ireland.

American diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan , were invited to Belfast by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to seek an agreement over the issues of parades, flags and the legacy of the past. After a month long marathon of talks and discussions and brinksmanship over the last few days of December  Haass produced a seventh version of the draft agreement for the five largest parties to sign up to. Both the Unionist Parties rejected the proposals, while the SDLP and Sinn Féin accepted them.  Since then the SF Ard Comhairle has voted to accept the proposals. The position of the Unionist parties and those of Sinn Féin and the SDLP reveal much about the underlying

...

Michael Noonan’s Budget 2014 will take a further €2.5bn out of the economy;  in other words a figure of around €600 for every man, woman and child in the state. It is evident also that as anticipated the losers are the old, the sick and the young unemployed.

A recent article by Gary Mulcahy in the July/August edition of The Socialist dealt with the emergence of residents’ groups in North Belfast. The article was in line with the narrative that the Socialist Party espouses. Here Gerry Ruddy looks at where such a narrative leads in the context of the sectarian divided in the North of Ireland.

Over 1,000 junior doctors, members of Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), have voted by 97% in support of escalating their campaign up to and including strike action in opposition to massive workloads that breach the European Working Time Directive and shifts that can last more than 24 hours at a stretch.

Despite some jostling for position between the Fine Gael back benchers and Labour TD’s, Michael Noonan’s forthcoming Budget is set to add yet more pressure and hardship on hard pressed families across the state. The troika target of €3.1 billion in cuts and tax increases represents some €677 for every man, woman and child in the state.  Fine Gael TD’s are arguing for more and Noonan himself has said that “the next budget will be tough”. Since 2008 the total amount of cuts has hit €28.1bn; around €5,000 per head.