Category Archives: Candidates

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

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.

Supporting Arts & Culture

arts1The Party’s Assembly  election candidates have welcomed an initiative by the organisation Visual Arts Ireland  (VAI) to highlight the position of arts and culture during the election campaign and beyond.
 
 Among the proposals made by VAI are:
  • A Department for Culture to support the arts across all government departments
  • A commitment to design and deliver the Programme for Government in consultation and with the support of the Arts sector.
  • Increased spending on public art programmes
  • Increased capital, project, and core funding to be made available
  • Recognise that creativity and the Arts play a key role in education and learning
  •  Link the budgetary spend to the UK / Ireland average per head

Responding to the VAI proposals the Party’s candidates said, “We understand and support the contribution which art and culture can and do make to society”.

 “We are also acutely aware of the relentless commodification of our society, the resultant debasing of many of our values and the persistent repetition of the erroneous argument that the arts are an add on in life and should therefore pay for and look after themselves. We don’t believe that this  is overstating the case”
 “The Workers Party has identified and been critical of the cuts to arts and culture projects across Northern Ireland and of the immediate and longer term impacts that will have”.
 “We are supportive of the initiative taken by the Visual Arts Organisation in setting out a series of objectives and broadly welcome these as an important marker in the public debate about the role of arts and culture, the contribution they can make, the involvement they should have and the centrality they should enjoy”.
Party members plan to meet with VAI and a number of other arts and culture groups post-election to discuss the future role, influence and funding of the visual and performing arts in Northern Ireland.
Link to Visual Arts Ireland:  http://visualartists.org.uk/

Your vote can and will make a difference

Candidatescropped

This election is about the failure and the refusal of the Executive Parties, in particular, to bring forward and implement the political, social and economic legislation to allow progress, stability and an improved quality of life for all.

This election is an opportunity to pass judgement on the record of those parties which have been running the Assembly and the Executive for the past five years.

It is an opportunity to confront and condemn their joint programme of reductions in public services, continuing austerity measures and cuts to social welfare under the guise of welfare reform.

The election will also be an opportunity to vote against the introduction of water charges, the run-down of health and social care services, tax breaks for big businesses, the sell-off of public assets, the planned rise in university tuition fees, continued discrimination  against women, the refusal to legislate for same sex marriage, the ongoing damage to the environment and the continuance of the  Executive’s self-serving agenda – all of which are certain to be features of the new Assembly if the same old parties are returned to power.

On May 5th The Workers Party will be offering  an alternative to austerity, cuts, regressive social policy and inequality.

Your vote can and will make a difference.

Message of support from Greek Communist Party (KKE)

The Communist Party of Greece has sent a strong message of support to the Workers Party, expressing its solidarity with and full support to the Workers Party of Ireland (WPI) regarding the assembly elections in Northern Ireland …” The KKE noted that the Workers Party was exposing the plans of those political forces serving the interests of big business and stated that the Workers Party was the force standing against the anti-people political line supported by the parties of bourgeois management, the DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP etc. 

 The KKE stated that the coalition government in Northern Ireland has faithfully implemented the anti-people political line of the British government and the EU which attacks the rights and the income of workers and which promotes privatization. The KKE noted particularly that Sinn Fein, a party like SYRIZA, i.e. new style social-democracy, has also demonstrated its form as regards the implementation of these policies which are against the interests of the people.

 The KKE highlighted the Workers Party’s opposition to this political direction and to the strategy of capital, exposing the true character of the EU which is destroying labour and social security rights, keeping salaries and pensions at low levels and which transforms healthcare into a commodity. It emphasizes the WP’s resistance to attempts to divide the working class and to expose the real enemy, capitalism, the monopolies and their power.

 The full statement of the KKE can be read on the main Workers Party  website.  http://workersparty.ie/

‘Standing Against Austerity’

Manifesto Launch

Standing Against Austerity: The Workers Party launches its manifesto at                    Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The Workers Party has launched its Assembly Election manifesto at Parliament Buildings Stormont.

The Party’s four candidates. Conor Campbell (Belfast West) Lily Kerr (Belfast South), Hugh Scullion (Mid Ulster) and Gemma Weir ( Belfast North) were joined by party supporters as they spelt out the Party’s opposition to austerity and presented the socialist alternative in  the ‘Standing Against Austerity’ document.

The manifesto highlights the Stormont austerity agenda as the main political issue in this campaign and criticises the refusal and the failure of the last Executive to implement outstanding areas of the Good Friday Agreement and table legislation to bring Northern Ireland into the 21st century.

The Party is challengimg the new Assembly to introduce 10 key pieces of legislation in its first one hundred days to signal its intent to build a modern vibrant and inclusive Northern Ireland. Included in the 100 day challenge are demands for a Bill of Rights, integrated, secular education, a woman’s right to choose, civil marriage equality and an end to fracking.

