Welcome to the Party’s first ‘Comments and Views’ bulletin which has been circulated widely to trade unionists, the community and voluntary sector and a number of individuals throughout Northern Ireland..
The twice monthly bulletin will address current social and political issues from a socialist perspective.
The first edition focuses on the failure by Sinn Fein and the DUP to secure a functioning Executive and proposes a number of changes to the way the Assembly functions as a way to restore devolution
Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chief Executive, Campbell Robb with Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry at this morning’s launch
Research undertaken by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and presented in Belfast this morning, reveals that 370,000 people in Northern Ireland live in poverty.
The breakdown of the figures show that it includes 110,000 children, 220,000 working-age adults and 40,000 pensioners: around one in five of the population here with poverty highest among families with children.
Among the factors which contribute to levels of poverty are poor educational attainment and high levels of unemployment.
Where was the parties red line on tackling poverty in the recent talks to restore the Executive? Where was the demand for an economic plan and a job creation strategy for Northern Ireland? Where was the ultimatum to abolish university tuition fees and introduce integrated education at all levels?
The reality is that none of those issues were on the agenda. Sinn Fein and the DUP were focused on a zero sum game designed to preserve their respective nationalist agendas. Health, well being, employment, housing and living standards weren’t just a secondary issue. They weren’t even on the table
Only a socialist economy, a socialist approach to the funding and structuring of education and a socialist led, publicly funded, housing programme can begin to address the abject misery currently endured by one person in every five in Northern Ireland.
That is where the red line in this society should be drawn.
See the JRF on Poverty in Northern ireland report here: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/poverty-northern-ireland-2018
Workers Party representative Gemma Weir has called on young women in Belfast to make sure they keep their appointments for cervical cancer screening.
“Last year alone well over 20,000 young women between the ages of 25 – 29 didn’t turn up for their routine cervical smear test”, Gemma said. “This is the highest risk age group.
“When the 30 – 34 age group is added to that, the number of missed appointments rockets to more than 42,000”, she said
“There are a number of reasons why young women in particular might be reluctant to take up their appointment. Some may think it is unnecessary, others may be apprehensive or embarrassed but early detection and treatment of any abnormal cells is extremely important”, Gemma added
Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cause of cancer death among females in the UK accounting for 1% of all cancer deaths in woman”. 81 cases were diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2016.
“I am aware of a number of community based initiatives designed to help raise awareness and uptake of screening appointments but clearly much more needs to be done. We cannot be satisfied with thousands of missed appointments when young women’s health and well-being is at stake”. Gemma concluded
Workers Party members supporting the ‘Save Our NHS’ rally
‘Health and social care services must remain publicly funded and free at the point of delivery’.
That was the message that Workers Party members brought to the ‘Save Our NHS’ rally, organised by NIPSA, at Belfast City Hall yesterday.
A properly funded health and social care service designed to deliver quality outcomes is central to a humane and decent society: but those principles are far from safe and secure.
There must be an end to ‘creeping privatisation’, to the outsourcing of health and care services and jobs to the private sector. Vested interests, including the vested interests of private healthcare, must be confronted and challenged.
But for as long as the major parties at Stormont put ‘red lines’ and pet projects ahead of people’s health and well-being, that is not going to happen.
Report after report shows that health inequalities in Northern Ireland have been persisting at the same level or worse for the past ten years.
Health inequalities have a number of root causes, but poverty, unemployment, low pay, educational under- achievement and the lack of decent public housing all feature as key factors.All of these factors are compounded by a political programme of austerity and privatisation
We can continue to ignore our health needs and watch hospital admissions grow out of control, patients die on trolleys and the system go into melt down, or we can address the problem by reclaiming our health and social care services and bringing them back into full, publicly funded, public ownership.