London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Photo: Public Domain London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Photo: Public Domain

After the victory for Yes today, the reactionary politics holding Northern Ireland back is a construct of British imperialism, argues Reuben Bard-Rosenberg

In the decades that led up to Irish self-government, every liberal British imperialist argued that free Ireland would in fact be a priest-ridden backwater and a vassal of Rome.

In reality, the power of the clergy is not an act of God, or a simple consequence of popular religiosity, but a product of political circumstances.

Today there remains one part of the Island of Ireland in which those in charge are holding out against giving women control of over their own bodies, and that is the North.

Elementary sociology seems to tell us that this should not be so. This, after all, was the first part of Ireland to experience large-scale urbanisation and industrialisation. It is a society in which 4 out of 10 children are born out of wedlock.

The power of religious reaction in this territory can only be understood with reference to politics; to the basis on which the territory is and has been governed. It is the only part of Western Europe where politics is dominated by a confessional party. This arises from the fact that sectarian division has from the beginning been the basis of British rule in this territory, and indeed goes to the very heart of the dreaming up of “Northern Ireland” itself.

When the DUP made a deal with May, many Brits got very agitated about the influence that these reactionaries might have over the government of the mainland. Yet we should imagine what it is like to live in the sort of polity that elevates a group like that to a dominating force. We in Britain should imagine what it is like, because it was Britain that constructed this polity.

So let us raise our fists to women in all of Ireland. And let us work to pull down that bastion of reaction that is British overseas rule.

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg is a socialist activist and radical folk music promoter.