the last thirty plus years the local and international
press has been full of articles and letters about
sectarianism in Ireland. Many of them have been written
by members of the various socialist parties (for those
socialists who are paranoid about anything which is
written the 'capitalist press' I mean all socialist
party's) who have been very keen to tell us the only
way to tackle sectarianism is their way and that the
trade unions are letting down the working class.
many years the trade union movement has had to deal
with its own problems with sectarianism but it has
always been working quietly behind the screams of
the victims of sectarianism to try and stop not only
its members but any citizen of any community being
murdered by sectarian, paramilitary, or state violence.
last few months people like Peter Bunting deputy,
gen, sec, ICTU have being meeting both loyalist and
republican politicians and paramilitary leaders, British
and Irish government officials to try and stop the
blood letting on the streets of NI.
received much criticism for calling on the Mayor of
Belfast to organise a anti-sectarianism rally at the
city hall on Friday August 2nd (I personally questioned
Peter's judgment). But we are starting to see the
benefits of the involvement of the politicians and
councillors who are beginning to realise that the
people they represent have more in common with each
other that they have separating them.
SF Mayor of Belfast has called for the flags to be
removed from interface areas. This should be encouraged
and SF could lead the way by taking down nationalist
flags in all nationalist areas or at least the worn-out
ones. And the PUP's Billy Hutchinson is calling for
a comprehensive, integrated coeducation of all schools
is just months after the heartbreaking scenes we witnessed
in Ardoyne Road when pupils from Holly Cross had faced
mobs of hate driven demonstrators while going too
and from school. The protesters only succeeded in
acting like demented demons and denigrated their cause
in front of the worlds media. Just imagine if the
PUP pushed through their education plans the Wheatfield
and Holy Cross primary schools could become the spark
to a new beginning for North Belfast.
the flags and education were subjects that were talked
about many months ago by the trade unionist after
they were approached from local community activists.
This and other signs are encouraging. The trade unionist
campaign under the stewardship of Peter Bunting and
the ICTU, the trade unions, trade groups and community
activists is beginning to see the first ray of light
at the end of a very long and dark sectarian tunnel.
definition of sectarianism as printed in Collins English
1/ of belonging or relating to, or characteristic
of sects or sectaries.
2/ Adhering to a particular sect, faction,
3/ Narrow-minded, esp. as a result of rigid
adherence to a particular sect.
4/ a member of a sect or faction, esp. one
who is bigoted in his adherence to its doctrines or
in his intolerance towards other sects, etc.
it does not tell you is that Ireland North and South
have been built on inveterate sectarianism. We in
the North live in a society which separates its citizens
into two camps - either you are Protestant or Catholic,
where the children are prevented from learning and
playing together, (example: the churches control of
education) where each community has its own culture
and identity one British the other Irish - each feeling
threatened by the other.
can and will be changed in NI but it will take time;
time for the communities to build trust and understanding
of each other, time for parties like SF and the PUP
to gain enough courage to lead people away from the
hatred of the past and to look to the future free
of fear and intimidation where we can build a society.
Hopefully it is a socialist society based on respect
for each tradition no matter how painful that maybe.
The trade union movement and activists have an important
role to play in the building of a new society, one
that is built on compromise. Our problems are not
insurmountable but it takes great courage to bring
about the revolutionary change which is needed to
tackle the phobias and prejudice which affect all
the citizens of Ireland North and South and bring
us to the mindset where we can coexist.
Paisley's and the fascists will call us traitors;
we will be accused of treachery and heresy. and if
they could some of them would burn us at the stake.
But we must stand firm for the reward is great
are all guilty of having been sectarian. The problem
with all the socialist partyies is that their understanding
of sectarianism is flawed and discredited by their
own sectarianism towards other socialist parties.
This clearly shows that the socialist parties in Belfast
if not all of Great Britain and Ireland, are hypocrits.
The problem as I see it is that there are too many
socialist parties and not enough socialism. They should
put their own house in order before shoving their
brand of sectarianism on to the working class. The
working class I've talked to want very little - a
democracy built by the people for the people, decent
homes and jobs which pay a living wage so they don't
have to depend on welfare. They want proper free education
up too and including third level for their children
and a health service which provides the best service
there is for all citizens not just the wealthy.
revolutionary socialists, communists and Christians
who are waiting for the second coming of Marx, Lenin,
Trotsky, Stalin or Jesus are living on cloud nine
and hoping for a pipedream which will never happen.
a society built on peace, justice, and democracy will
bring an end of sectarianism. This will only happen
when people look to the future and leave
the past behind where it belongs in museums and in
history books to serve as a warning to future generations
not to make the same mistakes as we did.
time for all people to support the flawed peace process.
It's all we have. If we don't take this opportunity
to build a new society our children will never forgive
us. Enough pain and sorrow has been caused its time
to look forward.
author is an independent socialist
Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews +
Letters + Archives