Orangemen are continuing their 'protest' at Drumcree despite the brutal sectarian slaying of three young boys at their home in a predominantly protestant Ballymoney housing estate.
Richard (10), Mark (9) and Jason (7) died when their home was petrol bombed by Loyalist thugs in the early morning of July 12th. The families home was targeted simply because their mother was a Catholic. The mother, Christine, her boyfriend, a Protestant, and another woman spent time in hospital as a result of the attack.
This was no isolated incident, from the start of the stand off up until the deaths of the three boys, 130 similar sectarian petrol bomb attacks had been carried out. As we go to press another 7 such attacks have taken place. Catholic families have been the victims of ongoing intimidation in the Carnany estate in Ballymoney. Many are now moving out of the estate following a sectarian campaign involving threatening letters, petrol bombing, and being sent bullets in the post.
The Orangemen have been appealed to, by many of the great and the good (including Orangemen such as the First Minister David Trimble and the Rev. William Bingham) to end the protest at Drumcree in the wake of this triple murder. They have been told that the only way they can disassociate themselves from the killings and other violence which has occurred in the 'wake' of the stand off is to 'walk away'.
Portadown Orangemen simply do not want to know. They have denied any, even indirect, responsibility for the deaths of three young boys but claim to be scaling down 'peaceful' protests so that they can remain in control of the situation. And yet violence has marked the protest from the beginning. Loyalist mobs have been involved in attacks on the RUC and British Army. Sectarian attacks on catholic homes have been carried out, as have in some areas sectarian attacks on protestants.
The threat of force was used as the excuse for the RUC's reason for pushing the parade on the Garvachy Road through in the past. With that precedent it is hard to see how the threat of, and actual, violence (which they could not of course control) did not appeal to those in the Orange Order intent on 'victory'. Loyalist violence was always going to go hand in hand with a protest at Drumcree, the Orangemen cannot claim not to have known this.
When people are brought out onto the streets in the north, for sectarian reasons, sectarian violence is always a distinct possibility. The Orangemen knew that when they engaged in street politics. To claim otherwise, and to attempt to wash their hands of any responsibility is disingenuous, and as it turned out, tragic.
First it came to the U.S.A., then it spread to Canada and the "United" Kingdom now Workfare makes it's appearance in the Republic of Ireland. As of September '98 under 25 year old's approaching six months on the dole will be forced into training, on the job training or low wage employment, the alternative according to Tanaiste Mary Harney is to be "cut off the dole". The plan targets 30,000 young people a year with a later expansion to be directed at 40,000 over 25 year olds. The obvious question is if this is about creating decent jobs or giving people useful training why the need for threats? Why the need for compulsion? Workfare was welcomed by Small Firms Association chairperson Lorraine Sweeney who said : "we cannot get employees to fill jobs". I wonder why?
A look north of the border is revealing, New Labour's Workfare scheme the 'New Deal' has created a grand total of 24 jobs. Why employ someone when you can get a State paid trainee, replace them with another State paid trainee, etc... It is no coincidence that Mary Harney announced this offensive on the unemployed at the SFA's annual conference, as it's aim is to supply cheap labour for the bosses. As such it is not just an attack on the unemployed but also on the working section of the working class, as Moore McDowell an economics lecturer who believes the plan not to be tough enough points out: " It will certainly do something to head off wage increase pressures.." .
Pushing the unemployed into shite work will reduce wages and conditions for the employed. This scheme is an extension of a pilot programme introduced by former Minister for Social Welfare Proinsias De Rossa, a fact which illustrates the utter futility of voting - we have in one corner the 'far-left' of the political spectrum the former communists of Democratic Left and in the other corner the 'far-right' of the political spectrum the Thatcherite Progressive Democrats both united against us. This shows that we can only rely on ourselves to fight this, not on any 'representatives' or political party no matter how 'left-wing'.
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (I.N.O.U.) are planning a protest against this Workfare programme to be held outside Mary Harney's Department in Dublin on September 24th. Unfortunate these somewhat naive reformists are scapegoating Harney for Workfare ignoring the fact that it was first put forward by the previous government of Labour, Democratic Left and Fine Gael and that Harney is in coalition with Fianna Fail. The entire political establishment is responsible for this because they and the State they head are the tools of the bosses. Not realizing this the I.N.O.U. vainly hope that their appeals to the government to transform this scheme into one that will help the unemployed will bear fruit but in reality there is a snowballs chance in hell of this happening. The powerful are deaf to appeals to their non-existent better sides only force will stop them. As the I.N.O.U. is a state funded body controlled by unaccountable bureaucrats their blindness is perhaps self induced.
