Mental health and addiction come second to sectarian carve ups

Sinn Fein and the DUP oversee sectarian carve up at expense of local need

Belfast City Council’s decision to allocate upwards of £200,000 to ‘bonfire diversionary projects’ has been criticised as little more than a sectarian carve up coming at a time when the city needs serious and sustained investment in  health and well being projects, in jobs and in its young people.

“It is appalling that as we come to terms with the news of ten drug related deaths over the Christmas period, an increasing reliance of food banks, rising fuel poverty and some of the highest levels of social deprivation that public money is squandered in this manner”, Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry said.

“It beggars belief that with all these problems on our doorstep that some city councillors can turn a blind eye to the levels of human misery that exist locally in favour of a rave in the Falls Park and a big night out in Woodvale”, she said

“People in West Belfast have the lowest life expectancy in Northern Ireland, 34% of local children live in poverty or in low income families, more than 40% of houses are in fuel poverty meaning that people can’t afford to heat them and the number of local people suffering with mental health problems is up to three times higher than in other areas”, Joanne said.

“Add to that the problems of homelessness, addiction and low educational attainment and the very idea that these should take second place to a rave and a concert is deeply offensive”, Joanne added.

“The promise of Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey to build a “…healthy, harmonious and prosperous society” will mean nothing to people facing hardship and hopelessness when they see the resources that could have made a difference to their lives, and the lives of their children, frittered away on a musical one night stand”.

” People might say that these councillors have got heir priorities wrong: but have they? Quite clearly ordinary people, their prospects and their quality of life were never their priority in the first place”, concluded Joanne


SPAR should checkout of abortion debate

One of our best known convenience stores trying to control women’s choices and health options

The SPAR supermarket chain, has been asked to distance itself from the anti-abortion views of its majority shareholder, the Ardbarron Trust.

Workers Party representatives Gemma Weir and Joanne Lowry have criticised the Ardbarron Trust for the submission it made to Westminster’s Women and Equalities Committee last month.

“The Trust wrote to the Committee last month emphasising its opposition to abortion services and calling for no change in the law”, they said.

“Northern Ireland is still dominated by socially conservative voices and these continue to have an adverse and traumatising effect on local women.

“The Northern Ireland Assembly does not trust women to make choices about their own bodies and their own fertility. Now we have the majority shareholder in one of our best known convenience stores trying to control women’s choices and health options”. the pair said

“The SPAR chain must act quickly to distance itself from the views of the Ardbarron Trust”, said Gemma and Joanne

“Local Spar shoppers, and indeed all those who work for the company, need to know that these shareholders are pursuing this anti-choice agenda”

“The Workers Party recognises that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices. This is fundamental to any reasonable concept of gender equality in order to achieve full political, social, and economic equality with men”, they concluded. 

Supporters know the score

Time to end this culture of disrespect and contempt – Gemma Weir

North Belfast Reds Cliftonville Supporters Club‘ has been praised by Workers Party representative Gemma Weir for  its response to the conviction of Jay Donnelly on charges of  distributing an indecent image of a child.

“The supporters club as got it absolutely right”, Gemma said. ” This case revolves around a 16 year old girl and what the judge described as ‘a gross invasion of privacy’. This young girl is a victim  and that needs to be recognised without equivocation”

“The statement made by the Reds Supporters Club correctly addresses the core issues  relating to the offence which has been committed and is in stark contrast to the comments made by the Board of Cliftonville FC which fails to even mention the young girl and the ordeal which she has been subjected to by one of its players”.

” It is as regrettable as it is unbelievable that some people need to be educated about how to treat other human beings with respect: but that appears to be the case. 

“Congratulations to the Cliftonville Supporters Club for tackling this issue head on and for telling it like it is. Hopefully their stance will help to change this culture of disrespect and contempt, particularly for girls and young women”, said Gemma

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.


“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.


Universal Credit -‘broken and unworkable’

Universal Credit is a broken system and it is unworkable.

Addressing a UNITE trade union rally marking a day of action against the Universal Credit benefits system,  Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry has said that the new system is consciously cruel, is unworkable and has to go

“”We have heard the stories and witnessed at first hand the assessments which leave vulnerable people with little or no benefit entitlement and which compound the problems they already have”, Joanne said

“At a personal and individual level the stories are as unbelievable as they are heart-breaking.  But we must not allow that to blind us to the bigger picture”, she warned

Universal Credit is a broken system and it is unworkable. But more than that, it is ‘conscious cruelty’

Punishment                                                                                                                  “It has been designed deliberately to make life even harder for the most vulnerable in our society. It targets those most in need and it punishes them for seeking benefits”, she said.

“We never see a system which pursues tax dodgers with the same level of intensity. We never see a system designed to flush out and penalise corporate greed and corrupt financial practices”,  stated Joanne

“And the reason why the most vulnerable are always, always  the ones to pay the price, is because the entire social and economic system is designed to deliver that very outcome”, she said

For those people who have to undergo medical assessments before receiving benefits the reality can be even grimmer.

