Pro-Eu parties fail to land a glove

Line Up

L:R Sean Harkin ( People Before Profit), Johnny Hanvey ( Progressive Unionst Party, Claire Bailey (Green Party) Gemma Weir (Workers Party), Gerry McCormick (SIPTU -Chair) and Jim McVeigh (Sinn Fein)

In a polished performance Gemma Weir has set out the  Party’s case for leaving the European Union at a debate entitled The Left Speaks on Brexit – part of this year’s West Belfast Festival  / Feile an Phobail

In her opening remarks Gemma said,

“The referendum is over  – we are leaving the European Union. But we are still Europeans and some of us still believe in the socialist project, the unity of working people in all countries and the overthrow of capitalism. What we don’t believe in is the EU”.

She then identified Five Reasons why a leave vote was the  position of principled socialists:

  • The EU is undemocratic
  • It is Irreformable
  • The EU is anti-worker
  • ‘Social Europe’ is a myth
  • Voting leave was an act of international solidarity

No self-respecting party of the left could do other than vote to get out“. she said.

Labour can wait                                                                                                     EU advocates Sinn Fein and the Green’s failed to impress with SF Councillor Jim McVeigh arguing that labour should wait . “Those battles are for another day” he said “Our focus should be on a united Ireland inside the European Union”.

He failed to respond when Gemma challenged Sinn Fein’s U turn on Europe having opposed membership right until the referendum to leave.

Both Sinn Fein’s and the Green’s position came in for robust criticism from the floor

Those who thought the debate – which was heated at times –  would be a push over for the ‘Remain’ camp  left disillusioned and perhaps a little wiser

Read Gemma’s opening address in full here: The Left Speaks on BREXIT



‘Unwanted legacy’ must be addressed

August 2017

The rioting, bonfires and violence of recent days has been branded “the unwanted legacy of paramilitaries”

Workers Party North Belfast representative Chris Bailie said , “what we have witnessed this week is reminiscent of the worst days of the troubles. There was no excuse for it then and there is no excuse for it now”

“What we are witnessing”, said Chris “is the disaffected youth of today mimicking the actions and behaviours of paramilitary gangs from the 70s, 80s and 90s”

Ironically those former paramilitaries and those who support them have now moved on. They have pulled the ladder up behind them and are now happy to sub contract the resolution of problems they helped to create.

Condemning the burning and destruction in North Queen Street and other areas across the city Chris said, “there can be absolutely no justification for what we have seen and experienced this week”

“We are looking at a generation of disaffected youth with all the problems that involves. These issues can only be resolved by investment, jobs, training and the development of the community infrastructure.”, said Chris

“Many of the affected areas have been represented by Sinn Fein Councillors and MLAs for well over twenty years.

“To think that these issues can be addressed by  appointing contractors and calling for evictions is the response of a party that cares for little other than itself alone”, Chris concluded


Still much to be done

PRIDE 2017(2)Workers Party members joined this year’s Pride Parade in Belfast and marked our public support for the event going back to 1991 when we marched through the city with only a handful of people to champion the cause of LGBT rights.

Much has changed in the intervening years but much still needs to be done.

Northern Ireland still refuses to legislate for same-sex marriage despite overwhelming and growing public support. Members of the LGBT community are still verbally bused, physically assaulted and subject to discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Legislation will address one of the issues but we need to work to achieve a sea change in social attitudes and opinions.This is not an academic argument. It goes to the very core of the type of society we are and the type of society we need to become. Lives are being ruined, prejudices are being ingrained and hurt and suffering are being borne  in pain and isolation.

The open participation by uniformed members of the PSNI in this year’s parade is a welcome signal from law enforcement agencies to the LGBT community.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, and have every right to expect the same level of protection, support and legal safeguards as everyone else. That is a socialist perspective on what is essentially a human rights issue.

Much still needs to be done. We knew that in 1991. We know it now.


Jarama remembered

Jarama Int Brig

Members of the XV International Brigade at Jarama, Spain 1937

Party members were amongst those who gathered at Belfast’s  Shankill Road Library, last week to commemorate the  80th anniversary  of the Battle of Jarama and the role played by the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

Dublin historian Brian Hanley addressed the meeting on ‘The Radical Thirties’ and afterwards flowers were  laid at the International Brigade memorial in Writers Square.

