Today marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It’s important for us to review, through a materialist lens, where this has brought us.
While we are spun this notion that the mental health crisis seen in the north of Ireland is a hangover from the conflict, how true is that? How much can in fact be blamed on the absolute failure of the system that has been offered as the “only alternative”. With an estimate of 50% of those in the six counties living in fuel poverty, almost twice as many as south of the border, and an occupying police force that stopped-and-searched 30,000 in one year alone, it can hardly be said that this is a “normal state of things”.
Between 2017 and 2023, the north of Ireland has only had a functioning assembly for a total of 13 months. This parliamentary calamity has come as a direct result of the GFA dictated concept of “power sharing” whereby there must at all times be two parties in power; one “nationalist” and one “unionist”. What this results in is an inevitable deadlock on any kind of progress which could be made. A demonstrably failed system.
But was this the only way to achieve peace in the north? While the liberal press aims to guilt trip anyone who questions the GFA, painting them as “pro-conflict”, these historically revisionist lines ignore the large sections of the working class who were “pro-peace, anti-treaty” recognising that further consolidation of British power in Ireland could never be a road to peace.
Indeed, the hypocrisy of this liberal press is nothing new. Back in 1998 (only 8 months before they engaged in a 4 day bombing campaign that killed up to 1400 in Iraq) both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton took time out of their busy imperialist schedules to lecture to innocent masses of Occupied Ireland on the virtues of peace and pacifism. No doubt, we can expect a similarly hypocritical rhetoric from US president, Joe Biden, when he visits Belfast on Tuesday.
The position of communists in Britain has always been clear. We will fight on our side of the Irish Sea for the withdrawal of the 20,000+ British security personnel from Irish land, remove all arms of the British state, and we will support our comrades in Ireland, in their fight to do the same. Our goal is peace and unity, and the working class of Ireland – Protestant, Catholic, and any other background, will only know peace and unity in a 32 county socialist republic.
Young Communist League
10 April 2023