Friday 17 October 2003

The Plough Vol 01 No 10

The Plough
-E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
Number- 10 Date 17th October 2003
1. Some Sectarian Attacks
2. Left Unity
3. Maskey and Mackin did not broker INLA cease-fire.
4. Republican Socialist Alternative Economic Strategy?
5. Kadek.
6. Breast Cancer - A good deed!
7. Anti Racist Network-Fred Crowe-Unionist councillor.
Some Sectarian Attacks
9th October Protestant homes were attacked in on the Ardoyne Road and Ohio Street.
Meanwhile in Antrim town loyalists attacked the home of a Sinn Fein activist.
10th October 2002 Windows were smashed in catholic homes in Somerdale Park and
Kingsmere Avenue in North Belfast when loyalists threw paint bombs
11TH October 2003 A schoolboy was confronted by a man brandishing an iron bar in the
grounds of St Gabriel’s School in North Belfast
14TH October 2003 A catholic family was driven from her home by a mob of nationalists
who thought she was a protestant and was dealing in drugs on the Whitewell Road in
North Belfast
15th October 2003. A lone mother and her two young children living in Co Armagh had
their house at Upper Enniskeen in Craigavon attacked at around 11.30pm.
It is believed that a number of windows in the house were smashed in the attack.
The incident is just the latest in a campaign of violence against Muslim families living in
the area.
16TH October 2003. Another Muslim family were attacked in the Craigavon area
17TH October. Loyalist left a pipe bomb in the nationalist St James area. No one was
Left Unity meeting 9/10/03 Belfast Unemployed Centre
Recently there were two left unity meetings, which the IRSP attended. The first on the
second of October was a public meeting, which the IRSP only found out was on, by
accident. We received no formal or informal invitations. This despite the fact that last
year we had been part of a group called the Social Forum which had reached some
tentative agreements on possible policy areas and which involved wide strata of left
opinion including representatives of some protestant working class views. Unfortunately
those meetings fizzled out. Then the SWP, which had been involved in the Social Forum,
arranged a series of closed meetings with other groups out of which emerged the
suggested programme which were published in The Plough No. 8. At no time we
understand was the suggested programme put to a vote, nor was it agreed at the first
public meeting. But at the second meeting involving a small number of delegates when
the programme was questioned by the IRSP we were told it was not for changing. A the
meeting it emerged that Communist Party of Ireland – gave a qualified no to Left Unity
candidates but individual members of the party could get involved in a Left Unity
campaign if they wished. The Derry Trades and Environmental group a front group for
the SWP, fully supported the project and said that it should be as broad as possible both
geographically and the left political spectrum. The Workers’ Party gave a general
welcome but they were concerned that there is not enough time to do this prior to a
November election. They also brought up the idea of a socialist forum to discuss matters
of mutual interest. WP had already selected candidates for the forthcoming election and
expressed a view that the European Elections may offer a better opportunity for Left
Unity. The Socialist Workers’ Party were fully behind the initiative while the Official
Republican Movement (ORM) were in broad support, but unsure as to how it would work
and the timescale involved. No decisions were taken, No votes were taken, and meeting
broke up in an uncertain fashion with no date set for next meeting.
The position of the IRSP is very clear. While left unity is desirable it cannot be rushed
through just to satisfy the electoral ambitions of some people. How can there be unity
when there were pro and anti Good Friday Agreement Parties. For example how could
the IRSP/ Left Alternative (Anti-Agreement) call for a vote for the WP (Left Alternative
(Pro Agreement) without losing all credibility? The people are not stupid. They would
see the Left Alternative for what it is: an ill thought out attempt to cobble together an
unprincipled alliance to maximise a “left “vote. The reality is that on the ground the
left has not done the steady persistent class work that would establish its credibility
with the working class. When members of the Workers Party cannot even acknowledge
the presence of members of the ORM at a left unity meeting then the basis for their cooperation
is not the interests of the mass of the working class but the particular interests
in one sect of the left. Furthermore any alliance that tries to cover its position on the
national question and fool the masses is doomed to failure. Seamus Costello drew on both
the experience and teachings of James Connolly in his approach to the problem of
"loyalism" among the Belfast Protestant working class. When questioned in March 1975,
about co-operation with representatives of the Protestant workers on immediate issues
"which would appear to unite the people," he defined his position clearly and succinctly.
"Connolly had to face exactly the same predicament. In Belfast prior to 1916, you had
people who classified themselves as socialists and who were also interested in ending
British rule in Ireland. Their approach to the Protestant working class was on the basis of
limited and immediate issues. One of the principal issues, which affected both sections of
the working class, was the question of whether or not they could get gas and water into
their houses. "Some very militant campaigns were engaged in on these two demands - gas
and water for the houses in the working class districts. Republicans and socialists were
involved in this campaign on the basis that this was the way to unite the working class. At
the same time, these republicans and socialists refused point blank to mention or even
discuss the national question with the Protestant working class, on the grounds that if they
did, the Protestant working class wouldn't listen to them and that they would lose their co
operation on the issue of gas and water for the houses. "Connolly was totally in
opposition to this approach. He categorized them as gas and water socialists. Today in
Belfast we have what we call ring-road socialists. They are exactly the same type of
people. They are, in fact, the leadership of the Official republican movement in Belfast.
