Blood on their hands

THE IRISH ruling class has resorted to installing a patchwork coalition government after Albert Reynolds’ Fianna Fail-led administration fell at the end of last year.

Just before Christmas a new alliance of John Bruton’s Fine Gael, Dick Spring’s Labour Party and Proinsias de Rossa’s Democratic Left was formed. Fine Gael is a Tory-type party and Democratic Left is made up of former ‘communists’, so at first sight this appears to be a very strange mixture. However, this is no last-ditch effort by a desperate ruling class attempting to hold back workers’ revolution, as some odd-ball Trotskyite groupings are pretending. Tory, Labour and Democratic Left are all bourgeois parties committed to capitalism, and their coalition is a result of normal politicking, where the largest party had no majority, became discredited and was replaced by opponents.

The origins of Democratic Left can be traced back to the petty bourgeois Sinn Fein, and it has now come full circle via republicanism and ‘official communism’ back to mainstream capitalist politics.

After the split between the Official and Provisional strands of the republican movement, Official Sinn Fein ceased its armed struggle against the British while continuing to wage war against the Provisional IRA, thus lining itself up with the counter-revolutionary forces alongside British imperialism. As its degeneration continued overtures to the protestant working class became sops to loyalism. It adopted more and more ‘socialist’ rhetoric and in 1977 changed its name to Sinn Fein, the Workers Party. It waged an internecine struggle against the breakaway Irish Republican Socialist Party, murdering its founder, Seamus Costello. In 1982 it dropped the Sinn Fein prefix and embraced pro-Soviet ‘official communism’.

Because of its nationalist background, the Workers Party enjoyed some success in the South, where it had seven TDs (members of parliament) and many local councillors. However by the end of the decade it suffered the same split between Euros and centrists that had affected the entire world communist movement. In 1992 the majority of the leadership broke away after it failed to win a special delegate conference to its open ditching of Marxism and the class struggle. The Democratic Left, distancing itself both from its armed-struggle republican roots and communism, took with it six of the TDs and most of the councillors.

Today it is fully integrated into the liberal wing of the Irish bourgeoisie and will be keen to continue the attacks on the working class.

And that means more of the same cuts and closures, and the continuation of the imperialist-dominated ‘peace process’.

Jim Blackstock