Party support for mental health campaign

Supporting the 123 GP campaign: Hugh Scullion (Maghera) centre with Patrick Lynn (South Belfast) and Joanne Lowry (West Belfast)

Party representatives from Belfast and Maghera attended the launch of the 123 GP campaign in the Long Gallery, Stormont, to highlight the need for more mental health counselling services in GP practices.

Organised by the Mental Health Rights Campaign the 123 GP initiative is designed to secure three urgent service changes:

  1. Funding: to ensure that all GPs in Northern Ireland draw down the money currently available to fund counselling services
  2. Training: That all trainee GPs undertake community based mental health  placements and that all practicing GPs undergo mandatory professional mental health training
  3. Available Expertise: Professionals with mental health expertise such as mental health social workers or CPNs to be based in GP practices and to work as part of the primary care team


Speaking at the event Joanne Lowry welcomed the initiative and pledged the Party’s full support to the campaigners. She also called on additional support and counselling to be made available for the relatives and carers of people with mental health problems, identifying what she called “a hidden and often forgotten group of people”.

Joanne also called for GPs to become direct employees of the NHS rather than independent contractors thus ensuring that practice based mental health counselling services could be guaranteed rather than be left as an optional add on.

Mental Health Facts

  • Currently , only two -thirds of GP practices have in house mental health counselling
  • Existing services can only provide a limited response
  • 4 out of 10 GP appointments are mental health related
  • Only 5% of our health budget is spent on mental health services
  • In England and Wales that figure is 11% – more than double
  • Currently we spend £2.95p per person on mental health

For more information on the 123 GP campaign log on to

Nationalist ‘group hug’ dangerous and divisive

“…a Bill of Rights remains a fundamental part of the strategy to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state”

If further evidence were needed of how narrow, politically bankrupt and dangerous nationalism is, then it could be found at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Saturday. To that criticism can also be added exclusionist.

The ‘Beyond Brexit’ conference organised by ‘civic nationalism’ and addressed by, amongst others, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald, senior members of Fianna Fail and their new political ally the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood, was designed not to progress the debate but to polarise it.

This is not a group of people, or a political philosophy, concerned with the material conditions of ordinary people.

It represents instead, self-interested and self-serving social groups jockeying for position in a race whose outcome is yet to be confirmed using the cover of ‘rights’ to masquerade their narrow and selfish intentions.

Nationalism, Irish and British, never blames itself, never questions its actions nor reflects on its own behaviour. In the world of nationalists and nationalism someone else is always at fault.

As ‘civic nationalists’ most of them looking cautiously over their shoulders at each other, gathered in Belfast this weekend they were seeking to shift political attention away from their own failings, secure their own future positions and send a clear, unambiguous and unapologetic message to anyone who is not an Irish  nationalist that a shared future does not include them.

Nationalism is not only a backward political philosophy: it is a toxic one. It seeks to divide and exploit difference. It blames others and otherness. It is a political cancer that deliberately subverts progressive politics and invariably is home to the worst examples of native gombeen men and women.

How long will it be before ‘civic unionism’ responds with its own gathering and demands for ‘unionist rights’?

Democratic secular society

The Workers Party version of a democratic secular society in Northern Ireland is based on the rights of citizens as citizens not on 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 the strategy to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state, guaranteeing the civil liberties of all citizens, regardless of communal background.

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


The pressing  priority for Northern Ireland is not a nationalist group hug but the immediate restoration of the Assembly and the Executive to progress that agenda. But that, of course, would mean no hiding place for the failed and failing politics of nationalism.

Border Poll a sectarian head count

Calls for a border poll have been labelled ‘divisive, sectarian and unnecessary’

‘No matter how they try to dress it up or explain it away, the clamour by nationalists to hold a border poll is nothing less than an attempt to secure a deliberately divisive sectarian head count’, the Workers Party has said.

We have had no government in Northern Ireland for two years. Public services are grinding to a stand still, schools and hospitals have no budgets, major building projects can’t go ahead, child poverty, fuel poverty, a mental health crisis and the impact of welfare ‘reform’ are crippling an entire generation.

