Health Service will be the test of the new Assembly

“Promised funding is disappearing faster than wood chips in an RHI burner”, Hugh Scullion

Hugh Scullion, the Party’s Mid Ulster representative, has cautioned against optimism on the return of the Stormont Executive.

“The restoration of devolution is welcomed, and long overdue, but there is a real possibility that the Assembly parties remain wedded to the Tory’s austerity policies of the past. That means the continued under funding of public services, including health and social care.” he said

“The funding promised in return for restoring the Stormont Assembly is disappearing faster than wood chips in an RHI burner.  Politicians are now being urged to make “hard decisions” – as if this is a virtue. Hard decisions usually mean cuts in public services leading to longer waiting times in hospital Emergency Departments, longer waiting lists for treatments and agony for patients”, Hugh warned.

 Suicide rates

“The Mid Ulster area has seen one of the highest rates, only behind Belfast, of death from heart disease and cancers. The rates of suicide since the signing of the Belfast Agreement has surpassed the lives lost during the thirty years of “the Troubles.”

“More and more young people are turning to alcohol and drugs with increasing drug related deaths. Meanwhile the area’s health services are dwindling. These cuts particularly affect those in poverty and greatest need”.

Starved of resources

“The promises of the Conservative Government so quickly accepted by our local politicians will not solve the many problems faced by working class people in Northern Ireland. The NHS will continue to be starved of much needed resources both in terms of staff and facilities”. Hugh said

“For some time, the Worker’s Party has been calling for an inquiry into the financing and outsourcing of health care in Northern Ireland but we fear the present Stormont Executive will continue with a programme of austerity and privatisation of public services.

Holding to account

“We will be watching and holding the Stormont parties to account. For the past three years and one day the they have failed to serve the interests of the working class. the electorate will have their say at the next Assembly elections in two years’ time. That  will be the time for the working class to hold them to account.”, Hugh concluded

‘New Decade – New Approach’ – same old story

Image result for new decade new approach ni

New Decade – New Approach’ – same old story

The most surprising thing about the ‘New Decade – New Approach’ deal that will see the return of an Assembly and an Executive at Stormont is that it took three years and a day to achieve.

There is absolutely nothing in this agreement that could not have been secured if the Assembly had continued to function: nothing.

Yet over a three year period the DUP and Sinn Fein held the people of Northern Ireland ransom to settle on a document that could and should have been written in 2017.


SInn Fein collapsed the Executive primarily because of its concerns about the Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI), yet apart from a commitment to form a committee to look at the report’s findings and an undertaking to learn lessons, there’s hardly a mention of it in the new Agreement.

That said, fourteen paragraphs and 727 words are devoted to Language and Cultural Rights. Integrated education is mentioned – literally mentioned – once.  The word Poverty is mentioned once in the main report and there are absolutely no references to women or homelessness.

Clearly these are not Sinn Fein or DUP priorities. Nor will they be.


During this period public services reached the point of collapse, mental health deteriorated, homelessness increased, school budgets couldn’t cope, and hospital waiting lists increased and for the first time in their history nursing staff were forced to picket their own hospitals.

Ultimately Sinn Fein and the DUP have now signed up to a return to work – not as a result of their own efforts but because the British and lrish governments wrote the text for them.

And what have they returned to? Simply stated, a continuation of the sectarian carve up on which they came to power and which they intend to maintain to stay in power. The maintenance of power and the consolidation of differences are the only real winners in today’s developments.

All the more reason to build and pursue the socialist alternative to sectarianism and all class alliances.

New Year’s Message

Workers Party President Michael Donnelly

Workers Party President, Michael Donnelly has used his New Year message to criticise what he branded “… the complete failure of both Sinn Fein and the DUP to offer anything in the way of either credible government or credible policies in Northern Ireland”.

“While there are apparently ‘high hopes’ of some sort of brokered deal in the immediate future”, he said, “it is highly unlikely that whatever government is formed will be one that will have any major impact on the crises that beset ordinary workers and their families at this time”.

He went on to highlight Northern Ireland’s “..crumbling social services, a health system that is being relentlessly ground down in preparation for possible privatisation…and the low-wage economy which formed the basis of what passed for an economic strategy by the previous SF-DUP administration. All of this must be fought against relentlessly, and the Workers Party must play a leading role in that resistance”, he said

“Both in Northern Ireland or in the Republic we have consistently argued that any government that commits itself to relentlessly pursuing an unashamed pro-private capital- financial speculator agenda and presides over the mismanagement of  health, education  and  public welfare, does not deserve to either  continue in office or be returned office”, the Party President said.

“We need to remember also that, in both parts of this island, despite the claims of the big system parties, there remains deep and persistent poverty and inequality, both of which are deeply imbedded and form an integral part of the island’s socio-economic reality.

More than ever before, wealth is concentrated overwhelmingly in the secure vaults and accounts of the already wealthy elite, the privileged ones in whose interests their governments rule.”, he added

“Whether it is homelessness, poverty, excessively high rents, low wages or poorly funded health and social services, the cause is not ‘individual irresponsibility’ but the direct consequence of the  deep structural factors that are part and parcel of a system that privileges private capital over the public good. he concluded

See Party President Michael Donnelly’s New Year Message in full here: