Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 August 2001

Northern Ireland:

Workers Must Challenge The Bigots

THIS SUMMER has seen further blows to what little remains of the Northern Ireland peace process. The latest is the arrest of three IRA members in Colombia where they were training members of the FARC guerrilla movement.

Peter Hadden, Northern Ireland

The IRA's return from their links with FARC is probably purely financial. But this hasn't stopped unionists - and others - from alleging an arms-running operation and possible IRA involvement in Colombia's drugs trade.

This will further reinforce unionist demands that actual decommissioning takes place before the Assembly and the Good Friday Agreement are put back in operation.

The earlier impasse in negotiations was no surprise. The unprecedented polarisation shown in the Westminster and local government elections left David Trimble with no room to manoeuvre over the weapons question.

The IRA and Sinn Fein leadership are firmly hitched to the political process and hope to win extra seats in the next election in southern Ireland and even enter a coalition government. They're prepared to move on the weapons issue and have conditioned their rank and file to the idea that so long as there is no actual handover of weapons some other form of decommissioning would be acceptable.

The agreement reached with the international decommissioning body on how weapons would be "put beyond use" was a major step for them. But for Trimble, given his precarious position nothing less than a start to actual decommissioning plus a timescale for completion is enough.

So negotiations ended in deadlock. And unless there's some dramatic move by the IRA, the next six-week deadline set for negotiations could also pass without agreement.

As always ordinary working class people pay for sectarian and right-wing politicians' failure. Many working-class people, especially those living near the sectarian interfaces, have faced a long summer of sectarian intimidation, petrol bombings, pipe bombings and shootings.

Sectarian tensions

Much of this activity in areas like north Belfast and across County Antrim has been orchestrated by the local battalions of the UDA who no longer have even the pretence of a ceasefire.

Most attacks are against Catholics but sectarian intimidation has not been all one way. Protestant homes have also been attacked and Protestant property burnt in some areas.

While sectarian tensions are high and people see no way out, there is still no mood to return to full-scale conflict. The UDA's return to sectarian killings - which most people hoped were a thing of the past - has provoked outrage.

At the start of July in Antrim, they shot a young Catholic waiting for a lift to work. His mainly Protestant workmates in the FG Wilson factory in Newtownabbey walked out when they heard the news. In Antrim Protestants and Catholics alike showed their revulsion.

A month later the UDA killers opened fire on young people who they took to be Catholics on the outskirts of North Belfast. A young Protestant, Gavin Brett, was killed.

The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth responded with a vigil at the scene of the murder. Our call for a day of action organised through trade union and community organisations was broadcast on local radio and got a huge response. One of Gavin Brett's relatives echoed this call. A local Sunday paper even included the idea in its editorial.

A peace process based on sectarian politics will go nowhere. But we're seeing what the alternative of escalating sectarian violence will mean.

We need an initiative to bring working-class people, Catholic and Protestant, onto the streets to challenge the bigots. A day of mass action by the working class could be the first step.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 24 August 2001:

Fighting For Decent Pay And Union Rights

Unite And Fight Racism

Northern Ireland: Workers Must Challenge The Bigots

Israel's Grim Realities

Irish Trade Union Democracy Under Attack

Police Mobilise To Protect Fascist 'Festival'

Reinstate Noah Tucker: Hackney UNISON vote for strike ballot


Home   |   The Socialist 24 August 2001   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Northern Ireland:

triangleCovid pandemic and Northern Ireland - workers must resist the bosses' offensive

triangleTwo-metre rule under 'review' - Another case of profit before safety

triangleMay Day 2020: join the protests - wear red, bring flags and banners

triangleBosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland

triangleNorthern Ireland's strike wave


triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

triangleFurther protests in Ireland against Debenhams closures - UK fightback needed

triangleIrish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: Behind the Sinn Fein surge in Ireland


triangleNorthern Ireland, August '69: 'Battle of the Bogside' and British troops on the streets

triangleIreland: 100 years since the 1916 Easter rising


triangleSinn Fein harnesses working-class anger to top poll

triangleBrexit and the border in Northern Ireland - will there be a return to the 'Troubles'?





Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes



Israel: Nurses strike and win


Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights


South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign



France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes



Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist



USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests



Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd


Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests



Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon



Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race



India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus



Trump puts profit before safety (again)



US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide


May Day

A CWI May Day 2020 statement

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020