Supporting Arts & Culture

arts1The Party’s Assembly  election candidates have welcomed an initiative by the organisation Visual Arts Ireland  (VAI) to highlight the position of arts and culture during the election campaign and beyond.
 
 Among the proposals made by VAI are:
  • A Department for Culture to support the arts across all government departments
  • A commitment to design and deliver the Programme for Government in consultation and with the support of the Arts sector.
  • Increased spending on public art programmes
  • Increased capital, project, and core funding to be made available
  • Recognise that creativity and the Arts play a key role in education and learning
  •  Link the budgetary spend to the UK / Ireland average per head

Responding to the VAI proposals the Party’s candidates said, “We understand and support the contribution which art and culture can and do make to society”.

 “We are also acutely aware of the relentless commodification of our society, the resultant debasing of many of our values and the persistent repetition of the erroneous argument that the arts are an add on in life and should therefore pay for and look after themselves. We don’t believe that this  is overstating the case”
 “The Workers Party has identified and been critical of the cuts to arts and culture projects across Northern Ireland and of the immediate and longer term impacts that will have”.
 “We are supportive of the initiative taken by the Visual Arts Organisation in setting out a series of objectives and broadly welcome these as an important marker in the public debate about the role of arts and culture, the contribution they can make, the involvement they should have and the centrality they should enjoy”.
Party members plan to meet with VAI and a number of other arts and culture groups post-election to discuss the future role, influence and funding of the visual and performing arts in Northern Ireland.
Link to Visual Arts Ireland:  http://visualartists.org.uk/

An Irish Language Act?

Corvus Irish Font Alphabet Stamp Set Lowercase 3mm for stamped jewelry - The Urban Beader

There is no reason why an Irish Language Act should not be introduced

 Acht na Gaelige?

The Workers Party has no difficulties with people using the Irish language.

A tremendous amount of very good work has been done by language activists to develop an awareness and acceptance of Irish in everyday life.

However, it is very important to separate out the intent of linguists and Irish language enthusiasts from the narrow and divisive agenda pursued by parties like Sinn Fein in particular and the counter measures of the parties like the DUP.

Neither party does a service to the Irish language or to those who promote it. Nor does it inform or enlighten the discussion around the introduction of an Irish language Act.

The issue has been reduced to a zero sum gain.

If the DUP prevent the introduction of an Irish Language Act then they have won and Sinn Fein has lost. If Sinn Fein secures an act then they will claim a victory over the DUP.

Neither will be particularly concerned about the content of the act or its roll out.

For them this is yet another battle ground in their sectarian head to head confrontations.

The principle of an Irish Language Act has been acknowledged in the St Andrews Agreement and the UK government has recognised the role of the Irish language by signing up to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

There is no reason why an Irish Language Act should not be introduced and every reason why it should.

The position of some of those who purport to support the development of the language means that this is unlikely to happen and that if it does it will be in circumstances detrimental to the language movement and to its public acceptance.

We are aware also from historical experience that legislation alone is likely to be insufficient to protect or revitalise the Irish language.

We need a wider language policy to address the interests of the language and Irish speakers which is free from the taint of sectarianism and which encourages common ownership of the Irish language.

A realistic Living Wage

pay-packet

Time for a realistic Living Wage

Workers Party candidate in Upper Bann, Colin Craig, has repeated calls for the introduction of a realistic living wage following a damning Revenue & Customs report which ‘named and shamed’ seventeen local companies.

“It is completely unacceptable that people are being exploited in this manner, particularly young workers, and that  many of the firms involved seek to minimise their culpability with half-hearted and, quite frankly, insulting excuses”

“The DUP and Sinn Fein have been travelling the world selling Northern Ireland as a low wage economy. Today we see what that means in real terms for working people ‘, Colin said.

“I am particularly outraged at the news that a recruitment firm based in Portadown, a firm which  enlists employees for other firms, came top of this list of shame by underpaying  143 workers by more than £26,000”.

I am calling on the next Assembly to introduce, as a matter of urgency , a realistic Living Wage for Northern Ireland of at least £8,50 per hour”, Colin said

Party Conference sets out the Socialist Alternative

The Wconf2017orkers Party’s Northern Ireland conference has set out the Socialist Alternative platform its candidates will stand on in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

In a day long event covering debates on the economy, education, women,international affairs and the environment speakers identified the class nature of our society and the issues and problems which that gives rise to.

In his opening address the Party’s Northern Ireland chairperson  Gerry Grainger summed up the realities of life for many people in Northern Ireland today

“…we have more than 100,000 children living in poverty”, he a said. “Average weekly pay in Northern Ireland is lower than it was a decade ago. Northern Ireland has the second highest level of workless households of all regions in the UK.

“There are at least 15,000 homeless people and in Northern Ireland. There is a crisis in education, health and social care. There are cutbacks to social welfare. Funding to culture and the arts has been very significantly reduced”.

“In every aspect of social, economic, cultural and community life working class people have been subjected to public expenditure cuts, marginalisation and exclusion”. 

