By Frances Davis
In the north of Ireland the election was dominated by two factors: the economic situation and austerity; and the political and peace process. Sinn Fein have been at the sharp end of the fight against austerity and in resisting Tory welfare `reform’ cuts from being implemented in the six counties. They have also been in an on-going struggle to defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement against an anti-agreement offensive of unionism and the Tory-led government, which has attempted to stall and roll back progress.
Lenin was the foremost exponent of Marxism of his generation whose leadership was decisive in the success of the Russian Revolution. This was made possible by the development of a theoretical outlook which informed the anti-imperialist wing of the socialist movement which subsequently became the worldwide communist movement.
An opinion poll in the Sunday Independent on June 8 suggested Sinn Féin support had increased to 26% since the European and council elections.
In last week’s elections Sinn Féin stood on a strong anti-austerity programme, both north and south, with a clear, left alternative economic policy coupled with a strong advocacy of the peace process and for Irish reunification. Its vote is the strongest for the party since 1918.
The recent arrest and imprisonment of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who was subsequently released without charge, was a clear political intervention, designed to undermine the peace process and to reverse the rise in support across Ireland for Sinn Fein.
The current failure to move forward on proposals which emerged from the 'Haass' talks in relation to the north of Ireland, as Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy recently pointed out, `go to the heart of the issues and difficulties involved in making political change and progress’.
The proposals which emerged from all-party talks chaired by US diplomats Richard Haass and Megan O’Sullivan, put forward reasonable and modest ways of dealing with the problematic issues of the past, contentious parades, the flying of flags and use of emblems. Resolving these issues is crucial to maintaining and progressing the Good Friday Agreement’s core principle of equality.
One of the most inspiring moments in the days of tribute following the death of Nelson Mandela has been the way in which it has highlighted the connections between the leaderships of national liberation struggles spanning continents – from South African to Cuba and to Ireland. The critical role of the Cuban leadership and people in helping defeat apartheid was given significant prominence in South Africa at the memorial service with the speech and presence of President Raul Castro.
In addition, and of particular note for the left here, was the prominence given to the connection between the Sinn Fein leadership and the ANC, where decades-long links with the struggle against apartheid and Irish republicans came to the fore.
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