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Sinn Fein Councillor quits to join Socialist Party

category national | miscellaneous | other press author Friday September 04, 2009 12:42author by Socialist Party Report this post to the editors

A Sinn Fein councillor has announced his defection to the Socialist Party.

In a statement, Domhnall O Cobhthaigh said Sinn Fein now shares a "right-wing economic agenda" with the other main Assembly parties.

Go to the BBC website for full story

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/foy...8.stm

author by Socialist Partypublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 13:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

See full statement on the Socialist Party's website.

http://www.socialistparty.net/index.php/news/northern-i....html

Related Link: http://www.socialistparty.net
author by Interestedpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 13:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is your new Councillor still Chairman of Fermanagh district Policing Partnership?

author by Paddy M - Socialist Partypublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 13:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sinn Fein councillor Domhnall O Cobhthaigh today announced his resiganation from the party at a press conference in order to join the Socialist Party to “build a cross-community opposition to the right-wing economic policies of the Assembly Executive”.


Fermanagh Cllr Domhnall O Cobhthaigh who has served on Fermanagh District Council for the past two years claimed he could no longer remain in Sinn Fein as it was now part of an Assembly Executive which is “implementing cuts, job losses and privatising public services”.

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin welcomed Mr O Cobhthaigh’s decision to join the Socialist Party today in Belfast

“The Socialist Party seeks to build a movement of working and unemployed people in Northern Ireland in Protestant and Catholic communities against the attacks on jobs, wages and services which are being pursued by big business and the parties in the Assembly. We warmly welcome Domhnall as a valuable member of the Socialist Party and look forward to building a genuine socialist alternative in Fermanagh for working people and youth.”

Jim Barbour of the Fire Brigades’ Union welcoming Mr O Coghthaigh’s decision claimed

“There is an urgent need to develop a cross-community anti-sectarian political alternative for workers who are facing massive job losses and attacks on wages, terms and conditions. It is nothing short of a disgrace that while the banks are bailed out to the tune of billions, ordinary working people are paying the price for their crisis. Domhnall’s decision today is a welcome development in building a socialist voice for workers. We are also working closely alongside our colleagues in Britain campaigning for a new mass party to represent working class people who have been long abandoned by New Labour.”

Mr O Cobhthaigh also stated that he has resigned his council seat.

“Despite my happy experience in working with the communities of Erne West and Enniskillen in demanding improvements, I feel it would be indefensible to retain a council seat to which I have not been elected (I was co-opted to the seat in 2007). Therefore, I have decided to resign from my seat on Fermanagh District Council.

Why I have resigned from Sinn Fein to join the Socialist Party

Councillor Domhnall Ó Cobhthaigh resigns from Sinn Féin and Fermanagh District Council

3rd September 2009

“I have decided to resign from Sinn Fein after a period of careful reflection. Over the past twelve years I have worked tirelessly to develop Sinn Féin as an engine of change. Leaving is a very difficult decision given the many friends I am leaving behind in the party.

“I consider that the current economic crisis has brought to antagonism the contradiction between the nationalist and socialist agendas within Sinn Féin. I have struggled for many years to promote the agenda of community empowerment and opposition to neo-liberal economics but realise that I cannot now usefully continue that within Sinn Féin. As a result I have decided to resign my party membership.

“Despite my happy experience in working with the communities of Erne West and Enniskillen in demanding improvements, I feel it would be indefensible to retain a council seat to which I have not been elected (I was co-opted to the seat in 2007). Therefore, I have decided to resign from my seat on Fermanagh District Council.

“Over the past year, I have come to understand that the Assembly system itself only reinforces the sectarian divisions within our society. All five mainstream parties are doing little more than overseeing the long-term administration of senior civil servants and their right-wing agenda. While I still have the greatest of respect for many of my former colleagues within Sinn Féin, I cannot see how they will change this significantly in the context of the current framework of governance.

“I welcome the fact that we now live largely free from violence. I believe that working class people played a key role in what became known as the peace process through their opposition to sectarian violence. Today however deep sectarian divisions remain and low level sectarian violence continues. The main Assembly parties have a shared right-wing economic agenda. Their policies of cuts and privatisation only cement sectarian division.

