Author Archives: workersparty.northern ireland

Party opposes ‘criminal attack’ on Syria

Syran protest190418

Workers Party members, joined by a number of Syrian’s living in Northern Ireland, protesting against the recent bombing raids carried out by the US,the UK and France

Workers Party members, and a number of Syrians living in Northern Ireland, have staged a protest against  last week’s missile attacks on Syria and an  escalation of imperialist aggression in the region under the pretext of an unproven allegation concerning chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta.

France and Britain at the behest of the US, and with the connivance of NATO, the EU and their member states, have embarked on a further dangerous intervention which increases instability in the region and brings us closer to the threat of a generalised war.

Statement in full:  Workers Party opposes imperialist attacks against Syria 

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 Workers Party condemns attacks against Syria

US-military-launches-missile-strikes-in-SyriaThe Workers Party has condemned last night’s missile attacks on Syria as an escalation of imperialist aggression in the region under the pretext of an unproven allegation concerning chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta.

France and Britain at the behest of the US, and with the connivance of NATO, the EU and their member states, have embarked on a further dangerous intervention which increases instability in the region and brings us closer to the threat of a generalised war.

Link to full statement: 

Statement by the Workers Party on the attacks against Syria

Oldpark area pays the price

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DUP & Sinn Fein record in Oldpark is ‘disgraceful’ – Bailie

Workers Party representative Chris Bailie has slammed the DUP and Sinn Fein after it was revealed that three parts of the Oldpark ward feature in the top seven  areas of multiple deprivation in Northern Ireland.

The research carried out by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) shows that parts of the Waterworks , Ardoyne and New Lodge areas are amongst the most deprived in Northern Ireland  in terms of employment levels, household income, access to services and a number of other important indicators.
 
“What exactly has the DUP and Sinn Fein, in particular, been doing to improve the opportunities and quality of life for local people?”, Chris asked. “Not only have they failed to form a functioning  Executive they have also consistently failed the people of these areas”, he said
 
“They have failed  to bring long-term sustainable jobs, they have failed to raise the educational standards of local schools and they have failed to bring forward measures to improve local health and well-being. Their record is a disgrace and local people and their families continue to suffer the consequences”, Chris added.
 
“The posturing and rhetoric of both these main parties means only further hardship, lack of opportunity and misery for people in this area. While MLAs continue to draw their salaries from a non existent Assembly they are quite happy to watch over yet another generation of young people denied the chance to achieve educationally,  work in secure employment, have access to public services and live in a healthy environment”.
 
“Both the DUP and Sinn Fein cling doggedly to the principles of the free market economy and the erosion of public services. Their concerns are with maintaining their own sectarian camps while the people of the Waterworks, Ardoyne and New Lodge pay the price” said Chris.
 
“The longer these parties, and those like them, have control over our lives, our economy and our futures the worse conditions will get”. Chris concluded

Twenty years later – hopes cynically dashed

Good Friday Agreement coverTwenty years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement,  and with the institutions in-operative for over twelve months, the hopes that were raised in 1998 have been cynically dashed by the sectarian power blocs that still dominate Northern Ireland.

Momentous advance                       The Agreement offered new possibilities. It was undoubtedly a momentous advance.

After thirty years of miserable sectarian terror the participants in the major sectarian blocs began to establish the basis for a settlement within which nationalists and unionists could reach some form of accommodation without relinquishing, in practice, their respective long-term constitutional ambitions. Of course, not everyone agreed.

Nationalist irredentism and unionist extremism combined in opposition to the Agreement. The people, however, said “yes” to the Agreement.

Limitations                                                                                                             We recognised the limitations of the Agreement and expressly  noted that it failed to reflect many of the concerns raised by the Workers’ Party over the previous 30 years.

However, the Party welcomed the Agreement as a realisation of the hopes of the people of Northern Ireland and as an opportunity to advance the long-standing and consistent Workers’ Party demand for devolution and the Party’s programme of Anti-Sectarianism, Peace, Work, Democracy and Class Politics.

Institutional Sectarianism                                                                                      An Agreement constructed on the faulty foundations of sectarian division; an institutional framework which incorporates sectarianism at its core and an Assembly and Executive which effectively manages sectarianism, rather than seeking to eradicate it, will not and cannot deliver for the working class and the process becomes a recipe for competing and conflicting communal interests, continuing division and open sectarian conflict.

