Members of the Party delegation which met with Rocío Maneiro,  the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK and Ireland (right). L:R Helena Menéndez, Venezuelan Embassy official responsible for the Press, Party members Paddy Crossan, Gerry Grainger  (Workers Party International Secretary), Lily Kerr and Joanne Lowry

A delegation of party members has met with the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK and Ireland, Rocío Maneiro, to convey the Party’s solidarity with the Venezuelan government and its peoples and to voice our condemnation of the US sponsored attempted coup and the ongoing attacks against the democratically-elected government of Nicolás Maduro.

The Ambassador outlined the current situation in Venezuela and the great dangers not only for Venezuela, but also the entire region, when long established principles of international law on non-interference and territorial sovereignty were being set aside.

Increasing aggression.

In welcoming the Ambassador and her colleague to Belfast the Party’s International Secretary, Gerry Grainger, expressed the Workers Party condemnation of the escalation in aggression against Venezuela.

“The international aggression against the Venezuelan government is being co-ordinated and supported by the United States, the European Union and the governments of the so-called ‘Lima Group’1, They are attacking the sovereignty and rights of Venezuela and the Venezuelan people”, he stated

“The Bolivarian government 2 of Venezuela, like the Republic of Cuba which also chose a development path in the interests of its people, has faced relentless hostility, threats of intervention and a planned strategy of embargo and economic war”, Gerry explained

 lnternational Solidarity

The Workers Party is calling for an immediate end to the interference and aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for respect for its sovereignty and independence and is appealing for International solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan people.


1The ‘Lima Group’ comprises 12 northern, central and southern American countries and is supported by the United States.It overtly condemned the presidential elections called for by the Bolivarian government, describing them as unobserved, unjust and undemocratic. Days before the planned election date, the Lima Group – alongside the United States and the European
Union – called for the cancellation of the election. Following the election which strengthened President Maduro’s position, the fourteen member nations of the Lima Group recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela.

2 The Bolivarian  Revolution is a political process in Venezuela that
was led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth
Republic Movement and later the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

The Bolivarian Revolution is named after Simón Bolívar, the early 19th-century Venezuelan and Latin American revolutionary leader, prominent in the Spanish American wars of independence in achieving the independence of most of northern South America from Spanish rule.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day: still relevant, still important

International Women’s Day remains an important date in the political calendar – not just because the struggles for equal rights, for equal pay and for the right to control reproductive choices still need to be fought, but because there is a lobby, made up mostly of the middle classes, that pretends that ‘women have never had it so good and we can all stop agitating now’.

Now more than ever those vicious myths need to be exposed, now more than ever those who want to pull the ladder up behind them need to be challenged.

That is why the Workers Party and other progressive forces will continue to
demand free, safe and legal abortion for all, not just the few, why we will campaign against the ruthlessness of zero hours contracts, the exploitative nature of much part time employment and why we will continue to struggle for full participation by women in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life .

That is why we continue to hold International Women’s Day to be an important date and an important event.

Party condemns latest attack on Belfast / Dublin rail link

Low level criminality directed against the entire community’

The Workers Party in Lurgan has condemned the latest in a series  of attacks on the Belfast / Dublin rail link.The hijacking and burning of a van in the Lake Street area has resulted in the closure of the line between Lisburn and Portadown.

The Party has challenged those responsible to come into the open to explain their actions and spell out exactly what  they think they are trying to achieve.

“This community, and the all those who depend on the rail link, have had enough.  These are the actions of faceless cowards with nothing to offer except destruction and disruption.

There is no purpose or political rationale involved: this is nothing more than low level criminality directed against the entire community. Those responsible, and those who direct them, deserve no cover, no sympathy and no hiding place”, the Party said

“Anyone with any information about this or previous incidents should contact the PSNI” , the statement concluded

Northern Ireland Progressive Women’s Forum launched

The inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Progressive Women’s Forum

Members of the Workers Party’s Women’s Committee have attended the inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Progressive Women’s Forum – launched on Monday to coincide with International Women’s Day later this week.

The Forum will provide a left wing platform for the discussion and advancement of women’s issues – in particular working class women’s issues.

The time is always right for a socialist critique of social, economic and political issues affecting women in Northern Ireland, but maybe no more so than at the moment.

The demand for free, safe and legal abortion remains a high priority, zero hours contracts, part time employment and participation in the political process by progressive women are all issues affecting women in real terms.

