Thursday, 6 January 2011

éirígí launch ‘Stormont isn’t working’ campaign in Newry

The socialist republican party, éirígí, has launched a ‘Stormont Isn’t Working’ campaign aimed at highlighting the inability of the Stormont Executive and Six County assembly to address the deepening economic crisis.

Addressing a recent meeting of party members and supporters from the Newry area, éirígí’s general secretary, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, said: “The point of éirígí’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign is to highlight the fact that, despite an economic recession affecting greater numbers of people than officially admitted, the Stormont parties continue to collude in concealing both their own ineptitude and the full extent of that crisis from the population.

“Last month, when the Stormont Executive published its proposed budget, unemployment figures in the Six Counties had risen to 63,000 people or 7.9% of the working age population. Not included in that official figure were another 51,000 people also recognised as seeking work but who aren’t entitled to Job Seekers Allowance. That means that 114,000 people are currently seeking jobs in the Six Counties – a real but unpalatable fact that the Stormont parties will not even publicly admit. In that context, Stormont’s aim to create 4-5,000 jobs barely even addresses the problem.

“In the Newry and Mourne area, official statistics show that there are now 3,722 people, or 5.9% of the population, currently unemployed. However, if one adds in the “hidden” unemployed who are locally seeking work but don’t meet JSA criteria, then the figure for the Newry and Mourne area rises to almost 6,000 people looking for work.

“Young people are being particularly hard-hit with up to 30% of the total unemployed aged under twenty-five.”
The éirígí general secretary continued, “Despite the spin being put on Stormont’s proposed budget, it is clear that the Six County executive has totally failed to challenge the British government assault on working class communities and on the most vulnerable in our society.

“Instead, the Six County executive has fully acquiesced with the British government to administer massive cut-backs in public services. In essence, all that the Stormont executive has managed to deliver are further attacks on public service workers and further decreases in household incomes for the vast majority of families across the Six Counties as a result of increased domestic rates and the introduction of new stealth taxes.

“However, it should not be forgotten that the Stormont executive, through its previous programme for government 2008-11, had already agreed to £1.65 billion of cuts in public expenditure. And last year, the same executive approved another £350 million in cuts, bringing the total cuts approved so far by Stormont, even before this present budget takes effect, to a total of £2 billion.”

Mac Cionnaith also pointed out that, “In the Newry area, those cuts have already resulted in a serious lack of social housing. The far-reaching impact of that social housing shortage can be seen locally through the fact that, in 2010, Newry was chosen to “pilot” a private landlords scheme – further proof of Stormont’s underlying agenda to privatise public services.

“The policies being pursued by the Stormont executive will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has observed the impotence of that body since its establishment. Stormont’s economic agenda is clearly designed in Britain and implemented without question by the establishment parties in the Six County executive.

“éirígí has consistently pointed out that, as the British government introduced widespread cuts across all public sector services, Stormont would dutifully follow suit through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘service streamlining’ and ‘investment incentives’. One recent manifestation of these unacceptable policies was the water crisis which affected thousands of families across the North.

“For working people in the Six Counties, the result of Stormont’s policies will be a massive negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and reduced services for the ill and vulnerable and further financial pay-offs to companies through the privatisation of public services to provide jobs with rock-bottom wages. It is also clear that essential social care services for the elderly and infirm, such as homecare and occupational therapy, will be extremely vulnerable to further cutbacks."

Mac Cionnaith concluded by stating: “éirígí has produced thousands of leaflets, posters, stickers and banners as part of this campaign, which will be distributed and erected across the Six Counties in the weeks ahead. The party will also be commissioning a number of murals and organising a number of protests and demonstrations, as well as taking part in the broader campaign against the cuts.

“Working class communities and those workers organised in trade unions must take the lead in opposing the joint wreckers’ agenda of the British government and its Stormont administration. Only a determined campaign of resistance, incorporating demonstrations and civil disobedience, can stop the right-wing politicians and business people in their tracks.

“Stormont cannot and will not provide any alternative.

“The increasingly obvious signal is that a new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people. Stormont is a clear impediment to that.”

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