The Left Response

Kevin Hanratty from the NI Human Rights Consortium addressing the conference

Kevin Hanratty from the NI Human Rights Consortium addressing the conference

The Party’s annual Northern Ireland conference has heard calls for the radical reform of Stormont, the introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, the reintroduction of the Civic Forum and stinging criticism of all the main parties in the Assembly.

Reality v Myth

Starting with a clinical assessment of the reality – as opposed to the  manufactured myth – of political, economic and social life in Northern Ireland the conference also heard the arguments for the introduction of a Bill of  Rights for Northern Ireland and the re-constitution of the Civic Forum. Both of which are specifically committed to in the Good Friday Agreement.

The Party’s submission to the Haass talks was also presented, with the failure to move beyond the tribalism of unionism and nationalism clearly pointed out:  ‘…ultimately, the continuing difficulties surrounding parades and flags are about the failed politics of the past’.

Investment, support and a Living Wage

The Party’s ‘Left Response’ to the political stalemate in Northern Ireland set out the political alternative to the neo-liberal economic agenda slavishly followed by the major parties here. It specifically called for an urgent and planned programme to address poverty and the working poor, the utilisation of state and public assets to deliver economic change and the introduction by the Assembly of a  Living Wage guarantee of at least £7.65 per hour.

The conference also welcomed a number of guest speakers including  John O’Farrell of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Kevin Hanratty of the NI Human Rights Consortium, Lynn Carvill a member of the original Civic Forum and  Peter Heathwood a commentator on victims and the past.

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