|Issue 1 - December 1971|
number of troops in Ulster has increased dramatically over the last year
but the IRA, while maintaining a sympathetic base in the Catholic ghettos,
will be impossible to defeat.
This year alone, the death toll has risen well past the 100 mark and Joe Cahill has said in Dublin that "life for a life" reprisals will be the order of the day. More soldiers will be killed and Army morale will plummet even further.
That this is the case can be shown by the number of accidental shooting and suicide incidents occurring among the troops stationed there; in fact I hear that yet another soldier shot himself last week; these happenings tend not to be given press coverage in this country, where the newspapers seem to rely too much on Army press handouts for their stories, and where it is essential for the Government's credibility that the troops be thought to be doing a good job in their usual "impartial" manner.
Such a demoralised force will become increasingly dangerous as its nervous trigger-happiness grows, and the more Catholics it kills, the greater will be its identification with the right-wing, whom it is already allowing to form vigilante squads, ostensibly to patrol "their" areas of Belfast.
Any such identification can only lead to further trouble, bringing more reaction by the army, and so on, in a vicious circle ending in all-out war on the streets of Belfast between the IRA and the troops, in which the only losers will be the ordinary people.
The Northern Irish people have more in common with each other than they have with the British (i.e. natives of Great Britain), and their tragedy is that, because of the way in which divisions are fostered, they do not realise this. Any socialist initiative must take the form of a campaign of education to make them see how senseless it is for them to be fighting among themselves when they ought to be united in a struggle for Irish self-determination. Up until now, too little attention has been paid to the Protestant workers, who must realise, as Bernadette Devlin has said, that in the last analysis their closest friends are the Catholic workers; and this they will never do while socialist organisations concentrate exclusively on the plight of the Catholics - any initiative must be two-pronged in its aim.
The Irish must fight, not against each other, but against foreign exploitation, in both North and South, for James Connolly's prophesy has come true, in which he said that removing the English Army and hoisting the green flag over Dublin Castle would be in vain unless the socialist republic was proclaimed; for, he wrote, "England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and industrial institutions she has planted in this country".
The upper classes in Ireland are the old aristocratic families who have everything to lose in a socialist republic; the middle classes are tied to Britain by financial strings of investment; and again as Connolly said, "only the Irish working class remains as the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland", and in defining freedom he said, "In the long run, the freedom of a nation is measured by the freedom of its lowest class".
All hope of peace in Ireland lies in the workers; who is going to help
them realise it?