The Belfast Royal Irish Regiment parade should be opposed


This week Belfast City Council approved a homecoming parade for the Royal Irish Regiment and Irish Guards from Afghanistan. The motion was backed by the DUP, UUP and Alliance parties, but opposed by the SDLP and Sinn Fein. The final vote was 26 to 20. Smaller parades will also take place in Lisburn and Enniskillen.

In November 2008, the WSM organised a small protest in Belfast city centre against this showcase of militarism and state terrorism, demonstrating that Imperialism is not worth killing or dying for in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their was a tense atmosphere in the city on the day with the state mobilising its forces to ensure their was no major disruption. Thousands of supporters came out to support the homecoming with loyalists mobilising in a naked display of sectarian bigotry.

Republican socialist organisation eirigi also organised a much larger demonstration which was aggressively blocked by the PSNI. However, we felt it was important to provide a platform based on our anti-militarism and opposition to various shades of Irish nationalism and unionism. While the rest of the left decided to sit on the sidelines allowing the space to filled by sectarian elements on both sides.

As WSM member Gabhan Gleeson reported at the time;

‘The R.I.R. are returning from devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to parade in Belfast. These wars have seen the death of millions of civilians and the near complete destruction of domestic infrastructure.

The state has very cynically attempted to use sectarianism to divide and conquered the anti-war movement in the North. This march would likely not have gone ahead in other places in the U.K. or it would have seen widespread resistance. It is only because of this cynical manipulation that they were able to have a march celebrating these murderous campaigns with very little resistance.

The WSM is committed to creating a space for resistance to imperialism and war outside the sectarian narratives that the state actively promotes to serve its own interests.’

The military, as well as being the vehicle for waging external war, are the last line of defence against a population determined to change social institutions. They have no place in a just and peaceful society. The British military, imperialist enforcers at home and abroad, are no exception. To eliminate war and militarism forever, we must sweep away all armies, with a workers’ revolution that abolishes the State and capitalism across the world and establishes libertarian communism. It will take nothing less – but we need nothing less, as well.

In the words of a famous Industrial Workers of the World anti-war poster,
TO ARMS – Capitalists, Parsons, Politicians, Landlords, Newspaper Editors and other Stay-At-Home Patriots

WORDS: Sean Matthews