A 2010 survey identified that a quarter of Fermanagh businesses expected to lose staff in the next two years. Indeed, one in every eight businesses did not know whether they would survive the same period. Unemployment in Enniskillen has doubled over the past three years and in some peripheral villages the unemployment rate has trebled. There has been large-scale emigration of young people and 34 business premises on the High Street of Enniskillen lie abandoned.
The collapse in Fermanagh reflects that of the economy of the Republic of Ireland; very many local people found work on building sites in bordering counties, some even commuted daily to Dublin! When the bubble in the property sector in the South collapsed, many sought to jobs in the building trade in Belfast and the east of Northern Ireland before the property sector collapsed there as well.
As we all know the response of the governments in London, Dublin and by all Assembly parties, was that ordinary people would have to pay the price for saving the banks through higher indirect taxation and massive cuts to public expenditure.
Although the impact of these cuts has been covered up ahead of the recent elections, it is clear that they will further devastate local public services and further pressurise the local economy.
This economic context makes the case for a socialist alternative. We need to develop our economy on the basis of an alternative, publicly-owned (and not profit-driven) model. We need to reverse cuts to public services and instead invest in a large-scale scheme of public works to provide employment for people. The only way to achieve this is to build a working class movement to force an end to the market dictatorship.