The Socialist Perspective on Northern Ireland and the Anglo-Irish Agreement
Organisation: The Workers' Party
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Subjects: Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

23rd May 2011

This document, issued by the Workers’ Party in November 1986, provides a companion piece to the document posted up in the Archive last week from Sinn Féin analysing the Hillsborough Agreement. However whereas that document appears to have been more about explaining the SF response to the AIA to its own members this one, as evidenced by the Foreword which outlines the history and status of the WP at that point, is directed at an external audience of the British Labour Party - a point which is made explicit in the Conclusion.

The WP supported the AIA, albeit with considerable criticisms at the manner in which it was arrived at. The document quotes Tomas Mac Giolla, speaking in the Dáil arguing that:

No attempt appears to have been made to involve the political representatives of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland in this process at all. Indeed they appear to have been deliberately excluded and treated in an offensive manner.

And he continues…

I was particularly disappointed at the dismissive attitude expressed in the Agreement to the concept of a Bill of Rights. This was a fundamental demand of the Civil Rights Movement, it remains a major objective for all democrats in NI, and it is something for which there is substantial support within both communities in NI.

The issue of armed struggle looms large as does the response and how that would affect Sinn Féin and the IRA.

On the other hand were this Agreement to be rejected by the Dáil it would be seen as a major boost to the Provos and a mandate by the majority of people’s representatives for a continuation, indeed an escalation, of terrorist activities. In these circumstances we have come to the conclusion that the lesser of two evisl would be to reluctantly vote for the Agreement.

And he argues that ‘The most effective reassurance that could be given to [Unionists] would be the establishment in Northern Ireland of democratic devolved government…. This Agreement can only have meaning if it leads to peace and the beginning of political dialogue in NI. If it replaces alienation of Nationalists with alienation of Unionists then the position will be worse than before.’

A document from the Belfast Press Conference of the WP Northern Ireland Regional Executive engages with an economic aspect of the AIA:

Let us now turn to Article 10 (a), dealing with economic and social development. We can only describe this section as an insult to the intelligence of any worker, employed or unemployed throughout Ireland or indeed Britain. Thatcher has presided over the destruction of the British economy and the longest dole queues since the ’30s. FitzGerald has gone down the same monetarist road and the economy of the Republic is literally coming apart. Are they going to do an economic U-turn. Or are they hoping for goodies from Reagan? And let us ask carefully and concretely, at what price? Is this island to become a base for Pershing and Cruise missiles?

And on the same issue it takes unionism to task.

We also wish to expose the hypocrisy of the DUP and the OUP as they now hurl abuse at Mrs. Thatcher. Isn’t this the same lady they supported while she decimated our workforce, slashed the NHS, cut the Education service to ribbons all the while enabling her slick capitalist friends to make fortunes on the stock market? Now Paisley, Molyneaux, Smith and Robinson want the NI working class to follow them down a dark road which at the end can only lead to bitter suffering and anguish for our class. The WP clearly states that these loud-mouthed former close allies of Mrs. Thatcher never had, and never will have our class interests at heart.

The document expresses hope for a British Labour Party victory in the next election and contains a Ten Point Programme, including 9. The complete elimination of fascist terrorism in Northern Ireland and 10. The Introduction of a planned approach to the total demilitarisation of Northern Ireland.

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  • By: LeftAtTheCross Mon, 23 May 2011 09:08:26

    That banner, “The Workers Party Says NO to Mass Unemployment” made a re-appearance at the ICTU march in Dublin last November. Photo here

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 23 May 2011 12:49:36

    In reply to LeftAtTheCross.

    Waste not, want not…

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 23 May 2011 15:15:36

    “The Socialist Perspective”
    Common amongst all groups but the use of “the” is a bit annoying. I would accept “a”.

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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung Tue, 24 May 2011 09:12:13

    […] The Workers’ Party (WP): The Socialist Perspective on Northern Ireland and the Anglo-Irish Agreement […]

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