Northern Ireland demographics

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Feb 12 18:34:09 MST 2002


Big thanks to Xxxx Xxxxxx for posting the material on 'Northern ireland'
demographics.

I've argued on this list for some time that attacks on Unionist power and
intransigence, and even loyalist parades, miss the point.  The loyalists
are no longer in the ascendancy and even their marching season  is no
longer an expression of their power over the 'croppies' but of their
powerlessness.

It's the job of revolutionaries to be up with the play, to not keep
shoooting at dead targets, but identify new powers-that-be and channel
struggle against these new powers while they're still trying to get
established.

The stats for the six counties indicate that the emerging powers-that-be
are the middle class, and burgeoning upper class, sectors of the
*Catholic/nationalist population*.  Of course, elements of the old Prod
elite will be incorporated in the new arrangements, certainly the more
sophisticated ones who realise what way the wind is blowing.  In this
sense, the changes in the north are rather similar to the changes in South
Africa post-1994 and SF  will be doing the job done there by the ANC.

The party which most dynamically represents these new Catholic middle and
upper class layers is, as I've said for some time, not the vapid old SDLP
but the sparkly dynamic young Sinn Fein.  Like I've said before, if I was a
Catholic bourgeois in the six counties I wouldn't waste my time with the
jelly-for-a-spine SDLP, I'd want a party with a bit of backbone and oomph
to represent my interests - SF.  SF also has the youth vote in the six
counties wrapped up, so the fact that young Catholics dramatically
outnumber young Prods indicates how much of a mass base SF will have as it
assumes more and more power in the six counties.

Sinn Fein also has the great benefit of representing much of the
nationalist working class.  So the structure of power in the north can
shift from an all-class Protestant bloc led by Protestant reactionaries to
an all-class Catholic bloc led by liberal bourgeois nationalists with the
street cred of 25 years of militant resistance behind them.

To be sure, SF will treat the Protestant population far, far better than
the old Protestant establishment treated Catholics.  But the main thing is
that the overall relations of exploitation will remain the same.

Phil








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