Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 August 2002

Northern Ireland: Mass Workers' Action To Defeat Sectarianism

HEALTH AND postal workers in Northern Ireland were forced to take industrial action in protest against sectarian death threats from republican and loyalist paramilitaries last week.

Gary Mulcahy, Socialist Party Belfast

900 workers in North & West Belfast Social Services Trust went on strike on 1 August when one of their colleagues received a bullet with their name on it in the post.

At an emergency branch meeting of NIPSA [Northern Ireland Public Services Association] Branch 705, it was unanimously decided to organise a one-day stoppage and call a public rally in Belfast city centre.

Socialist Party members played a central role in organising the action. As a result, loyalist paramilitaries released a statement denying any involvement with any threats.

Over 400 workers showed up to the rally in Transport House where many workers expressed the importance of workers' unity against all sectarian threats.

Socialist Party member Kevin Lawrenson spoke at the end of the rally congratulating his fellow workmates for taking a principled stand against sectarianism and demanded that the trade union movement should follow up by taking independent action against sectarianism.

Meanwhile, Derry trades council organised a march on Monday 5 August from the spot where David Caldwell, a Protestant construction worker, was killed by a bomb planted by dissident republicans. Over 200 people attended the rally at the Guildhall Square.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have different ideas of fighting the sectarian attacks.

Following an approach by the Northern Ireland Committee (NIC) of ICTU, Belfast city council announced the launching of an anti-sectarian campaign, with first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Alex Maskey at the helm. Yet Maskey, because of his sectarian background, is viewed with deep suspicion by many Protestant workers.

Belfast city council called for a demonstration on Friday 2 August with the support of the churches and the bosses' organisation, the CBI, outside City Hall. Immediately, the hardline Unionist party, the DUP, opposed it for their own sectarian reasons.

Many workers see the politicians as being highly selective in their condemnation of sectarianism. Their role has been to condemn "the other side" for attacking "our community" and to refuse to face up to the reality that sectarianism violence is not a one-way street.

Mistaken tactics

AT THE NIC-ICTU consultation meeting to discuss giving support to the council demonstration, Socialist Party members argued that instead of supporting the right-wing sectarian politicians' so-called 'anti-sectarian demonstration', the trade unions should independently organise mass action. These politicians are the same people who are opposed to council workers receiving a fair wage and who are implementing Blairite policies of privatisation in the Assembly.

Unfortunately, NIC-ICTU rejected the proposal for independent mass action. Less than 2,000 people showed up on the demo as compared to the 80,000 who showed up to the trade union demo on 18 January.

Socialist Party members had a stall emphasising the need for independent action by the trade unions to oppose all sectarian attacks on both communities. We raised over 430 and sold over 700 special bulletins.

Many workers welcomed our initiative, as many found the prospect of seeing the sectarian politicians protesting against sectarianism too much to stomach.

Because of the failure of the ICTU to build for taking mass independent action, thousands of workers are now facing more threats.

Postal workers in Derry went on strike over the weekend against a death threat from loyalists. Health workers in hospitals in Belfast are now under threat from the Catholic Reaction Force and the loyalist Red Hand Defenders. They have now been forced to hold lunchtime stoppages and protests.

Sectarian attacks and rioting are still a nightly occurrence. Unless a socialist alternative is built to challenge all forms of sectarianism, Northern Ireland society will continue on the road to deeper sectarian conflict.

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

In The Socialist 9 August 2002:

Low Pay, No Way!

Iraq Stop Bush & Blair's War

Union Struggles - The Task Ahead

Northern Ireland: Mass Workers' Action To Defeat Sectarianism

Local Government Pay Deal No Answer To Poverty Wages

Court Confirms Left Victory

US Imperialism Gambles On Iraq War

Pensions crisis: Bosses' Poverty Plans For Retired Workers


Home   |   The Socialist 9 August 2002   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Northern Ireland:

triangleBoeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangleWeakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: The DUP, Northern Ireland, and socialism vs sectarianism

triangleWirral Socialist Party: The DUP, Northern Ireland, and socialism vs sectarianism

triangleNorthern Ireland: DUP propping up the Tories


triangleSyria: Is an end to the war in sight?

triangle'Cash for ash' scandal set to bring down Northern Ireland government

triangleFar-right given short shrift in Darlington


triangleLeeds Socialist Students marks 'International Safe Abortion Day'

triangleEyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights


triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis


What we saw

What we saw



Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy



Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!



Young people being strangled by debts



Tories torn - bin them now



The end of the Tories?



Nasty party out the Tories


Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity



Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty


Them & Us

Them & Us



NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts



IMF helps cause inequality it slams



Tories wreck our NHS



Monarch abdicates responsibility to workers

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

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

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

More ...

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



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice