Workers' Weekly Masthead

Volume 29, Number 23, December 11-17 Edition, 1999

Important Step in Building Irish Nation Anew and a Blow to the Rule of the English Bourgeoisie

Internet Edition: Article Index : Discuss

Formation of Northern Ireland Assembly Executive and Repeal of Government of Ireland Act:
Important Step in Building Irish Nation Anew and a Blow to the Rule of the English Bourgeoisie

Communiqué of the 4th Plenum of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML)

Address to Northern Ireland Assembly - By Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP

Sinn Féin Welcomes Scrapping of Government of Ireland Act

Letter of Congratulations of Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist) to Sinn Fein

Briefing the US Administration

Republic of Ireland Joins NATO’s "Partnership for Peace"

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Formation of Northern Ireland Assembly Executive and Repeal of Government of Ireland Act:

Important Step in Building Irish Nation Anew and a Blow to the Rule of the English Bourgeoisie

Northern Ireland’s political parties met on Monday, November 29, in the Assembly and appointed ten Ministers to the new executive following the Mitchell review proposals. This was followed on Thursday, December 2, when political power – the legislative powers and executive authorities – was legally devolved from Westminster to northern Ireland, beginning at midnight as December 2 commenced. At the same time, the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was repealed. The Government of Ireland Act it was which partitioned Ireland, forming a "Northern" and a "Southern" Ireland. On the same day, the Irish government also rescinded the old Articles 2 and 3 from the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland. These articles specified a territorial claim over the six counties in the north of Ireland. Also on December 2, the establishment of the cross-border bodies was written into effect by the British and Irish governments.

On December 13, delegations from the executives of both the south and north of Ireland led by their respective Prime and First Ministers, will get together in Armagh in the north to launch the North/South Ministerial Council.

Workers’ Weekly congratulates the people of the north of Ireland, particularly the republican movement, for achieving this important step in building the Irish nation anew. This achievement is also a blow to the class rule of the English bourgeoisie by striking a blow against the division of Ireland which has for so long been a pillar of that rule.

The republican movement in the north of Ireland has refused to be phased by the continual inability and refusal of the English bourgeoisie to find a peaceful solution to ending the partition of Ireland. As Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said, regarding partition, "Clearly we are a society moving out of conflict, a conflict born of the British government’s involvement in Ireland. This status quo has changed and will continue to change. The new constitutional arrangements point up the failure of Partition. The British government has now recognised that this is a disputed territory."

The British government had been striving to end the armed conflict, which has stemmed from partition, in northern Ireland while at the same time maintaining the status quo. It would have preferred to have kept conflict and divisions simmering while imposing "peace". It has needed an end to the armed struggle, which has been an embarrassment to its "humanitarian" posturing on the world stage, while also freeing British troops for their endeavours further afield, such as in the Balkans. There is also the European rapid deployment force to be taken into account and the participation of British armed forces in NATO.

As the struggle for a united Ireland enters a new phase, so also do the machinations of the English bourgeoisie, as well as other big powers, notably the United States and the Europe of the monopolies, to dominate and economically exploit Ireland and the Irish people as a whole, to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the "celtic tiger" as well as economic redevelopment of the north. It is here that the role of the Irish working class will become manifest in its project to constitute itself the nation, ending its divisions, and going beyond the inherent limitations of republicanism itself.

Of particular concern is how the English working class will respond at this historic juncture, coinciding as it does with its own project to enter the 21st century on a new, socialist basis. How will it make use of the situation to its own advantage, at the same time rendering proletarian internationalist support to the Irish working class and people? The crucial thing here is that it must step up its preparations to hit at the English bourgeoisie and intensify its independent programme. This independent programme centres around the project for the working class to constitute itself the nation in England, and the same is true for the working class in Scotland and Wales. The programme of the working class is for modern sovereign states of these countries which can then form a free and equal union of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland too if so desired. This union will have the aim of being the united force necessary to suppress English imperialism and all other imperialists and build socialism.

