The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 11th May 2007
October 1994 - Gerry
McLochlainn delivers the letter from Sinn Fein to John Major -
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DAY IN IRELAND
IN ONE of the most historic
days of the Peace Process, power-sharing in the North has begun between
the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin. DUP leader,
Ian Paisley, and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness took their pledge
of office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a
power-sharing administration on Tuesday. Ten ministers of the
power-sharing executive were then appointed.
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, and British premier Tony Blair, were
among the guests in the visitors’ gallery. Formal proceedings at the
event were delayed by 30 minutes as a mark of respect to the late DUP
legislator, George Dawson, who died on Monday after a short illness.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking at Stormont said
“Today is another significant landmark in the process of transforming
life on this island. Today is a good day for Ireland. I want to thank
and commend everyone who worked to achieve this.”
Adams said: “Today is another significant landmark in the process of
transforming life on this island. It’s a good day for Ireland, it’s a
good day for all of the people of this island.
“I think that Sinn Fein has delivered and I want to commend the DUP
also. The talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP, and the agreements
between us, have opened up the potential for new beginnings.
“I want also to remember everyone who was hurt or killed in the
conflict. Over the weekend I spent time in County Tyrone with families
of IRA volunteers killed 20 years ago today at Loughgall. Days like
today must be about ensuring that events like Loughgall are never
visited on another generation.
“I genuinely believe that we are all shaping a real process of national
reconciliation and building a new relationship between the people on
this island and between Ireland and Britain. There are clearly many
challenges ahead but have no doubt that all these challenges can be
“We, as Republicans can develop and build and work and seek support for
our vision of a united Ireland, of an Ireland of equals where everyone
“We have the right to a society where citizens are treated on the basis
of equality. We want to change the political landscape from here on
out. We are going to succeed.”- Sinn Féin news
HISTORY was made in the north
of Ireland last Tuesday when Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian
Paisley joined forces with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness as
First Minister and Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland
This was the culmination of the peace process that began in
October 1994, when Sinn Féin representative Gerry McLochlainn
delivered a letter from his party’s executive to Prime Minister John
Major, proposing measures that would lead to “a lasting peace”.
The Tory government of John Major took the proposal seriously
because the armed struggle of the IRA was taking too great a toll on
the British state and its occupation forces in the north of Ireland.
That letter led to the first ceasefire between the IRA and the
imperialist forces but this broke down within a year or so because the
British government refused to meet Sinn Féin at the negotiating
The peace process was revived in 1997 when Tony Blair was elected
Prime Minister. There was a second ceasefire – which still holds – and
a long negotiating procedure that produced the Good Friday Agreement.
That agreement contained major concessions by all parties but it was
emphatically endorsed in a referendum throughout the whole of Ireland.
Nevertheless much of the GFA has yet to be implemented and it has
had heel dragging and attempted sabotage since it was signed. This
includes opposition from what Sinn Féin describes as the
“secureaucracy”, who have repeatedly tried to undermine the peace with
false allegations that Sinn Féin was engaged in spying against
other parties in the first, short-lived, Northern Ireland Assembly,
when in fact they were the victims of spying. There have also been
unfounded smears that Sinn Féin was involved in a major bank
These smears were the reason given by Ian Paisley for his former
intransigence in refusing to engage with Sinn Féin in a
functioning elected Northern Ireland Assembly.
But now that Assembly is functioning, Paisley’s intransigence is
gone and the prospects for continuing peace are high. Sinn Féin
has in no way abandoned its ultimate aim of a united Ireland, free from
British occupation. But, for the first time in history, it is able to
pursue that policy peacefully within the elected Assembly.
The elections and
THE ELECTIONS last week for
the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the English local
authorities produced the expected drubbing for Labour but on the whole
that party was heaving a sight of relief, knowing it could have been
The Scottish National Party came in as the largest party in
Scotland with 47 seats – that is 33 per cent and a long way from a
workable majority. But the Liberal Democrats refused to join them in a
coalition unless the SNP reneged on its promise of a referendum on
Scottish independence in 2010 so the SNP is going to try to go it alone
with a minority government, which will be very vulnerable with a high
probability of being unstable and short-lived.
This immediately brings out one of the main disadvantages of the
proportional representation system of voting. Another is the complex
ballot papers. And in Scotland around 100,000 voters inadvertently
spoiled their ballot papers by making errors on the redesigned
documents. The documents had been changed to make them easier to be
read electronically by a machine, at a cost of making them more
difficult for human beings to use.
But ultimately, whether the voting system is proportional
representation or first past the post, it is all part and parcel of the
bourgeois state system that is designed to protect the privileges of
the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the workers. It is not real
democracy because the real and important decisions are not made in
Holyrood or in Westminster – they are made in the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, in Nato, among European Union
commissioners and other global capitalist bodies that are not elected.
It is a fool’s errand to imagine that campaigning for proportional
representation will bring any benefits for the working class.
Now we are waiting for Blair to make his promised declaration of
departure and wondering if he’s got some new trick up his sleeve to
prolong the agony further. All eyes are turning to Gordon Brown and
some are hoping against hope that he could be just a little bit better
than Blair but the chances are remote.
All potential challengers from the right of New Labour have
fallen a way leaving John McDonnell and Michael Meacher still standing
on the left. Each needs the signatures of at least 45 to trigger a
leadership contest that will throw the voting open to constituency
parties and affiliated trade unions – and make a real contest of it.
Either would be better than Blair of Brown but McDonnell has by far the
better record of consistently campaigning for policies that will
benefit the working class and trade unions. It now seems they will have
to pool their support to ensure that one of them gets the vital 45 MP
If one of them were to become the next Prime Minister, there
would be limits on what they could do to turn the tide of privatisation
and profiteering that global capitalism is unleashing throughout the
world. Nevertheless every little is worth it and the impact on working
class morale and confidence would be significant – and in the end it is
the mobilised working class – not Parliament – that will overthrow
capitalism here and throughout the world.
But even if Brown does take over as everyone expects there is one
important consolation – war-monger Bush will have lost his favourite
accomplice on the world stage and will be weaker for it.
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