Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill which is ostensibly
designed to create a framework for resolving the question of
controversial parades and demonstrations, especially during the
marching season is generating opposition from workers in the North
because of its implications for Trade union and political
demonstrations organised by the Trade Union Movement and protests
against the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as community protests
such as anti racist demonstrations like those that took place last year
on the Lisburn Road after the racist attacks in Belgravia Avenue and Wellesley Avenue.
As the Belfast Telegraph reported on the 11th May:
unionists who protest against job cuts or paramilitary killings face up
to six months in prison under proposed parades legislation for Northern
Ireland, workers have warned.
outside workplaces as well as rallies such as those against the
shooting dead of two soldiers and a policeman last year could be
required to give 37 days’ notice, according to plans.
special meeting to support the campaign against the Draft Public
Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill will be held on Thursday night in
spokesman said: “The new legislation will severely restrict the ability
of trades unionists, political activists, community and campaign groups
to organise effective and spontaneous public demonstrations to
highlight issues which often require a speedy and immediate public
response at very short notice.
meetings such as those against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
solidarity vigils held to support the victims of racist attacks, or
demonstrations such as those outside the BBC in relation to airtime
being given to the BNP will all fall under the remit of the new law.”
legislation will require 37 days notice for anyone calling a gathering
of more than 50 people. Clearly this will pose a big problem for trade
unionists and workers demonstrations and has to be opposed. The
intention is to solve the deadlocks that have arisen in recent years
around controversial parades through dialogue and negotiation. But by
using a blunt instrument approach the Bill just causes more problems.
justification for the draft Bill is the tensions in Catholic areas as a
result of the Orange Order marches, we recognise that there are serious
concerns over this issue, but this Bill creates a whole series of
contradictions that would serve to criminalise workers in both
communities fighting on class issues. Class issues that is which have
the potential for uniting workers in struggle. It’s worth making the
point that in the final analysis, the workers movement poses far more
of a threat to the ruling class than the Orange Order. This fact won’t
be lost on the tops of the PSNI and the state.
proposal that seeks to undermine or cut across the potential for united
action by working people can’t be a good thing, particularly as it’s
obvious that the financial and economic crisis that has begun to bite
in the North will only be exacerbated once the Tory and Liberal
coalition in London starts to attack the public sector. Cameron has
specifically targeted the North of Ireland for savage cuts.
Marxists made the point in the 1970’s that the armed struggle gave the
British State the excuse to introduce repressive laws and regulations
that were first tested on the streets of Belfast and Derry and then
used against the working class across the whole of the North and in
Britain. These measures start out from a different place but the
outcome is very similar.
made the point on many occasions now that the Stormont Assembly is a
blind alley based on sectarian principles. What’s overwhelmingly clear
is that there is a huge vacuum in the North in terms of working class
political representation. The general election illustrated the problem
last week. Society in the North is strained; this Draft Bill won’t
solve that. But it will create further contradictions. Contradictions
that is which would be swept away by the working class – the only real
majority in Ireland, if only it was united around a socialist programme
and a mass workers party rooted in the trade union movement.