Socialist Democracy, the Irish organisation which support the Fourth International, is backing an independent socialist alternative in the West Belfast constituency for the assembly in the north of Ireland through its sponsorship of the candidature of Brian Pelan. Brian is standing on a platform of opposition to the cuts, opposition to sectarianism and opposition to the sectarian state. The campaign will be organised democratically and is open to everyone. He is looking not just for people to support him and engage in campaigning . He is looking to generate debate about how the objectives of the socialist movement in Ireland can be taken forward. His campaign may start with the Assembly election but he is determined that it will not end with it and that the gains of the campaign are taken forward after it. We would urge all our readers to support his campaign.
Elections cost money and the comrades are asking for campaign donations. You can transfer your contribution to:
Halifax sort code 11-09-95 - Account no – 01060326
Brian has launched a blog which can be found at http://bpelansocialist.blogspot.com/
Below we have taken an extract from one of his posts in which he introduces himself to the campaign and briefly puts forward the arguments and politics he will be putting forward. His campaign can be followed on this blog to which we would invite all our readers to contribute their questions, comments and contributions
Introducing Brian Pelan
So who exactly am I and why am I standing as a candidate in the West Belfast Assembly elections?
Well, I am 54 years of age, married with three sons. I was born in Andersonstown and have lived in the area for a large part of my life.
I am an active trade unionist, being a member of the Belfast Branch of the National Union of Journalists and a former deputy father of chapel of the Belfast Telegraph branch of the NUJ. I am not standing in any official union capacity in this election and only in a personal capacity but I think it is important that everyone knows that for a long time I have been active in advancing the cause of working people.
During the 1980s, I was involved in the Relatives’ Action Committees supporting political status for republican prisoners and was actively involved as part of the Hunger Strike campaign. I was also a member of Peoples Democracy and as a member of it was election agent for PD member John McAnulty when he was an elected councillor in West Belfast. Now I am a supporter of its successor Socialist Democracy.
I have campaigned on many issues, including opposition to the Iraq war and latterly against cutbacks in Northern Ireland and the Republic. I totally oppose sectarian politics and believe in a Socialist Republic, which will serve the interests of the Irish working class and this is the reason why I am standing.
All the main parties in the Assembly Executive are united in support of £4,000,000,000 worth of cuts which cannot but have a devastating effect on many public services. Already these parties are taking part in petty squabbles trying to deflect from their own responsibility for implementing these cuts. So Martin McGuinness has blamed Michael McGimpsey for failure to give the go-ahead to new cancer services in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry for sectarian reasons. In turn McGimpsey has no difficulty batting away this accusation. What unites them is agreement that cuts are necessary. If we vote for either of these parties that’s exactly what we will get.
I am standing to give people an opportunity to vote against the cuts and to actually organise against them. I am opening my campaign up to all those opposing the cuts so that after the election not only will I not be going away but neither will the campaign that has supported me.
But I am not just opposing the cuts. I am offering an analysis of why it has been so hard, so far, to fight the cuts and why opposing sectarianism is central to what I have to say. Further, I am offering a wider socialist alternative that can give a positive message of hope that there is a real alternative to the capitalist market.