Anarchists not to blame for flag riots in Newtownabbey


A WSM member responds to the crazy claims of the Newtownabbey Times.  As the sectarian flag riots continue to burn, one paper the Newtownabbey Times in sensationalised headlines in December of last year attempted to blame riots in the Newtownabbey area on “anarchists hell-bent on damage and destruction.” Quoting South and East Antrim Community Federation spokesman, Tommy Kirkham, a former independent loyalist councillor who previously represented the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group, who claimed that known paramilitaries were behind the trouble as “convenient”, adding that young people intent on anti-social behaviour and “anarchists hell-bent on damage and destruction” were responsible for the disturbances.

Below is a letter in response to these ridicolous and unfounded anti-anarchist scaremongering that was written by a WSM member and published in the 3rd January edition of the paper.

As an active anarchist over the last 10 years I was completely stunned to read claims by a loyalist spokesperson linking 'anarchists' to recent disorder in Newtownabbey, from someone who clearly has no understanding of what anarchism stands for. Instead of engaging in anti-anarchist scaremongering he should go and get his facts right and stop pandering to sectarianism.

While it would be a welcome development if there was a growing class struggle anarchist presence in Newtownabbey, these allegations are ridiculous and a complete distortion of reality as anarchism is opposed to all forms of nationalism and patriotism. We the working class should have no business getting involved in the petty squabbles over flags between political parties of all shades of colour who we have nothing in common with as we need to get rid of the entire capitalist system. The continuing opposition by loyalists to the decision by Belfast city council to limit the flying of the Union Jack (bringing it in line with other council chambers) is a product of a deeply sectarian colonial settlement. As the violence plays out on the streets our class must be mindful of the fact that sectarianism is used in the six counties like a water tap. Used to divide and rule, as and when those in power see fit to unleash it, from the halls of Westminster to the halls of Stormont. Capitalism has used it time and time again, just as those who represent it have used fascism, racism and repression to assist and prop up their positions of power, dominance and control.

For anarchists, it's our belief that recent disturbances is yet another sectarian diversionary tactic by the politicians. Beating of the war drums over flags in the middle of an ever deepening economic crisis, just as working class communities across the north are being crushed under the weight of it, shows us just where their true interests lie. In the continuation and protection of their own sectarian positions and privileges up in Stormont. It is therefore vital that we continue to fight for working class unity in the streets and in the workplace. Our class must not allow those in Stormont to deflect us from the struggle at hand. Creating a unified fight across the sectarian divide against the cuts in jobs and welfare, in health and education as the crisis of capitalism continues is the task that faces us.The question we need to ask ourselves is not what flag we want to live under but what type of society do we want. By winning small battles in the workplace and community such as the Visteon workers struggle in 2009 we can make small steps that build confidence, a culture of self-organisation and direct action that can steadily erode what may divide us.''

For more information on what anarchism actually stands for check out or Anarchist FAQ.