The 2011 winter school addressed through lecture, discussion and workshop the following themes:

• The bail outs and the end of the European project.
• The state of the Union.
• Sectarianism and the legacy of a divided class.
• Worker-led alternatives to capitalism.
• Green capitalism and the end of growth.
• The global attack on workers rights

Dr John Barry – Centre for Progressive Economics
Professor Peadar Kirby – University of Limerick
John Hendy QC
Dr Eileen Fegan – Lecturer in law
Professor Keith Ewing – King’s College London
Peter Bunting- Ass Gen Sec, ICTU
Michelle Brown– Community Activist
Dr Conor McCabe-Historian And Author
Bill Kelly – Meitheal Midwest
Dr Duncan Morrow – Community Relations Council
Tommy McKearney – Independent Workers Union
Dr Nat O’Connor – An Tasc
Tom  Healy – ICTU Economic Research Unit
Dr John Karamichas – QUB School of Sociology

The economic collapse of 2008 brought the world to the edge of economic and social catastrophe; the worst effects of the collapse were prevented by the nationalisation of the banking debts and the single largest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in human history.  As the entire global financial system races towards another major crisis what is the response of the Conservative led coalition, The Fine Gael led collation and the local Executive?  Apparently, more of the same.

In Northern Ireland, a dysfunctional economic region riven with deep structural sectarianism and a dangerous legacy of forty years of conflict, the answer has been to accept with little opposition, massive cuts to public services in return for a proposed reduction in corporation tax, which in turn could further reduce the block grant by £400 million. And this with absolutely no guarantee that a reduced corporation tax will lead to increased tax revenues.  Not so much risking £400 million, as throwing it away and all for a bankrupt economic dogma.

The 2011 Trademark winter school in partnership with the Centre for Progressive Economics offered grass roots activists an opportunity to investigate an alternative, progressive economics in the company of a range of left economists, labour activists and social policy researchers working in universities, the labour movement,  NGO’s and Co-operatives. The school sought to question the orthodox economic consensus that dominates public debate and sought to ensure that a critical and alternative perspective was heard a the event.

Betty Sinclair

Betty Sinclair was born into a working-class Protestant family in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast in 1910. Active in the outdoor relief protests in 1932 she was a founding member of the Communist Party of Ireland in 1933. She was secretary of the Belfast and District Trade Union Council from 1947 to 1975.  Betty was the Trades Council’s representative at talks which founded the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in 1967, serving as its first Chairperson. She died in 1981. The 2011 winter school marked the thirtieth anniversary of her death and celebrated her contribution to the labour and trade union movement in Ireland.