One of the final acts of the last Fianna Fail government was to award licences to a number of companies to explore for commercial gas in the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (more commonly known as the Lough Allen basin). The Lough Allen Basin is a huge area that covers parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo and Tyrone. It is an area of 8000 square kilometres in total.
News that the Red Cross, an international humanitarian organisation, have been directly assisting local community workers in the Rosemount area of Derryhas again heightened concerns of a potential “drugs epidemic” developing in the city.
The story first broke over the last few weeks prior to a BBC Spotlight programme investigating the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs or RAAD. It revealed that the Red Cross has been working with the Rosemount Resource Centre over the past eight months, believed to be the first time ever the humanitarian group has worked with another organisation in the north.
The period of Irish history from the 1880's to the 1920's defined and divided politics including socialist politics, on the island for the rest of the century. The most militant workers struggles occurred in the second half of that period, north and south, concentrated in the last five years. This was also the period of the 1916 insurrection in Dublin, the 1918-21 War of Independence, the treaty and partition of Ireland in 1921 and then in the south the bloody Civil War ending in 1923.
The year 1919 saw the greatest demonstration of the potential of Irish workers, north and south to take over the running of society but the events of the following years cemented the division that would do much to end workers militancy. In terms of working class struggle the periods of militancy of northern and southern workers coincide. Yet the working class was divided and these struggles remained almost completely isolated from each other. (Image: UVF training in 1914)
It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the 'marching season' fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed neutrality of the northern regime and the RUC in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, Protestant and Catholic, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into 'their own' communities.
The Security budget for the Fermanagh G8 operation, to encompass cities in Northern Ireland, including buildings, phone lines and whatever else may be deemed a ‘Security risk’, will add many millions to the already astronomical security budget . There is £3.8 million for drones and £1.3 million for pop up hotels for the 2,500 extra Officers already drafted in. The additional cost of subsistence and logistics involved in PSNI guarding 208 empty buildings in Belfast from a mythical anarchist plan to occupy them is no more than a ridiculous attempt to scare anyone who is against the G8 Summit. These sort of stories in the media are intended to thwart any attempts to allow for freedom protest. The supposed economic gains of pantomime are alleged longer term investment that will be brought to the province in the way of business for some hotels! But the less visible costs include the cost of the loss of earnings for local residents for the three days of the summit, the road closures and disruption to people’s lives and privacy.
In response to yesterday’s Irish News (Mon 20 May 2013) front page article, “Police to Occupy hundreds of vacant premises in Belfast during G8”, the Workers Solidarity Movement condemned security forces scaremongering in the media.
In the North of Ireland, abortion is prohibited under the Offences Against the Persons Act (1861) - with some common law exceptions. If continuation of the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman, or would adversely affect her mental and physical health where the effects are ‘real and serious’ or ‘long term’, are two such examples.
The Croke Park 2 deal soon to be voted on in the republic will force all public sector workers there to accept 1 billion cuts to be delivered through wage cuts & longer working hours leading to fewer jobs. So far only a few unions balloting their members are calling for a NO vote to the extension of the Croke Park agreement. By most unions the deal is being sold as the only way to avoid worse cuts. Instead, a walkout and a indefinite strike is what needs to happen. Public sector workers can reclaim the Unions from so called realpolitik and keep hold of the hard won collective bargaining rights for workers not yet lost in Croke Park one.
In an act of mass civil disobedience directly challenging the legitimacy of the state to regulate women’s reproduction against their own will, over 100 people in Northern Ireland under the banner Alliance for Choice have signed an open letter declaring they have taken, or supported others to take, a pill to induce an abortion.
Over recent weeks we have seen leaders of Nationalism call for border polls while seeing leaders of Unionism once again using a flag to whip up the loyalist working classes. This further creates division and raises sectarian tensions between Catholic and Protestant neighbours. It also diverts attention away from the issues of socio and economic deprivation, poverty, lack of social and affordable housing and the bread and butter issues of life. Yet these are the issues that day and daily affect working class communities lives the most. Politician’s words promised delivery on such essential issues of concern. And words are all that many have heard, as little change can be seen within many working class communities The old adage of ‘you can’t eat a flag’ couldn’t be more apt at this time of recession, cuts, job losses and misery for many.