In the aftermath of the Eleventh Night bonfires last year, Belfast City Council passed a Sinn Féin motion authorising the forced clearing of bonfire sites. When this policy was implemented against an anti-internment bonfire in the Divis area of west Belfast, it led to small-scale rioting. If there is an attempt to do the same this year in Protestant areas – where there is generally more support for bonfires – it will provoke a fierce reaction.
Socialists have no confidence in the capacity of the sectarian forces and the state to subject their role in the troubles to real scrutiny. We do however have a confidence in working class people to expose the truth and expose these forces to real scrutiny. This could means some form of wide-ranging enquiry into the troubles, which would not be in the hands of the state or establishment parties but made up of respected trade unionists and those with a record of campaigning on these issues from the stand point of ordinary people, including human rights groups.
Young and precarious workers across Britain and Ireland are standing up and saying, ‘enough is enough’. Small but successful campaigns, such as the McStrike and the #BetterThanZero initiative, have rebuilt confidence and have proved that, by joining a union and actively organising, we can win. Northern Ireland has not been left behind in this international rise in trade union consciousness. Workers here too, are organising. Following a successful launch of the Unite Hospitality NI campaign, young people from a wide range of workplaces are getting together and planning how they are going to fight for a better life and a better future.
We have to maintain and increase the pressure on Westminster and our local politicians to guarantee real abortion access in Northern Ireland. This cannot wait for the sectarian parties to resolve their disagreements and catch up with ordinary people in the 21st century. We demand free, safe, legal abortion, here and now!
After three days of positive debate and discussion and with firm foundations laid for the year ahead, Conference ended with a rendition of Pete Seeger’s rousing union song ‘Solidarity Forever’. Delegates standing with fists held high understood this could not have been more significant.