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Muckamore Abbey: public inquiry demanded

There must be a full and open public inquiry

“The revelations of the systematic and sustained abuse of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital  are both staggering in their proportion and horrifying in their implications”, Party representative in north Belfast Gemma Weir has said.

“Permanent mental scars have been inflicted on the patients involved, their families and friends”, she added . 

“The PSNI inquiry will address any criminal wrong doing by individuals but there are wider and longer term issues to be addressed also.  We have seen that, in similar situations, the organisations involved follow an established pattern of initial downplaying or denial followed by minimal acceptance and attempts to diffuse responsibility and blur accountability”, Gemma said. 


“It would be an  outrage and  a totally unacceptable insult  to patients and their families if that pattern were to be followed here. Only a full and open public inquiry can now address these issues, the culture which  facilitated them and identify all the factors and the people responsible”.


No doubt hundreds of reasons will be offered as to why we should not have a public inquiry but there is one overwhelming and undeniable reason why we should – the most vulnerable of the vulnerable in our society have been abused and mistreated by the people and  the system into whose care we entrusted them “, Gemma argued .


They deserve nothing short of a full and open public inquiry.

PARTY DELEGATION MEETS WITH VENEZUELAN AMBASSADOR

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Members of the Party delegation which met with Rocío Maneiro,  the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK and Ireland (right). L:R Helena Menéndez, Venezuelan Embassy official responsible for the Press, Party members Paddy Crossan, Gerry Grainger  (Workers Party International Secretary), Lily Kerr and Joanne Lowry

A delegation of party members has met with the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK and Ireland, Rocío Maneiro, to convey the Party’s solidarity with the Venezuelan government and its peoples and to voice our condemnation of the US sponsored attempted coup and the ongoing attacks against the democratically-elected government of Nicolás Maduro.

The Ambassador outlined the current situation in Venezuela and the great dangers not only for Venezuela, but also the entire region, when long established principles of international law on non-interference and territorial sovereignty were being set aside.

Increasing aggression.

In welcoming the Ambassador and her colleague to Belfast the Party’s International Secretary, Gerry Grainger, expressed the Workers Party condemnation of the escalation in aggression against Venezuela.

“The international aggression against the Venezuelan government is being co-ordinated and supported by the United States, the European Union and the governments of the so-called ‘Lima Group’1, They are attacking the sovereignty and rights of Venezuela and the Venezuelan people”, he stated

“The Bolivarian government 2 of Venezuela, like the Republic of Cuba which also chose a development path in the interests of its people, has faced relentless hostility, threats of intervention and a planned strategy of embargo and economic war”, Gerry explained

 lnternational Solidarity

The Workers Party is calling for an immediate end to the interference and aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for respect for its sovereignty and independence and is appealing for International solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan people.

Notes:

1The ‘Lima Group’ comprises 12 northern, central and southern American countries and is supported by the United States.It overtly condemned the presidential elections called for by the Bolivarian government, describing them as unobserved, unjust and undemocratic. Days before the planned election date, the Lima Group – alongside the United States and the European
Union – called for the cancellation of the election. Following the election which strengthened President Maduro’s position, the fourteen member nations of the Lima Group recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela.

2 The Bolivarian  Revolution is a political process in Venezuela that
was led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth
Republic Movement and later the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

The Bolivarian Revolution is named after Simón Bolívar, the early 19th-century Venezuelan and Latin American revolutionary leader, prominent in the Spanish American wars of independence in achieving the independence of most of northern South America from Spanish rule.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day: still relevant, still important

International Women’s Day remains an important date in the political calendar – not just because the struggles for equal rights, for equal pay and for the right to control reproductive choices still need to be fought, but because there is a lobby, made up mostly of the middle classes, that pretends that ‘women have never had it so good and we can all stop agitating now’.

Now more than ever those vicious myths need to be exposed, now more than ever those who want to pull the ladder up behind them need to be challenged.

That is why the Workers Party and other progressive forces will continue to
demand free, safe and legal abortion for all, not just the few, why we will campaign against the ruthlessness of zero hours contracts, the exploitative nature of much part time employment and why we will continue to struggle for full participation by women in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life .

That is why we continue to hold International Women’s Day to be an important date and an important event.

SDLP needs to ‘come clean’

A call for the SDLP to ‘come clean’ on the party’s new partnership with Fianna Fail has been made by Workers Party representatives Chris Bailie and  Joanne Lowry.

“There is clearly a major difference of opinion and a lot of unease amongst SDLP members about the new relationship with Fianna Fail” they said.

In North Belfast, former local councillor and MLA Alban Magennis has distanced himself from the merger while current local MLA and party deputy leader Nicola Mallon has been enthusiastically selling the deal to party members.

Now local SDLP Councillor Paul McCusker needs to let people know where he stands.”, said Chris.

