For almost thirty years the Republican Movement fought a war against the British to remove them from Ireland and establish a thirty-two county democratic socialist republic. We wanted control of the wealth in this country to rest with those who created it - working men and women.
In a bid to prevent any such thing taking place armed sectarian groups emerged - quite often under the direction of the British who made use of the sectarian divide for their own strategic ends. Many people died as a result, others were injured or imprisoned. Almost exclusively, those who suffered were from working class backgrounds both here and in Britain.
Thirty years on, despite our best efforts the sectarian divide still exists. Some say it is beginning to break down now that we have the Good Friday Agreement and a cross community executive at Stormont; that things at long last will begin to look better for the working class. Jolly good show - Hurrah or what old boy?
There is a coming together alright. But after reading the unionist Fred Cobain in last week's Irish News it is not difficult to see how the dice is loaded in favour of the rich. He termed the whole sorry charade up at Stormont a middle class government for a middle class people.
I was particularly interested in one aspect of Mr Cobain's assessment. He claimed that 600 people would die over the course of the next year as a result of poor heating in their homes. The poor and handicapped, be they Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Dissenter are all invited by her majesty's government at Stormont to come together and huddle as a means of keeping warm. We can rest assured that no one at Stormont will die due to a lack of heat. They might explode due to over eating.
A number of years ago I stood on a freezing site in West Belfast interviewing working class people about a rogue-building firm giving them a bad deal. One of the firms worker's pointed out that at the same time as the Tory Government had introduced VAT on fuel this firm was cutting the required statutory amount of housing insulation by half. In other words the poor were being told by the ruling class that they would pay more for their heat and when they eventually scraped together the money for it, it would vanish out the roof twice as quickly because of profit mad builders. Their powerful friends ensured that the findings were never published.
Fred Cobain is to be commended for speaking out and allowing us to see that in the years since that day when I stood on the site, little has really changed. Same old ship, just some different hands at the wheel. Now we are beginning to understand what the GFA really means. For working class Protestants and Catholics: - Got F--- All.