Specifically at this time, the English workers must grasp firstly what an exposure the setting up of the Northern Ireland Assembly, together with the cross-border bodies, is of the viciousness and bankruptcy of the British government’s policy of partition of Ireland and annexation of the north. This policy has not only caused so much suffering and bloodshed in Ireland but most importantly has been the cornerstone of the maintenance of the oppressive British state and its subjection of the workers for so long through division, chauvinism and social democracy, and the suppression of the rights of self-determination for the respective nations within Britain. At the same time, English workers must recognise that, while the progress towards Irish reunification is exerting pressure on the English bourgeoisie, this period of peace is for the government also a period of further militarisation of the state, not only for intervention abroad and bolstering the aggressive blocs of NATO and the armed might of the European Union, but also to prepare for the new upsurges in the working class and people’s movements which lie ahead. These preparations include strengthening the repressive legislation against and criminalisation of these struggles, all within the Blairite programme of "Making Britain Great Again". Secondly, having analysed the situation and exposed the bourgeoisie in this way, the working class can only come to the conclusion that it must break with the chauvinism and colonialist prejudices of the English bourgeoisie, claim its rights, take hold of the material resources which belong to the workers and put the human resources of the people at its disposal and turn them against the bourgeoisie with a vengeance. This is not only the greatest proletarian internationalist assistance the working class can give to the Irish working class and people. It is to take into account the realities of the world situation, where US imperialism is creating havoc in its predatory exploits to create a unipolar world under its domination, while the Europe of the monopolies is strengthening itself not only as an economic and political superpower but also as a military one. The British government is playing a diabolical role in this regard. The unity of the working class of all countries on the basis of their revolutionary role in each country in opening the door to a new socialist society is not only an aspiration but a necessity for which to make the most thorough-going preparations at this time.

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Communiqué of the 4th Plenum of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML)

The Need to Stick to the Plan Has Never Been Greater

The Central Committee of RCPB(ML) held its 4th Plenum in recent days. The Plenum focused on the situation and the tasks for the working class and the Party as we are poised to move into the 21st century.

The Plenum analysed that there are broad perspectives which are being opened up for the working class to occupy the space for change from the work the Party is carrying out, as well as developments nationally and internationally which provide the context for this work. The authority of the Party is beginning to make itself felt on various fronts of work. The Plenum emphasised that in this situation, the need to stick to the plan that the Party set at its 3rd Congress has never been greater. It is evident that the tempo of the movement against the anti-social offensive is increasing. At the same time, while the government is stepping up its implementation of the anti-social offensive, its assertions that this is progress become more outrageous and any opposition or political struggle is being made the target of "law and order" measures. As disillusionment with the government grows and opposition to globalisation becomes more conscious, it is the people whom the bourgeoisie is blaming for the growing crisis and insisting they shoulder responsibility for it and let society off the hook. The representatives of the financial oligarchy are becoming more Hitlerite in their actions and interventions globally, all under the guise of following high ideals. The programme of the Party must respond to this increased tempo by also increasing the tempo of its work. The Plenum underlined what was crucial in this response was that the elaboration and implementation of the Party’s plan and programme of work assume ever greater importance. It drew attention to the fact that the Party has laid to rest the diversionary and liquidationist positions that the issue was to become submerged in the spontaneous movement, abandon the Party’s democratic centralist norms and make everything a matter of discussion. But the Party must still be on guard against such pressures which seek to wreck its work, pressures which can only become more intense. The Party’s perspective, highlighted at the 3rd Congress, is that to prepare for the coming revolutionary storms, it is even more important to develop and implement the plan. This must be accompanied with the most open elaboration and explanation of the Party’s policies and plan, the taking of its decisions in full view of everyone, and the mobilisation of the various sections of the people to take up this programme, focusing on the working class and bringing into play its leading role. In this regard, the ideological work of smashing the illusions fostered by social democracy and exposing Tony Blair’s "Third Way" is of great significance. The youth also are coming forward to take up their position in the forefront of the struggle, as well as the women.

The 4th Plenum drew attention to the Party’s call to put the full weight of the collective behind all the work. The Party’s experience has shown the importance of this call, and the Plenum emphasised the necessity right at this time to concentrate on the struggle to put that call into practice. At the same time, this struggle must be carried out with the study of the Party’s positions and decisions, as the organisations of the Party solve the problems in developing their work and crystallising their tasks.

