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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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.
Continue reading “THE IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM ON UK POLITICS”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sep 03 2014

UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican perspective

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written an account of the Scottish independence campaign since the SNP launched its official ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign in 2012 up until the last two weeks before the September 18th referendum. This is based on several contributions Allan has already made on this blog. It is also a contemporary update of his historical piece, The Making and the Breaking of the UK State (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/01/11/internationalism-from-below-2/). This article also looks at the possibilities beyond September 18th.

_______

UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican response

 

th-1

a)                   The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

b)                   The SNP leadership’s strategy

c)                   Cameron’s strategy pushes Labour into the frontline of the defence of the Union in Scotland, whilst he controls things at a UK level

d)                   Attempts to widen the political base of support for the Union

e)                   The new challenge to social liberalism and the ‘New Unionist’ settlement from UKIP, the Tory Right, the Ulster Unionists and Loyalists

f)                    Enter the unexpected – a new movement from below

g)                   The lack of class confidence underpins both official campaigns and the inherited weaknesses of the Left affect RIC too

h)                  After September 18th

 

a)         The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

Continue reading “UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican perspective”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Jun 10 2014

CULTURAL CAPITULATION AND CULTURAL RESISTANCE IN IRELAND

Below are two articles from the May/June issue of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about recent cultural developments in Ireland. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has always been seen as being on the cultural frontline of the Irish national movement. The first article outlines the retreat of the GAA in the  face of Sky TV’s global corporate onslaught. The gombeen capitalists referred to in this article are Irish  small wheeler-dealing businessmen always looking to a fast buck and ready to trample over others. They have traditionally formed the Right wing of the Irish national movement.

The second article provides an example of cultural resistance in Belfast. In this city, the Irish language emerged as a weapon if resistance in the ‘Jailtacht’ during ‘The Troubles’. Despite promises of being given official recognition under the Good Friday Agreement, Unionists have reneged on this. Sinn Fein has also backtracked. It appears that they are now content to develop West Belfast’s official Gaeltacht, alongside the city’s Cathedral and Titanic Quarters as money-making tourist attractions, rather than develop the language as part of  communities of resistance. However, as this article shows, they have met opposition. 

 

1. GAA AND SKY – GOMBEEN CAPITALISTS BREAK THE LINK WITH THEIR SUPPORTERS

Poster commemorating the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884

Poster commemorating the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884

With patronage by the elite, a middle class leadership and a large support base of working people the GAA has traditionally reflected Irish social stratification, but within the organisation a sometimes uneasy state of balance existed between the more plebeian club membership and the leadership at provincial, county and top management level at Croke Park. To many of those working class rank and file members the recent Sky deal has been a rude awakening, but like all degenerative processes the push towards the GAA’s commercialisation has been in progress for a while.

Continue reading “CULTURAL CAPITULATION AND CULTURAL RESISTANCE IN IRELAND”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Mar 13 2014

SINN FEIN ON THE RUN AS SETTLEMENT SLIPS FURTHER TO THE RIGHT

 

After the demise of the Haas Talks, the Unionists, playing to the Loyalist gallery,  are pushing even further to unravel the original Good Friday Agreement. In this article, John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) explains the significance of the latest ‘on-the-runs’  issue.

 

John Downey received a letter from the police giving him immunity from prosecution as part of the original 'Peace settlement'

John Downey received a letter from the police giving him immunity from prosecution as part of the original ‘peace settlement’

 

Another week, another crisis. The Irish peace process continues to have popular support (or at least widespread public indifference), but its internal contradictions see it constantly spiral out of control. It is clear that Peter Robinson’s threat to resign as First Minister marks a new stage in the decay of the Irish settlement.

Continue reading “SINN FEIN ON THE RUN AS SETTLEMENT SLIPS FURTHER TO THE RIGHT”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Feb 07 2014

HUMAN RIGHTS ARE UNDER THREAT IN NORTH OF IRELAND


New York based Sandy Boyer is the co-host of “Radio Free Eireann” broadcast Saturdays at 1pm on WBAI, 99.5 FM, or wbai.org. He has helped to mobilize support for political prisoners including Marian Price, Roisin McAliskey, the Birmingham 6, Pol Brennan and Joe Doherty. Here he outlines the continued threat to human rights in Northern Ireland.

 

Fifteen years ago, the Good Friday Agreement promised a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Today there is still no Bill of Rights, and human rights are under a severe and sustained attack.

Continue reading “HUMAN RIGHTS ARE UNDER THREAT IN NORTH OF IRELAND”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Dec 19 2013

UNIONISM PUSHES THE IRISH ‘PEACE PROCESS’ FURTHER TO THE SECTARIAN RIGHT

Below are three articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website highlighting the role of Loyalism and mainstream Ulster Unionism, aided by the UK government in pushing the Good Friday Agreement  further to the sectarian right. Underscoring the UK state’s own declining imperial role, Richard Haas, the unofficial US representative has been drawn in to help them.

