Vol. 4- No 6
Sunday 4TH March 2007
E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) Reformists, Policing and the State
3) Anyone up for a serious alternative?
4) What’s On?
Housing in North Belfast
There is currently a housing crisis in areas of Belfast and in North Belfast in particular. There are areas of “High Demand” and areas of “Low Demand”. The areas of “Low Demand” are Tigers Bay, Crumlin Road, York Road, and Shankill.
The areas of “High Demand” are New Lodge, Carrickhill, Ardoyne, Cliftonville, Greencastle, Old Park. In areas of “High Demand” Hostels and single room Apartments (flats) are being built and in the areas of “Low Demand” two, three and four bedroom houses with a garage attached and driveways to fit two or three cars are being provided.
It is no coincidence that the Hostels and Apartments are being built and continue to be built-in areas that are overwhelmingly Nationalist/Catholic. Currently 84% of those on the housing waiting list are from backgrounds that are Nationalist/Catholic. What has to be remembered is that North Belfast has many interface areas and during the past thirty years has seen numerous sectarian murders of those perceived to be Nationalist/Catholic. The UDA/UFF was involved in many of those murders and has stated openly that they would would not tolerate losing an inch of perceived Unionist /Protestant territory. In reality that position has been endorsed by the statutory authorities to such an extent separate entrances separate bus stops and separate housing estates are now provided to separate entrances separate bus stops and separate housing estates are now provided to “keep the two communities apart”.
The original spark for the civil rights movement was, when a local republican club staged a housing protest in Caledon, over the discriminatory practices of the local unionist establishment. That spark light a fire the consequences of which we are still dealing with.
Although the issue of housing may stir up sectarian passions it would be damnable for any republican or socialist in the interests of “creating better community relations” to stay silence or refuse to agitate on this issue.
It is time the IRSP took to the streets under its own banner to highlight the disgrace discrimination suffered by working classs nationalist in North Belfast. In North Belfast today there are two and three families sharing a home build for one family.
The sectarianisation of housing is not the responsibility of either catholic or protestant working class. It is the direct responsibility of the British ruling class and their allies within the political and economic establishment. These people have no interest in the betterment of either social conditions for working class people or better housing for all. All they are interested in creating the conditions for them and their allies to increase their profits.
If there is still anyone innocent enough to believe, that there is no connection between planning, politicians, apartment blocks and key people within the establishment and manning many of the quangos established to give jobs to the great and good, then it is time they wised up. Recently land set aside for social housing was snapped up by a Dublin speculator whose local agent was and is a prominent member of a body closely connected with the policing issue. There have been a number of cases of such land origionally earmarked for social housing suddenly becoming available for private development.
This is a scandal and the IRSP should be in the vanguard of protests and agitation about this issue.
Reformists, Policing and the State
In the elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly the Socialist Workers Party is standing its long time figure head, Eamonn McCann, under the banner of the Socialist Environmental Alliance. In Belfast they are also standing a young candidate Sean Mitchell under the banner of People before Profits using the issue of water charges as his main platform. Why they don’t stand under the banner of their own party is a mystery for many people.
Eamon McCann made his name in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s having previously been a member of the Irish Workers Group. The IWG took a principled position on the issue of the Imperialist occupation of a part of Ireland. Unfortunately the same can not be said for the SWP which has continuously downplayed the importance of the anti-imperialist and national liberation struggle in Irish politics. This trait they share with the Socialist Party. Both parties yearn for the "normalisation" of the class struggle- a classic economism approach that Lenin Trotsky, Connolly and Costello consistently attacked.
This economistic approach can be seen in McCann and the SEA's approach to the PSNI. On 22nd January, the SEA had this to say about a foreign, imperialist police force in Ireland:
"We do not believe that the ongoing debate between the Sinn Fein leadership and republicans who disagree with them about policing is productive from a working-class point of view."
