Standing Against Austerity on May Day
West Belfast Assembly candidate Conor Campbell headed up a large Workers Party contingent at this year’s May Day parade.
“It is heartening to see this kind of turn out and also the level of opposition to austerity and the failure of the last Assembly, which was quite evident here today”, Conor said .
“It will be important that people now register that opposition by voting for Workers Party candidates and, after that,any other parties who are genuinely opposed to the Sinn Fein/ DUP coalition and their austerity agenda”, he added
“It will be just as important after polling day to continue to focus on the austerity agenda, the parties who promote it and the vicious consequences it has for working people, their families and the most vulnerable in our society. The Workers Party will not be found wanting” Conor concluded.
Anti- Democratic decision by the BBC
Smaller political parties in Northern Ireland have been disenfranchised by a BBC Trust decision to change the criteria for access to election broadcasts, the Workers Party has claimed.
Parties must now stand a minimum of 12 candidates across six constituencies in order to qualify for a television or radio election broadcast.
In a joint statement issued by the Party’s four Assembly candidates the Party said
‘The BBC’s decision to change the criteria clearly disadvantages, and effectively disenfranchises, smaller parties in Northern Ireland’.
‘The big parties in the Assembly already hold a significant media advantage and their press officers are also supported from public funds. The BBC’s decision consolidates their position at the expense of smaller parties, it restricts the political discourse and it reduces the information available to the electorate’.
‘As Northern Ireland’s public service broadcaster the BBC has duty to provide a platform for the entire political spectrum – not just the larger parties. Voters here have been let down and the political process has been devalued as a result of this anti-democratic decision’, the statement concluded.
Standing Against Austerity: The Workers Party launches its manifesto at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
The Workers Party has launched its Assembly Election manifesto at Parliament Buildings Stormont.
The Party’s four candidates. Conor Campbell (Belfast West) Lily Kerr (Belfast South), Hugh Scullion (Mid Ulster) and Gemma Weir ( Belfast North) were joined by party supporters as they spelt out the Party’s opposition to austerity and presented the socialist alternative in the ‘Standing Against Austerity’ document.
The manifesto highlights the Stormont austerity agenda as the main political issue in this campaign and criticises the refusal and the failure of the last Executive to implement outstanding areas of the Good Friday Agreement and table legislation to bring Northern Ireland into the 21st century.
The Party is challengimg the new Assembly to introduce 10 key pieces of legislation in its first one hundred days to signal its intent to build a modern vibrant and inclusive Northern Ireland. Included in the 100 day challenge are demands for a Bill of Rights, integrated, secular education, a woman’s right to choose, civil marriage equality and an end to fracking.
See the manifesto in full: Workers Party Assembly Manifesto 2016
BBC Website coverage:
UTV website coverage:
Lily Kerr is congratulated on her speech by local Party chairperson Paddy Lynn
Lily Kerr, the Workers Party’s candidate in South Belfast, held her official launch rally yesterday with an affirmation that she was proud to be a socialist and proud to place the Party’s socialist agenda before the local electorate.
During a barn storming speech Lily fired several salvos at the outgoing Executive and Assembly but saved her most pointed comments for the economy, public services, a woman’s right to choose and the growing dependency on food banks in the constituency.
“We are told repeatedly about the jobs which the Assembly has attracted or helped to create over the last five years”, Lily said. “But where are they and what are they worth?”, she added.
Low wage economy “If we have the secure well paid employment that the Assembly boasts of then why is south Belfast the highest user of food banks in Northern Ireland’?, she asked. ‘I’ll tell you’, she said, ‘ because the jobs are not secure and are not well paid. They are mostly low skill and zero hours contracts based. The Assembly markets Northern Ireland as a low wage economy – and this is the result’ she said.
Health service in crisis Turning her attention to the health service Lily said’…health and social care services are in crisis. Be in no doubt about that. We need to reshape and rebuild and to do that we must involve users, staff, trade unions and the general public. We are where we are because of the influence of the clinicians and the endless number of finance driven reviews. We have to break that cycle’, Lily said
Trust women Lily’s final comments were reserved for those candidates and those parties who do not trust women to make decisions about their own bodies and their own fertility. Her message was unambiguous. ‘If you don’t trust women then I don’t trust you.’
