Ardoyne: we should not be held to ransom by warring factions


‘Held to ransom by warring groups who turn the sectarian tap on and off to suit their tribal motivations’

In welcoming the ending of the Ardoyne parade stand-off, the Workers Party has commended the efforts of the two facilitators involved but has argued that the problem should never have arisen in the first place.

With a resolution now agreed it is to be hoped that all parties involved in the creation of this situation take the opportunity in the coming weeks to reflect on the damage to community relations this impasse has caused, the tensions it has incited and the costs it has incurred.

They should reflect also on their own roles in all of that and how this matter could, and should, have been resolved years ago.

Solutions should derive from open dialogue. The ordinary citizens in our community should not be held to ransom by warring groups who turn the tap of sectarian hatred on and off to suit their own tribal motivations.

Welcome as this news is it further underlines the fact that this society must not be held to ransom by groups of people with confrontational agendas, limited vision and redundant attitudes.

People have a right to protest, people have a right to march and free association and, of course, all citizens have the right to respect.

Had everyone involved adopted that approach in 2013 everyone’s position could have been accommodated and we could have avoided the misery and disruption that  was imposed on the community in the intervening years.

Ombudsman investigation must be ‘thorough and open’


Ombudsman investigation must be given full support

The Workers Party has called for an open and thorough investigation in to the death of Gerard McMahon who died yesterday.

While the events surrounding Mr McMahon’s death are not yet clear, it is known that CS spray and physical restraint were both employed  during  the incident.

If CS spray is found to be the cause, or a contributory factor, in  Mr McMahon’s death or, as in the recent case of Eric Garner in New York, the method of restraint was responsible, it would be imperative  that the use of CS spray  and methods of physical restraint are revised to ensure that life is not put at risk

The Ombudsman must be given full support and access to officers, witnesses and information relating to the incident and the PSNI act on any recommendations that may be made.

The  Party extends its condolences to Mr McMahon’s family at this time.

Academic selection ‘reinforces privilege and disadvantage’


Academic selection reinforces privilege and disadvantage

The announcement by Education Minister Peter Weir that primary schools can now coach and support pupils ahead of ‘transfer tests’ effectively confirms the formal reintroduction of academic selection at 11 years of age – despite the overwhelming evidence against such a move.

Educational disadvantage                  Reports by the United Nations and, more recently, the Iliad Report  – commissioned by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and undertaken by experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College in Belfast – repeatedly confirm that academic selection reinforces “privilege and disadvantage” and recommend the end of academic selection in Northern Ireland as a key way to reverse educational disadvantage.

All those opposed to academic selection – parents, teachers, trade unions and others – must reignite this debate and campaign not just for the reversal of this decision but the complete and final abolition of academic selection at 11.


Party Condemns Attack on Islamic Centre


Community must unite against hate crimes – Kerr

Lily Kerr, Workers Party representative in  South Belfast has condemned the overnight paint attack on the Belfast Islamic Centre.

“I want to make clear my personal disgust at this hate crime”, Lily said. “The Workers Party, and the vast majority of citizens in Belfast. stands with the Islamic community in the wake of this attack .”

“There are those  who seek to foster division and create fear . In Belfast  we know only too well the  disastrous consequences which follow if they are not challenged by a united community”, said Lily

“We must stand united against threats and attacks and we must all work together to ensure a better and safer life for all those living in this city, of all religions and none,” Lily concluded.

Inclusive Economic Summit a priority


Jobs and the skills that go with them must be protected and retained

The uncertainty which hangs over the future of a large number of jobs at Caterpillar plants in Northern Ireland  further underlines the urgent need for an inclusive economic summit to address investment, skills and training and  job creation and retention.

The anticipated job loses at Caterpillar come in the wake of lay offs at Michelin, JTI Gallahers and Bombardier.

It is clear that the Assembly has no viable economic plan or job creation programme to secure existing jobs and expand the economy.

Not only must jobs be secured and defended but the skills that go with them must be protected and retained in Northern Ireland.

Economic Summit                                                                                           It is now time for an inclusive Economic Summit  involving  the Northern Ireland Executive , the trade union movement, employers and broader civic society to address and develop an economic and job creation plan for Northern Ireland.

The alternative offered by the Assembly is to sit on its hands and watch jobs, skills and manufacturing know-how haemorrhage away’

Investment, manufacturing and job creation will not happen by chance. Nor can people rely on the private sector to provide the secure future that is required. The Assembly  has a major responsibility and a political obligation to present a co-ordinated strategic investment programme designed to address the current situation and lay the ground work for future recovery.

End of blood ban is welcome but long overdue

Blood donations

Ban was unnecessary and unjustified

The Workers Party has welcomed the  scrapping of the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland.

This announcement. while welcome, is long overdue. It is clear that there are no medical or safety grounds on which to base the biased decision. The unnecessary ban was also accompanied by expensive legal actions, funded by the Department of Health, in some cases to pursue individual religious beliefs.

Welcome and long overdue as this announcement is there are still barriers facing the LGBT community 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.

There is much work yet to do.