Arlene Foster’s sudden announcement of her intention to resign as leader of the DUP and First Minister is an important turning point in politics in Northern Ireland. Only the day before the announcement, she was dismissing as rumour the suggestion that 75% of DUP MLAs and MPs had signed a letter calling for her and other senior figures to go.
The total disregard hospitality bosses have demonstrated towards their staff over the last year has created a labour shortage, as many workers have chosen to leave the industry for good. Now is the time to get organised, join a union alongside colleagues, and go on the offensive for a real living wage, an end to precarious contracts and for better working conditions.
The fact this motion was passed overwhelmingly – and that it was put forward by two UUP MLAs – is significant, given that the Assembly only backed marriage equality for the first time six years ago. Even the DUP and TUV put their opposition in much softer terms than they would have in the past. This speaks volumes about the positive change in attitudes taking place in society. These are being driven from below – represented by the 20,000 people who marched for marriage equality – not by the politicians at Stormont.
Just one week after International Women’s Day, a bill seeking to restrict abortion access in cases of non-fatal fetal abnormality was backed by a majority of MLAs and passed its second stage. Paul Givan of the DUP put forward this bill, cynically using the guise of defending the rights of disabled people in order to cut across the right to choose. For anti-choice groups, undermining abortion access in these circumstances is the thin end of the wedge, aimed at opening up a broader assault on the right to choose.