Relative Disadvantage in the Six Counties of N Ireland

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 3 03:22:13 MST 2003




T O'L wrote:

>I know little of Northern Ireland, but my thoughts are these:

>1. A labour aristocracy is not the same as a settler population.  It would
be interesting to discuss whether the standard of living of Jewish
Israelis is in fact artificially propped up by imperialism. But it is a
separate question.

Here we go again, people moronically applying terms which apply in one place
and then using them as a template elsewhere. Why do we have to worry whether
x is a labour aristocracy (per definition abc). We should get to the core of
the relationship of power and move on. Unfortunately, those from a near cult
perspective are always looking for things to fit into a particular pattern
and then they will be happy that they're not committing a crime against the
memory of Trotsky/Stalin/Mao/etc (delete as appropriate).

>2. if you can prove empirically that the Protestant *working class*
specifically benefits from imperialism, perhaps you could present the
evidence. Actually I was under the impression that many Protestant
workers in the north are not terribly well off compared to the rest of the
British state, which would suggest that they only THINK  they benefit
from imperialism.

The one thing which is common to all these sorts of discussions are comments
such as 'I know little of Northern Ireland [sic] but my thoughts are
these...' and an absolute absence of fact.

Let me give you a few:
Protestants have an unemployment rate of 5% compared to one of 9% for
Catholics (and that's under Maggie Thatcher's hand-me-down claimant count
basis). To get a better idea of the real situation, we need to look at the
rates of economic inactivity (i.e. those not working or seeking work).
Protestants have an economic inactivity rate of 25% compared to one of 33%
for Catholics. [All figures from the NI Research and Statistical Agency,
2000 Labour Force Survey - the last which gave 'community breakdowns'.] Now
making the pretty obvious assumption that the 8% difference in economic
inactivity is due to structural disadvantage as opposed to something genetic
(us taigues don't like work?). The worst-case scenario is that in relative
terms Catholics might be three more times to be unemployed than their
Protestant counterparts. Of course, this is only rough as a proportion of
the 25% of Protestants Economically inactive will also be 'hidden
unemployed' - but you can get some idea. My guess is that we're still pretty
between the 2-1 and 3-1 unemployment ratio of days gone by. If I had the
time, I might do a little work and come out with an estimate grounded in a
more scientific basis.

In terms of income, similar figures can be obtained (does anyone want me to
find them?) - in much the same way as women are structurally disadvantaged
in the labour market. In fact a feminist friend of mine pointed that
Catholics have very similar characteristics to women in our society and its
labour force - with one exception: Catholic males can suffer unemployment
rates of up to 60% in places (e.g. Bogside in Derry) - whereas women tend to
have much higher inactivity rates.

3. Of  course if one group is better off than another, you can call that
"privilege" if you like. The question is whether they are better of
fbecause imperialism takes wealth from the Catholics and pays it into
the bank accounts of the Protestants (so to speak). I doubt this
happens.

Britain is maintaining this relative disadvantage (and I do certainly admit
that our wages collectively - including those of Protestants - are
significantly lower than that in Britain) by taxing the ordinary British
worker. Mostly, the advantage is maintained through spending in the large
military-industrial complex and inherited land priviledge - particularly now
with the closure of Harland and Woolf and the de-industrialisation of
Britain.

As an aside, I'm glad to point out that the RIR (Royal Irish Regiment -
which replaced the UDR, which replaced the B-specials in its turn) will be
first into combat in Bagdad - alongside British commandos. They are well
used to house-to-house close conflict, having faced domestic guerillas. They
played a lead role in the more gritty battles in Kosovo and then
Afghanistan. I'm glad to say it because I trust that the Republican Guard
will do this bunch of fascist scum-bags (with all their C18 cells) a little
justice. From a British and US perspective, these body bags will have little
impact on the home front of course.

Is mise,
D


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