Assembly elections – a real alternative

People Before Profit will be fielding candidates across the North to offer an alternative to austerity and sectarian division. The big parties are all in agreement over the implementation of the Fresh Start deal. This deal will devastate services across the North, with £1.2 billion to be axed over the next 4 years, including 20,000 job losses, and plans to reduce corporation tax for big business.

Socialist Worker 388

People Before Profit will be fielding candidates across the North to offer an alternative to austerity and sectarian division. The big parties are all in agreement over the implementation of the Fresh Start deal. This deal will devastate services across the North, with £1.2 billion to be axed over the next 4 years, including 20,000 job losses, and plans to reduce corporation tax for big business.

Socialist Worker spoke to three of the PBP candidates about their prospects for the election in May: Councillor Gerry Carroll (West Belfast), Fiona Ferguson (North Belfast) and Eamonn McCann (Derry).

SW Gerry“Sometimes to make a stand, you have to take a seat, and that’s exactly what we’ll be looking to do in West Belfast.” said Cllr Gerry Carroll.

“We’ve built a reputation in West Belfast for doing politics differently. We work hard on the ground, are visible in communities, and our socialist message has gained a hearing.”

“We have tapped into a hope that exists in West Belfast, and indeed across the North, for a new type of politics. One which moves beyond communal divisions, and says we don’t simply have to accept austerity. Our message to people is that if we get organised and fight back, we can improve the lot of people in West Belfast.”

“This election takes place in the context of the recent Fresh Start deal; a deal which will be a disaster for West Belfast. Truth be told, it is anything but a fresh start; just the same rotten politics which sees cuts to jobs and services,and handouts to big corporations.”

“It beggars belief that politicians can afford to waste £300 million reducing corporation tax, yet say there is no money to fund services like schools or hospitals.”

Hit hardest

“By almost every index West Belfast will be hit hardest by this deal as well. This is an area which has the highest levels of child poverty and deprivation in the North. West Belfast also has the second highest suicide rate. How can cutting back vital services, implementing thousands of job losses and closing community centres benefit young people, or those struggling with unemployment? The truth is it will not.”

“West Belfast deserves better. I am standing to offer people an alternative to the rotten Fresh Start Deal. Politicians want us to believe it is the best we can get, that the only thing that matters is keeping the charade on the hill going; that even basic public services are secondary to keeping the farce that is Stormont on the road.”

“Well, I fundamentally believe this deal is not the best we can get. That we can, and should, demand better. By getting organised in the workplaces and in the streets, we can achieve better.”

“I’m standing to be a voice for those left behind. For the nurses and porters, who feel the pressure of Stormont cuts day and daily on the wards of the Royal Victoria Hospital. For the teachers and class room assistants faced with redundancy. For the unemployed, whose prospects for finding work are diminishing as Stormont implements 20,000 job losses.

“Our campaign will be a vehicle for all those in West Belfast who wish to stand up and fight back against the cuts. If elected, I will be a voice against austerity, and a voice for People Power in the Assembly. I’m proud to be running on a ticket whit activists like Eamonn McCann and Fiona Ferguson, and together I believe we can offer a principled socialist alternative for people in the North. In my own area in West Belfast there is a proud tradition of radicalism. I’m confident that tradition will continue come May; both at the ballot box, and in the streets.”

Grassroots

Fiona Ferguson is the People Before Profit candidate in North Belfast. She said:

“NFionaorth Belfast continues to suffer high rates of poverty, unemployment and mental health problems. Sectarianism has not been overcome either. Instead it continues to fester with working class people on both sides of the divide losing out. We need a new movement here. A grassroots movement on the streets and in the workplace; one that breaks down the communal divisions that our politicians have no interest in tackling.”

“North Belfast has been left behind, The promised ‘shared future’ hasn’t materialised for working class people here. Instead, we’ve seen sectarianism on the rise and much-needed community services being slashed. There is a dire need for an alternative—for a new kind of politics.”

“People Before Profit is a growing movement across Ireland, both North and South, with more and more people realising the power of left-wing, street politics. Gerry Carroll has shown that in West Belfast, and we intend on building on that success in the North. We are going to work night and day to get the message out that a better way is possible.”

New politics

SW eamonnmccannSocialist Worker also spoke to PBP’s candidate for Derry, Eamonn McCann.

“I am proud to be standing for People Before Profit, an all-island party that is fighting austerity on both sides of the border.

“People Before Profit is building a new politics, the kind that is emerging all over Europe from people on the ground.”

“It isn’t only in the North that growing numbers are fed up with the manoeuvres and antics of the old guard.” Millions of mainly young people coming onto the streets have opened up new hope. Northern Ireland needs this hope more than any part of these islands.”

Eamonn McCann believes  the time is ripe for a “different politics” and that People Before Profit offers this alternative.

“We base ourselves on the interests of the broad mass of people of all communities. We don’t set out to represent one community vis-à-vis the other.”

“Working class people are faced with more important problems than the issues which fascinate the established parties and hold the rest of us back. We have a horrendous housing problem.”

“There are as many people in the Derry area in need of housing as there were back in the 1960s, when homelessness helped spark the civil rights movement.”

He also addressed the problem of chronic unemployment in Derry.

“Derry city is a jobs desert and the few jobs that are available do not pay a living wage. Promised jobs tend not to materialise. But real jobs are being lost week in and week out through cuts in public provision.

“An expanded university is vital for the future economic and social well-being of our area. Yet jobs at Magee are being cut, even as the misconceived Belfast expansion drains resources away. The establishment parties have put up very little fight on this issue and few have any faith in the latest promises in that regard.”

“I will be raising these and other issues that are close to my heart – like the rail line, defence of the public sector and the ruination of our local environment through large-scale illegal dumping – at every opportunity in the Assembly.

“I am looking forward to running alongside Gerry Carroll (West Belfast) and Fiona Ferguson (North Belfast) in the Assembly election. We came very close to taking a seat in Foyle at the last election. This time, we are confident of taking a seat.”

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