, Peter Hadden: Letter to the papers about the Anglo-Irish Agreement (December 1985)

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Peter Hadden

Letter to the papers about the Anglo-Irish Agreement

(December 1985)

From Peter Hadden archives – unpublished letter, no date [Dec 1985].
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

The attempt by the Tory Governments’ in Dublin and Westminster to impose their Anglo-Irish deal has created the most dangerous situation seen in the North since the early 1970s.

The idea that this agreement could bring stability to the North is the purest fantasy. Quite the reverse. If the Tories do not retreat they could ultimately be faced with a civil war situation. The entire issue illustrates the impossibility of any capitalist solution to the national question in Ireland ever being found.

On the one hand a capitalist North means poverty, repression and instability and can never be a stable entity. On the other hand capitalist reunification would simply mean the merging of two poverty ridden states and a drop-in living standards all round. It would never be acceptable to Protestants. Any attempt to move in this direction would mean civil war and repartition.

On all accounts this agreement must be rejected by the Labour Movement. Unfortunately the leaders of the trade unions and the Labour Parties in Ireland and Britain have failed to adopt a class approach to this agreement. Neil Kinnock has backed Thatcher. Dick Spring and the Irish Labour Party leaders have acted as shadows of Fine Gael.

This spells real danger for the future. In particular, the silence of the trade union leaders poses a threat to the labour movement in the North. Their silence will not prevent this issue coming up in the trade unions, it will simply ensure that it comes up in a sectarian form, raised by people who have as their objective the splitting of the trade unions along sectarian lines. The warning must be spelt out – unless the Labour Movement adopts a class position on the national question it will ultimately face the danger of being smashed by sectarian reaction. There can be a solution to the conflict in Ireland, only on a socialist basis. This means class unity in the North and workers unity North and South. It also means the closest links with the working class movement in Britain.

On the basis of socialism and on this basis alone can be re-united. A socialist Ireland could be linked on a voluntary and equal basis to a socialist Britain. This is the position which the Labour Movement must put forward, a position encapsulated in the clear and simple slogan, “For a Socialist United Ireland and a Socialist Federation of Britain and Ireland”. This is the only slogan that can appeal to all workers, Protestant and Catholic, North, South and in Britain.

Instead of meeting these proposals with silence or applause the Labour Movement should reject this capitalist agreement and proclaim its own socialist solution. In the North a Special rank and file conference of the trade unions should be called to discuss a socialist reply to the agreement. Labour in the South and in Britain should end the alliance with the nationalists and the Tories on the North and present an independent class position.

To the conference of the bosses parties as proposed at Hillsborough the Labour organisations could then present their alternative of a conference of the working class organisations to discuss the achievement of working class unity and socialism throughout these Islands.


Peter Hadden
Secretary of LTUG

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