Thousands rally in Belfast against racism
The several thousand people who gathered at Belfast City Hall this afternoon to say ‘No to Racism’ are representative of many thousands more throughout Northern Ireland.
While it would be wrong to underestimate the support which people like Pastor McConnell and Peter Robinson have, it would also be wrong to believe that there is not a large and growing body of people who reject racism in any form and who are prepared to publicly declare that opposition.
The physical attacks, the intimidation and the de-humanisation of ethnic minorities are on the increase.
80% of hate crimes are thought to go unreported but last year police in Northern Ireland dealt with more than 980 racist incidents: almost three every day. The majority of incidents occurred in the greater Belfast area and represented an increase of 50% on the previous year’s figures. One-third of all racist incidents in 2013 /14 were acts of violence against the person.
This cannot continue and the mind-set which leads the First Minister of the Assembly to say he would trust Muslim’s to go to the shops has to be challenged and overturned.
This is clearly far too important an issue for the Assembly. This is a matter for everyone in Northern Ireland to become involved in. There must be a robust public discussion about the type of society we want and the values its holds. But in the end the principles are very clear and very simple. Racism is wrong. It will always be wrong.
Photographs from today’s Rally
There is a real danger in Northern Ireland that some people just don’t realise how serious the problem with racism is.
The debate we should be having now is about the values we have as a society, the moral leadership that we show and the example that we set. Recent events are not a soap opera and they are not entertainment. They are real, they are dangerous and they have the support of far too many people.
Today is an opportunity for everyone opposed to racism – in all its forms and guises – to make a public stand for a Northern Ireland in which citizenship is the benchmark not colour, ethnic origin or religious belief. Racism is wrong. It will always be wrong
The Workers Party has offered its full support to Alliance MLA Anna Lo and has asked her to reconsider quitting political life.
The Party’s General Secretary John Lowry praised Ms Lo for her stand against racism in the past and urged her to stay and work with all those in Northern Ireland opposed to the type of racist incidents and comments witnessed recently.
“But there is a bigger discussion to be had”, said Mr Lowry “and it goes to the very heart of this society. What type of society do we want – what are its values and what are its principles”? These are the stark questions which we need to be asking ourselves”
“We cannot afford to simply view these issues as one media headline after another. We are given the impression that all is well in Northern Ireland and that it is getting better. We celebrate international cycling events and other sporting occasions, we talk of increased tourism and a feel good factor – but scratch the surface and we find a deep rooted fundamentalism and conservatism that is inherently racist, homophobic, misogynist and socially reactionary” said Mr Lowry.
“That is the true reality of life in Northern Ireland and because of it people suffer intimidation, threats and attacks, they are discriminated against, they are devalued and they are de-humanised. Those mind-sets and those cultures need to be confronted, challenged and overcome”, Mr Lowry said.
“We must start the debate about the type of society we want as a matter of urgency. The alternative is to surrender to racism, bigotry and intolerance.” concluded Mr Lowry
DUP must commit to a racist free North Belfast
DUP Councillors must disassociate themselves from Robinson’s remarks
Recently elected DUP councillors in North Belfast must publically disassociate themselves from remarks made by their party leader Peter Robinson in support of Pastor McConnell of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church.
The call comes from Chris Bailie and Gemma Weir, Workers Party representatives in North Belfast following the First Minister’s public backing of Pastor McConnell whose recent sermon in which he referred to Islam as “heathen” and “satanic”, is under police investigation to establish if it constitutes a hate crime.
“The Democratic Unionist Party had three councillors elected in north Belfast last week: Lydia Patterson, Guy Spence and Gareth McKee. We are calling on them to publically disassociate themselves from Peter Robinson’s remarks, clearly state their opposition to racism and declare their commitment to working for a racist free north Belfast”, Chris and Gemma said
This election campaign has taken place against a backdrop of stagnation at the Assembly, racist attacks on our streets, job losses, sectarian flag waving and pending welfare reforms which will adversely affect thousands of local people and damage the Northern Ireland economy.
That is why we have been saying ‘Belfast Deserves Better’. The citizens of Belfast deserve a better quality of life, better prospects, jobs and better representation.
All along we have said that to achieve this we need change. We need to change by moving beyond unionism and nationalism. We need the kind of change that will transform tribalism into citizenship.
