Author Archives: workersparty.northern ireland

May Day 2017

GemmaWeirMayDay2017(2)

May Day: a time to proudly re-affirm and recommit to class based values

May Day is celebrated across the globe – and rightly so.  It is a day when working  people can not only take pride in the contribution they make to the society they live in and celebrate their links with other working people around the world, but it is also a day when we can proclaim and re-affirm our values.

For the Workers Party in Northern Ireland that means recommitting ourselves to class politics and rejecting the narrow, divisive and deadly rhetoric of nationalism in all its local forms.

It means standing up against sectarianism, racism, homophobia and misogyny.

It means actively opposing cuts to public services, tax breaks for the rich and denial of opportunities to yet another generation of young people.

It means focusing on, and providing a class based analysis of  the real issues affecting working people. It means not being sidetracked by gesture politics. smoke and mirrors and snake oil peddlers.

It means being a Workers Party for working people. There is no better day to recommit to that task than on May Day – the day of  working people and their parties world wide

Working People need a Workers Party

Westminster Vote

Our society is more divided now than it was twenty years ago

The General Election

For Northern Ireland the election on June 8th is not about leaving the European Union nor is it a re-run of the referendum.

It is an opportunity to pass judgement on the main parties at Stormont and their failure to form an Executive nearly two months after being elected.

Without doubt the major parties will seek to turn this election into another sectarian headcount. Solutions, initiatives and progress will once again be sacrificed for tribalism and division.

But sectarian head counts can only happen with the support of the electorate.

This society is more divided now than it was twenty years ago. There has been absolutely no progress towards forging a single united community of working people

There are more than 100,000 children living in poverty. Average wages are lower than ten years ago. We have the second highest level of workless households of all regions in the UK and at least 15,000 people in Northern Ireland are officially homeless.

There is a crisis in education, health and social care.  There are cutbacks to social welfare. Funding to culture, the arts and youth services have been very significantly reduced.

In every aspect of social, economic, cultural and community life working class people have been subjected to public expenditure cuts, marginalisation and exclusion.

 It is little wonder that the parties responsible want to divert attention by trading on tribal fears.

Working people and their families never benefit from division or nationalism of whatever colour.  Working people need a Workers Party – committed to uniting workers to defend their own interests. This election is an opportunity to affirm that at the ballot box.

All parties must stand by women

marie stopes

The Workers Party has welcomed the suspension of three SDLP councillors for their failure to support a motion condemning the harassment of women outside reproductive rights clinics in Belfast.

Not to condemn the harassment of women, in any circumstances, is unforgivable.

These three SDLP councillors have effectively signaled their support for the continued bullying and abuse of women seeking to access medical information, advice and support.

This vote now raises serious questions about the position of other members of the SDLP, its councillors and MLAs.

It is imperative that all elected representaives – including those in the SDLP –  clearly and publicly state their opposition to the abuse, bullying and harrassment of women on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere and distance themselves immediately from Cllrs, Convery, Mullan and Boyle

Extend the deadline – pressurise the parties

stormontThe Workers Party has condemned the failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to form a new Executive.

In their approach to the talks both parties have once again been irresponsible, arrogant and contemptuous. The folly of re-electing them is now blatantly obvious.

There are issues to be addressed but they can and must be overcome.

For devolution to continue there needs to be a root and branch reform of the Assembly structures.

At a minimum we need to move on from mandatory coalition, abolish community designation requirements and reform the Petition of Concern ensuring that it can never used to veto social or equality issues.

While the Workers Party knows that the problem of inequality and exploitation must be tackled at its root by eradicating the current economic system and constructing a socialist society, many of the outstanding requirements of the Good Friday Agreement which have been deliberately set aside must be introduced if devolved government is to continue to function. 

These include a Bill of Rights, Integrated Education, an Anti-Poverty Strategy, a viable Economic Plan and a Job Creation Strategy.

The Secretary of State should now extend the talks deadline and those who voted for these parties should bring pressure to bear on them to form a functioning Executive.

