The Blanket

Meeting the Paramilitaries

Davy Carlin • 30.7.02

So the trade union leadership have met the UDA and the talks were quite forthright and up front. Yet one of the main bones of contention was that there was a perception that the trade unions only moved when the Catholics were targeted and protestants seemed to matter little. Firstly it should be welcomed that the trade union movement after this recent murder has attempted to show some leadership on this matter and worked with others for an attempted resolution. Yet for too long in the past they have at times remained silent over such matters.

Where I would disagree though is on their call to end 'all sectarianism', as to state this on its own is to make a comparison between the volume of attacks on both the Catholic and Protestant communities. Although there are times when the loyalists have used attacks on their community as an excuse for a direct response to further escalate their attacks on the Nationalist community, the simple fact is that the overwhelming amount of attacks are against the Nationalist community.

The UDA have been and are involved in a organized campaign of intimidation and violence which has and can again lead ultimately to murder upon the Nationalist community. As the leadership of the trade union movement may meet other such groupings they should take this on board and acknowledge that although the loyalists may use attacks on Protestants for intensification it is the nationalist people bearing the overwhelming brunt of such attacks.

As the preparations are made for the rally on Friday it should be said that many people would agree with such a rally. However, for it to have possible speakers and platforms from organizations and groups who are in division over such matters as the flag and emblems issue while in unity to cut and privatize our services, to then preach about inclusiveness and prosperity to the masses is a bit rich. Trade union activists support their leaderships when they do take action or when they do get involved in good initiatives but it would be counterproductive both to the unions and wider society if those who speak to us of peace and unity press within their councils or organizations for exclusion and division. People see this contradiction and therefore may not see this rally, although a taken initiative, as a serious step forward.

The social and economic problems of deprivation, lack of housing, funding, etc., all play a part in the continuance of sectarianism. Yet while many of our politicians voice concern or opposition over sectarianism many in reality do little about it. The lack of vocal opposition from the unionists over the campaign of violence against Nationalists, the lack of addressing the social and economic exclusiveness, and the reluctance to attempt political stability because of selfish political reasons are all part and parcel of our ongoing problems.

It should also be noted that while some cross community support and action has been taken over the issue of sectarianism by the council, their silence is deafening in giving support for the council workers' reasonable pay claim. There is no contradiction between both these issues as in fact the recent strike showed how Catholics and Protestants stood together for modest economic demands, and previously before against sectarianism. If they can offer the council support in their call in standing firm against sectarianism, I wonder if the council will stand firm with them in support of their pay claim? If such a rally is to succeed it cannot be ad-hoc and it will take more than leaders voicing support for such action. It will also take practical action and building from below as well as the leaderships active role in building for it. I see neither happening at the minute. Could it be because within the rank and file that apart from the various reasons stated above, working people who wish to stand against sectarianism see the calls of support coming from those who lend little support within their councils for their economic struggles? Working class people have and need to stand firm against sectarianism and for political equality but while doing so need to articulate their argument and maintain their stance against economic inequality.




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We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

2 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


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


28 July 2002


Strategy of Threat

Anthony McIntyre


E.U. Surveillance of Telecommunications

Aine Fox


Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Davy Carlin


Snap Shot
Sherry Maguire




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