Why ‘civic unionism’ is not a response

1969-BelfastWhen the Workers Party was invited to sign the recent letter from civic unionism we declined because we do not subscribe to the notion of ‘two communities’ or the establishment of a society based on competing versions of nationalism, whether Irish or British.

Nor did we support the open letter signed by ‘civic nationalists’ last December – in fact we were extremely critical of it ( see link below).

Polarise and paralyse                                                                                               This most recent letter from civic unionism does not move the debate on any further, It does not challenge or distance itself from  the ‘separate but equal’  mantra which continues to polarise and paralyse our society.

In fact. albeit that many of the signatories would be sympathetic to a non-sectarian and more democratic society, pitching ‘civic unionism’ against ‘civic nationalism’ compounds and confirms the existing problems.

Bill of Rights                                                                                                              Our version of a democratic secular society in Northern Ireland is based on the rights of citizens as citizens rather than their allegiance to any religious or nationalist bloc.

It is for that reason that the demand for a Bill of Rights remains a fundamental part of our strategy to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state, guaranteeing the civil liberties of all citizens, regardless of communal background.

Citizenship                                                                                                               The demand for equality and democratic rights is not the property or the preserve of any bloc. It’s ownership should rest firmly with citizens as citizens. Only on that basis will progress be made and citizenship flourish.



New Party bulletin: ‘Comments & Views’

#1 Bulletin 230218Welcome 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

Restoring Devolution 23 Feb 2018



Where is the red line on poverty?


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

DUP and Sinn Fein show callous disregard for ordinary people


Sham fights distract from real issues

The failure to agree a new Executive has been described as ‘disgraceful and unacceptable’ by the Workers Party.

‘It is now blatantly obvious that neither the DUP or Sinn Fein are capable of restoring a devolved government’.

For more than a year they have choreographed a sham fight over vanity projects and red lines in a total and contemptuous disregard for the health, well being, education and quality of life of ordinary working people and for the economy of Northern Ireland.

Our public services are being run down, teachers, health care staff and  employees in both the public and private sectors have borne the burden of wage freezes and austerity measures.

The health service is in crisis, schools have no budgets, the economy is at a standstill, jobs are being lost and all while these two  parties deliver excuses but no solutions.

Having shown that they are incapable or unwilling to form a new administration that option should now be withdrawn from the DUP and Sinn Fein. A system of majority rule by a party or parties willing to restart the Assembly should now be enacted.


“Take up screening appointments”, urges Weir


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


‘Reclaim our health and social care services’


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.