20 October 2013
Once again the people in the Republic have been forced to endure an “austerity” budget as the Irish capitalist class, in alliance with the EU, ECB, and IMF, continue to make working people pay for the odious debt, with cuts in social welfare, attacks on the living standards of pensioners, cuts in subsidies for public transport, and a further consolidation of the two-tier health system. There is a concerted drive to push the youth out of the country with the renewed attacks on social welfare provisions for the under-25s.
The Irish ruling class are determined to take full advantage of the present crisis to drive working people back, to reclaim lost inequalities and impose new ones, to make the poor, the old, the sick, the youth and workers pay for this crisis. Debt is the means of driving down workers’ living standards and facilitating the continuing attacks on workers’ rights and living standards in the Republic and is also the justification for similar attacks on the people of the North of Ireland, under the direction of the British state.
While the present Government proclaim that they are over the economic crisis and returning to stability and growth, and that they will leave the restructuring programme in early December, this is nothing more than a ruse. While they will be the first of the so-called bail-out countries to be pushed out the door, they know they will need additional funds to keep their sinking ship afloat; that is why they are attempting to negotiate a new line of credit, a just-in-case insurance policy.
The EU has to show success for the imposition of draconian austerity on the working people of peripheral countries so as to ensure the stability of the euro and to drive its agenda of attacking workers’ rights, terms, and conditions, wholesale privatisation, and creating debt-dependence.
The strategy of monopoly finance capital is to create permanent dependence and permanent debt-servicing, guaranteeing billions in working people’s money to European and global finance houses.
While this is happening, sectarian politics in the North stumbles along, with the various factions within unionism vying with each other to see who will gain most electoral advantage next year. What is obvious is that none of the parties in the Executive have any clear idea about how to solve the people’s problems, with unionism and loyalism retreating further into sectarianism.
The recent actions of Ineos and its billionaire owner Jim Ratcliffe at the Grangemouth oil refinery, which supplies most of the North’s liquid fuels, such as petrol, diesel, and heating oil, demonstrates the importance of having an all-Ireland energy policy. The fact is that a corporate billionaire can put at risk the economy of Northern Ireland. We express our solidarity with the workers in Grangemouth.
Rejectionist republican groups meanwhile continue to settle internal scores, accompanied by the recent fire-bombing of a clothes shop in Belfast. Their pretence that they are leading a war for national freedom and protecting exploited workers is farcical. Like the loyalist paramilitaries, they simplify and exploit deep economic and social alienation. They have no answers to the people’s problems.
Pandering to loyalism or unionism is not a solution either. Only by presenting and building of a clear democratic strategy that has the potential to weaken the EU-US-British triangle of imperialist domination over all the Irish people will we begin to liberate the people from the scourge of sectarianism.
We need to build maximum unity between the people’s organisations, trade unions, community, women and youth throughout the whole country, to develop a transformative strategy that has the potential to challenge the economic and political power of imperialism and break down sectarianism and false sectoral interests.