” It would be hard to believe that Paul’s principles sit comfortably with a conservative  party like Fianna Fail. Nor would Fianna Fail’s slavish support of  free market economics, one of the causes of the current housing crisis in the Republic, find favour with someone like Paul McCusker, who has done so much for homeless people locally”, observed Chris.

It is a similar story in West Belfast. ” Long standing and well-respected councillor Tim Atwood has expressed his disapproval of the merger publicly” said,

“I have my political differences with Tim, but I and many others admire the work he has done, the service he has provided and most importantly the principles he has upheld over the years. Clearly this new arrangement with Fianna Fail runs contrary to what he and other SDLP members believe in”, Joanne said

Fianna Fail is the party that teamed up with the European Union’s Troika to introduce the crippling austerity measures making ordinary people pay for the bail out of Irish banks and financial investors while public services were decimated, and additional taxes placed on ordinary people.

“The SDLP needs to let people know where it stands. It would be hard to believe that either Tim Atwood’s or Paul McCusker’s principles sit comfortably with a conservative party like Fianna Fail”.

“We need to know – and the SDLP needs to tell us – where it stands on this deal with Fianna Fail and what the position of all of its candidates in the council elections is”, Joanne and Chris concluded

Party President’s New Year Statement

Party President: Michael Donnelly

 

Private profit first

In his New Year statement, Workers Party President, Michael Donnelly, has singled out the relentless pursuit of private profit as the determining factor in low wages, precarious employment , poor public services and homelessness in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The world of market forces “….is a world that rests on the principle of private profits first; all other things a poor second. It is this system that they insist shall prevail that is the primary cause of all our social ills and problems.

This exaltation of private profit ensures that there will be poverty, that there will be low wages and that there will be homelessness,” he said.

Northern Ireland

Addressing the situation in Northern Ireland Mr Donnelly attacked what he called the Sinn Fein and the DUP’s collective commitment to a sectarian carve-up of power and squabbling over the perks of office….. that has condemned the people of Northern Ireland to two years of uncertainty and a fear of sliding back into the deadly grasp of violent ethno-nationalism.

“Without a united working class “, he said “there will only be a suffocating and deadly divisive ethnic and sectarian political climate in which workers and their families will continue to suffer. Whether green or orange, a capitalist ruler is still a capitalist ruler!”

Sean Garland

Paying tribute to former Party President and life long revolutionary Sean Garland who died earlier this month, Mr Donnelly said, “…without his vision and foresight the Party as we know it would most probably not exist as it does, as a Party dedicated to revolutionary change, built upon the ideology of Marx and Lenin, of Tone and Connolly.

“The struggle continues to build the Workers Party into a political force capable of establishing a democratic, secular, socialist, unitary state on the island of Ireland – a Socialist Republic”, Comrade Donnelly concluded.

Follow the link for the full New Year statement:

Party President’s 2019 New Year Message

Joint New Year statement from Party’s Belfast representatives

Unfortunately, we can be fairly confident about what 2019 will bring, local Workers Party representatives have said.

In a joint New Year’s statement Party representatives in Belfast, Conor Campbell (Black Mountain), Gemma Weir (Castle), Patrick Lynn (Botanic), Chris Bailie (Oldpark), Patrick Crossan (Colin) and Joanne Lowry (Court) said:

“This year will see thousands of local people struggling to make ends meet. Thousands of teenagers will leave school with little or few qualifications. Many of those seeking a university education will find it unaffordable. Others will search in vain for apprenticeships”

Sectarian Standoff

“The Assembly will continue its sectarian standoff as Sinn Fein and the DUP prioritise local cultural identity issues over political progress, and both parties will continue to stand idly by as education, health, housing and other public services grind to a standstill”.

“Both parties will also ramp up the sectarian temperature, creating further divisions and leaving themselves no room for compromise because of the expectations they have engendered in their supporters”, they said

“Those who vote for this toxic stalemate should question their actions and examine the consequences”.

“At the last Assembly election nearly 650,000 people voted for parties that supported cuts to public services, segregated education, zero hours contracts, lower corporation tax and austerity for working people and their families”.

“All the while there are more than 100,000 children living in poverty and at least 15,000 people officially homeless. We are looking at a generation scarred for life”

“Tribal politics and sectarian brinkmanship can only survive if it receives support. If we continue to condone it, then subsequent condemnation is meaningless and worse.

Realities

“These are the realities we face going into 2019. Potential, opportunity and achievement are all sacrificed at the altar of sectarianism fuelled by the worst excesses of British and Irish nationalism”

“Working people, those seeking employment, students and the elderly need a socialist, secular and anti-sectarian road map to chart a way forward which offers a quality of life for all in a society run by them, for them. We have seen what the alternative offers”, they concluded.

Sean Garland

SEAN GARLAND: His impact on political life was immense

It is with deep sadness and regret that the Workers Party announces the death of Sean Garland, a life-long comrade, a member of the Party’s Central Executive Committee and one of the people who most influenced and shaped the Workers Party over many decades. 