We need change which brings down barriers, not builds them up. We need a Living Wage for working people and change which brings a better quality of life for the people of Belfast and beyond.
We need to use all the public assets we have to bring about economic change, deliver jobs and provide a secure future.
We can achieve that change with a socialist, secular and anti-sectarian agenda.
We can achieve that change by voting Workers Party
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Civil War (1939), the International Brigade Commemoration Committee and Internacia Kolektivo are hosting an event on 23rd May at 7pm in the Realta Civic and Social Space, 48 King Street, Belfast.
A new booklet, Radical Protestants from the Spanish Civil War to the 1960s (by Dr Connal Parr) will be launched and the film “Broken Silence” will be shown.
The event is free and open to everyone.
Gemma Weir & Chris Bailie
Chris Bailie and Gemma Weir, Workers Party Candidates in Oldpark and Castle, have re-stated their belief that a ‘Better North Belfast is Possible’ ahead of this Thursday’s local elections.
“I believe that North Belfast deserves better and that a better North Belfast is possible”, said Gemma Weir (Castle) “That won’t happen without people voting for it and without people demonstrating that they believe in a better quality of life and a different kind of political representation”.
“This election gives North Belfast voters the chance to move beyond unionism and nationalism”, said Chis Bailie (Oldpark). “When we start to do that we can start to bring down barriers and lay the foundations for a united community opposed to sectarianism, racism and homophobia”.
“We can achieve that change by voting for it this Thursday “said Chris and Gemma
Millions being diverted to private healthcare companies
Party restates its call for an independent public inquiry
Workers Party General Secretary John Lowry has restated the Party’s call for an independent public inquiry into the planning and delivery of health and social care in Northern Ireland. His call comes after it was revealed that the amount of public money diverted into the private health care sector here has increased by more than 150% in the last three years.
“This is not a mute debating point or a matter for a polite ministerial response – this is a public scandal that goes right to the very heart of our health and social care service, the treatment and care of our ill, our old and our vulnerable citizens. It goes straight to the core of our social values.” John said
Freedom of Information
Figures for the amount of public money redirected to private healthcare firms have risen by almost 162% in the past three years. The information was obtained by the Workers Party through a Freedom of Information request.
From a total of £25.69 million at the end of 2011, the most recent figures show that public spending in private healthcare here has rocketed to £67.30 million by the end of last year.
“Nothing short of a full and independent public inquiry into the running of our health and social care services will suffice”, he said
“To give an example of the scale of the scandal in Northern Ireland we need only look across to Scotland “, said John. “NHS Scotland spent around £28 million pounds in the same period as the health service in Northern Ireland was re-directing more than £67million pounds of public money into private healthcare”
Privatisation by stealth
“This led to the Scottish Assembly ordering an immediate reduction in private healthcare funding. Yet our Assembly continues to tell us that there is no crisis and no problem”.
“Claims that our health and social care services are not being privatised no longer stand up. This is privatisation by stealth and with the full support and backing of the Executive at Stormont, “John concluded .
Private Sector spend on health and social care in Northern Ireland:
2010/11 £25.69 million
2011/12 £53.21 million
2012/13 £67.30 million
Figures supplied by NI Health & Social Care Board FOI No 408 /14
Il Partito dei Lavoratori accoglie il Giro d’Italia!
The Workers Party welcomes the Giro d’Italia
Wherever you are this weekend, enjoy the Giro d’Italia but don’t get taken for a ride on May 22nd.
Socialist, secular and anti-sectarian is the only winning team on polling day .
Vote Workers Party No.1
Vota Partito dei Lavoratori il 22 maggio
Marching on May Day: socialist. secular and anti-sectarian
Marching on May Day
The Workers Party joined with thousands of trade unionists, men, women and children, fellow citizens and people who subscribe to a better way of life to march in this year’s May Day Parade in Belfast.
Those taking part were calling for a better way of life, a better society and a community united with itself in opposition to sectarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia. May Day is also an opportunity to highlight demands for jobs and job opportunities, integrated education, an end to barriers and walls and the abysmal failure of the Assembly to deliver on the promises of the Good Friday Agreement.
While others trade in division and difference, emblems and anthems there is a large constituency in Northern Ireland which rejects sectarian politics and sectarian head counting. Those people were marching in Belfast’s May Day Parade.
May Day Parade photographs: