Community must stand against barbarism

Vicious, brutal and callous murder

Vicious, brutal and callous murder

Workers Party representative in East Belfast, Kevin McNally, has condemned lasts night’s murder in the Short Strand area as ‘vicious, brutal and callous’ and ‘a stark reminder of the agenda of some people in this society’.

“The murder of Kevin McGuigan was vicious, brutal and callous. It is an assault on the whole community ” he said.

“There are still people and groups in our society who think they can act with impunity and murder people outside their own front door. This murder is a stark reminder to us of the agenda that some people are still determined to pursue”, added Kevin.

‘There is no place in east Belfast, or elsewhere, for terrorist murderers. We must stand together and demonstrate our complete abhorrence and our total condemnation in the face of such barbarous acts. Anyone with any information, no matter how slight, should contact the PSNI to assist them in their investigation’, Kevin concluded

‘The Left Alternative to Austerity’

Joe Austin (Sinn Fein), Gemma Weir (Workers Party) and Ciaran Higgins (People Before Profit)

Joe Austin (Sinn Fein), Gemma Weir (Workers Party) and Kieran Allen (People Before Profit)

Lowering Corporation Tax and the continued use of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) to  fund public projects at huge expense have not been ruled out by Sinn Fein.

The admissions came during a discussion on ‘The Left Alternative to Austerity’ – part of the West Belfast Festival.

Workers Party representative Gemma Weir, who was one of the panelists, questioned Sinn Fein’s approach to lower corporation tax, arguing that it was yet another tax break for the rich which did not guarantee one new job.

Sinn Fein’s Joe Austin admitted that while his party wanted fiscal powers devolved they have yet to decide whether they would use those powers to lower corporation tax. He also failed to give an assurance that Sinn Fein would oppose the use of PFI funding for public projects.

PFI means that  a consortium of private sector banks and construction firms finance, own, operate and lease back schools and hospitals to the taxpayer, over a period of 30-35 years. It has been described as like ‘paying for a hospital on your credit card’.

Read Gemma’s opening remarks here: ‘Austerity _ is there a left wing alternative?

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 its 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.

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