‘Local austerity is home grown’ conference hears

Sinn Fein and DUP lead the home grown austerity drive

Sinn Fein and DUP lead the home grown austerity drive

The role of the Executive parties in implementing a home-grown austerity programme has been highlighted at the Workers Party’s annual conference in Dublin this weekend.

Delegates heard that the most damaging cuts in Northern Ireland have been engineered by the five Executive parties who, along with the business community, have campaigned for a reduction in Corporation Tax: something which even the Tories did not propose.

To offset the cost of lowering Corporation Tax for big business, Sinn Féin, the DUP, SDLP, Alliance Party and Ulster Unionists, are taking 20,000 jobs out of the public sector and are significantly reducing public spending on education, public transport, the community and voluntary sector and the arts.

They propose to  make up the shortfall by selling off public assets like the Belfast Harbour Estate.

These are not Tory Cuts – they are the price the people of Northern Ireland are paying for tax give aways to big companies and they are being paid for  by working people and their families and by cuts in public services and jobs.

People want a rapid humanitarian response

Refugees Welcome

Refugees Welcome

Party representative in Upper Bann, Damien Harte has asked the local Council to set out its plans for welcoming refugees to the Borough.

“Currently there are plans for to receive as few as 50 to 100 refugees and asylum seekers across Northern Ireland by Christmas.  There is a very clear ground swell of popular support welcoming for refugees,” Damien said.

“We have witnessed civic society showing leadership and playing its part.  People have been collecting essential supplies for distribution.  We cannot and will not let this support be lost.

Safe and secure

“We need Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to follow the lead of local people.  We need to know how many people will be welcomed into the Borough and we need to know  that they will have  safe and secure accommodation and access to a full range of support”, added Damien

“I am also urging the Assembly at Stormont to take a lead and, working with all the relevant statutory agencies, expedite the settling of these vulnerable people, so that they may continue their lives”.

Stop the bombing

While it is important that we respond quickly and comprehensively at a local and regional level we must also address the root causes of the problem and the reasons why so many thousands of people have fled across international borders. Only an end to the US and NATO interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq which have provoked the current crisis can do that,” Damien concluded.

Party supporting Care Homes Campaign

Care home closures are Stormont cuts

Care home closures are Stormont cuts

Party members  joined the public rally at Stormont earlier this week to protest about plans to close up to 12 care homes across Northern Ireland.

The protest, organised by ‘Friends of Care Homes’ and supported by trade union UNISON –  was held to held  to lobby MLAs for their support in opposing  plans to close all NHS residential care homes.

Party representative Lily Kerr said,”This has nothing to do with improved care for older people. These are the financially driven decisions  – not of the Tories at Westminster – but of MLAs at Stormont’.

Party support for residential homes

Party pledges support for residential homes

Chris Bailie and Lily Kerr with UNISON  representatives campaigning against home closures

The Workers Party has pledged its support for the campaign to keep two Belfast NHS residential care homes open. Pine Lodge in the east of the city and Chestnut Grove in north Belfast are among ten homes across Northern Ireland being considered for closure under proposals contained in the ‘Transforming Your Care’ document.

Party representatives Lily Kerr and Christopher Bailie  said Party members would be joining the demonstration at Stormont on September 28th to demand a reversal of the closure plans.

‘It is very important that we remember why these homes have been targeted for closure’ , Lily said. ‘It is because they are seen as a quick an easy way to save money.

This has nothing to do with improved care for older people. These are the financially driven decisions  – not of the Tories at Westminster – but of MLAs at Stormont’, Lily said.

‘GPs should be NHS employees’, says Kerr

Support for USPCA

Lily Kerr: Problems in Primary Care  must be faced

Workers Party spokesperson Lily Kerr has said that GPs becoming NHS employees, instead of private contractors, would improve the service, reduce waiting times and address many of the problems currently faced in primary care.

‘The College of General Practitioners is calling for more funding, warning about the shortage of GPs and pointing out the age profile of existing GPs. This situation also has a knock on effect for A&E departments – hence the long waits’, Lily said

‘GPs consider themselves to be the solution to many of the current problems and argue that if funding was increased there would be shorter waiting times for appointments and more flexible opening hours.’ she said

‘But these issues were all supposed to be part of ‘Transforming Your Care’ , the plans for re-organising health and care services, yet none of it has happened. And the people Northern Ireland, who have some of the highest levels of deprivation and health inequalities in the UK, are left to suffer, she added.