These articles also highlight the role of the Catholic Church and middle class, who go along with this, in return for  official state recognition and their cut of  state backed sectarian funding and job allocation. Sinn Fein, in its adopted role of making the UK-state brokered settlement work, is is central to this process  too. The last article also highlights the methods the UK state  is prepared to resort to, whenever it feels threatened.

 

1. HAAS TALKS DEBACLE – Decay of the Irish Peace Process accelerates

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

 

The debacle of the Haass talks collapse, on the early morning of New Year’s Eve, marked a growing instability in local political structures. The talks were supposed to settle conflicts in the Irish peace process and their outcome was somewhat obscured by a persistent failure to tell Irish workers anything about their contents and by a torrent of lies from the British and Irish media, talking the negotiations up while the talks were ongoing and suggesting after the fall that the collapse contained elements of progress.

Continue reading “UNIONISM PUSHES THE IRISH ‘PEACE PROCESS’ FURTHER TO THE SECTARIAN RIGHT”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sep 10 2013

CRISIS IN THE IRISH PEACE PROCESS

 

John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlights the significance of the recent Ulster Unionist challenge to the ‘Peace Process’.

“EQUALITY OF THE TWO TRADITIONS” HITS THE ROCKS

The anniversary of the Civil Rights march held in Belfast on 9th August, 2013

The anniversary of the Civil Rights march held in Belfast on 9th August, 2013

When a Sinn Fein commemoration march was barred from the small town of Castlederg in August, despite Sinn Fein’s role as junior partner in the local administration. Gerry Kelly expressed their frustration: “There are two narratives in this society, and both need to be equally respected”.

This belief is the central focus of Sinn Fein’s current ideology. Sometimes expressed through the metaphor of a journey, it suggests that both they and the unionists are making equal concessions in order to arrive at a “post conflict” society. The ideology has been used to justify the Shinners constant evolution to the right and acceptance of a colonial and sectarian settlement.
Continue reading “CRISIS IN THE IRISH PEACE PROCESS”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


May 07 2013

REPUBLIC DAY SPEECH

Allan Armstrong (RCN) was invited by the James Connolly Society to speak on behalf of the Edinburgh branch of the Radical Independence Campaign at the Republic Day commemoration on April 24th at the Connolly plaque in the Cowgate, Edinburgh. 

Jim Slaven (JCS) comperes Republic Day commemoration at the James Connolly plaque in the Cowgate, Edinburgh

Jim Slaven (JCS) comperes Republic Day commemoration at the James Connolly plaque in the Cowgate, Edinburgh

I would like to thank the James Connolly Society and the 1916 Societies for inviting the Radical Independence Campaign to provide a speaker today at this commemoration of Republic Day.

It is fully 20 years since the first James Connolly Society march in Edinburgh. The JCS raised the banner of republicanism in this city. It is a banner, which not only has relevance in Ireland, but in Scotland, Wales, and yes, even England too.

Continue reading “REPUBLIC DAY SPEECH”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Apr 28 2013

GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT – THATCHER’S PROGRESSIVE LEGACY?

John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) helps to clear up some of the confusion about Thatcher’s legacy with regard to Ireland. Some have argued that, after ditching the hardline Ulster Unionists in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, she opened up the way to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). John, however, highlights that, the degree to which Thatcher  was persuaded of the need to sideline ‘No Surrender’ Unionism, was also the degree to the British ruling class sought to maintain sectarian rule in ‘the Six Counties’, but in a new form. The Anglo-Irish Agreement  brought  the SDLP and Irish government on board, in a decidedly subordinate position, to help the UK state in running  Northern Ireland.  This  paved the way, after Thatcher’s removal by the Tories,  for the 1993 Downing Street Declaration. This brought the Republican Movement  on board. The GFA has led to a new partition within ‘the Six Counties’ with the constitutionally entrenched recognition of British Unionism and Irish Nationalism. We can see the roots of the current decay of the post-GFA Northern Ireland political order  in this continued sectarian legacy. Thatcher helped to ensure that this remained central to UK state policy, once she had decided to abandon her previous unquestioning support for the Ulster Unionist Party. 

Some new graffiti on the famous Free Derry Wall after Thatcher's death.

Some new graffiti on the famous Free Derry Wall after Thatcher’s death.

The 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement coincidentally coincided with the death of Margaret Thatcher. Given the recent flag riots, the confirmation of Orange supremacy in the streets and the new pan-unionist unity behind Robinson, the complaints of “lack of engagement” from Sinn Fein and watery threats by the British to withhold funds if the local administration does not move beyond sectarian patronage, it is not surprising if there is public discontent.

That discontent is buffered by a deep confusion. People are repelled by the actuality of the settlement, yet remain convicted that there is a hidden progressive core that will someday express itself.

A similar confusion hangs around the role of Thatcher. Many nationalists believe there were two Thatchers – a bad Thatcher who oppressed the hunger strikers and a good Thatcher who signed the Anglo Irish deal and laid the grounds for the peace process.

Continue reading “GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT – THATCHER’S PROGRESSIVE LEGACY?”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Next Page »