Kevin Hanratty from the NI Human Rights Consortium addressing the conference
The Party’s annual Northern Ireland conference has heard calls for the radical reform of Stormont, the introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, the reintroduction of the Civic Forum and stinging criticism of all the main parties in the Assembly.
Reality v Myth
Starting with a clinical assessment of the reality – as opposed to the manufactured myth – of political, economic and social life in Northern Ireland the conference also heard the arguments for the introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and the re-constitution of the Civic Forum. Both of which are specifically committed to in the Good Friday Agreement.
The Party’s submission to the Haass talks was also presented, with the failure to move beyond the tribalism of unionism and nationalism clearly pointed out: ‘…ultimately, the continuing difficulties surrounding parades and flags are about the failed politics of the past’.
Investment, support and a Living Wage
The Party’s ‘Left Response’ to the political stalemate in Northern Ireland set out the political alternative to the neo-liberal economic agenda slavishly followed by the major parties here. It specifically called for an urgent and planned programme to address poverty and the working poor, the utilisation of state and public assets to deliver economic change and the introduction by the Assembly of a Living Wage guarantee of at least £7.65 per hour.
The conference also welcomed a number of guest speakers including John O’Farrell of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Kevin Hanratty of the NI Human Rights Consortium, Lynn Carvill a member of the original Civic Forum and Peter Heathwood a commentator on victims and the past.
What type of society do we want to live in?
The Left Response
The programme for the Party’s Northern Ireland Conference – The Left Response – has been announced.
The need for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, the case for reconstituting the Civic Forum and a presentation on the Party’s submission to Haass will be among the discussions which will be headlined by an examination of the realities of life in Northern Ireland fifteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The conference will also hear from a number of guest speakers including John O’Farrell of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
‘Our conference comes at an important time’, says Party General Secretary John Lowry. ‘ At a time when we are scrutinising our past as well as our present we have the opportunity to pose the really important question: ‘What type of society do we want to live in’?
We can take bold and progressive steps now or we can condemn ourselves and our society to an on-going sectarian stalemate. That reality will be reflected in our conference debate’, he said.
Last Year’s Conference: ‘NI Deserves Better’
‘The Left Response’
The Party’s Northern Ireland Conference will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 23 November in the Crescent Arts Centre, University Road, Belfast.
Discussion and debate will focus on ‘The Left Response’ to the local political stalemate, the ineffectiveness of the Executive and the role which wider society can play in bringing about change.
The conference topics will include presentations on the myths and the realities of life in Northern Ireland, why we need a Bill of Rights, how bringing back a Civic Forum could help and details of the Party’s recent submission to the Haass Commission on Parades, Protests, Flags and the Past.
A full conference programme will be posted shortly.