In Belfast on March 26th, a twin demo to the London protest took place. Here is a report.
6,000 demonstrated in Belfast on Saturday 26th March – a sizeable number of people, given the population. There’s no surprise
there however, the economic situation in the North is crumbling and the
huge Con Dem cuts which will be implemented by the Assembly will
devastate services and jobs.
The BBC reported the position put forward by Peter Bunting of the Northern Irish Committee of ICTU:
"The alternative to the spending cuts is the
£123bn worth of taxes uncollected either through tax avoidance or tax
evasion," he said.
"We believe that if that money was recouped it would lead to not one austerity measure being implemented.
"In Northern Ireland, we will see thousands
more people cast onto the unemployment register and we don’t see any
private sector activity which would generate jobs and which would make
up for those lost in the public sector."
Certainly the effects of the cuts will be dramatic;
they have been estimated at some 48,000 over the next 4 years, some 20
fire stations are under threat. It’s important however to make the point
that without a genuine political alternative for workers in the North
the Tories and the Assembly are going to be fighting a trade union
movement with one hand tied firmly behind its back.
The forthcoming elections might see some shifts in
representation in the Assembly, but it’s very unlikely that the voice of
thousands of trade unionists, their families and young people will get
an echo in Stormont. NIC-ICTU should call a conference of Labour in the
north and field its own candidates in the elections fighting on a class
programme. The North needs a socialist solution to a capitalist crisis.