‘Change must start at Stormont’
On the streets
The latest edition of the Workers Party Newsletter has been going through letter boxes right across Northern Ireland.
The paper highlights the need for change to start at Stormont and sets out the Party’s proposals for reform of the Assembly, the introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and the establishment of a new Civic Forum to give civic society a voice and an input to the development of social, political and economic life.
Haass, integrated education, peace walls and jobs
It also details the Workers Party submission to the Haass Talks, continues to make the case for integrated education, spotlights youth training and employment and presents a robust case for the immediate removal of some of Northern Ireland’s ‘peace walls’
The Party’s two North Belfast representatives Gemma Weir ( Castle) and Chris Baillie (Oldpark) are pictured distributing the newsletter door to door just before Christmas.
View a copy of the latest Party Newsletter here:
Cynical exercise in sectarian politics
Party statement on outcome of Haass Talks
Sinn Fein and the DUP never had any intention of reaching agreement on flags, parades and the past.
Their invitation to Richard Haass has proved to be a public con trick allowing them to go through the motions of negotiation while merely consolidating their respective positions ahead of next year’s elections.
For their part, Richard Haass and Megan O’Sullivan have done little more than propose new ways of managing division – not overcoming it.
Sectarianism and the sectarian nature of Assembly structures are the main reasons why we continue to have localised conflicts over parades, protests and flags.
What we need is a real discussion about the type of society we live in and the kind of values it upholds.
For as long as the Assembly is run on sectarian lines, for as long as no one challenges its position and for as long as the rest of the community is frozen out of discussion, nothing is going to change.
We have just witnessed a cynical exercise in the management and consolidation of sectarianism and sectarian politics. As long as people here vote for sectarian politics and sectarian parties, then this is the only future we will have.
The Assembly needs a Civic Forum
City centre bomb attacks and fears of disruption to commercial life in Belfast have triggered urgent calls from the Executive and the Assembly for the public to rally against terrorism and to actively support local shops and businesses ahead of Christmas.
The contribution that civic society has made to life in Northern Ireland over the years has been immense. It continues to be so. But when the immediate threat of terrorism recedes and when the Christmas rush is over the calls for public involvement and participation will also die away.
The Assembly is quite happy to call on civic society when faced with immediate pressures and problems but the views of wider society are not to be trusted with other issues like economic recovery, training and employment, social development, the environment and planning.
See Party statement in full: Assembly needs a Civic Forum
Living Wage: economic and social sense
The Workers Party has called for the introduction of a Living Wage of at least £7.65 per hour for all public sector employees and for the same provision to written in to contracts with private sector companies delivering public projects.
As many 170,000 workers in Northern Ireland are being paid less than the living wage. Many are sales assistants, cleaners, kitchen and catering staff, bar staff and leisure attendants. Many work in local councils and government departments. The Party is calling on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to introduce legislation at the Assembly to allow local authorities to pay this rate of a Living Wage. We are also arguing that public contracts be awarded only when the employer is paying the Living Wage rate.
The Party sees this initiative as a first step in tackling poverty in Northern Ireland. It should be followed by an urgent and planned programme to address poverty and the working poor and the utilisation of state and public assets to deliver economic change in Northern Ireland
Those opposed to a living wage, and those who say we can’t afford it, might wish to reflect on the fact that it has already been introduced in Scotland, is being considered in Wales and that Boris Johnston – who has introduced it for all council employees in London – is one of its biggest advocates.
See also: Belfast Telegraph Letters to the Editor