Assembly must secure Jobs for Ballymena

Ballymena Jobs RallyThe Workers Party is supporting the Ballymena Jobs Rally and is adding its voice to those calling for a secure employment future for the area.

In particular we are calling on the Assembly to launch a co-ordinated and resourced investment strategy, a centrally planned job creation programme and real, secure and well paid jobs the Ballymena and wider Antrim area.

That is a task that must be taken on by the Assembly – not left to the whim of the private sector.

The Assembly has bent over backwards to reduce corporation tax for big businesses and is prepared to pay for that by slashing university places and the skills and training budget.

Northern Ireland needs a highly skilled and qualified workforce but the Assembly would rather give tax breaks to the rich than invest in  young peoples’ futures and secure well paid employment.

The Workers Party has said consistently that only a programme of public investment will turn the economy around and provide the jobs that will sustain and develop it.

Integrated Education deliberately sidelined

Minister O'Dowd has deliberately run down the integrated education sector

Minister O’Dowd has deliberately run down the integrated education sector – says Gemma Weir

‘The inescapable fact is that integrated education has been deliberately sidelined by Minister O’Dowd and the Sinn Fein / DUP Coalition’, says North Belfast Workers Party representative Gemma Weir.

While welcoming the Review of Integrated Education announced this week, Ms Weir has blamed Minister O’Dowd for deliberately running down the integrated education sector on his watch. He has been Education Minister since 2011

‘The Minister cannot complain that the ‘growth of the sector has slowed in the last decade’ when he has been the Minister for more than half that period’ said Gemma.

‘Nor can he ignore the fact that his department is specifically required by the Good Friday Agreement to encourage and facilitate the development of integrated education, but he has spectacularly failed to do so’, added Gemma

‘The Sinn Fein /DUP Coalition has deliberately sought to substitute and promote a ‘shared’ education agenda which is little more than a political fig leaf to justify the continued segregation of our children into religious and political tribes and offers no alternative to those parents who want more for their children’, Gemma said.

This Review must clearly prioritise the role of Integrated Education, reject the bogus concept of ‘shared education’ and set out a robust implementation programme.  The alternative would be to settle for the meaningless rhetoric of ‘reconciliation and sharing’ rather than setting about implementing radical and meaningful educational change’, Gemma concluded

Confronting racism in South Belfast

There can be no room for racists and no room for racism

There can be no room for racists and no room for racism

Lily Kerr, Workers Party South Belfast representative, has called for support for the local Romanian community and a public commitment to stamp out racism in the area.

Her call comes after the latest racist attack in which a local man had his car set on fire outside his home.

“It is vitally important that community and political opinion in south Belfast is focused on halting these attacks and in securing a welcoming, inclusive and supportive society”, Lily said

“There is a longer term problem to address and I am currently seeking ways  of working with others on a number of anti-racism initiatives. However, the immediate impact of these attacks can be addressed by providing the PSNI with the information they need to secure arrests and convictions”, Lily said.

“Withholding information about racist attacks tells those involved that the community is prepared to let them get away with it. We must all clearly demonstrate that that is not the case”, she said.

“There must be no room for racists and no room for racism”, Lily concluded

Lurgan violence ‘an assault on the community’

Recent violence an assault on the community

Recent violence an assault on the community

Damien Harte, Workers Party representative in the Upper Bann constituency, has condemned the recent violence in the Lurgan area as “pointless, destructive and a blatant attack on the community”.

Speaking after several days of disruption caused by suspect devices on the Belfast – Dublin railway line, petrol bombing, rioting and armed attacks on the police Damien said,

“…there is absolutely no justification for the events which have unfolded in recent days. The community has been disrupted, working people have been intimidated,  property has been destroyed and guns have been brought onto the streets”.

” There was never any justification for this type of behaviour there is certainly none now. Those who orchestrated these assaults are  bankrupt – politically and morally. They have nothing to offer, no contribution to make and deal only in death and destruction. They are neither needed nor wanted”.

“They need to hear that message loud and clear and repeatedly from the community right across this area” Damien said.

 

South Belfast Foodbanks

Foodbank

South Belfast has the highest daily use of foodbanks

Lily Kerr, the Party’s South Belfast representative, has highlighted the high level of dependency on foodbanks in the constituency and has called for  a strategic response to child poverty, lack of investment and health inequalities

Foodbanks                                      “South Belfast  has the highest daily average use of foodbanks in Northern Ireland – according to figures from the Trussel Trust the charity which operates the foodbank network.

