Jan 10 2020

SECTARIAN INTIMIDATION IN NORTH BELFAST

North Belfast has been a long standing area of sectarian intimidation. Until December 12th it was represented by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds who joined up with the hard core Loyalists at the  ‘Stop the {Brexit} Betrayal Act – Defend the Union’ meeting in Belfast’s Ulster Hall on December 6th. Like Emma Little-Pengelly, his fellow Loyalist paramilitary flirting  DUP MP for South Belfast, he lost his seat. There  is now increased pressure to  reconstitute the Northern Ireland Executive. This article first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) shows how, even if this happens, such sectarian intimidation will just be brushed under the carpet. 

 

SECTARIAN INTIMIDATION IN NORTH BELFAST

 

A frantic drive is on to reopen the local Stormont administration.  The British and Irish governments, the political parties, civic society and the trade union leadership all assure us that this is the road to peace and prosperity.

As talks get underway one issue that will not be discussed is the December attacks in the Ballysillan area of Belfast aimed at intimidating Catholic families who had been allocated homes in the area by the Choice housing association. Windows were smashed, KAT (Kill All Taigs) was scrawled on the wall and a paramilitary flag hung outside a bedroom window.

There was more of a fuss than usual when it was discovered that local Democratic Unionist Party councillor Dale Pankhurst had contacted the housing association to express “concerns”.  Pankhurst said that he had spoken to the association but not to the police because the concerns were not linked to intimidation. Details then emerged of an earlier post by the councillor where he advocated “local homes for local people”.  An associate of the DUP parliamentary candidate Nigel Dodds, a loyalist with a criminal record, later posted a sectarian attack on one of the victims.

The police are looking into the matter.

The thing is, they didn’t take down the flag!

The police have decided that flags are “an ecumenical matter” and won’t touch them even when their real function – sectarian intimidation – is unmistakable.  This incident is the latest in a long line of sectarian incidents where loyalists have declared housing apartheid and enforced it with ethnic cleansing.  Ballysillan estate saw a round of sectarian evictions just a year ago.

There is much to investigate. How did information about the prospective tenants reach the loyalists? In the background the old state housing system is being run down while the new housing associations facilitate both privatisation and the continuance of housing apartheid. Why the open links between the DUP and the loyalist paramilitaries are ignored and why are loyalists able to operate, not only with a great deal of impunity, but often with funding from the state?

The thing is, that’s the way it was when the last Stormont was running. Low level ongoing preservation of loyalist territory was not a problem for the administration nor a source of friction for Sinn Fein. The Good Friday Agreement did not guarantee human rights, it guaranteed communal rights. Sinn Fein’s concern was for equality, that is, that they get a share of housing control and patronage in their areas.

In the aftermath of the general election there are new attempts to form a new Executive in the North. Ending ethnic cleansing is not even an item on the agenda.

This is the reality of the prospective “new” settlement.  This is what the middle classes, business representatives and the trade union leadership demand in the interests of stability. This tacit agreement to ignore ethnic cleansing is what the working class should fight against and is the reason that any new administration will be just as unstable as the last one.

17 December 2019

This article was first posted at:- http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentSectarianIntimidationInNorthBelfast.html

 

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also see:-

“WE ARE THE SACRIFICE”

 

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Dec 19 2019

THE HEALTH WORKERS’ STRIKE WORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT

This article about the healthworkers’ strike in Northern Ireland was first posted by Socialist  Democracy (Ireland)

THE HEALTHWORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT

 

 

Around 25,000 health care workers including nurses, social care staff and support services are taking industrial action to defend a health service which is widely accepted to be on the verge of collapse and to demand an increase in the currently ‘unsafe’ levels of staffing, investment and a long overdue pay increase for hard pushed health workers. To give a taste of the degree of under-investment in local health care, over 94,000 people are waiting more than a year for a specialist’s appointment compared to 3,364 in England with a population around 28 times greater. Continue reading “THE HEALTH WORKERS’ STRIKE WORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT”

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Dec 09 2019

THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

In the lead-up to the December 12th general election Allan Armstrong updates  his analysis of the drift to the Right populist and reactionary unionist politics in the UK and what this possibly means for the future of the Union.

This is followed by an article by  statement from  the Radical Independence Campaign in Scotland on the general election.

Finally we are posting an article by  Tony Greenstein, expelled Labour Party member from Brighton. He predicted the unexpected rise in support for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, but thinks that Labour’s chances have declined in the run up to the December general election.

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  1. THE CONTINUED RISE OF RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM 

IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

 

(A fuller explanation of what is meant by Right national populism can be found in the article:- https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/right-national-populism-16.3.19.pdf

Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.

Three key terms used in this article  are:-

Conservative unionism – This acknowledges the unionist nature of the UK state through administrative devolution (or later acceptance of liberal unionist devolutionary measures  which it once opposed, but have become part of the status quo)

Liberal unionism – This also accepts the unionist nature of the UK state but promotes political devolution as a better method of holding the state together

Reactionary unionism – This upholds the UK state and openly celebrates  its most repressive aspects. e.g. the crown powers, the armed forces and judiciary. It is also prepared to mobilise extra-constitutional force to prevent national self-determination, greater measures of political devolution, and reverse political devolution and even some administrative devolutionary measures that have already been accepted.) Continue reading “THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

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Nov 04 2019

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective

Many both on the Left and amongst the Irish and Scottish nationalists have welcomed the break between the Tories and the DUP, following Boris Johnson’s perceived cave in before the EU, over the border. They believe that the road to Iris reunification is now open. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) argues from a much more cautionary stance.

 

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR

– an Irish perspective

 

Boris addresses DUP conference during his now abandoned ‘No Surrender’ days.

