Jun 29 2015

THOUSANDS MARCH IN BELFAST FOR GAY MARRIAGE

The impact last month’s successful gay marriage referendum in the 26 Counties has spilled over into the 6 Counties, with 10,000 attending a demonstration in Belfast. The fact that the ‘South’ can act as a beacon for the ‘North’ highlights the reactionary nature of the local UK state set-up, which is a barrier to progress in these islands. This article was first posted on the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) blog.

 

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Gay marriage march in Belfast on June 12th

 

On Saturday, 13th June, over ten thousand people gathered in Belfast city to show their support for marriage equality.  This demonstration, which was organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Rainbow Project, saw people marching from the Arts College to the City Hall where they were addressed by a number of speakers.

The first person to speak was novelist Glen Patterson who was also acting as compère. In his introduction he spoke of how the sight of a DeLorean car parked on the lawn of the City Hall for some other event had sparked a ‘Back to the Future’ moment for him.  This was a reference to the Ulster Says No rallies of the mid 80’s.  Adapting Ian Paisley’s famous speech to one of these he told the crowd that: “We will never forsake the blue skies of Ulster for the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet skies of the Irish Republic”. Instead “We are going to bring them here.”

Among the speakers to follow was ICTU LGBT committee chairman Daire Toner, who claimed that his dreams of of getting married one day had been “shattered by the laws that govern this state.”  He said that while he could get married elsewhere on his return home it would be made invalid.   Rainbow Project director John O’Doherty said he was overwhelmed by the level of support for the demonstration which he believed could not be ignored by politicians. He urged LGBT people to make their voices heard, to tell their story, and to play their part in the creation of “a new Northern Ireland”.

In her address Claire Moore of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) pointed out that Northern Ireland once led the way in terms of rights for same-sex partners.  In 2005 it became the first place in the UK to hold a civil partnership.  But ten years later, with every other region of Ireland and Britain recognising marriage equality, “citizens in Northern Ireland have effectively been left behind.”  Claire also highlighted the “leading role” the trade union movement played in campaigning for a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum in the south.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said that marriage equality was clearly a human rights issue.  To support this assertion he cited the section of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.  He said that it was “simply unacceptable” for the state to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  For him all people were equal and “the state should protect all people equally.”

As well as these speakers the demonstration also heard from a number of gay and lesbian couples about the practical problems that the denial of equal marriage presents for them; and from representatives of two school based groups which had been set up to support LGBT pupils, and also from a couple of liberal clergymen.

In terms of numbers the demonstration (which was probably the biggest public show of support for LGBT rights there has ever been in the north) was very impressive.  It certainly reveals the degree to which attitudes towards sexuality have shifted and also the success of activists in moving gay rights from the margins to the mainstream.

However the potential for this movement, and the similar mobilisations that have recently taken place around issues of race and gender, is severely limited by the political perspective being pushed by the forces that take the lead in these situations.  That is the proposition, put forward primarily by Sinn Fein and the trade unions, that the northern state can be reformed by lobbying the institutions brought into existence by the political settlement.

But this perspective is completely baseless.  The reality is that since the restoration of local institutions the cause of equality has actually gone backwards, whether that is in relation to abortion, adoption, blood donation and a range of other issues related to sexuality and gender  This reaction  has advanced to such a degree that we now have the prospect of the enactment of a “conscience clause” that would provide legal cover for wholesale discrimination.

This is not the dynamic of political system that is reforming and liberalising.  But it is what happens in a system that is based on accommodating and empowering the most reactionary elements of society as represented by the DUP.  More fundamentally it is what happens within a state that is explicitly founded upon inequality.  While this is still primarily sectarian in nature it also finds expression in race, gender and sexuality.

The northern state is not a liberal democracy and there is no mechanism for reform.  That is not to say that that things aren’t changing – the support for marriage equality shows that they are – but such changes are unlikely to be reflected at an institutional level.  A movement for equality must be in opposition to these institutions (the Assembly & the Executive) rather than support of them and their imaginary reforming potential.

 

16.6.15 

 

This article was first posted on:-

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentThousandsMarchInBelfastForEqualMarriage.html

also see:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/06/05/lbgt-rights-in-ireland-a-beacon-of-liberation-for-us-all/

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Jun 29 2015

HANDS OFF CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS OF UKRAINE – END THE STATE INTIMIDATION

We are posting the following article which first appeared on the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign website (http://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org/2015/06/21/urgent-state-security-investigating-leader-of-ukrainian-trade-unions/)

 

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The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign has received extremely worrying communications from our friends of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine KVPU that the Security Service of Ukraine – the SBU – is investigating the KVPU Chairman Mikhailo Volynets. Who is also leader of the independent miners’ union NGPU.
Continue reading “HANDS OFF CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS OF UKRAINE – END THE STATE INTIMIDATION”

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Jun 27 2015

THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION AND THE NEXT STEPS FOR REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM

The RCN and Republican Socialists (Scotland) gave their backing to Steve Freeman who stood as a republican socialist and anti-unionist candidate in Bermondsey in the General Election. Here we are posting Steve’s political assessment of the campaign.

