Unity is indeed strength. We must ensure that the strength gained from Irish unity is for the working class.
The partition of Ireland was an imperial solution as a result of the British empire beginning to crumble at the beginning of the last century. The British empire has been confined to the history books; the last vestiges of it will follow inevitably. Partition, the British answer to the “Irish question,” benefited the ruling elite in both jurisdictions: Big House unionism in the North and the gombeen-capitalist class in the South, both lackeys of British imperialism.
Like colonialism before it, this solution was destined to fail, as it would not fulfil the needs of all citizens. It was not designed for the benefit of citizens—quite the opposite, in fact: it was designed for the benefit of the landed gentry, property developers, beef barons, landlords, employers, and Britain, all feeding off the fruits of the labour of everyone else.
The ruling class, north and south, wanted freedom not for Ireland or Protestant Ulster but to take a bigger share for themselves. Britain was willing to concede this to remain in control. The new rulers in both jurisdictions equally enslaved the working class through debt, low pay, forced emigration, and poverty.
The working class were artificially divided along manufactured sectarian lines in the North by the new government treating nationalists as second-class citizens to maintain power. In the South the ending of British rule also ended sectarian division, as it was an artificial construct, a control mechanism of divide-and-conquer British rule.
The Irish working class, be they from the Shankill, the Bogside, Moyross, or Coolock, have one common enemy. It is not religion, culture, or tradition: imperialism is the common enemy. This is one class against the other. The capitalist class have been winning for centuries; reunification can and must change this.
A united Ireland must not be based on a division of Orange and Green, or the cobbling together of these two failed political entities. Irish unity must be a transformation of the lives of the ordinary working people, north, south, east, and west, from Derry to Kerry and Belfast to Cork, a united country with a united working class, all working together in an economy for the common good.
The working class must dictate the outcome of what will constitute Ireland after reunification. If we don’t, the same ruling class will remain in control. Irish reunification will only happen once. We won’t have multiple bites at the cherry.
If reunification doesn’t transfer power to the working class it will fail, just as surely as partition and colonialism have, and would leave the majority of citizens stuck on the never-ending roundabout of poverty, inequality, division, and despair.
There must be a clear roadmap of what unity will mean for all citizens. The trade union movement, communities and the left must fight to be at the forefront of designing that roadmap for a new, united Ireland. If we don’t, there are plenty of exploiters only too happy to design the future for themselves.
We need a shared political future for our class, not a shared geographical piece of earth but an equal share of the fruits of that earth and of the labour of our people to benefit the common good.
There is no doubt that the ruling class, whether they say it or not, on both sides of the border, know and accept that the reunification of Ireland will happen, and they know exactly what they want to get from it. They will use every manner of means to divert and confuse the debate in order to achieve their aims.
They say that to plan or even talk of unity is divisive and offensive for minorities. We only have to look at the reality of one hundred years of partition to see how this imperial construct worked out for the contrived minority. This is an old and worn overplayed card. People must not continue to be fooled by this artificial division.
The only minority in Ireland is the capitalist class. They are the only ones with anything to fear or to lose from the reunification of Ireland.
Partition failed; Sunningdale, the Anglo-Irish agreement, thirty years of conflict, the Downing Street declaration, the Belfast Agreement—all failed the people of Ireland, just as the Act of Union failed before. It’s been more than thirty years since the Belfast Agreement and nearly forty since the end of the military conflict in the North, and still Stormont cannot even agree on an Irish Language Act; one class divided into two communities, kept at each other’s throats while both are being exploited through poverty, low pay, exorbitant rents and atrocious public services by the other class.
How long more must the citizens suffer under the jackboot of British imperialism and their lackeys in Dublin? Unity of the country and the end of British rule is the route to the unity of the working class
For centuries, Britain has stopped the people of Ireland from reaching our full potential. Others use EU membership to confuse and divert support from unity. We must remember that the gombeen political lackeys of Britain in Dublin were the ones that told the people of Ireland that if Britain joined the EEC, economically Ireland would have to follow, and that the EEC would bring Irish unity closer. It is ironic that it is Britain leaving the EU that has actually brought Irish unity closer. A partitioned Ireland is ripe for imperialist domination; a united working class are the incorruptible inheritors of the struggle for freedom.
British domination has lasted more than eight hundred years. The day is fast approaching when Britain will leave our shores; a united working class, free to run the country in the interest of all citizens, will not be slow in ending the mere fifty years of European domination to complete the job of building a new, independent, free Ireland.
The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour.