Our children and young people’s right to safe, free transport to and from school is under attack. The Department of Education has launched a sham consultation on the future of school transport with three proposals.
This titanic battle of the Belfast working class saw 60,000 workers take strike action for one month.
Those behind the recent bombing and security alerts in Derry offer nothing but a return to the futile conflict of the past. Their actions put lives at risk and only serve to whip up sectarian tensions in society and potentially legitimise attacks on democratic rights. These groups are opposed by the vast majority of people, Protestant, Catholic and neither.
Workers are told they must wait for a functioning executive to be restored before pay increases can be negotiated, women and LGBTQ+ people are told they must wait for a local assembly to grant abortion rights and marriage equality.
There is an urgent need for a genuinely cross-community, left-wing labour force in Northern Ireland. The surge in membership of the British Labour Party locally in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership shows the potential such a party could have if the trade union movement swung its weight behind the project. However, to break through the sectarian morass, a labour alternative here will need to be both anti-sectarian and also adopt left and anti-austerity policies, rather than the failed politics of Blairism or the Irish Labour Party.
On 23rd November, the decriminalisation bill will have its second reading. We must mobilise to ensure that the government allots the bill time and allows it to progress to the next stage where it can become law. We must make it clear that a majority in Northern Ireland, across the community divide, support decriminalisation. The trade unions must also stand in solidarity and bring the collective power of workers to bear in this fight, and in the struggle for marriage equality.
The trade union movement, representing both Protestant and Catholic workers, is the key force that can challenge the far right here. Mobilisations of workers from both backgrounds, linked to demands for investment in housing and job creation, will be key to knocking them back. Ultimately, building an anti-sectarian political alternative and struggling for a socialist future is the only way to bury the far right for good.
Jolene Bunting has been suspended from her position on Belfast City Council for 4 months while an investigation is carried out into a number of complaints against her. A statement from the Commissioner for Standards said there was evidence that Bunting had failed to comply with the council’s code of conduct and that her conduct was likely to have brought the council into disrepute.