Incinerator: ‘Executive must take decisions’ says Weir

NOARC21The Workers Party is supporting local campaigners and the ‘No Arc 21’ group as they consider their legal options, including judicial review, in the light of yesterday’s surprise decision by the Department of Infrastructure to give the go-ahead to a waste incinerator plant at Mallusk.

Party spokesperson Gemma Weir said, ‘despite over 4,000 objections to this project it is proceeding without either a Ministerial or an Executive decision’. 

There was absolutely no need to take this unaccountable decision ‘, Gemma said ‘Northern Ireland has many urgent and pressing problems which  need immediate action but this is not one of them’.
‘This irrational and potentially dangerous course of action has been taken in the absence of a functioning Assembly at Stormont. While the condemnation of both the DUP and Sinn Fein on this issue is to be welcomed, it is also hypocritical of both parties to point the finger at civil servants when they have repeatedly failed to form the very Executive that should be taking control of this situation’, said Gemma.
‘I have written to the Department of Infrastructure asking that it immediately suspends its approval for this project. I am also calling on both Sinn Fein and the DUP to live up to their responsibilities,form an Executive and allow us all to get on with taking our own decisions on our health, our environment and our waste management’ Gemma concluded
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‘Restored Executive the absolute priority’

stormont

‘The restoration of a fully functioning Executive remains the absolute political priority”.the Workers Party has said.

‘Health, education and other public services are in crisis, budgets cannot be set, projects signed off or jobs and funding secured”, the Party said.

‘Some parties are happy to find reason after reason why a new Executive should not be formed but there are more pressing reasons why it should: hospital waiting lists, school budgets, housing schemes, eliminating unemployment, infrastructure projects, jobs, wages, benefits and quality of life are but a few’.

‘Sinn Fein won’t take their seats at Westminster and since last January  they haven’t taken their seats at Stormont. They continue to display an arrogant and contemptuous disregard for working class people, families and children’.

‘While those people bear the brunt of crumbling public services Sinn Fein’s undisguised disdain continues to place their own political ambitions front and centre regardless of the price paid by working class people’.

 

‘Integrated public housing the priority’, says Bailie

Chris Bailie

Hillview decision is wrong

Chris Bailie (Workers Party, Oldpark) has criticised the decision of the Council Planing Committee to grant permission for the  commercial  development of the  vacant  Hillview site on the Crumlin Road.

“This is not just a bad decision, it’s the wrong decision”, Chris said.

“This is the site of a failed retail development  – a failed retail development – yet the Planning Committee  gives the go ahead for more of the same”

“That in itself defies logic”, said  Chris, “but to do this in the face of an acute shortage of public housing is irrational and verging on the incompetent”

“The Hillview site should be re-zoned immediately for public housing, It should also be designated as an integrated development as part of the Housing Executive’s Good Relations Strategy.” argued Chris.

“This decision is not one taken in the interests of the people of North Belfast but rather of narrow sectional interests. Integrated public housing developments are the best way to address community need not fast food restaurants and car show rooms”, Chris concluded

 

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 Trusthttp://www.international-brigades.org.uk/content/battle-jarama-river

 

‘Not welcome, not wanted’

BRITAIN-FIRST

‘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

cardiocom

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.

 

 

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