Community Transport – a vital lifeline

One measure of a civilised society is how it treats and prioritises its elderly and people with disabilities. We are nowhere near the top of that league table.

The Assembly’s five-year Active Ageing Strategy concluded last year and has not been replaced or updated and the current Disability Strategy is falling far short of its objectives.

Both the elderly and people with living with disability have been sent a clear signal of their worth with the news that, from the end of April, the Department of Infrastructure will end its funding of schemes including Shop Mobility and Community Transport initiatives like the Dial A Lift service.

The services under threat provide a vital life line for some of the most vulnerable people in the community. They support social inclusion, help prevent isolation, loneliness and the mental health issues they can cause.

These services provide the reassurance and support for people who would not otherwise be able to keep GP or hospital appointments. They counter social isolation thorough access to supermarkets and other retail outlets. They enable elderly people and people with disability to continue to be an active part of society.

In the case of schemes like Shop Mobility they also support individual independence and dignity.

We have strategies which promise to ‘raise awareness and improve opportunities and services for disabled people by addressing the inequalities and to tackling the barriers they face in their daily lives’, but the lived reality is now very different.

Around 40% of people in Northern Ireland live in rural areas. Many rely on community transport to allow them to leave their homes. Withdrawal of funding will also directly affect the staff and volunteers who help deliver these transport schemes.

The funding for Community Transport and associated services must be extended to meet growing need and by ring fenced to protect it against future cuts. That is how we demonstrate that we value our vulnerable citizens, but only in a socialist society can that be delivered fully and guaranteed.


Children Need a Guaranteed Start in Life

‘Childcare services are in crisis: parents are being forced a give up work and the benefits of children’s early years development are being wasted’. says Workers Party representative Ursula Meighan.

In a plain-speaking assessment of current childcare, child minding and early years education, Ursula said, ‘an immediate and comprehensive investment in childcare services is essential if the current crisis is to be addressed.’ 

‘The years from birth to the age of five or six are accepted as the most important years in a child’s early development. Yet, childcare remains a major issue, and a financial burden, for many parents and a serious obstacle to employment, particularly for women’ she explained.

Not getting the results

‘Parents in England Scotland and Wales can avail of 30 hours childcare, free of charge, each week in term time, but not so in Northern Ireland.

‘Other schemes which are available locally, including child tax credits, are just not producing the required results. Parents are being priced out of affording the childcare they need to allow them to work.

The long-overdue, and yet to be delivered, ‘Early Learning and Childcare Strategy’, has to be a day one priority for any restored Executive,’ Ursula said, ‘and must be accompanied by a programme of investment which supports parents to access the childcare they need and to providers to deliver it’.

Ursula went on to say that the current uncoordinated nature of childcare services significantly impacts on the development of many young people at an early age and that disadvantage can stay with them for life.

Guaranteed start in life

‘Working class families, and working-class children are particularly affected’ she said. ‘The right to a guaranteed start in life must be available to all. We must make that a legal entitlement.’

‘Only when children’s early education and development is served by a high quality, centrally planned, publicly funded, accessible and flexible childcare system can we say that we are investing in our future. 

‘Only then will parents have the security to remain in work, training or education. Only then can our society and our economy fully realise the benefits of a skilled and confident workforce, secure in the knowledge that future generations are being given the best start in life’ Ursula concluded. 

#childcare #earlyyears #chikdcarestrategy

Lineker calls it right

Workers Party spokesperson Patrick Crossan has called for support for the stand taken by @GaryLineker in the latest row on immigration.

“Not only is Gary right to publicly criticise the government’s cruel and inhumane ‘Stop the Boats’ immigration policy”, Patrick said, “but he is doing what anyone with a social conscience should be doing and raising the kind of questions that the mainstream media spend all their time avoiding”.

“Last year the UK took in 137,000 refugees. That is fifteen thousand fewer than arrived sixty years ago in 1960. The UK takes in considerably less refugees and asylum seekers than almost every other European country’, Patrick said.

‘It is the fifth largest economy in the world. Not only can it absorb people from other countries, it needs them and the considerable economic benefits that come from their skills and labour.

We are not being ‘invaded’, and neither Britain nor Ireland is ‘full’ as the right-wing racists claim.’ he said

‘The best immigration policies are those that provide safe, humane and welcoming routes into the country.

