Political response to economic crisis in Ireland

10th November 2010 Socialist Action 0

Sinn Féin offers a better way

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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What lies behind the current impasse in Ireland’s peace process

28th December 2009 Socialist Action 0

By Frances Davis

Yet again, a crisis is brewing in the Irish peace process. This time it centres on the ongoing failure of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to agree a date for the transfer of powers on justice and policing from Westminster to the Assembly in Belfast.

The DUP’s obstructive approach on the issue has seen, at every twist and turn, excuse after excuse in order to block this key element of the new system, which is an integral part of the peace process.

Over 11 years ago, the Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by referenda in the two parts of Ireland. It outlined a series of key measures to address one of the central inequalities of the northern six-county statelet – a legal system and a police force which were riddled with injustice to the core. From the foundation of the ‘Northern Ireland’ state in 1921, an armed sectarian police force acted to suppress and brutalise that section of the population which did not support British rule, and upheld in the most brutal way a rotten, sectarian state, which systematically discriminated against Catholics and Irish nationalists. This history of brutality, of the ‘police’ acting as a pro-British state militia, combined with a blatantly discriminatory system of so-called justice, was unique to that part of the ‘UK’. It included the use of non-jury ‘Diplock’ courts, torture, collusion, political bans and other methods which drew international condemnation – all of which has been well documented. Unsurprisingly, it met with sustained and mass popular resistance and political opposition.

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Unionists try to wreck peace process

1st February 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: February 1998

Unionist politicians and loyalist death squads are doing everything in their power to wreck the Irish peace process. While Ian Paisley boycotts the talks, David Trimble sabotages them from within by refusing to talk to Sinn Féin, and loyalist paramilitaries murder Catholics chosen at random. Their common goal is to block any fundamental change in Northern Ireland’s status quo.

The Unionist programme is very simple. Northern Ireland must be maintained as a sectarian state in which nationalists are treated as second class citizens. Unionism stands for discrimination in employment, housing, education, culture, religion and politics. Nationalist resistance is met with sectarian murders, pogroms and legalised repression. Unionism correctly sees the partition of Ireland and British rule in the north as the guarantees of the privileges and discrimination which cement the Orange bloc.

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Gerry Adams replies to Tony Blair

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The largest swing to any political party in the general election was to Sinn Féin – a 60 per cent increase in their vote over 1992, nationalist voters made clear that they held John Major, not Sinn Féin, responsible for the collapse of the peace process. As well as gaining two seats – Mid-Ulster and Belfast West – the party’s 16.1 per cent of the vote made them the third largest in Northern Ireland, overtaking Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party. In the local elections which followed, the Unionists lost control of Belfast City Council and Sinn Féin’s vote advanced further.

But, in his first major policy statement on the north, Tony Blair made clear that as far as he is concerned Labour’s conference policy for ‘Irish unity by consent’ is now a dead letter. Blair did not make clear under what conditions Sinn Féin would be admitted to all-party talks.

For the information of our readers we reproduce here the bulk of Gerry Adams’ reply to Tony Blair.