Trade Unionists for a New & United Ireland Host Conference in Belfast

Trade Unionists for a New and United Ireland (TUNUI) held a two-day conference last month in St Comgall’s, Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The two-day conference had contributions from International Trade Unionists including Koldo Sanez from the Lab Union in the Basque country, Jamal Juma from the New Federation of Palestinian TU. There were also Trade unionist representatives from Ireland, Scotland, Catalonia, Valencia, Galiza, Brittany and Corsica.

Gerry Mc Cormack, Deputy General Secretary of SIPTU spoke alongside Anne Speed and Conor Mc Carthy from UNISON. Frank Connolly, author of ‘United NationThe Case for Integrating Ireland’ gave a comprehensive contribution.

Muireann Dalton updated the conference on the ongoing outreach and campaigns across Ireland. She spoke of the success of Ireland’s Future events and Sinn Féin’s Commission on the Future of Ireland. All speakers stressed the importance of A Citizens Assembly on Irish Unity being established immediately.

TUNUI sees a New United Ireland as an opportunity to make a case for more investment in public services, stronger workers’ rights, an economy that serves to protect Ireland’s unique climate and biodiversity and ensuring that social justice is central to Irish Unity.

Trade unions must be at the heart of the debate over Irish reunification, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, told the union’s Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) in Galway today.

McCormack argued that Brexit had “decimated” the terms and conditions of many workers in Northern Ireland, making unions more relevant than ever on both sides of the border.

“The trade union movement abandoned the constitutional question in this country when James Connolly was shot in 1916,” McCormack told the conference, “but our values must be at the heart of this public debate.

“Trade unions stand for a social-democratic society based on principles of equality, solidarity and justice at work. That vision is just as important to workers in Northern Ireland as it is in the Republic.”

McCormack added that the actions of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in both supporting Brexit and blocking the Assembly and Executive from functioning in the North had left workers facing extraordinary cuts to their incomes and public services in recent years.

However, he also noted that the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil coalition in the Republic of Ireland had led to the highest cost of living in Europe and cuts to real pay across the economy. “We don’t want societies based on inequality in the North or the South. We want a new society which has workers’ interests at its heart,” he said.