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Correspondence: Socialists supporting Stormont?

4 August 2007

Dear SD, 

I sent this to the Irish News as a reply to a local Belfast activist.  It has not been carried. Would you be so good as to publish?

Through your columns I asked Davy Carlin a simple question. Was he as a socialist supporting the new government?

In the rather long and windy answer (Irish News, July 31st) Davy says that he is simply asking the government to deliver what they promised while opposing their neo-liberal policy and forthcoming attacks on workers. 

The thing is that Sinn Fein, the self-proclaimed progressive wing of this government, have made a number of conflicting statements on water charges, so it would be very difficult to hold them to any promise. Water charges have in fact already been introduced – we are paying through taxes this year, but the private collection agency is already in place.  In any case the privatisation of large sections of the water service has been completed and the re-establishment of Stormont was accompanied by the simultaneous sacking of 300 water workers.  It would seem well past time for full-blooded opposition to the government.

I have worked out one thing from Davy’s letter. His reference to the ‘progressives’ who brought an end to the fighting is presumably a reference to Sinn Fein – the party that one other correspondent (Armagh ex-prisoner, Irish News, August 1st) referred to as the ‘fat cat party’.  That makes Davy a Sinn Fein fellow-traveller and reduces his socialist pretensions to the same level as Sinn Fein ‘socialists’ – that is, to zero.  As someone who, to a relatively small extent, underwent, with tens of thousands of others, some level of discomfort and danger in a failed attempt to drive British imperialism from Ireland, I take great exception to his reference to that period as ‘useless and endless slaughter.’

Cairde Sinn Fein would explain Davy’s role in the campaign against the proposed development of Andersonstown barracks.  This is a very worthy campaign against the government, but suffers from one big fault – one of the major parties in the campaign is the government party - Sinn Fein.  So the campaign against fat cat property developers is led by – the party of fat cat property developers!

The most worrying aspect of this exchange is the silence of socialist and campaign groups.  I’m sure it suits Sinn Fein very well to be simultaneously government and opposition, but if campaigners line up with them it’s the kiss of death to any effective campaigning against the Stormont government.





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