Marching with PRIDE

Marching with PRIDE

Marching with PRIDE

Thousands of people took to the streets of Belfast this afternoon to participate and support the annual Belfast Pride festival.

The demand for the introduction of legislation to guarantee Civil Marriage Equality  was high on today’s agenda.

The overwhelming support for a ‘Yes’ vote in the recent referendum on civil marriage equality in the Republic of Ireland means that Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands where same sex marriage is not recognised.

The Workers Party supports a legal challenge to end the unlawful discrimination which sees a same sex couple married in one part of the UK but that marriage not recognised in Northern Ireland.

A referendum would carry no legal obligation and it is unlikely, given its track record, that the Assembly will use it’s powers to introduce the necessary legislation. The size, mood and support given to today’s PRIDE march further underlines the fact that the attitudes of the main political parties in Northern Ireland are fundamentalist, conservative and out of touch.

Investment in education and training – not tax breaks

The Assembly must invest in education and skills

The Assembly must invest in education and skills

Workers Party representative in Upper Bann, Damien Harte, has criticised the short sightedness of the Assembly’s  economic strategy saying that it is more likely to lose jobs than it is to either create or attract them.

Damien was speaking following the announcement by Craigavon pharmaceutical company Almac that it was unlikely to be able to recruit up to 300 new staff locally because there were simply not enough people with the relevant qualifications.

“The Assembly is bending 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, he said.

“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. This is short sightedness in the extreme” Damien said.

“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, That investment must start with securing the education, training and skills to allow young people to apply for the jobs such as those being planned by Almac”, Damien concluded

Celebrate with Pride

Proud to be part of Pride

Proud to be part of Pride

To mark the Belfast Pride Festival 2015 the Party will be hosting ‘Celebrate with Pride’ – a panel discussion on the current challenges facing the LGBT community in Northern Ireland .

The panel will include:

Sophie Long – academic researcher at Queen’s University and a member of the LGBT community

Mickey Murray – LGBT activist

Sean Og Garland, Party member and LGBT activist, and

Niall Dunne – Republic of Ireland Same Sex Marriage Referendum campaigner

Date: Thursday 30 July

Time: 8pm

Venue: Lower Falls Social  Club, Grosvernor Road, Belfast.

Humanitarian crisis continues in Gaza

 

Gaza still needs support and solidarity
Gaza still needs support and solidarity

The 8 July 2015 marked the first anniversary of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The 50-day conflict began when Israel launched an intense air and ground assault allegedly to end persistent rocket fire from Gaza.

Damien Harte, the  Party’s representative in Upper Bann says, “a year on and not much has changed for the people of Gaza. The fallout from war keeps knocking on their door. They still endure long electricity shortages due to widespread damage to key civilian infrastructure and reconstruction has barely begun with shortfalls in International donations. We cannot forget these people in their humanitarian struggle“.

The Upper Bann branch will be taking part in a white line picket on Edward St, Lurgan, Friday 17th July at 7pm to  send a message of solidarity to the people of Gaza.

The  Party will also continue to support and raise awareness for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement). The BDS campaign urges various forms of “non-violent punitive measures” against Israel until it “complies with the precepts of international law”.

Sectarianism has nothing to offer

Sectarianism in the Assembly plays out on the streets

Sectarianism in the Assembly plays out on the streets

Party spokesperson in East Belfast, Kevin McNally, has condemned a spate of sectarian graffiti and an attack on a memorial in the Willowfield and Newtownards Road areas.

‘This is as lamentable as it is predictable’ said Kevin ‘ as we start into another summer the same old sectarian tribalism is dragged onto our streets to heighten tensions, mark out territory and lay the groundwork for community confrontation’

‘The people behind the sectarian graffiti and the attacks have absolutely nothing positive to offer the people of east Belfast. What we are witnessing on our streets is a mirror image of the sectarian dogfight that passes as politics in the Assembly.’,  Kevin added.

‘The reality is that the ‘lead’ given by the main political parties in Northern Ireland continues to play out with potentially deadly consequences on our streets’,  Kevin concluded.

See also: https://workerspartyelection.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/workers-party-condemns-glengormley-flags-and-graffiti/

Saying ‘No’ to TTIP – Saving the NHS

Saying NO to TTIP

Saying NO to TTIP

Party members have joined with trade unionists, the Peoples NHS NI group and other concerned individuals in a protest at the European Commission office in Belfast  against the secret  transatlantic trade deal – TTIP. (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)

TTIP has its sights set on a number of public services, especially the NHS. One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies.

