Jan 16 2017

STORMONT’S “CASH FOR ASH” SCANDAL – continued

 Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has announced that that he is stepping down as Stormont’s Depute First Minister. This move has been taken to precipitate an election in the face of the DUP First Minister, Arlene Foster’s role in the  “Cash for Ash” scandal. McGuinness’s decision has been taken with great reluctance, since it puts into question Sinn Fein’s proclaimed strategy of sustaining the post-Good Friday Agreement institutions on the path to a united Ireland. As a consequence, in order to maintain Stromont’s constitutionally entrenched sectarian set-up, workers and nationalists have been asked to make bigger and bigger sacrifices. These have accentuated by the wider global economic crisis and the ongoing political crisis facing the UK state, in the aftermath of the Scottish independence and Brexit referenda. 

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) posted this article just before McGuinness’s resignation, as a follow up to an earlier piece, which we have already posted (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/12/17/stormont-executive-backrolls-loyalism/).

IMPUNITY – BUT AT A PRICE

Martin McGuinness announces his resignation as Stormont’s Depute First Minister

The facts of the latest scandal to hit the administration in the North of Ireland are easily stated. An energy saving scheme (the Renewable Heating Scheme or RHI) devolved from the British Treasury, spun out of control and ran up liabilities of almost £500 million. The costs arose in two phases. In the first phase cost controls were removed and the subsidy was greater than the cost of the fuel. In the second phase closure was delayed while hundreds of those in the know piled in to get a share of the free money.  The person who signed off on the scheme as relevant minister was Arlene Foster. The person in charge as First Minister when the costs ballooned out of control was Arlene Foster.
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Dec 17 2016

REACTIONARY UNIONISM SHOWS ITS TRUE COLOURS

We are posting two more articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlighting entrenched corrupt and sectarian nature of the Stormont set-up.

1.  THE STORMONT RHI SCANDAL AND THE CALLS FOR RESIGNATION

WHY STOP AT ARLENE?

 

At a cost to the public purse of almost  £500 million there is no doubting the level of corruption and maladministration surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. The scheme was devolved to Stormont even though the British already had a functioning system. The criteria were altered so that a scheme meant to save energy became one where the more fuel you burnt the greater the subsidies and where costs could expand without limit.
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Apr 18 2016

ORANGE SKIRMISH HIGHLIGHTS THE ONGOING SECTARIAN FRACTURES IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND

We are posting this recent article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about the  current situation in Northern Ireland. This is a another contribution to the series of articles we have posted about the domination of reactionary unionism in Northern Ireland, and its possible knock-on effects in the rest of the UK.

 

ORANGE SKIRMISH HIGHLIGHTS THE ONGOING SECTARIAN FRACTURES IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND

PSNI oversee Orange Order march on Ormeau Road

PSNI oversee Orange Order march on Ormeau Road

The skirmish on Belfast’s Ormeau Road between the police and Orange marchers seems inexplicable to those outside the sectarian society.
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Apr 12 2016

A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

 

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written a second piece on the forthcoming EU referendum. This is a contribution to the debate in the RCN and the wider Left. Allan has spoken on this issue at the RIC national conference (Feb. 20th), SSP National Council (28th Feb) and the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy (2nd April).

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A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE  AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

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a) The politics of TINA – There is no alternative

A common accusation made by ‘No’ advocates during the Scottish Independence referendum was that support for Scottish independence or the SNP, and for withdrawal from the EU or UKIP, are but mirror images of each other. They have argued that both are based on atavistic nationalism.
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Mar 24 2016

DEBATE ON THE EU REFERENDUM

The RCN is in the process of conducting a debate over the EU referendum on June 23rd. Where differences of opinion occur, we like to bring other socialists’ attention to these, so they can make their own minds up. Eric Chester (RCN and IWW) and Allan Armstrong (RCN and RISE) offer two different perspectives. Eric argues that we should leave. Allan argues that we should remain.

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1. LEAVING THE EU: A SOCIALIST PERSPECTIVE – Eric Chester

The referendum to determine whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union is playing out in terms very similar to that of the Scottish independence referendum. In both cases, the establishment, and this includes the trade union bureaucracy, has lanched a campaign of fear designed to cajole voters into accepting the status quo. Underlying this campaign is a crude statement of capitalist power, that is should the majority vote to leave corporations will curtail investment and the economy will collapse. Similar threats and tabloid hysteria succeeded in sinking the independence referendum. It remains to be seen if the same blatant threats will succeed in swinging a ‘yes’ vote on the EU referendum.
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Dec 03 2015

THE WAR IN SYRIA

We are posting three pieces dealing with the situation in Syria. The first is the emergency motion passed overwhelmingly at the RISE National Conference in Glasgow on December 5th. The second was written by the World to Win Editorial Board just after the vote at Westminster to openly extend UK state involvement in the war in Iraq to Syria. The third by Allan Armstrong (RCN and RISE) was written just prior to the Westminster vote, and was included in the E&L special bulletin for the RISE conference.

