9 July 1998 Edition
Do we want US multinationals?
Republicans should be very concerned about the issue of increasing corporate investment, primarily from the US, in the North of Ireland. While leaders of SF, such as Gerry Adams, are greatly supportive of this, it should be considered that this will not be good from a republican view, especially a republican-socialist position.
I think it's safe to say that Adams and other SF supporters of corporate investment are concerned about the terrible economic situation of nationalists, and realise that more jobs in general is needed to ensure peace with justice. But it is highly questionable if US-based corporations will bring the economic security that is needed to cement such a peace. In fact, at this point in the republican struggle such corporate investment could possibly help to prop-up partition.
There are many conditions that make the Six Counties attractive to corporations. (I think it's safe to say that until recently the IRA's campaign, somewhat intentionally, made it unattractive). Religion, not class, is seen by most people and political leaders as the main division in society - that is, class consciousness is incredibly low. This is basically because of the continuing conflict, because of Britain's continued presence and its continued assertion of the validity of Orangeism, a reactionary belief system. This absence of class consciousness is welcomed by those who would send US multinationals to Ireland. The US Chamber of Commerce notes that, in 1991 (measured in work-days lost due to labour actions, per 1,000 employees), there were 463 in Spain, 452 in Germany, 40 in the US, 34 in the whole UK, and only 32 in the Six Counties.
There is also a vast machinery of repression still deployed in the North, and while it has been aimed almost exclusively at nationalists and republicans, it could easily be shifted to include trade unions, socialists, environmentalists and others that resist the inevitable social atrocities of US multinationals. Let's also remember that those possibly targeted in this new scenario will include many of those who are republican activists and/or live in nationalist areas like the Bogside and the Falls. The RUC that has brutalised many readers as nationalists could easily be ordered to brutalise them as striking workers; republican activists taken to Castlereagh or tried in a Diplock court because of the street they live on could have the same experience as union organisers or environmentalists who are framed in order to neutralise them. Loyalist death-squads could be easily duped into killing those deemed undesirable by the state by suggesting that they are republicans.
If N Ireland, and in particular the nationalist people, are so desperate for employment that they will invite US corporations to take such a large role in their cities, there should be some confidence that nationalist communities and the working-class in general can confront them. Although jobs are desperately needed, do republicans really want to participate in creating a Maquiladora-esque trade-zone like the one in Mexico where independent unions are out-lawed and the environment is incredibly polluted? It would be better to create conditions where the communities and working-class can stand up to the corporations; where Protestant workers will stand with their Catholic brothers and sisters against discrimination; where workers can go on strike and not be terrorised by the RUC and British Army; and where political leadership will be given by socialist parties which straddle the sectarian divide. I think most of us will agree that this is most likely after British withdrawal and not before. While the recent Peace Agreement and Assembly elections are encouraging, it is far too early for SF to be giving the green light to foreign investment.
In a recent letter to the Irish News, Niamh Flanagan (Information officer, West Belfast Economic Forum) wrote that, ``Promoting free market economics may work for a small business elite in the Six Counties but it will most certainly deepen disadvantage and inequality.'' Niamh's letter was the first and pretty much only opposition I've seen voiced to the increased calls for US corporate investment. I've read a few other comments by Bernadette McAliskey and Eammon McCann, and a few others expressing concern about the proposed influx of investment.
The pages of An Phoblacht promote discussion of the new global economy, and certainly are a great source for information and analysis of the Six-Counties. Gerry Adams and others in the leadership of SF have already come out in support of bringing US corporate investment to the Six Counties. But if the pages of An Phoblacht are any indication there's seems to be almost no discussion of this among the grassroots of the Republican Movement. There needs to be a widespread and open discussion of this issue among republicans, otherwise the corporations will soon be coming whether nationalists and republicans want them or not.
Boulder, Colorado, USA
Multinationals not welcome
I thought Sinn Féin had a policy position against encouraging multi-nationals into Ireland because of their detrimental effect on the economy, on economic planning and on the balance of payments, never mind their anti-union stance and the greed which perpetuates their very existence.
And yet we have the Sinn Féin leadership actively encouraging their parasitic presence in our country.
And that includes the likes of multi-millionaire stock market speculator George Soros.
Aengus O Snodaigh
Let us make it crystal clear, the Orange Order is against change. The thought of equality for Irish nationalists is anathema, that is why the vast majority of Orangemen voted against the Good Friday Agreement. The Orange Order must not be allowed to hide behind the veneer of respectability while their bully boys wreak havoc over the decision to re-route their Drumcree march.
If the British government capitulates on this occasion and allows the Orangemen to proceed down the Garvaghy Road, the Good Friday Agreement will not be worth the paper it is written on. In saying so, I am of the opinion that this Labour government will stand firm against adversity and threats from the Orange Order.
The Ku Klux Klan cover their faces, the Orange Order is barefaced about its bigotry!
Paul Robeson and Ireland
I am currently carrying out research into the connection between the American singer and political activist Paul Robeson and Ireland and would be grateful for any information that could be supplied by your readers. I am particularly keen to discover the full details of how the singer came to record the song Kevin Barry and also exactly where and when the recording(s) took place.
The Irish Democrat
PO Box 76
Sheffield S1 3BY.
RUC assist blocking of roads
On Monday morning 6 July, I took my usual journey to work through nationalist West Belfast. Quite aware of overnight events in Loyalist areas I was somewhat apprehensive of taking my car to work. I daily use the Springfield Road to avoid the heavy traffic along the Falls Road.
On approaching the new huge RUC station/fortress which strategically acts as a buffer zone between Republican and Loyalist West Belfast, I noticed that a lot of the traffic was turning to go back. I continued to drive around the corner to see what the problem was. I noticed that there were about 15-20 women and children accompanied by RUC landrovers and a few RUC men on foot. I was totally disgusted to discover that a small number of loyalist protesters were allowed - and were actually protected by RUC personnel - to cause complete chaos along a major arterial route.
I proceeded to challenge the RUC on what such a small group of loyalists were permitted to do. I was told by an RUC man that this was a peaceful protest and only emergency cases were allowed to pass through the protest. I tried to draw comparisions with nationalist peaceful protests in recent years. Immediately clear images of blood flowing from nationalists heads and baton-wielding savages ploughing through sit-down protesters on the Ormeau, Garvaghy, Antrim and many other roads throughout the Six Counties, came to mind. The RUC man in his efforts to divert me away from the handful of loyalists sarcastically remarked that ``we are not in the business of beating people, involved in peaceful protests, off the roads''.
I had to turn back along with many others and go down the Whiterock Road where I was stuck in very heavy traffic and this resulted in me being extremely late for my work. The Orangemen obviously did not have the same problems from the RUC as they made their way to Portadown from throughout the north at the weekend. Once again we witnessed the sharp contrasts on how the RUC treat the two communities.
Where is the justice and equality that we have all been waiting for, spelt out in the Agreement? And more importantly, when are we going to see the disbandment of the RUC?