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WP Statement on the 15th Anniversary of the Belfast Agreement April 10, 2013

Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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Commenting on the 15th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement, Workers’ Party General Secretary John Lowry said, ” in many ways, not least the ending of terrorist campaigns, Northern Ireland today is a better place than before. However that should not blind us to the fact that 15 years on we have not realised the ambition of a new Northern Ireland free from sectarianism and division”.

“The DUP and Sinn Féin are managing division in society, not overcoming it. The political institutions themselves reflect and perpetuate sectarian and communal blocs, segregation and the number of so-called Peace Walls has actually increased and there is no movement on a strategy to tackle sectarianism. Indeed there has been a rolling back on commitments to increase the number of Integrated schools and youth unemployment stands at 25%. ”

“That is the reality of life in Northern Ireland today. It is time now to review the workings of the Assembly and Executive and to discard those things, like the designation of MLAs as Unionist or Nationalist and the make up of the Executive which reinforce sectarian division.”, said John Lowry

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1. Gavin Mendel-Gleason - April 10, 2013

I agree with the WP on this. I think it’s a good example of how Luxemburg was correct on the National Question and the Austro-Marxists were dead wrong.

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Jim Monaghan - April 12, 2013

I have read both. But it is a bit of a leap. You should try to elucidate a little more.

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Gavin Mendel-Gleason - April 12, 2013

The Austro-Marxists, initially attempted to avoid the national question entirely (e.g. Victor Adler). However, when it became obvious this approach was no longer possible, they made an accommodation with the rising Czech nationalism (e.g. Otto Bauer). The compromise was to create autonomous public administrations for each of the national groups within the context of a single state.

Of course the problem with the approach is it essentialises the various ethnic identities, giving them a material basis and helps to reinforce cross-class tendencies within the various ethnic identities internally.

Lenin, who actually did support a notion of national self determination said:

““Cultural-national autonomy” implies precisely the most refined and, therefore, the most harmful nationalism, it implies the corruption of the workers by means of the slogan of national culture and the propaganda of the profoundly harmful and even anti-democratic segregating of schools according to nationality. In short, this programme undoubtedly contradicts the internationalism of the proletariat and is in accordance only with the ideals of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie.”

Luxemburg’s view would have been even dimmer.

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WorldbyStorm - April 12, 2013

Is that quite the model taken in the North though, one of ‘autonomous public administrations for each of the national groups within the context of a single state’? It’s not as if the political or stateinstitutions are parallel, public and state services are in that sense broadly community blind, and even the Executive itself can see rotation between Ministers of different portfolios, isn’t it more that there is political/community division and that that is reflected in the composition of the existing institutions?

Wouldn’t that be somewhat less essentialising of ‘community’ identities (not sure there’s a real distinction ‘ethnically’.

Which isn’t to disagree that there aren’t essentialising aspects of the dispensation, but I’m not sure how they can be done away with short term (even 15 years seems like a short time, not least because the institutions haven’t been up and running throughout that period) – and here I’d be curious as to how the WP proposes to replace designations of Unionist/Nationalist/Other (or is it None) in the Assembly and the division of the Executive in such a way as to prevent majoritarianism (which would one presumes be almost inevitably of a Unionist tilt).

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CL - April 13, 2013

Segregated, state-supported schooling reinforces the notion that there is some essential, enduring difference between Catholics and Protestants.

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WorldbyStorm - April 13, 2013

Completely agree and it’s a curse, but it preexists the GFA and now concepts such as the right to ‘individual choice’ will be wheeled out in its defence.

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - April 12, 2013

That’s exactly what I took from it as well….

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2. Garibaldy - April 10, 2013

BBC report from this morning worth watching

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-22088273

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