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Even before Brexit, Irish stability is unravelling

Theresa May's announcement that there was to be a British general election brought talks at Stormont to a juddering halt. Their resumption is set for June, but given that this is the beginning of the Orange marching season a further delay is likely.

However the issue is not one of timing. The demand by Sinn Fein that previous agreements be honoured could be met in a moment if the British were willing. They are not willing. If Sinn Fein were to return to the status quo ante their recent dramatic rise in support would be converted to an even more dramatic fall.

New partition

After ten years in intensive care, the central component of the Irish peace process is dead in the water. Not only that, but Brexit and the new European land border with Britain will have the political effect of hammering into place the copper fastening of partition achieved by the peace process. The existing colonial and sectarian set-up will be set in stone.

In the past more minor crises would have seen the great and the good gather from around the world. Today it is clear that May has not given a thought to the Irish question and doesn't give a damn about the outcome.

The peace process has failed. The pacification process has been wildly successful and totally wiped out mass opposition to British rule.

There is one thing that May is definite about. Contrary to the assurances of British neutrality given in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement Britain is not neutral on the Irish question. Partition was a denial of democracy. The claims in the Good Friday Agreement that Britain was standing aside turn out to have been lies. A further denial of democracy is involved in steam rolling Brexit against the wishes of the majority in the North.

Economic devastation

The economic aspects will be devastating. The dependent economy in the North will see a sharp fall in income. The economy in the 26 countries is split between a transnational sector tied to Europe and a native economy largely dependent on exports to Britain.

As in Britain, there are no reformist solutions. Brexit will cause untold misery for Irish workers. In the south the government are enforcing the Troika program and in the North EU capital acts as a guarantor of the failed peace process and the source of funds for a largely unproductive peace industry that simply intensifies and freezes sectarian division.

Irish capitalism is hapless in the face of the crisis. In the North Unionist politicians salute the British flag and throw their followers to the wolves. The minority government in Dublin scurries frantically, seeking special deals from Britain and Europe simultaneously. No-one will listen. A class that guaranteed almost half the European banking debt will certainly lie down before Brexit. Sinn Fein raise the question of a united Ireland, but their roadmap is a tattered copy of the St. Andrews Agreement, now being torn up before their eyes. The majority of socialist groups discredit themselves with pipe dreams of an Irish left exit from Europe.

A new turn

Capitulation to the British has seen growing sectarian division within the North and the prospect of a renewed partition along a European land border. Capitulation to European capital has led to a sovereign debt crisis, control of the economy by the ECB and endless austerity.

To break out of this cycle of defeat we must reject British imperialism's sectarian schemes and set our faces against the Troika's plans to impoverish the working class, not only here but all across Europe: At home an independent movement of the working class and the construction of an all-Ireland constituent assembly. Abroad a movement of workers solidarity and the call for a United Socialist States of Europe. These are gargantuan tasks, but they can aim us on the road to resistance. The alternative is to be ground up in the maw of a decaying capitalism.


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