Despite a recession affecting greater numbers of people than officially admitted, the Stormont parties collude to conceal their own ineptitude and the full extent of that crisis from the population.
The most recent employment figures for the North put the ‘official’ unemployment rate at 7% or 59,000.
Buried among those official statistics was a shocking acceptance by the Six-County Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment that among those classed as “economically inactive” are at least another 42,000 people who are seeking work. Add these 42,000 ‘lost’ people to the official unemployed figure and one discovers at least 101,000 men, women and young people seeking work in the Six Counties. At least 6,000 of those are from the Newry and Mourne area. In real terms, unemployment is actually over 12% – a rate not seen since the early 1990s – putting the North’s unemployment levels just behind that of the Twenty-Six Counties (13.2% ) and above that of the European Union (9.7%) for June 2010.
However, no political party at Stormont is prepared to break ranks to challenge this cover-up. To admit that unemployment is at such high levels would run counter to the ‘good news’ stories and artificially manufactured political deadlocks which Stormont prefers. Stormont’s economic agenda is designed in Britain and implemented without question or dissent by local politicians.
As the British Tory government prepares to introduce widespread cuts to public sector services, Stormont will dutifully follow suit through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘health service streamlining’ and ‘investment incentives’.
The reality for people in the Six Counties will be a massive, negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, continued community disintegration and housing shortages, and reduced services for the ill and vulnerable. Stormont won’t be able to provide any alternative.
The increasingly obvious message is that a new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people. Stormont cannot deliver on that and therein lies its most fundamental flaw.
Saturday, 31 July 2010
As éirígí predicted, the recent suspension of Section 44 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’ has not deterred the PSNI in its campaign of harassment against the nationalist community.
On Sunday [July 18], two éirígí activists were driving along the Armagh Road in Newry when they were stopped by the political police.
The activists were removed from the vehicle and were forced to endure a humiliating search in front of dozens of pedestrians and motorists under sections 21 and 24 of the British government’s Justice & Security Act. They were then questioned about their movements and their personal details were recorded while the vehicle was thoroughly searched by other members of the PSNI for unknown items.
The remit of the British government’s Justice & Security Act, which was introduced in 2007 as one of the final elements of the normalisation strategy, is confined to the Six Counties. The act contains repressive powers for the political police, the Six County judiciary and the British army.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Only last week, éirígí predicted that section 44 would simply be replaced with equally abhorrent legislation. It’s now clear that our prediction has become reality.
“éirígí activists in Newry are no strangers to Crown Forces harassment. In recent times, they have been harassed while delivering leaflets and, just last month, an activist’s home in the Derrybeg estate was targeted in a dawn raid which extended into a search operation of the estate itself which lasted the whole day. Now, our activists are being stopped under the draconian British Justice and Security Act. It’s clear that our activists and supporters in the area are being singled out for special treatment because of their political activities.
“The PSNI are only proving by their own actions that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force. The PSNI remains a British police force, enforcing British law in support of the British occupation.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “No amount of PSNI harassment, in Newry or anywhere else, will prevent éirígí activists from continuing the work of rebuilding the republican struggle.”
This area has a history of standing up against injustice, inequality and oppression and no doubt the local community will rally round this family and make it clear the perpetrators are representative of no one.
éirígí echoes the sentiments expressed by the Derrybeg Community Association who visited the family to offer their support. The victims of this attack are residents of Derrybeg and are as much part of this community as anyone of us. As citizens, they have a right to respect, equality and, when an incident such as this happens, solidarity.
Everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure environment free from racial or sectarian intimidation, whether it be the people of Ardoyne or those people who have made Ireland their home in recent years.
It could have been a scene from the 1970s or ’80s when, in the early hours of last Wednesday morning [June 16], a large convoy of armoured PSNI landrovers descended on the nationalist Derrybeg estate in Newry.
Dozens of riot clad members of the political police decamped from their vehicles and conducted a politically-motivated operation during which they raided the home of a republican activist. A search operation was also carried out in the surrounding area which lasted for most of the day.
Throughout the day, heavily armed PSNI personnel stopped vehicles entering and leaving Derrybeg, which caused widespread disruption for residents in the area, including parents collecting their children from the nearby school.
Several other homes across the city were also targeted in Wednesday’s raids.
éirígí’s rúnaí ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith condemned the raids: “At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties, the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned.
“Is this the new beginning to policing we were promised? This is not normal policing, this is not civic policing. This is the same repressive policing that we have been subjected to for decades. Nothing has changed with this paramilitary force except their name and badge.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “Despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically, the actions of the PSNI last week proved that point. The type of political policing is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.”
The Derrybeg estate has a proud history of opposing the British occupation, whether it comes in the form of the British army or British policing. No doubt, republican activists from the area will continue their work despite this upsurge in Crown Forces harassment.
Serious concern has also been expressed by éirígí as newly published figures show that politically-motivated stop and search legislation has been used on almost 35,000 occasions in the Six Counties within a 12 month period.
Amongst those being harassed with this legislation are éirígí activists engaged in peaceful protests and other political activity.
Mac Cionnaith concluded: “While constitutional nationalist politicians might try to claim that there has been a sea-change in policing in the Six Counties, the reality of ongoing repressive tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed. People in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.”