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The IRSP and community politics

Socialism 101: Unity of the working class

J. North

06 August 2023

The Welcome Organisation centre.

A call by the IRSP in Belfast for the relocation of the Welcome Centre, a drug and homeless support centre, away from residential homes in the area has been met by widespread condemnation.

The IRSP complain about residents and families having to deal with heroin related anti-social activity on their doorsteps. Their view is that; "Belfast needs proper and effective rehab and safe injection zones for unfortunate drug addicts but putting these facilities in the middle of residential areas is not the answer".

This a fundamental break with the most basic tenet of socialism - that we defend all of the working class, especially the most oppressed sections. By failing to do so, the IRSP scapegoat the most vulnerable and deflect from the role of the capitalist authorities. Both they, and many of their critics, are buried in a fog of confusion based on community politics and reformism.

The problem of drugs and homelessness exist together. Hundreds of young people have died on the streets of Belfast. The main road to survival, demonstrated in other cities, is to provide some sort of basic home around which recovery can take place, or the descent into addiction prevented.

"Effective rehab and safe injection zones" are required for managing addiction. But the underlying issue is homelessness. Once we see that we can start to address the problem. The first port of call would be Belfast City Council and the major party there, Sinn Féin. We all know that there is widespread corruption around property development and that housing issues are subject to the pressures of privatisation and sectarianism. Beyond that groups are awaiting the return of a dysfunctional Stormont while the British Secretary of State is right in front of them and holds overall responsibility for the decay in the North.

The working class are under attack through the instrument of housing policy across Ireland. Socialists should demand mass public housing, expropriation of the property speculators and they should challenge the political parties who fail to confront this attack.

The failure of socialists to unite the workers and confront the capitalists leaves the way open for the far right to blame the most oppressed layers of society.  It doesn't help if the fog of community politics leaves activists confused about which side they are on.

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