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The power of a united working class

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Magherafelt member and veteran civil rights activist, Marian Donnelly addressing the Northern Ireland Conference

The Workers Party’s annual conference in Northern Ireland has heard how the power of a united working class can tackle and overcome  the collapse of the Assembly, the problems faced in health and social care, education women’s rights and the environment, eradicate sectarianism and rebuild the economy.

 

“Conference Quotes”

 Northern Ireland                                                                                                   “There is no crisis too great, no crisis which cannot be tackled, by an active, organised and united working class. A working class, united and conscious of its power as a class, is necessary for change, for the revolutionary transformation of society, the abolition of capitalism and the building of a democratic, secular, socialist society in which power is firmly in the hands of the workers and where the wealth of society is used for the benefit of the many, not the profit of the few”

 Reproductive Rights                                                                                              The Victorian era law which governs reproductive rights for women in Northern Ireland, pre-dates the light bulb. It must be brought in to the 21st Century. That needs to happen as a matter of urgency before more women are criminalised, forced to travel for procedures, or left to suffer alone,

 The Economy                                                                                                             There are a number f myths about the Northern Ireland economy, chief among these are the  ideas that a freely competitive capitalist economy, left to itself generates full employment.

Secondly  that there is a tendency in developed capitalist economies towards a decrease in inequality, due to the effects of modernisation, including enhanced educational opportunities. So, the idea is that capitalism generates equality. Both suggestions are myths.

 Health and Social Care                                                                                             A universal health service is fundamental to an equal, inclusive, just and fair society and is one of the corner stones of the Welfare State.  Bevin, in his book In place of Fear, said there will always be a National Health Service as long as there are people willing to fight for it.  The Workers Party is willing to lead that fight!

There must be increased funding and resources for mental health services in Northern Ireland. The prevalence of mental ill-health here is higher than anywhere else in the UK while  funding per capita remain the lowest.

Childcare in Northern Ireland must be a responsibility  taken on by the state for the benefit of all its citizens.  Centrally planned and resourced facilities, free at the point of delivery should be the norm.

 Sectarianism                                                                                                     Sectarianism is more widespread, more ingrained, more accepted now, than at any time over the past 50 years. That’s not a claim to be made lightly.

We now live with a culture in which sectarianism is formally institutionalised. A culture in which manifestations of sectarianism are no longer seen as sectarian. We live in a culture in which it is deemed acceptable to think, speak and act in a sectarian manner but without rebuke, reproach or criticism – that is the extent to which it has become embedded in our psyche and in our culture. That’s what sustains the myth of two communities that is what drives and maintains artificial divisions.

 Northern Ireland Civil Rights anniversary                                                           The conference also heard from veteran civil rights activists Marion Donnelly and Eamon Melaugh on the 50th Anniversary f the first civil right s march from Coalisland to Dungannon in 1968 and plans by the Party to mark that anniversary later in the year

 Environment                                                                                                              Plans by Dalridian Gold to mine the Sperrins – an officially designated area of outstanding natural beauty – and the granting of exploration licences by the Department for the Economy were strongly criticised.

A selection of conference  papers is attached:

Northern Ireland
The Economy & PFIs
Reproductive Rights
Sectarianism
Childcare
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Why ‘civic unionism’ is not a response

1969-BelfastWhen the Workers Party was invited to sign the recent letter from civic unionism we declined because we do not subscribe to the notion of ‘two communities’ or the establishment of a society based on competing versions of nationalism, whether Irish or British.

Nor did we support the open letter signed by ‘civic nationalists’ last December – in fact we were extremely critical of it ( see link below).

Polarise and paralyse                                                                                               This most recent letter from civic unionism does not move the debate on any further, It does not challenge or distance itself from  the ‘separate but equal’  mantra which continues to polarise and paralyse our society.

In fact. albeit that many of the signatories would be sympathetic to a non-sectarian and more democratic society, pitching ‘civic unionism’ against ‘civic nationalism’ compounds and confirms the existing problems.

Bill of Rights                                                                                                              Our version of a democratic secular society in Northern Ireland is based on the rights of citizens as citizens rather than their allegiance to any religious or nationalist bloc.

It is for that reason that the demand for a Bill of Rights remains a fundamental part of our strategy to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state, guaranteeing the civil liberties of all citizens, regardless of communal background.

Citizenship                                                                                                               The demand for equality and democratic rights is not the property or the preserve of any bloc. It’s ownership should rest firmly with citizens as citizens. Only on that basis will progress be made and citizenship flourish.

https://workerspartyelection.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/nationalism-narrow-bankrupt-and-dangerous/

 

New Party bulletin: ‘Comments & Views’

#1 Bulletin 230218Welcome to the Party’s first ‘Comments and Views’ bulletin which has been circulated widely to trade unionists, the community and voluntary sector and a number of individuals throughout Northern Ireland..

The twice  monthly  bulletin will address current social and political issues from a socialist perspective.

The first edition focuses on the failure by Sinn Fein and the DUP to secure a functioning Executive and proposes a number of changes to the way the Assembly functions as a way to restore devolution

Restoring Devolution 23 Feb 2018

 

 

O’Mulleoir should also resign

McElduff resignation
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If there is a semblance of decency left in Sinn Fein then O’Mulleoir should resign

Commenting on the announcement of his resignation The Workers Party has said that “Barry McElduff and Sinn Fein should have taken the decision a week ago”.