“I also want to use this opportunity to unambiguously reaffirm my opposition to all groups who would wish to take us backwards to conflict or who would further increase divisions between sections of the working-class.

Looking forward for change

“I wish to play my part in building a cross-community working-class platform to oppose the cutbacks which are being forced on working people to pay for the bailouts for the super-rich and which leave Fermanagh communities suffering from second-class provision right across the board.

“Over the past two years I have learnt that there are very many people who share my commitment to fundamental change. I know that the effects of the current downturn are impacting on all but I am aware of their particular impact on young people who are leaving education only to struggle to find employment. The mainstream parties do not deliver and cannot deliver for working class and young people. As a result, there is a growing gap between all the mainstream parties and the majority of people, particularly the working class.

“I am convinced that change can only come about if working, unemployed and young people themselves organise to challenge the status quo. We have seen the power of effective local campaigns in fighting against health cutbacks and against the imposition of water charges. The sad truth is if we are waiting for change to come at the hands of any of the mainstream parties, then we will wait a long time indeed. Working people must organise themselves against cuts and to defend jobs.

“Having looked around I am convinced that the Socialist Party offers a platform from which to build such campaigns and is determined to achieve fundamental change in the way society is organised. I am now committed to working alongside party members in building the party in Fermanagh to struggle alongside workers and our communities at every possibility.”

“As a first step in building this, I will be organising an open night in Enniskillen Library to discuss the reasons for my leaving Sinn Féin and the way forward for resisting the Assembly’s agenda of austerity.”

Related Link: http://www.socialistpartyni.net
author by Interested's answererpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 16:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

He's has resigned his council seat so he is not on any committees related to the council position.

author by Gearóid Ó Loingsighpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 19:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am always happy to see people leave SF, but I wonder how he squares his position on the national question and anti-imperialism with the SP position which is to say the least soft and at times on the other side of the fence.

author by Gappublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And what exactly do you mean by the other side of the fence?

author by epublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dont forget the story with the former SP councillor in Omagh in the 1990's, Johnny McLaughlin now an Independent. He had been anti-abortion so it seems strange that an SF guy would join the SP I guess. Has he not asked them their position on loyalist parades, a "clash of rights" was the term I believe was used to justify the right to march thought Catholic areas.

Interesting certainly

author by Reminderpublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 18:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Perhaps E isn't familiar with Sinn Fein's own view of Orange marches.

SF does not think that Orange marches should be banned but that, if they go through mostly Catholic areas, they must engage in meaningful dialogue with residents first. The SF slogan isn't "No walking Orange bastards", it's "No talk, No walk".

author by Gearóid Ó Loingsighpublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 20:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The other side of the fence? They consistently supported British Imperialism's right to be in Ireland. That side of the fence.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (Personal Capacity)publication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 20:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That Gearoid, is a lie and an obvious one.

author by Gearoid O Loingsighpublication date Sun Sep 06, 2009 02:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually it is not a lie. They opposed calls for a British withdrawal from Ireland. If you are not in favour of them going, then you have to be in favour of them staying. In the Malvinas conflict (Falklands to those who don't get it) they didn't oppose the war but came up with teh ludricous statement that soldiers should go but empty their guns, if memory serves me right. They didn't as Lenin and Trotsky had done before them call for the defeat of their own ruling class. But then they are not alone anymore in semi pacifist rubbish which abounds today.

They were always at pains to distance themselves from violence not on any tactical grounds but in order not to offend the bourgeousie.

That side of the fence.

Gearóid

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (Personal Capacity)publication date Sun Sep 06, 2009 04:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Gearoid, as a longtime supporter of a group that fell apart as it tailed forlornly after the Provisionals for so many years, I can understand you might be bitter. However, you might want to avoid letting your bitterness getting in the way of a reasonable assessment of political differences.

The Socialist Party, and before it Militant, has always been in favour of a united, socialist, Ireland, as part of an international socialist federation. The programme of James Connolly amongst others. Unlike most on the left, it opposed the entry of British troops into the North. It did however generally avoid calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops once they were in without also calling for the union movement to establish a self-defence force to prevent an immediate slide into civil war. They also opposed the IRA and other armed republican campaigns, on the grounds that (a) they could not succeed, (b) would lead to the death or imprisonment of a generation of activists, (c) would futher divide the working class and (d) would allow the British state to ramp up the apparatus of oppression. They took that line when some others on the left were feebly clapping for the Provisionals from a safe distance. 40 years of history have rather conclusively proved who was wrong about that.

But even if you disagree with the Socialist Party, it is malicious and dishonest of you to pretend that they favoured a countinued British state presence in Ireland at any time. It did not.

author by rejecctpublication date Sun Sep 06, 2009 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Was it not the SP that called screws n peelers 'workers in uniform'

author by The Admiral.publication date Sun Sep 06, 2009 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"In the Malvinas conflict (Falklands to those who don't get )"

The British re-taking of the Malvinas (a few acres of sheep islands.) resulted in the toppling of dictators right across South America.

General Galtiere was jailed.

Not by the Brits.

But by his own people... the Argentinians.

author by Adampublication date Tue Sep 08, 2009 13:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It did however generally avoid calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops once they were in without also calling for the union movement to establish a self-defence force to prevent an immediate slide into civil war."

Is this a condition you place on the Iraqi working-class before calling for the immediate withdrawal of US-UK troops?

author by SP memberpublication date Tue Sep 08, 2009 13:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Adam the question you have asked is valid.

The Socialist Party/CWI opposed the British Army’s entry into Northern Ireland in August 1969. We warned that in the last analysis the army's role would be to defend the interests of capital, British Imperialism and the Unionist status quo and that they would become the oppressors of the Catholic working class. We were the only people to raise these warnings.

The CWI in Ireland has always stood for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the British Army from Northern Ireland. Were Mark's point about about a trade union defence force comes into the equation is that we recognised prior to the ceasefires and the so-called "peace process", at the height of the "troubles" that there was a need to establish a working class defence force to provide a defence for working class communities from sectarian attacks.

The idea being that trade unionists in both working class Catholic and Protestant communities would democratically establish a defence force in their areas that would be linked via the unions so that communities could work together to protect their areas from attacks by sectarian mobs and paramilitaries but also that communities could co-operate to try to prevent attacks being launched from their communities on others.

That this joint approach could link working class communities with the aim of isolated the sectarians and to protect ordinary people. The reason why we raised that it should be a trade union defence force was on the basis that the trade unions were the biggest non-sectarian force in Northern Ireland within which both Catholics and Protestant workers were organised. Obviously this would never have worked if it was left up to the trade union bureaucrats - but it could work if it was organised by shop stewards and union activists from both communities. An outline of this idea did begin to develop in 1969 when trade unionists from both communities linked up to provide protection for communities from attack by sectarian mobs. You can read more about this in Socialist Party material on that period. One example was the trade union members and shop stewards from Harland and Wolff who went to the Short Strand in East Belfast to try to assist in the protection of the Catholic residents from attack by loyalists thugs.

This position is vastly superior to the position adopted by some which was just that the British Army should leave. Yes they should leave but what should the working class do then to stop the development of a sectarian civil war. The Provisional IRA and the Loyalist paramilitaries would never have been capable of providing such protection, and in fact their involvement in the situation would have been part of the process of a violent drift towards civil war.

Our position was that the army should be withdrawn and that the working class should move to established a trade union defence force. Our call for the withdrawal of the British Army was not conditional on a trade union defence force being established first.

On Iraq, the CWI stands for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying armies. Drawing the lesson from Northern Irish history (and other parts of the world in which they have been sectarian conflicts and civil wars) we also call for the establishment of workers militias in Iraq, democratically controlled by the working class communities and linked between the Shia, Sunni, Kurdish and Turkmen communities to defend the working class from the sectarian death squads and sectarian militias and state forces. The threat of a sectarian civil war is still a reality in Iraq despite the propaganda from the US and the British.

The working class has the right to defend itself but also in situations such as Northern Ireland in the past (and maybe again in the future) and Iraq today there is also a onus on socialists and trade unionists and community activists to call for and actively participate in trying to organise that defence.

It should not be done by self appointed groups and organisations based in one community or another - it should be openly organised by the communities, involving as many people as possible, it should be run in a fully democratic way with the community deciding what happens, and at all times there is a need for such militias or defence forces to be linked, cross community and to actively combat sectarianism and communalism on the basis of working class unity.

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