Representatives of the Irish Republican Socialist Party joined campaign groups, trade unions, community groups and their fellow workers in Birmingham on Sunday October 3rd, in protest at the impending cuts hanging over the heads of working class people in the North and in Britain. The proposed cuts will have a devastating effect on the lives of people in the North, with as per usual, the most vulnerable in society being hit the hardest.
The pretext to these vindictive cuts has been a campaign of vilification against those employed in the public sector in the North, a campaign very much reminiscent of the one waged by Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and their media cohorts in the South. We have consistently heard about the ‘bloated’ public sector, that is ‘overpaid’ and how it supposedly stifles growth in the private sector. The facts speak for themselves, when compared to public sector workers in Britain, workers here are paid less. And if the Tories believe cutting the pay of these workers or reducing public investment is going to stimulate the private sector they are sadly mistaken. Attacking the public sector would have a negative knock-on effect for the private sector also, something that only serves to lengthen dole queues and exacerbate our economic frailties. With the average private sector income in the North already 20% below that in Britain, any further attack on these low paid workers by the UK government could have catastrophic consequences.
These cuts will effect the most vulnerable disproportionately. An example of this is the increase in VAT to 20%. VAT is a tax that does not differentiate between those on higher incomes or those who have more wealth, therefore working class people will end up paying a much higher percentage of their income through this increase than the wealthy. Research suggests that that in real terms, the average family will be paying between £7 to £8 extra a week. This may seem like an insignificant amount to someone with David Cameron’s wealth, but for working class families, the reality is much different. When you combine this with a decreased level of public services, which again poorer people rely on much more than the wealthy, and the savage assault on welfare, this really is a budget which places the burden of dealing with this economic crisis with working class people.
It also must be emphasised that there is a serious democratic deficit in the whole process through which these cuts will be brought about. Essentially, these cuts are being imposed on working class people in Ireland from above by a Tory-led administration that has absolutely no mandate from the people here. This is something that is characteristic of a fundamentally undemocratic society. The negative consequences of this scenario effects both nationalist and unionist-orienated working class people and unionists should be challenged on this complete lack of democracy, where Stormont is once again exposed as little more than a puppet parliament. The IRSP stands for a 32 County Socialist Republic, where the Irish people as a whole, regardless of colour, religion or creed, can administer society on a truly democratic basis and where disgraceful instances like this can never develop.
Sinn Féin cannot escape criticism for their role in this either. It is utterly hypocritical to sit in what is basically a puppet parliament through which the UK government in London impose their will on a section of the Irish people, and then offer hollow outrage against these cuts. It will be Sinn Féin and their right-wing partners who will be implementing these cuts on behalf of the British government, led by David Cameron. The hypocrisy of Sinn Féin, a supposed socialist party, in implementing Tory cuts, is an insult to working class people across the North of this country. In the long term, we believe that such attacks on vulnerable people, who played no part in this economic crisis, can only be prevented in a 32 County Socialist Republic where a truly democratic society has been established. This goal cannot be achieved through a puppet parliament subordinate to Westminster, but through the mobilization of people and their empowerment.
The IRSP will not be found wanting in challenging the lack of democracy present in the North, the abandonment of working class people by capitalist parties, nor in the fightback against these cuts. We urge all progressive minded bodies, community and voluntary organisations, trade unionists, youth groups and ordinary working people to show their opposition to these cuts and to support the upcoming protests.
Irish Republican Socialist Forum - IRSP attend RIGHT TO WORK Protest in Birmingham