Northern Ireland: Assembley elections – A socialist challenge

Assembly elections

Press releases from the Socialist Party’s election campaign.

A socialist challenge

20 November 2003

Support for Shorts workers

East Belfast Socialist Party candidate, Tommy Black, today gave full support to Shorts workers, currently in dispute over changed work practices.

“Management have provoked this dispute through their dictatorial methods.

The blackmailing attitude of Bombardier – that if the workforce demand a decent pay rise or oppose a worsening of working conditions the company responds by threatening to sack workers or introduce redundancies – must end.

“Behind all this is the attempt to run down the plant so as to switch production to Montreal. Bombardier want to blame the workers for what is in fact a policy decision they have already taken.

“If Bombardier can’t guarantee to maintain jobs with decent pay and conditions in Shorts the company should be taken back into public ownership so that Belfast’s proud tradition of aircraft manufacturing does not go the same way as that of shipbuilding.”

 

20 November 2003

Barbour delivers protest to US Consulate

Socialist Party candidate for South Belfast Jim Barbour today handed a letter of protest to the US Consulate in Belfast against the state visit of George Bush.

Mr. Barbour who was joined by a delegation of Socialist Party members from South Belfast said “ I am voicing my opposition along with the hundreds of thousands of people marching in London today and millions more internationally to the state visit of a warmonger responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq.”

“It is a disgrace that local politicians will be having tea with Bush and Blair, and claiming to work for peace. The cost of policing Bush’s visit alone is estimated to be £5 million minimum. Billions of pounds of public money is being spent on the occupation of Iraq. Yet, sick people in Northern Ireland are forced to sleep in hospital corridors, water charges are being imposed on ordinary people, and public services are being destroyed.

“The occupation of Iraq will only lead to more British and US soldiers and Iraqi lives being wasted. The occupation must end now. The Iraqi people should be allowed to democratically decide the future of their country and its resources. “

 

18 November 2003

Jim Barbour accuses Esmond Bernie of hypocrisy over electricity rates

Jim Barbour, Socialist Party candidate for South Belfast, today called for all candidates to declare their financial interests in private companies after criticising Esmond Bernie of hypocrisy on the question of affordable electricity prices.

Mr. Barbour stated “In Esmond Bernie’s election material he has called for lower electricity prices, yet he has conveniently forgotten to mention that while in Stormont he declared owning 445 shares in Viridian, the company who are responsible for charging the people of Northern Ireland some of the highest electricity rates in Europe.

Since the privatisation of electricity in Northern Ireland prices have soared. It is a bit rich for Esmond Bernie to now call for low electricity rates since he has materially gained from the sell-off of this vital public service. In fact, he is partly to blame for the electricity rip-off.

Mr. Barbour said “ I have no shares in any companies and I will continue to live on a firefighter’s wage if elected.

 

16th November 2003

Jim Barbour calls for boycott of Bush

Jim Barbour, Socialist Party candidate for South Belfast has called for a protest at the US consulate on Thursday 20 November @ 1.00pm to oppose the visit of US President George Bush to London.

Mr. Barbour said,

“This visit by the warmonger Bush is an insult to the people of this country who have suffered from violent conflict for decades. The occupation of Iraq is opposed by the vast majority of people, both here and abroad. Bush is wasting the lives of innocent Iraqis and Coalition soldiers in the quest for oil and profit.

It is a disgrace that Northern Ireland politicians plan to have tea with Bush and Blair in London. I call on them to boycott the Bush visit and join the protest at the consulate instead.”

13 November 2003

Jim Barbour calls on Finance Minister Ian Pearson to resign

South Belfast Socialist Party candidate Jim Barbour today called on Finance Minister, Ian Pearson, to resign immediately over his handling of pay negotiations with civil servants.

“Ian Pearson has created a crisis in the civil service by offering staff a 0% pay rise for this year.

“This has left civil servants with no option but to ballot for industrial action.

“When pressed to come up with a decent offer he dismissed union negotiators by saying he didn’t care as he was out of here in three weeks anyway.

“With this attitude he should do us all a favour and pack his bags now.”

 

13 November 2003

Socialist Party launches election manifesto

The Socialist Party today launched its manifesto for the Assembly elections.

The Party is standing candidates in two constituencies.

Prominent local trade unionist, Jim Barbour, who led the recent firefighter’s dispute, is standing in South Belfast.

Tommy Black, an education trade unionist and the Chair of the East Belfast Campaign Against the Water Tax is running in that constituency.

Launching the manifesto Jim Barbour said:

"The Socialist Party is running in these elections to begin to build an alternative to the dead end of sectarian and right wing politics.

"The biggest lie that is being told in this election is that the major parties are against water charges. Before the Assembly was suspended they had agreed with the British government that they would introduce water charges. If they get back in they will go ahead with this iniquitous double tax.

