Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking pa
Fight the Tories in Westminster and Stormont
The return to the streets of organised loyalist gangs in paramilitary regalia, as seen during the UVF attacks on the Short Strand in June, is a sinister development. One that raises fears of paramilitary-organised sectarian violence over the summer months.
There have been warnings for some time now from people in loyalist working-class areas that the UVF were recruiting, organising and training young people for a summer of discontent. There is no doubt, (see page 5 inside), that working-class Protestants have much to be discontented about.
As Socialist Worker regularly points out, the narrowing gap between poverty levels in Protestant and Catholic sections of the working class is not because Catholics are better off, but because Protestants are worse off.
But this is not what the UVF’s discontent is about.
The UVF wants to flex its muscle on two major issues. It fears that the Historical Enquiry Team, which is investigating unsolved murders going back to the 1970s, is about to use ‘supergrass’ evidence to arrest large numbers of its members.
And it wants funding from the government to employ its members as ‘community workers’, as an ongoing reward for its ceasefire. It has warned again and again that it ‘won’t be able to stop’ sectarian violence if it’s not given more resources. What this means, of course, is that it will organise sectarian violence if it doesn’t get what it wants.
Over a decade since the Belfast Agreement, sectarian divisions remain rife in the North. Despite the rhetoric of politicians on all sides about ‘a new Northern Ireland’, the Assembly is a barrier to change, institutionalising sectarianism in how it operates.
This means that issues like education, health and public transport can end up entangled in sectarian rows.
To make matters worse, workers here are facing unprecedented attacks, with jobs and services being slashed.
In this situation, workers can blame politicians, bosses and bankers – or they can blame other workers.
Whether it‘s migrant workers or ‘the other side’, there will be those trying to get us to blame each other for the crisis in capitalism.
This is easily done during the Orange marching season.
In the wake of the attacks on Short Strand, and the ‘internment’ of Marian Price of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, justifiable outrage is felt by many; at the attacks themselves, at the feeble response of the PSNI, and at the hypocrisy and double standards of the media. Militarists in the nationalist community (‘dissidents’ in the language of the establishment) will attempt to channel this outrage into support for their dead-end strategy of re-launching an ‘armed campaign’.
This must be rejected as delusional, dangerous and counterproductive. The Socialist Workers Party aims to unite workers from across every religious and ethnic community across Ireland, North and South, to resist the cuts and fight for a new society free from sectarianism.
We believe Protestant workers have as much a stake in that fight as anyone, and call upon the trade union movement urgently to mobilise against sectarianism and against the wider attacks on working people.
Over the summer months, there is potential for a return to large-scale sectarian violence. But there is potential also for a united fightback.
This autumn should see massive strikes by workers across the North with unions such as NIPSA, FBU and UCU all balloting for industrial action. This type of strike action has the potential to stop the Tories (whichever flag they hide under) in their tracks and unite workers from all communities.
It is in the heat of common struggle that the chains of sectarianism can be broken.
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The death toll in the sweatshop collapse in Bangladesh has now risen to 290.
200 workers have died in a sweatshop collapse in Bangladesh.
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