“Barry McElduff displayed a callous disregard for the families of those who were murdered and wounded in that blatantly sectarian attack at Kingsmills”, the Party said
 
“South Belfast MLA Mairtin O’Mulleoir who re-tweeted McElduff’s video should now also resign” the statement concluded

 

2018: a Happy New Year?

2018

As another year ends the reality for working class people – employed, unemployed, students or pensioners – remains the same.

Commentators, conservative economists, newspapers columnists and political pundits are queuing up to explain away wage freezes, welfare cuts, poorer public services and higher unemployment.  They blame everything and everyone one, but never the economic system we live under.

2018 is likely to be yet another year when the books are balanced at the expense of working class people. The 2008 crisis in capitalism is still being bailed out ten years later through welfare cuts, wage freezes, price hikes reduced and privatised public services and by unemployment.

Constantly we are told that ‘we are all in this together’ – no we are not!

See the Party’s full statement here: 

2018 New Year statement

Free, safe, legal and accessible

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Party members joined the ‘Rally for Choice’  in Belfast city centre this afternoon as part of the ongoing campaign to secure the provision of  free, safe, legal and accessible abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Assembly has refused repeatedly to act on this issue and it is a tragic irony that as ‘equality’ forms part of the new Assembly talks process, women’s equality is not even on the agenda.

The five main parties at Stormont do not trust women.

The Workers Party believes in a woman’s right to choose and supports the provision of free, safe, legal and accessible abortion in her own country including practical facilities to support women seeking an abortion and quality post-abortion care.

May Day 2017

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May Day: a time to proudly re-affirm and recommit to class based values

May Day is celebrated across the globe – and rightly so.  It is a day when working  people can not only take pride in the contribution they make to the society they live in and celebrate their links with other working people around the world, but it is also a day when we can proclaim and re-affirm our values.

For the Workers Party in Northern Ireland that means recommitting ourselves to class politics and rejecting the narrow, divisive and deadly rhetoric of nationalism in all its local forms.

It means standing up against sectarianism, racism, homophobia and misogyny.

It means actively opposing cuts to public services, tax breaks for the rich and denial of opportunities to yet another generation of young people.

It means focusing on, and providing a class based analysis of  the real issues affecting working people. It means not being sidetracked by gesture politics. smoke and mirrors and snake oil peddlers.

It means being a Workers Party for working people. There is no better day to recommit to that task than on May Day – the day of  working people and their parties world wide

Strengthening resolve the only response

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Nationalism – British and Irish – trades on fear, division and separation

The prospects for social, political and economic progress in Northern Ireland may have been set back for at least a generation.

That is the stark reality facing the citizens of Northern Ireland after Thursday’s poll.

The results of the Assembly election have confirmed  British and Irish nationalism as the dominant political force here.

Nationalism of any sort  is never progressive.

It is always  insular, small minded and ultimately conservative – despite its claims to the contrary.

No Different                                                                                                     The Sinn Fein / DUP Coalition  which led the last Executive borrowed millions of pounds to make 20,000 public servants redundant, it slashed public services, it planned to give tax breaks to multi-national companies and it bottled its opportunity to stand up to a devastating programme of welfare reform. Their next coalition will be no different.

When discussions around a new Executive begin this week, jobs, health, education, housing and deepening sectarian division won’t even be on the agenda.

There are more than 100,000 children in Northern Ireland living on or below the poverty line, 15,000 people are officially classed as homeless and the average wage is less than it was ten years ago.  There is a crisis in education, health and social care. Which of the parties likely to participate in the Executive, will be prioritising these issues?  Where are the proposals, the strategies and the emergency plans to meet the real and immediate needs of working people?

Nationalism , British and Irish,  trades on fear, division and separation. We have seen that to our cost and we have seen what results. Nationalism attracts all classes to its cause, though for different reasons.
A new DUP /Sinn Fein Coalition will be formed at some stage but it will not be to the benefit of the disadvantaged, the dispossessed or the downtrodden in our society. Ironically, it will not even be to the advantage of the vast majority of people who were duped into voting for it.
 

Smoke and Mirrors                                                                                                            The “negotiations” in the coming weeks will be all smoke and mirrors.   They will attempt to convey an impression of progress but will, in reality, do nothing more than consolidate  the position of each sectarian bloc at the expense of ordinary working people in Northern Ireland.

But it will also confirm that the radical, class-based analysis of the Workers Party and its demand for the Socialist Alternative presented in its manifesto is more relevant, more pertinent and more urgent than ever.

Nationalism, conservatism and capitalism will not go away of their own accord. They must be dispatched. That is the task we have taken on.  Election results will not diminish our resolve.

 

‘Free, safe, legal and accessible’

free-safe-legalThe Workers Party kicked off its activities in support of International Womens Week with a public meeting to discuss the status of a woman’s right to choose  in Northern Ireland and the Republic

Gemma Weir, the Party’s North Belfast candidate in next week’s Assembly election, addressed the situation in Northern Ireland and the specific issues around the 1967 Abortion Act and calls for its extension to Northern Ireland.

Mary Diskin, a member of the Workers Party in Wicklow and  a long time women’s rights campaigner provided an overview and update on the history of the struggle for abortion legislation  in the Republic of Ireland and the current ‘Repeal the 8th Amendment’ camapign.

The common message from both jurisdictions was that a woman’s right to choose must first be secured and that is should be ‘free, safe, legal and accessible’

Both speakers emphasised the class nature of the abortion issue and the differences for those who can afford to travel and avail of services in England and elsewhere and those who can’t.

It is likely that today’s meeting will prompt an updated  policy paper on the Party’s position on a woman’s right to choose in the near future.

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

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