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Left Archive: Focus on Sectarianism, Workers’ Party, c. 2010 July 12, 2021

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Uncategorized.
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Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This is an interesting addition to the Archive, a pamphlet from the Workers’ Party dating from around 2010 (we would be very glad for a precise date if possible). The contents address the issue of sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The pamphlet written by Sean Garland, then National Treasurer of the Workers’ Party, opens with a reflection – based on a speech he gave in Dundalk in 2009, on ‘the Official IRA ceasefire in 1972 and its impact on events’. It then considers the situation in 2010 and argues that ‘Northern Ireland society is more divided than ever before’ and argues that the WP has consistently sought:

To build a broad coalition of democratic forces; to abolish sectarianism in the schools, in employment, in housing, in the mind of the people.

He also strongly critiques ‘nationalism’ and argues against republicanism and nationalism being used as interchangeable terms. And he argues that only genuine democracy in democratic councils ‘is an essential prerequisite in a modern democracy’. 

He also argues that: Class struggle is our most important weapon and the most effective part of that weapon is class consciousness – always remember we led the way and despite the betrayal and defections since May 1972 we have retained our core values which have and will sustain us in the coming years. 

The rest of the pamphlet argues for ‘practical steps that can be immediately undertaken to oppose sectarianism in the name of citizenship’. The piece notes that in the context of ‘maintenance of (most) paramilitary ceasefires and the decommissioning of some paramilitary weapons, there is a case for shifting concern to the task of reconciliation’. 

The means it suggests include  the establishment of a Centre for Citizenship and Reconciliation and ‘encouraging respect of cultural, religious and political difference’, developing programmes for public education, participate in the media and facilitating intercultural dialogues.

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