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(en) Ireland, Belfast, Organise!, The Leveller* #12 - Page 6

Date Mon, 05 Nov 2012 12:52:31 +0200


Empty Purse - Empty Protest? - Welfare Reform Protest at Stormont ---- Hours after Cameron announced his latest attack on young people there were protests at Stormont against the introduction of the Welfare Reform Bill. ---- While members of the PCS Union took industrial action NIC-ICTU and the Welfare Reform Group held a protest at the steps of Stormont. Members of Organise! were present alongside trade unionists from NIPSA, GMB, UNISON, Unite, PCS, the Belfast and District Trade Union Council, ICTU Youth and womenâs groups such as the Womenâs Resource and Development Agency and Footprints Womenâs Group. ---- Cameronâs latest announcement threatens to rob under 25 years olds of housing benefit. ---- It is an attack that has further angered many working class people and which will increase homelessness - with fatal consequences.

Unfortunately the protest was little more
than a photo opportunity for NIC-ICTU and
some opportunistic MLAs who implement cuts
with one hand while getting away with
holding union banners in the other.
Patricia McKeown had the politicians
quaking in their boots no doubt when she
argued we had voted for them to represent
us not to implement cuts. And if they donât
watch out we may vote for someone else,
anyone, just not them!

The faith our union bureaucrats continue to
place in our politicians is staggering and
betrays a deep misunderstanding of the
nature of ârepresentativeâ democracy. âOurâ
MLAs are not there to defend anyoneâs class
interests apart from those of the rich.

NIC-ICTU are busy trying to convince the
Assembly they can have a âusefulâ role in
partnership with our rulers. The only role
that will be tolerated (one they are actually
very capable of) is one of lapdog.

We need to move beyond empty protests
and photo calls. As long as there is no real
resistance capitalism will continue its all out
class war against workers, claimants and
the sick.

One friendly member of the CPI welcomed
us to the protest with a greeting of âhello
losersâ. Funny? Not when we are all going
to continue to be losers while we follow
failed âstrategiesâ and failed unions that
make up ICTU.

-----------------------------------

Which Queen do you want?

Its been reduced to a choice between a
mythical âcelticâ warrior goddess or Lizzie
Windsor. Despite McGuinnessâ handshake
the Queens visit to Northern Ireland did not
go without protest. Unfortunately the
protests were not quite anti-monarchist and
did not have any hope of uniting working
class communities across the north in
opposition to an institution that is
reactionary, privileged and symbolic of
wealth and inequality.

Irish nationalists staged a visual protest on
the side of Blackâs Mountain with the slogan
âEriu is our Queenâ and displaying a huge
tricolour. âOutragedâ by the sight of the
huge tricolour and the insult to their
âBritishnessâ a group of loyalists trekked up
the hill to remove it. Following a vicious
attack on a veteran republican that left him
hospitalised a hardy bunch of republicans
resolved to defend the huge flag and a
claim that some mythical warrior deity is
their true queen.

Hundreds of Irish nationalists gathered on
the mountain that evening. One nationalist
veteran said:

the call has gone out to republicans
across the city to restore the visual
protest on the mountain even if it
means clashing with loyalists from the
nearby Springmartin housing estate.

As anti-monarchists it is saddening that
protests against the Queens visit are simply
protests against the fact that she is the
âBritishâ Queen. In the context of the wee
north this becomes an attack on a symbol of
Britishness that a sizeable amount of the
population see as an attack on them. That
this is ridiculous unfortunately makes it no
less true.

The lefty cheerleaders of Irish nationalism
are keen to point out the âradicalâ nature of
Irish republicanism. There is nothing radical
in it - from Sinn Fein to the various
âdissidentâ groups there is no revolutionary
or class based opposition to monarchism.
This is a clash of nationalisms plain and
simple. All the more disheartening at a time
when working class people and communities
are on the receiving end of a all out class
war with benefits to the poor being cut
while the royals remain the biggest welfare.

--------------------------------------

Assembly to Rubberstamp - Westminsterâs Attack on the Vulnerable

With the likes of the Daily Mail, mainstream
media and the Jeremy Kyle showâs ongoing
demonization of poor working class people
hardly a political feather was ruffled by
Cameronâs latest proposals. His latest plans
for benefits cuts see a further escalation in
attacks on the working class, particularly the
working poor and the young.

Payment in kind, a cap on housing benefits,
no benefits for the young until after they
have paid contributions and more
harassment for those signing on are among
the suggested âreformsâ of the welfare
system.

He also suggested that
workfare be rolled out even
further with claimants being
forced to work in return for
benefits after six months on
the dole. As for those on
sickness benefits his message
is âheal thyself!â.

Single mothers with children
as young as three could be
made to prepare for work by
writing a CV in return for
income support.

His proposed reforms include
removing access to all housing
benefit for anyone aged
under 25! Such a move would
immediately increase
homelessness among the
young and is little less than a
death sentence for many
young people who would not
be able to endure life on the
streets.

Ministers have signalled that
they are looking for a further
Â10bn in welfare cuts, and it
seems there are no better
people to pay for these cuts
than the poor.

The Leveller has already had
reports of single fathers
being made homeless as a
result of new âunder-occupancyâ rules that
have seen housing benefit cut for
accommodation needed for children staying
with their fathers. The amount of housing
benefit payable has already been
reduced. Many are having to make the
difference in the rent charged and the
lower amounts paid out in housing benefit
up from their benefits.

Protests have already taken place - but we
need to move from protest to resistance.
Claimants need to build a union of our own.

----------------------------------------

Homophobia It Hasnât gone Away You Know

Lord Ken Maginnisâ is not alone in his
homophobic bigotry. Edwin Poots is still
denying homosexuals the right to donate
blood.

The problem goes deeper though. While
the 2011 Equality Survey found that
lesbian, gay or bisexual people were the
only group to see a decline in negative
attitudes towards them - down from 21%
in 2008 to 15% in 2011 - this has not seen an
increase in positive attitudes. People have
increasingly indicated âneutralâ opinions.

While the most worrying and negative
attitudes continue to be towards members
of the Travelling community people were
extremely negative towards transgender
people. 35% of respondents would mind
(a little or a lot) having a Traveller as a work
colleague, 54% would mind having a
Traveller as a neighbour while 55% would
mind having a Traveller as an in-law.

Transgender was included in the survey for
the first time and 35% of respondents
would mind (a little or a lot) having a
transgender person as a work colleague,
while 40% would mind having a
transgender person as a neighbour and
53% would mind having a transgender
person as an in-law.

In addition 21% expressed negative
attitudes to Eastern European migrant
workers.

Workers need to stand together in
solidarity, against the scape-goating of one
section or another of our class. Bigotry and
intolerance must be stamped out. We can
all join in and visibly make our opposition to
intolerance and prejudice known - a good
starting point will be to join the Belfast and
Derry Pride parades on the 4th August and
25th August respectively.
www.foylepridefestival.com
www.belfastpride.com

------------------------------------------

More Grants Axed

From next year the Department of
Education and Learning will stop paying
Â1,810 on behalf of every student from
Northern Ireland who have chosen to study
in the Republic. Stormont seem to be intent
on punishing students for choosing to study
in the south and will replace these âgrantsâ,
which cover the annual college registration
fee, with loans.
=====================================
* Anarchist journal
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