The event was organised by the  Belfast’s International Brigade Commemoration Committee in partnership with the Greater Shankill Partnership, Belfast & District Trade Union Council, Shankill Library, Trademark and ICTU Youth Committee.

Int Brigade Memorial Trust


‘Not welcome, not wanted’


‘Britain First’ leader Paul Golding

Workers Party representative Chris Bailie has criticised the organisers of a rally to be held in Belfast next week saying that it has little to do with supporting victims and everything to do with providing a platform for racism and homophobia.

Two members of the far right group ‘Britain First’ – including its leader Paul Golding – are due to speak at the event billed as  a rally in support of the  victims of terrorism. Britain First was founded by members of the far right British National Party (BNP).

‘Britain First’  is a right wing racist gang whose sole objective seems to be to raise racial tensions and attack the LGBT community. Both they and the organisers of this demonstration have nothing to offer the people of Belfast and beyond, except an ultra nationalist racist diatribe  and they will use any platform and any opportunity to peddle their hate”, Chris said.

“They single out and blame minority communities for causing economic problems and creating social issues which are none of their making. They oppose humanitarian responses to refugees and asylum seekers but not the air strikes, bombing and wars which forced them to leave their countries in the first place”, added Chris

“This rally and these speakers should be shunned by the people of Belfast. Their appeal is to society’s lowest common denominator. They are neither wanted nor welcome“, Chris concluded


German student visit

German student meeting 260717The Party has hosted a discussion with a group of visiting German students from the Potsdam area near Berlin.

The group which  is on a one week visit to Northern Ireland met with party members earlier this week to discuss sectarianism, ‘peace walls’ and the EU referendum result .

‘Reinstate lifesaving service’, says Scullion


Monitoring health and risk at home – a life saving service

Workers Party Mid Ulster representative Hugh Scullion has called for the immediate reinstatement of a Northern Ireland wide scheme which helped monitor patients with a range of chronic medical conditions and provided home based monitoring and support for people at risk.

The ‘Telehealth and Telemonitoring’ service first introduced in 2011 has been ended without the contract being renewed despite The Public Health Agency saying that they want to further develop it.

This has been an innovative and important service which provided support and reassurance for vulnerable people and helped to remotely monitor a number of patient conditions such as high blood pressure.

“This highly successful service helped maintain people in the community, kept them out of hospital and reduced the demand on GP surgeries and outpatient clinics”, Hugh said.

“The absence of a functioning Executive and no Minster for Health has ensured that this service has come to an end. This is yet one more example of the impact which the lack of political institutions is having on vulnerable people”, he said.

The Telehealth project has been independently evaluated by a specialist team from Queens University and the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit.

“One of their most dramatic findings was that the mortality rate for those with Telemonitors installed was reduced to 13.9% compared to 33.3% for those who did not have monitors installed. Telemonitors saved lives”, Hugh said

“The withdrawal of this service has greatly increased the concerns and anxiety of patients and their carers.

“I am calling on the Public Health Agency to immediately reinstate this service and to extend it to include mental health where self-monitoring can greatly improve the safety and quality of life for patients and carers”, Hugh concluded.



Abortion Services: two major decisions


Free, legal and safe services at home

Today saw two major decisions taken in relation to abortion services; a Court of Appeal reversal on a previous human rights ruling  and a decisions by the Westminster parliament to support NHS funded abortion services for women from Northern Ireland 

NHS funded abortion services    “The decision in Westminster to fund NHS abortions for women from Northern Ireland, while welcome,  is a Northern Ireland “solution” to a Northern Ireland problem”, the Workers Party has said.

“Women should be able to access free, legal and safe services in their own country.

Today’s announcement is progress but does not go far enough and still means that  working class women need to be able to fund their travel and other related costs and do not have access to services at home.


Court of Appeal Decision                                                                               Commenting on the this morning’s Court of Appeal’s decision  to support the appeal against the  ruling that abortion legislation was incompatible with the UK’s Human Rights Act obligations, the  Party  said,

“This is clearly hugely disappointing and a blow to women and their struggle for equality and reproductive rights”

“The decision that this is a matter for the Assembly and that “complex moral and religious questions” behind the issue should be determined by a legislature in a jurisdiction where it is clear that in the local legislature religious reaction trumps women’s rights and which at the time of writing cannot even agree to constitute itself, is a further cruel blow”.

