Can the ‘Left’ solve Ireland’s problems

Line Up(1)

Panel Line Up: Malachai O’Hara (Green Party), Gerry Grainger ( Workers Party), Eoin O’Brionn (Sinn Fein) and Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit)

A discussion at the West Belfast Festival  / Féile an Phobail  has asked ‘Can the Left solve Ireland’s problems?

The Workers Party was represented by CEC member Gerry Grainger

It is clear that just because a group or party is described (or describes itself) as “Left” does not mean that that is the case”, Gerry told an audience of almost 200 people

“Working people are confronted with rising unemployment, precarious work, a dramatic decrease in real income, increasing prices for food and the essentials of life, decreasing expenditure on health, education, housing, welfare and social services, raised retirement ages, attacks on pensions, increased levels of poverty, homelessness, hunger and emigration”, he said.

“So what can we do about that”? , Gerry asked. “We must address the immediate problems confronting the working class but we must offer permanent, sustainable solution”, he said.

Outlining what that entails Gerry said, “It means putting forward a programme of progressive demands – demands which include permanent and stable work for all, with full social insurance, working and wage protection, full occupational, health and safety measures and full trade union rights; social protection for the sick, disabled, pensioners and the unemployed; obligatory public, universal social protection; the satisfaction of health, education, welfare and housing needs, including a quality public, universal and free system of health and medical care; free, compulsory public, secular education; a reduction in the retirement age (while abolishing a default retirement age), the payment of adequate pensions; democratic rights and trade union freedoms; an end to privatisation of public assets; the maintenance of strategic sectors of the economy by the state including energy, communications, education, transportation and  environmental protection”.

PRIDE is important


Workers Party members & supporters proud to be part of PRIDE

It’s hard to overstate the difficulties and the trauma faced by  Northern Ireland’s LGBT community over many decades. But, much has changed and changed for the better.

Even ten years ago, few would have predicted the level of support and empathy displayed in Belfast city centre today as thousands took part in the annual PRIDE parade and many thousands more turned out to cheer and show their support.

There is however a long way to go until, regardless of sexual orientation, all people in Northern Ireland can confidently regard themselves as full and equal citizens.

Marriage equality  makes the headlines, but there are many more obstacles to full and unfettered citizenship. 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, contributors to this community and have every right to expect the same level of protection.

There are still barriers to be removed in almost  every aspect of life: in the workplace, in education, in health and social care, in the legal system in  sport and in the community.

The progress which has been made and which was recognised in Belfast today must be consolidated and secured. It must also be built on and all obstacles, barriers and prejudices removed. There is much work yet to do