The reality is the exact opposite. The working classes in all the main cities in the British Isles know which side of the barricades their local police force is on-the side of capitalism. Policing is an everyday issue for the working class. Who allows the druggies to ply their trade? Who ignores attacks on working class homes but comes down like a ton of bricks on those who may be seen to be a threat to the property of the rich? Who plants false evidence on political activists? Who infiltrates political organisations and who works in collusion with loyalist and right wing organisations to suppress dissent?
A debate about policing would really be in the interests of the working class. Not that Sinn Fein(provisional) had a debate about policing prior to their endorsment of the imperialist police. Adams lied when he said they had held 60 meetings and had a debate. On the contary dissent in Sinn Fein was stifled and former members threatened. So McCann ignored a real opportunity to seriously engage in the whole debate. Oh yes in his election statement, McCann denounced police harassment of youth, exposing their role as defenders of capitalist property on picket lines, and encouraging young people not to join up. But he ends with this reformist statement on the relationship between bourgeois democracy and a body of armed men:
“We believe that the only proper position of elected representatives is to remain at all times independent of the police and hold them to account and subject them to public scrutiny. In a phrase, to police the police."
This ignores the whole issue of the national question, the gerrymandered nature of the Six Counties, which give a built in majority to Unionism. Do McCann and the SWP really believe the PSNI is fundamentally different to the RUC? Do they believe they can be made accountable to the nationalist population, to Protestant as well as Catholic workers, via Stormont or Westminster?
Rather than foster illusions in the reformability of the six counties the SWP should shed their reformist illusions and join the admittedly weakened struggle to smash
this whole state, with its police force and army. Our job is not to just hold it to account. Our job is to smash Stormont as a prelude to transforming the national struggle into a struggle for socialism in all Ireland.
Re: Peggy O'Hara Election Fighting Fund
Details from the IRSP locally. Call 028 71 353090 or call into Teach na Failte, Unit 14 Lenamore Business Park
Anyone up for a serious alternative?
Philip Ferguson, February 28
One of the positives of the Stormont election is that in a number of areas there are republican alternative candidates to the capitulationist politics of New Sinn Fein. A second positive is that the republican candidates are not running against each other and splitting the vote.
However, a large problem remains and that is the fact that there is no united platform to maximise the potential of an anti-imperialist vote. With all due respect, for instance, to Francie Mackey and the 32-County Sovereignty Movement (February 20 statement), more is required than simply the 32CSM calling on people to vote for the anti-capitulationist candidates. And the Republican Sinn Fein statement run on February 18 did not even mention that there were candidates other than RSF ones.
Given the scale of the Provo sell-out, surely those organisations which say they continue to fight for a free Ireland have some obligation to the republican base to attempt to work together in order to further that aim. This does not mean merging organisationally or trying to unite around an entire programme. But a serious observer might think that anti-imperialist organisations could at least have been able to unite around a minimum programme for the Stormont elections and thereby maximise the impact that an electoral challenge could make. This would be in the interests of all anti-imperialists - the stronger and more coherent a base for anti-imperialism, the more water each anti-imperialist fish has to swim in.
Conversely, the inability of anti-imperialists to form some kind of combined broad electoral front, or any kind of general broad front, can only strengthen the position of the Brits, their traditional cat’s paw (the Unionists) and their new cat’s paw (the Provos). A messy maze of republican candidates may be better than no candidates, but it is not likely to be much of a match for the slick and well-financed Provo electoral machine. Nor is it likely to help overcome the key problems which face the traditional republican base in the north – confusion, exhaustion and demoralisation.
While the opportunity to pose a broad united anti-imperialist electoral alternative to New Sinn Fein and the traditional Stoop Down Low Party has been lost, there is still time to put together a principled electoral front for the 26-county general election. Because of the much smaller republican and left base in the south, this would be a much more modest effort than the squandered opportunity in the north, but it would at least be an infant step forward.
It could also be an opportunity to begin the task of working towards building a new, 32-county broad front of supporters of Irish national liberation and socialism.
Of course, the question now is: Is there an organisation or group of individuals prepared to take a lead along these lines?