“This is not a moral or religious question, it is a question of political equality and women’s rights”, the Party statement said

“While the Court has stated that the case the case should now go to the Supreme Court, the recent decision of the Supreme Court, by a majority, rejected an appeal by a mother and daughter in their legal battle for women from Northern Ireland to receive free abortions on the NHS in England, although two senior judges in that case, gave strong dissenting judgments and would have allowed the appeal in full”.

“As its stands the local legislative and judicial routes to full reproductive rights for women has been blocked, reinforcing the view that rights will ultimately only be won by struggle and agitation”.

“The figures show that more than 700 women and girls from Northern Ireland travelled to England and Wales to terminate their pregnancies in 2016”.

“This does not include those who travelled to Scotland or other European countries, or women who purchased abortion pills, because of their inability to travel”.





Flags, intimidation and sectarian politics


This type of tribalism debases our society

The issues around flags on lampposts, sectarian graffiti, territory marking and worse will continue for as long as political outcomes in Northern Ireland are determined by sectarian head counts at the polls’, Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has said

‘The erection of flags near a housing development in south Belfast is as intimidating as it is unsurprising. What other outcome can there be when the two main political parties – Sinn Fein and the DUP – whip their supporters up into a sectarian frenzy ahead of every election?

‘The only real surprise is that there have not been even worse consequences’ she said.

‘This is not an academic matter’, said Gemma. ‘It is not just fodder for radio phone ins and newspaper headlines. This type of intimidation, sectarianism and tribalism shapes and debases the society we live in and the values that it holds’.

‘We saw similar territory marking and intimidation at the new shared housing development at Felden in north Belfast at the end of 2015.

Responsibility lies with Sinn Fein and the DUP                                              Sinn Fein and the DUP rely on the maintenance of two divided communities to ensure their political power bases. They both go to great lengths to secure and maintain that position. Their respective spokespersons will try to justify the behaviour and the excesses of their followers while condemning their mirror image. Their scripts could have been, and probably are, written by the same person’, she added

‘Responsibility for this continued division, sectarianism and intimidation lies squarely at the feet of Sinn Fen and the DUP. They feed it, foster it and benefit considerably from it.

Well over half a million people gave their votes to Sinn Fein or the DUP in the last election. The payoff has been more intimidation, more flags and heightened sectarianism.

This society cannot continue to vote as it does and assume that there are no consequences’ Gemma concluded.

It’s not about the money – it’s about how it’s used

Foster May‘Anyone who still believes that austerity is a natural phenomenon will be surprised by today’s financial package which underpins the DUP / Tory deal’, the Workers Party has said.

‘When benefits were being cut, public sector workers made redundant, hospital waiting lists lengthening and banks bailed out with public money, we were told that the collapse of the economy had forced austerity on us all. Not so it seems.’

‘When the Tory Party needs to hold on to power, money is no object’

‘When the dust settles on today’s agreement Northern Ireland will be better off by over £1 billion but how much that will actually contribute to an improved quality of life and a better society is very questionable’, the Party said

  • £50 million to address ‘immediate pressures in health’ is likely to go the way of previous waiting list initiatives: straight into the pockets of private healthcare companies while the root causes of the problems are ignored.

  • Not one penny of the £50m earmarked for education will go towards implementing an integrated system. It will be used instead to shore up division.

  • £400m worth of infrastructure projects will see the delivery of several high profile projects but not the 40,000 new homes that Northern Ireland needs over the next two years

  • £20m a year for the next five years for deprived communities will re-assure no one familiar with the funding of projects like the Social Investment Fund.

  • ‘City Deals and Enterprise Zones’ are also presented as a solution to high unemployment and the absence of an indigenous manufacturing base. They are the failed brainchild of the late Margaret Thatcher. Offering reduced rates of tax, deregulation and minimal government involvement they have failed in the past providing little employment, skills, training or support for local people’

‘Today’s additional funding has the potential to make some progress on a number of major issues. However, using it to fund private sector companies and pay for lower business taxes while failing to make long term investments in health, education, and public housing will see it frittered away’

The immediate priorities for the major parties in Northern Ireland now are to agree a working Executive as quickly as possible and bring forward a strategic plan to strengthen and improve public services, invest in education, skills and training, develop an indigenous manufacturing base and set out a programme for full employment,’the Party statement concluded.

%d bloggers like this: