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This document, written by Peter Hadden of Militant, is a fascinating reply to a Workers’ Association Pamphlet. As it notes, in the original WA leaflet there was a proposal to establish an Ulster Trade Union Congress ‘seperate from the ICTU and the British TUC.
This pamphlet is a reply to one such group [proposing a UTUC]…
It also notes…
The WA have an identical position to that of another group, the British and Irish Communist Organisation. No differences appear betwen the material of these groups. Therefore this pamphlet treats them as identical. One section deals with the broader ideas of these tendencies and the implications of these idea.
… This work is not intended merely as an answer to the B&ICO and WA. Sectarianism in NI Has had a shattering effect on the Labour Movement. The Ulster TUC proposal can only serve to worsen this effect. However, just to discard this idea is not enough. It is necessary to work out the ways and means by which flash can be once again put on the Northern Irish TU movement. In rejecting the totally false theories and proposals of the WA, this pamphlet seeks also to provide a positive alternative - a set of class ideas and demands around which the might of Organsed Labour could be brought to the fore.
One aspect that is very interesting is how hostile Militant is to B&ICO/WA.
It argues that:
The aim of the [WA] pamphlet is not to improve the structure of the trade unions in NI, as has been suggested by some, but is to smear the leadership of the TU Movement as ‘republican’ and thereby help discredit them.
Many of the pamphlet’s arguments are hair raising indeed! The leaders of the NIC are tried and convicted of the above ‘offence’ on ‘grounds’ which only serve to expose the lack of any class understanding on the part of the Workers Association. The NIC committed such ‘republican’ crimes as refusing to participate in the jubilee celebrations to mark the fifty years of the Northern Ireland state. After fifty years of unemployment and low wages for many of their members what were the trade unions supposed to celebrate? But this action was a symptom of a much more heinous crime! The NIC actually back the demand for civil rights in NI!
And it goes on to say…
Civil Rights, according to the WA was ‘promoted by the republican movement with the objective of weakening internal and international support for the NI Admistration prior to its overthrow’ (P.4). Why socialists should support and defend the rotten tory state and administration in NI we are not told.
Consider the following:
From the erudite thinkers who penned this pamphlet we learn little new about N.I. History. More accurately we find re-invoked the lies and myths about the nature of the N.I. State which for too long the Unionist hierarchy were able to spread. The Civil Rights movement slashed through the web of unionist mythology with facts. Now we find the spider of B&IC and the WA busily at work with its theoretical needle attempting to repair the damage.
There’s far too much material of considerable interest to do justice in a brief introduction such as this. Fortunately the document is highly readable and well worth the effort.
Here are some Workers Association leaflets already in the Archive. The analysis in the Militant document provides a fascinating overview of its own position in regard to Northern Ireland at this point in time. It also perhaps explains later perceptions of B&ICO.
By the way, I can’t recall who, if anyone, sent this to the Archive. Drop me a line and I’ll credit you.
There’s also a text version of this available here , but perhaps the printed version of a document gives a better sense of both itself and the time.