Aug 05 2019

LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) reports on the latest UK state accommodation to Loyalism, during their annual Belfast bonfire rituals.

 

LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST

Can this be compensated for by dreams of a future modernity?

 

 

In the aftermath of the paramilitary victory at a Belfast “11th night” bonfire, correspondents were quick to spread an emollient salve over the bruised egos of sections of the middle class.

Following UVF threats and the leaking of the names of private contractors charged with dismantling an illegal bonfire in the car pack of a local council leisure centre, police and council workers withdrew and triumphant loyalists went ahead with their bonfire.

A pyrrhic victory proclaimed the commentators. Society is moving on. The bonfires, and the Orange demonstrators generally, are becoming less popular and less respectable.

This is to confuse two separate things. The popular base of loyalism and its material base in mass Protestant employment in shipbuilding and engineering has declined. But this is not the sole element of their power. The patronage of the British state is still there and in fact is amply demonstrated by the council and the police in the current incident. The demonstrators were a few hundred. The UVF members are well known and their ability to intimidate is due to the level of impunity extended by the state. Support by the extensively bribed Orange leadership was lukewarm. Yet still the loyalists prevailed. Why?

Council policy is based around a £500 000 funding split between Sinn Fein and the DUP. The loyalist element of funding is not meant to stop bonfires, despite the obvious sectarian provocations, but to use a combination of bribes and pressure to house train the builders and reduce the obvious impunity with which they operate  The bribes for bonfire displacement are so generous that many of last year’s grants, awarded in July, were spent for Xmas festivities.  Impunity is demonstrated when firefighters routinely hose down homes at risk, but not the bonfires themselves.

The police story is that defiance of the law, intimidation and sectarianism are not matters for the police, but matters of dialogue in the wider community.

The new chief constable, Simon Byrne, proved his fitness for the job by explaining away their inaction. The UVF should watch out. The police had many specialist units to hand, operating undercover, and they would target the UVF throughout the year.

Unfortunately for Simon, the facts did not match the rhetoric. It emerged that the police had had a meeting with the leader of the east Belfast UVF. They explained that this was not a formal meeting. Graffiti threatening civilian contractors remained on walls for several days while police and council argued about responsibility. Above all stood the spectre of Cantrell Close. Two years ago the UVF forced catholic families out of an area designated as shared accommodation. The role of the police was to deliver the threats on behalf of the paramilitaries. The local DUP MP ran cover for the paramilitaries. The area is now routinely bedecked with loyalist flags and anti-IRA banners  each Twelfth season.

The immediate losers in this situation are Sinn Fein. Their tranche of bribes kicks in in August through the funding for  Belfast Feile week, when they must tell nationalist youth to attend pop festivals rather than proclaim dissatisfaction from behind bonfires. This task  has become much more difficult, but the propaganda element of the Feile has been stepped up, with claims that a united Ireland is just around the corner, historical reminiscences proving their revolutionary credentials and a fireside chat with the far right Nelson McCausland establishing their diplomatic skills in dealing with loyalism. The icing on the cake is the new James Connolly Centre, which they unselfconsciously proclaim as “Belfast’s latest visitor experience,”

Next year more desperate efforts will be made to tone down bonfire sectarianism, but the question of confronting sectarianism and state collusion in its expression will not arise.

The decay of the material base of much of loyalism and the new role of Sinn Fein have created a popular consciousness that a wave of modernism will transform  northern society.

This imagining is not new and is not true. Political institutions do not operate or else operate to share out bribes. Top civil servants run the state with a few Westminster politicians at their side. Civil  servants do not minute political decisions and police do not recognise sectarian intimidation. Brexit has already depressed the local economy and the savage austerity of the “Fresh Start” programme has yet to fully kick in.

A rosy glow of modernity and cultural diversity will not do. A consciousness of capitalist and imperialist oppression is a precondition for serious progress.

 

24.7.19

This article was first posted at:-

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

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also see:-

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

 

A QUIET TWELFTH

 

“WE ARE THE SACRIFICE”

 

NORTHERN IRELAND UPDATE – THE IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM

 

 

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Apr 22 2018

20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT

We are posting this article on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement from Socialist Democracy (Ireland). 

 

CLINTON AND BLAIR CELEBRATE SUCCESS

20th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

 

Aren’t we still great

In some Roman societies of late antiquity, after a death the body would remain for a time in the family home.  It would be placed in a sarcophagus and treated as still present in the family.  A rich individual would have a funeral mask painted on the face of the sarcophagus and triumphs and achievements carved in bas-relief around the sides.  Both image and carvings would be enhanced to exaggerate the importance of the individual and his achievements. Continue reading “20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT”

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Feb 25 2018

THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE

 

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) have posted two articles  the following  the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive. These were first posted at:- 

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentIrishSettlementFoundersOnTheRockOfLanguageRights.html http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentClassPoliticsVersusModernity.html

 

1. THE END OF THE ROAD 

THE IRISH SETTLEMENT FOUNDERS ON THE ROCK OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS

When Sinn Fein collapsed the Stormont executive in early 2017 they put forward a very simple case. The Irish peace process was based on legal documents and international treaties and on a series of agreements and promises that had constantly been broken. If the process and the institutions were to survive it was time to live up to the existing agreements before moving on. This involved resolving state killings, reducing sectarian provocations, and accepting a level of gay rights such as gay marriage and an Irish Language Act. Continue reading “THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE”

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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 Stormont’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.
Continue reading “STORMONT’S “CASH FOR ASH” SCANDAL – continued”

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Apr 07 2016

THE CENTENARY OF THE IRISH REBELLION OF 1916

As part of our celebration the 1916 Easter Rising, we are posting two new articles.  The first is by Allan Armstrong (RCN), and addresses Lenin’s response to in his Irish Rebellion of 1916 (which is also posted). The second comes from the latest issue of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) and looks at the situation in Ireland today, 100 years after the Rising.

 

1. LENIN AND THE IRISH REBELLION OF 1916

The Dublin GPO during the 1916 Rising, painted by Robert Ballagh

 

In the midst of the First World War, following the Dublin 1916 Easter Rising, Lenin returned to the issue of national self-determination. He had already addressed this at the beginning of the year in The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination. Immediately before the Rising, he had also gone on to write The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up.
Continue reading “THE CENTENARY OF THE IRISH REBELLION OF 1916”

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