‘This is not acceptable’, Lily said. ‘There is no reason why some of these solutions cannot be put in place now. A large part of the problem with the shortage of GPs may be because they are not a part of the Health Service, but independent contractors. Many of those seeking a career in General Practice may not be able to buy in to practices. The real issues here should be tackled head on and they should become employees like everyone else in the service’, Lily concluded.

Assembly crisis: fundamental changes needed

Only fundamental changes to the Assembly will end the cycle of crises

Only fundamental changes to the Assembly will end the cycle of crises

The Workers Party’s support for a devolved administration in Northern Ireland is well known and long standing. We believe it to be the best means of governance for the people of Northern Ireland.

This position comes from our democratic principles and recognition of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. But the Assembly is not delivering for the people of Northern Ireland.

The details of the current crisis maybe unique, but the causes are not.

Sectarian structures

A major reason for this is that the Assembly is built on the existence, acceptance and accommodation of sectarianism and sectarian structures and societal practices which are evident in almost all areas of life.

Only fundamental changes will avoid the cycle of crises the Assembly has produced since 1998.

The Party is proposing five major changes to the way in which the Assembly works

 Click here for the full statement on the Assembly crisis

‘Refugees Welcome’ rallies

US and NATO attacks the root cause of the refugee crisis

US and NATO attacks the root cause of the refugee crisis

Three rallies organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Amnesty International have been held in Northern Ireland, the biggest outside the Belfast City Hall.

Addressing the crowd, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said:

“We’re facing the biggest test of our humanity in decades – to date David Cameron and the UK government have failed badly.  It’s time for the UK to accept its fair share of people fleeing war and persecution. We can only solve this crisis with co-operation and solidarity across Europe”.

In supporting the rallies the Workers Party also highlighted the root causes of the problem and called for an end to the US and NATO interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq which have provoked the current crisis.

‘Shared’ is not Integrated

Integrated Education: a commitment in the Good Friday Agreement

Integrated Education: a commitment in the Good Friday Agreement

Workers Party representative in North Belfast, Gemma Weir, has criticised both the Assembly’s Education Committee and its report into ‘Shared and Integrated Education’.

Sustaining division

‘The Good Friday Agreement was very clear that the Assembly had a responsibility to ‘…facilitate and encourage integrated education…’ Today’s report thumbs its nose at that commitment and seeks to substitute integrated education for a shared model based on a ‘separate but equal’ approach’, she said.

‘Shared education sustains division’ Gemma said. ‘It is firmly embedded in ‘two communities’ politics and does nothing to bring about a truly integrated society’.

 Invisible ‘peace’  walls

‘North Belfast has two of the best integrated schools in Northern Ireland which cater for the abilities of all of their pupils by providing religious integration and comprehensive education. Promoting shared education instead of integrated education is akin to building invisible ‘peace’ walls between yet another generation of our school children’, Gemma added.

‘Shared Education is nothing 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’, she said.

Independent Commission 

‘It is quite clear that the future of education in Northern Ireland is too important to leave in the hands of the Assembly. Only an independent commission can properly assess and report on how we can progressively reform our current failed structures’, concluded Gemma.

Racist graffiti removed

No room for racsim

No room for racsim

Racist and anti immigrant graffiti daubed on walls in west Belfast has been removed by local members of the Workers Party.

Party member Joanne Lowry explained.

‘Local residents contacted Party members when they saw the graffiti on Monday morning. It was racist, extremely offensive and completely contrary to the view of the local community which has been outspoken in its support for the refugees currently struggling to find sanctuary and safety’ Joanne said.

‘We quickly organised  a team to paint over the offending slogans and contacted the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to discuss arrangements for its complete removal’, she added.

‘West Belfast is a warm and welcoming community, so it is very important that we let everyone  know that we have  no time  for racists and no room for racism. The prompt response to this incident and the outrage it has caused amongst the local community has been very heartening’ said Joanne



US and NATO responsible for refugee crisis

Lily Kerr address the Belfast Rally

Lily Kerr address the Belfast Rally

Workers Party members joined with other concerned groups and citizens outside the offices of the European Union in Belfast this afternoon to demonstrate solidarity with the thousands of people, families and young children who are fleeing from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and beyond and seeking sanctuary and a new life in Europe.

The horrendous scenes of the past few weeks and the vicious responses of most European governments – from razor wire fences to corralling people in camps, to turning their backs on those is need of shelter, food and clothing – have galvanised those who want open borders, humanitarian responses and an end to the US and NATO led attacks which are responsible for the current crisis.

The demonstration in Belfast, addressed by Workers Party representative Lily Kerr,  was the first of a number planned for the coming week and just one of thousands of rallies held across Europe today.


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