Ireland North: Mass action will succeed

The Socialist Party and its forerunners in Northern Ireland have consistently campaigned for working class unity and the struggle for socialism as the only answer to the sectarian division that is part of every day life. Through patient work in often extremely difficult and polarised conditions they have built a base in the trade unions and amongst young people. Despite the pressure of the sectarian paramilitary organisations and their political counterparts the Socialist Party has maintained a base of those workers and youth who are prepared to stand up to sectarian propaganda in their communities.

The huge response to the ICTU call for strike action against the sharply deteriorating situation in many parts of Northern Ireland shows that the position put forward by the party maintains its validity today. The report given below shows how decades of work in what at times seemed like impossible conditions is vitally important in laying down traditions which reaps large dividends when the political situation changes.

Today’s action has been called by the unions independently of the employers and the politicians – and it is stronger as a result.

We have to continue to act independently.

There is no good turning to sectarian politicians to defeat sectarianism. During the peace process they had their turn and they failed miserably. They have a vested interest in keeping workers divided – otherwise they would not get people to vote for them.

We are on the streets defending services. The employers and the politicians meanwhile are attacking the services we are trying to defend.

They are cutting jobs, closing hospital and selling off services to the profiteers in the private sector.

We have already dealt the bigots a massive blow. But unless we tackle the conditions that breed sectarianism they will recover. If we can unite to stop sectarian attacks we can also unite to fight for jobs, for decent wages, for proper funding for Health, Education and other services.

If we did this we would have a real peace process based on working class communities coming together to fight for our common interests. And because we can’t rely on sectarian and right wing politicians to represent these interests we need to replace them with people who will.

If the tens of thousands who have stood together today could be mobilised to vote together we could change the political landscape in Northern Ireland. To do this we need to build a new political party to represent our interests.

The trade unions, hand in hand with genuine community organisations, need to build a working class party capable of offering an alternative to the current crop of failed sectarian parties.

Join the socialist party

The Socialist Party has been to the fore in organising in the workplaces and communities for today’s rallies.

Our youth wing, Socialist Youth, have launched School Students United Against Sectarianism to combat sectarianism in the schools and bring school students to the rallies.

We are a campaigning party uniting Catholic and Protestant workers and youth on issues like low pay, privatisation as well as opposing sectarianism and injustice.

If you agree with the ideas we are putting forward and want to work with us to take the movement against sectarianism forward why not join us today. Just fill in the form below.

Meeting: How we can defeat sectarianism

Chair: Kevin Lawrenson, NIPSA Treasurer

Guest Speakers:

Gerry Robinson, CWU Branch Official

Mary Cahillane, INTO Teacher

Ian Beard, FBU Firefighter

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD Dublin

Gary Mulcahy, Socialist Youth

Peter Hadden, Socialist Party

We won’t work under threat!

"Postal workers are very very angry. We are up at five in the morning delivering to every door and are easy targets. We are not prepared to tolerate these threats from anyone. The initial stoppage for 24 hours after the murder of Daniel McColgan has been extended until the threat is lifted. This was the unanimous decision of a thousand strong meeting of postal workers held after the funeral. We don’t view this action as the end but the start of an ongoing campaign against all paramilitaries and all threats no matter where they come from."

Gerry Robinson Branch Official CWU

"Teachers have had no choice but to strike. No group of workers can be expected to work with a threat hanging over them. All the education unions need to act together to see that schools are safe for pupils and staff. We have enough problems opposing performance related pay, trying to stop privatisation and fighting for adequate recourses for the classrooms without facing threats."

Mary Cahillane Teacher INTO Northern Ireland Committee

"The fire service just recently has come under attack by thugs who are throwing bricks, bottles, stones and any other missile that come to hand. In Portadown just recently fire crew came under attack from 50 strong mobs throwing missiles and bottles. These attacks are on a daily basis – there were 800 recorded attacks on firefighters last year. If they continue and we are unable to respond to a 999 call then people’s lives will be put at risk."

Ian Beard Firefighter FBU Regional Committee

"City Council workers have recently received threats from loyalists and from the so-called Catholic Reaction Force. Both have to be condemned and opposed equally. Many of our members have to work in jobs that leave them vulnerable to attack. The unions should follow the half-day strike by linking up with community organisations in an ongoing campaign to stop the threats and the attacks."

Ciaran Molloy. Park Ranger and T&GWU shop steward.

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January 2002