Author Archives: workersparty.northern ireland

NATO warships not welcome

NATO flotilla

NATO wars have left hundreds of thousands dead and injured

The Workers Party has condemned the presence of a flotilla NATO warships in Belfast this weekend as  ‘a blatant propaganda stunt to normalise the ugly face of war’.

The force includes vessels from the navies of Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.

NATO is an aggressive military alliance representing the extension of US military power and acting exclusively in the interests of imperialism. The history of NATO cannot be separated from the history of foreign interference in the affairs of other nations and war. NATO promotes the militarisation of Europe, the continuation of the arms race and increases the threat of war and nuclear terror.

It urges all member states to increase military spending to at least 2% of GDP at a time when those states should be spending money on hospital, education and the welfare of their people.

NATO’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya have left hundreds of thousands dead and injured; destroyed these countries’ infrastructure and worsened the lives of millions of ordinary working people. Millions of people have been forced to become refugees and flee their homes in search of a safe place for them and their families to live.

The presence of such a force in Belfast is a matter for shame. No to war and aggression! No to NATO!

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Free, safe, legal and accessible

Rally for Choice 141017

Party members joined the ‘Rally for Choice’  in Belfast city centre this afternoon as part of the ongoing campaign to secure the provision of  free, safe, legal and accessible abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Assembly has refused repeatedly to act on this issue and it is a tragic irony that as ‘equality’ forms part of the new Assembly talks process, women’s equality is not even on the agenda.

The five main parties at Stormont do not trust women.

The Workers Party believes in a woman’s right to choose and supports the provision of free, safe, legal and accessible abortion in her own country including practical facilities to support women seeking an abortion and quality post-abortion care.

‘Conversations about Choice’

Conversations about ChoiceWomen in Northern Ireland don’t have a right to abortion services. That right, available in England Scotland and Wales, continues to be denied to women in Northern Ireland by the major parties at Stormont. Quite simply they don’t trust women to make choices about their own fertility.

How do those who do trust women move that debate on? How do we counter the often vitriolic attacks of the right-wing, the moral hypocrisy of churches and the often misinformed opinions of ordinary people. How do we engage in the conversation about a woman’s right to choose?

That was the subject of a Party run workshop in Belfast earlier today. Group work, scenarios, mock media interviews and role plays helped to highlight many of the issues involved, present solutions to problems and identify techniques for engaging in informed and rational debate – even when that is not reciprocated.

The workshop preceded a Rally for Choice held in Belfast City centre – see above.

Health Inequalities remain the big issue

Heallth continuum

Health & social care must remain publicly funded and free at the point of delivery

Workers Party representatives have addressed  all five of today’s Health and Social Care Board Meetings in Belfast, Downpatrick, Craigavon, Derry and Ballymena.
 
Party representatives criticised the ‘shambolic and cynical way’ in which the Department of Health released an additional £40 million of funding just days after the end of a public consultation on cuts to services, saying ‘…it is either gross incompetence or cynical political manipulation to call for cuts to services while knowingly sitting on millions of pounds of available money’ .
 
They also attacked the privatisation of services and identified the eradication of health inequalities as a major priority

Principles                                                                                                               The Party’s statement to Trust Boards emphasised the need for health and social care to remain publicly funded and free at the point of delivery.  ‘These principles are far from safe and secure’ the statement said.

Health inequalities, most notably in working class communities, continue to be the biggest determinant of our health and well-being yet are largely ignored in health care planning.

‘We cannot continue to privatise community care and watch hospital admissions grow out of control, patients die on trolleys and the system go into melt down’.

Halting privatisation                                                                                         There must be an end to “creeping privatisation”, to the outsourcing of health services and jobs to the private sector. Vested interests, including the vested interests of private healthcare, must be confronted and challenged. The Workers Party believes that a properly funded health service designed to deliver quality health outcomes is central to a humane and decent society.

 Engagement                                                                                                     ‘There must be direct democratic engagement with working people, both as patients and users of the service as well as the workers who deliver the service and their trade union representatives’, the Party said.

‘This is the only way to develop a cohesive health and social care strategy, including community care, which tackles existing health inequalities and accords a proper level of funding to meet the needs of all citizens.

A Party delegation will also be addressing the Health and Social Care Board meeting on Tuesday 17th October

 

 

Housing must be free from sectarian threat

1CantrellClose001‘Intimidating people  can never be justified, nor can forcing them to leave their home’s , the Workers Party in south Belfast has said.

The condemnation follows the sectarian intimidation of a number of families from the Cantrell Close area.

‘Shared housing development initiatives are an essential part of securing a single united community’, the Party said.

‘Everyone must have the right and the opportunity to live where they wish. Every political party must state that clearly and publicly condemn these recent incidents.

