Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://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

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


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:

triangleTime to relaunch TUSC

trianglePCS executive majority cancels union democracy

triangleUCU: election victory for combative rank and file

triangleEquity union president elections

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders

Northern Ireland:

triangleCovid pandemic and Northern Ireland - workers must resist the bosses' offensive

triangleTwo-metre rule under 'review' - Another case of profit before safety

triangleMay Day 2020: join the protests - wear red, bring flags and banners

triangleBosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland

Ireland:

triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

triangleFurther protests in Ireland against Debenhams closures - UK fightback needed

triangleIrish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

CWI:

triangleCWI rally: 80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky

triangle80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally

Socialist:

triangleNHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!

Austerity:

triangleSaving the music industry from pandemic and austerity

Labour:

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

Candidates:

triangleUnite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts

Belfast:

triangleBelfast Hovis workers' all-out strike

Socialist Party:

triangleNorth London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

Young people:

triangleAfter Scottish government U-turn, Young Socialists fight for a future on A-Level results day

Sectarianism:

triangleIndia: Bloody pogrom fuelled by Modi's sectarianism

Catholic:

triangleAnti-academy strikes growing

Right to choose:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Abortion rights

Anti-austerity:

triangleLabour Party leadership contest: Fight for a mass anti-austerity, workers' party with a socialist programme

LGBT:

triangleYes to self-identity

Youth:

triangleEngage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleTommy Robinson BBC demo: socialist fightback needed to undermine far right

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/8/20

Young Socialists

After Scottish government U-turn, Young Socialists fight for a future on A-Level results day

10/8/20

NHS

NHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!

5/8/20

NHS

'First you clap us then you slap us'

5/8/20

Young Socialists

Young Socialist day of action

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Campaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

5/8/20

Black Lives Matter

North London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

5/8/20

Hull

Engage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Why I joined - Covid changed my outlook

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Socialist Party meetings: Online and in-person

5/8/20

Young Socialists

A-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!

5/8/20

Caerphilly

GE Aviation workers march to save jobs

5/8/20

Trotsky

80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally

5/8/20

BAME

Fighting to end racism and capitalism

5/8/20

Doncaster

Doncaster: Vigil for murdered women

5/8/20

The Socialist

The Socialist summer schedule

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999