Category Archives: Statements

Where is the red line on poverty?

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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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DUP and Sinn Fein show callous disregard for ordinary people

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Sham fights distract from real issues

The failure to agree a new Executive has been described as ‘disgraceful and unacceptable’ by the Workers Party.

‘It is now blatantly obvious that neither the DUP or Sinn Fein are capable of restoring a devolved government’.

For more than a year they have choreographed a sham fight over vanity projects and red lines in a total and contemptuous disregard for the health, well being, education and quality of life of ordinary working people and for the economy of Northern Ireland.

Our public services are being run down, teachers, health care staff and  employees in both the public and private sectors have borne the burden of wage freezes and austerity measures.

The health service is in crisis, schools have no budgets, the economy is at a standstill, jobs are being lost and all while these two  parties deliver excuses but no solutions.

Having shown that they are incapable or unwilling to form a new administration that option should now be withdrawn from the DUP and Sinn Fein. A system of majority rule by a party or parties willing to restart the Assembly should now be enacted.

 

“Take up screening appointments”, urges Weir

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Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has called on young women in Belfast to make sure they keep their appointments for cervical cancer screening.

“Last year alone well over 20,000 young women between the ages of 25 – 29 didn’t turn up for their routine cervical smear test”, Gemma said. “This is the highest risk age group.

“When the 30 – 34 age group is added to that, the number of missed appointments rockets to more than 42,000”, she said

“There are a number of reasons why young women in particular might be reluctant to take up their appointment. Some may think it is unnecessary, others may be apprehensive or embarrassed but early detection and treatment of any abnormal cells is extremely important”, Gemma added

Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cause of cancer death among females in the UK accounting for 1% of all cancer deaths in woman”.  81 cases were diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2016.

“I am aware of a number of community based initiatives designed to help raise awareness and uptake of screening appointments but clearly much more needs to be done. We cannot be satisfied with thousands of missed appointments when young women’s health and well-being is at stake”. Gemma concluded

 

‘Reclaim our health and social care services’

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Workers Party members supporting the ‘Save Our NHS’ rally

‘Health and social care services must remain publicly funded and free at the point of delivery’. 

That was the message that Workers Party members brought to the ‘Save Our NHS’ rally, organised by NIPSA, at Belfast City Hall yesterday.

A properly funded health and social care service designed to deliver quality outcomes is central to a humane and decent society:  but those principles are far from safe and secure.

There must be an end to ‘creeping privatisation’, to the outsourcing of health and care services and jobs to the private sector. Vested interests, including the vested interests of private healthcare, must be confronted and challenged.  

But for as long as the major parties at Stormont put ‘red lines’ and pet projects ahead of people’s health and well-being, that is not going to happen.

Report after report shows that health inequalities in Northern Ireland have been persisting at the same level or worse for the past ten years.

Health inequalities have a number of root causes, but poverty, unemployment, low pay, educational under- achievement and the lack of decent public housing all feature as key factors.All of these factors are compounded by a political programme of austerity and privatisation

We can continue to ignore our health needs and watch hospital admissions grow out of control, patients die on trolleys and the system go into melt down, or we can address the problem by reclaiming our health and social care services and bringing them back into full, publicly funded, public ownership.

‘Examine your conscience’ says Weir

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The brutal and barbaric reality of ‘punishment’ attacks

Workers Party representative in North Belfast, Gemma Weir has condemned the shooting of a 26 year old man in the New Lodge area.

‘This is yet another barbaric and totally unjustifiable assault. It has neither cause nor  justification’, she said

‘These so called ‘punishment‘ attacks and the consequences they have are in danger of becoming a sideline issue’, Gemma warned.

‘There is a real concern that this type of behaviour becomes accepted as the norm and that we fail to express sufficiently the outrage and condemnation which these actions deserve’, she said

‘In the past year there have been almost 100 shootings and beatings across Northern Ireland and a staggering 3,000 attacks since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998’ explained Gemma.

‘These are brutal, life changing and sometime fatal attacks’, she said. ‘They cannot be carried out without the support and help of a number of people in the local community’.

‘While we must continue to call on those directly involved to desist immediately we must also say to those who support them, in whatever way, ‘Examine your conscience and reflect on the role you have played in these brutal maimings and murders’ 

‘The police, the courts and the judicial system are the only legitimate source of redress’ said Gemma

‘Anyone with any information about this or any other attack should contact the PSNI’, Gemma concluded.

Photo Credit: AMMG Media

Weir condemns racist graffiti

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Party member Paddy Wilson painting out fascist graffiti

Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has condemned the appearance of far-right graffiti around North Belfast.

Images and slogans of the group ‘Generation Identity’ have appeared across the area in recent times and points to a worrying increase of far-right activity.

Generation Identity is just a modern incarnation of the same fascist ideology that has always aimed to divide people along the lines of religion or race in the past”, Gemma said.

Opposed                                                 While the appearance of this graffiti gives cause for concern, I am sure that any attempt to create racist divides in North Belfast will be opposed by its residents”, she added

Generation Identity has made headlines recently when it was found that its members had taken part in ‘military-style training camps’ and was instrumental in crowdfunding a ship to stop refugees sailing the Mediterranean, a particularly inhumane activity considering the hundreds of people who have died making the dangerous journey.

