Rwanda scheme illegal and immoral

Plans to deport the first batch of refugees to Rwanda may have been halted temporarily, but the Conservative government will pursue this barbaric scheme to the end.

The sight of a charter plane, costing half a million pounds to hire, sitting empty on an airport runway may well be an appropriate metaphor for Boris Johnston’s administration but it doesn’t tell the full story.

Britain has legal and moral obligations to ensure the safety, welfare and human rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Flying them to an east African country with a dubious human rights record and with which they will have no connection is not only immoral it verges on the criminal. Given the Conservative party’s policy of privatisation and outsourcing public responsibilities it should, however, come as no surprise.

Despite the excellent work of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations in preventing the deportations thus far, there may soon be no legal grounds left to argue against this measure for those concerned

As part of the Rwanda plan a Nationality and Borders Bill, currently before parliament, proposes to remove the right to remain in the UK while an asylum claim or appeal is being processed. 

If passed, the bill will allow the removal of refugees and asylum seekers to a ‘safe country’ while their claim is pending.

The pressure to reverse the dumping of refugees and asylum seekers in other countries must be maintained and increased. There is a particular responsibility on The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which has already publicly criticised the policy and also on the heads of Commonwealth countries who meet in Rwanda this week.

Refugees and asylum seekers are the casualties of imperialist wars, aggressions and rivalries. For that reason alone, they should be made welcome, protected and secure.

The Time for Public Ownership of Energy Resources is Now!

When it comes to discussions about the cost of energy and other utilities, there is always a missing and unspoken link.

Radio phone in shows, television news, social media platforms and any amount of newspaper articles will talk endlessly about ‘increases in wholesale supplies’. The ‘war in Ukraine’, ‘unexpectedly cold winters’ and ‘technical problems with pipe lines’.

What they won’t mention is that the natural resources which supply the energy and other utilities are all in the hands of private companies and individuals. What they won’t mention is that increases in prices are driven by profiteering and delivering dividends to shareholders.

Gas and electricity were privatised more than thirty years ago. Separate, privately owned, systems were established for supply, transmission and distribution and the ‘Big Six’ energy companies cornered the market, saw off any competition and established a very profitable monopoly. Consumers have been, and still are, paying the costs ever since.

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

The Government’s response to the latest hikes in home heating and other bills has been to offer short term and, in practice, woefully inadequate financial relief to consumers. At best this is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures but in bringing gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and public 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 and petrol. At the root of the problems lie the private ownership of the natural resources and their distribution and delivery chains.

We work for our public services. We use them. We pay for them. We must own them.

Joint letter spells out the harsh realities

The Workers Party’s six Assembly candidates have written a joint letter to the editors of Northern Ireland’s three daily newspapers questioning how the election results will change, for the better, the lives of working class people, the young, the old and the vulnerable.

Dear Editor,

The major parties and most of the media have hailed the outcome of the Assembly elections as one of major change. How have they come to that conclusion?

Exactly the same parties that were elected the last time have been returned this time. The same parties that, when they weren’t collapsing the Executive, were responsible for growing waiting lists, a lack of public housing, economic stagnation and pay cuts to public sector workers.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill even went as far as claiming that the election results were “…  a defining moment for our politics and for our people. Really?

Throughout the election campaign we made the point that, when the polls closed, the priorities for working class people would remain the cost of living, health, education and low pay. That certainly hasn’t changed.

Given the re-election of the same parties, and in most cases the same people, there seems little chance that it will.

The hype, the self-congratulations and the media circus will fade and the realities of the outcome will kick in. Twenty-four years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement we still have no Bill of Rights, we continue to educate our children separately, we have developed a low wage, part time, zero hours economy, our public services are run down, underfunded and fragmented and we are living with a mental health crisis.

The task of socialists and progressives must to continue to present the alternatives, stay on the backs of the new Executive, if one is ever formed, and hold them to account at every turn.

Eoin MacNeill, Nicola Grant, Hugh Scullion, Patrick Lynn, Patrick Crossan and Lily Kerr

It May Look Different, but it’s Same Old, Same Old

The media and the Big 5 parties have trailed this election as the most significant one in over twenty years. But what has really changed?

