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GUE/NGL Study days in Ireland: Two days of debates in Derry draw to a close

GUE/NGL MEPs and guest speakers have taken part in two days of fruitful and dynamic debates in Derry, Ireland.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “We are delighted to be here in Ireland as solidarity between progressive movements across all parts of the EU, particularly on the periphery where the crisis is hitting hardest, is crucial to the GUE/NGL.”

The background to the conflict and the current political situation in Ireland was discussed.

In yesterday's opening session Joe Higgins TD strongly condemned the Irish government's continued implementation of 'nefarious austerity policies' and warned that despite the Troika programme nearing its end the situation remains precarious for working people in Ireland. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spoke about the dangers of the British government's ongoing welfare cuts for people in the North of Ireland as well as the importance of support and funding in the context of a society emerging from conflict.

GUE/NGL MEP Martina Anderson said: “Both communities have been plagued by suffering and we need to continue the healing process so we can move our society to a better place.”

In this morning's session Bill Rolston (Transnational Justice Institute) discussed the historical context of the conflict and the role of British state collusion, and Peter Shirlow (Queen's University Belfast) described how poverty only reproduces sectarianism and called for class unity so that people get passionate about welfare cuts and not flags.

GUE/NGL MEP Paul Murphy said: “Capitalism uses the method of divide and rule and we want to see the development of a new working class where people struggle not as protestants or catholics but united as workers.”

This afternoon's session saw four speakers – Patrick Mullholland (Socialist party member and trade unionist), Maureen Collins (Pink Ladies), Declan Kearney (National Chairperson of Sinn Féin), and Brian Dougherty MBE (St Columbs Park House) – share their experiences of community activism and dialogue in Derry.

GUE/NGL MEP Takis Hadzigeorgiou said: “We need dialogue across both communities. Without such cross-community dialogue lasting peace is not possible.”

The MEPs also took part in a political tour of Derry which saw them visit the Bloody Sunday Museum and the Bogside.

The study days continue in Dublin from tomorrow until Friday.

The European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) is a European Parliamentary Group made-up of 34 Members hailing from 12 European countries and 17 political parties. Another Europe is possible.

Study days are held biannually in different regions by each European Parliamentary Group. It is a chance for MEPs to meet with local activists, experts, and national parties.

Press contact in Ireland:
Emily Macintosh
[email protected]
Tel: 0032 470 850 508