“After years of austerity imposed on the working class by capital and its able lieutenants in the Stormont Executive, working people have suffered in terms of jobs, pensions, benefits, facilities and services. Particularly vulnerable people with long-term sickness or disability and with great reliance on both welfare benefits and key public services, such as social care, have suffered severe negative effects”

“That is why we must present the Socialist Alternative “, Gerry concluded.

kke-logo

Message of support from Greek Communist Party KKE

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) forwarded greetings and support to the Party conference and forthcoming elections, saying

‘On behalf of the KKE, the Greek communists, we convey to you a sincere message of solidarity in the context of the elections that will be held in Northern Ireland on the 2nd of March.’

We well know that the elections will take place in difficult, complex conditions for the working class and the popular strata of your country, who are being confronted by capital’s offensive and the grave consequences of the anti-people policies.

Full message:message-of-support-from-the-greek-comunist-party-kke

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

GP crisis must be resolved says Colin Craig

gp

GPs need to become employees like everyone else in the service

Workers Party Upper Bann candidate Colin Craig has called for GPs to become NHS employees, instead of serving as private contractors.

Speaking about the collapse of GP services in the Portadown area Colin said,

‘This simple step would improve the service, reduce waiting times and address many of the problems currently faced in primary care.

‘For as long as GPs remain as private contractors there will continue to be difficulties in recruitment and threats to services”, said Colin.

‘It would be inconceivable that other health and care professionals like nurses, social workers and hospital doctors would sit outside the NHS rather than be its employees’, he added

This problem needs to be tackled head on. GPs need to become employees like everyone else in the service if we are to tackle the crisis we are currently facing’, Colin concluded

Belfast says ‘No to Trump’

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Now more than ever its important that we present and secure the socialist alternative’  Gemma Weir

As it emerged that Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness had assured Donald Trump of a ‘warm welcome’ in Northern Ireland several hundred people gathered in the cold outside the US Consulate in Belfast to protest against his immigration ban.

The messages tonight were the same as those delivered in cities across the world in recent days.

Tonight it was Belfast’s turn to say ‘No to Trump, No to Racism and No to a ban on immigrants and refugees’

Among the demonstrators was Gemma Weir the Party’s North Belfast candidate in next months Assembly Elections.

“It is really heartening to see so many people expressing their opposition to this new American nationalism and the effects it is having world wide.”, Gemma said.

“We need to remind ourselves that ‘Trumpism‘ is anything but an American phenomenon’ she said. “Across Europe , in France, German and The Netherlands, we are seeing the chilling rise of a  virulent form of right wing nationalism and of course closer to home we have the rampant and racist nationalism of UKIP and others”.

“Is it really any wonder that our homegrown nationalists the DUP and Sinn Fein were so  keen to give Donald Trump a ‘warm welcome’ – they obviously recognise themselves in his narrow mindedness and bigotry’ Gemma observed.

“Now more than ever, it is important to present and secure the socialist alternative, prioritse public need over private greed and re-affirm the primacy of humanity”, concluded Gemma

‘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.

Care of older people not a commodity – Craig

older-care

Older care must be  freed from private profit

‘The care of older people should  primarily be the responsibility of local health and social care trusts’, the Workers Party representative in Upper Bann  has said.

Colin Craig was speaking following the closure of Glenview Private Nursing Home in Bleary, Portadown following a series of critical  inspection reports.

‘I don’t believe the closure will have come as any surprise to the residents or their families’, Colin said

‘Since Margaret Thatcher pioneered the privatisation of Nursing Homes in the 1980’s the well-being of older people has been relegated to a distant second  place behind the profit motive. It has become a commodity’, argued Colin.

‘When private care companies pull the plug  because of  falling profits or the failure to meet  standards, it is the local health and social care trusts which have to step in and provide the care’.

‘It is  incumbent on the next Assembly to urgently redress this situation by prioritising the care of our older people, by taking the entire care system back into public ownership’, Colin concluded.

Refugee ban will destroy lives – Kerr

lily-trump

Refugees must be made welcome – Lily Kerr

After a week in which many people’s worst fears about a Donald Trump presidency appear to have been realised, Worker’s Party representative Lily Kerr has expressed her ‘horror and utter disgust’ at Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

‘Trump is obviously not satisfied simply waging war on women, Mexicans, African-Americans and the American working class. He has chosen to prevent Muslim men and women, many of them legal residents in the U.S., from entering the country through his executive order.

This Order will tear families apart, destroy lives, and prevent those seeking refuge from gaining protection.’ Lily said

‘The so-called war on terror continues to be used by the government of the United States to target ethnic minorities in a  sectarian, racist and xenophobic manner. These actions clearly violate the constitution of the U.S.A. and the values that America claims to have been built on’ she said

‘That this order was signed by Trump on Holocaust Memorial Day makes it all the more horrific. ‘ Lily added.  ‘I am calling on all progressive forces in Northern Ireland and abroad to strongly, and unconditionally, condemn his latest actions’.

My thoughts are with all those Muslim men, women and children who will be affected by this Order. I am proud to  publicly reaffirm my and my party’s committment by saying that Refugees Are Welcome Here!’, Lily concluded

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