Following a dramatic surge in Covid infections and hospitalisations, the Northern Ireland Executive has introduced a raft of new restrictions. The most significant of these are the extension of the half-term break in schools to two weeks and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants – except for takeaway and delivery – for a month. This raises the threat of further large-scale redundancies in the sector, unless there is an immediate emergency intervention.
84 years ago today, on 4th October 1936, Communists and socialists came together with Jewish and Irish workers in an historic stand to stop Oswald Mosley and several thousand of his fascist Blackshirts from marching through the East End of London. In what became known as The Battle of Cable Street, Mosley and his thugs, with police protection, were blocked by an estimated 300,000 counter-protesters across east London.
Despite an increase in the rate of infection and moves by Stormont to tighten some restrictions, Education Minister Peter Weir and the entire NI Executive are pushing forward in a pigheaded and dangerous manner to reopen our schools. They are ignoring warnings from education unions that this could be the “next care home crisis”.
Although not the underlying cause, Covid-19 has been the trigger for a global economic downturn. The UK economy has now officially entered the deepest recession on record. Northern Ireland’s economy has proven to be particularly vulnerable to this and young workers are disproportionately impacted. The current situation further underlines that capitalism cannot provide for ordinary people and is incapable of offering young people a decent future. The need for socialist policies and a socialist transformation of society are more urgent than ever.