Last week I attended a public meeting organised by the Socialist Republican party éirígí at their party office on the Springfield Road in West Belfast. The talk was on the topic of ‘Building Resistance Against Austerity’ and the panel consisted of a legal expert, a union representative, a welfare rights activist and éirígí representatives.
The make up of the audience included a good gender balance, age balance and those from various political organisations and none. It was good to see all these people in one room willing to engage with the building of a campaign that will focus on the one issue of resisting the Stormont Agreement and their austerity agenda. All of these people will be directly affected by the Stormont Agreement and there was a feeling in the air that something is changing, that people are finally beginning to say enough is enough and starting to resist. I think that this talk is the beginning of greater things to come, of mobilisation, pickets, protests and direct actions.
All the speakers spoke of how the cuts will affect those who they work with and that how people have already been stretched enough. Although we are all aware of how bleak our society has become as a result of capitalism and colonialism the case studies that the speakers talked about was saddening and I couldn’t help but be filled with anger. Anger that our society has allowed this to happen for so long and that we have consistently elected politicians who have hid this from us, served their own selfish interests and served the interests of the wealthy. Each election we have been sold lies and bought in to those lies in the hope that this time things may be different, history has shown otherwise and these politicians participating in foreign administrative puppet parliaments will always betray the poor while they serve their paymasters in London.
Over the last number of months and certainly since the beginning of the New Year it has been clear that éirígí are serious about their resistance to cuts. On social media, in the local media and on their website they have been highlighting how our class will be impacted by the cuts, they have had articles printed in the paper and they have been seen on the ground and knocking doors. They really do seem sincere in this fight back. It is with great hope that others follow suit and don’t wait to jump on to the band wagon when it all becomes popular and trendy.
On the same night as éirígís public talk the ICTU held a similar talk in Belfast city centre. It was unfortunate that this talk was held on the same night and the same time as éirígís as I would of wanted to attend both. Although I have my criticisms of the major trade unions it was good to see that they are also mobilising people for the same cause. They have established anti-cuts committees across Belfast and have organised a rally for the 13th March.
As I have already stated it was unfortunate that these talks clashed with each other. We should approach this campaign with unity and put our weight behind anyone who is sincere in their resistance on this singular issue that is affecting us all. We need to put party politics aside and ensure that we support each other in this endeavour as it will be the elites who will want to see us fractured, weak and kept in our slums.
We need to make sure that we continue to build and mobilise. We should work toward a mass rally on March 13th but things shouldn’t end there. This is only the starting point and we need to ensure maximum participation from those who will be impacted the most from the cuts. We need to move out of meetings in the city centres and begin to organise, educate and mobilise within our local communities.
I for one will be participating in any event that I can that will be in defence of our class and that will resist Stormont, its agreement and its puppet politicians. Their days are numbered and the days of ruling by fooling are gone!