Goretti Horgan

Loyal to the flag

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The recent flag protests by Loyalists in Belfast have underlined the continuing sectarian nature of the Northern Irish state. Goretti Horgan looks at the history of Loyalism and asks how socialists should relate to the Irish protestant working class

The sight of hundreds of protesters carrying Union Jack flags tends to be associated in England, Scotland or Wales with marches by the BNP or the English Defence League. In Northern Ireland it is now impossible to drive through any city, town or hamlet without finding part or all of it bedecked with massive Union flags.

Over the last two months Belfast and all of the North have seen practically daily protests about the Union flag, some ending in riots all featuring vicious sectarianism on the streets.

Letter from Northern Ireland

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Attacks on Roma families have shocked many, argues Goretti Horgan. But politicians must shoulder much of the blame.

Two stories have dominated the headlines in Northern Ireland over the past few weeks: racists driving out a number of Roma families from their South Belfast homes and the expensive tastes of "Swish Family Robinson" - first minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris - exposed by the MPs' expenses scandal. The two stories, of course, are not unconnected.

Abortion: is this the moment?

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Imagine living where the prime minister believes in creationism, the chair of your parliament's health committee believes "it is the duty of government to implement god's law" and the chair of the education committee calls for creationism to be taught alongside evolution in science classes. That place is Northern Ireland (NI).

Gordon Brown has been making deals with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) fundamentalists who hold these views to block abortion rights for women in NI, in return for its nine MPs voting for 42-day detention for "terrorist" suspects.

European Social Forum: A New World for Women

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Like war and the rebuilding of the European left, the question of the role of women in the fight for a different world ran through the European Social Forum. At least half the delegates were women, mainly younger women.

At the first of the massive conferences on the war a majority of the speakers were women. The impact of war on women and their role in the anti-war movement were addressed by several speakers. Lindsey German's support for young Muslim women in the anti-war movement wearing headscarves as a symbol of resistance drew huge applause.

The Forgotten People

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Review of 'Nickel and Dimed', Barbara Ehrenreich, Granta £8.99

Anti-war activists are frequently accused of anti-American bias, of blaming all Americans for their government's actions. This is very far from the truth. Anti-capitalists have long been aware of the extent to which the US, like the rest of the world, is divided between a tiny minority who benefit from global capitalism and the overwhelming mass of people who produce the wealth but, in the race for the bottom, are denied even a living wage.

Bloody Sunday Inquiry - A Cover Up That Went Right to the Top

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Thirty years after it happened, why is there still such a fuss about Bloody Sunday? 'Daily Telegraph' and 'Daily Mail' commentators rant and rage about the huge political, legal and media concentration on Bloody Sunday, and about the cost of the Saville tribunal of inquiry into the events of 30 January 1972. They point to the fact that other atrocities have seen as many, or more, innocent people cut down, and just as cruelly.

There was no justification for those killings either. So why isn't there a film, much less two films, about the IRA's Remembrance Day bomb in 1987, which left 11 dead? And why are the Bloody Sunday soldiers being pursued when paramilitaries have an effective amnesty?

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