Workers Party candidates said consistently throughout the election campaign that the morning after polling day the big issues would remain, the cost of living, health, education, low pay and the environment. Nothing has changed that.

Beyond the rhetoric and the social media hype only the names on the doors have altered.

Thousands of working- class people voted in their droves for parties that do not, will not and cannot represent their interests.

Partly, that is because politics here has moved from a culture of representation and accountability to a big business circus replacing substance with glitz and glamour. That scenario has been re-enforced and replicated by sections of the media which treat politics here as a cross between a game show and a beauty contest.

The winners, once again, are the professional political classes, their media acolytes and the economic system they serve.

“The names on the doors have changed. Nothing else“.

The losers, once again, are working class people, public services, the young the old and the vulnerable. In that sense too, nothing has changed

The task of socialists, those on the left and other progressives is to present a coherent and class-based programme to challenge and counter the privatisation, low pay, zero hours and free market agenda of the big five parties.

It must remain our task to defend and to protect working class people,to speak out for their interests, to present and deliver the socialist alternative and to radically change this society and social system. That hasn’t change either.

Assembly Needs Major Reform

Later today the votes will be counted and the election results declared: but that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a working Assembly.

In the past four years we have seen the Executive collapsed twice, once by Sinn Fein for a period of three years and a few months ago by the DUP.

The structures established by the Good Friday Agreement have long since reached their sell by date. They are no longer fit for purpose and now stand in the way of effective develoved government.

The Assembly structures urgently need root and branch reform.

The starting point has to be getting rid of the sectarian and inoperable structures that the two main parties in particular continue to use, abuse and hide behind.

At a minimum, we need to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition, community designation requirements should be abolished and the Petition of Concern reformed to ensure that it can never again be used to veto social or equality legislation.

We cannot endure another five years of stop / start government. Immediate and far reaching reform is the only way in which a new Assembly can function effectively.

Candidates endorse Radiograhers’ Manifesto

Workers Party candidates have called for the adoption of the five-point manifesto presented by the Society of Radiographers as one of the ways that hospital services can be enhanced and referral times and waiting lists reduced.

“We fully support the call by local radiographers for an above inflation pay settlement as one way in which staff retention and future recruitment can be enhanced”, the candidates said in a joint statement

Hospital Radiography departments provide a wide range of diagnostic imaging services including CT scanning, ultra sound and X-Rays.

“Only through planned and guaranteed investment can out of date equipment be replaced, staff shortages be addressed and timely access to services, diagnosis and treatment be secured”,the statemengt said

“Referral times and waiting lists could be significantly reduced though the development of existing staff and an increase in the number of reporting radiographers”.

Over £10 million was spent last year alone in Northern Ireland outsourcing patient images.

“Nine out of every ten patients attending hospital will be seen by a radiographer for diagnosis or treatment. It is vitally important that we invest in their skills and careers to ensure that high quality services are available when thet afre needed”.

May Day 2022

Ever since 1868, the 1st of May has been recognised and celebrated as International Workers Day. 

Never has it been more important to re-assert that declaration. Today working people’s quality of life is being eroded, their access to services is reduced, secure, well-paid employment is unavailable for many, employment rights are being torn up and pay and conditions are under attack.

Now, more than ever, working people need a Workers Party to represent them, defend them and help radically change the system which exploits them.

Yesterday, the Workers Party had the biggest representation of any political party at Belfast’s May Day parade. That was a statement of intent and a public commitment to the struggle for class politics.

There was no formal presence at the May Day parade from any of the ‘big five’ Executive parties. Less than a week before an election that will shape the lives of thousands of working people, pensioners and children they demonstrated that their priorities are not with the working class, with the trade union movement or with anything other than the sectarian carve up and the division of this society in their own interests. 

On Thursday May 5th, the ballot box gives working class people an opportunity to pass judgement on them and to vote for a socialist alternative.

