Stormont needs reformed
Today’s Equal Marriage vote at the Assembly secured majority support among MLAs.
However, the use of a Petition of Concern by the DUP vetoed the motion and this now raises important questions, not only for the LGBT community, but for the democratic process in Northern Ireland.
This is the the fifth attempt in five years to legislate for Equality of Marriage.
Northern Ireland remains the only place on these islands where marriage equality is denied.
Equality of rights for all citizens must be non- negotiable and The Workers Party will continue to stand firm on this issue.
However, the narrow-minded and bigoted use of the Petition of Concern by the DUP has raised issues that should be of concern to all people in Northern Ireland.
The Petition of Concern is the embodiment of the institutionalised sectarianism that continues to hold this society to ransom.
The Workers Party has long been opposed to the abuse of the Petition of Concern and calls again for radical changes to the way in which the Assembly operates.
It is now clear that only a legal challenge to the denial of marriage equality in Northern Ireland will bring about the necessary change.
The Education Minister is building ‘invisible peace walls’
Workers Party representative in North Belfast, Gemma Weir, has criticised plans by Education Minister John O’Dowd to present a ‘Shared Education’ Bill to the Assembly.
‘Shared education sustains division’ Gemma said. ‘It is firmly embedded in ‘two communities’ politics and does nothing to bring about a truly integrated society’.
‘The Good Friday Agreement was very clear that the Assembly had a responsibility to ‘…facilitate and encourage integrated education…’
Today’s proposal ignores that commitment and seeks to substitute integrated education for a shared model based on a ‘separate but equal’ approach’, she said.
Invisible ‘peace’ walls
Promoting shared education instead of integrated education is akin to building invisible ‘peace’ walls between yet another generation of our school children’, Gemma added.
‘Shared Education is nothing more than a political fig leaf to justify the continued segregation of our children into religious and political tribes and offers no alternative to those parents who want more for their children’, she said.
‘It is quite clear that the future of education in Northern Ireland is too important to leave in the hands of the Assembly. Only an independent commission can properly assess and report on how we can progressively reform our current failed structures’, concluded Gemma.