“Join the conversation”? I don’t think so.

I have become increasingly suspicious of people asking me to “join the conversation”

There’s a lot of it going on. In almost all cases I get the distinct impression that, by the time the “invitation” is extended, the real discussion has already taken place and that the conclusions have already been reached. It seems like the “invitation” is only being extended to help make up the numbers. Or, more cynically it’s an attempt to take the bad look off an already suspect project.

This is certainly true of the “conversation” around calls for a Border Poll.

The ‘civic nationalists’, ‘concerned democrats’ and ‘Ireland’s Futurists’ promoting this particular ‘conversation’ are a diverse group from all classes but with a single objective: redrawing the geography and declaring a ‘united’ Ireland.

There is no conversation

The stark reality is that there is no conversation and there never has been, at least not one that those outside of Sinn Fein and civic nationalism have been involved in. No. In their minds the deal has been done and everyone else now needs to get on board or get lost. So, actually there is no need for discussions or ‘conversations’. It seems that we are way past that stage already.

Interestingly there seems to be a number of other ‘certainties’ submerged just beneath the surface of their ‘unity’ argument, not least of which is the implied assumption that, not only is everyone – except unionists – in favour of an immediate Border Poll and geographical unity but that any new united Ireland would also be a member of the European Union.

Real intentions

Try as they might to disguise the fact, the real intentions of the Border Poll campaigners are too frequently exposed by their own use of language. The Ireland’s Future group talks of – ‘Our Rights – Our Future’. You can’t get much more inclusive than that! We are also told that nationalists will not be told that their “fundamental aspiration is divisive”. Really?

Anyone naïve enough to join in this group’s ‘conversation’ will be sucked up, consumed and paraded around in a demonstration of the inclusive and accommodating nature of the nationalist agenda. They may as well be the fairy on the Christmas tree – for decoration only.

No matter how it’s dressed up or explained away, the clamour by nationalists to hold a border poll is nothing short of an attempt to secure a deliberately divisive sectarian head count.

That’s one of the reasons that I was pleased to see the recent statement by Cllr Ted Tynan from Cork and Hugh Scullion from Bellaghy in which they said  – “…what the border poll campaigners don’t want to consider, and don’t want raised, is the necessary discussion on the fundamental restructuring of Irish society to ensure that working people control their own destinies”.

It’s not as if Border Poll campaigners are unaware of the nature of class and how it dictates the character of our society. In fact, they are very conscious and acutely aware of it. That’s why they are so keen to deliberately avoid discussing it. Their ‘united’ Ireland would be a world of exploitation, division, systemic poverty, triumphalism gombeenism and capitalism.

However, one benefit this clamour for a border poll has produced is that it has flushed out the pseudo socialists, the trendy lefties and the weekend revolutionaries. The indecent haste which many of those claiming to be on the Left have shown in jumping on the Sinn Fein / Civic Nationalism bandwagon should be repulsive to many.

All it takes is someone waving a green flag in their general direction and the fundamental, non-negotiable principles of working-class unity, anti-sectarianism and class politics are all ditched, dumped and discarded.

The same fate awaits anyone foolish enough to join their Border Poll conversation.

Austin Kelly

Deaths threats condemned

The Workers Party has added its voice to the the chorus of condemnation of paramilitary deaths threats against journalist Patricia Devlin and her family.

“Condemnation must be loud, unequivocal and incessant”, the Party said.

“These are vicious and cowardly threats directed, in this case against a journalist but also, against numerous individuals and families thoughout the community .

There can be no justification, no excuses and  no tolerance of this type of behaviour. These threats come from armed gangs of criminals who seek to terrorise working class communities, individuals and anyone who seeks to expose or criticise their criminal activities”.

“We all have a collective responsibility to stand against this intimidation and terror and to stand with those directly targetted. Anyone with any information about these or similar  threats should contact the PSNI”, the Party said.

Minister must do more

The Chair of the Workers Party’s South Belfast branch has expressed his disappointment in the response he has received from Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey regarding the recent hate crime and arson attack on the premises of the Belfast Multi Cultural Association.

Paddy Lynn had written to the minister in the aftermath of the attack urging her to build on the public outrage generated by the arson attack by helping to secure a re-build of the premises and also to fund temporary accommodation, in the immediate south Belfast area, to allow the Association to continue with its community support work.

“I am particularly disappointed at what appears to be the Minister’s lack of urgency in this matter”, Paddy said.

“Her proposal to submit a paper addressing the longer-term issues of racism and community relations to the First and Deputy First Minister’s office fails to understand or appreciate the sense of urgency required.”, Paddy added.

“Our collective response to racism and hate crime has to be to demonstrated publicly and in real terms”, he said.

“A publicly funded commitment to rebuilding the Association’s premises, while ensuring that their work can continue, would be an extremely strong signal that the community does not, and will not, tolerate racism and hate crime in any form”

“I am calling on the Minister to re-think her approach and underpin her opposition to racism and hate crime with a tangible demonstration of the community’s’ support and of the government’s resolve”. concluded Paddy

Bill of Rights: Party submits its views

In its response to the Northern Ireland Executive’s request for views on a Bill of Rights, the Workers Party has said that “it is particularly disheartening, given that Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement indicated that a Bill of Rights should form part of a lasting settlement, and after the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission conducted a lengthy consultation and made recommendations to Government on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, that the citizens of Northern Ireland are still waiting”.

