Category Archives: Statements

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

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.

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/

An Irish Language Act?

Corvus Irish Font Alphabet Stamp Set Lowercase 3mm for stamped jewelry - The Urban Beader

There is no reason why an Irish Language Act should not be introduced

 Acht na Gaelige?

The Workers Party has no difficulties with people using the Irish language.

A tremendous amount of very good work has been done by language activists to develop an awareness and acceptance of Irish in everyday life.

However, it is very important to separate out the intent of linguists and Irish language enthusiasts from the narrow and divisive agenda pursued by parties like Sinn Fein in particular and the counter measures of the parties like the DUP.

Neither party does a service to the Irish language or to those who promote it. Nor does it inform or enlighten the discussion around the introduction of an Irish language Act.

The issue has been reduced to a zero sum gain.

If the DUP prevent the introduction of an Irish Language Act then they have won and Sinn Fein has lost. If Sinn Fein secures an act then they will claim a victory over the DUP.

Neither will be particularly concerned about the content of the act or its roll out.

For them this is yet another battle ground in their sectarian head to head confrontations.

The principle of an Irish Language Act has been acknowledged in the St Andrews Agreement and the UK government has recognised the role of the Irish language by signing up to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

There is no reason why an Irish Language Act should not be introduced and every reason why it should.

The position of some of those who purport to support the development of the language means that this is unlikely to happen and that if it does it will be in circumstances detrimental to the language movement and to its public acceptance.

We are aware also from historical experience that legislation alone is likely to be insufficient to protect or revitalise the Irish language.

We need a wider language policy to address the interests of the language and Irish speakers which is free from the taint of sectarianism and which encourages common ownership of the Irish language.

A realistic Living Wage

pay-packet

Time for a realistic Living Wage

Workers Party candidate in Upper Bann, Colin Craig, has repeated calls for the introduction of a realistic living wage following a damning Revenue & Customs report which ‘named and shamed’ seventeen local companies.

“It is completely unacceptable that people are being exploited in this manner, particularly young workers, and that  many of the firms involved seek to minimise their culpability with half-hearted and, quite frankly, insulting excuses”

“The DUP and Sinn Fein have been travelling the world selling Northern Ireland as a low wage economy. Today we see what that means in real terms for working people ‘, Colin said.

“I am particularly outraged at the news that a recruitment firm based in Portadown, a firm which  enlists employees for other firms, came top of this list of shame by underpaying  143 workers by more than £26,000”.

I am calling on the next Assembly to introduce, as a matter of urgency , a realistic Living Wage for Northern Ireland of at least £8,50 per hour”, Colin said

GP crisis must be resolved says Colin Craig

gp

GPs need to become employees like everyone else in the service

Workers Party Upper Bann candidate Colin Craig has called for GPs to become NHS employees, instead of serving as private contractors.

Speaking about the collapse of GP services in the Portadown area Colin said,

‘This simple step would improve the service, reduce waiting times and address many of the problems currently faced in primary care.

‘For as long as GPs remain as private contractors there will continue to be difficulties in recruitment and threats to services”, said Colin.

‘It would be inconceivable that other health and care professionals like nurses, social workers and hospital doctors would sit outside the NHS rather than be its employees’, he added

This problem needs to be tackled head on. GPs need to become employees like everyone else in the service if we are to tackle the crisis we are currently facing’, Colin concluded

Care of older people not a commodity – Craig

older-care

Older care must be  freed from private profit

‘The care of older people should  primarily be the responsibility of local health and social care trusts’, the Workers Party representative in Upper Bann  has said.

Colin Craig was speaking following the closure of Glenview Private Nursing Home in Bleary, Portadown following a series of critical  inspection reports.

‘I don’t believe the closure will have come as any surprise to the residents or their families’, Colin said

‘Since Margaret Thatcher pioneered the privatisation of Nursing Homes in the 1980’s the well-being of older people has been relegated to a distant second  place behind the profit motive. It has become a commodity’, argued Colin.

‘When private care companies pull the plug  because of  falling profits or the failure to meet  standards, it is the local health and social care trusts which have to step in and provide the care’.

‘It is  incumbent on the next Assembly to urgently redress this situation by prioritising the care of our older people, by taking the entire care system back into public ownership’, Colin concluded.

Refugee ban will destroy lives – Kerr

lily-trump

Refugees must be made welcome – Lily Kerr

After a week in which many people’s worst fears about a Donald Trump presidency appear to have been realised, Worker’s Party representative Lily Kerr has expressed her ‘horror and utter disgust’ at Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

‘Trump is obviously not satisfied simply waging war on women, Mexicans, African-Americans and the American working class. He has chosen to prevent Muslim men and women, many of them legal residents in the U.S., from entering the country through his executive order.

This Order will tear families apart, destroy lives, and prevent those seeking refuge from gaining protection.’ Lily said

‘The so-called war on terror continues to be used by the government of the United States to target ethnic minorities in a  sectarian, racist and xenophobic manner. These actions clearly violate the constitution of the U.S.A. and the values that America claims to have been built on’ she said

‘That this order was signed by Trump on Holocaust Memorial Day makes it all the more horrific. ‘ Lily added.  ‘I am calling on all progressive forces in Northern Ireland and abroad to strongly, and unconditionally, condemn his latest actions’.

My thoughts are with all those Muslim men, women and children who will be affected by this Order. I am proud to  publicly reaffirm my and my party’s committment by saying that Refugees Are Welcome Here!’, Lily concluded

Weir condemns north Belfast attack

nb-shooting

‘These are yesterday’s men’ – Weir

Workers Party representative in North Belfast Gemma Weir tonight  condemned ‘without reservation’ the wounding of a PSNI officer in a gun attack on the Crumlin Road.

‘Let there be no ifs and  no buts about this type of activity.

This was the attempted murder of a police officer serving the local community. Those who shot him and those who assisted and supported them have nothing to offer to the people of north Belfast”, Gemma said.

‘This community has unambiguously rejected violence by an overwhelming majority yet there are still armed gangs who lurk in the shadows, disrupt the lives of residents and shoot people as they provide a service to the community’

“These are yesterday’s men’. she said.

Anyone with any information about tonight’s shooting should contact the PSNI. My thoughts are with the injured officer his colleagues and family’, Gemma said.

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