This figure will almost certainly rise as a result of the cuts to benefits under the welfare reforms agreed by the Stormont Executive”, Lily said.

“While foodbanks bring much needed immediate relief for hungry people, there is a real danger that they will come to be seen as a normal response to hunger in Northern Ireland”, she added.

Investment and strategy                                                                                 “What is needed now”, said Lily, “is the introduction of the Living Wage, an overarching strategy to tackle child poverty , a public sector programme for building much needed affordable social  housing and investment in our health and social services to improve health  outcomes and tackle health inequalities.

 

Zero Hours contracts – no place in our employment practice

Alliance party won't outlaw them

Alliance Party won’t outlaw them

The Party’s North Belfast representative, Gemma Weir, has condemned the continued use of zero hours contracts and the Alliance Party’s support for them.

Around 30,000 people in Northern Ireland, many of them from North Belfast, are currently employed on Zero Hours Contracts.

“Despite the fact that these ‘contracts’ don’t guarantee any certainty of work, any guaranteed level of weekly pay and disregard a multitude of employment rights, the Assembly wants to keep them as a major feature of employment practice”, Gemma said.

 Alliance won’t outlaw them                                                                  “Alliance Minister for Employment, Stephen Farry, has refused to do away with zero hours contracts arguing instead that an outright ban would have “a disproportionate impact upon flexibility within the economy”.

That’s a lot easier to say when you are in full time employment and drawing a Ministerial salary than it is if you don’t know how much work you have from one week to the next or if you have no guaranteed level of regular earnings to pay your bills or plan for your future”, said Gemma

Low wage                                                                                                 “Northern Ireland is being marketed worldwide as a low wage economy. Zero hours contracts erode employment rights, devalue employees and foster uncertainty and insecurity.

Zero hours contracts have no place in our employment practice and the Alliance Party has no right to use its Minister to protect them”, Gemma concluded.

 

Magenniss’s legacy overshadowed

Alban Gemma1

Legacy overshadowed by attitudes to marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose – Weir

Workers Party representative in North Belfast, Gemma Weir, has wished Alban Magenniss well following his announcement that he will not be standing again in next May’s Assembly elections.

“I wish Alban well”, Gemma said. “For over three decades he has been an elected representative and a strong advocate for civil liberties and social justice.”

“Unfortunately this did not extend to supporting a woman’s right to choose, nor did he recognise the rights of same sex couples to legal and social equality,” Gemma noted.

“Despite his long record as a public representative in this area, Alban’s legacy will be forever overshadowed by his opposition to the Marie Stopes Clinic, to a women’s right to choose and by his refusal to support marriage equality in Northern Ireland”, Gemma concluded.

Bombing Syria is not the solution

Syria-1

Bombing Syria is no solution

David Cameron has now got the  war he wanted. That war and intervention in Syria are clearly the agenda of the US, the EU and NATO.

The MPs who voted for war should now be prepared to ponder the consequences of  civilian deaths and  injuries, the destruction of Syria, the mass displacement of peoples, the escalation of war in the region and the inevitable retaliatory actions on British streets.

The lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have not been learnt. US, NATO and UK interventions and bombings  are no solution.

The US has bombed Syria since September 2014 in violation of international law and with limited impact on terrorist groups.The UK parliament’s decision to join in the bombing in Syria will make little additional impact on  Islamic State forces but will contribute to the alternative agenda – the overthrow of the Syrian  Government.

What would make a difference to the capacity of Islamic State forces would be to cut off its sources of funding  halt its sale of oil , its supply of weapons and to expose the support it receives from a number of countries including the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

DON’T BOMB SYRIA PROTEST

Saturday 5 December 3pm Belfast City Hall

 

 

Party welcomes High Court ruling

RTCThe Workers Party has welcomed this morning’s High Court Ruling that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland is in breach of human rights law but has expressed regret that this decision had to come through the courts rather than via  the Assembly.
 
“As a society we must support a woman’s right to choose and recognise that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices. This is fundamental to any reasonable concept of gender equality”, the Party statement said.

‘Reclaim the Night’

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Party members march to ‘Reclaim the Night’

Several hundred people marched though Belfast city centre on Saturday evening  to high light late night violence against women, in particular, the LGBT community and others.

The ‘Reclaim the Night’ movement started almost forty years ago and is now a world wide camapign. Saturday night’s march in Belfast was designed to raise awareness on street harassment and gender violence and was part of the United Nations campaign for  16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

For more information on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence click:

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism

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