Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/229/9234

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2001

Northern Ireland: An Agreement Based On Division

THE DRAMATIC events of the last few weeks have kept the faltering 'peace process' on the road. The first act of IRA decommissioning and the decisions of the Women's Coalition and the Alliance Party to redesignate as unionist helped re-elect David Trimble as First Minister.

Ciaran Mulholland, Belfast

The way in which Trimble's re-election was secured however leaves him open to attack from Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and its allies.

The fact that the IRA has decommissioned even a small amount of armaments is of huge importance. Decommissioning is of symbolic value only but the strength of this symbolism should not be underestimated. No previous generation of Republican activists have ever gone down this path.

The IRA probably took a decision to at least partially disarm some time ago but they came under intense pressure to do so after the 11 September attacks. Their backers in the US would tolerate no other course of action and made this quite clear.

More importantly, the Republican leadership are firmly wedded to their current strategy and were prepared to move on the issue of decommissioning to this end. They are facing an imminent general election in the South and calculate that disarming will boost their prospects.

Dissident Republicans have reacted in predictable fashion. They have accused Adams and McGuinness of betrayal and have launched a series of attacks to assert their claim to the mantle of genuine Republicanism. The Real IRA was probably behind the car bomb attack in Birmingham and the Continuity IRA behind the shooting dead of an ex-UDA (Protestant paramilitary organisation) member in Strabane. These attacks are likely to lead to reprisals from the UDA, reprisals that the dissidents will welcome.

Whilst there is some disquiet in Republican areas most see little alternative. Mass defections to the dissidents are extremely unlikely.

The re-election of Trimble as First Minister will stabilise the institutions established under the Good Friday agreement, for now. A clear majority of the population want this though they are far from enthusiastic or hopeful for the future.

Trimble's position is not strong however. His opponents will make great play of his failure to garner the votes of a majority of unionist Assembly members and will be positioning themselves for a further push against him. Fresh elections are due in 18 months.

It is possible that relative peace and stability will boost Trimble but it is more likely that the DUP will continue to gain. It is even possible that the anti-agreement forces can find an issue around which to make a stand and which mobilises opposition on the streets, repeating the collapse of the Sunningdale Excutive in 1974.

Polarised communities

WHATEVER AGREEMENT has been reached at Stormont will not cut across the increasing polarisation on the streets. The conflict that has rocked north Belfast on a nightly basis over the last few months is a clear indication of where things are going.

There are local factors at play in north Belfast, in particular tensions both within the UDA and between the UDA and the UVF but the events of the last few months have deeper roots than this. Perceptions are all important and the perception of Protestants in the area is that they are being pushed out. The conflict has not disappeared; rather it has been transformed into a conflict over territory.

Ultimately the Agreement will fail. It is based on division which it copper fastens. It does provide a breathing space however and an opportunity to see the main parties in action. The local parties have their hands on the levers of power at last.

They can no longer criticise from the sidelines but now must take a stand on social and economic issues. Without exception the main parties have lined up in favour of the system. They have nothing to offer ordinary working people.

When the situation unravels it will not be to the advantage of the working class.

The Socialist Party is striving now to provide an alternative through both our own efforts and through linking up with genuine activists who are seeking a way forward.

There are real opportunities to extend working class unity, especially in the workplace and amongst the minority of young people who consciously reject sectarianism. The key is to seize these opportunities.

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


In The Socialist 9 November 2001:

Paying The Price Of Bush And Blair's War

Capitalist Crisis Worsens: Fight The Bosses' Attacks

Desperate Measures Won't Stop Terrorism

World Economy: Deepest Downturn Since The 1930s?

Rebuilding Afghanistan? Lessons Of The Balkans Conflict

Protest in Brussels

Northern Ireland: An Agreement Based On Division

What Future For The Socialist Alliance?

Links With Labour Debated As Unison United Left Launched


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 November 2001   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Northern Ireland:

triangleNorthern Ireland talks process paralysed

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleBrexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

triangleBoeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangleWeakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

Ireland:

triangleFighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleIreland: dangerous ideas for the ruling class

triangleIreland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'

IRA:

triangleMartin McGuinness: from IRA leader to Stormont minister

International

International

21/2/18

Russia

Russia: Ali Feruz, journalist and human rights activist, freed from jail

21/2/18

South Africa

South Africa: Ramaphosa is a safe pair of hands for capitalism

14/2/18

France

France: rallies in support of oppressed Kurdish people

14/2/18

Unemployed

Big political strike against Finnish government's attack on unemployed

14/2/18

Brazil

Brazil: Lula conviction confirmed

14/2/18

South Africa

Cape Town drought

7/2/18

China

May's silence is a green light for Chinese repression

7/2/18

Tamil Solidarity

Protesters denounce oppressive Sri Lankan regime

7/2/18

Sudan

Sudan: Mohamed Satti released - global solidarity campaign gets results!

31/1/18

Kurds

Stop the war on the Kurds

31/1/18

Austria

Vienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity

31/1/18

Kurds

Stop the war on the Kurds

24/1/18

Palestine

Punishment of Tamimi family awakens wave of international solidarity

17/1/18

Hong Kong

Stop repression in Hong Kong and China

17/1/18

Tunisia

Tunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

triangleMore International 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: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999