 

1. EMERGENCY MOTION ON SYRIA PASSED AT THE RISE CONFERENCE ON DECEMBER 5th. 

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Following:
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Nov 08 2015

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH?

The RCN has continually emphasised the significance of political developments in Northern Ireland. In contrast to England and Wales, where conservative unionism remains dominant, and Scotland where a hybrid constitutional nationalism/liberal unionism is dominant, in Northern Ireland reactionary unionism has become the predominant political force. Together the Ulster unionist parties and the loyalists been able to push back the post-1997 Good Friday Agreement component of the UK state’s ‘New Unionist’ Peace Process and Devolution-all-round settlement. UKIP intends to use this model to extend its own reactionary unionist offensive across the UK.  This article, from Socialist Democracy (Ireland)  shows how the UK state has used the Ulster unionists’ current offensive directed against Sinn Fein, to further its austerity programme, in return for more political concessions to entrench the political position of reactionary unionists and loyalists. 

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

Ultra-sectarian Ruth Patterson of the DUP challenges party leader, Peter Robinson. from the further Right

SAVING STORMONT: THE LAST HURRAH

The results of the report by a British government monitoring panel caused bemusement among observers inside and outside Ireland. Following the statement of a few truisms – the IRA still exist, the loyalist gangs are still active – the Democratic Unionist Party, who had been blocking the operation of the local Assembly by resigning their positions and re-appointing themselves in a weekly cycle, returned to their positions full-time.
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Sep 01 2015

THE IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM ON UK POLITICS

In the struggle over the future of the UK, the main battle is being conducted between the SNP pushing for a liberal unionist ‘Devo-Max’ agenda (looking for support from a possibly Corbyn-led Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens) and the conservative unionist alliance led by David Cameron, with the tacit acceptance of  ‘One Nation’ Labour and the Lib-Dems. However, there is a third unionist force, the reactionary unionists consisting of UKIP, the Tory Right and Ulster unionists, backed by the loyalists.

The following two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) cover recent events which show the impact of reactionary unionism in the ‘Six Counties’. Here, reactionary unionism continues to make political advances, seeking to undermine the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). These articles show how Sinn Fein’s acceptance of a liberal-unionist road to Irish unity through the devolved institutions of the UK state (i.e. Stormont) is looking increasingly like a dead-end. The UK state is using the threat posed by reactionary unionism to dictate the political direction of events, even threatening to evict Sinn Fein from the post-GFA political set-up, if it does not fully cooperate. As the first article shows, the killing of Kevin McGuigan is the latest stick being used to attack Sinn Fein.

Reactionary unionism can not be ignored over here, because UKIP, in particular, seeks to use Northern Ireland as a model of how to undermine the current liberal unionist ‘Devolution-all-round’ political settlement, the better to clamp down on any more radical alternatives. And when the chips are down, conservative and even liberal unionists will also turn to reactionary unionism for support. Glasgow Labour Council’s current flirtations with the Orange Order and other loyalists are just one indiction of this.  

The forthcoming European referendum will largely be fought on conservative unionist (Cameron and his Labour and Lib-Dem allies from the old ‘Better Together’ alliance) versus reactionary unionist (UKIP and the Tory Right) terms. The prospect of the ‘Six Counties’ breaking their current links with the 26 Counties within the EU is a particularly enticing prospect for reactionary unionists and loyalists. They want to turn the clock back and reintroduce old-style Partition.  

As republican socialists we need to mount our own ‘internationalism from below’ alliance covering not only Scotland, England, Wales and the whole of Ireland, to counter the threat of  reactionary and conservative unionism and the limitations of liberal unionism. This needs to be extended to bring together the European Left to defend migrant workers and asylum seekers, targeted both by the reactionary and conservative unionists, with minimal opposition from liberal unionists.

 

1) THE KILLING OF KEVIN McGUIGAN – DON’T SPECULATE

The Stormont road to a united Ireland?

The Stormont road to a united Ireland?

In October 2013 Kevin Kearney was shot dead in North Belfast by an anti-agreement republican group. Immediately after the killing Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein identified the group responsible and provided detailed information about the background.
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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.
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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.
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