The immediate reaction in Bogside to the Wilson/Chichester-Clark talks was: “The barricades stay!” It is the right reaction, for the pious platitudes in the Downing Street communique concede nothing to the Civil Rights movement, which must now intensify its struggle.
The fact that British troops are now in full command of both the RUC and B-Specials shows the degree of detestation which Catholics have for the guardians of Orange “law and order”.
But what does this control add up to? The B-Specials are to be “phased out” of action only while the troops remain. They are to be asked to surrender their guns – but there is no machinery to enforce this and the right-wing of the Unionist Party has already made it clear that it is opposed to the surrender of weapons.
The B-Specials have their guns in or out of uniform. There is no guarantee that these fanatical thugs and bigots will cease their indiscriminate murder of Catholics and the burning and Looting of their homes. And when the troops go, the RUC and B- Specials will remain, to reinforce the Orange police state.
We say: the B-Specials must be totally disbanded and their weapons forcibly taken from them. The RUC must be disarmed.
The clerical fascist Paisley has called for the regroupment of the Ulster Volunteers, the original armed stormtroopers of the Orange state who terrorised the Catholic working class. It is the B-Specials who will respond to Paisley’s call, for they have the weapons at their disposal – unless they are forced to surrender them.
Wilson’s timid, temporary step against the Specials is his only action. British capitalism is embarrassed by the Northern Ireland regime, but it is not prepared to take any real action against the Unionists for fear of sparking off further social unrest that might rock capital’s boat in the Green Tory south as well as in the North.
And so the monstrous Orange regime at Stormont stays. Wilson makes no mention of the special Powers Act, that intolerable piece of authoritarianism that allows the RUC free reign to arrest, hold and interrogate citizens without charge or trial. Neither does Wilson demand the release of the political prisoners held under the Act.
The “pledge” that reforms will be speed fly enacted is just a sick joke as far as the workers on the barricades are concerned. They know that the Unionist employers and landowners cannot allow basic civil Liberties, cannot end the electoral gerrymandering, the discrimination in jobs or housing, for to do so would wipe away the basis of their undemocratic rule.
The thousands of Irish men and women who voted for the Wilson government now see it exposed as a bunch of hypocrites opposed to the demands of basic civil liberties in Northern Ireland.
Last updated on 7.3.2002