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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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.

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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.
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Aug 11 2013

AN ORGY OF ORANGE BIGOTRY AND UNIONIST HYPOCRISY

Since the  Flag Protests, beginning at the end of last year, there has been a  rising tide of Loyalist violence. Sometimes this has been criticised by leading Unionist spokespersons, but in many cases they have encouraged these Loyalist protests behind-the-scenes. This is because they have the same aims  – the reassertion of Unionist supremacy and the relegation of Nationalists to second class citizens within ‘Ulster’ or their ‘Six Counties’ statelet. Two articles from the August edition of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) outline some of the most recent developments.

1. TRYING TO MANAGE LOYALIST VIOLENCE WHIST IGNORING UNIONIST BIGOTRY

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Loyalists attack police in Belfast

Much was brought to bear by the British government in the run-up to the 2013 Orange demonstrations to ensure that there would be no violence. To the combined momentum of nearly two decades of bribes, background talks and persuasion was added the political offensive around the location of the G8 summit, the intervention of the US president, the direct pleas of local business and government and the mobilization of substantial state forces from Britain. Over £22 million had been spent wining and dining Orange leaders and paramilitaries at a secret conference in Cardiff earlier in the year to hammer out a deal that would keep the Orange marches peaceful.
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Jun 02 2013

A SHARED FUTURE IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND? – The Emperor’s New Clothes

This article first appeared on the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website at:-http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentASharedFutureInTheNorthOfIreland.html

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the centenary of the launch of the Titanic

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the centenary of the launch of the Titanic

There is no mistaking the bookend manoeuvre inflicted on the Northern Irish administration at the start of May. At one end the British Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers, made threatening noises about cutting back the flow of grants unless there was some progress towards a more stable political structure.

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Oct 16 2012

SECTARIANISM HARDWIRED UNDER THE ‘PEACE PROCESS’

COVENANT MARCHES PROMISE ENDLESS SECTARIANISM

The  period  following  September’s  mass  Orange  demonstration  in  Belfast  commemorating the signing of the Ulster  Covenant  the  event  leading  to  Ireland’s Nakba, the partition of the country and generations of violence, colonial rule and sectarian division was followed by widespread expressions of relief and hope for the future.

There had been no violence. The Orange Order had said they were sorry for  the hurt feelings of nationalists. They had even spoken to a priest. By and large they had obeyed  the determination of  the Parades Commission and, aside from the usual demonstrations of sectarian hatred outside two churches and one bandsman urinating on a church, things had gone well.

But things were bound to go well. The determination that the Orange Order “obeyed” was written by themselves. The sequence of events was as follows. The Loyalists had a clear run on the 12th July demonstrations. Parade Commission determinations were minimal and  Sinn Fein mobilized  across the  North to police any protests. One Loyalist band went viral on the internet doing a  war dance outside a Catholic church and singing the sectarian “famine  song”.  All this is perfectly routine,  other than exposure on the internet.

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Sep 11 2012

THE ORANGE FRANKENSTEIN MARCHES FORTH AGAIN

Observers of the north of Ireland are from time to time caught by surprise when the reality of life here contradicts their belief in a steady progress towards normality. Such a moment came outside a Catholic church in Belfast. A 12th July demonstration by one band playing a hate song went viral on Facebook and led to restrictions on further band processions outside the church. The decision of Orange order bands to break the Parades Commission ruling about marching and playing outside the Church was accompanied by unrestrained expressions of sectarian hatred more or less unlimited in the depths of bigotry that were unleashed.

And that was the point of the demonstration. In the eyes of the loyal orders the Northern statelet exists to express orange supremacy. The role of the Orange marches is to ritually assert that supremacy. One minor news item in this year’s marching season was a complaint by the Polish consul when a large number of Polish flags were burnt. But this racism is a minor key when all the bonfires burnt Irish flags and threats and insults aimed at Catholics are routinely displayed.

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