Ombudsman investigation must be ‘thorough and open’

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Ombudsman investigation must be given full support

The Workers Party has called for an open and thorough investigation in to the death of Gerard McMahon who died yesterday.

While the events surrounding Mr McMahon’s death are not yet clear, it is known that CS spray and physical restraint were both employed  during  the incident.

If CS spray is found to be the cause, or a contributory factor, in  Mr McMahon’s death or, as in the recent case of Eric Garner in New York, the method of restraint was responsible, it would be imperative  that the use of CS spray  and methods of physical restraint are revised to ensure that life is not put at risk

The Ombudsman must be given full support and access to officers, witnesses and information relating to the incident and the PSNI act on any recommendations that may be made.

The  Party extends its condolences to Mr McMahon’s family at this time.

Academic selection ‘reinforces privilege and disadvantage’

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Academic selection reinforces privilege and disadvantage

The announcement by Education Minister Peter Weir that primary schools can now coach and support pupils ahead of ‘transfer tests’ effectively confirms the formal reintroduction of academic selection at 11 years of age – despite the overwhelming evidence against such a move.

Educational disadvantage                  Reports by the United Nations and, more recently, the Iliad Report  – commissioned by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and undertaken by experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College in Belfast – repeatedly confirm that academic selection reinforces “privilege and disadvantage” and recommend the end of academic selection in Northern Ireland as a key way to reverse educational disadvantage.

All those opposed to academic selection – parents, teachers, trade unions and others – must reignite this debate and campaign not just for the reversal of this decision but the complete and final abolition of academic selection at 11.

 

Party Condemns Attack on Islamic Centre

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Community must unite against hate crimes – Kerr

Lily Kerr, Workers Party representative in  South Belfast has condemned the overnight paint attack on the Belfast Islamic Centre.

“I want to make clear my personal disgust at this hate crime”, Lily said. “The Workers Party, and the vast majority of citizens in Belfast. stands with the Islamic community in the wake of this attack .”

“There are those  who seek to foster division and create fear . In Belfast  we know only too well the  disastrous consequences which follow if they are not challenged by a united community”, said Lily

“We must stand united against threats and attacks and we must all work together to ensure a better and safer life for all those living in this city, of all religions and none,” Lily concluded.

Inclusive Economic Summit a priority

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Jobs and the skills that go with them must be protected and retained

The uncertainty which hangs over the future of a large number of jobs at Caterpillar plants in Northern Ireland  further underlines the urgent need for an inclusive economic summit to address investment, skills and training and  job creation and retention.

The anticipated job loses at Caterpillar come in the wake of lay offs at Michelin, JTI Gallahers and Bombardier.

It is clear that the Assembly has no viable economic plan or job creation programme to secure existing jobs and expand the economy.

Not only must jobs be secured and defended but the skills that go with them must be protected and retained in Northern Ireland.

Economic Summit                                                                                           It is now time for an inclusive Economic Summit  involving  the Northern Ireland Executive , the trade union movement, employers and broader civic society to address and develop an economic and job creation plan for Northern Ireland.

The alternative offered by the Assembly is to sit on its hands and watch jobs, skills and manufacturing know-how haemorrhage away’

Investment, manufacturing and job creation will not happen by chance. Nor can people rely on the private sector to provide the secure future that is required. The Assembly  has a major responsibility and a political obligation to present a co-ordinated strategic investment programme designed to address the current situation and lay the ground work for future recovery.

End of blood ban is welcome but long overdue

Blood donations

Ban was unnecessary and unjustified

The Workers Party has welcomed the  scrapping of the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland.

This announcement. while welcome, is long overdue. It is clear that there are no medical or safety grounds on which to base the biased decision. The unnecessary ban was also accompanied by expensive legal actions, funded by the Department of Health, in some cases to pursue individual religious beliefs.

Welcome and long overdue as this announcement is there are still barriers facing the LGBT community in almost  every aspect of life: in the workplace, in education, in health and social care, in the legal system in  sport and in the community.

There is much work yet to do.

 

Can the ‘Left’ solve Ireland’s problems

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Panel Line Up: Malachai O’Hara (Green Party), Gerry Grainger ( Workers Party), Eoin O’Brionn (Sinn Fein) and Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit)

A discussion at the West Belfast Festival  / Féile an Phobail  has asked ‘Can the Left solve Ireland’s problems?

The Workers Party was represented by CEC member Gerry Grainger

It is clear that just because a group or party is described (or describes itself) as “Left” does not mean that that is the case”, Gerry told an audience of almost 200 people

“Working people are confronted with rising unemployment, precarious work, a dramatic decrease in real income, increasing prices for food and the essentials of life, decreasing expenditure on health, education, housing, welfare and social services, raised retirement ages, attacks on pensions, increased levels of poverty, homelessness, hunger and emigration”, he said.

“So what can we do about that”? , Gerry asked. “We must address the immediate problems confronting the working class but we must offer permanent, sustainable solution”, he said.

Outlining what that entails Gerry said, “It means putting forward a programme of progressive demands – demands which include permanent and stable work for all, with full social insurance, working and wage protection, full occupational, health and safety measures and full trade union rights; social protection for the sick, disabled, pensioners and the unemployed; obligatory public, universal social protection; the satisfaction of health, education, welfare and housing needs, including a quality public, universal and free system of health and medical care; free, compulsory public, secular education; a reduction in the retirement age (while abolishing a default retirement age), the payment of adequate pensions; democratic rights and trade union freedoms; an end to privatisation of public assets; the maintenance of strategic sectors of the economy by the state including energy, communications, education, transportation and  environmental protection”.

PRIDE is important

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Workers Party members & supporters proud to be part of PRIDE

It’s hard to overstate the difficulties and the trauma faced by  Northern Ireland’s LGBT community over many decades. But, much has changed and changed for the better.

Even ten years ago, few would have predicted the level of support and empathy displayed in Belfast city centre today as thousands took part in the annual PRIDE parade and many thousands more turned out to cheer and show their support.

There is however a long way to go until, regardless of sexual orientation, all people in Northern Ireland can confidently regard themselves as full and equal citizens.

Marriage equality  makes the headlines, but there are many more obstacles to full and unfettered citizenship. 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, contributors to this community and have every right to expect the same level of protection.

There are still barriers to be removed in almost  every aspect of life: in the workplace, in education, in health and social care, in the legal system in  sport and in the community.

The progress which has been made and which was recognised in Belfast today must be consolidated and secured. It must also be built on and all obstacles, barriers and prejudices removed. There is much work yet to do

‘Outrage  and anger’ at treatment of Arena gym staff

Proud to support PRIDE 2016

PRIDE 2016Once again the Workers Party will be proud to support the LGBT community at the PRIDE parade on Saturday 6th August.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, contributors to this community and have every right to expect the same level of protection, support and legal safeguards as everyone else.

Throughout the year Party members have participated in rallies and demonstrations in support of marriage equality, marched against attacks on the LGBT community, participated in the Foyle PRIDE parade and presented a ‘Petition of Concern’ at DUP headquarters in protest against that party’s persistent blocking of an Assembly vote on marriage equality

Education: publicly funded and free at the point of access

University lecture theatre

Education is an investment in young people

As Queen’s University Belfast proposes increases in tuition fees Workers Party representative Lily Kerr has re-affirmed the Party’s call for an education system which is publicly funded and free at the point of access

“There is no shortage of models, variations or proposals for how third level education should be funded and there is no shortage of people, many of whom benefited from a debt free education themselves, who now wish to pull the ladder up behind them and turn education into a commodity”, Lily said.

“The Workers Party stands for a publicly funded education system, free at the point of access, free of tuition fees and free of future debt”, she said

“We see further and higher education as an investment in young people, the economy and society: not as a commodity or as a means to reclaim the public money used to bail out banks and financial institutions”, Lily concluded.

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