By Frances Davis
This year will mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, in which Bobby Sands and nine other republican prisoners died in a struggle for political status against the Thatcher government’s brutal policy of ‘criminalisation’. The hunger strike was a critical turning point in the most prolonged struggle against colonialism anywhere in history – the more than 800-year-long struggle against British rule in Ireland. This historic moment in Irish history, which ultimately saw the victory of the hunger strikers’ demands, was indeed, as Fidel Castro described that year, ‘one of the most heroic chapters in human history’.
By Jane West
Sarkozy’s introduction of the legal ban on wearing the full face veil in France is an indication of the degree to which right-wing governments across Europe are prepared to try to deflect anger at attacks on working class living standards onto innocent scapegoats – in this case approximately 2000 Muslim women in France, less than 0.2% of the population, who wear a Burqa or Niqab.
Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin and elected to the Dáil in the recent Irish elections, draws out the historic turn in the politics of Ireland marked by the 1981 hunger strike and the elections of hunger strikers Bobby Sands (to the Westminster Parliament) and Ciaran Doherty and Paddy Agnew (to the Dublin Dáil). He draws out how this period marked a turn in the politics of Ireland on both sides of the border and shaped the subsequent three decades of Irish politics. The article orginally appeared on his blog.
By Bryan ConnorDuring the international financial crisis US imperialism has succeeded in striking further blows against its European and Japanese capitalist competitors. Data on the US economy to be published later this week will probably show US GDP has regained its pre-crisis level. That means an average zero percent US growth for three years – a terrible performance. But Japanese and European production are even worse, remaining below their previous levels four years into the crisis. The US, however, has been pursuing policies that worsen the economic position of its European and Japanese competitors – pushing Japan to engage in confrontational policies with its largest trading partner, China, and in Europe both cheering on every step of belt tightening in countries such as Greece and Ireland and trying to break up the Euro.
By Frances Davis
Sinn Féin’s stunning victory in the Donegal South West parliamentary by-election on 25 November represents a huge advance in what was the first electoral test for the Dublin government since the sharp deepening of the state’s economic crisis. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty saw his party’s vote soar from 21 per cent at the last general election in 2007 to 40 per cent of first preference votes. In a reversal of previous showings, Sinn Féin also won an increasing share of the transfers from the eliminated candidates.
By Nicky Dempsey
The Portuguese general strike on November 24th registered a major increase in the response of the working class and its allies against the attacks on social welfare, pay and jobs. The government claim that there was only 30% support for the strike in the public, and even less in the private sector was widely derided.
By Nicky Dempsey
Sinn Féin has published its response to the Dublin government’s threatened plans to cut public spending once more in its Budget for 2011, There Is A Better Way. The Fianna Fail/ Green coalition in government has outlined planned further cuts totalling €6bn in both capital and current spending, including welfare payments to the poor. This would bring the total level of ‘fiscal tightening’ to €20.6bn since the end of 2008, which is now equivalent to 13.1% of GDP. For comparison the British government’s current plans – among the most draconian of any major European country – amount to 9.2% of GDP.
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