Following the third death in custody this month alone, Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has called on the NI Executive, the Justice Minister and management at Maghaberry to hold a crisis meeting to address the immediate issues and plan for the longer term.
‘ My sympathy goes to the family and friends of the prisoner who has died. While the exact cause of death has yet to be confirmed the fact that this is the third prisoner this month to die in custody is unacceptable and ultimately inexcusable’, Gemma said
‘Clearly there is a major crisis in our prison service and this has to be addressed and resolved. It is never acceptable to respond with platitudes like ‘we are on a learning curve’, and ‘lessons have been learnt’ . Lives are being lost – systematically lost by a system which is quite clearly not fit for purpose through a combination of culture, resourcing and inappropriate structuring’, Gemma said
I am calling on the NI Executive to convene an emergency summit to make Maghaberry immediately safer and to to publicly announce their plans to deal wi this horrendous sutiation short and long term’, concluded Gemma
The Minister has been given the money to pay teachers but refuses to do so
Day of action by teaching staff
Chris Bailie, a Party representative in North Belfast, has given his support to the teachers taking strike action today in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas.
‘Teachers are hard-working and committed public servants on whom we rely to help, develop, educate and prepare our children for later life. I know that they have not taken the decision to strike lightly, but I believe that they have been left with absolutely no choice in the matter”, Chris said.
‘Education Minister Peter Weir has ‘offered’ a 0% pay increase for 2015/16. This is derisory and insulting. The Minister has been given the money to make a 1% pay offer but refuses to offer it’, Chris added.
‘In addition to year on year pay cuts, excessive workload teachers are also facing widespread job insecurity. This is not a small-scale dispute but a debate and a battle over the values this society holds and the value it places on its employees and children’s futures’ Chris added.
I am calling on the Minister to immediately avoid further strike action and relieve the pressure on teachers, parents and pupils by implementing the 1% rise now and entering into serious and realistic negotiations with the teaching profession and their representatives’, Chris concluded
All city and town centre spaces must be safe and welcoming
If anyone needs reminding why reclaiming the night is an important issue then the dark and poorly lit surroundings of Buoy Park – adjacent to the Ulster University Campus, the Cathedral area and Belfast’s main thoroughfare Royal Avenue – should do the trick.
City and town centres in Northern Ireland are not safe or welcoming places after dark.
What a contrast between Buoy Park, where last nights Reclaim The Night rally gathered, and the nearby brightly lit St Anne’s Square packed with restaurants, bars and a theatre. Public space seems well lit when it can turn a profit but abandoned when it is deemed non-commercial.
Violent attacks and sex crimes increased again last year. More than 34,000 violent assaults were recorded and 3,000 incidents of rape or other sexual attacks reported. Not all of these occurred in town and city centres after dark, of course – but many did.
A culture which dictates that women, members of the LBGT community or other vulnerable persons are reluctant or fearful to use public spaces, particularly at night, has to be challenged and overcome. So too does a culture which lights the profitable and condemns the non commercial areas of our towns and cities
‘Executive must demonstrate support for carers’ – Lily Kerr
Workers Party representative Lily Kerr has supported the calls of local carers organisations for increased recognition of the role carers play and of the lack of government support and resources available to them.
Today is National Carers Day and Lily said
‘Under-funding of community care services leaves vulnerable people even more vulnerable, reduces the support available to them – with all the risks of social isolation and worse that that can cause – and of course unnecessary stays in hospital because community based support is not available to allow a safe discharge.’
‘The Northern Ireland Executive, and the Health Minister in particular, should use National Carers Day as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to both carers and the concept of community based services and support’, Lily said.
North Belfast must be a welcoming and inclusive community
Condemning the attack on the home of a Filipino family in North Belfast, Party representative Chris Bailie has said, ‘There is no room for racism and no room for racists in this or any other community’.
‘I have had to say this before and will continue to say it until this scourge has been removed from our society’, Chris said
‘Only a united community response will face down these racists. We need to re-affirm North Belfast as a welcoming and inclusive community. That is the position of the vast majority of people – we need to harness that strength to reassure our neighbours and to consign racists to history’, Chris concluded.
