Political analysis from the Irish communists
The November issue of Socialist Voice has been published
Communist Party of Ireland National Executive Committee
As we approach the end of 2015 and face into 2016, the challenges facing our people grow. In 2016 our people will celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising, one of the seminal events of twentieth-century Irish history as well as a very important event in the worldwide anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed peoples and nations.
Today we face renewed domination and mechanisms of control over our people’s future, posing grave threats to the very limited political and economic sovereignty we have achieved. Our people in the North of Ireland have fared even worse, and their situation is becoming ever more precarious, having experienced decades of mass discrimination and repression, gerrymandering, poverty, economic dependence, and continued external domination and control by the British state.
The centenary celebrations should be an opportunity to re-evaluate the experience of our people over the past century, how far we have travelled and how much more of the journey needs to be taken if we are to achieve the goals and aspirations laid out in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916 and the Democratic Programme of Dáil Éireann in 1919.
It is clear that the imposed partitionist settlement has failed our people, while it secured the interests of British imperialism and the Irish ruling class.
The most recent expression of external control is the “Fresh Start” agreement, which is to facilitate the implementation of various aspects of the Stormont House Agreement of December 2014. Unionism and both the British and Irish states have used the continued alleged existence of the IRA and the active paramilitarism of unionist paramilitaries to extract political concessions in the hope of neutralising continued opposition to “welfare reform” from local political and social forces.
The economy and therefore the social and material basis of people’s lives is becoming more and more precarious. With the marginalisation from the centres of decision-making that so directly affect their lives, the relationship between London, Brussels and Dublin comes into stark relief. The handing back to the British state of the devolved responsibilities over welfare is but a reflection of this marginalisation and powerlessness. Overall economic and financial instruments and power still lie with the British state.
The cuts in welfare will bear heaviest on the unemployed and the working poor, and will have a serious effect on the lives of all working people. The social damage involved will be greater than in any part of Britain, owing to the large part of the economy involved. The organised working class needs to develop an effective response.
The false belief that a reduction in corporation tax to the same level as that obtaining in the South will boost the economy is the politics of illusion. It can only further expose the people’s well-being and future to the whims of monopoly capitalism.
Both the Stormont House Agreement and “A Fresh Start” show clearly the limits of the Belfast Agreement. It is clear that we cannot go back: we cannot go back to majority Orange rule, nor should we allow our people to be dragged back into the quagmire and paralysis of militarism and violence.
There is an urgent need for an open dialogue and debate about where the people of the North of Ireland need to go. The CPI will work towards establishing a dialogue for this necessary discussion.
In the South the people will be facing a general election in early 2016. The choice facing them is clear: to support parties that are committed to the economic and political strategy of the troika and the European Union or to begin to take the difficult but necessary steps in a different direction, a direction guided by the fundamental and central demand contained in the 1916 Proclamation: the assertion of the right of the Irish people to the unfettered control of their destiny, to the fulfilment of the struggle for national political and economic sovereignty—demands and challenges long since abandoned by the Irish ruling class.
In the short term, working people need to focus on the struggle for the ownership and control of water. The election must not be allowed to distract us from the necessary struggle to win a constitutional amendment enshrining the people’s ownership of this vital human resource. The Communist Party of Ireland reaffirms its active political support for the Right2Water campaign as well as acknowledging the positive development of the Right2Change initiative, sponsored by a number of the trade unions that have been central to the vital struggle for water.
Working people should not be distracted by the noise of elections but should remain focused on the goal of defeating water charges and securing a constitutional amendment. The securing of that victory would embolden and empower working people to push further.
New allies can be won to the demand for a constitutional amendment. We need to broaden the forces in this central demand and narrow the ground for those who wish to impose water charges as a prerequisite for privatisation.
Working people enter 2016 with new forces and with more strength than when we entered 2015, but we need to build further, to build the people’s organisations of resistance in the community, trade union and electoral spheres.
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SV 130 December 2015LR