Ultimately, immigration and refugee crisis will only be addressed when NATO, the United States and their allies stop their invasions, wars of aggression and proxy conflicts which are forcing thousands of people to be displaced in the first instance’, Patrick concluded.

Re-claiming International Women’s Day

As International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 approaches we should proudly acknowledge and celebrate its socialist roots.

We should also brace ourselves for an onslaught of commercially driven Facebook posts, tweets, pop up ads and Instagram photos all proclaiming the ‘empowerment of women’ and, of course, the opportunity to buy the advertisers products.

The creeping commercialisation of IWD, a fate which has now largely overtaken events like Pride, has been in process for some time.

Commercial Cancer

This Wednesday will see that commercial cancer ramped up even further with hypocritical, phoney and cringe worthy claims to support and empower women, many coming from companies with gender pay gaps, precarious employment practices and zero hours contract cultures.

Equality, rights and recognition have had to be fought for in every century, every decade and every day. Progress has been won, not conceded. That struggle continues, not just on International Women’s Day but on every day and across the world.

Defining realities

The issues defining woman’s position in society cannot, and must not, be defined in consumerist terms

Violence, murder, trafficking, exploitation misogyny, social barriers, uncertain employment contracts, access to the workplace, child care support, funding for women’s services, ensuring maternity rights, bodily autonomy, abortion services, access to period products: these are just some of the realities defining women’s lives.

Women are not commodities – commercial or otherwise. The socialist imperative in International Women’s Day needs to be re-stated and re-enforced. International Women’s Day needs to be reclaimed and its dignity and purpose re-established.

The Workers Party’s contribution to  that cause will be evident in our on-line panel discussion this Wednesday evening addressing Childcare, Women in Employment and Human Trafficking and Exploitation.


To Join the Zoom Meeting; Click the link below

Begins at 7pm on Wednesday 8 March – log in from 6.45pm onwards

Protocol Proposals

Any progress on replacing the existing EU Protocol is to be welcomed but time is now needed to assess today’s announcement and to prepare considered and constructive responses.

The DUP, in particular, should examine the new proposals in the round and give serious consideration to the future of devolved government here and the potential consequences if it is not restored..

Paramilitary threats of disruption and violence are totally unacceptable and make no constructive contribution to the debate. No one has the right nor the mandate to hold this society to ransom.

The handling of the EU withdrawal agreement has be used as the proverbial political football by the European Union , the British Government, the Tory party’s European Research Group (ERG), elements of British and Irish nationalism here and by the Irish Government who could, and should, have played a much more constructive, supportive and mature role.

This afternoon’s announcement deserves serious and calm and consideration. The objective of all parties should be to secure the return of the Northern Ireland Assembly, stabilise relationships between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain and facilitate a renewed and reformed devolved administration at Stormont.

A 4 Day Working Week

Working conditions, work life balance and workers’ rights have always been the history of hard-won struggles by organised labour and the trade union movement, to improve, modernise and secure social progress.

Today, the case for a 4 Day Working Week has also become a site of struggle between workers and companies, multi-national corporations and individual employers.

Things we take for granted today, like a two-day weekend, a 35-hour week and holiday entitlements were the end product of struggles, demands and campaigns. They were won – not presented.

Fourth Industrial revolution

We are now in the midst of what could be described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Roughly one hundred years apart, the use of steam power and mechanical production in the 18th century gave way to electrification and mass production in the 19th century and then, in the 20th century to electronics, IT and automation. All of them brought the promise of potential and new opportunities for working people.

As we now engage with the era of digital information and artificial intelligence, this fourth industrial revolution also holds out the prospects of beneficial changes for working people: but as in previous eras they will be contested and need to be fought for.

Benefits for working people

A four-day week, not condensed hours or any similar number juggling, at current weekly or monthly wage levels is a demand whose time has come. The benefits and opportunities afforded by new technologies, algorithms, cyber space, virtual reality and the uses of artificial intelligence must be reaped by working people and their families, not just by companies and corporations.

As with those who came before us, we need to prepare ourselves for the arguments, the naysayers and the struggle to come. Workers rights are won, they are not bestowed.