As always nationalism’s response is a ‘wrap the green flag round me’ border poll.

The political priority in Northern Ireland is the restoration of the Assembly, Executive and a working government to address the real problems that face people in their daily lives.

Mental health and addiction come second to sectarian carve ups

Sinn Fein and the DUP oversee sectarian carve up at expense of local need

Belfast City Council’s decision to allocate upwards of £200,000 to ‘bonfire diversionary projects’ has been criticised as little more than a sectarian carve up coming at a time when the city needs serious and sustained investment in  health and well being projects, in jobs and in its young people.

“It is appalling that as we come to terms with the news of ten drug related deaths over the Christmas period, an increasing reliance of food banks, rising fuel poverty and some of the highest levels of social deprivation that public money is squandered in this manner”, Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry said.

“It beggars belief that with all these problems on our doorstep that some city councillors can turn a blind eye to the levels of human misery that exist locally in favour of a rave in the Falls Park and a big night out in Woodvale”, she said

“People in West Belfast have the lowest life expectancy in Northern Ireland, 34% of local children live in poverty or in low income families, more than 40% of houses are in fuel poverty meaning that people can’t afford to heat them and the number of local people suffering with mental health problems is up to three times higher than in other areas”, Joanne said.

“Add to that the problems of homelessness, addiction and low educational attainment and the very idea that these should take second place to a rave and a concert is deeply offensive”, Joanne added.

“The promise of Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey to build a “…healthy, harmonious and prosperous society” will mean nothing to people facing hardship and hopelessness when they see the resources that could have made a difference to their lives, and the lives of their children, frittered away on a musical one night stand”.

” People might say that these councillors have got heir priorities wrong: but have they? Quite clearly ordinary people, their prospects and their quality of life were never their priority in the first place”, concluded Joanne

SPAR should checkout of abortion debate

One of our best known convenience stores trying to control women’s choices and health options

The SPAR supermarket chain, has been asked to distance itself from the anti-abortion views of its majority shareholder, the Ardbarron Trust.

Workers Party representatives Gemma Weir and Joanne Lowry have criticised the Ardbarron Trust for the submission it made to Westminster’s Women and Equalities Committee last month.

“The Trust wrote to the Committee last month emphasising its opposition to abortion services and calling for no change in the law”, they said.

“Northern Ireland is still dominated by socially conservative voices and these continue to have an adverse and traumatising effect on local women.

“The Northern Ireland Assembly does not trust women to make choices about their own bodies and their own fertility. Now we have the majority shareholder in one of our best known convenience stores trying to control women’s choices and health options”. the pair said

“The SPAR chain must act quickly to distance itself from the views of the Ardbarron Trust”, said Gemma and Joanne

“Local Spar shoppers, and indeed all those who work for the company, need to know that these shareholders are pursuing this anti-choice agenda”

“The Workers Party recognises that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices. This is fundamental to any reasonable concept of gender equality in order to achieve full political, social, and economic equality with men”, they concluded. 

Supporters know the score

Time to end this culture of disrespect and contempt – Gemma Weir

North Belfast Reds Cliftonville Supporters Club‘ has been praised by Workers Party representative Gemma Weir for  its response to the conviction of Jay Donnelly on charges of  distributing an indecent image of a child.

“The supporters club as got it absolutely right”, Gemma said. ” This case revolves around a 16 year old girl and what the judge described as ‘a gross invasion of privacy’. This young girl is a victim  and that needs to be recognised without equivocation”

“The statement made by the Reds Supporters Club correctly addresses the core issues  relating to the offence which has been committed and is in stark contrast to the comments made by the Board of Cliftonville FC which fails to even mention the young girl and the ordeal which she has been subjected to by one of its players”.

” It is as regrettable as it is unbelievable that some people need to be educated about how to treat other human beings with respect: but that appears to be the case. 

“Congratulations to the Cliftonville Supporters Club for tackling this issue head on and for telling it like it is. Hopefully their stance will help to change this culture of disrespect and contempt, particularly for girls and young women”, said Gemma