[Marxism] IRSP Statement

Scotlive at aol.com Scotlive at aol.com
Sat Jul 31 09:23:05 MDT 2004

Visitors to Belfast very quickly learn how to distinguish areas where
the population is from the loyalist/British/Protestant tradition.
Areas are marked out with bunting, colours, flags and slogans. The
colours red, white and blue predominate. Although there are tasteful
murals in some places there are also crudely offensive murals and
slogans that encourage hatred not only of Catholics but also any
outsiders who are different. So currently gays in Derry fear not only
being beaten up on the streets by reactionary homophobic nationalists
but also fear being burned out of their homes by right wing loyalist
paramilitary gangs. In Belfast many non-white residents suffer abuse
in the Donegall Road/Sandy Row/Village areas from right wing racist
loyalists who support Combat 18, a neo­Nazi British organisation.
We know that many of the ordinary Protestant working class residents
abhor this racism but feel helpless in the face of loyalist
paramilitaries. The failure of the police to seriously deal with
racist attacks mirrors their failure to deal adequately with
anti-Catholic attacks. This a partially a reflection of the inbuilt
right wing culture that predominates in military type state
organisations but it also reflects the institutionalised racism and
anti-Catholic culture of the RUC/PSNI.

The IRSP maintain that sectarianism is inherent in the very existence
of the six-county state and it has permeated through the body politic
so much that even reasonable rational people accept it and see nothing
wrong with it. The British government, the Irish government, and all
the main political parties here negotiated or accepted the basis upon
which the Good Friday Agreement was based, i.e. that there are two
distinct communities here in the North of Ireland.

Let us be clear and unambiguous -- the IRSP reject that concept in its
entirety. It leads to communities determining who lives in their areas
-- it introduces concepts of group rights which are balanced against
the rights of the other group thereby intensifying competition and
jealousies between the two groups. It forces people to define
themselves by religious faith, it allows for segregation, apartheid
and ensures that ordinary working class folk will never have the
opportunity to reach out in class unity with one another.

So long as the premise upon which the Good Friday Agreement was based
is maintained then so long will the bitter division exist between
Northern people. It is no coincidence that sectarian attacks have
rocketed since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. We now have
more "peace" walls than we had during the armed conflict. These
"peace" walls have gone up because unscrupulous and sectarian
politicians have whipped up sectarian fears about the advantages that
the other community has got, thus provoking sectarian clashes between
two groups of poor working class communities. As the walls have risen
people on both sides of those walls have taken to talking about "my
community," i.e. Catholic or Protestant. Researchers at the Ulster
University have revealed that instead of playing "Cowboys and Indians"
kids are now playing "prods and taigs."

Areas are now to be claimed the exclusive property of one or other of
the two major religious factions. "Sandy Row is Sandy Row" meaning it
is exclusively for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. No blacks or
Catholics need apply for houses there!! The clashes that have taken
place over parades, over flags, etc., merely reflect the marking out
of territory by one or other grouping. The allocation of housing, the
awarding of government building contracts, the location of new
businesses, the building of leisure centres and so on have all been
influenced by the necessity to placate one or other of the sectarian

As republicans who believe in uniting Catholic, Protestant and
Dissenter under the common name of Irish people, this growing
apartheid is unacceptable.

As socialists we reject the two-community approach. There is one
community and a divided working class. Only by the clear class-based
approach to politics is there any chance of overcoming the bitter
divisions that exist among the Northern people. Those who pander to
the two-community approach or who whip up sectarian fears or engage in
"whataboutery" in relation to resources have nothing in common with
socialism and nothing in common with republicanism!


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