Just a note to let you know that we have added a new link to the Anti-War Ireland website (www.antiwarireland.org), which gives readers access to significant background information on the protests at Shannon airport. The material, compiled by Margaret Cahill in Limerick, is an extremely useful resource for all anti-war activists and supporters.
> Main page http://airportwatch.wikispaces.com/
> Protests, direct action etc. December 2001-present
> Arrests, charges, convictions (still a bit sketchy):
> Official reports on rendition flights (Council of Europe, EU Parliamentary
> Committee, Venice Commission, Submission to Oireachtas committee)
> Debates in the Dail and Seanad relating to Shannon (to be finished):
> Legal challenges to the government (Dubsky and Horgan)
Press Release from Transport and General Workers Union Branches organising a meeting for T&G members and the public on a genuine alternative to Gordon Brown on Tuesday 6th March at Friends Meeting House. Euston Road at 07.00pm. Press enquiries welcome. Press facilities provided.
Prime Ministerial Labour candidate John McDonnell MP will be scrutinised by a public “Hustings” meeting attended by members of the public as well as T&G Members, living and visiting the Kings Cross area of London.
The Hustings have been called by branches of the Transport and General Workers Union to advise the union’s General Executive Committee. Leading figures from other trade unions will also be speaking including Bob Crow General Secretary of the RMT union and Mick Wrack, General Secretary of the FBU along with ASLEF. All these unions are now backing McDonnell, previously an unknown backbench MP,
The National Pensioners’ Forum will be represented.
The MP has not courted self-publicity but is attracting increasing support in the Labour Movement; on Saturday the influential Campaign for Labour Party Democracy swung it’s support behind McDonnell. The previously little-known MP is now being scrutinised as a future Prime Minister, thus the calling of this Hustings.
A poll of Trade Unionists leaving last year’s Labour Party Conference gave a majority “yes” to John McDonnell MP as future Prime Minister to replace Blair.
Trade Union Activists representing a range of support throughout the Labour Movement and within the General Public will be pleased to give media interviews on “why I am backing John McDonnell:
John McDonnell Telephone:
020 8569 0010
LRC office (Simeon Andrews) http://www.john4leader.org.uk/
0207 529 8296
RW mob (Retired) 07989851602
Gordon Lean mob (Truck Driver) 07921706257
Ian Lidbetter (Night Trunk Driver) 078381998 (interview in the middle of the night)
Andy Erlam mob (Researcher) 07795 547033
for leaflet advertising meeting and maps, parking and direction etc contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This Press Release is organised by Chair of 1/524 Branch, Secretary of 1/5 Branch, Secretary and Chair of 1/888 Branch who take responsibility for it’s contents. Branches 1/724 2103 are also involved.
Place: Friends Meeting House, Euston Road
Date: Tuesday 6th March 07
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATIONS
International Women’s Day event
Saturday 10 March 2007, 12:15 pm
Women in the Front Line of the struggle for justice and progress
Speaker: Nadia Harb
Palestinian People’s Party
Transport House: Belfast (102 High Street) Organised by the Communist Party of Ireland Organised by the Communist Party of Ireland
Further information: 077 51951785
Thursday 22 March, 7 p.m. International Women's Day event
Doffers and Dockers: Belfast Industrial Struggles, 1906-7
Speaker: Theresa Moriarty
(author of biographies of Delia Larkin of the Irish Women Workers' Union and
Mary Galway of the Textile Operatives' Society of Ireland). Chairperson:
Dawn Purvis (T&GWU). ?Linen Hall Library (Fountain Street)
Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
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The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have re-launched their website.
It can be viewed at
An Glór / The Voice
News sheet of Belfast Republican Socialist Youth Movement
- Brit police never acceptable
- Maghaberry Prison protest continues
- Assets Recovery Agency, a question of money
- Support the Turkish death fast
- Ard Fheis rejects any move towards INLA decommissioning
- Volunteer Davy McNutt RIP
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have produced a short video on the situation concerning Shannon airport and its continued use by American troops and the CIA. The video can be viewed at
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