The Workers Party has submitted its views to the Northern Ireland Executive’s on its draft Programme for Government setting out a number of priorities for working people across a wide range of social, economic and political concerns.
Of course, the Programme for Government will inevitably fall far short of the expectations of a socialist party which requires the complete transformation of our social system and society but it is important, particularly in the context of the pandemic, to make concrete demands at every opportunity for the provision of social and economic measures to meet the needs of working people.
In its opening remarks the Party submission states that “The adoption and roll out of this Programme must be seen against the current and historical realities of life in Northern Ireland, as lived by many thousands of citizens”.
The Party submission then highlights a number of those areas
Hospital waiting lists and many other aspects of healthcare provision are in crisis. They have been for many years and pre date the Coronavirus pandemic.
Public housing provision has fallen dramatically in the last decade and an already unacceptable crisis continues to be exacerbated.
Levels of child poverty represent a scandal which none of us should be prepared to accept. It’s reporting in statistical averages masks specific areas of inordinately high deprivation and the endemic and long-term nature of the crisis.
Our education system, in addition to its failing of working-class children, continues perpetuating division, legitimising sectarianism and propping up the phoney ‘two communities’ model.
The current pandemic has helped to identify a number of social and economic issues and has brought back into focus a number of others. Chief among these has been the impact which Coronavirus has had on women in particular.
These additional pressures and problems are compounding the daily difficulties faced by women and young girls in Northern Ireland. A Programme for Government must plan for a strategic response and the implementation of a comprehensive raft of legislation, initiatives, funding, supports and cultural change to radically improve and secure the position of women in this society.
Northern Ireland’s economic strategy is based on a low wage economy and a foreign direct investment model which thwarts the development of an indigenous skills base leaving workers and their families at the mercy of multinational companies as they shut up shop and move on to locations of higher profits and lower wages.
Securing, in legislation, the rights of citizens in Northern Ireland continues to be an unnecessarily long, arduous and uphill struggle. This Programme for Government must use the opportunity to comprehensively re-dress that significant and damaging deficit.
It is against these strategic imperatives that the Workers Party has responded to the Programme for Government consultation.
Read the Party’s full submission here: