Towards Division Not Peace

Can the working class unite to build a real peace process?

Peter Hadden

Published by Socialist Party at Smashwords

Copyright 2002 Socialist Party


This pamphlet examines the current nature of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Written in October-November 2001 as a document for discussion within the Socialist Party, it describes how the sectarian polarisation has deepened during the peace process and explains how the ‘Troubles’ have increasingly degenerated into a sectarian was over territory. It goes onto analyse the prospects for the emergence of a united movement of the working class capable of cutting across this and opening the way to a real solution. 

In the few months since Towards division not peace was written, its basic conclusions have been reinforced, in some cases quite dramatically so. A number of surveys have confirmed the increased sectarian division during the years of the peace process. As the document explains, in the early years of the peace process immediately following the IRA and loyalist ceasefires there was a feeling of greater optimism, people were more open to new ideas, new political forces started to emerge. There was also a tendency towards the breaking down of the sectarian barriers. According to Housing Executive figures, between 1994-1996 3,000 families moved into areas dominated by the opposite religion.

As is also explained, the opposite trend both towards physical segregation and the reinforcement of sectarian attitudes has been in force since 1996 and continues to the present day. The peace process had come to mean little more than a fragile agreement between political enemies at the top while society, especially the working class areas, has become more sharply and bitterly polarised.

Again, the Housing Executive figures bear this out. In the five years following the 1996 Drumcree confrontation, 6,000 families moved out of mixed areas or areas where they were in a minority into areas predominantly made up of people of their own religion. The result is that, whereas before the peace process 635 of famili9es lived in areas that were either 90% catholic or 90% Protestant, the latest surveys show this figure has risen to 66%.

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