This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.

Under the terms of TIPP international companies and corporations would also be able to sue governments if they make public policy decisions which could harm their future profits. Regulation which currently protects people, public services and the environment could be removed.

See also: https://workerspartyelection.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/supporting-public-services/

Workers Party condemns Glengormley flags and graffiti

Tribalism and triumphalism

Tribalism and triumphalism

The Workers Party has condemned the spate of lamppost flags and graffiti which have appeared in the Glengormley / Netwownabbey areas in the past few days as

‘an attempt to raise community tensions and an extension of the sectarian campaigns waged by Sinn Fein and the DUP during the recent Westminster election campaign’

Party representative Gemma Weir said “This has nothing to do with culture or national identity. It has everything to do with tribalism, triumphalism and fomenting community conflict. ‘Given the nakedly sectarian stance of Sinn Fein and the DUP during the recent election campaign it is little wonder that we are now witnessing this type of behaviour on our streets’, she said.

‘Tribal spokesmen will attempt to justify their actions but the reality remains that this is all designed to be confrontational, territorial and sectarian’ Gemma said

‘I have been in touch with the PSNI Community policing team in the area to discuss the Workers Party concerns about increasing tensions and those discussions will be on-going. In the meantime those responsible for the graffiti and the flags on lampposts have the opportunity to reflect and draw back and I would urge them to do so’, urged Gemma.

‘These loyalist and nationalist gangs are hijacking the public space to wage their petty sectarian squabbles. They are neither wanted nor welcome’, concluded Gemma.

Civil Marriage Equality

Civil Marraige EqualityThe overwhelming support for a ‘Yes’ vote in the recent referendum on civil marriage equality in the  Republic of Ireland means  that Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands where same sex marriage is not recognised.

The Workers Party will be supporting Saturday’s rally (June 13) in support of  Civil Marriage Equality but does not believe that a referendum is the answer in Northern Ireland. Firstly the outcome of a referendum would not be legally binding, the Assembly has the power to introduce the relaxant legislation but given its recent record that is highly unlikely.

A Petition of Concern would almost certainly be used to block legislation.  Given those circumstances  only a legal challenge will end the unlawful discrimination which sees a same sex couple married in one part of the UK but that marriage not recognised in Northern Ireland.

The recent Yes vote in the Republic’s referendum marked a sea change in people’s  attitudes and opinions and a thirst for further social change. That social revolution and the desire for change is also increasingly evident in Northern Ireland.

However, the attitudes of the main political parties in Northern Ireland are fundamentalist, conservative and out of touch. Saturday will be an important day in demonstrating just how out of touch they are.

Racism condemned

Racist graffiti in Prtadown

Racist graffiti in Portadown

Workers Party Upper Bann representative, Damien Harte, has strongly condemned a series of racist graffiti attacks in the Portadown area.

‘This type of racist abuse serves only to intimidate and create fear and divisions within the community. We must all be very clear about our response – there must be no room for racists and no room for racism’ Damien said.

‘The immediate impact of these attacks can be addressed by providing the PSNI with the information they need to secure arrests and conviction. Racially motivated crimes in Northern Ireland have been on the rise. According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), in the 12 months to June 2014 racist incidents rose by 36%, from 830 to 1,132. In the same period, racist crimes increased by 51%, from 525 to 796″.

‘There is a longer term problem to address but 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’, added Damien

Community Transport cuts in Craigavon / Banbridge

Transport cuts will have devastating impact on the most vulnerable

Transport cuts will have devastating impact on the most vulnerable

The Workers Party representative  in  Upper Bann, Damien Harte,  has described the  scale and scope of cuts to local community transport services as “…an abominable crime against the most vulnerable in society”

The cuts will impact on the most vulnerable and will greatly increase the potential for further social exclusion and isolation throughout the Craigavon & Banbridge area.

‘In real terms, the 28% cut to the budget available for rural and urban services equates to around 650 journeys per month. The shocking impact of these cuts is that we are now witnessing vulnerable people including older people and people with disabilities losing their only independent access to specialised transport and access to essential services’ , Damien said.

‘The  Workers Party has been quite clear about its opposition to austerity. We offer solidarity to those affected and their families and will be lobbying to reverse this cold, cruel and disproportionate attack on the most vulnerable  members of our community”, added Damien  

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