If you would like to help out with Lily’s campaign in South Belfast or want more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lily Kerr criticised those Assembly parties which gave tax breaks to big business while children queued at foodbanks
The Workers Party has congratulated the trade union UNISON on the production of its Assembly Manifesto, calling it a ‘socialist assessment of life and politics in Northern Ireland’ .
UNISON launched its manifesto at a hustings event for its members earlier today. On a panel comprised of all the main Northern Ireland parties, the Workers Party was represented by its South Belfast candidate, Lily Kerr .
During the hustings debate Lily set out the case against the privatisation of the health service and other public services, criticised the Assembly’s refusal to abolish Zero Hours Contracts and warned of the pending crisis which will follow in the wake of the full effects of ‘welfare reform’ – today’s figures on the increasing number of people being forced to use food banks being just one indicator of that.
‘I am calling on trade unionists, in particular, to give their vote only to candidates and parties which support the UNISON manifesto, are publicly opposed to the privatisation of public services, which trust women to make their own decisions and which stand against austerity and lowering corporation tax for big business while children and families go hungry’, Lily said
Before you vote – reflect on this human misery and the MLAs from tnis consistuency who would give tax breaks to the rich before feeding starving children
Gemma Weir, Workers Party candidate in North Belfast has described as ‘an outrage and a scandal’ the stark increase in the number of local people depending on food banks to feed themselves and their families.
‘It is absolutely shocking that so many people find themselves dependent on charitable handouts for basic foodstuffs. In North Belfast during the past year over 1500 people needed emergency food parcels – nearly 800 of them were children’.
This is what Austerity looks like ‘It is also a terrible indictment of our local MLAs. This is happening on their watch. This is the outcome of their austerity measures and their sectarian one-upmanship with each other. While they consolidate their power bases children are starving in this constituency”, Gemma said
‘There are many reasons why people have to rely on food banks: unemployment, poverty and a zero hours employment culture all contribute to people turning to food banks to feed themselves and their families’.
Not a priority for Local MLAs ‘Before people go to the polls in a few weeks time they should reflect on these figures, on the human misery that they mask and on the political parties whose priority is to lower corporation tax and give tax breaks to the rich’, Gemma concluded.
One Minute on Food Banks
Homecare Services – not for profit
Workers Party candidate in South Belfast Lily Kerr has criticised what she called ‘ the hysteria and threats’ emanating from the private care sector over the introduction of the living wage.
‘The living wage is actuality nothing of the sort’, she said. While it marks a small increase on its predecessor the minimum wage, it benefits the Chancellor of the Exchequer more than it does working people. As more people pass the tax threshold the government uses their additional contributions to plug the gap in its budget”, Lily said
“Every time there is the slightest initiative to improve the lives of working people we are told that jobs will be lost, businesses will close and that the end of the world is a little closer”
“So it proves with the private care sector. and it highlights their real motivation for providing this service: the pursuit of profit. Government should listen carefully to what they are saying and then take all home care services back into the public sector”, Lily concluded.
Damien Harte: ‘deeply disappointed’
The Workers Party representative in Upper Bann, Damien Harte, will not be standing as a candidate in the forthcoming Assembly Elections.
Mr Harte who was to lodge his nominations papers yesterday (Tuesday) had to withdraw at the last moment for personal reasons.
” I am deeply disappointed that I will not be standing as a candidate for the Workers Party in next month’s elections”, Damien said.
“We had started our camapign a number of weeks ago and I have already canvassed several parts of the constituency. A number of my election posters have also gone up in the main towns”, he said.
“Unfortunately I had to withdraw from the race at the last moment and that did not give enough time for the Party to nominate an alternative candidate.”
“I would like to thank all those who have helped me to date and to those who have passed on their good wishes. I would now urge Party supporters in Upper Bann to give their support to any candidates who demonstrate a commitment to a socialist, secular and anti-sectarian society”, Damien concluded
Conor Campbell: Standing Against Austerity
Conor Campbell launched his Assembly election campaign this evening with a constituency rally in Upper Springfield.
Conor will be contesting his first election in the West Belfast seat and represents one of a new generation of Workers Party candidates.
Singling out austerity as the focus of the Party’s election campaign Conor said, ‘This election is important because we are still in the grip of a Sinn Fein / DUP austerity programme.
There will further savage cuts to public services, to people’s pay and conditions and to access to education at all levels from pre-school to university’.
‘A socialist programme of publicly funded investment, development and growth is the alternative to austerity and to the cuts imposed by the Stormont Coalition’, said Conor.