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European Union We need a broad, class-based approach to Ireland

THE Communist Party of Ireland welcomes the statement by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when made his views clear on the EU. 

Speaking at the United Nations’ Geneva headquarters he said: “My party stands for a completely different future when we leave the EU, drawing on the best internationalist traditions of the labour movement. 

“We want to see close and co-operative relationships with our European neighbours, outside the EU, based on solidarity as well as mutual benefit and fair trade, along with a wider proactive internationalism across the globe.”

In contrast to a class approach, an open letter in the Irish News this week, signed by about 200 people, again made the inaccurate claim that a majority of the electorate voted to remain in the EU, in their call to the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “protect the rights of all citizens in the North of Ireland.”

The Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) challenges the signatories to the letter and Sinn Fein — which also takes this line — by making the following points:

  • Where is the evidence that the British government or any significant player in either Britain or Ireland wants to change current Irish border arrangements? It is the EU that is insisting on a “hard border.”
  • They say: “The majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.” This is incorrect. The total electorate in Northern Ireland is 1,260,988: Leave voters: 44.2 per cent (349,442); Remain voters: 55.8 per cent (440,707). Those who did not vote 471,091. The majority of the electorate, a total of 820,533 people either voted to leave the EU or did not vote.
  • The signatories appealed to Varadkar regarding equality and human rights — do they support his threat to ban strikes and will they ask the Irish government to introduce laws that allow a woman the right to choose to have an abortion? 
  • Sinn Fein’s demand to remain in the single market and the customs union places it in support of the neoliberal capitalist economics that has pushed through privatisation, zero-hours contracts, attacks on trade union rights and austerity throughout the EU. 
  • Equally Sinn Fein’s call to maintain the European Court of Justice ignores its anti-trade union judgements. 

The class politics of the signatories are varied, some having radical and progressive backgrounds, but the letter itself could be seen as being a narrow nationalist agenda. 

For those who are trying to exploit Brexit to push for a united Ireland — which Gerry Adams denies — the CPI monthly journal Socialist Voice reminds readers that the core tenets of socialism and republicanism are independence, sovereignty and democracy. 

We point out that Ireland “cannot be a sovereign country under any imperialist apparatus,” whether dominated by Britain, the EU or the US. 

In the context of Brexit, to campaign for a united Ireland under the pretext of the Six Counties rejoining the EU shows the lack of ideological opposition to imperialism.

Lynda Walker is national chairperson of the Communist Party of Ireland.

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