 

Over the years of the  Brexit campaign the Tory leadership have been careful to avoid any explanation of the goals of the project. One element,  anti-migrant sentiment and racism, was already in progress following Theresa May’s former leadership of the Home office. For the rest, democracy was defined as never questioning the thin majority of the Brexit vote. For May, “Brexit means Brexit”. Johnston’s mantra was “get it done”. Now the proposals put forward by Boris Johnson are finally beginning to clarify the details of the class divisions on which the process is built. Continue reading “BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective”

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Sep 11 2019

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

There has been a lot of  talk recently about the inevitability of a united Ireland after a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) provides a more cautionary note.

A NATION ONCE AGAIN?

Dream and reality in the United Ireland discourse

 

 

What do you learn when Irish nationalist sources start to pontificate about the inevitability of a united Ireland? The first thing you learn is that the forces involved have no new ideas or a new strategy for achieving their aim.  The second is that they urgently want to distract attention from their own sheer incapacity.  The torrent of output about this issue today speaks volumes about the weakness of the various currents. Continue reading “A NATION ONCE AGAIN?”

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Aug 30 2019

It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!

Allan Armstrong gives his response to the latest constitutional crisis hitting the UK state

 

It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!

 

Contents

  1. A constitutional and legal coup under Crown-in-Westminster sovereignty
  2. The UK’s growing constitutional crisis, the retreat of neo-liberalism and liberal unionism and the growth of right populism and reactionary unionism
  3. The continued rise of right national populism and the hard right in the UK
  4. The May 23rd Euro-elections – Farage’s right populist victory paves the way for the hard right take-over of the Tory Party
  5. The asymmetric polarisation of UK politics
  6. From Maybynism to Borisbynism? – Labour’s role in helping to move official politics to the right
  7. Neo-liberal attempts to turn back the right populist challenge over Brexit
  8. The right and centre Remainers take politics to the streets
  9. The Lexiters’ (and Irexiters’) economism and abstract propagandism
  10. The emergence of left Remainers, Another Europe Is Possible, and their turn to the streets
  11. Conclusions

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  1. A constitutional and legal coup under Crown-in-Westminster sovereignty

The decision taken by Boris Johnson and his backers  to prorogue Westminster on the 28th August represents the culmination of a prolonged constitutional crisis, which began with the Scottish independence referendum between 2012-14, and has been accelerating in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016. Today we have liberals (in all the mainstream British parties), and even some conservatives, bemoaning  the unconstitutional and illegal nature of the decision taken by the unelected prime minister, Johnson, along with privy councillor, Jacob Rees-Mogg (Tory MP representing the eighteenth century), and the unelected head of state, queen Elizabeth. However, the UK state, based on the sovereignty of the Crown in Westminster, with its armoury of anti-democratic Crown Powers, gives enormous power to the dominant section of the British ruling class. Proroguing parliament is both constitutional and legal. Continue reading “It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!”

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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. Continue reading “LOYALIST BONFIRE VICTORY IN BELFAST”

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Apr 15 2019

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

The following article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlights the impact of the reactionary unionism in Northern Ireland.  The Good Friday Agreement,  with its official  recognition of Unionists and Nationalists in a reformed Stormont, acted as liberal mask for the continued sectarian order in Northern Ireland. This placed the UK government in the position of ‘neutral’ arbiter, the better to ensure its continued rule. With the DUP now in alliance with May’s post-Brexit vote Conservative government, reactionary unionists see no need to maintain the liberal facade. Growing UK centralisation of power was always a central feature of Brexit, and its implications are not confined to Ireland.

 

 

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

A common myth regarding the northern state is that it has been without a government since the Stormont Assembly and executive collapsed in early 2017.  Accompanying this is the claim every that every ill in society (from sectarian intimidation to a failing health service) is down to (or at the very least made worse) by the absence of devolved government.  What usually follows from this is a call for Stormont to be restored as a means to bring about some improvement.  This is a call that is made unambiguously and unconditionally by the trade unions. It is also a call that is made by the left groups (albeit dressed up in rhetoric about fighting austerity or securing civil rights). The underlying assumptions here are that the political institutions brought into existence by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) can shield the working class to some degree or even be a vehicle for reforms. Continue reading “BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH”

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Mar 04 2019

IRISH NURSES AND THE FAILURE OF SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP

We are posting two articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) blog addressing the nurses’ struggle for improved pay and a better health service in Ireland. The second goes into the underlying problems faced when unions embrace a partnerships with the state and employers in a time of economic crisis. 

 

1.SQUARING THE CIRCLE

Government, union bureaucracy put nurses back in their box

 

Nurses take action in Dublin

In antiquity Greek mathematicians came up with an insoluble problem called “squaring the circle”.  The term entered the English language as a metaphor for an impossible task.

Yet this is the task that INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha, alongside the executives of the nurses and midwives union and the psychiatric nurses union, with the support of ICTU, set out to achieve. Continue reading “IRISH NURSES AND THE FAILURE OF SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP”

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Feb 19 2019

BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND

The E&L blog  has been reporting the situation in Ireland since we started up. However, during  current Brexit negotiations , the  ‘backstop’ has pushed the issue of Northern Ireland to the fore. We are publishing two articles which share a lot in common in their analysis of Ireland, but which offer differing perspectives on the role of the EU. The first is written by David Jamieson and first appeared on the Commonspace blog. The second is written by Allan Armstrong and forms the seventh chapter of his new pamphlet From Blatcherism to Maybynism.

 

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  1. ANALYSIS – MICRO-POLITICS ISN’T ENOUGH – WE MUST ADDRESS

THE  PARTITION OF IRELAND

 

Debates around the UK border in Ireland and the so called ‘backstop’ bring the crisis elements of the British state into sharper focus. Continue reading “BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND”

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