"We are running on a firm pledge to resist water charges and to help build a massive campaign of non payment if they are introduced.

"We are standing to defend our health, education and other public services.

We are totally opposed to the selling off of these services to private profiteers as is the policy of all the major parties. We will fight for public services that are adequately funded and democratically run.

"These are the issues that should be centre stage in the elections. The Socialist Party is in favour of a real peace process built from the bottom up by uniting people in the working class communities. If we are going to achieve peace and political stability we have to tackle the underlying problems of poverty, low wages, and declining services."

Tommy Black said that Socialist Party MLAs would defend the wages and conditions of workers and vigorously fight to combat low pay:

"Teachers, civil servants and firefighters are being forced to consider industrial action to achieve a decent wage increase and to defend the services they work in. We fully support them in these battles.

"At a time when just under half of our children are being brought up in poverty we have to provide jobs and eradicate the scourge of low pay.

"We want the minimum wage increased. It should immediately go up to ?6 an hour and the exemptions for young people should be abolished. The ?6 should be a first step to the European Decency Threshold of just over ?8.

"Unlike other parties we are not standing so that we can get on board the Stormont gravy train. If elected we will continue to live on a workers’ wage and will donate the balance of our salary and expenses to the Socialist Party, and to community and trade union struggles including the campaign to get rid of the water tax in which we are both heavily involved.

"A vote for the Socialist Party is a first step to the building of a new mass party that can represent the common interests of working people and can offer a way our of the present political cul-de-sac."

 

11 November 2003

Parties running like rats from the Titanic over water charges

Socialist Party candidate for South Belfast Jim Barbour today accused all the main parties of behaving like rats escaping from Titanic over the water charges issue.

Mr. Barbour, an organiser of the South Belfast Anti-Water Charges Campaign said "The main political parties have obviously been stunned on the doorsteps at the level of opposition to water charges.

In a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility, they are now running away from their original policy on water charges, and trying to blame each other.

It is clear the parties in the Executive were preparing to introduce water charges.

Mr. Barbour said he was heavily involved in building a campaign of non-payment and called on all candidates to support households who refuse to pay the charges.

" We already pay for water. Water charges will mean double taxation.

Householders are within their rights not to pay these unjust charges. All candidates should now announce their support for residents who refuse to pay the water charges."

 

10 November 2003

Jim Barbour calls for Assembly to reverse school sell-off policy

South Belfast Socialist Party candidate Jim Barbour has called for the new Assembly to take Wellington College back under public ownership and control.

Mr Barbour, the Northern Ireland firefighters’ union leader, whose central election theme is to Defend Public Services, stated

“South Belfast schools are under threat from the Northern Ireland Assembly policy of selling schools to multi-national companies.

Wellington College and BIFHE have already been sold and other schools are under threat. The Belfast Education and Library Board are currently drawing up a secret hit list of schools that will be sold off. People in South Belfast deserve to know if their schools are on that hit list. The BELB must come clean on this issue.

Privately owned schools mean any change in pupil numbers can very quickly lead to a cash crisis as schools will not have enough income to pay for facilities. My fellow Socialist Party candidate for East Belfast Tommy Black and I will be demanding an end to this secret sell-off policy and for those schools already controlled by the private sector to be brought back under public ownership.

In South Belfast pupils must come before profit.”

 

10 November 2003

Jim Barbour calls for Assembly to reverse school sell-off policy

South Belfast Socialist Party candidate Jim Barbour has called for the new Assembly to take Wellington College back under public ownership and control.

Mr Barbour, the Northern Ireland firefighters’ union leader, whose central election theme is to Defend Public Services, stated

“South Belfast schools are under threat from the Northern Ireland Assembly policy of selling schools to multi-national companies.

Wellington College and BIFHE have already been sold and other schools are under threat. The Belfast Education and Library Board are currently drawing up a secret hit list of schools that will be sold off. People in South Belfast deserve to know if their schools are on that hit list. The BELB must come clean on this issue.

Privately owned schools mean any change in pupil numbers can very quickly lead to a cash crisis as schools will not have enough income to pay for facilities. My fellow Socialist Party candidate for East Belfast Tommy Black and I will be demanding an end to this secret sell-off policy and for those schools already controlled by the private sector to be brought back under public ownership.

In South Belfast pupils must come before profit.”

8 November 2003

Tommy Black backs teachers and says we must not be “simply the poor relations”

East Belfast Socialist Party candidate, Tommy Black has challenged the parties to support Teachers in their fight to retain pay parity.

“As usual the politicians here are managing to steer clear of all the real issues in the election. The unionists are screaming that we are “simply British” but they have nothing to say about the attempt by Blair to introduce regional pay and put teachers and other public servants here on worse pay and conditions.

