Ireland -- Troops Out! End Partition!

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at
Mon Oct 14 12:47:41 MDT 1996

Here's an article from Socialist Voice about Ireland, focusing on the
events of July this year and the preconditions for future developments.




On Thursday 11 July RUC officers armed with truncheons suddenly turned on
the nationalist residents of Portadown, They set upon a sit-down protest by
the residents. Young and old were bludgeoned and many rounds of plastic
bullets and baton attacks left a number of casualties. Residents were
trapped in their own homes by armed vehicles which lined the route whilst
the Loyalist march passed through.

The attacks continued in Derry. While the Catholic population resisted
another sectarian parade was being escorted through a strongly nationalist
area - 800 plastic bullets were fired and nearly 100 people were injured.
One teenage boy who was trying to avoid the clashes was hit at short range
by a plastic bullet and badly injured.

Later the same day the RUC assaulted patients at a hospital casualty ward
in Altnagelvin, even knocking a nurse to the ground. British troops also
fired plastic bullets against the Catholic population. On 14 July 15,000
people demonstrated in Derry in memory of Dermot McShane, 35, who was run
over and killed by a British Army vehicle earlier in the day. The
demonstration demanded  rights for nationalists and an end to the Orange

In Belfast, RUC officers replaced plastic bullets with live ammunition
(Sinn Fein statement 14 July).

These events show there can be no real peace process while, in the words of
the Catholic community, there is an "Orange Statelet in control of the six

For an entire year the Orange Order refused to talk to the residents of the
Garvaghy road area. Trimble and Paisley, the main protagonist leaders of
the Unionists and members of the British parliament, would not have acted
like this without the confidence that the British Government would not
oppose their actions. In the week before the decision to allow the Orange
march go ahead, a number of young Tories and some 'lodges' from Essex and
London made an appearance amongst the Loyalist 'demonstrators' at
Portadown. The recent exclusion of Sinn Fein from the 'all-party' talks
served to reinforce the supremacy of the most bigoted and sectarian forces.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said "One thing is clear: it is not possible
to have peace in Ireland unless the British Government is committed to that
objective." That is impossible. Mayhew, the Tory representative in the
north, had prepared for this type of explosion by telling people to cheer
up and that there was nothing to worry about. The events in Ireland
highlight how weak this Tory government has become - it cannot control
events but is pushed by them.  President Clinton pushed the British into
these peace talks and the Unionists pulled them out: subservient to the US
and their interests and dependent on the Unionist vote in the Parliament.
The Unionists and the RUC were safe in whipping up sectarian feelings.
The Tory government is incapable of dealing with the Unionists because they
do not have an alternative policy to deal with problem and consequently
allow others to make the running.

In the week before the march began the Unionists acted as if they had
complete control: forcing Catholics from their homes, blockading roads They
highjacked cars and buses and they even sealed off the village where the
deputy chair of the SDLP lives, Seamus Mallon, resulting in his having to
be airlifted out of his home. Such action would not of course have
tolerated from the Nationalist forces, for them to have acted in this way
would have meant the beginning of a very harsh repression from State forces
and possibly the beginning of a new war.

All these events took place before the march on Portadown, while
negotiations were supposedly going on to ease the situation while in fact
the Unionists were escalating it. It has echoes of the impotence shown by
the British forces and others against the Chetniks in Bosnia in the last
few years. The Unionists quickly realised, if they did not know before,
that nothing would be done against them.

The 'peace process' has not tamed the Unionists. According the Guardian 13
July, more than 100,000 Orangeman marched in 19 locations. They march and
the northern state increases its powers of arrest against Catholics when
they protest.

Every socialist and workers organisation in Britain should demand: the
banning of plastic bullets, the disarming and disbandment of the RUC, the
release of all political prisoners, the withdrawal of the British Troops,
the ending of British interference and the ending of Partition.
When the nationalist communities are under attack, they have the right to
defend themselves and every worker in Britain should support that right.


Socialist Voice is the journal of the International Socialist League, the
British section of the International Workers League/Fourth International

E-mail: socvoice at

Snail-mail: ISL, PO Box 9, Eccles SO, Salford, M30 7FX

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