Strengthening resolve the only response

stormont-oneill-foster

Nationalism – British and Irish – trades on fear, division and separation

The prospects for social, political and economic progress in Northern Ireland may have been set back for at least a generation.

That is the stark reality facing the citizens of Northern Ireland after Thursday’s poll.

The results of the Assembly election have confirmed  British and Irish nationalism as the dominant political force here.

Nationalism of any sort  is never progressive.

It is always  insular, small minded and ultimately conservative – despite its claims to the contrary.

No Different                                                                                                     The Sinn Fein / DUP Coalition  which led the last Executive borrowed millions of pounds to make 20,000 public servants redundant, it slashed public services, it planned to give tax breaks to multi-national companies and it bottled its opportunity to stand up to a devastating programme of welfare reform. Their next coalition will be no different.

When discussions around a new Executive begin this week, jobs, health, education, housing and deepening sectarian division won’t even be on the agenda.

There are more than 100,000 children in Northern Ireland living on or below the poverty line, 15,000 people are officially classed as homeless and the average wage is less than it was ten years ago.  There is a crisis in education, health and social care. Which of the parties likely to participate in the Executive, will be prioritising these issues?  Where are the proposals, the strategies and the emergency plans to meet the real and immediate needs of working people?

Nationalism , British and Irish,  trades on fear, division and separation. We have seen that to our cost and we have seen what results. Nationalism attracts all classes to its cause, though for different reasons.
A new DUP /Sinn Fein Coalition will be formed at some stage but it will not be to the benefit of the disadvantaged, the dispossessed or the downtrodden in our society. Ironically, it will not even be to the advantage of the vast majority of people who were duped into voting for it.
 

Smoke and Mirrors                                                                                                            The “negotiations” in the coming weeks will be all smoke and mirrors.   They will attempt to convey an impression of progress but will, in reality, do nothing more than consolidate  the position of each sectarian bloc at the expense of ordinary working people in Northern Ireland.

But it will also confirm that the radical, class-based analysis of the Workers Party and its demand for the Socialist Alternative presented in its manifesto is more relevant, more pertinent and more urgent than ever.

Nationalism, conservatism and capitalism will not go away of their own accord. They must be dispatched. That is the task we have taken on.  Election results will not diminish our resolve.

 

Before you vote…

wp-ballot-boxDuring this election campaign the main parties have traded on sectarian fears and tribal instincts in an attempt to maximise their votes.

To our cost, we have seen what that produces.

If you look beyond the bigoted agenda of Sinn Fein and the DUP the reality of life for ordinary people in Northern Ireland is hard and getting harder.

There are more than 100,000 children living in poverty.

Averages wages are lower than ten years ago.

We have the second highest level of workless households of all regions in the UK and at least 15,000 people are officially homeless.

        That is the legacy of successive Assemblies and the contribution of the  DUP /Sinn Fein Coalition. 

There is also a crisis in education, health and social care.  There are cutbacks to social welfare. Funding to culture and the arts has been very significantly reduced.

In every aspect of social, economic, cultural and community life working class people have been subjected to public expenditure cuts, marginalisation and exclusion.

To vote for the parties responsible for this and let them do the same thing again makes no sense at all.

That is why we need a Socialist Alternative.

That is what the Workers Party brings to this election.

The Workers Party is standing candidates  in the following constituencies

Belfast North: Gemma Weir

Belfast South: Lily Kerr

Belfast West: Conor Campbell

Mid Ulster: Hugh Scullion

Upper Bann: Colin Craig

Workers Party logo

Election Manifesto: ‘The Socialist Alternative’

wp-manifesto-ae-2017‘This election is unnecessary and will solve nothing unless people use it to pass judgement on all the parties in Stormont’.

That is the stark and realistic introduction to the Workers Party Assembly Manifesto – The Socialist Alternative

It goes on to say, ‘The two Executive parties, in particular, have been irresponsible, arrogant and contemptuous. Returning them to power to do the same thing again makes no sense at all’.

