Category Archives: Candidates

Nethier Brexit nor Border Poll


Workers Party Local Government Election Statement


This community is scarred by poverty, inequality, zero hours contracts, housing crisis and the effects of Sinn Fein and the DUP’s welfare reforms.

Some parties would like to make this election about Brexit. Some would like to use it to advance a Border Poll, but the reality is that it’s about neither.

For this election to have any real meaning it must send a message to the main political parties that they have failed to deliver government and governance , and that they continue to fail ordinary people through the rundown of public services, the privatisation of  public assets and utilities, the erosion of the public space and the pursuit of  corporate  business approval.

If we were to call for a second referendum or for a ballot on Irish ‘unity’, we would doubtless attract more media attention, but that is not how the Workers Party sees the current social, economic and political priorities.

Reality of life                                                                                                            Nor does it reflect the reality of life for the thousands of people desperately seeking secure well-paid employment, families struggling to find and pay for local childcare or those growing older in an age unfriendly society.

Nor are border polls and ‘people’s votes’ the priority of the thousands of children and their parents living in poverty and low income homes, those on zero hours contracts or the young girls and women who face the monthly indignity of period poverty because, in 21st century Belfast, they cannot afford sanitary products.

Developers’ mindset                                                                                             Nor are attempts to transform our public spaces into homages to corporate America either relevant to or reflective of local life. The recent proposal to name the redeveloped Lower North Street area of Belfast ‘Tribeca’ in deference to an area in Lower Manhattan gives a glimpse into the mindset of the developers and the council alike.

Councils across Northern Ireland should be delivering for local people and acting as advocate and champion for improved housing, better mental health services, introducing a universal living wage, reversing welfare reforms and offering advice, assistance and direction to those in need of support.

A poor second                                                                                                          But that has not been the case. Sinn Fein and the DUP have used Belfast Council and its resources to build up their power bases through a sectarian carve up of this city. Poverty, employment, public services and opportunities come a very poor second to bonfire diversion schemes, and the funding of divisive cultural and historical projects.

This city is scarred by poverty, inequality, zero hours contracts,  housing crisis and the effects of Sinn Fein and the DUP’s welfare reforms.

The manner in which ordinary people, their lives, their needs and their futures have been abandoned by the main parties is an outrage and a disgrace. It verges on the criminal.

The interests of ordinary people                                                                            A vote for any of those parties on May 2nd will condemn the ordinary people of this city to yet more hardship, deprivation and suffering. It will also condemn another generation of young people to lives of underachievement and hopelessness. That is the price we all pay for the maintenance of sectarian political elites.

Only a party committed to class politics and the interests of ordinary people can make the kind of changes that are needed to secure a better life for all.

The Workers Party is that party.

  

The Workers Party s fielding seven candidates: six in Belfast and one in the Mid Ulster area

The Belfast candidates are:

Chris Bailie (Oldpark)

Conor Campbell (Black Mountain)

Paddy Crossan Collin)

Joanne Lowry (Court)

Paddy Lynn (Botanic)

Gemma Weir (Castle)

Hugh Scullion, is representing the party in the Moyola area of Mid Ulster Council

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Local Elections: only a party committed to class politics can deliver the change we need

Chris Bailie (Oldpark), Paddy Crossan (Collin), Paddy Lynn (Botanic)
Conor Campbell (Black Mountain), Gemma Weir (Castle), Joanne Lowry (Court) and Hugh Scullion (Moyola)

Seven candidates wll be representing the Workers Party in next months local government elections.

North Belfast- Gemma Weir (Castle) and Chris Bailie (Oldpark) West Belfast: Joanne Lowry (Court), Paddy Crossan (Collin) and Conor Campbell (Black Mountain) South Belfast: Paddy Lynn (Botanic), and Mid Ulster: Hugh Scullion (Moyola)

Class politics

The Party is focusing on the legacy of deprivation, poverty and abandoned areas left by Sinn Fein, the DUP. The Pary’s election message is that only a party committed to class politics can deliver the changes needed to turn around the social decline, hopelessness and despair that characterises many working class areas of Northern Ireland .

Sectarian carve up

Sinn Fein and the DUP in particular have overseen a sectarian carve up of community funding and resources and have used that to sustain and develop their respective camps. In some areas of Northern Ireland child poverty is running at well over 30%, fuel poverty is even more prevalent, thousands of children leave school with low or no qualifications and mental ill health remains at crisis level.

The socialist alternative.

Among the initiatives included in the the Party’s programme are proposals for accessible, affordable local childcare, universal adoption of the Living Wage , a youth apprenticeship programme, well paid, well trained jobs with a career path for local care workers , the implementation of integrated education, access to appropriate talking therapies for people experiencing mental illness, improved public transport for our rural communities – especially to hospital appointments, the restoration of the Housing Executive as the primary provider of publicly owned housing, a public infrastructure programme building homes, roads, hospitals and schools and additional resources to support women and long term unemployed back into work.


