Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/901/22775

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 May 2016

Northern Ireland elections: positive moves against sectarian politics

Labour Alternative candidates in the 2016 assembly elections

Labour Alternative candidates in the 2016 assembly elections   (Click to enlarge)

Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

The campaign in the run-up to the Northern Ireland Assembly election was a dull and uneventful affair. The result has brought little over-all change. Yet there were significant signs that the growing alienation from sectarianism, austerity and backward social policies is beginning to find a positive expression, with left forces taking important steps forward.

Other than the usual sectarian squabbling, the five main parties which have until now made up the Assembly Executive are fundamentally united when it comes to austerity and neoliberal economics.

Their policies have left one in five people in poverty, created mass youth unemployment, maintained sectarian division and denied LGBT equality and a woman's right to choose.

In the new Assembly, the forces of unionism and nationalism will continue to dominate, with the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin returned as the two largest parties.

However, the percentage vote share of all five main parties fell compared to 2011. The Green Party - non-sectarian, socially liberal and critical of austerity - took a step forward, tripling its vote and doubling its number of representatives to two.

People Before Profit (PBP) also won its first two Assembly seats. Young councillor Gerry Carroll topped the poll in Sinn Féin's West Belfast heartland with 23% of the vote, while veteran campaigner Eamonn McCann overcame the odds to take a seat in the Foyle constituency.

The PBP is connected to campaigns against cuts, raises the demand for socialist change and describes itself as 'neither Orange nor Green'.

This development shows significant numbers of workers and young people in these constituencies are rejecting the status quo in favour of a left alternative.

For the first time, the main parties in the Assembly will be challenged by anti-austerity ideas. People Before Profit's victories will stimulate debate about the alternative to austerity and sectarianism and give confidence to many that it is possible to win change.

However, as well as opportunities, there are potential pitfalls ahead. PBP - initiated by the Socialist Workers Party - is largely based in and orientated towards Catholic working class communities, which is often reflected in its language and the positions it takes on contentious issues such as parades.

If the opportunity to build a new, socialist force which can break the stranglehold of sectarianism is to be seized, it is an essential pre-requisite that we unite Protestant and Catholic working class people and genuinely advocate independent working class and anti-sectarian positions on the difficult questions which divide our communities.

Alternative

The Socialist Party worked with other trade unionists and activists to lay down a marker for the kind of genuinely cross-community left which is needed by launching Labour Alternative.

The aim was to appeal to young people attracted to the politics of Jeremy Corbyn and to begin rebuilding Northern Ireland's historic anti-sectarian, labour tradition.

Our three candidates and our activists were drawn from both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds and campaigned actively in both communities.

Our combative approach in demanding LGBT equality, women's right to choose and our clear anti-austerity, socialist message (with posters asking that people "Don't vote for dinosaurs!") caught the imagination of many young people.

We got messages from dozens of people saying they had turned out to vote for the first time ever for Labour Alternative.

Our candidates won between 515 and 871 votes, almost 2,000 in total. In each constituency, we registered the largest vote for socialist, labour movement candidates in decades.

In two of the constituencies, these votes were won despite major campaigns by the Greens, where they were fighting for seats.

In South Belfast, Sean Burns beat everyone except the Executive parties and the Greens. These results are a solid basis upon which to build an anti-sectarian, left force in these areas and across Northern Ireland.

Courtney Robinson in East Belfast was the youngest candidate in the election at 18 years old. Our oldest candidate - Conor Sheridan in East Antrim - was just 24. Labour Alternative got little media attention, but one commentator referred to our candidates' "raw energy and passion", another to their "wide-eyed optimism"

CWI

The Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) is the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated.

The CWI is organised in 45 countries and works to unite the working class and oppressed peoples against global capitalism and to fight for a socialist world.

www.socialistworld.net

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 May 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories retreat: now drive them out!

No to the bosses' EU, yes to international solidarity

Teachers force Tory academies u-turn

TUSC announces '20-city tour': the socialist case against the EU

Independent inquiry into Orgreave now!

