The Blanket

Sectarians For Peace?

Sean Smyth • 30.07.02

Are the Trade Unions condoning sectarianism by calling on the Lord Mayor and the Councillors of Belfast City Council to host a one hour protest on Friday August 2nd against sectarianism?

For the last thirty plus years the working class has born the brunt of sectarian attacks from not only Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries but also the state who have acted with indifference in prosecuting those who’s guilt is not questionable, or have themselves been involved directly in sectarian attacks.

Many workers were murdered because of inflammatory speeches made by elected councillors; M.P’s and so called Christian leaders of our society.

Since the Belfast agreement was signed many loyalist politicians have made claim after claim that republicans are the only people who have gained from the Agreement and that the republicans are the reason why there is so much poverty in loyalist working class areas.

But if you use the Noble index as a guide to the worse poverty affected areas in NI you see nine of the top ten most damaged wards are in Belfast, see below.

1. Crumlin
2. Falls
3. Whiterock
4. St Ann’s
5. Ballymacarrett
7. Woodvale
8. New Lodge
9. The Mount
10. The Shankill.

As the index shows not one section of the Catholic/Protestant working class communities can claim to be suffering more deprivation than another.So why is there so much poverty in working class areas? Some will tell you it was because of seventy years of misrule by unionists in which time we lost our shipbuilding, heavy and light engineering, ect, etc.

Others will tell you it was because of thirty years of war caused by the IRA and Republicans, ect, etc.

Or could it be the lack of funding by successive British Governments who were quite happy to bale out big business, and to push through the Neo-Liberal Capitalist Agenda of the (IMF, WBO, WTO and the European Union)? But when it comes to Funding job creation they say they can not afford it because of the money being spent on security, which means less for the country’s infrastructure.

On top of this the four main parties in the Stormount Executive (UUP, DUP, SDLP, SF) have all being lobbying Westminster to lower corporate tax from 30% to as little as 10%, and are pushing through (PFI,PPP) deals which means the privatising of our public services, and putting profit before people. Sinn Fein have set about selling our Health and Education services, while Paisley's DUP are selling off our Transport and Water services.

The people to blame for the poverty the working class are forced to exist in are all of the above.

Yet the rhetoric coming from some parts of the unionist camp seek to blame only nationalists, so inciting sectarian violence from factions within loyalist paramilitaries, who have maintained a constant barrage of sectarian attacks on the Nationalist/Republican/Catholic Communities in an attempt to make the IRA break its ceasefire and so destroy the agreement.

What has the loyalist community gained from the Belfast agreement?

The war is over, the IRA lost, and have surrendered their guns. They have apologised for the suffering they caused, articles two and three have been removed from the Irish constitution, and you have Sinn Fein ministers implementing British Rule in NI.

But for some in the unionist/loyalist camp this is clearly not enough. They want all out victory, and a return to pre-1969 style of government a Protestant government for a Protestant people, and second class citizenship for everyone else. This is not going to happen and the sooner they realise that, the better for all of us.

When the European Union force through the widening of the union to include the Eastern European states it will mean more job loses for the local economy and the minimum wage will quickly become the maximum wage for all of the working class, Catholic, Protestant and dissenter. You just have to look at what happened to the ICTS workers in Aldergrove Airport who took strike action against poverty pay and were sacked.

Over the last thirty years and more so recently, much of the media have tried to claim that the sectarian attacks are tit for tat, and recent comments from some of our union leaders have claimed the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes republicans have been guilty of sectarianism. The Teebane massacre for one if you needed proof. But to say that Republican sectarianism has been equal to the level of violence aimed at the Catholic community especially lately is wrong.

The trade unions calling on the elected representatives and the churches to join the working class in an hour long protest against sectarianism could be seen by some as a insult to the memory of all the workers murdered by sectarian paramilitary thugs. After all, it was whose very people the ICTU are now calling to join them who have caused the last thirty plus years of misery by ramming there political and spiritual beliefs down the throats of the working class.

But the decision has now been reached and the City Council with the exception of the DUP, (no surprise there) are to host the one hour stoppage which no doubt the media will turn into a peace rally.

Friday's protest will give the working class not only from Belfast but the whole of NI a chance to face the people who are responsible for the sectarianism we have to endure every day.

The leaders of our society should be on the platform on Friday. But it should only be to beg forgiveness from all the working class for the pain and suffering the have caused, and to sign a pledge not to use language/actions which could be misinterpreted and be used as a excuse for sectarian attacks and to implement the incitement to hatred act in NI.

Sectarianism will only defeated when the working class stand shoulder to shoulder and face the sectarians down and make the politicians and church leaders accountable for their actions and words.

Sectarianism won’t go away you know.

It has to be DESTROYED.

The writer is an Independent Socialist.




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A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

4 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:



Davy Carlin


Sectarians For Peace?
Sean Smyth


Nuff Said
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain


Saol Nua

Sean O'Lubaigh


Stake Knife Runs the Rafia
Brian Mór


The Death of Cú Chulainn
Brian Mór


SAS Stake Knife
Brian Mór


No Punishment Too Great

Anthony McIntyre


Foul Shots

Karen Cox


Insanity or Security?
John Chuckman


2 August 2002


A Scam In A Pint Glass

Anthony McIntyre


Meeting the Paramilitaries

Davy Carlin


The GFA's Failure to Deliver An Honest and Genuine Constitutional Settlement Keeps Northern Ireland Divided
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


Hold Firm
Niall Fennessy


Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór


Stake Knife Logo
Brian Mór


The Ethics of Revenge

Sam Bahour and Yitzhak Frankenthal


A Tale Told By An Idiot
John Chuckman




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