So, what of the working person in our new set up in the six counties? We are in the process of seeing 'our' police force being dry-cleaned. We are in the process of seeing 'our' Stormont being whitewashed. We are in the process of seeing 'our' Republican Movement shedding its skin. We are certainly not in any process of seeing the conditions of the workers being improved. Women are still being forced to work for £2 an hour; men for £20 a day. What has the Good Friday Agreement done for the working class people? As a republican, as far as I can see - nothing!
For the working people the GFA may as well mean 'Got Feck All'. It has delivered absolutely nothing. What should the Republican Movement be doing for working people? Absolutely everything. The rogue builders that plague and prey on working class republican communities should not be allowed to treat workers as slaves - in work one day and out the next because the boss takes a dislike to you or may resent the fact that you do not drink your wages in the bar that he owns and in which he pays you. He can quite easily find some other wretched soul who feels compelled out of poverty to work for less that the £20 a day he gives you. Whatever happened to the old adage of a 'fair day's work for a fair day's pay'?
It seems to me that after thirty years of struggling we are still facing repression - by the British, by our so-called ‘own people‘. If after thirty years of gruelling war, death and hunger, we end up with a British administered six-county state alongside a 26-county republic, both of which exploit and repress working people, then it has all been in vain. Any internal arrangement (and it is an arrangement for the prosperous not a solution for the poor) or for that matter a thirty-two county arrangement that leaves the condition of working people untouched was simply not worth thirty years of war and death.
Do the Unionist communities have a similar experience? How are their ex-prisoners treated? Would the PUP, which claims to be radical and for the working man and woman, allow those who are nothing better than the slum landlords of the building industry to build their party offices with a grossly underpaid workforce who are not allowed to be unionised? How do those who claim to be socialist within the unionist community resist such exploitation? If there is to be a meaningful debate between republicanism and loyalism, let it begin there rather then with the waffle and nonsense about flags that passes for dialogue up at Stormont.
James Connolly was right when he said Ireland without its people meant nothing to him. In all honesty, if it were the only way to avoid exploitation and the rule of poverty creators, and if such a thing were possible, I would prefer a six-county democratic socialist republic where the workers would have control of their own destiny, the right to work and security of employment. A republic where it is a crime to exploit workers and where the employment of rogue builders would be banned by sheer morality never mind the law.
In other words a society where there is …