Homes for all, not racism

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+40,000 on the waiting lists

Stormont politicians to blame for housing crisis

The complete failure of the parties in the Stormont Executive to solve the housing crisis is leading to racist and sectarian tensions over housing provision. The recent picket of a Nigerian man’s home in Belfast recently demanding “local homes for local people” is a result of a lack of housing to meet demand. More than 40,000 are on the housing waiting list and hardly any new homes are being built. For the last 8 years, the Stormont Executive has failed to build nowhere near enough new homes. Instead, the politicians relied on the private sector to supply housing needs and actively encouraged the enormous housing bubble which spectacularly collapsed in 2007. Since then scores of construction companies have closed, the banks have ceased to provide mortgages and landlords have made a killing by increasing private rents. Overcrowding is a growing problem and unless there is massive investment to build social housing, then sectarian and racist incidents will increase further.

No privatisation of the Housing Executive stock

The Stormont Executive has followed Margaret Thatcher’s policy of selling off social housing which has led to whole swathes of housing in Belfast now owned by landlords. Housing Minister Nelson McCausland has announced plans to go one more step now and completely privatise all Housing Executive properties. This move must be strenuously resisted by the trade unions and genuine community & residents groups.

Stormont is packed full of politician landlords and supporters of the big construction companies who are awarded major infrastructural contracts. Instead of dishing out public money to these companies, it should be used to build social housing. The major construction companies are reliant on public sector contracts and should be nationalised and run democratically by elected representatives, genuine residents bodies and elected representatives of construction workers.

For workers unity, not racism & sectarianism

The politicians on both sides have intervened into the dispute over housing and injected sectarianism into the debate. We cannot allow the sectarian and racist politicians or for that matter neo-Nazi groups such as ‘Britain First’ to divide working class people when what is needed is a united mass campaign to demand housing for all. We need a new political voice to speak for the common interests of ordinary people – a new party that will oppose the cuts, austerity, privatisation, sectarianism and racism of the establishment.

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How to stop the racist attacks

This article was written on 21 February 2004 after a number of racist attacks against ethnic minorities at the end of 2003 and beginning of 2004.

Over December and January a spate of racist attacks against members of ethnic minority communities living in Belfast received international media attention. In an article on 10 January, The Guardian labelled Northern Ireland "the race-hate capital of Europe".