Lowest common denominator                                                                                 The refusal of the unionist and nationalists to keep the focus on the big picture – the creation of a new Northern Ireland – and their decision to pander to the lowest common denominator within their own constituencies robbed the Agreement of what was advanced as its essential political underpinnings which marked it out as a new departure, the so-called historic compromise.

Continuing division                                                                                                 An Agreement constructed on the faulty foundations of sectarian division; an institutional framework which incorporates sectarianism at its core and an Assembly and Executive which effectively manages sectarianism, rather than seeking to eradicate it, will not and cannot deliver for the working class and the process becomes a recipe for competing and conflicting communal interests, continuing division and open sectarian conflict.

The power of a united working class

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Magherafelt member and veteran civil rights activist, Marian Donnelly addressing the Northern Ireland Conference

The Workers Party’s annual conference in Northern Ireland has heard how the power of a united working class can tackle and overcome  the collapse of the Assembly, the problems faced in health and social care, education women’s rights and the environment, eradicate sectarianism and rebuild the economy.

 

“Conference Quotes”

 Northern Ireland                                                                                                   “There is no crisis too great, no crisis which cannot be tackled, by an active, organised and united working class. A working class, united and conscious of its power as a class, is necessary for change, for the revolutionary transformation of society, the abolition of capitalism and the building of a democratic, secular, socialist society in which power is firmly in the hands of the workers and where the wealth of society is used for the benefit of the many, not the profit of the few”

 Reproductive Rights                                                                                              The Victorian era law which governs reproductive rights for women in Northern Ireland, pre-dates the light bulb. It must be brought in to the 21st Century. That needs to happen as a matter of urgency before more women are criminalised, forced to travel for procedures, or left to suffer alone,

 The Economy                                                                                                             There are a number f myths about the Northern Ireland economy, chief among these are the  ideas that a freely competitive capitalist economy, left to itself generates full employment.

Secondly  that there is a tendency in developed capitalist economies towards a decrease in inequality, due to the effects of modernisation, including enhanced educational opportunities. So, the idea is that capitalism generates equality. Both suggestions are myths.

 Health and Social Care                                                                                             A universal health service is fundamental to an equal, inclusive, just and fair society and is one of the corner stones of the Welfare State.  Bevin, in his book In place of Fear, said there will always be a National Health Service as long as there are people willing to fight for it.  The Workers Party is willing to lead that fight!

There must be increased funding and resources for mental health services in Northern Ireland. The prevalence of mental ill-health here is higher than anywhere else in the UK while  funding per capita remain the lowest.

Childcare in Northern Ireland must be a responsibility  taken on by the state for the benefit of all its citizens.  Centrally planned and resourced facilities, free at the point of delivery should be the norm.

 Sectarianism                                                                                                     Sectarianism is more widespread, more ingrained, more accepted now, than at any time over the past 50 years. That’s not a claim to be made lightly.

We now live with a culture in which sectarianism is formally institutionalised. A culture in which manifestations of sectarianism are no longer seen as sectarian. We live in a culture in which it is deemed acceptable to think, speak and act in a sectarian manner but without rebuke, reproach or criticism – that is the extent to which it has become embedded in our psyche and in our culture. That’s what sustains the myth of two communities that is what drives and maintains artificial divisions.

 Northern Ireland Civil Rights anniversary                                                           The conference also heard from veteran civil rights activists Marion Donnelly and Eamon Melaugh on the 50th Anniversary f the first civil right s march from Coalisland to Dungannon in 1968 and plans by the Party to mark that anniversary later in the year

 Environment                                                                                                              Plans by Dalridian Gold to mine the Sperrins – an officially designated area of outstanding natural beauty – and the granting of exploration licences by the Department for the Economy were strongly criticised.

A selection of conference  papers is attached:

Northern Ireland
The Economy & PFIs
Reproductive Rights
Sectarianism
Childcare

Tackling The Crisis – the power of a united working class

Annual Northern Ireland Conference 2018

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There is a collective crisis in Northern Ireland’s social, economic and political life.

For almost fifteen months there has been no Assembly, there is no sustainable and viable economic strategy and our health and education systems are barely able to cope.

Working class people continue to pay the price for capitalism’s financial crisis, women are denied their reproductive rights and conservative and reactionary voices continue to dominate the public debate.