In assessing the exciting perspectives opened up in moving forward into the 21st century, the Plenum emphasised that this does not mean doing anything to deviate from the Party’s line of march. On the contrary, what is necessary is to accelerate the line of march and to maximise the plan. It is to give everything coherence and come to the head of the masses of the people step by step. The cutting edge of this plan, the programme of work of RCPB(ML), is the strengthening and development of the Party’s newspaper, the work to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly. In this context, the Plenum discussed specific work to prepare the conditions for such an advance so as to open up the door to the progress of society, so that the Party and the class move into the 21st century laying the basis for the revolutionary transformation of society to socialism. It laid particular emphasis on theoretical work, the work to sum up the movements at work in society, the work to further formulate the laws which govern their development, in order to give scientific orientation to these movements, furnishing them with a programme and with a vision, so that they are crowned by the victory of the creation of a new society.

Bearing these deliberations in mind, the 4th Plenum of the CC decided to publicly release the Political Report of the Central Committee to the 3rd Congress at a New Year event. This is to take place on Saturday, January 8, 2000. A separate announcement regarding this event is being made. The Line of March to a New Society

The 4th Plenum concluded in a vigorous and united atmosphere, full of confidence and optimism for the line of march of RCPB(ML) into the 21st century.

Article Index


Address to Northern Ireland Assembly

By Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP

Text of the address to the Northern Assembly on November 29, as released by the Sinn Féin Press Office

A chairde,
We stand on the threshold of great change. There have been many times in the past 6 years when the words "historic", "momentous", "a new beginning" and more, have been used to describe pivotal points in the slow development of this peace process. However, the Mitchell Review is truly a watershed moment in our history.
Despite the conditional and short term response by the UUP at the weekend the Review's endorsement opens up the possibility of great change.
This requires all of us reshaping the political context in which we live. Sinn Féin is proud to stand in the tradition of the Presbyterians of the 1790s who fought for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Our goal remains the establishment of a united free and independent Ireland. We believe the Good Friday Agreement is the transitional structure that will allow us to achieve that legitimate objective. Others in this Assembly will hold a different view. That's fair enough. But what we now have is a means by which we can all pursue our political goals in partnership, as equals, in mutual respect and toleration.
This partnership does not require the compromise of principles or the diminution of vision. What it does require is a focus and a harnessing of energy to bring about visible and fundamental change in people's daily lives.
Sinn Féin is a radical republican labour party. It is our commitment, and our determination to bring forward real all-Ireland policies which will overcome the inequalities, the poverty and the injustices which face so many of our people.
That will mean empowering people, empowering local communities, trade unions, our farming community, empowering parents, our business community and empowering politicians, to grasp what is good, to build on what is new and innovative, and to drive forward with energy and enthusiasm.
Our common responsibility, our inclusive political culture, can be the dynamic for bold, decisive and positive change.
But at its heart, dictating the pace of events and ensuring that our new partnership of equals will work, must be open, transparent and accountable government; a people centred government. A government owned by and responsible to the people.
The historic challenge which will face the Executive in the days and weeks ahead will be to forge policies from our differing attitudes on economic policy, on education, healthcare, youth training, equality matters and much more.
With the setting up of the Executive, the all-Ireland institutions and the All-Ireland Policy and Implementation bodies, comes a responsibility of participation.
That requires that we work together in co-operation and good faith. The UUPs conditional approach to this will continue to cause problems in trying to to develop a new political partnership. Saturday's decision at the UUC meeting introduced new elements never mentioned during the 11 week Mitchell Review. Their continued reluctance to embrace fully the new politics mapped out in the Good Friday Agreement is a challenge to be overcome. It requires decisive and forward looking leadership.
Unionists have nothing to fear from sharing power with republicans. Our future is bound up together.
Our future is a concern and a responsibility for all of us as individuals, as political leaders, as political parties, as governments, as communities, as organisations and as businesses. A durable, unbreakable, immovable peace requires not just the taking of responsibility but the sharing of responsibility, of power and of decision making.
Success in Life never comes without a struggle.
This is our challenge.
To hold firm.
To do what is right.
Standing stronger together.
This is how the challenge of change is conquered.
Not by failing to make change, but by changing in a way that gives us strength for the future.

