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(en) Ireland - Propping Up The House Of Cards (Organise*! #7)

From Organise Ireland <organiseireland@yahoo.ie>
Date Fri, 17 Sep 2004 20:24:03 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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If the house of cards that is the Stormont
administration refuses to stand (it’s been up and down
four times now!) then why not try reshuffling the
cards? The upcoming meeting at Leeds Castle in Kent of
the north’s main political parties – that’s the
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein now
(though they won’t be in the same room) - with the
British and Irish governments is a bit of a gamble.
Tony and Bertie may think they have an ace up their
sleeves, but while the talks about talks may succeed
in getting the north’s institutions up and running, at
least temporarily, it will ultimately offer very
little to those working class inhabitants of the north
who happen to live in the real world. A world where
everything has a price tag and debt has soared to new
heights. According to Lynda Gilby in the Sunday Life
(May 23rd, 2004) “the average household in Northern
Ireland… is in debt to the tune of £18,530.”

Sectarianism – Not On The Agenda

The polarisation of politics in the north, and the
rise of Sinn Fein and the DUP, was sadly predictable,
perhaps inevitable, given the copper-fastening of
sectarianism in the 1994 Good Friday Agreement and the
establishment of the new, balanced, sectarian Stormont
administration. After Drumcree we are led to believe
that this sectarian violence is on the wane and that
the recent bother in the Ardoyne was a throwback to
the “bad old days” where one side goads the other and
both being happy enough to shore up support for their
own narrow agendas. Funnily enough, though, the
polarisation in the political process reflects and
further entrenches the continued polarisation between
both communities. A Northern Ireland Life and Times
(NILT) survey earlier this year from the Omnibus
public attitudes report found that 50% of people
opposed the creation of new religiously integrated
public housing schemes. Dealing with sectarianism is
not going to be high on the agenda (nor will water
charges, the NIPSA strike, etc…) in Kent unless we are
talking about the odd jibe in the castle corridors
between Sinn Fein and the DUP themselves.

Doing The Tango

Recent weeks, however, have seen a game of cat and
mouse being played out with carefully chosen remarks
by Gerry Adams – a “strategic compromise” on policing
(Adams and co. like the DUP want control of policing
devolved), followed by demilitarisation “as part of an
ongoing process of sustainable change”. This is all
geared towards will removing, or reducing, the DUP’s
“justifiable” fears, providing the wordy formulas
which Peter Robinson needs to “weigh the semtex”. All
in all a careful public balancing act between keeping
some eggs in the basket now in the hope that you won’t
end up with some of them on your face later on.

Secretly though both parties can’t wait to have their
‘mandate’ translated into a wee bit of power. After
all, in the north of Ireland, the mantra is still: the
smaller the pond, the bigger the fish. But what about
all those people who have ordained Sinn Fein and the
DUP with their inalienable right to lead us?

What The People Think?

Well according to Henry MacDonald in the British
Sunday broadsheet The Observer (June 13th 2004):
“Most people in Northern Ireland do not care if
devolution is restored to Stormont. Two-thirds of
Protestants and half of all Catholics in the North are
either hostile or indifferent to the resurrection of
the power-sharing executive, which was suspended two
years ago. Critics of the Northern Ireland Assembly
said last night that findings proved that the only
section of society clamouring for the return of
devolved government are the political classes.”
These are the ‘political classes’ who no doubt send
others to do their shopping for them and would be hard
pushed to know the price of a loaf of bread. According
to Robert McCartney, leading light (err… only light)
of the United Kingdom Unionist Party, people:

“(are) more interested in getting a cheap direct
flight from Belfast to Barcelona for the weekend than
if Stormont is up and running”.

The Good Life

Probably, but McCartney’s interests lie not in giving
people a direct say in how their communities are run,
but in maintaining direct rule over those people from
Westminster. He can criticise the party political
“money-making machine” that is at the heart of
Stormont (the average salary for a MLA’s is £45,000
plus expenses, with an additional £37,500 for a head
of one of the executives 11 departments, plus an extra
£17,000 for a junior ministerial post. The First
Minister and Deputy First Minister earned £74,000 for
an Assembly that sat for one and a half days a week 38
weeks a year!). He can also speak (with justification)
of the “deep disaffection with the politicians in our
society” while hoodwinking himself into believing that
he himself is not one of those same politicians. So,
McCartney misses the point, that perhaps, just
perhaps, people are heading for the sun because of
their weariness with Stormont, Westminster and the
whole rabble of elitist politicos who presume they
know more about our problems and lives than we do.
Voting turnout at the Assembly elections in November
2003 was a staggering 64% (!) and explained away not
with allusions to collective apathy but bad weather
(more reason to head for the sun then!).

...Those Pesky Prods

Gerry Moriarty, northern editor of the Dublin-based
Irish Times (August 22nd, 2004) presumes to know all
about life north of the border, and paints a picture
of the place I am supposed to live in minus the dark

“Despite the bitter taste of sectarianism, Belfast is
slowly developing a European flavour’ where the good
folk of Belfast enjoy a “latte by the Lagan”. He must
mean the middle-classes since it’s they “who in many
ways had the money and the means to isolate themselves
from the troubles, (and) are still faring well with
their holiday homes in Donegal and the Continent.”

But hold on! This Gerry warns of “a developing
underclass, primarily in loyalist areas, who could
rise up to threaten the comfortable and complacent.”
Now there’s the “bitter taste of sectarianism” for
you. What island are you on Gerry?
The truth is different. Whether the house of cards
goes up or tumbles down is an irrelevance to most of
us as we face mounting debts, paying for water we
already pay for, wait on a hospital bed in a run-down
hospital, watch our streets turn into racist
backwaters or hold onto the bit of work we’re lucky to
have. Of course, there is an alternative. We might
just be clever enough to run our own communities, and
organise our own workplaces without parties we don’t
vote for telling us what to do.


>From the pages of Working Class Resistance, regular
bulletin of Organise!, now available in text and PDF
format at:


To distribute in your area, contact Organise! at:


To subscribe to WCR, send a blank email to:


In this issue:

# Water Tax –Don’t Pay
# Propping Up the House of Cards
# 1916-22 –Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution
# PIRA ceasefire 10 years on
# Grassroots Gathering in Belfast
# Peace Activists Bound Over
# Saga of the Corrib Gas Field
* Organise! is an Irish anarchist group

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