"We maintain that any co-operation with the Protestant working class must be on the
basis of a principled political position. It must be on the basis of explaining fully to the
Protestant working class what all our policies are, not just our policy on the ring
road. We must try and politicize them, simultaneously with conducting a political
campaign to get rid of Britain. It will be primarily an educational function, or an
educational campaign directed towards Protestants in the hope at least that some
significant section of the Protestant working class will understand."
We are for unity-class unity class struggle and the struggle against Imperialism. That’s
the basis the IRSP will enter into electoral alliances and only when we have established a
clear consistent record of mass work. As Bertie might say-Much done -much to be done.
Maskey and Mackin did not broker INLA cease-fire.
A biography of Alex Maskey called “Alex Maskey: Man and Major” by Barry
McCaffrey has just been published. Part of the book carries the extraordinary assertion
“Liam Maskey and the trade unionist Brendan Mackin acted as conduits between the
INLA and the British Government during discussions that ended with the Republican
Group announcing a ceasefire. and
“Throughout 1997 and the first eight months of 1998 the two men carried a succession
of messages between the INLA and the British”
This is simply not true. During both 1997 and 1998 the stance of the INLA towards the
British was summed up in the phrase “Don’t trust the British” As a result the leadership
of the INLA had taken a decision that it would not talk to the British Ministers. During
the whole of the year 1997 the INLA was not on ceasefire and indeed in December 1997
the Ard Feis of the IRSP had decisively rejected a motion recommending the INLA to
call a ceasefire. While there was ongoing contact with the priests in Clonard Monastery
no moves were made towards the British at all. However after the result of the Referenda
on the Good Friday Agreement a series of meetings of the leadership of the INLA was
held. Resulting from these meetings a number of decisions were made including ending
any co-operation with other groups and seeking talks with representatives of the Irish
Government and with representatives of the Northern Ireland Office to explain the
position of the INLA. In June /July 1998 only one meetings was held with Maskey and
Mackin with a view to set up a meeting with the NIO. They were asked to facilitate that
meeting because of their proud trade union record. This followed the RSM contacting
Brendan Mackin with a view to exploring what would be the procedure re prisoners
following any INLA cease-fire. At those meetings the representatives of the INLA
informed those they met of the INLA’s views on the consequences of the decision of the
people in Ireland to endorse the Good Friday Agreement.
For the record it should be recorded that while both Liam Maskey and Brendan
Mackin are good people of integrity they did not broker the INLA ceasefire. They
did not carry a succession of messages between the INLA and the British
Government. They did not act as conduits between the INLA and the British.
Economic Strategy.
In its latest economic review, the business advisers Price WaterHouse Coopers says the
serious weakness of the Northern Irish economy is being hidden by a “veneer of
economic prosperity”. At the same time, the First Trust Bank economic outlook and
business review says that the North is facing a situation where “there are no more free
lunches”. One of the main reasons why the local economy (North and South for that
matter) is in a fragile condition is that it is highly dependent on the investments of
multinational corporations. Those companies are not here for the “craic”, but for their
profits, and if they can make more money, they will have no qualms to move from
Belfast to Bengalore. The same could be said of local companies who closed down some
of their operations in the North. These closures have resulted in some huge job losses; the
consequences of delocalisation for the local economy have been disastrous. Various
economic experts, government agencies and business leaders tell us that this is
“inevitable” and that there are no alternatives.
What can be done? In Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, there are new laws (or
projects for such laws) to curtail cuts, closures, de-localisations and redundancies by
companies, both national and multinational, both at a European and national level. MPs
and MEPs’ have pointed that it was unacceptable that redundancies could coincide with
massive profits for those companies, showing the sharp opposition between social wellbeing
and profitability of companies. For example, in Belgium, Ford has recently made
3000 people redundant while at the same time making 1.36 billion dollars in profits for
the first six months of 2003.
What is the actual content of this proposed legislation?
First, there can be no cuts, redundancies, delocalisation or closures unless approved by
the joint management/employees corporate committee of that particular company, and a
plan to save jobs and wages has been collectively agreed. In the absence of such a
collective agreement, and until this agreement has been implemented, everybody in the
company is entitled to keep their employment and wages.
Secondly, the employer will have to provide completely, correctly, and in time the
totality of the facts and data on the basis of which the decision is taken to proceed with
cuts, redundancies or closures, including information relating to other units and
subdivisions of the group to which the company may belong. Plans for redundancies and
closures will have to be announced in advance.
Thirdly, any employer transgressing this legislation or information and consultation
procedures will have to repay any public funding or grants received over the five years
preceding the infraction. This money will be paid to a Fund for Economic Democracy,
and will serve to finance alternative solutions to cuts and closures. This Fund could also
receive additional funding from a special tax on profits, rents and dividends (a tax of a
nature similar to the proposed Tobin Tax on financial speculation).