Party members have also been involved with the steering group which organised the Forum’s initial meeting. The meeting endorsed a set of aims and objectives and that work will now be built on over the coming months with the adoption of a formal programme of work.

Why are we surprised?

“The recent spate of arranged sectarian fights in north Belfast highlights the breadth and depth of the problems this community faces”, the Workers Party’s Chris Bailie has said.

“Over 60% of the electorate in north Belfast – the mothers, fathers and family members of those who shape up to each other on local waste ground and vacant sites- vote for parties which make no pretence of their tribal intentions”, he said

“The very structure of government in Northern Ireland is based on community difference. The Good Friday Agreement institutionalises the sectarianism that Sinn Fein and the DUP feed and fete on. Why should we be evenly remotely surprised, never mind outraged, when that sectarian mindset passes down yet another generation and ends up in confrontation on the streets”? asked Chris.

“North Belfast has the lowest proportion of school leavers achieving at least five high grade GCSEs. Sinn Fein and the DUP have provided another generation of young people with no hope and no future. They have given them no prospects, no options and very little in the way of a secure and productive future,” he added

“Are sectarian gang fights a good thing? Of course not. They terrorise local communities, they end in injury and hurt at best and they leave young people with criminal records. A number of young people have been referred to the juvenile justice system as a result of these sectarian confrontations”.

“This problem and its consequences are likely to be with us for some time to come. A start can be made by changing the culture and the mindset that feeds and benefits from it”, Chris said.

If we educate children separately, make them live apart and divide them with imagined cultural differences, then what do we expect will happen”. asked Chris

“If people vote for sectarian parties, if they turn a blind eye or if they just pretend it’s not happening then the outcomes will remain exactly the same. But start challenging the sectarian basis of our society, start questioning the real purpose of ’peace walls’ and ’interfaces’ and start realising the short, and long, term benefits of integrated education and then we can start looking forward to a different type of society: one where young people aren’t manipulated to beat each other up on waste ground”, concluded Chris


We need to look again at ‘anti-social behaviour’

Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry has questioned the way in which we look at and respond to ‘anti-social behaviour.

“Anti-social behaviour has been dominating west Belfast headlines and social media sites in recent months, with a particular focus on Dunville and Falls Parks.

“Young people have been gathering on street corners, at shop fronts and other public spaces for generations: it’s nothing new. However, when it ends in assaults, criminal damage and attacks on cars and houses then it should quite rightly be condemned, and solutions sought”, she said.

Making it worse

 “However, we need to be clear about what we identify as anti-social behaviour and make sure that the answers we propose don’t end up making the problem worse.

It is always more attractive to try and find a quick ‘solution’ to the consequences rather than taking time to examine the causes. Are we in danger of doing that when it comes to young people’s behaviour? she asked

Big problems

“West Belfast has got problems – big problems. Nearly half the population over 16 are in receipt of some form of benefits. We have the second highest levels of unemployment in Northern Ireland and even then, 17% of local people who have jobs need to claim Employment and Support Allowances because their jobs are dangerously low paid. In some parts of west Belfast that figure rises to over 22% in Clonard and over 26% in the Lower Falls”, Joanne said.

“More than one fifth of west Belfast teenagers leave school with less than five high grade GCSEs.  More than 40% of children in west Belfast live in low income families. – the highest levels in Northern Ireland”,

“We have the third highest crime levels and the third highest incidents of anti-social behaviour.  Can we really pretend that all these facts are not related? she said.

A positive role

“When we propose solutions to anti-social behaviour, we can’t ignore the context and the causes. This is not just a matter for the PSNI, we all have a role to play – but it must be a thoughtful and positive one.

Much good work is being doing by local youth leaders, most of it in their own time. Their interventions on the ground are constructive and helpful toward young people and their work is characterised by timely interventions and experience of working with teenagers and adolescents. They need our support.”, Joanne said

“Young people need to socialise, they need to meet with others of their own age and interests. We can’t simply close parks and cordon off public spaces hoping that the problem will go away. The actual amount of anti-social behaviour is relatively small given that one third of the west Belfast population is aged between 15 and 24”, she pointed out


“Supporting those who know what they are doing and addressing the long-term causes of this type of behaviour is a much more constructive approach than some than have been tried.

“Very often, the people who make the most noise about anti-social behaviour, who demonise teenagers and who point the finger at the police are the ones who make the least effort in ensuring better prospects for the young people involved.”, concluded Joanne.

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