Election in the North
The Time for Change is Now
For the best part of a hundred years the politics of the North has been dominated by one issue: the division between Loyalism and Nationalism, Orange and Green. And for the majority of ordinary people this has brought only poverty, unemployment and deprivation.
For decades the right wing bigoted Unionist bosses and politicians, with the help of the British State, kept this racket going by offering a few small crumbs and advantages to Protestant workers. Now they can’t even do that.
Now both the DUP and Sinn Fein have offered only cuts and austerity. But now there is a new generation in the North that wants to see an end to the misery of sectarian politics.
The shocking RHI (Renewable Heating Initiative) scandal was not about Orange or Green; it was about the greed and corruption of the elites, about ripping off the whole society for the rich. And the Sinn Fein leadership’s initial reaction was to turn a blind eye. Only pressure from below forced them to take a stand.
But in this election there is a real alternative. People Before Profit called for an election from the start an, with two MLAs already, they are running more candidates than ever before, including two in West Belfast.
Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit MLA, says
“This is a once in a lifetime election—a judgement day for all those who have taken the electorate for granted. We call on everyone, irrespective of the community that they come from, to punish the big parties for their failure to deliver anything for ordinary people. RHI was a scandal. But RHI was not the first failure of the executive.
We need to turn the 2nd of March into a riot at the ballot box—a revolt against the status quo. The time for change is now. We call on people to consider voting for us, and to send a message to the establishment that they cannot ignore.”
People Before Profit in the South is fully behind this effort and will be sending buses up to Belfast and Derry to canvass and help out. This is an opportunity that has to seized.
‘Recovery’ in the South
The Time to Fight is Now
The Government says we are in recovery; they’ve been saying it for more than two years now. They mean profits are recovering for the rich, business is getting better for business people. But when it comes to what matters for ordinary working people , things like housing, health and transport, the recovery is nowhere to be seen
What sort of a recovery is it when we have, as Peter McVerry has said, the worst homelessness since the famine? What sort of recovery is it when the crisis in our hospitals gets worse by the year?
And what sort of recovery is it when instead of looking improve our inadequate transport services the Government are planning to attack Bus Eireann services, wages and conditions.
The figures are truly shocking. The Peter McVerry Trust reports 6,985 homeless in November 2016 with 2,549 of them children. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 105,000 or more in mortgage arrears and hundreds of thousands suffering from soaring rents from whom the next cohort of homeless will be recruited. All this while 198,000 dwellings stand vacant across the state.
But when it comes to the housing crisis you don’t need statistics you just need to walk the streets of Dublin to see the problem staring you in the face.
The figures for the trolley crisis are just as bad. In 2013 67,863 people spent time on a hospital trolley. By 2015 the number was up to 92,998. A few days into 2017 the record for the number on a trolley at any one point in time was broken with 612.
But again you don’t need statistics – just go to an A&E.
And what is the response of the Government? Successive Ministers wring their hands, refer to the ‘complexities of the situation’ and promise to do better.
Last year Leo Veradkar said, “Anybody who makes such promises [to eliminate patients on trolleys] does not understand the true complexity of what we face in the health service.”
And this year Simon Harris says “It isn’t acceptable, the health service must do better,” as if he and his government were not part of the problem.
But on 19 January their real attitude to these problems was revealed. They voted down the Anti-Eviction Bill proposed by AAA-PBP, with Fianna Fail shamefully abstaining and with Fianna Fail Ceann Comhairle,Sean O Fearghail, even more shamefully using his casting vote to ensure its defeat.
This is why Socialist Worker says its time to fight. Only when ordinary people resist do we get change. Whether it’s fighting for the homeless like in Apollo House or nurses and doctors taking action over the catastrophe in the A&Es or it’s Bus Eireann drivers defending their services or other workers demanding a pay increase, it is action from below that makes the difference.
FOR A UNITED SOCIALIST IRELAND!