It was quite apt that the two main Stormont parties chose the run-up to Halloween to announce agreement on their draft budget which will see several hundred million pounds being slashed from public service spending across the Six Counties.
In recent times, members of at least one Stormont party opted to don the false face of hypocrisy in order to engage in street campaigns claiming to oppose such cuts in the full knowledge that such actions were mere acts of street theatre completely devoid of any real substance. ‘Ruling by fooling’ is one description that comes to mind.
But the false faces have now been removed. For the main Stormont parties, completely defending the existence of Stormont now takes precedent over defending public services or defending working class communities and the vulnerable in our society.
Since September 2010, when we originally launched our party’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign, éirígí has consistently stated that Stormont’s economic agenda is designed in Britain and has been and will be implemented without question or dissent by local politicians.
We make no apology for correctly forecasting that British Tory government instructions to institute widespread cuts across all public sector services would be dutifully implemented by Stormont through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘health service streamlining’, ‘reform initiatives, and ‘private investment incentives’.
Of course, we were accused of scare-mongering when we said that the reality for people in the Six Counties would be a massive, negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and housing shortages, reduced services for the ill and vulnerable, and further financial pay offs to companies through the privatisation of public services with rock-bottom wages.
Stormont’s latest draft budget, like those before, completely vindicates our position.
For the sake of our communities, we would have like to have been proved wrong.
But now is the time to fight-back, to join with trade unions, communities and with the more progressive elements within our society and say: enough is enough!
We are now facing into the most critical time for public services in the Six Counties since the era of Margaret Thatcher.
Plans are being implemented to shed thousands more jobs in the public sector. That will mean less services for you, increased waiting lists for health care, less support for the ill and the elderly, for families, for young people. Front-line services in health and social care and in education are already being cut across all six counties. And all this will grow even worse over the next five years.
Working class communities and those workers organised in trade unions must unite in opposing the joint agenda of the British government and its Stormont lackeys.
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. Now is the time to reject the Stormont parties, reject their hypocrisy and build a radical political alternative.