See the manifesto in full: Workers Party Assembly Manifesto 2016

BBC Website coverage:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2016-northern-ireland-36113735

UTV website coverage:

http://www.u.tv/News/2016/04/22/Workers-Party-launches-its-manifesto-57875

 

 

Kerr kicks off socialist campaign

Paddy & Lily

Lily Kerr is congratulated on her speech by local Party chairperson Paddy Lynn

Lily Kerr, the Workers Party’s candidate in South Belfast, held her official launch rally yesterday with an affirmation that she was proud to be a socialist and proud to place the Party’s socialist agenda  before the local electorate.

During a barn storming speech Lily fired several salvos at the outgoing Executive and Assembly but saved her most pointed comments for the economy, public services, a woman’s right to choose and the growing dependency on food banks in the constituency.

“We are told repeatedly about the jobs which the Assembly has attracted or helped to create over the last five years”, Lily said. “But where are they and what are they worth?”, she added.

Low wage economy                                                                                           “If we have the secure well paid employment that the Assembly boasts of then why is south Belfast the highest user of food banks in Northern Ireland’?, she asked. ‘I’ll tell you’, she said, ‘ because the jobs are not secure and are not well paid. They are mostly low skill and zero hours contracts based. The Assembly markets Northern Ireland as a low wage economy – and this is the result’ she said.

Health service in crisis                                                                                  Turning her attention to the health service Lily said’…health and social care services are in crisis. Be in no doubt about that. We need to reshape and rebuild and to do that we must involve users, staff, trade unions and the general public. We are where we are because of the influence of the clinicians and the endless number of  finance driven reviews. We have to break that cycle’, Lily said

Trust women                                                                                                       Lily’s final comments were reserved for those candidates and those parties who do not trust women to make decisions about their own bodies and their own fertility. Her message was unambiguous. ‘If you don’t trust women then I don’t trust you.’

If you would like to help out with Lily’s campaign in South Belfast or want more information please email: southbelfastwp@gmail.com

 

 

 

Party welcomes ‘UNISON Manifesto’

UNISON

Lily Kerr criticised those Assembly parties which gave tax breaks to big business while children queued at foodbanks

The Workers Party has congratulated the trade union UNISON on the production of its Assembly Manifesto, calling it a ‘socialist assessment of life and politics in Northern Ireland’ .

UNISON launched its manifesto at a hustings event for its members earlier today. On a panel comprised of all the main Northern Ireland parties, the Workers Party was represented by its South Belfast candidate, Lily Kerr .

During the hustings debate Lily set out the case against the privatisation of the health service and other public services, criticised the Assembly’s refusal to abolish Zero Hours Contracts and  warned of the pending crisis which will follow in the wake of the full effects of ‘welfare reform’ – today’s figures on the increasing number of people being forced to use food banks being just one indicator of that.

‘I am calling on trade unionists, in particular, to give their vote only to candidates and parties which support the UNISON manifesto, are publicly opposed to the privatisation of public services, which trust women to make their own decisions and which stand against austerity and lowering corporation tax for big business while children and families go hungry’, Lily said

‘Food bank figures a scandal’ – Weir

Gemma Food Banks

Before you vote – reflect on this human misery and the MLAs from tnis consistuency who would give tax breaks to the rich before feeding starving children

Gemma Weir, Workers Party candidate in North Belfast has described as ‘an outrage and a scandal’ the stark increase in the number of local people depending on food banks to feed themselves and their families.

‘It is absolutely shocking that so many people find themselves dependent on charitable handouts for basic foodstuffs. In North Belfast during the past year over 1500 people needed emergency food parcels – nearly 800 of them were children’.

 This is what Austerity looks like                                                                              ‘It is also a terrible indictment of our local MLAs. This is happening on their watch. This is the outcome of their austerity measures and their sectarian one-upmanship with each other. While they consolidate their power bases children are starving in this constituency”, Gemma said

‘There are many reasons why people have to rely on food banks: unemployment, poverty and a zero hours employment culture all contribute to people turning to food banks to feed themselves and their families’.

 Not a priority for Local MLAs                                                                           ‘Before people go to the polls in a few weeks time they should reflect on these figures, on the human misery that they mask and on the political parties whose priority is to lower corporation tax and give tax breaks to the rich’, Gemma concluded.

One Minute on Food Banks

shttps://www.facebook.com/WPNorthBelfast/?fref=ts

Kerr condemns ‘ hysteria and threats’

homecare

Homecare Services – not for profit

Workers Party candidate in South Belfast Lily Kerr has criticised what she called ‘ the hysteria and threats’ emanating from the private care sector over the introduction of the living wage.

‘Living Wage’

‘The living wage is actuality nothing of the sort’,  she said. While it marks a small increase on its predecessor the minimum wage, it benefits the Chancellor of the Exchequer more than it does working people. As more people pass the tax threshold the government uses their additional contributions to plug the gap in its budget”, Lily said

“Every time there is the slightest initiative to improve the lives of working people we are told that jobs will be lost, businesses will close and that  the end of the  world is a little closer”

“So it proves with the private care sector. and it highlights their real motivation for providing this service: the pursuit of profit. Government should listen carefully to what they are saying and then take all home care services back into the public sector”, Lily concluded.

 

%d bloggers like this: