Monday, May 9, 2016

Ireland: Eamonn McCann's election a victory for all workers.

Eamonn McCann's Election Speach from Spartacus on Vimeo.

By Sean O Torain

The election of revolutionary socialist Eamonn McCann in Derry Northern Ireland is important and significant and inspiring. Seeking support in both Protestant and Catholic areas he won a seat. In his acceptance speech he stressed the fight for jobs, the need for working class unity and the need to fight against the special oppression of women.

He ended his acceptance speech by singing The International, along with a large group of his supporters. The other candidates, all from one or other of the sectarian parties stood behind him on the stage trying to figure out what they would do with their faces.

They could no longer write Eamonn off as some sort of fringe eccentric. The people in the Foyle, constituency in Derry have elected him as their representative in the Northern Ireland Assembly along with five others as he points out in the video. Thank you Eamon your election is an inspiration. Eamon stood under the banner of a group called People Before Profit. (PBP) This is led by the socialist group the Socialist Workers Party. Another member of the PBP was elected in West Belfast. This too was an important breakthrough.

In the South of Ireland the PBP had members elected in the recent election. So too had members of the Socialist Party and the United Left and other independent left candidates. The task now is to bring together in a united mass direct action and electoral front all these left groups and candidates and take the movement against austerity forward. The problem of left sectarianism which plagues these groups must be faced up to and defeated otherwise Eamonn's election and the other gains that have been made can be diminished or even lost.

Building such a mass direct action electoral front would not be to suggest that the attacks on the working class can be solved by winning elections. They cannot. But fighting elections in this present period is an important part of the fight for the consciousness of the working class. Through such fights, with the correct program and strategy and tactics, with the use of mass direct action, a mass revolutionary movement can be built which can end capitalism and its attacks on the Irish working class and the international working class.

A personal note. I worked with Eamonn McCann in Derry in the days of the Bogside uprising in 1969. We were both revolutionary socialists. We both went on to join different revolutionary groups. As such we went our left sectarian ways. It is only in the last few years that we have linked up again. This left sectarianism has been and is a terrible scourge on the workers movement. I was guilty of this left sectarianism. I apologize to the workers movement and the working class for this. I would like to also say that it is very inspirational to see the emphasis that Eamon put in his acceptance speech on his determination to fight for a women's right to choose. Divide and rule is a, perhaps the central weapon of the capitalist classes in Ireland in keeping down the working class. This is usually thought of as divide and rule between the Protestant and Catholic religions and this of course is central. But there is another divide and rule that has received a lot less attention and that is the divide and rule between the sexes.

Unless there is a successful, united fight for the rights of women and people with different sexual orientations the struggle of working people against capitalism cannot be won.

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