A Significant Day

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday 21 February, teachers, university lecturers, front line ambulance crews and their support staff as well as other healthcare workers in hospitals and the community will take industrial action in support of wages, conditions and the future and the quality of services.

This marks a major escalation in the campaign of industrial action which has been ongoing for the past eighteen months

It also sees one of the first formal joined up protests by trade unions from different sectors. Tomorrow will be a significant day.

Teachers would rather be with their pupils, lecturers with their students and healthcare workers with their patients and clients. They have no option but to take this action in defence of services, safe staffing levels and a wage which reflects the skilled and important work that they do.

Tomorrow is not only about recognising and supporting the work of teachers, lecturers and healthcare workers and the contribution that they make to our society. It is about the very future of our education system and of our health services.

Underinvestment, unsafe staffing levels, failure to pay a fair wage and creeping privatisation in both health and education is already leading to people turning their backs on those career options. Day by day, we get closer to two tier services. Those who can afford it can get the best. The rest of us, our children and our families get cut adrift.

Tomorrow is about pay and conditions. It is about recognising the value of those who provide key and essential services on our behalf. But most of all tomorrow is about tomorrow, and the day after and the day after that.


The Far Right, Immigration and Capitalism’s Crises

Across Europe right wing populist parties and openly fascist organisations, deploying extreme nationalist rhetoric, are on the rise.

This is no coincidence. It reflects the social discontent generated by the capitalist crisis. Cuts in public expenditure, a gross lack of public housing and the exploitation of workers through precarious employment, low pay and rising prices, provides the far-right merchants of hate with the opportunity to indulge in simplistic solutions which falsely point the finger of blame at immigrants, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities.

Some in disadvantaged and disenfranchised working-class communities are prey to the callous and misguided right which refuses to recognise that the problems faced by working people are caused by the social system, not by fellow workers from elsewhere. 

This crisis has been caused by capitalism, it has been aggravated by imperialist aggression, poverty and war which forces people to flee their homes. 

We have witnessed before the horrors of fascism. Fascism is a particular manifestation of monopoly capitalism under certain conditions.  It must be opposed at every opportunity.

Ted Tynan

Workers Party


Time to Reclaim Our Resources – Crossan

As the dependency on foodbanks, even for people with jobs, continues to rise, as child poverty rates exceed 25% and three people die on the streets of Belfast, homeless without hope, heat or shelter, the Shell oil and gas company recorded annual profits of £32 billion – the highest in its 115-year history”, Patrick Crossan of the Workers Party has said.

“Shell will not be paying any tax in the UK this year courtesy of a loop hole that allows them to offset the costs incurred by investment and development. But they will be paying out more to their shareholders than they will be investing in renewable energies: oil and gas becomes smoke and mirrors”, Patrick said

A merry dance

“In media circles, this obscene, unjustified and unjustifiable profiteering at the expense of working people was a one-day-wonder: in some cases, not even that.

“It’s been said that the job of the media is to distract working people from reality. It fulfils that role well but it also protects multi-national corporations and their operations from public inquiry. The results of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ get more media scrutiny than corporate robbery and grand larceny”, Patrick commented.

“Energy and other utility providers don’t operate as a public service. They exist to make and maximise profits”, he said.

“The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures like ‘windfall taxes’ but in bringing utilities like gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and control.


“The increased poverty, deprivation and mounting mental health pressures caused by the current cost of living crisis is being fuelled by the astronomical price hikes in gas, electricity, oil and petrol. At the root of the problems lie the private ownership of the natural resources and their distribution and delivery chains” stated Patrick

“We work for our public services. We use them. We pay for them. We must own them” he concluded

Aidan McAnespie

Twenty three year old Aidan McAnespie was shot in the back and killed in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, moments after walking through a border security checkpoint in 1988.

In 2022 Aidan’s family finally secured a trial into his death and last November, the soldier who killed him was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced.

This has been a long battle for Aidan McAnespie’s family but it demonstrates that families are entitled to, and should be able to seek, justice before the courts.

This right would be removed by the Tory government’s Northern Ireland Troubles Bill which will give de facto amnesty to those responsible for grave violations of human rights by the state and paramilitaries.

The Workers Party applauds the resilience of the McAnespie family and demands an end to the Northern Ireland Troubles Bill which will only deprive families of justice.