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The Socialist Alternative

alternative-stormontIn the Assembly Elections on March 2nd the Workers Party will be representing the Socialist Alternative

There needs to be a root and branch reform of the Assembly structures. At a minimum we need the introduction of voluntary coalition or majority rule, the abolition of community designation requirements and the removal of the Petition of Concern mechanism. 

Many of the outstanding requirements of the Good Friday Agreement which have been deliberately set aside must be introduced if devolved government is to continue to function. These would include a Bill of Rights, Integrated Education an Anti-Poverty Strategy and and a viable Economic and Job Creation plan

What this election does offer is a chance for people to consider a socialist alternative. An alternative  to political irresponsibility, arrogance, sectarianism and the Executive’s agenda of welfare cuts, lower corporation tax, zero hours contracts, attacks on workers’ rights, social backwardness and of course privatisation of public services .

That is the message that the Workers Party will be delivering and the choice we will be presenting to the electorate.

The Assembly parties will trade on sectarian fears and tribal instincts to maximise their votes. We have seen what that produces.

On March 2nd vote for the socialist alternative

‘Pledge not to accept White House invite’ – Kerr

white-house

Local parties should refuse invitations to the White House

The Workers Party has called on all politicians in Northern Ireland to make a pre-election promise that they will not accept an invitation to the White House for St Patrick’s Day.

The call comes in the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on immigrants and refuges from a number of countries and seeks to secure a commitment from all parties that they will not attend the White House while the ban remains in place.
“The vicious inhumanity of this ban cannot be overstated”, said Workers Party spokesperson Lily Kerr. “It is essential that it is met with a resolute,  united and a global response – including Northern Ireland”, she said
 “Thousands and thousands of individuals and families from these shores have made new lives in the United States. We now need to stand in support of the immigrants, refugees and others who have been denied that opportunity by this racist and reactionary order.
We need to add our voices to the progressive protesters across the United States who are saying ‘Refugees are Welcome’ and demonstrate our support by refusing to attend St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at Trump’s White House”, concluded Lily.

Party welcomes PANA meeting

pana-belfast-210117b

A number of Party members were amongst those who attended PANA’s first meeting in Northern Ireland

The Workers Party has welcomed the first meeting  of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) to be held  Northern Ireland

Founded in Dublin over twenty years ago the group  advocates for an independent Irish Foreign Policy, defends Irish neutrality and promotes a reformed United Nations as the institution through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns.

The meeting – called to discuss the likely impact of the election of US President Donald Trump on American foreign policy and military interventions abroad  – was addressed by Murad Quereshi of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ and Roger Cole of PANA .

Part of the discussion focused on the role of Shannon Airport and the fact that over 730 US military flights landed at there in 2016. – more than two a day over the entire year. Of these, 413 were operated by the US Air Force, Navy or military, and the remainder were contracted troop carriers.

Discussions are to be held with a view to establishing a Northern Ireland branch of PANA .

Further information:

http://www.pana.ie/

http://www.stopwar.org.uk/

http://www.shannonwatch.org/

Supporting ‘ Apollo House’ action

apollo-rally-110117

Lily Kerr addressing the homelessness rally in Belfast

As a Dublin Court was  refusing to grant  a stay on the eviction order on the occupiers of Apollo House in Dublin, Workers Party representative Lily Kerr was one of a number of speakers addressing a solidarity protest outside Belfast City Hall.

The ‘Home Sweet Home’ group occupied Apollo House, a vacant building near Dublin city centre, last month and used it to provide accommodation and support services for a number of the city’s homeless people.

Speaking at the Belfast rally Lily Kerr said, ‘The occupation of Apollo House  stands in the best traditions of the Irish Left.and of Housing Action Campaigns in Dublin, Cork and Northern Ireland in the 1960s’.

‘It is disgraceful that the Courts in Dublin are refusing to allow homeless people to remain in Apollo House until appropriate, satisfactory and dignified accommodation can be provided for them’, Lily said.

‘There is also a housing and a homeless crisis in Northern Ireland’, Lily said.

‘Levels of homelessness have remained at historically high levels in Northern Ireland since 2005/6 and  it is a matter of public shame that in a period of a few weeks last year four people in Northern Ireland lost their lives sleeping on the streets’

‘ While empty barns and warehouses are being heated and profit made at the taxpayers expense people are left to sleep on the streets, in unsuitable accommodation and in  hostels.

‘There is no profit to be made from homelessness. That’s why it is not a priority. That’s why it is not at the top of the agenda. That’s how capitalism works’, Lily said.

Urgent reform of prison system needed

maghaberry-prison

We have some very serious and systemic problems in our prison system’

‘The latest death of an inmate at Maghaberry Prison further heightens concerns about the fitness of our prison regime and the way in which duty of care is approached’,  Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has said.