“When David Trimble says we are “simply British” he should add that he doesn’t mind if we are also “simply the poor relations.”

As an education worker and trade unionist I fully support the teachers in this battle to ensure that their pay and conditions are at the very least on the level of teachers across the water.”

 

6 November 2003

Tommy Black accuses Peter Robinson and Reg Empey of “selling East Belfast for a song”

Tommy Black, Socialist Party candidate for East Belfast has accused the DUP and UUP of selling East Belfast’s industrial heart to Fred Olsen “for a song”:

“Peter Robinson and “Sir” Reg Empey, when they were Ministers, were behind the decision to sell off much of the Harbour Estate to Fred Olsen in his new capacity as property speculator. Much of the industrial heart of East Belfast has been sold off for a song.

“Obviously it never occurred to these parties that this land could have been kept in public ownership and used to provide much needed social housing as well as recreational facilities and industrial development.

“The new Assembly should take the shipyard and its land back into public ownership. Fred Olsen and his company should be put on the first ship that is build and sent back to Norway!”

 

6 November 2003

Socialist Party considers legal action over BBC election gag

One of the smaller parties has joined the row with the BBC over election broadcast time. The BBC have informed the Socialist Party that any air time given to it’s South Belfast candidate, Jim Barbour, in his capacity as a leader of the Fire Brigades Union, will be regarded as election coverage.

The Socialist Party, which is running in South and in East Belfast, has slammed this ruling as “grossly unfair”.

Party Regional Secretary, Peter Hadden today commented:

“It is difficult enough for any smaller parties to make themselves heard above the electoral din of the sectarian and right wing parties. A major dispute is now brewing in the fire service with the employers reneging on a pay deal and with the Government bringing in legislation to curb the right of firefighters to strike.

“In this situation it is certain that Jim Barbour, as the Northern Ireland Executive member and the main local spokesperson of the FBU, will get TV and radio coverage. If this were to be regarded as electoral coverage and deducted from our party’s coverage, we would be left with little or no air time.

“On the other hand, if Jim Barbour does not give interviews on behalf of the FBU, firefighters and the public in Northern Ireland will not be fully informed of what is happening in the national negotiations in what could turn out to be a major dispute.

“We have no choice but to consider legal avenues to prevent us being gagged during the election.”

 

5 November 2003

Jim Barbour challenges all other election candidates to a public debate on water charges

Socialist Party candidate for South Belfast, Jim Barbour said “It is my understanding that during debates on this issue in the Assembly last year, not one of the main political parties openly stated their opposition to the imposition of water charges.

I believe that the electorate of South Belfast has a right to know that those elected now will make the final decision on water charges of up to £600 per year. Voters have a right to know where every candidate stands on this vital issue and what they intend to do about it if they are returned to the Assembly.

I have been instrumental in establishing the South Belfast Against Water Charges campaign. I have held meetings with the people of South Belfast and am keenly aware that there is a serious mood of opposition to this double taxation.

I therefore issue a challenge to any and all candidates to a public debate on this most important issue”

 

4 November 2003

Row brewing over BBC gag on election candidate

A major row is brewing over the decision of the BBC to cancel radio interviews about the unfolding dispute in the fire service over pay with Jim Barbour, who represents firefighters locally on the Executive Committee of the Fire Brigades Union. The reason given for cancelling the arranged interviews was that Jim Barbour is a candidate in the election, standing for the Socialist Party in South Belfast.

Jim Barbour commented: “I am very angry at what amounts to a gag on the FBU. I have been in London since Sunday involved in detailed discussions on what could be a very serious situation as fire fighters are once again forced to take industrial action, this time to prevent the employers and government reneging on the pay deal.

“As the only Executive Committee member from Northern Ireland I am the only person equipped to inform firefighters and the public in Northern Ireland what is happening. I would be speaking as a leader of the FBU and not in my capacity as an election candidate.

“It is my strong view, and also that of my FBU colleagues in the Northern Ireland region, that our union, not the BBC, has the sole right to decide who our spokespersons will be. It would be an outrage if a major dispute were to develop involving our members and I, as their representative on the union Executive, were to be gagged for the next three weeks and not allowed to inform people what is happening in the national negotiations”.

Special financial appeal to all readers of socialistworld.net

Support building alternative socialist media

Socialistworld.net provides a unique analysis and perspective of world events. Socialistworld.net also plays a crucial role in building the struggle for socialism across all continents. Capitalism has failed! Assist us to build the fight-back and prepare for the stormy period of class struggles ahead.
Please make a donation to help us reach more readers and to widen our socialist campaigning work across the world.

Donate via Paypal

Liked this article? Please become a Patron! and support our work

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


November 2003
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930