Finally, sanctions against employers who wouldn’t respect this legislation would range
from fines to prison sentences. This could also be extended to the major shareholders of
that company.
These suggestions could be part of an all-Ireland Republican Socialist Alternative
Economic Strategy. It is a matter of time before some major company will go announce
some “restructuration” plan that will result in closures and job losses. To guarantee
continuity of employment and income, it is necessary that we fight for a legislation that
will curtail the ability of companies to make our lives insecure. It is imperative to make
the corporate world accountable to the people.
A matter of concern is the plight of the 15 million Kurdish people, scattered over Turkey,
Syria, Iran and Iraq. Of particular concern is the conflict taking place between the
Turkish state and the Maoist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Since 1984, it has claimed
over 30 000 lives, mostly Kurdish civilians killed by the Turkish army. Thousands of
villages have been destroyed, and more than two million people have been displaced.
It is very worrying to learn that the Turkish parliament has approved sending over 10,000
troops to Iraq to support the US army and to get rid of some 5000 PKK guerrillas in the
mountains of the far North of Iraq. Thousands of Kurdish civilians are likely to be killed,
injured, tortured and imprisoned as a result of this. Washington will turn a blind eye, as
this can be justified as being part of the global “war against terror”. The PKK is on the
US state department’s list of terrorist organisations along with the RIRA and FARC.
However, the PKK is hardly a threat to US and NATO interests. It has renamed itself the
Freedom and Democracy Congress (Kadek). It has abandoned its Maoism and demand
for an independent Kurdish state. It demands instead “parity of esteem” for Kurdish
people within the countries with a substantial Kurdish population. One of its leaders,
Osman Ocalan has stated “We want to cooperate, not fight with the British and US
forces” (The Guardian 8 October). Recently Kadek has been forced to take up arms
because of Turkey’s failure to establish all party talks now and inclusive negotiations
based on equality. Its most prominent leader, Abdullah Ocalan is the Kurdish Gerry
Breast Cancer - A good deed
· Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble
getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of donating at least one
free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman.
· It takes less than a minute to go to their site a click on “donating a mammogram” for
free (pink window in the middle). This doesn’t Cost you a thing. Their corporate
sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in
exchange for advertising. Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know:
The Anti-Racist Network in Belfast have produced a letter calling on the UUP to expel
Craigavon Councillor Fred Crowe for his deeply racist remarks in the BBC special report
broadcast on Monday night.
We the undersigned wish to register our horror at the recent racist comments of
Craigavon Councillor Fred Crowe.
In an area where eight families have been forced to move after suffering racist attacks,
Mr Crowe’s remarks are a disgrace. They will only serve to increase the suffering of the
ethnic minority population in Craigavon and across the whole of Northern Ireland. His
comments are not just an insult to the ethnic minority population but also an insult to the
vast majority of people in Northern Ireland who find racism abhorrent.
To be clearly seen on Monday evening’s BBC report trying to convince young people
that they should view Muslims as people who bomb the USA and kill their daughters for
marrying Christians is a clear and chilling example of incitement to racial hatred.
We call on the leaders of all the main churches and political parties to immediately issue
statements condemning Mr Crowe’s remarks.
We also call on the Ulster Unionist Party to use their party conference this weekend to
completely distance themselves from Mr Crowe’s remarks and to expel him from the
party. This would send a clear and positive message out to everyone in Northern Ireland
that racism will not be tolerated.
James Byrne Commemoration Committee >
1st November 2003-09-11 Monument Unveiling & 90th Anniversary
Assemble 2pm Main Entrance Deansgrange Cemetery, Deansgrange, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
The newly-commissioned monument over the grave of Trade Union >Martyr, James
Byrne, District Organiser, ITG&WU, who died on 1st November 1913 following a
hunger & thirst strike during the Great >Lock-Out 1913 will be unveiled by Des
Geraghty, President, SIPTU. All trade unionists, political activists and members of the
Public >welcome!
[No Party Political Banners, please!]
The James Byrne Commemoration Committee has organised the erection of a fitting
memorial over the grave in Deansgrange Cemetery [Co. >Dublin, Ireland] of James
Byrne, a trade union martyr who died on >1st November 1913 as a result of the effects of
a hunger and thirst >strike during imprisonment for his role in the Great Lock-Out of that
year. James was District Organiser of the Irish Transport & >General Workers Union and
held leadership roles in both Bray and >Kingstown [Dún Laoghaire] Trades Councils.
In the course of James Byrne’s funeral oration James Connolly said:
”James Byrne truly died a martyr as any man who ever died for Ireland”
The Committee believes that the monument is a fitting tribute to >James Byrne and hopes
that his grave may become a place of >pilgrimage and source of inspiration for trade
unionists and >socialists in the future. We are particularly pleased that the descendents of
James Byrne are fully supportive of the work of the >Committee.
Jason Mc Lean. PRO- James Byrne Commemoration Committee.
European Social Forum Paris, St Denis 12-15 November
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