The Party’s submission also pointed out that we have now been campaigning for a Bill of Rights for over 50 years.

The Party’s full submission can be found below

The purpose of a Bill of Rights should be to establish and guarantee the relationship between citizens and the state. It must form the basis for democratic rights as the guarantor of the civil liberties of all citizens and of the political rights of all political parties, groups and individuals. It must also expressly guarantee that everyone in Northern Ireland is equal before the law and has equal rights. Such a Bill must enshrine fundamental principles constituting a clear statement about the nature of any political institutions established and operated in Northern Ireland.

See the Party’s full submission below:

Workers Party welcomes ICC war crimes decision

Image result for israeli war crimes

The International Criminal Court, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018, has removed the last obstacles to an international investigation into war crimes committed in Occupied Palestine.

The Court has ruled that its jurisdiction extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – a decision wecomed by the Workers Party.

The United Nations has repeatedly documented violations of human rights in the Occupied territories which remain under effective siege, in violation of international and humanitarian law. Palestinian civilians, including children, are deliberately targeted for attack

Currently, Israel is excluding the five million Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank from its coronavirus vaccincation programe, while vaccinating its own citizens living in the illegal settlements in those areas.

See the Party statement in full here:

John Jefferies – a joint tribute

John Jefferies

A year has passed since the death of our esteemed comrade and friend, John Jefferies. His words of advice, his analysis of political events, his unstinting work on behalf of the working class and his steadfast dedication to the class politics and ideology of the Workers Party are sorely missed.

At the time of John’s sudden and untimely death we declared that his passing would be a serious loss to our Party at every level, and so it remains.

The Cork Region and the Northern Ireland Region of the Workers Partty have issued a joint tribute to mark John’s anniversary.

Threats to staff condemned

no justicication , no excuses

The Workers Party has condemned the threats and intimidation directed against public servants working at Larne and Belfast ports.

The Party said that there can be no justification. no excuses and no rationale for targeting and terrorising people as they go about their work.

Issues around the checking of goods can and must be resolved politically.

Incendiary language

The Party also said that incendiary language from nationalists, both British and Irish, was not only unhelpful but appears to be a contributory factor

Those responsible must publicly withdraw any suggestion of threats or scare tactics and allow those workers to resume their duties without fear of attack. Politicians and political parties who have used this situation to play to their respective galleries should desist in a similar manner, the party statement concluded.

Some Advice: Actions speak louder than words

Thousands of people could be forced into poverty

Despite there being over 100,000 deaths across these islands and more than 2 million deaths worldwide, there are still people who deny that we are in a global pandemic.

There are also people who still maintain that we are “all in this together” There are even some who don’t accept that Coronavirus has become a class issue.

Maybe the later group will think again when they see the Department of Communities draft budget proposals that seek to take away £1.5m from Advice NI, Northern Ireland’s foremost network provider of information, support and advice.

The proposals also mean cuts in assistance for people on benefits and to homelessness funding. Thousands of people are at risk of being forced into poverty.

Advice NI – which has been helping to deliver the Executive’s Covid telephone hotline service – estimates that up to 45 of its staff are at risk of unemployment.

If implemented the immediate and longer term effects on the most vulnerable people in this society will be catastrophic. Access to professional advice on employment, debt, benefits and housing during this pandemic has been a life line for many individuals and families. It continues to be so. The reassurance and relief provided by the Advice NI network also contributes to a reduction in fear, anxiety and mental health problems.

The vast majority of those clients are from working class families and areas. Their access to resources and support are already limited. The existing pressures they living under are immense.

To even suggest withdrawing access to what little advice and support is available is reprehensible.

Talking of a united approach to defeating C19 and talk of safeguarding people’s mental health means nothing when measures like these are proposed. Actions speak much louder than words.

The Workers Party will be making a robust submission to the Department of Communities arguing rigorously in support of increased funding for Advice NI and other advice services, financial protection for people on benefits, the extension of the Universal Credit £20 uplift as well as making it permanent , and increased funding for those working with homeless people and people with poor mental health.

EU and vaccines: true to type

European Union attempts to block vaccine distribution

On one hand it is almost impossible to believe that the EU would deliberately and callously block the distribution of Coronavirus vaccines – or indeed any other medicines.

However, it would take a very short memory to forget the  EU’s aggressive, indifferent  and uncompromising treatment of countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain and the Republic of Ireland during the financial crisis just over a decade ago.

The EU imposed crippling  financial demands on those countries, insisting on the privatisation of public utilities,  and displaying total  contempt for national sovereignty, democratic rights and the welfare of working people.

Even its most ardent local supporters were taken aback by its latest aggressions over vaccine supplies but their talk of ‘a blunder’ and of ‘ a poor decision’ can’t mask the vicious anti-democratic nature of the European Union and its project.

The ever-growing threat of vaccine nationalism poses a real threat to people in poorer countries. 

Millions of people in those countries may have to wait until at least 2022 for the vaccine. The increase in competition between rich capitalist countries is monopolising the global supply and driving up prices for the vaccine.

This development, including the EU’s controls on vaccine exports, where the rich capitalist countries are endeavouring to procure more vaccines that they could possibly need and denying these to the rest of the world is an obscenity although entirely in line with a system which is based on exploitation. 

This is a global pandemic. Vaccines should be shared among the world’s most vulnerable people first, regardless of where they live. Clearly, we are not all in this together.