The manifesto highlights the failures of the last and previous Assemblies and of the DUP / Sinn Fein Coalition in particular, highlighting welfare cuts, attacks on workers’ rights, the privatisation of public services. plans for lower corporation tax and the refusal to implement progressive social legislation.

‘For devolution to work there needs to be a root and branch reform of the Assembly structures’, the Party says.

It also points out that many aspects of the Good Friday Agreement have been deliberately abandoned while in every aspect of social, economic, cultural and community life working class people have been subjected to public expenditure cuts, marginalisation and exclusion.

The Socialist Alternative presented by the Workers Party addresses economic growth, strategies to tackle poverty, sectarianism and the growing housing crisis.

It also sets out policies on health, education and rural development and the case for a womans’ right to choose.

However, the Party’s manifesto also points out that problem of inequality and exploitation must be tackled at its root by eradicating the current economic system and constructing a socialist society.

The Workers Party is standing five candidates in the Assembly Electi0ns:

Belfast North:Gemma Weir Belfast South:Lily Kerr  Belfast West:Conor Campbell

Mid  Ulster: Hugh Scullion   Upper Bann: Colin Craig

Workers Party Manifesto:  workers-party-manifesto-ae2017

BBC and Electoral Commissions’s approach is now deeply disturbing.

soap-box-lilly‘The reason I’m standing on this soap box is because it’s the only box the Workers Party is likley to get on around here’, Lily Kerr told a protest outside the BBC in Belfast this afternoon.

The protest was called  in response not only to the  BBC’s paucity of coverage for smaller parties but because of the implications the policy has for democracy, public discussion and public service broadcasting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39089379?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_news_ni&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=northern_ireland

Alternative voices dismissed

election-gagMembers of the Workers Party, including a number of their Assembly candidates,  have staged a protest outside the BBC Headquarters  to highlight the suppression of alternative political views during the current election camapign..

The Electoral Commission and the BBC have agreed between them that to qualify for an election broadcast a party has to stand a minimum of twelve candidates in at least six constituencies – effectively putting a price tag on political airtime and also ensuring that the larger, better financed,  parties can perpetuate the political circus without serious challenge or alternative  views being aired.

The minimal coverage of smaller parties is further compounded by BBC guidelines whihc at the last election saw candidates from smaller parties interviewed in the staff canteen rather than in studio.

A letter from the BBC to the Workers Party confirmed that the airtime they have been allocated for the election camapign amounted to 25 seconds, aired a month before polling day.

Ironically, during the past week BBC NI has found time to  air a number of ‘news’ items including stories about a dog driving a tractor ( 30 seconds), runaway rhododendron in Co Kerry (38 seconds) and the worlds biggest Jaffa cake  (2 mins 24 secs).

The BBC and the Electoral Commissions’s approach to elections in Northern Ireland is now deeply disturbing.

Alternative views are sidelined, financial constraints are placed on access to public service broadcasting and the political status quo goes effectively unchallenged as a media class seeks to  dictate what the  political discourse should be.

The Party plans to meet with both the  BBC and the Electoral Commission after polling next Thursday.

‘Free, safe, legal and accessible’

free-safe-legalThe Workers Party kicked off its activities in support of International Womens Week with a public meeting to discuss the status of a woman’s right to choose  in Northern Ireland and the Republic

Gemma Weir, the Party’s North Belfast candidate in next week’s Assembly election, addressed the situation in Northern Ireland and the specific issues around the 1967 Abortion Act and calls for its extension to Northern Ireland.

Mary Diskin, a member of the Workers Party in Wicklow and  a long time women’s rights campaigner provided an overview and update on the history of the struggle for abortion legislation  in the Republic of Ireland and the current ‘Repeal the 8th Amendment’ camapign.

The common message from both jurisdictions was that a woman’s right to choose must first be secured and that is should be ‘free, safe, legal and accessible’

Both speakers emphasised the class nature of the abortion issue and the differences for those who can afford to travel and avail of services in England and elsewhere and those who can’t.

It is likely that today’s meeting will prompt an updated  policy paper on the Party’s position on a woman’s right to choose in the near future.

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