Integrated Education : ‘We need an Independent Commission’

Weir & Bailie on Integrated Education

Weir & Bailie on Integrated Education

Workers Party representatives in North Belfast Gemma Weir and Chris Bailie say the time is right for an Independent Commission on integrated education.

Their comments come after the publication of a newspaper poll of young people in which over 80% of respondents said that integrated education was important for the future.

“The poll results are in stark contrast to the position of most of the main political parties and to our segregated education system”, they said.


Assembly out of touch

‘The very high percentage of young people who recognise the importance of integrated education and the findings of another recent survey which found that 83% of parents believe integrated education is a vital part of creating a shared future in Northern Ireland, shows just how out of touch the Executive and the Assembly are on this issue”, Gemma and Chris said.

‘The main political parties here are failing to give the people of Northern Ireland what they overwhelmingly want. At the moment fewer than seven per cent of our children are educated in the integrated sector’

‘Clearly this is an area which the main parties at Stormont do not wish to address. An Independent Commission should now be tasked with the responsibility of mapping out an Integrated Education Strategy’, concluded Gemma and Chris

Racism is wrong – and so is McNarry

No 'ifs' no 'buts' - racism is wrong

No ‘ifs’ no ‘buts’ – racism is wrong

“There can be absolutely no justification, no ifs and no buts: racism is wrong,” Kevin McNally, Workers Party local government candidate in East Belfast has said.

“The posters which have appeared in the east Belfast area are racist and they are dangerous. It is important that they, and the people who produced them, are condemned without reservation and that anyone who does seek to justify them is confronted and denounced”, Kevin said.

“David McNarry and his contemptible attempts at justification are a case in point. Racism, racist comments and racist posters can never be justified. Mr McNarry is a disgrace”, he said.

“Every candidate standing for election next month should publically declare their opposition to racism ahead of polling day”, Mr McNally said. “I have signed up to the Workers Party Anti-Racist Charter and I would encourage others to do likewise.

“I will be sending David McNarry a copy to sign and giving him the chance to redeem himself. In the meantime he should withdraw his remarks and state publically and unambiguously that racism is wrong and that it has no place in our society”, Mr McNally concluded

Belfast’s radical tradition acknowledged

Kevin McNally & Paddy Lynn crossing the Sam Thompson Bridge

Candidates Paddy Lynn & Kevin McNally crossing the Sam Thompson Bridge

On what was a rare occasion in Belfast, a part of the city’s great radical tradition was recognised and celebrated with the opening of the Sam Thompson Bridge in East Belfast.

Thompson was a trade unionist, a playwright and a member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party. He was a life long campaigner against sectarianism and is probably best remembered for his 1960s play ‘Over the Bridge’.

Belfast’s radical tradition and those who contribute to it are too often ignored or marginalised. The opening of a bridge named after Sam Thompson is a welcome departure from that.

Amongst the many thousands marking the occasion were Party representatives and local government candidates Kevin McNally (Titanic Ward, East Belfast) and Paddy Lynn ( Central Ward, South Belfast).

The Sam Thompson Bridge is part of the £35 million Greenway linear park project in the east of the city and links Victoria Park with the Titanic Quarter.


Assembly must act to safeguard jobs

Assembly must act to save jobs

TELETECH: Assembly must act to save jobs

Chris Bailie and Gemma Weir, Workers Party representatives in North Belfast have called on Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to act quickly to secure alternative employment for the 197 employees of Teletech currently facing redundancy.

“We need the same kind of intervention that was made to support the employees of KPL the  Dungiven based firm which collapsed in February”, Chris argued.

“The redundancies at Teletech take effect in just under two month’s time”, Gemma said “Invest NI and the Enterprise Department must act decisively to secure these jobs, retain the skills in the North Belfast area and demonstrate that the Assembly is capable of making positive interventions in the local economy”, she added.

“This cannot be allowed to become just another economic statistic. Government provides support for the banks and tax incentives for start-up companies, the same level of commitment must be shown to secure the jobs of the Teletech workers”, concluded Chris and Gemma

Party calls for a Living Wage

1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living

1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living

Northern Ireland has significantly higher levels of low pay than any other UK region and low pay is of most concern in sectors of the economy that are growing. This level of low pay is a serious threat to the domestic economy and any chance of recovery.

That is one of the main findings of a research report prepared by the The Nevin Economic Research Institute which also finds that 17% of workers are officially classified as low paid (115,000) that 9% (61,000) earn only the National Minimum Wage or less and that 1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living.

Poverty trap

The National Minimum Wage (currently £6.31 per hour) is not enough to live on. Many working families have to rely on tax credits and other benefits to compensate for low pay.Despite the introduction of a new ‘Living Wage’ scheme in England, Scotland and Wales the Assembly in Northern Ireland has made no moves in that direction.

Glasgow Council is one of many local government authorities to have introduced the £7.65 living wage for all its employees.

An hourly Living Wage of at £7.65 in Northern Ireland would help thousands of local people to start moving away from the poverty trap, reduce the cost of top-up benefits, put more money into the local economy and help encourage people back into work.

There are around 170,000 working people in Northern Ireland who receive less than that.