Education, the NHS, Cost of Living, Why Vote and Votes @ 16

Eoin MacNeill (East Belfast) addressed measures to alleviate the current cost of living crisis but pointed out that only a socialist programme for government can deliver for working class people. Workers Party Belfast East https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064424689834

This day week we have an opportunity to do something about it. Let’s make sure we take it – said Lily Kerr (North Belfast) as she spelt out the importance of voting for the Workers Party. Workers Party Belfast North https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068795751019

Paddy Crossan (West Belfast) made the case for votes at 16, arguing that if Northern Ireland is to be a fully participative democracy the involvement, and active participation of 16 and 17 year olds is essential to that process. Workers Party West Belfast https://www.facebook.com/groups/606792129418820

‘Education, education and education’ was the message from Newry & Armagh candidate Nicola Grant setting out the socialist programme from pre-school to third level Workers Party Newry and Armagh https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100069112484226

Hugh Scullion (Mid Ulster) has warned tbat the NHS is not safe from sell off, fragmentaion or privatisation and that, having helped to beat Covid, the battle is on to save the NHS itself. Workers Party Mid Ulster https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064424689834

The chronic shortage of public housing was highlighted by Patrick Lynn ( South Belfast) calling for a compehenisve building programme and the reinstatement of the Housing Executive as the lead agency. Workers Party Belfast South https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064982850197

Environment, Assembly, Benefits, Poverty and Public Ownership

Sinn Fein’s appalling poverty record in West Belfast was top of Paddy Crossan‘s agenda Workers Party West Belfast https://www.facebook.com/groups/606792129418820

Nicola Grant (Newry & Armagh) was highlighting the ‘environmental insanity ‘ of jeopordising 200 year old oak trees. Workers Party Newry and Armagh https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100069112484226

In MId Ulster, Hugh Scullion was warning of the ongoing threat to the Sperrins posed by mining exploration and the need for renewed vigilance to safeguard this area of oustanding natural beauty. Workers Party Mid Ulster https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064424689834

Taking ferry services and othef infrastructure into public ownership was called for by Eoin MacNeill in East Belfast . Workers Party Belfast East https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064424689834

Patrick Lynn in South Belfast was calling for the reform of the DLA and PIPs systems and the unnecessary burdens the application and renewal processes place on famiies of children with Downs. Workers Party Belfast South https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064982850197

Lily Kerr ( North Belfast) was setting out the case and the necessity for the reform of the Assembly’s structures including the ending of mandatory coalition . Workers Party Belfast North https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068795751019

Treatment of migrants is ‘cynical, callous and cruel’

The UK government’s proposal to send migrants, who arrive in Britain without a permit, to Rwanda has been condemned as “cynical, callous and cruel”, by Workers Party candidate in East Belfast Eoin MacNeill.

£50 million in new funding has also been announced to pay for boats, aerial surveillance and military personnel to prevent those seeking asylum from attempting to cross the Channel in small boats.

“These proposals have been condemned by the United Nations refugee agency and refugee action groups”, Eoin said

“People who are the victims of war, interventions, oppression and exploitation by reactionary regimes have the right to seek a safer life in other countries. The UK government proposal deliberately ignores the causes of mass migration. It is importnag to expose the exploitative system which gives rise to mass migration and work unceasingly to end it”, he said.

“The UK and the European Union, together with their allies in the US and NATO, have created the conditions where people are forced to flee their own countries. War, poverty, exploitation and oppression have forced people to risk their lives and safety to seek a better life which they cannot achieve at home”, said Eoin. 

“Fortress Europe”, with its closed borders, fences, quotas and prison camps is no solution. Refugees must be treated with dignity and compassion and with full respect for the Geneva Convention and international law”, Eoin argued.

“Those rights arising from refugee status and those seeking asylum must be recognised and respected for all nationalities and repressive measures against refugees must immediately cease”.

“Governments must provide decent and suitable facilities to ensure appropriate accommodation, medical care and documentation. These duties cannot be outsourced to third countries where refugees and asylum seekers will be faced with social, economic and language problems and exposed to the risk of exploitation and abuse”, Eoin warned.