Statement on the Restoration of the Stormont Assembly 06/02/2024

For two long years working class people in the north of Ireland have watched as the DUP played political games, dissolving Stormont and unilaterally collapsing the legislative political process. For 2 years the trade union movement and community groups have been demanding that the DUP return to work. After these 2 long years the DUP have finally relented, and Stormont has survived yet another in a long line of collapses.

But merely restoring the Stormont institutions while failing to evolve the political process beyond a sectarian dispute between the main power blocs will be of little long-term benefit to workers.

The DUP and the British Government believe that their new deal which restored Stormont marks a bolstering of the union, that it will preserve partition. They are only kidding themselves. Unionism has lost its majority in Stormont, Westminster and Belfast City Council.

We are entering a new stage in Irish politics in which Sinn Fein will most likely lead a government in the south, while simultaneously they are the largest party in the north. In their 2022 northern manifesto SF made commitments to improving workers rights, investing in healthcare, education, and tackling the cost of living crisis, these commitments must be honoured.

Only the power of a united working class can apply adequate pressure to ensure that Stormont’s return is not merely a retrograde slump into the managed decline and austerity of previous years.

Trade Unionists and mass industrial action played a major role in forcing the DUP back into government, against a backdrop of crumbling public services in the North. This spirit of demanding real action to confront the problems facing working people is needed to make best use of these institutions.

While there is much talk about reforming the structures so that total collapse can be avoided in the future, the reality is that there are promised reforms dating back as far as the Good Friday Agreement which remain unfulfilled. The establishment of a Bill of Rights is one example, the establishment of the Civic Forum is another.

The reality also remains that the Executive is totally dependent on the limited financial resources made available to it by the Westminster government, which

has sought to force austerity and deep budget cuts as an ideological attack on working class communities of all backgrounds.

The £3.3 billion financial package offered by Westminster to address the demands of underpaid public service workers comes with many strings attached. Each newly appointed minister will soon be decrying insufficient budget allocation, and the directive from the UK Tory government is that revenue raising measures must be enacted.

We know what this will mean, more money will be squeezed from working people in the form of potential rate hikes, introduction of charges for prescriptions and water, cutting of social safety for seniors.

Over half the people of the north are struggling to afford their day-to-day bills. Any attempts to further take from struggling workers must be opposed and resisted wherever they are proposed or introduced.

Communities are already being devastated by cuts to vital services, only this week the NI Children’s Hospice has announced that a loss of government funding will incur a reduction in their staff, as a society we should be ashamed, outraged, and spurred towards uniting as workers to fight for a better world.

The task of building a society which prioritises the working class can only be achieved through working class unity, it is a task which the trade union movement, the community movements and all defenders of workers rights will continue to play a leading role in.

The Irish Communist Party/Páirtí Cumannach Éireann remains steadfastly committed to the pursuit of a united, independent, socialist Ireland. This is what Connolly aimed for when he stated “we only want the earth”. Our Party will continue to be part of that fight, we have a world to win.

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