Blair played matchmaker between Saudi oil barons and Chinese dictators

What we saw

Them & Us


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

John Mann's Israel hypocrisy

Council estate exhibition shows the full picture

Film review: Eddie the Eagle

The Socialist postbag


Elections 2016

Elections showed anger and fragmentation

TUSC election campaigns show opposition to cuts

Over 1,700 votes for TUSC in Warrington

Scotland: SNP wins but new openings for socialist alternative emerge

Wales: no change and all change

Northern Ireland elections: positive moves against sectarian politics

Over 1,800 votes for TUSC candidate in Bristol

Third anti-cuts councillor elected in Southampton

TUSC increases vote in Coventry by 25%

Fourth place for TUSC in Liverpool


Workplace news and analysis

Blacklisted workers win millions in legal victory

Government blinks first in junior doctors' dispute

Trade Union Bill becomes law

Prison officers walk out over health and safety

Potential new steel bosses refuse to take on pensions

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Let kids be kids: children 'strike' against Sats tests

What way forward for Tamil rights?

Save Paignton Hospital campaign launched

May Day demo says: no cuts to childrens' centres!

Support for junior doctors at campaign stalls


International socialist news and analysis

Greek general strike: more needed to defeat austerity

How to trump Donald


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 May 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Elections:

triangleTUSC: SWP suspends participation in England/Wales

triangleWhy I joined: "I hope that more and more people are going to join the Socialist Party and the fight to end inequality"

Northern Ireland:

triangleBradford Socialist Party: The situation in Northern Ireland and implications for the UK

triangleNorthern Ireland: divisive election a warning

Ireland:

triangleJobstown Not Guilty: pics of London protest

triangleJobstown Not Guilty: defend the right to protest

CWI:

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The history of the CWI

Socialist:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Open forum discussion

Austerity:

triangleEnd the seven-year public sector pay cap!

Candidates:

triangleSocialist Party Congress 2017 reports

Socialist Party:

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Building a campaign against cuts in Tower Hamlets

Catholic:

triangleScotland 'indyref2' for socialist independence not the capitalist EU

Anti-austerity:

triangleConsciousness

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleDebates on building the anti-Trump movement

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

24/3/17

Doncaster

Doncaster postal workers walk out

24/3/17

Fujitsu

Fujitsu strikes: Manchester and Warrington

23/3/17

London

Jobstown Not Guilty: pics of London protest

22/3/17

Salford

Salford: International Women's Day meeting

22/3/17

Orgreave

Biggest ever protest by Orgreave campaigners

22/3/17

Unite

Battle steps up in Unite general secretary election

22/3/17

Aslef

Aslef offer: unity needed with the RMT

22/3/17

East London

East London demonstration against A&E closure

22/3/17

Tyneside

Battle for Wallsend walk-in NHS service

22/3/17

Cumbria

Join the march against NHS cuts and privatisation in Cumbria

22/3/17

NHS

We'll fight to save our NHS!

22/3/17

Workers

Workplace news in brief

22/3/17

Derby

Derby TAs' strike suspended after new offer

22/3/17

Public sector

End the seven-year public sector pay cap!

22/3/17

RMT

Merseyrail guard found not guilty of "endangering safety"

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle24 Mar Doncaster postal workers walk out

triangle23 Mar Jobstown Not Guilty: pics of London protest

triangle23 Mar Unite against terror, racism and war

triangle22 Mar Northern Ireland: divisive election a warning to the workers' movement

triangle22 Mar Battle steps up in general secretary election before start of voting

triangle22 Mar Tory splits brought to the surface - Corbyn must go on the attack

triangle21 Mar CPSA to PCS: Fighting the 'Moderates' and building a fighting union

More ...

triangle28 Mar Bristol North Socialist Party: The French elections

triangle28 Mar Manchester Socialist Party: The history of the CWI

triangle29 Mar Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: Open forum discussion

triangle30 Mar Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Building a campaign against cuts in Tower Hamlets

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice