Celebrating referendum victory in Dublin. Photo: An Phoblacht. As most of Ireland celebrates marriage equality – passed overwhelmingly in a May 22 referendum - the six counties in its north carved off and still claimed by Britain remain excluded.
The new British Conservative government has launched an ultra-conservative political agenda that could unravel the peace process in six counties in Ireland's north still claimed by Britain. Tory plans include scrapping the 1998 Human Rights Act, which underpins a key aspect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The GFA peace deal included a measure that Britain integrate the European Convention of Human Rights into law in the six counties, a process included in the Human Rights Act.
With what appears a landslide win amid a high turnout, all indications are Ireland has voted "yes" to marriage equality in a referendum on legalising same-sex marriages. This is the first time marriage equality has been put to a popular vote anywhere in the world, and makes Ireland the 21st nation to legalise same-sex marriages.
With the support of all of the political parties in Dublin's parliament (the Dail), a May 22 referendum on same-sex marriage could bring official state recognition for Ireland’s gay community and their relationships for the first time. Homosexuality in Ireland was decriminalised in 1993. The referendum could mark a further break from a culture which has for decades forced LGBTI members to live covertly or suppress their identity entirely. The referendum has been opposed by most, though not all, of Ireland’s clergy. Polls have shown strong opposition among Ireland’s oldest age groups.
A special May Day conference was convened on May 1 and 2 by the five trade unions affiliated to the Right2Water campaign, which is leading the huge struggle against water charges in Ireland. The conference discussed a set of core principles that will underpin a “Platform for Renewal”, with the aim to unite left and progressive forces before the next general election.
Nearly 90,000 people took to the streets of Dublin on March 21, in an unprecedented fifth mass protest in six months against the introduction of water charges by the Irish government. The sea of flags, banners and placards was addressed by a range of politicians, community activists and union leaders. The protest was organised by the Right2Water campaign — a broad coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties, led by some of Ireland’s largest unions.
Sinn Fein MLA and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness indicated on March 9 that his party would oppose the new welfare reform bill in the northern Irish Assembly in the six Irish counties still occupied by Britain. McGuinness accused government partners the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of acting in bad faith. Sinn Fein is in a power-sharing arrangement as part of the Good Friday peace agreement signed in 1998, which sought to end the violence that had wracked Ireland's north since the 1ate 1960s, known as The Troubles.
What does the victory of radical left party SYRIZA in Greece's January 25 elections mean for politics in Europe, at Europe-wide and national levels? Both levels are closely intertwined, and since SYRIZA’s win have been having rapid feedback effects on each another. Across Europe, the reverberations of SYRIZA’s win are being felt with rising force, both in “peripheral” Europe, but also in the German-led European Union “core”.
The Irish coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party tried to turn the tables on its left-wing opponents in recent days, with efforts to portray them as “dangerous” and “anti-democratic”. The exchanges came amid ongoing demonstrations over the jailing of anti-austerity protestors in Dublin. Five activists were ordered to be locked up by a court last month for failing to stay away from the installation of water metres.
Sinn Fein Member of European Parliament for Ireland South Liadh Ni Riada began a stailc teanga (“language strike”) in the European Parliament. The representative of the Irish republican party is taking the action against the second-class status afforded the Irish language by the European Union (EU) and to highlight the Irish government’s lack of action on the issue. In protest, Ni Riada is only speaking Irish for the duration of the Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”), which runs from March 1 to 17.