There is an alarming lack of probity in government, and in its administration, and sectarianism is now a systemic cancer in almost every aspect of daily life.

How we tackle the collective crisis and how the power of a united working class can effect change and revolutionary transformation will be the theme of the Party’s annual Northern Ireland Conference next Saturday 24th March in the Wellington Park Hotel, 21 Malone Road Belfast BT9 6RU – 10.30am – 4pm

You are welcome to attend and participate

 

Forgotten Rights – Forgotten Women

Forgotten Rights Forgotten Women

Forgotten Rights Forgotten Women

The latest edition of the Party’s fortnightly bulletin marks International Womens Day.

Under the title ‘Forgotten Rights – Forgotten Women’ addresses the issue of accessible, free, safe and legal abortion services in Northern Ireland and the repeal of the Eight Amendment in the Republic of Ireland

Recent abortion statistics from the UK  show that 3,265 women accessing abortion services there in 2016 gave a Republic of Ireland address and 724 gave an addresses in Northern Ireland.

A further 520 women from the island gave no address.

 

Forgotten Rights Forgotten Women 8 March 2018

 

Why ‘civic unionism’ is not a response

1969-BelfastWhen the Workers Party was invited to sign the recent letter from civic unionism we declined because we do not subscribe to the notion of ‘two communities’ or the establishment of a society based on competing versions of nationalism, whether Irish or British.

Nor did we support the open letter signed by ‘civic nationalists’ last December – in fact we were extremely critical of it ( see link below).

Polarise and paralyse                                                                                               This most recent letter from civic unionism does not move the debate on any further, It does not challenge or distance itself from  the ‘separate but equal’  mantra which continues to polarise and paralyse our society.

In fact. albeit that many of the signatories would be sympathetic to a non-sectarian and more democratic society, pitching ‘civic unionism’ against ‘civic nationalism’ compounds and confirms the existing problems.

Bill of Rights                                                                                                              Our version of a democratic secular society in Northern Ireland is based on the rights of citizens as citizens rather than their allegiance to any religious or nationalist bloc.

It is for that reason that the demand for a Bill of Rights remains a fundamental part of our strategy to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state, guaranteeing the civil liberties of all citizens, regardless of communal background.

Citizenship                                                                                                               The demand for equality and democratic rights is not the property or the preserve of any bloc. It’s ownership should rest firmly with citizens as citizens. Only on that basis will progress be made and citizenship flourish.

https://workerspartyelection.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/nationalism-narrow-bankrupt-and-dangerous/

 

New Party bulletin: ‘Comments & Views’

#1 Bulletin 230218Welcome to the Party’s first ‘Comments and Views’ bulletin which has been circulated widely to trade unionists, the community and voluntary sector and a number of individuals throughout Northern Ireland..

The twice  monthly  bulletin will address current social and political issues from a socialist perspective.

The first edition focuses on the failure by Sinn Fein and the DUP to secure a functioning Executive and proposes a number of changes to the way the Assembly functions as a way to restore devolution

Restoring Devolution 23 Feb 2018

 

 

Where is the red line on poverty?

JRF1

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chief Executive, Campbell Robb with Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry at this morning’s launch

Research undertaken by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and presented in Belfast this morning,  reveals that  370,000 people in Northern Ireland live in poverty.

The breakdown of the figures show that it includes 110,000 children, 220,000 working-age adults and 40,000 pensioners: around one in five of the population here with poverty highest among families with children.

Among the factors which contribute to levels of poverty are poor educational attainment and high levels of unemployment.

Where was the parties red line on tackling poverty in the recent  talks to restore the Executive?  Where was the demand for an economic plan and a job creation strategy for Northern Ireland? Where was the ultimatum to abolish university tuition fees and introduce integrated education at all levels?

The reality is that none of those issues were on the agenda.  Sinn Fein and the DUP were focused on a zero sum game designed to preserve their respective nationalist agendas. Health, well being, employment, housing and living standards weren’t just a secondary issue. They weren’t even on the table

Only a socialist economy, a socialist approach to the funding and structuring of education and a socialist led, publicly funded, housing programme can begin to address the abject misery currently endured by  one person in  every five in Northern Ireland.

That is where the red line in this society should be drawn.

See the JRF on Poverty in Northern ireland report here: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/poverty-northern-ireland-2018

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