Low breastfeeding rates must be tackled

open_mouth_wide

Only 7% of local babies are fed to six months

Workers Party candidate Gemma Weir has called for ‘ a complete re-think’ on how we support mothers to breastfeed after figures emerged which show that only 7% of babies here are breastfed up to six months.

“Recent research shows that 44% of babies left hospital without having tried breastfeeding and that a staggering 93% of children in Northern Ireland are not breastfed for the full first six months.

Clearly we need an urgent re-think on our attitudes to breastfeeding and our understanding of the benefits”, Gemma said

“As a mother who has breastfed I cannot overstate the benefits,. It helps protect baby from infant  illness and develops strong healthy bones and long term resilience. Breast feeding is also beneficial for mum helping to speed up recovery from delivery.

Not only is it healthier, it’s also cheaper than formula milk products and by joining up with a local breastfeeding support group there’s  the chance to get support and meet up with other mums”, added Gemma

“I believe there may also be issues of conflicting advice from healthcare professionals which contributes to the very low rates that have been identified.

I plan to contact staff at the local maternity unit in the Mater Hospital to listen to their views on how we can encourage and support many, many more mothers in north Belfast to breastfed’, Gemma concluded.

What really matters? – asks Campbell

Workers Party candidate Conor Campbell has called on local voters to think about what really matters to working class people in West Belfast.

Conor Campbell Workers Party Belfast West

Conor Campbell 

“This election has been dominated by talk of sectarian pacts, inter-party deals and paper candidates”, he said. The major parties have sought to turn the campaign into yet another sectarian headcount, this time based on Brexit and the Border. The reality is that it is about neither”, Conor said .

“Before we cast our votes on June 8th we need to  look beyond the political posturing and the electoral rhetoric and recognise that  daily life here is plagued by very real, pressing and systemic problems.  

  • 43% of children in West Belfast are growing up in poverty. That figure rises to almost 48% In the Colin Glen area
  • Local unemployment levels are running at almost 8%
  • Only 6% of Invest NI funding has come to West Belfast in the past three years
  • Nearly half of all local people over 16 are dependent of at least one form of benefit
  • A lower proportion of pupils from West Belfast, than elsewhere, go on to further education
“We can accept all this or we can ask why it has come about”, said Conor
“On June the 8th we have the opportunity to pass judgement on those who have served us so badly in the past
 
“Now more than ever, working class people  in West Belfast – employed, unemployed, young people and pensioners – need a Workers Party, committed to uniting workers to defend their own interests”, concluded Conor 

Party condemns Manchester terror attack

Police Respond To  An Incident At Manchester Arena

There can never be a justification for bombing, maiming and murdering innocent people

Workers Party candidates Conor Campbell (Belfast West) and Gemma Weir (Belfast North)  have contacted the Mayor Of Manchester Andy Burnham to express the Party’s outrage at last nights terrorist attack in the Manchester Arena and  to offer condolences to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured.

“There can never be a justification for bombing, maiming and murdering innocent people as they go about their work, take their leisure or go out for the evening. That applies equally to events in Manchester, Paris, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Libya, Afghanistan or the Yemen “, they said

“We are all too familiar with this type of attack on our own streets and we share the determination and resolve of the ordinary people of Manchester to stand firm and united and to refuse to let terrorists dictate how they live their lives”

The Party statement also praised all the emergency services for the professional and selfless way in which they responded to the terror attack and also to the many local people who opened their homes, their cabs, their facilities and put others .first in stark contrast to the those who planned this murderous terror attack.

“The coming days and weeks will be testing times for the people of Manchester and beyond”, Conor and Gemma said.

“It will be very important that the community unites in opposition to terror and is not turned against itself by those with divisive, racist or warmongering agendas. Manchester deserves and needs our undiluted support and solidarity”,Gemma and Conor concluded

North Belfast faces real problems – Weir

North Belfast

This constituency faces real and pressing problems

“In contrast to the political posturing and electoral rhetoric, the reality of life in north Belfast should be a wake up call for us all”, says  Workers Party  Gemma Weir.

 
“Nine areas of north Belfast feature in the top 10% of most deprived areas of Northern Ireland, almost 50% of over 16s rely on at least one form of benefit, nearly 36% of local children live in a low-income family and 8% of the adult population is officially unemployed”. Gemma said
 
“The election campaign in North Belfast has been dominated by talk of sectarian pacts, inter-party deals and paper candidates. For the voters of this constituency there are other real and pressing problems to face”.
 
