On Wednesday, FG and Fianna Fail sought the endorsement of the Dail to back the EU-Britain withdrawal deal, despite the fact that the British parliament is likely to reject the deal.
People Before Profit welcomed the commitment in the deal not to impose a hard border. This could have severely disrupted the lives of people who travel back and forth across that border. It would also, as the DUP have indicated, helped to strengthen partition.
However we could not endorse the overall content of the deal as it includes detailed provisions which seek to impose neo-liberal rules.
Thus it contains many clauses which restrict the use of state aid lest this be seen to distort the market. As the Northern economy is heavily dependent on state funding, such articles represent a dangerous threat for the future.
In order to lessen the impact of this deal, People Before Profit put forwards two amendments which read as follows:
*Declares that the Brexit crisis must not be used as a pretext by employers or government to enforce wage restraint or reduce income on workers or to cut public services.
* Calls on the British government to hold a border poll on partition to give people in Northern Ireland an opportunity to avoid any possibility of a hard border by voting.
For the past two years, the government and Fianna Fail have been talking only of the post-Brexit effects on business and a special €300 million loan guarantee scheme has been set up. But there has been no talk of protecting workers wages.
Our amendment was designed to protect workers’ rights in a post Brexit scenario. Not surprisingly, the right wing parties voted it down.
The second amendment called for a border poll on partition to give people a chance to choose a democratic solution to the Brexit crisis.
The plain reality is that a hard border could be imposed by either Britain or the EU. Despite claiming previously that he had ‘assurance’ from the EU that they would never order the erection of a hard border on the Irish side, Varadkar has started preparing the ground for just such a hard border.
Last Saturday, he stated that:
“I think in a no-deal scenario it would be very difficult to avoid a hard border because of the obvious fact that, Ireland remaining part of the European Union, would no doubt be asked to implement European Union law”.
In other words, he would erect a hard border if the EU told him.
Such a border would be a disaster for working people throughout Ireland – and the only people celebrating would be the DUP.
This is why there should be a poll – in both the North and South of Ireland – to see if people wish to move forward to developing structures for a new Ireland – that would not just be a mirror image of the current corrupt 26 county state.
Both of the People Before Profit amendments were taken together and garnered the vote of 26 TDS because of support from other left independent such as Clare Daly, Thomas Pringle and Sinn Fein.
Our allies in Solidarity did not support the motion as, historically, they have a very different position on partition to People Before Profit.
People Before Profit will be holding a series of meetings around the country in December to launch a new pamphlet entitled, Brexit, The Hard Border and Partition. Details to follow.