In an attempt to cut 'benefit fraud' the Westminster government announced a 'review' of benefits and the creation of a new "anti-fraud profession". This 'profession' will seek to improve detection and introduce more 'effective' punishment. This goes hand in hand with greater cooperation between local and central government and a new "anti-fraud culture" among the public and benefits staff - prepare for bonuses and 'rewards' for touting on those members of our class most hard pressed, and forced into black market labour. And yet more stress and ill health - a recent (not at all surprising) survey has found that unemployment and ill-health are related, the mortality rate is over 30% higher than the rest of the population.
Companies are now being offered £75.00 a week to get the 'older jobless' off the unemployment register and into crap, revolving door jobs. They want help over 25s "break out of the soul destroying cycle of long term unemployment", and into the soul destroying cycle of crap job after another crap job, with no dignity or respect.
All this while IDB boss Alan Gillespie, also MD of Goldman Sachs International, chairman of the Northern Ireland Partnership in Britain, and a non-executive director of Elan Pharmaceuticals, gets a £50m bonus making him one of the richest men in Britain. Media boss Tony O'Reilly, who controls the British newspapers The Independent and Independent on Sunday, heads the Irish Independent group, and has interests in the Heinz food company has made it into the list of the worlds top 200 richest men.
Who put them there - we did with our sweat and toil, these men are leaches like all the leaches who benefit from the wealth we create. It is time for us to regain our dignity and self respect, this can only be done together, fighting against the bosses and politicians who together make our lives a misery.
In the wake on the tragic deaths of three young boys shock waves have not only been sent throughout society but also the Orange Order itself.
A protestant uncle of the boys, Harry Patton, an Orangeman said he would never parade again. In appealing to the Orange Order and Garvachy Road residents to meet face to face to find a solution he said: "No road is worth one life never mind three".
The Orange Order is said to be bracing itself for more resignations over its handling of Drumcree and its refusal to back down, this follows, among others, the resignation of Deputy Grand Master of Scotland, Gordon McCracken. Certainly internal tensions are at a height. Recent events have broken the back of the 'siege of Garvachy', on Monday 19th only a handful of Orangemen remained. The previous Friday they failed to muster their expected 15,000, only 2,000 turned up.
A good sign for those of us who want an end to sectarianism, or simply a sign that those who have joined the order in recent years have to the dismay of others led the Order along the road it has traditionally marched when it was formed, the road of violence, murder and sectarian confrontation?
It seems that as part of the programme of 'mutual respect' and tolerance sectarianism is beginning to claim the 'elevated' status of culture. A sectarian form of organisation, or sectarian politics in itself, can justify itself because its been around, and practiced, for a 'long time'.
Organise! - IWA sees sectarianism as one of the greatest disasters working class people have to suffer in Ireland, particularly the north, and we are opposed to all forms of sectarian politics and organisation, from whatever quarter, including those which claim to be 'untainted' by sectarianism (that being a fault only of the 'other' side) and those which claim the mantle of tradition or culture. Barely a part of our lives in the north are untouched by sectarian division, people are divided and categorized on religious grounds and packed into opposing political boxes. There is however only one working class, and as workers with a common enemy in government and big business, we must actively oppose bigotry and division in the building of class solidarity in order to overcome that class enemy and create a better and freer world for ourselves and our children.
As the unions spout off about the low level at which the minimum wage has been set the 'Labour' government and their friends in big business must be laughing.
The head of the boss organisation, the CBI, Sir Colin Marshall demanded a figure of between £3.50 and £3.60 for the minimum wage and the government gave it to them. The minimum hourly rate of £3.50 an hour is a pittance for those of us who create the wealth of this society, and insult is heaped upon injury for 18-21 year olds who will be getting just £3.00 an hour. It seems that even an extra 20p on this would have had a damaging impact on the 'New Deal', according to the chancellor.
