‘Anti-EU sentiments fuelling rise in sectarianism’: Michael D Higgins

Trade union activity is the most effective way to respond to a “rise in sectarianism” which has been fuelled by “anti-EU sentiments,” according to the Irish president.

By Mark Rainey
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 12:01 am

Addressing a trade union conference in Sligo this morning, Michael D Higgins will tell the SIPTU delegates that bringing workers together from both communities is the most effective way to challenge sectarianism.

In his speech at the conference titled ‘On the Post-Covid World of Work: The Centrality of the Trade Union Response,’ Mr Higgins will say: “Now is a good time to reflect on the unique role that the trade union movement has played in quelling sectarianism, violence and intimidation on this island. As the only mass organisation that unites workers from all communities to fight for their common interests, the trade union movement must redouble its efforts, undertake that vital role of reaching out to all workers and overcoming sectarianism.”

He said trade unions “were better at managing extremists than any narrow version of nationalism or orangeism,” and added: “The most effective way that we can challenge sectarianism is to bring workers from both communities together in the struggle for our common interests.

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President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“I know that union activists do this, are doing so in their branch and their workplace, and can respond to a rise in sectarianism which is devastating working class communities and which has been fuelled, in part, by those anti-EU sentiments that have been galvanised as a result of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.”

Mr Higgins also addresses a number of other issues including the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, new ways of working since the Covid pandemic and the adverse impacts, as well as climate change.

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