13/10/2013 by socialistfight
The North of Ireland and the Socialist Party.
Militant International Review No. 9, June 1974: Northern Ireland, The crisis deepens – Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) strike, A Postscript.
The Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) strike was a fifteen-day general strike that took place in throughout the six counties in May 1974. The strike was called by Ulster loyalists and unionists who were against the Sunningdale Agreement, which had been signed in December 1973. Specifically, the strikers opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists, and the proposed role for the Republic of Ireland’s government in running ‘Northern Ireland’.
The strike was organised and overseen by the Ulster Workers’ Council and Ulster Army Council, which were formed shortly after the Agreement’s signing. Both of these groups included loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
These groups helped to enforce the strike by blocking roads and intimidating workers. During the two-week strike, loyalist paramilitaries killed 39 civilians, of which 33 died in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The strike succeeded in bringing down the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. And the Government of the six counties reverted to the Parliament in London. From Wikipedia Loyalist Association Of Workers (LAW). Marching during the strike
Gerry Downing reviews the article by John Throne in the Militant International Review on the 1974 UWC strike that outraged him all those years ago.
“Nevertheless, the strike also demonstrated in a distorted form and on a reactionary issue, the colossal power of the working class when it moves into action”.
Who would expresssuch admiration for a neo-fascist uprising? Would we admire the strength and discipline of Hitler’s Brownshirts because this showed us what the workers could do if they were socialists and not fascists? It is outrageous pandering to reaction. (GD.)
“The whole basis of life in modern society depends on the working class. Nothing moved in Northern Ireland without the permission of the working class. Even bourgeois commentators, hostile to the aim of the strike”.
The bourgeoisie, of course was not hostile to this strike but supported it – but had to be careful in how they expressed their support, as the Militant were. Hence the mutual admiration between Militant and the pro-Imperialist bourgeoisie here. “Isn’t it great to have the workers going on strike for us instead against us for a change?” (GD.)
“We’re forced to comment on the power and ingenuity displayed by the working class. Thus the Times correspondent commented on the situation in the Protestant Sandy Row district of Belfast…”Between fifty and a hundred men have operated a rubbish clearance service, going round in the backs of lorries while others swept the streets. At the weekend, brown paper rubbish bags arrived and 22,000 have been given to families in the past three days. Connections were made with sympathetic farmers who supplied the areas with cheap food.”
Do we all remember how supportive The Times was to the 1926 General Strike and how it complemented the workers on their ingenuity etc? I though not! (GD.)
“A sectarian catastrophe cannot be ruled out in Northern Ireland; particularly if the trade union movement fails to act now. But Marxists reject the siren voices who speak and write of the ‘inevitability’ of religious civil war. Events in Britain and Southern Ireland can exercise a profound effect in the North of Ireland. The worsening economic situation in Britain and its effects in Britain will provide the opportunity for cementing a class movement of Catholic and Protestant workers. But as in the past, these opportunities can be missed if the lessons of the last six years are not learnt. The bitter religious divisions between the working class, will not be bridged by Christian homilies. Sectarianism will not evaporate if the trade union leaders act as if by ignoring it, it will go away by itself . The working class of northern ireland have demonstrated their colossal power during the may strike”.
“The working class of northern ireland have demonstrated their colossal power during the may strike”: FFS sake- fascist reaction demonstrated its power. This is the most outrageous sentence I have ever read for someone who claims to be a socialist. It is true that an article the previous month, whilst bad, at least had some clear opposition to the strike. – link here. However this current article is just awful. (GD.)
“They were using that power for reactionary aims and to assist their own worst enemies, the Craigs, Paisleys and co. Let them use it together with the Catholic working class – and they will be an invincible force”.
But that was the very reason for the strike, they feared the “Catholics”, in fact the political opponents of British Imperialist occupation of the six north eastern counties of Ireland would gain a measure of equality, they would be forced to stop discriminating against them and within their own ranks “Rotten Prods” would emerge to show solidarity with the nationalists and anti- imperialist, as they did in the late teens and early 1920s. The strike was to stop that happening and it did just that. The power of the working class was exercised to prevent workers unity and the Socialist party, whilst advocating unity, believes it can only be on the basis of the support for the British Empire. They are the most pro-Imperialist sect on the left. (GD.)
“Irish Marxists – gathered around the Militant Irish Monthly – are the only tendency in the Irish labour movement, on the basis of a Marxist programme and perspective, capable of furthering the process of re-arming the Northern Ireland workers on class lines”. – A complete lie (GD.)
“Events in Britain and Southern Ireland”, Southern Ireland, FFS, the proposed name by the British Empire for the south of Ireland but never accepted there – except by the Grantites”