Sinn Féin, Welfare Reform, And Building A Culture Of Resistance

Sean Matthews regards Sinn Fein opposition to Tory welfare cuts as tokenism. Sean Matthews is an anarchist activist.

As our bankrupt local political class squabble over the crumbs from Westminster’s table, the class war continues with the re-packaged ‘Welfare Reform’ bill - a further erosion in the standard of living of the vast majority while transferring wealth to the small minority.

Don’t be fooled by token opposition from mainly nationalist political parties to oppose the bill, particularly from Sinn Féin, that they are ‘defending the most vulnerable in our society’ because they are part of the problem rather than the solution proving that the parliamentary route ends in disempowerment, corruption and betrayal. Rather than ‘defending the most vulnerable’, let’s remember their record in power from consistently rolling out the red carpet to representatives of Imperialism at home and abroad, to their rolling out of the red carpet to the Queen and Commander in Chief of the Parachute Regiment Prince Charles, to their support for tax cuts for the rich, cuts to education and healthcare, opposition to women’s right to choose, to the criminalisation of republican prisoners over the last decade.

Stormont is a business with competing sectarian interests and its first interest is with the rich and powerful in society. This is why we never hear about any proposals in the budget to tax the richest in our society or raising the minimum wage to a living wage. The battle lines have clearly been marked with our local political class willing enforces of a brutal austerity agenda which defines the capitalist system we live under.

There are no easy short-cuts and we need to begin the task of building a mass movement: built in every street, workplace and community because we are the only solution to the rotten status quo.

If we want to turn the tables and start defeat this continues vicious cycle of cuts imposed by our ruling class, we need to recognise that being right isn’t enough.

Unfortunately, our society is not a debating chamber where everyone is given an equal voice, and the decisions that affect our lives are not taken on moral grounds but by a small minority in the interests of profit.

Mass unemployment, poverty, homelessness, erosion of workers' rights and high rates of suicide among young people is a symptom of a system that institutionalises violence and domination, scarring every aspect of our lives. But it does not have to be this way, because we are the majority and have the power to transform society to fulfil our needs and desires.

Our rulers don’t care about doing right by us. What they care about is power and wealth, and supporting the interests they represent. Unless we want more of the same and want to build a better society for ourselves and future generations, we will have to empower ourselves through direct action, by fostering a culture of resistance and solidarity in every aspect of our daily lives.


  1. Very well said !

    Direct action, civil disobedience and solidarity are our only hope. The culture of greed and self have become ingrained in a world where we are seen simply as consumers worshipping at the altar of materialism.

    For a few decades in the last century capitalism needed our class to produce so we were allowed a minimally bigger share of the cake. Now with rapid advances in technology we have become obsolete and the cull has begun. As in Europe in the 1930's those at the bottom of society are being singled out and marginalised. Migrants, the sick, the disabled and the unemployed have had the safety net pulled out from under their feet leading to destitution and for many death. The right to complain or protest has been curtailed, and those who in previous times would have defended our rights have abandoned us for fat salaries and pensions.

    During the last 30 years trade unions have been compromised, the leadership has been bought off by the business class. Trade unions once had a dual purpose of defending conditions in the work place together with fighting for our class in the political arena. The new breed of union leaders and paid officials kept quiet while all our rights were legislated away and at times by the very political parties which had been founded by organised workers.

    We need to organise in communities while trying to take back control of our unions. A citizens movement is the way forward.

  2. Too many chancers that's the problem. People on DLA and working and getting free school meals for kids and their mortgages paid by the state. Something has to be done to ensure the needy and not the greedy 'benefit'. Of course the SF crowd don't want benefit cuts, their supporters are chancers same as themselves.

  3. Timely article, spot on a Sheain. If the people come to the realisation it is they who are sovereign, that everything beyond that is predicated on their consent, whether they realise they've assented or not, then the game is up. A sovereign, democratic republic for All Ireland is the instrument which can ring the changes Sean advocates, one in which the decision-making process is devolved to the furthest degree possible, empowering people not corrupt politicians, so they have a direct say, to the greatest extent workable, in the affairs that govern their everyday lives - from austerity, to banking, to commerce and employment. If the Irish people would only demand the right to such a republic then nothing could prevent us establishing it, nothing in their entire imperialist arsenal. I think the Eire Nua proposal aligns wih the anarchist perspective Sean advocates, it would be worth for those determined on political change in Ireland to look again at this fantastic and far-sighted political initiative. Maith thu, great piece

  4. Larry,

    chancers only explains a bit of what happens. The degree of poverty and its effects is serious. Teachers continuously reporting the upsurge in children coming to school hungry. You will always get somebody to exploit whatever is going. There are people who abuse charities even - trying their scams and so on. While that can be frustrating for charity workers the focus is best placed on the real poverty out there and the crushing debt it can lead to.

  5. AM

    Being deliberately harsh, but there needs to be a focus on where the money is going. Maybe the Brits have a price to pay for being here, but if money is not going to cancer units for example because 20% or norn iron people are on DLA (disabled? lol) then there is a collective responsibility there somewhere along the line.

  6. The money would be diverted elsewhere or pocketed by the Brits. There is more than enough money in the British economy to cover a free health service, and an education one to boot, plus lots more. The greedy don't want to part with it. The media tried the populist one down here about the East Europeans scamming the system and the begging they were doing. When the documentary makers set out to test the red top thesis, they found the so called scammers living in poverty and squalor. We have number of people doing the double not as a scam but as a means to top up their income. I don't do it because I can't find any to do LOL. It doesn't bother me. Would I report somebody for doing it? Never. They can try and create their Stasi state where the citizens all spy on each other but I want no part of it. Camus was right when he said it is a form of spiritual snobbery to think you can be happy without money. The old Czech proverb is apt - the big thieves hang the little ones.

  7. 'The old Czech proverb is apt - the big thieves hang the little ones'.

    Like Scap and the SF leadership. Indeed.

    I'm not in the notion of touting on anyone doing the double treble or quadruple for that matter. Just pointing out the fact it is a way of life and an accepted part of 'income'. A better option might be to pay people a liveable wage removing the stigma if any exists of fraud.

    Think the SF leadership, Provo style, will go down in history as the most prolonged, most calculating, deceitful and disgraceful stain on Irish nationalism ever. An open sewer that no one is interested in plugging. Seems to suit the society we have become.

  8. It was never suggested that you were into the notion of snitching on the double doers - even you wouldn't go that low LOL. I was making the point that it would never get to me that much that I would whereas if it was a banker screwing the homeless of course I'd sink him. They will never pay a liveable wage - these people become obsessed by money, obsessed by both having it and ensuring you have only what they need you to have to buy their product and that is by default. They all want to strip their own piece of skin off your back and that is where the state steps in with the system guarding imperative to ensure the longevity of the capitalist economy. The logic of capital!

  9. Hope that wasn't another 'hight-ist' jibe at my diminutive status.

  10. It was indeed but you are not allowed to go PC on us. IT is our god given right to slag midgets

  11. Knew it!! kick a man when he's my case down about chest height on a permanent basis.. poor me.