Those who have made these threats should retract them immediately’, the statement concluded.

Party pledge on Votes @16

NIYF Votes at 16

Launching the ‘Votes@16’ camapign

The Workers Party has pledged its support for the ‘Votes@16’ campaign launched this morning by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.

Sixteen year olds in Northern Ireland can leave school, work full-time, leave home, pay
taxes, get married and join the armed services: but they can‟t vote in elections.

If Northern Ireland is to be a fully participative democracy the involvement, and active participation of 16 and 17 year olds is essential to that process.

Research has shown that this age group are even more likely to vote than 18-24 year olds. At a time when voter turnout continues to fall that is an encouraging sign.

Of course this has to be about more than extending the franchise. Unless young people critically assess the nature of society and use their votes and their voices to challenge sectarianism, segregated education and inequality and work actively to replace our current social and economic system, then this initiative will compound our problems not help to overcome them.

16 and 17 year olds in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have voting rights and Scotland also extend that right during the independence referendum.

Northern Ireland can and must do the same.

Party condemns threats to Probation staff

Nothing to offerThe Workers Party has condemned threats levelled at Probation staff by nationalist terrorists.

The  threats, identified as ‘substantial’ by the PSNI, follow previous bomb attacks on Probation service staff and offices and numerous threats against other public sector workers in recent years.

‘These are yesterday’s men’, the Party said, ‘ and their actions represent an attack on workers , an attempt to heighten sectarian tensions and division and are repugnant to the concept of class politics’.

‘At a time when public sector workers, providing valuable services to the community, are already facing pay freezes and cuts, they also face physical attack from people who won’t even show their faces’

‘No one should have to live with is type of threat and anyone with any information about those responsible or their actions should contact the police without hesitation’, the Party statement concluded.

 

Incinerator: ‘Executive must take decisions’ says Weir

NOARC21The Workers Party is supporting local campaigners and the ‘No Arc 21’ group as they consider their legal options, including judicial review, in the light of yesterday’s surprise decision by the Department of Infrastructure to give the go-ahead to a waste incinerator plant at Mallusk.

Party spokesperson Gemma Weir said, ‘despite over 4,000 objections to this project it is proceeding without either a Ministerial or an Executive decision’. 

There was absolutely no need to take this unaccountable decision ‘, Gemma said ‘Northern Ireland has many urgent and pressing problems which  need immediate action but this is not one of them’.
‘This irrational and potentially dangerous course of action has been taken in the absence of a functioning Assembly at Stormont. While the condemnation of both the DUP and Sinn Fein on this issue is to be welcomed, it is also hypocritical of both parties to point the finger at civil servants when they have repeatedly failed to form the very Executive that should be taking control of this situation’, said Gemma.
‘I have written to the Department of Infrastructure asking that it immediately suspends its approval for this project. I am also calling on both Sinn Fein and the DUP to live up to their responsibilities,form an Executive and allow us all to get on with taking our own decisions on our health, our environment and our waste management’ Gemma concluded

‘Restored Executive the absolute priority’

stormont

‘The restoration of a fully functioning Executive remains the absolute political priority”.the Workers Party has said.

‘Health, education and other public services are in crisis, budgets cannot be set, projects signed off or jobs and funding secured”, the Party said.

‘Some parties are happy to find reason after reason why a new Executive should not be formed but there are more pressing reasons why it should: hospital waiting lists, school budgets, housing schemes, eliminating unemployment, infrastructure projects, jobs, wages, benefits and quality of life are but a few’.

‘Sinn Fein won’t take their seats at Westminster and since last January  they haven’t taken their seats at Stormont. They continue to display an arrogant and contemptuous disregard for working class people, families and children’.

‘While those people bear the brunt of crumbling public services Sinn Fein’s undisguised disdain continues to place their own political ambitions front and centre regardless of the price paid by working class people’.

 

‘Integrated public housing the priority’, says Bailie

Chris Bailie

Hillview decision is wrong

Chris Bailie (Workers Party, Oldpark) has criticised the decision of the Council Planing Committee to grant permission for the  commercial  development of the  vacant  Hillview site on the Crumlin Road.

“This is not just a bad decision, it’s the wrong decision”, Chris said.

“This is the site of a failed retail development  – a failed retail development – yet the Planning Committee  gives the go ahead for more of the same”

“That in itself defies logic”, said  Chris, “but to do this in the face of an acute shortage of public housing is irrational and verging on the incompetent”

“The Hillview site should be re-zoned immediately for public housing, It should also be designated as an integrated development as part of the Housing Executive’s Good Relations Strategy.” argued Chris.

“This decision is not one taken in the interests of the people of North Belfast but rather of narrow sectional interests. Integrated public housing developments are the best way to address community need not fast food restaurants and car show rooms”, Chris concluded

 

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