March 2014        


Creating a shared future

RMC in his contribution (Socialist Voice, February 2014) quite rightly proposes that socialists should try to build working-class unity across the sectarian divide in the North on issues of common concern, trade union issues in particular, thereby building mutual trust and confidence.
     He goes on to say that a movement to tackle this must “refuse to take a position on the constitutional question.” But the constitutional issue is not something separate from the “real problems” of the Irish working class. It is mistaken to view (to take a few examples of the work we are involved in) feminism, trade unionism, civil rights and the national question as discrete and separate issues: rather they should be understood as parts of the same struggle.
     RMC is right to emphasise the extreme difficulty in even beginning to discuss these contentious issues in the North. The lesson for us is the need for serious study, not to avoid the question. As Seán Murray, a founder of the Communist Party of Ireland, put it: “You may ignore the national question. The national question will not ignore you.”
     The Communist Party of Britain is involved in the People’s Assembly, an initiative designed with British cultural and political circumstances in mind. No part of Ireland shares that cultural and political environment. It should be studied with care, but not copied. A forum devoted to the specific problems of the North, or, better still, of the whole of Ireland, would be a more realistic objective.
     Seán Edwards

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