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Sinn Féin Welcomes Scrapping of Government of Ireland Act

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking on December 2 at the Assembly Building at Stormont said:

"For me the most significant constitutional change is the scrapping of the British Government of Ireland Act which partitioned Ireland. I take particular satisfaction from this because it was Sinn Féin that raised this matter directly with the British Prime Minister and secured the British government's commitment to its deletion.

"Clearly we are a society moving out of conflict, a conflict born of the British government’s involvement in Ireland. 'This status quo has changed and will continue to change.

"The new constitutional arrangements point to the failure of Partition.

"The British government has now recognised that this is a disputed territory.

"The changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution, while difficult for Republicans, the aspiration they contained has been replaced by new Articles and by practical working institutions, an all-Ireland Ministerial Council policy and implementation bodies, and areas of harmonisation and co-operation.

"The time ahead presents all of us with unparalleled challenges and opportunities.

"To succeed this new partnership government in which nationalists and unionists each hold 50% of the power - a partnership of equals - must overcome the many difficulties that still lie ahead.

"We need to deliver on the promise of social, economic, political and cultural change, across this island, which the Good Friday Agreement contains.

"With the formal first meeting of the Executive later today, and the setting up of the all-Ireland Ministerial Council, the all-Ireland policy and implementation bodies and the areas of co-operation, we now have for the first time since partition an all-Ireland wide political dispensation.

"This is the significance of all today's constitutional change."

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Letter of Congratulations of Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist) to Sinn Fein

Below is the full text of the letter sent by Rod Eley, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), on Thursday, 2 December 1999, to Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein.

Gerry Adams M.P.
Sinn Fein
535 Falls Road
Belfast BT11 9AA

Comrade Gerry, A Chara,

On this historic day which sees the end of British direct rule in the north of Ireland, please accept the congratulations of the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist) to Sinn Fein, the Ard Chomhairle, and to your comrades in the negotiations over the years, such as Pat O'Doherty, Mitchell McLaughlin and the others.

The initiative which your party adopted around 1985 to explore the possibility of a peace process has been vindicated in the developments over recent years, such as the Good Friday Agreement and its culmination in today's devolution. This imaginative policy, beginning with your discussions with John Hume of the SDLP, helped unlock the completely intransigent situation of stalemate over the future of the country, which had become so deeply entrenched by that time.

We are sure, as is Sinn Fein, that the new dispensation should open a path to the Irish people for the achievement - in the not too distant future - of the overall democratic solution to the problem of foreign interference, divide and rule and occupation by British imperialism, which has bedevilled our country for so long: national reunification in sovereign independence.

Of course, as we all realise, this is only the beginning of a new level of the struggle for Irish freedom. Our party will do all it can in its own way, as will Sinn Fein, to overcome the inevitable obstacles that anti-democratic forces are bound to throw up to block the path of progress. But, without succumbing to amnesia about abiding political realities, surely the recent engagement with the need for change of quite of a number of political forces, which hitherto had refused to acknowledge the need for any change at all, seems to expand the scope for a democratic discourse in Irish society and augur well for the future.

Please pass on our party's best wishes for every success to Sinn Fein's new ministers in the devolved government, Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Bruin. Sinn Fein and indeed the new government as a whole can be assured of our party's support in all honest endeavours to meet the democratic challenges which lie ahead to improve the lot of all the people of Northern Ireland, as well as make the cross-border institutions a reality and a bridge towards reunification and national sovereignty of the Irish nation as a whole.

Is mise le meas,

Rod Eley

General Secretary

Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist)

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Briefing the US Administration

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson arrived in Washington on December 6 to brief White House officials and politicians on the implementation of the Northern Ireland peace accord. He travelled to New York on December 7 where he highlighted the progress on the issue of arms decommissioning.

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Republic of Ireland Joins NATO’s "Partnership for Peace"

The Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, signed the relevant documents on Brussels on December 1, officially admitting Ireland to membership of the NATO-led so-called "Partnership for Peace" (PfP) programme. George Robertson, as NATO’s Secretary General, also signed. The Republic is the 29th European member of the PfP programme. Membership was approved by the Irish Dáil in November without the referendum that was at one time promised on this question. The membership of PfP means that the Irish Defence Forces will train with NATO to improve their capabilities for any so-called "peacekeeping operations". David Andrews said that the membership of PfP was in accordance with the Republic of Ireland’s stance on neutrality.

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