‘We have serious an systemic problems in our prison service’, Gemma Weir
The Party’s North Belfast representative, Gemma Weir has called for an ‘urgent and immediate response’ to the second death in custody at Maghaberry Prison within two weeks.
‘In extending my sympathy to the family, friends and relatives, at this very difficult time , it is also important that we take immediate steps to prevent this type of tragedy re-occurring’.
‘This is the fourth death in custody in the past year”, said Gemma.
‘Clearly we have very serious and systemic problems in our prison service and ones that are costing lives’, she added
‘Undoubtedly, there are a number of factors contributing to this crisis: staffing levels, training, support from mental health professionals, management priorities and even the working culture’, Gemma said, ‘ but the Prison Service has a duty of care to those in its custody and clearly that responsibility is not being met’
‘It is extremely important that the Prison Ombudsman now conducts a thorough and comprehensive investigation and that the report, along with the other three investigations, is published as soon as possible’
‘I will be writing to the Prison Ombudsman and to the Justice Minister seeking meetings to hear at first hand their views on this extremely serious and pressing issue’, concluded Gemma
A complete ban on the sale and use of snares
They inflict slow, torturous and needless deaths on a range of animals including domestic cats and dogs. They are unnecessary and in Northern Ireland they are legal and their use protected.
‘The failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to take urgent and decisive action to ban the use of snares is completely unacceptable’ Party spokesperson Lily Kerr says,
‘There is no evidence that these medieval, barbaric devices are required by the farming community and the suffering that they inflict on both wild and domestic animals has been well documented by animal and wildlife charities’ she said
‘Since it is not possible to regulate the use of snares a complete ban on the use and sale of snares is the only way to end this cruel and unnecessary practice.’, Lily said
A recent opinion poll found that 74% of those surveyed in Northern Ireland think snares should be banned.
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The US establishment only has itself to blame for Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Workers Party President Michael Donnelly has said.
“Donald Trump has astonishingly managed to pose as an anti-establishment figure at a time when many working-class people are angry at decreasing living standards and a rotten corporate media, which unconditionally supports Wall Street, the political establishment and endless war”. Michael said
“Trump’s populist right-wing rhetoric was able to strike a chord with voters who are fed up of the status quo and are desperate for change. It would be facile to base Trump’s success on rising racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia within American society.
“Undoubtedly, there is a dangerous polarisation of American society currently taking place, but this is being fuelled by establishment figures laying the blame for a weak economy at the door of immigration.”, said Michael
“US Capitalism has abjectly failed working-class people through a systematic dismantling of industry and manufacturing. This is fast becoming the driver of radical changes globally within the political system.
“The gains made by UKIP in Britain and the National Front in France are overwhelmingly in working-class areas, which have been decimated by decades of unemployment and the de-industrialisation process. This was also the case in areas such as Wisconsin and Ohio, which turned their backs on the Democrats as Trump promised to renegotiate trade deals and re-open factories”, he said
“Trump also managed to capitalise on Clinton’s obsession with war, global interventionism and lust for escalating tension with Russia.
“The Workers Party stands in solidarity with all the minority groups who will today be feeling a great sense of fear and trepidation at what the future holds in store for them under Trump’s regime. We reaffirm our belief that it is the US establishment’s actions of increasing inequality and racial tension that have created the monster of Trumpism”, concluded Michael
We have some very serious and systemic problems in our prison system’
‘The latest death of an inmate at Maghaberry Prison further heightens concerns about the fitness of our prison regime and the way in which duty of care is approached’, Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has said.
Her comments come in the wake of a yet another death in custody and a series of incidents at the prison one of which involved a prisoner blinding and self harming himself will under observation by prison staff.
‘ We have some very serious and systemic problems in our prison system’, Ms Weir said. ‘This has to be the top of the Minister for Justice’s agenda and a comprehensive, all-inclusive and far-reaching action plan must be forthcoming within weeks: not months or years’, she said
‘Prisoners in the care of society are inflicting harm upon themselves and in several cases taking their own lives. This is not a time for pious platitudes, it is a time for a root and branch examination of the entire prison system with a view to making it safe, effective and accountable’ she said.
I extend my sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased and am calling for an immediate and incisive response from the Justice Minister’, Gemma concluded.