Her comments come in the wake of a yet another death in custody and a  series of incidents at the prison one of which involved a prisoner blinding and self harming himself will under observation by prison staff.

‘ We have some very serious and systemic problems in our prison system’, Ms Weir said. ‘This has to be the top of the Minister for Justice’s agenda and a comprehensive, all-inclusive and far-reaching action plan must be forthcoming within  weeks: not months or years’, she said

‘Prisoners in the care of society  are inflicting harm upon themselves and in several cases taking their own lives. This is not a time for pious platitudes, it is a time for a root and branch examination of the entire prison system with a view to making it safe, effective and accountable’ she said.

I extend my sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased and am calling for an immediate and incisive response from the Justice Minister’, Gemma concluded.

Academic selection ‘reinforces privilege and disadvantage’

academic-selection

Academic selection reinforces privilege and disadvantage

The announcement by Education Minister Peter Weir that primary schools can now coach and support pupils ahead of ‘transfer tests’ effectively confirms the formal reintroduction of academic selection at 11 years of age – despite the overwhelming evidence against such a move.

Educational disadvantage                  Reports by the United Nations and, more recently, the Iliad Report  – commissioned by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and undertaken by experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College in Belfast – repeatedly confirm that academic selection reinforces “privilege and disadvantage” and recommend the end of academic selection in Northern Ireland as a key way to reverse educational disadvantage.

All those opposed to academic selection – parents, teachers, trade unions and others – must reignite this debate and campaign not just for the reversal of this decision but the complete and final abolition of academic selection at 11.

 

Proud to support PRIDE 2016

PRIDE 2016Once again the Workers Party will be proud to support the LGBT community at the PRIDE parade on Saturday 6th August.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, contributors to this community and have every right to expect the same level of protection, support and legal safeguards as everyone else.

Throughout the year Party members have participated in rallies and demonstrations in support of marriage equality, marched against attacks on the LGBT community, participated in the Foyle PRIDE parade and presented a ‘Petition of Concern’ at DUP headquarters in protest against that party’s persistent blocking of an Assembly vote on marriage equality

Education: publicly funded and free at the point of access

University lecture theatre

Education is an investment in young people

As Queen’s University Belfast proposes increases in tuition fees Workers Party representative Lily Kerr has re-affirmed the Party’s call for an education system which is publicly funded and free at the point of access

“There is no shortage of models, variations or proposals for how third level education should be funded and there is no shortage of people, many of whom benefited from a debt free education themselves, who now wish to pull the ladder up behind them and turn education into a commodity”, Lily said.

“The Workers Party stands for a publicly funded education system, free at the point of access, free of tuition fees and free of future debt”, she said

“We see further and higher education as an investment in young people, the economy and society: not as a commodity or as a means to reclaim the public money used to bail out banks and financial institutions”, Lily concluded.

Weir tells Wilson – ‘Withdraw your remarks and apologise’

breastfeeding_Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has told East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson to withdraw his remarks about breastfeeding being ‘voyeuristic and exhibitionist’ and to publicly apologise for his comments.

‘Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby and nothing to be ashamed of. With breastfeeding rates in the UK among the lowest in the world  Mr Wilson’s comments are offensive, and ill-informed and  do nothing to promote and highlight the benefits for both mum and baby,’ Gemma said’

‘Sammy Wilson and others who hold similar views can be dismissed as outdated and prudish, but their underlying agenda is one which seeks to tell women what they can do, how they can do it and of course where they can do it’, Gemma added.

‘The choice of how to feed your baby is for each mother to decide but if that choice is to breastfed their baby then they should be supported and encouraged as all the research shows’, she said.

‘Sammy Wilson must withdraw his remarks, publicly apologise and understand the effect these kinds of remarks have on breastfeeding mums and mums to be’, Gemma concluded.

The UK has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding:

Rates of breastfeeding in the UK are amongst the lowest in the world

More information on the benefits of breastfeeding from NHS Choices:

NHS Choices_Benefits of breastfeeding

 

Ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed’ – Pilger

John Pilger

John Pilger

The media reaction and analysis of the successful leave vote in the EU referendum has been interesting. Apparently to whole point of having a referendum is to have another one if you don’t like the result.

Leave voters have been accused of being responsibility for an increase in racist attacks, for being small minded and of being anti European.

Local political reaction has been similarly alarming. Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein  have blamed ‘English nationalists’ for the Leave result. Seems that nationalism is OK as long as it’s Irish.

There is of course another and more grounded reason why the leave vote won: millions of ordinary people simply rejected the political and economic direction of the European Union.

The European Union serves the interests of big business, multinational corporations and the financial institutions. Its policies have made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Journalist John Pilger’s article sheds some light on the real issues and the real reasons why the majority of people voted leave.

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy

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