Party President Michael Donnelly has paid tribute to Mr Garland saying that he was “a unique and charismatic individual whose contribution to Irish political life cannot be overestimated”. 

The socialist project                                                                                              “Sean never took the easy option or the path of least resistance”, he said, “he always based his decisions, and his actions, on what he adjudged to be in the best interests of working class people and the revolutionary socialist project.”

Internationalism                                                                                                “Sean’s contribution to rethinking and redefining the republicanism of the late 1950s and early 1960s was immense. It changed the course of progressive political thought, emphasised the internationalism of the class politics of the Workers Party and the common struggle of all workers wherever they lived and decisively rejected the narrow nationalism that others chose to pursue with catastrophic consequences.”

 Legacy                                                                                                                  “Comrade Sean Garland devoted his life to the struggle to build a socialist future. His legacy and his influence will endure in the class politics which he espoused and in the generations of working people at home and abroad that he has influenced and inspired. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family at this time. We have all lost a fearless revolutionary standard bearer, a colossus of socialist politics, a comrade and friend”, Mr Donnelly concluded.

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‘Women Can’t Wait’

Gemma Choice 1

Choice: Free, safe, legal and accessible

“The focus on the reform and decriminalistion of abortion services in Northern Ireland has been sharpened by the result of the recent referendum in the Republic”.  Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has claimed

“That momentum should now be translated into nothing short of locally available, safe, legal and accessible abortion services in Northern Ireland”, she said

The Workers Party is opposed to  direct rule and has consistently called for the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive.

“However, the refusal of Sinn Fein and the DUP to form an administration means that the only viable option available is for Westminster to legislate for abortion services for Northern Ireland. 

The reality is that women can’t wait.”, Gemma said

“The DUP and Sinn Fein continue to inflict a great disservice on local politics and the people of Northern Ireland.

“The human rights, health, well-being and choices of local women don’t even feature in their diversionary and on-going discussions.

“While local politicians choose to ignore it , Westminster must now acknowledge and respond to the suffering and plight of women in Northern Ireland who seek to have an abortion.

“The legislation must be comprehensive, unambiguous and immediate. It must legislate for free, safe, legal and accessible abortion services with pre and post information and support services” Gemma concluded

There is a response to ‘Death riders’

Joanne L deathriders

This doesn’t happen on the Malone Road or Holywood Co. Down: we can’t ignore that.

Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry has condemned recent ‘death-riding’ incidents in the Lower Falls area.

Questioning the level of contribution which elected politicians have made to developing the area she has also called for a comprehensive regeneration plan to “turn this community around”

 

“The damage, misery and grief inflicted on the community by these types of incidents cannot and should not be underestimated”, Joanne said.

“Two recent events, in particular, – in Ross Road last week and in the early hours of Monday morning on the Grosvernor Road – have brought media and wider public attention to this problem , but it is an on-going and almost daily reality for many areas throughout West Belfast, with often serious and sometimes fatal consequences”, she said.

BentleyPNG

The damage, misery and grief inflicted on the community by these types of incidents cannot and should not be underestimated

 

“It would be great to be able to say that there is an easy, quick and permanent solution to car theft, ‘death riding’ and all the destruction and misery that it brings. But there is not”.

“That doesn’t mean that we should do nothing and I know of some very positive work being undertaken by groups and individuals in this area to overcome these problems”.

 

 

Socially deprived areas                                                                                   Joanne pointed out that this level of destruction does not happen right across Belfast.

“Historically it occurs in socially deprived areas with high unemployment, where many young people have few if any qualifications, low aspirations and low self-esteem. Those factors are often further compounded by substance abuse”, she explained.

“Death riding and other anti-social activity is a direct result of living in some of the areas in West Belfast. This doesn’t happen on the Malone Road or Holywood Co. Down: we can’t ignore that. The roots of the problems are located in the social and economic conditions of these areas and some, but of course not all, young males, in particular, who feel they have no worth and no way out react as they do”, she said.

Outlining her approach to the problem she said,

“What we must tackle are the causes of their behaviour and our local elected representatives have questions to answer. What investment, opportunity and hope have they brought to west Belfast and to the Lower Fall area in particular?   Many will be queuing up to condemn these incidents – and rightly so – but what can they say that they have done to materially change conditions in these areas?  I think the answer is very little”.

No quick fixes                                                                                               “A united, focussed and long-term community response is required – and that needs to be funded, resourced and supported by all the statutory agencies: PSNI, education health and social care, housing and  the environment, working with the local community to turn areas like the Lower Falls around. There are no quick fixes and no amount of ‘punishment’ attacks will solve this problem: in fact they only make matters worse and bring further suffering to local families”, added Joanne

”I am now calling for on the Department for Communities to convene a series of meetings involving all the agencies and local communities throughout West Belfast with a view to producing a comprehensive community regeneration plan to bring jobs, social initiatives, investment and pride to this area, This is the best and only long-term way this community can respond”, she said

 

The power of a united working class

SWA_2965.jpg

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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