The Workers Party hascalled on the Finance Minister to introduce legislation at the Assembly to allow all local authorities and public sector organisations here to pay their employees the Living Wage rate.We are also demanding that a Living Wage clause is written in to all contracts with private sector companies delivering public projects.

Steps to introduce a Living Wage in Northern Ireland should be quickly followed by a planned programme to address poverty and the working poor using state and public assets to deliver economic change in Northern Ireland. Cuts and austerity are not the answer.






Sectarian headcounts make housing crisis worse

Chris Bailie: housing crisis in North Belfast

Chris Bailie: housing crisis in North Belfast

Workers Party representative in the Oldpark area, Chris Bailie, has rounded on local politicians and individuals who he says have made North Belfast’s housing crisis worse by their nakedly sectarian approach to the problem and their blatant disregard for those in need of a home and those seeking improved housing conditions”

“There is a housing crisis in North Belfast”, Chris said “Waiting lists are growing and not enough homes are being built. Much of the existing housing stock is in need of urgent upgrading”

“Yet there are no serious plans to address these problems let alone make serious inroads to tackling them”, he said.

“Many local politicians and a number of individuals see this housing crisis solely in terms of a sectarian headcount. They are much more interested in making sure that ‘the other side’ don’t get houses rather than supporting a comprehensive house building and repair programme for the north Belfast area,” protested Chris.

“The Girdwood Barracks proposals are an unfortunate example of a blatant sectarian carve up. The DUP and Sinn Fein want a segregated housing development in which there are no winners with a ‘community hub’ between the two. That is nothing more than a designer Peace Wall”, he said.

“The right to a home is a basic human right. Unfortunately it is a right increasingly denied to a growing number of people in north Belfast because sectarian head counting has become more important than building houses.” concluded Chris.

Party Newsletter

Cover Mar- Apr

What type of society do we really want?


The latest edition of the Party newsletter leads with the questi0n ‘What type of society do we really want’?  directly challenging the sterile  politics of unionism and nationalism, sectarianism and flags.

What we urgently need, it is argued,  is a real discussion about the type of society we live in and the kind of values it upholds.

There are also calls for the introduction of  a Living Wage in Northern Ireland, a public inquiry into the crisis in health and social care services and proposals for a Community Charter Against Racism.

Read an online  copy of the March /April  edition here:

WP Newsletter March_April 2014

International Womens Day

Joanne Lowry (centre) at the screening of 'Mother Jones'

Joanne Lowry (centre) at the screening of ‘Mother Jones’

“What is it like being a woman in Northern Ireland today”?  That was one of the questions posed at a Workers Party event to mark International Women’s Day.

Highlight of the evening was the  screening of the film ‘Mother Jones’ – a women born in Cork but who emigrated to the United States who went on to be a trade union organiser who was once dubbed ‘the most dangerous woman in America’.

A post film discussion focused on women in Northern Ireland society, what still needs to be achieved and the obstacles which have to be overcome.

The full emancipation of women cannot be achieved within the current social system and that full freedom for women will only be achieved in a socialist society.

The Party also issued a  statement to mark International Women’s Day highlighting the minimum steps which need to be taken by the Assembly to secure women’s position in Northern Ireland society.  See: What is the Assembly doing for women?

Read more about Mother Jones:

Racism needs a united response

There is no room for racism: Weir

There is no room for racism: Weir

Workers  Party representative Gemma Weir  has called for united community response to the  recent spate of racist attacks in the north Belfast area. Her comments come  following an attack on a house in the Moyntcollyer area on Friday evening in which a window was  broken and racist graffiti  daubed on the walls.

“This  is the second racist attack on north Belfast residents in the past few weeks.  Cars were burnt and damaged in the Whitewell area last week and now we have  another attack only a few miles away”, said Gemma.

United community response

“Racism  is wrong. There is no room for it in our society and it must be met with a  determined and united community response. It  is important that everyone condemns these attacks without reservation and that  anyone who does seek to justify them is confronted and denounced. A united and  actively anti-racist community response is the only way to counter these hate  crimes. The first steps in that initiative are to show support to our neighbours  and bring any and all information about these attacks to the PSNI”, Ms Weir  concluded.

Integrated education benefits from ‘Big Davy’ walk

Supporting integrated education

Supporting integrated education

More than £2,000 raised in a walk to commemorate north Belfast man Davy  Nocher – killed in a sectarian attack in October 1983 – has been presented to Hazelwood Integrated  College.

Workers Party local representatives Gemma Weir and Chris Bailey presented  the cheque to Hazelwood Principal Kathleen Gormley.

“Integrated education was a cause very close to Davy Nocher’s heart. It is  fitting that the money raised by the commemorative walk goes to support the  excellent work done by Hazelwood College over the last three decades”, said  Gemma Weir.


“The introduction of integrated education remains a Workers Party  priority”, said Chris Bailie. “We are delighted that we have been able to  demonstrate out commitment in such a tangible way and thank everyone who  supported the Cavehill Walk in memory of Davy”.

Picture: Workers Party representatives Gemma Weir and  Chris Bailie present a cheque to the Principal of Hazelwood Intergraded College,  Kathleen Gormley


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