By Glen Black, April 12, 2021
More than a week of conflict has occurred on the streets of Belfast. Headlines have described it as ‘loyalist violence’. But anarchists in the north of Ireland told Phoenix Media Co-op that the violence isn’t really about the ‘loyalist’ and ‘republican’ narrative peddled by the British media.
People inside and outside of the north of Ireland have cited three key reasons for the recent acceleration in conflict. A popular one amongst many Britons is the impact of Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol. However, people have also pointed fingers at the failure to prosecute senior members of Sinn Féin for attending a major funeral during a Covid-19 lockdown. Meanwhile, some within Ireland have suggested police crackdowns on alleged drug dealing by loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) as a major factor.
Phoenix Media Co-Op spoke to Derry Anarchists, one of the most active anarchist groups in the north of Ireland, to get an independent perspective. Responding to a question about what factors gave rise to the current violence, Derry Anarchists said that “without doubt, there is an accumulation of factors” including those previously mentioned.
However, the group said these were really ‘deflections’ from prolonged economic realities for many in the north of Ireland:
It’s a convenient deflection away from the reality of what has been happening in the lives of ordinary working class communities, in their homes and in their workplaces. Over the last number of decades the political parties have always used the ‘sectarian card’ to divide us, as it keeps them in power while our class eats itself as can be seen on the streets.