Last year 10% of all manufacturing jobs (8,400) were destroyed across the North. Three years ago, a small fortune was spent wining and dining wealthy US business people by the Executive. The US:NI conference was meant to result in investment by US companies into Northern Ireland – but as we warned, there has been no investment. The opposite is the case – more jobs are being lost. Yet the politicians in Stormont continue to rely on US big business to provide jobs. Nortel were handed £7.4million of public money. Hughes Christensen were paid £5million in public grants. Even when the Assembly throws public money to these companies, they still shut up shop to make profits elsewhere.
While the politicians dig their heels in over how to devolve policing & justice and parades, they have all agreed to implement major cuts to public services. Vital services in the health service are being removed as a result of these cuts. Schools across Northern Ireland face closure. Thousands of jobs are to be cut in public services, which will have a profound knock-on effect not just to the services people rely on, but also the extremely weak private sector of the economy.
The reality is while the politicians in Stormont talk of peace and co-operation, they are all involved in an economic war against working class people, Catholic and Protestant.
The anger the politicians felt as they struggled to reach “agreement” during the negotiations has not disappeared. There is deep-rooted opposition to the cuts in the health service. Big crowds have turned out to protest against the proposed closure of libraries in Greater Belfast. And there remains mass opposition to the Executives’ plans to introduce water charges.
In the upcoming elections, ordinary people face a choice between either nationalist or unionists cuts to public services and jobs. This no-choice must end by the creation of a mass political alternative which can unite working class communities against the right-wing agenda of the Executive. The leadership of the trade union movement, potentially the most powerful force in society, should stop sowing illusions in the sectarian parties by appealing to them to “sort things out and get down to business”. A new party is needed to fight for the rights of working people and challenges the right-wing consensus in the Assembly. The Socialist Pary believes this would represent a huge step forward for ordinary people on the road of changing society away from the massive inequalities of capitalism to a genuine socialist society where peoples needs are put before profits.