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Introduction

This paper will not address the important question of what is ‘Republican Socialism’ beyond identifying it as the “republican road to socialism” which puts the issue of democracy at the heart of working class politics. This stands in contrast to the dominant idea in the UK and especially England of a “British road to Socialism”. The next steps here are mainly focused on London and do not address how Republican Socialists in the rest of the UK can use our election campaign to advance our common cause.
Continue reading “THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION AND THE NEXT STEPS FOR REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM”

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Jun 17 2015

THE MINT WITH A HOLE – A review of ‘A Nation not a Rabble – The Irish Revolution 1913-23′

D.R.O’Connor Lysaght of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) reviews Diarmid Ferriter’s A Nation and not a Rabble, The Irish Revolution 1913-1923. This was first posted at:- http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentReviewDiarmaidFerriterANationAndNotARabble.html

THE MINT WITH A HOLE

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Diarmaid Ferriter’s new book is good on two counts; it is well written and very well researched. The author has trawled very thoroughly the primary sources recently expanded with the freeing of the various archives in Ireland and Britain, over and above an enormous range of secondary material. This is a book that can be read with ease and should be read by anyone with an interest in Ireland’s history of a century ago. It is a mint of historical material.
Continue reading “THE MINT WITH A HOLE – A review of ‘A Nation not a Rabble – The Irish Revolution 1913-23′”

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Jun 10 2015

SCOTLAND AFTER THE WESTMINSTER ELECTION

Eric Chester (RCN) gives his perspective on Scotland after the Westminster election.

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Nicola – heading for independence or John Lewis?

 

 The Scottish National Party has become the dominant force in Scottish politics. Already a majority in the Scottish parliament, SNP candidates crushed the Labour Party in the recent elections to Westminster. Yet SNP dominance extends well beyond the electoral arena. Within the trade unions and in the social movements, the SNP has become a major factor determining the policies followed by activists in those arenas.
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Jun 05 2015

LBGT RIGHTS IN IRELAND – A BEACON OF LIBERATION FOR US ALL

Following the inspiring referendum vote in support of gay marriage in Ireland, E&L is posting the article below from Socialist Democracy (Ireland).

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Celebrating victory in the streets of Dublin

 

The 22nd of May was a truly historic day. The population of the Irish state, long seen as a bastion of Catholic conservatism, voted in an overwhelming majority to amend the constitution to support LBGT marriage.
Continue reading “LBGT RIGHTS IN IRELAND – A BEACON OF LIBERATION FOR US ALL”

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Jun 05 2015

A STATEMENT FROM BRIAN HIGGINS, SECRETARY OF THE BUILDING WORKERS’ GROUP, ABOUT THE DEATHS IN QATAR

 

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Migrant building workers in Qatar

I knew there had been many migrant workers killed on world cup sites but was severely and profoundly shocked to hear on Channel 4 last night that 1,200 had been killed to date while working on world cup projects in Qatar.
Continue reading “A STATEMENT FROM BRIAN HIGGINS, SECRETARY OF THE BUILDING WORKERS’ GROUP, ABOUT THE DEATHS IN QATAR”

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Jun 02 2015

WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GALLIPOLI

E&L is posting this  article, written by New Zealander, Rory MacKinnon, about the tragic Gallipoli Campaign  launched just over a century ago on 25th April, 1915.

 

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Today I will be speaking primarily about the New Zealand perspective rather than the Australian or Turkish one, because it’s the history I’m most familiar with. I won’t be trying to convince anyone that the soldiers at Gallipoli were bad people, or challenging their reputation for carrying out impossible orders in nightmarish conditions, and I won’t be arguing that what they saw and did should be forgotten.

I will be talking about the suffering and damage that the campaign wreaked on New Zealand’s people, so massively out of proportion with any perceived reward, and I’ll talk a little about how people look for meaning in such a crisis and how political institutions turned a betrayal of the public’s trust to their advantage.
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May 29 2015

SPIRIT OF REVOLT

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Document Film Festival

Spirit of Revolt – Archives of Dissent

Scottish Peace Network

and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

 

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May 28 2015

SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE FOR MEANINGFUL SELF-DETERMINATION IN A SCOTTISH DEMOCRATIC AND SECULAR REPUBLIC

At our RCN aggregate held in Dundee on May 23rd, we re-examined our  platform for working in the campaign for Scottish self-determination. Some of these issues have already arisen within the Radical Independence Campaign, particularly in RIC-Edinburgh (see http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/) the three RIC national conferences, and Trade Unionists for Independence (East Coast) (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/10/24/after-september-18th-bring-real-democracy-into-our-trade-unions/)  Now that there are plans for ta Scottish Left Project (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/23/the-scottish-left-project/), there will also need to be further discussion over such issues.

Some will oppose or want to amend some of these demands. There will be other issues that  people will want to raise.  The RCN welcomes such debates. It is vital that we create democratic forums where issues can be discussed.

 

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SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE FOR MEANINGFUL SELF-DETERMINATION

IN A SCOTTISH DEMOCRATIC AND SECULAR REPUBLIC

Democracy
The SNP currently only supports the ending of Westminster control over law making in Scotland, and continues to support the wider UK and the British monarchy. We call for:

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