Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1063/29823

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 November 2019

Northern Ireland: Uniting the working class to transcend division

Donal O'Cofaigh is the CWI's first elected councillor in Northern Ireland and is pioneering the struggle for independent working-class political representation in the North. Below we print extracts of his speech at the evening rally of Socialism 2019
Donal O'Cofaigh, photo Mary Finch

Donal O'Cofaigh, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

"Northern Ireland is a very divided society. When we're young, we're divided. When we're old, we're divided. Every single facet of life - housing, schools, churches, sports; everything is divided. They have walls - they're getting higher, in the big cities, the 'peace walls'. They even put walls between you when you die, in the cemeteries.

But there's one place where workers are not divided - and that's the workplaces. The one place where Protestants and Catholics come together daily and socialise and get on. And because of that they're also unified in the trade union movement. So it is natural that if you really want to change Northern Ireland's situation you're going to have to build on the politics of the trade union movement, on the politics of the labour movement, and on the politics of socialism.

Like many other people my age, I grew up with a really rough upbringing, and I grew up with a lot of hate. I became a Marxist very young. I was inspired by Malcolm X, reading his works. I joined Sinn Féin to try and change things. I spent 12 years in the organisation before I finally gave up on it. I was a councillor, and I resigned my seat.

Socialism

I was won over [to the CWI] on the basis of a revolutionary party, [of] socialism, of the unification of the working class, and the need to build a real, militant movement, grounded in the trade union movement, grounded in the politics of the socialist movement going back for decades.

I built a support base of people in the union movement, became the secretary of the trades council. We built a movement in Fermanagh that defeated the very first instance of fracking. We built a mass movement that mobilised.

I stood as a Fermanagh Against Fracking councillor and eventually as a Cross-Community Labour councillor, and we got elected on the third time. And it's an historic moment, because it's a validation of the politics of the CWI that says: you can transcend division, you can unite working-class people.

We're 1,020 days, or something like that, without a functioning government in Northern Ireland. We're really in a lot of crisis. We've a health service falling apart. Lowest pay rates for the NHS workers anywhere in the NHS. We've a manufacturing crisis.

We've got the border poll, which is basically a poll of coercion, offering nothing but a capitalist united Ireland on the one hand, and partition under capitalism on the other the hand. That's no hope for anyone. That offers no way forward. We've a rising tension from demographic change.

We've the Brexit situation; a strike of capital. And you've got imperialist blocs on either side playing politics with that, to the extent that we've had car bombs. The killing of Lyra McKee - the CWI comrades, were the people who organised the rallies that opposed that. In the 1970s, it was our activists out there trying to stop the descent into civil war which was on the cards.

It's real. It's always implicit in the situation where you've such divisions. Unless you get leadership from the trade union movement, unless you get a labour alternative, unless you get cross-community, socialist politics - it will always eventually go back to that. The [sectarian] parties will always take it back to that because that's the position of strength that they can rely upon. But their votes have decreased for the last five elections. Their power to divide the working class - it's actually not as strong as it was.

DUP and Sinn Féin

The DUP propping up the Tory party. Sinn Féin pushing PFI, Sinn Féin pushing a 12% corporation tax rate. These things have broken the link. Sinn Féin and the DUP voting to implement the Tory Universal Credit. This is the reality that's out there.

It's the trade unions who have stepped up to the plate. 20,000 public sector workers have been on strike in the last month, on and off, under Nipsa. Unite has had the ten-week occupation of a shipyard, and a 'Titanic' struggle! We had the Wrightbus - the biggest rally in the history of Ballymena, I think, in 52 years - a Cross-Community Labour rally. I was proud to be on that. And I want to send a particular shout-out to the meatpackers in Lurgan who are going to go out in a real hard strike.

So there is a possibility of a trade union, a labour alternative coming forward; a real socialist politics in the middle of that. It's not certain that we have to face conflict. It's not certain that we have to face the possibility of a vicious, brutal civil war, and a repartition - which is possibly what you could see happening in the worst-case scenario. That does not have to be our future.

There's a hope for a progressive alternative. And that hope is lit up by the CWI. We stand against individual terrorism. We stand against state repression. We stand against sectarian division. We stand for a socialist Ireland, and a socialist federation of England, Scotland and Wales - and a socialist Europe, and a socialist world.

And it isn't a utopia. It's the only way forward."

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


In The Socialist 6 November 2019:


News

Whose side are you on? Tories out - Corbyn in with anti-austerity and socialist policies

Tony Blair launches manifesto to sabotage a Corbyn government

Grenfell fire inquiry spin deflects blame from establishment

General election 2019 round-up


Berlin Wall

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: How a mass revolutionary movement for genuine socialism was diverted


Socialism 2019

Elections, strikes and revolutions: Socialism 2019 - daring to fight

PCS: "Under the right leadership workers are prepared to fight"

Royal Mail strike: "This is going to be the biggest battle we've seen in Britain for a number of years"

McDonald's: 'I'm fighting for £15 an hour now because I have to work from 7am to midnight'

Northern Ireland: Uniting the working class to transcend division

Preparing to shape events internationally


International socialist news and analysis

End repression in Chile - freedom for soldier David Veloso


Workplace news

PCS: Pay, jobs, pensions... Vote for a fighting general secretary

UCU votes for pay and pension strikes

Incompetent bosses use tech to bully us

£1 million cuts plan: Peabody housing workers announce strike ballot

Forbo Flooring Derbyshire strike

West Midlands Trains guards to strike

Double-dealing Hackney council bosses face renewed strike action


Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?


Readers' opinion

TV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism


 

Home   |   The Socialist 6 November 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Northern Ireland:

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Northern Ireland - Workers' unity to cut across sectarian divisions

triangleBuild for strikes to save NHS

triangleNorthern Ireland: Thousands of nurses continue to strike for better pay

triangleNorthern Ireland: Health workers take action

triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

Working class:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleFrench workers determined to defeat Macron

triangleStand firm for socialist policies to stop Tory attacks

trianglePreparing to shape events internationally

Ireland:

triangleThe Brexit battles still to come

triangleBrexit theatrics continue

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: Northern Ireland and the impact of Brexit

Socialist:

triangleBristol Socialist Party: Socialists and Bristol's mayoral election

triangleBristol Socialist Party meeting (subject tbc)

Union:

triangleRenewing the left in PCS

CWI:

triangleIndia: Huge general strike but a missed opportunity

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/1/20

London

Unite regional committee votes to support anti-cuts Enfield councillor

22/1/20

East London

A win against academisation in east London

22/1/20

Council

Make a stand: set legal no-cuts council budgets

22/1/20

Tamil Solidarity

Building Tamil Solidarity with youth and the unions

22/1/20

Royal Mail

Royal Mail workers to reballot for strike action

22/1/20

South Yorkshire

"If you think bus and rail services are crap, sign our petition to take them back"

22/1/20

Belfast

Belfast Hovis workers' all-out strike

22/1/20

PCS

Renewing the left in PCS

22/1/20

Liverpool

Capitalism fails NHS services in Liverpool: scrap PFI!

15/1/20

Young people

Young people who voted for Corbyn's manifesto will now ask... How can we win those ideas?

15/1/20

Scotland

Massive Scottish independence demo marks new stage in struggle

15/1/20

London

London: Protesters return to oppose Middle East war

15/1/20

Government

Cladding scandal: Government steps up defence of landlords

15/1/20

Nottingham

Nottingham: Youth protest against Barclays £64 million fossil-fuel investments

15/1/20

Strike

Westex Carpet strike reaches two month mark

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: 020 8988 8786

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


January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999