By Mike Talavera
On January 19 around 8:10 pm, a hijacked pizza delivery van detonated in a fiery display in front of the Bishop Street Courthouse in the Northern Ireland town of Derry. A call had been made 15 minutes before the explosion, and hundreds of people were evacuated.
The bomb attack marks 100 years of anti-imperialist violence against the British. On January 21, 1919 in County Tipperary, Irish Republican Army volunteers killed two Royal Irish Constabulary soldiers and captured weapons and explosives in what became known as the Soloheadbeg ambush. The violent incident kicked off the anti-imperialist national liberation struggle which continues today.
Bourgeois media outlets and imperialist politicians have falsely characterized the attack as an anomaly in what has otherwise been a peaceful state of existence in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Historically, that agreement and the submission of the sell-out Sinn Féin party are the real anomalies in the unrelenting rebellion of the Irish masses against imperialism.
The town of Derry itself has been an epicenter of resistance, with many citing the 1969 Battle of the Bogside which took place there as one of the first major conflicts of the period known as “The Troubles.” The name of the town itself actively resists British rule, with many residents refusing to use the official name “Londonderry.”
In the past few years, rebellion in Derry has become more organized, with collective uprisings against the police as well as the targeting of enemies of the people like drug dealers. Last July, a week-long riot employed AK-47s, grenades, and dozens of molotov cocktails against police.
This month’s attack coincides with the Parliament of the United Kingdom (UK) deliberating on how or whether it will exit the European Union, following the 2016 referendum commonly known as “Brexit.” Unless a dramatic change of course is made, the imperialist country is set to isolate itself from the rest of Europe on March 29, 2019.
Once that happens, the UK will likely exit the EU’s Customs Union and the European Single Market, carrying implications for the imperialist border surrounding occupied Northern Ireland. Imperialists like former US Secretary of State John Kerry have speculated that a resulting “hard border” could mean a return to the rebellious times of the Troubles.
The possibility of reinforced militarized checkpoints on the border has little bearing on the revolutionary momentum of the Irish anti-imperialist struggle. The national oppression of Ireland by the British can only be imposed for so long before the rage of the masses boils over.