“Life expectancy for local men and women is lower than the Northern Ireland average. We have the second highest rate of cancer deaths, alarmingly high levels of mental ill-health and the third highest levels of deaths from respiratory disease”
 
“This is the reality of life,and death, in North Belfast today. None if this is accidental or inevitable. It is what happens when flag waving, tribalism and  sectarianism dominant to the detriment of investment, development and progress”, Gemma said
 
“Working class people in north Belfast – employed, unemployed, young people and pensioners – need a Workers Party, committed to uniting workers to defend their own interests. June 8th is an opportunity to affirm that at the ballot box”, Gemma concluded.

Campbell welcomes Falls protest

Anti Social Behaviour protestWorkers Party candidate Conor Campbell has praised the Falls Residents Association and all those took part in last week’s protest against anti-social behaviour in the McDonnell Street area.

“This type of community initiative has to be welcomed”. Conor said.

“It is very important to deliver a strong and united message that this type of behavior is unacceptable and unwanted and to do it in a dignified but forceful manner”, he added .

“We all know that there is no quick fix to these issues”, said Conor.

“The Workers Party fully supports joint planning and cooperation between local communities and the full range of statutory and voluntary agencies as the way forward. It is also important that we work with, and hold to account, the PSNI on its approach to community policing”, Conor said

“Last week’s protest made it very clear that the best way to confront these problems is through a planned and considered community led response”, he said
“There is no room for paramilitary style ‘punishments’.

“They are not the answer – this community has enough problems. It doesn’t need any more.”, Conor concluded

Time to tackle domestic abuse’ – Weir

North Belfast had almost 3,000 domestic abuse incidents recorded last year – an increase of over 300 on the previous year’s figures.

Gemma Weir Workers Party Belfast North

Benefit cuts place even more pressure on women – Gemma Weir

Commenting on the PSNI report the Workers Party Gemma Weir said,
“These are truly frightening statistics. North Belfast now sits at the top of the domestic abuse table. That is not a record to be proud of”,  she said
“Domestic abuse incidents cover a range of offences but instances of violence against the person figure all too highly”, Gemma said.
“I think it is now time to formally include relationship guidance as a subject in schools. We cannot go on year after year witnessing increasing incidents of domestic abuse without taking some affirmative action”, she said
“I am also very concerned that cuts to housing and other benefits will make it even more difficult for some women to escape abusive relationships”, Gemma added.
 See: https://www.psni.police.uk/inside-psni/Statistics/domestic-abuse-statistics/

Candidates sign ‘Refugees Welcome’ pledge

Workers Party candidates Gemma Weir (Belfast North) and Conor Campbell (Belfast West) have both signed up to the ‘Refugees Welcome’ pledge organised by the Refugee Council.

In a joint statement Conor and Gemma said ” We are delighted to add  The Workers Party’s name to the list  of  those who have publicly pledged support for refugees.

It is very important that as a society we respond with humanity, urgency and practical support for the thousands upon thousands of displaced persons. Northern Ireland has a proud record in this regard”

It is also very important that we address the root causes of the problem and recognise  that it has been the US and NATO interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq which have provoked the current crisis”, they said

I pledge to respect the importance of refugee protection, including in wide-ranging debates about immigration, and, if elected, to uphold the proud tradition throughout the UK of welcoming people forced to flee war and persecution and helping them rebuild their lives.

See: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/refugees_welcome_pledge

Sinn Fein’s shameful record in West Belfast

Sinn Fein’s record of representation in West Belfast is “a scandal, a disgrace and an insult to the people of this constituency”, the Workers Party’s Conor Campbell has said

Conor Campbell Workers Party Belfast West

Conor Campbell

“For nearly 30 years West Belfast has returned a Sinn Fein MP to Westminster. – but it has resulted in absolutely no benefit for local people”, Conor said.

“Paul Maskey, and Gerry Adams before him, have presided over rising unemployment, an increasing reliance on benefits and escalating levels of poverty and low-income”, he added.

“Sinn Fein’s neglect of this constituency is a scandal, a disgrace and an insult to all local people – young and old alike”, Conor claimed”.

“This is how West Belfast has fared under three decades of Sinn Fein representation:

  • 43% of children in West Belfast are growing up in poverty. That figure rises to almost 48% In the Colin Glen area
  • Local unemployment levels are running at almost 8%
  • Only 6% of Invest NI funding has come to West Belfast in the past three years
  • Nearly half of all local people over 16 are dependent of at least one form of benefit
  • A lower proportion of pupils from West Belfast, than elsewhere, go on to further education”

“That is the return for voting for Sinn Fein. Yet Sinn Fein says that West Belfast has suffered “…decades of neglect and a lack of investment”. What they avoid saying is that it’s happened on their watch and that they are responsible”.

“Working class people – employed, unemployed, young people and pensioners – 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”, Conor concluded.

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