While the unions where welcoming the implementation of a minimum wage they feel let down by the low level set by the Low Pay Commission, it reflects badly particularly for unions such as UNISON who have a high number of members, mostly women, in the north in low paid often part time jobs. As to the reality of the situation, the reformist, in fact often reactionary and certainly conservative, unions have invested too much in social partnership and their members have lost out. Certainly union leaders will rant to echo the anger of their members, but too much reliance on PR and lobbying, too many junkets and meetings over tea and coffee with the bosses, along with the deliberate frustration of shop floor activists has cost the membership yet again. We cannot negotiate with the bosses or the politicians in their pockets, we do not and will never have the same interests. The head of the CBI who demanded such a derisory level be set gets £232.00 an hour. People like him see us simply as a resource and an overhead, they want the most work at the lowest cost as this equals maximum profit.
This should teach us that if want a decent standard of living we cannot wait for it to be handed down from above, we have to fight for it ourselves.
A PAMPHLET BY CAPT. JACK WHITE, FOUNDER OF THE ICA, AND FIGHTER IN THE IRISH AND INTERNATIONAL LABOUR MOVEMENT OF HIS TIME. WHITE, FROM A UNIONIST BACKGROUND, BECAME A CONVINCED ANARCHIST WHEN HE SAW THE CONSTRUCTIVE REVOLUTIONARY WORK CARRIED OUT DURING THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR BY THE ANARCHISTS AND ANARCHO-SYNDICALISTS. THIS PROMPTED THE WRITING OF THIS PAMPHLET WHICH ORGANISE!-IWA HAS NOW REPRINTED. AVAILABLE FROM OUR PO BOX ADDRESS FOR £1.00 incl. P&P.
6 out of 10 workers face poverty in retirement, that's according to the governments statistics! Its estimated that 15.4million people could be surviving solely on inadequate benefits when they retire.
So the new 108 person Assembly is 'up and running', with Trimble elected First Minister and Seamus Mallon Deputy First Minister, the SDLP and Ulster Unionists are to have a bash at sharing sectarian power. Well that is if the Assembly gets through its first six months in 'Shadow' form.
Those who bothered to watch the televised opening of our new 'democracy' would be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled on an unruly classroom. Petty argument, snide remarks and insult on the whole replaced 'political' debate, when this did occur it gave no hope for the future. We see more than less the same tired old faces, hear the same tired old disputes and arguments. This looks nothing like the start of a brave new future for the inhabitants of the north.
All our political hopefuls have up until now had the relative luxury of being able to blame others for the norths problems, particularly those of an economic nature. For Unionists and Loyalists it was the IRA who had brought us to the brink of economic disaster, of course Thatcher didn't help. Now Westminster is responsible for the closure of our local hospitals, the running down of the Health Service as a whole, responsible for problems in our education system. It is Westminster which has not done enough for the environment, etc., etc.. As more and more power is devolved 'our' politicians will find themselves faced with the same limitations as any government, namely running the 'state' within the confines of capitalism. The budget for the new Assembly is very far from unlimited, hard choices will have to be made. Vote chasing on protests against hospital closures, education cutbacks, and the like will be hampered a little when you or your party are responsible for a large part of the budget themselves. Having to reach cross-community consensus will leave no-ones hands clean in this regard. Those who bothered voting for control being put back into the hands of the 'people of Northern Ireland' could well be in for a rude awakening.
Of course continued cut backs will mean little to our Assembly members, sitting on a salary of £29,000 plus another £15,000 for 'office expenses', with a rise "when powers are actually transferred"! Take into account the numbers who are also on Westminster MP's, and MEP's, salaries and expenses, and it becomes very apparent that 'democracy' is an extremely lucrative business here in NI. And so, here, as the world over, what is called 'democracy' offers no change for the rest of us, and power, privilege and cash for the few.
Although we'd all like to think an Anarchist or Anarcho-Syndicalist group can survive on idealism, determination and revolutionary spirit, the truth of the matter is that while we exist in the confines of a capitalist society we need that bit more than just free association, mutual aid, solidarity and direct action to build a social revolutionary alternative (although all these things are essential), we need MONEY!
As such Organise!-IWA has started a drive to raise £10,000 towards the opening of a Solidarity Centre in Belfast. Such a centre would be used to provide a forum where militant workers can come together and begin to set their own agenda, beyond the confines of the reformist Trade Union movement. We see the promotion of direct action and working class self activity as of central importance. It is very much a case of putting our ideas into action.
This is not about substituting a premises for the constructive work of building a real revolutionary alternative in Ireland, but about providing a focus for activity and campaigns which can unite workers across the sectarian divide and bring them together in defence of their interests as workers. It is about the establishment, not of a political party, but of a movement where solidarity is not a mere slogan but the foundation upon which all of our efforts are based.