16 January 2012
As we enter 2012 its is clear that this will be a year of further austerity measures, which will be imposed upon the people of Ireland north and south.
Working people will experience deeper cuts in government spending. Three will be more job losses throughout the economy, on both sides of the border, and in particular within the financial sector. We express our solidarity with the workers in Ulster Bank, Vita Cortex, Lagan Brick, La Senza, and all workers involved in disputes or being made redundant as the crisis of the system deepens.
This year billions of euros of the people’s money will be handed over to foreign banks and bond-holders. On 25 January alone the government will hand over €1½ billion to Anglo-Irish Bank bond-holders.
On the wider economic front, the forecast for Irish GDP is a growth of only 0.7 per cent in 2012—down from previous forecasts of 1.2 per cent. The establishment, and even some on the left, who based their analysis on a fiscal stimulus and increased exports, allowing the Republic to meet its debt repayments, are being proved wrong.
In the North, last year saw output shrink by 17 per cent, from a peak four years ago, to a level not seen since 2003, meaning that the private sector in Northern Ireland has effectually lost eight years of growth. What is increasingly clear is that the global capitalist economy is slowing down sharply.
The response from the government will be to make the people pay, through further cuts in public services. The external troika of the EU, ECB and IMF is demanding the sale of state assets to raise €5 billion. A large number of salaried workers who are paid monthly will have new deductions in their first wage packet of 2012 and the imposition of the so-called household tax, flowing from last December’s budget.
The attacks in this budget against single parents, the unemployed and pensioners will continue, and more and more of workers’ salaries will be taken from them to pay an odious and anti-people debt.
The weakness of the private sector in the North, combined with continuing cuts in the public sector, means that the present unemployment total of more than 60,000 is likely to continue to rise in the months ahead.
The debate now emerging between the Scottish and British governments may well lead to a political and structural crisis in the United Kingdom. The question of Scottish independence will have reverberations within the unionist community in Northern Ireland and may have an impact on the whole of Ireland.
Working people are now feeling the full propaganda campaign in relation to the “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union” as the combined arms of the establishment, the state and the mass media attempt to manufacture consent by bullying and blackmailing, to get people to support a further attack on democracy and the sovereignty of the member-states.
Sabre-rattling of the type seen by Cameron to keep the little-Englanders of the Tory right happy is no response. Throughout Ireland, trade unionists, community activists, socialists, republicans and democrats are fighting back. From that resistance there must be developed an alternative economic and social programme, based on repudiating the odious debt, revitalised strategic planning, public-sector investment, and democratic control.
The greatest political weakness of the coalitions in Dublin, Belfast and London is that the people know we are not “all in this together”: their solutions are short-term and in the interests of banks, big business, and the EU establishment. Our solutions will be long-term and in the interests of the Irish people, North and South.