Stand against                                                                                                             “In the past months, Belfast has stood against the abhorrent politics of Britain First. There is no doubt in my mind that they will stand against any attempt by this group to attack the immigrant communities who contribute so much and make our society a vibrant one.” Gemma said

“The Workers Party is completely opposed to dividing working people, be it by race or religion”

North Belfast needs more homes, decent work and better healthcare. This is what the people of North Belfast should fight for. It does not need the far-right attempting to fan the flames of division.” Gemma concluded.

Carillion collapse proves privatisation doesn’t work

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Time to take back public services from the private sector

Workers Party spokesperson Joanne Lowry has expressed outrage and concern at the collapse of contractors Carillion and the threat to over 500 local jobs. 

“The futures and livelihoods of around 200 Carillion staff carrying out work for the Housing Executive are now at serious risk and hundreds more including those employed on Power NI contracts are at similar risk”, she said. 

“I have been in touch with senior civil servants in the Department for Communities insisting that they arrange for the threatened Carillion workers to be taken on to the Housing Executive payroll immediately”, Joanne said. 

“This crisis has come about as a result of  the outsourcing of contracts, the privatisation of public services and the failure of companies like Carillion to deliver.” she stated. 

“Public sector organisations like the Housing Executive must have their own  Direct Labour Organisations to provide the level of service required and  job security for its maintenance and repair teams” 

“It is time that we reversed the privatisation of public services and took them back fully into public ownership”, Joanne concluded 

‘Disgraceful and contemptuous’

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Sinn Fein’s response ‘disgraceful and contemptuous’

The Workers Party has branded the decision by the Sinn Fein leadership to ‘suspend’ its West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff as ‘disgraceful and contemptuous of the families of the Kingmills massacre victims’.

‘Sinn Fein has clearly demonstrated where its priorities lie. They are much more interested in going through the motions than in taking any firm stand  against the callous and insensitive actions of McElduff.’, the party said.

‘If he had any shred of decency or dignity he would resign, but given the cover he has received from his party leader Michelle O’Neill that is now highly unlikely.

South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who retweeted McElduff’s video clip, should also hand in his resignation.

That is the only way in which anyone can have any confidence in believing that Sinn Fein’s public apologies are anything other than damage limitation measures’

 

McElduff’s callous disregard for victims families

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McElduff: letting the Sinn Fein mask slip?

‘Sinn Fein must sack its West Tyrone MP, Barry McElduff and publicly apologise for his grossly offensive and insensitive behaviour’, the Workers Party has said.

‘There can be no excuse for Mr McElduff’s behaviour and his post on social media’, the party said .

‘To do what he has done on the anniversary of the Kingsmill Massacre does not so much show an error of judgement but more a callous and derogatory disregard for the families of those who were murdered and wounded in that blatantly sectarian attack  forty two years ago this week’.

‘The Sinn Fein leadership must demonstrate its abhorrence of his actions by sacking Mr McElduff with immediate effect’, the party statement said

Nationalism: narrow, bankrupt and dangerous

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The real priorities  are defending  public services, funding education, securing the NHS, standing up for workers rights, opposing zero hours contracts, campaigning for a real living wage and securing free, safe and legal choices for women

The politically bankrupt nature of nationalism was never more evident than in the recent letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The two hundred people who co-signed the letter demanding that the Irish Government support and champion nationalists in Northern Ireland could have done so 60 years ago when the old Nationalist Party absented itself from Stormont just as Sinn Fein has done from the Assembly.

Nationalism, Irish or British, never blames itself, never questions its actions nor reflects on its own behaviour. In the world of nationalists and nationalism someone else is always at fault . So it is with the content and tone of this letter. 

Sinn Fein collapsed the Executive, forced an election and ever since have presented excuse after excuse for their failure to form a new Assembly.

Undermining the principle of consent                                                                    The ‘200 Letter’ mirrors exactly the Sinn Fein agenda. It presents an extremly narrow version of events and a dangerous one at that.

While claiming to seek to protect the Good Friday Agreement it callously undermines one of its main cornerstones – the principle of consent. It points to the outcome of the EU referendum and argues that it will ‘reinforce partition on this island’. The Good Friday Agreement confirmed the constitutional position of both parts of this island and that was endorsed by the vast majority of citizens in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Nationalism is not only a backward political philosophy : it is a toxic one. It seeks to divide and exploit difference. It blames others and otherness. It is a political cancer that deliberately subverts progressive politics and invariably is home to the worst examples of native gombeen men and women.

Very few of the two hundred signatories to this letter have been to the fore in the struggle to defend public services, fund education, secure the NHS, stand up for workers rights, oppose zero hours contracts or campaign for a real living wage. Fewer still, for all their alleged concern about a rights based society, have publicly sought the right of women in Northern Ireland to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

Contempt and disdain                                                                                      Given that not one of the two hundred signatories could bring themselves to say ‘Northern Ireland’ in this letter shows the contempt and disdain they are happy to display in pursuit of these narrow, exclusive and dangerous objectives.

The immediate priority for Northern Ireland is the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive. But that would mean no hiding place for the failed and failing politics of nationalism.

 

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