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Year 2001 No. 139, August 9, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

John Reid Set to Suspend Northern Ireland Assembly

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

John Reid Set to Suspend Northern Ireland Assembly

Backward Step of Suspension of Northern Ireland Assembly

Guards to Impose Overtime Ban unless Talks Resolve Dispute

Oil Tanker Drivers to Vote on Pay Strike

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John Reid Set to Suspend Northern Ireland Assembly

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid is reported to be on the point of suspending the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said that the institutions were close to collapse. He said in Belfast: "The reality is that the institutions are going to collapse in a very short time, given the management of the process at this point."

Although the IRA is expected to issue a new statement on decommissioning, the Provisionals are unlikely to advance on their proposal to General John de Chastelain to put their weapons beyond use. The IRA has proposed a method for putting guns "completely and verifiably beyond use". General de Chastelain’s assessment is that the proposal initiated a process that the Provisionals would indeed put their guns completely beyond use.

The Ulster Unionists, however, have demanded the IRA begin emptying their arms dumps. MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "We will want to know that any proposals on decommissioning fully comply with the legislation in that the weapons must be rendered permanently usable and unavailable."

Martin McGuinness said of the stand of David Trimble in rejecting General de Chatelaine’s assessment: "Of all the mistakes made throughout the course of the last three years in the Good Friday Agreement process, what David Trimble has done in rejecting the determination of the IICD is the greatest mistake of all." He added: "If he thinks that he hastens the day that his version of the Good Friday agreement will be implemented by this strategy, he is living in cloud cuckoo land."

SDLP leader John Hume said that General de Chastelain’s proposals were a vital boost and that the SDLP would work constructively to find a way forward.

The three main pro-Agreement sides have also refused to fully endorse the package of proposals drawn up by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern to try to end the deadlock over decommissioning, demilitarisation and policing arrangements.

In these circumstances, it is ironic that the suspension of the power-sharing government is being portrayed as to avoid a complete collapse of the peace process.

As if to underline the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Tony Blair, on holiday in Mexico, on Wednesday held telephone talks with Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

If the pro-Agreement parties cannot agree on nominations for a new first minister and deputy by Sunday, the institutions set up under the 1998 Good Friday accord will collapse. In fact, since the Northern Ireland Assembly would have to meet on Saturday with 48 hours notice, the de facto decision day becomes Thursday.

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Backward Step of Suspension of Northern Ireland Assembly

Reports and events indicate that John Reid, the British Northern Ireland Secretary, is on the point of suspending the Northern Ireland Assembly, and is set to do so today or tomorrow.

Such a step would indicate that the British government is not prepared to accept that the people of the north of Ireland must be the ones who work out their own future, in the context of the principle that the people of the island of Ireland as a whole must determine their own affairs. It would indicate that the British government is once again prepared to play the Orange card, while appearing above the divisions in the north of Ireland as an honest-broker. For all John Reid’s reasonable words and the work of the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland to put forward a proposal to "save" the Peace Process, it is being shown once again that the British government is not prepared to make the step of ending its hold over the six counties.

With the advance of the Peace Process and the operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly, conditions have been prepared for the Irish nation to constitute itself anew. The Downing Street Declaration of 1993 and the role of the Irish republican movement in fighting for self-determination was the backdrop against which the advance of the Peace Process became possible. The British government has continually used the pretext of the "consent" required of all sections of the people of the north of Ireland, while itself institutionalising divisions based on Unionist and Nationalist or Protestant and Catholic "communities", to hang on to its prerogative to intervene and ultimately resort to "direct rule".

British workers and democratic people must oppose and reject these machinations of the British government. Their cause of opening the door to progress and building a new society is one with the broad masses of the people of Ireland, north and south. The struggle of the British working class to constitute itself the nation and vest sovereignty in the people is as much the task required by history to build a society fit for human beings as is the struggle of the Irish nation to build itself anew in which the Irish working class has the historic role to take the lead.

Article Index

Guards to Impose Overtime Ban unless Talks Resolve Dispute

Talks to resolve the dispute over the role of guards on train company c2c services between London and Essex are expected as a 48-hour strike, which began at 12 noon Monday, ended Wednesday lunchtime. Bob Crow, Rail Maritime and Transport Union assistant general secretary said: "These talks will hopefully move us some way towards resolving this dispute." As the strike began Monday, union officials leafleted commuters to explain the reasons for the workers' action and accused c2c of using untrained managers as scabs. The company denied the claim and said staff brought in from other companies, owned by parent group National Express, were fully qualified.

Guards belonging to the RMT voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for a five-day ban on overtime next week, beginning on Tuesday, which Bob Crow said would lead to a third of trains being cancelled. In an indication of the use of anti-union law to repress workers' struggles, Bob Crow also revealed that the union had received a £4.5 million claim for compensation from c2c for disruption caused by previous strikes. "I don't know where they are getting their legal advice from, but this is a legal strike being conducted in a proper manner."

Article Index

Oil Tanker Drivers to Vote on Pay Strike

The Transport and General Workers' Union have announced that 100 oil tanker drivers in P&O Trans European's spot affreightment division will be balloted this week over whether to strike over threatened pay cuts.

The workers, based at Ellesmere Port, West Thurrock, Billingham, Hull, Felling and Stallingborough, oppose new employment contracts expected to reduce wages by up to £5,000 a year. Discussions ended in July, after protracted talks, which included the intervention of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

Ron Webb, T&G national secretary for transport and lead officer for the drivers, has pointed out that the workers "are in a dangerous business and carry big responsibilities. They deserve to be well rewarded and respected for the work they do. Instead, the company is looking to cut their pay. The T&G is concerned that the new payments scheme, which could lead to pay reductions of up to £5,000, may force drivers to cut corners on health and safety to earn a living wage."

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