Targeting the most vulnerable                                                                          “Demeaning and humiliating interviews resulting in hurtful and insulting outcomes confirm that Universal Credit is ‘conscious cruelty. The most  vulnerable in our society yet again bear the brunt of the social policies of right wing governments”

“But let us be clear” Joanne said, ” this need not be the case. Sinn Fein and the DUP kicked welfare reform decisions into touch. They surrendered the fate of thousands of vulnerable local people to the Tory Party and the Westminster government”,

They could have intervened, they should have intervened … but they did not! Today they will tell us that there was nothing that they could have done. Ironically that’s exactly what they did – nothing!

We haven’t had an Assembly here for almost two years. That is the priority and the concern that these parties place  on people in need of help and support.

Our message from this rally today should be clear and unambiguous. Universal Credit is broken and unworkable – it has to go!

Child poverty and deprivation an indictment of DUP and Sinn Fein

Joanne Lowry and Chris Bailie: ‘ thousands of local children and their families continue to suffer a hardship and deprivation that will haunt them for the rest of their lives‘.

Following the recent  report by the United Nations into austerity measures across the UK, two Workers Party representatives have drawn attention to  the appalling levels of  child poverty and social deprivation in North and West Belfast.

“These two areas have some of the highest levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland”, Joanne Lowry and Chris Bailie have said

“Almost 20,000 local children live in homes haunted by poverty.  That means families with increasing debts, choices between ‘heat or eat ’, teenagers with a limited or non-existent social life and an increased risk of chronic illness. Children living in poverty also consistently under-perform at school and find it harder to get a job when they leave”, they said

Highest levels                                                                                                          The highest levels of poverty are to be found in the Collin Glen and Falls areas in West Belfast and Ardyone, New Lodge and Cliftonville in North Belfast

Research by Save the Children has shown that around 20% of parents in poverty say their children have to go without new shoes when they need them and a large number of children in poverty say they are missing out on things that many other children take for granted, such as going on school trips and having a warm coat in winter.

“The introduction of Universal Credit, cuts to health and education budgets, pressures on community, voluntary and youth services all compound the problems already affecting thousands of  local families – many of them with a least one partner working”, Chris and Joanne said

“It is unforgivable that while in Government Sinn Fein and the DUP refused to implement the promised Anti-Poverty Strategy and sent powers relating to Universal Credit  to Westminster. As a result thousands of local children and their families continue to suffer a hardship and deprivation that will haunt them for the rest of their lives”.

“If there is a more important political priority than addressing child poverty, then perhaps some local MLAs would like to tell us about it”, the duo concluded.

Council should be supporting health and social care workers

NIPSA protest

Party members supporting the NHS at today’s protest at the Belfast City Hall

Workers Party representative in South Belfast Patrick Lynn has called on Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee to reject a planning application for a Private Health Village at the Kings Hall complex on the Lisburn Road.

“This is a straight forward argument “, he said,  “health services are not safe in private hands”

“Our city should not be facilitating and supporting private healthcare providers at a time when the NHS is underfunded and overstretched. Developments like these will only place additional pressure on our local hospitals and their staff”, Patrick added

“I fully support the call by the trade union movement to have this application rejected. Belfast should be rallying behind the work of our local health and care staff not helping to undermine it.

“Belfast City Council should be showing its support for local healthcare workers as they battle to secure the Agenda For Change terms and conditions which have been agreed in England, Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland”, Patrick concluded

Universal Credit: unfair and fundamentally flawed


Universal Credit#1a

Workers Party representatives Chris Bailie  (Oldpark), Patrick Crossan ( Colin), Joanne Lowry (Court) and Patrick Lynn (Botanic) with Kevin Higgins ( centre) Policy Officer with Advice NI

A public meeting organised by the Workers Party has heard of the anguish and suffering being inflicted by the Universal Credit system as it nears the end of its role out across Northern Ireland.

A screening of the film I Daniel Blake  was followed by a presentation from Kevin Higgins, Policy Officer with Advice NI and a question and answer session on the details of the new system.

Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits payments for new claimants including housing, childcare, support for people with disabilities, carers and people too ill to work.

Fundamentally flawed                                                                                          The meeting heard that the Universal Credit system is a fundamentally flawed and unfair system and that its introduction has resulted in rent arrears, debt, ill-health, homelessness and an increased reliance on food banks.

Lone parents and people low paid employment are amongst the most affect groups

It also takes at least five weeks from the claim to the first payment many families in North Belfast, Newtownabbey and Ballymena – the most recent areas where it has been introduced are unlikely to receive a payment before Christmas.

Added to those concerns is the fact that to register for Universal Credit, claimants will need an email address, a bank account, access to a computer and be computer literate. That places many people at a disadvantage right away. These restriction are not only unnecessary, they are also unjustifiable

Held to account                                                                                                        Of course, if we had a functioning Assembly we might be able to halt the roll out of Universal Credit, or at least make significant amendments to it. But we don’t. Sinn Fein and the DUP in particular need to be held to account for ducking their responsibility for welfare reform and handing it over to the Tory government.

Help and Support                                                                                      Help is available through face to face advice or by telephone from the independent advice centre Advice NI

The telephone helpline is 0808 802 0020 and the email contact is

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