Can the ‘Left’ solve Ireland’s problems

Line Up(1)

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.

Weir tells Wilson – ‘Withdraw your remarks and apologise’

breastfeeding_Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has told East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson to withdraw his remarks about breastfeeding being ‘voyeuristic and exhibitionist’ and to publicly apologise for his comments.

‘Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby and nothing to be ashamed of. With breastfeeding rates in the UK among the lowest in the world  Mr Wilson’s comments are offensive, and ill-informed and  do nothing to promote and highlight the benefits for both mum and baby,’ Gemma said’

‘Sammy Wilson and others who hold similar views can be dismissed as outdated and prudish, but their underlying agenda is one which seeks to tell women what they can do, how they can do it and of course where they can do it’, Gemma added.

‘The choice of how to feed your baby is for each mother to decide but if that choice is to breastfed their baby then they should be supported and encouraged as all the research shows’, she said.

‘Sammy Wilson must withdraw his remarks, publicly apologise and understand the effect these kinds of remarks have on breastfeeding mums and mums to be’, Gemma concluded.

The UK has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding:

Rates of breastfeeding in the UK are amongst the lowest in the world

More information on the benefits of breastfeeding from NHS Choices:

NHS Choices_Benefits of breastfeeding

 

Show your faces and explain yourselves – says Bailie

Chris Bailie

‘Identify yourselves and justify your actions’ Bailie

Local Workers Party representative Chris Bailie has condemned the threats made against Housing Executive contractors in the New Lodge area and has challenged those responsible to say who they are, explain exactly what they are threatening and what they think it will achieve.

“Despite ceasefires,  The Good Friday and other agreements and an unambiguous rejection of violence by an overwhelming majority of people here, there are still  some people who lurk in the shadows, threaten violence, disrupt the community and attempt to terrorise working people.
I am calling on them  to publicly identify themselves and justify their actions. The reality is that they won’t because there is no justification for what they do. Neither is there any support. As with other forms of violent actions and threats  a united community response which rejects these people once and for all is the best and only lasting response”, Chris said

A woman’s right to choose

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Party members take part in the ‘Rally for Choice’

‘Rally for Choice’

Northern Ireland is still dominated by socially conservative voices and  they are having an adverse and traumatising effect on local women. That was the clear message  as thousands of people marched though Belfast yesterday demanding legislation which would secure a woman’s right to have choices and control of her own fertility.

 
The Workers Party recognises that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices. We highlighted the introduction of a ‘Woman’s Right to Choose’ legislation as one of the ten priorities the new Assembly should address in it’s first 100 days.
 
The Party also supports a full programme of secular sex education for schools, free access to contraception, proper health and social care for pregnant women, including specialist care for those women who chose to carry to  term pregnancies where fatal foetal abnormalities are present, the provision of appropriate free and quality child care facilities and adequate support for single and low income parents. 
 

Ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed’ – Pilger

John Pilger

John Pilger

The media reaction and analysis of the successful leave vote in the EU referendum has been interesting. Apparently to whole point of having a referendum is to have another one if you don’t like the result.

Leave voters have been accused of being responsibility for an increase in racist attacks, for being small minded and of being anti European.

Local political reaction has been similarly alarming. Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein  have blamed ‘English nationalists’ for the Leave result. Seems that nationalism is OK as long as it’s Irish.

There is of course another and more grounded reason why the leave vote won: millions of ordinary people simply rejected the political and economic direction of the European Union.

The European Union serves the interests of big business, multinational corporations and the financial institutions. Its policies have made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Journalist John Pilger’s article sheds some light on the real issues and the real reasons why the majority of people voted leave.

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy

Working people reject the EU project

Euro-Ballot

A rejection of the political and economic direction of the EU

The Workers Party has welcomed the outcome of the EU Referendum and has said that it is a clear demonstration that working people have rejected the political and economic direction of the European Union despite attempts to deliberately confuse and sidetrack the debate.

“The European Union serves the interests of big business, multinational corporations and the financial institutions.

Its policies have made the rich richer and the poor poorer,” Party President Michael Donnelly said. .

” The vote to Leave represents a rejection of that philosophy. We are still very much a part of Europe and will continue to have close relationships at all levels but we can now do so free of the  anti- worker strictures of the EU institutions,” Micheal concluded

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