In April, Health Minister Robin Swann admitted that it could take 10 years to address the waiting list crisis in Northern Ireland. With the suspension and curtailment of many services, the Covid-19 pandemic had a massive impact on waiting lists. Even before this, however, Northern Ireland’s health waiting lists were amongst the longest in Europe, and the longest of any NHS region.
The Socialist Party welcomes the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that all charges related to last summer's Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast and Derry are to be dropped. The PPS recognised that the events were organised in a responsible manner, aimed at minimising the risk of Covid, and that they related to a matter of "important social concern". All fines against those who took part in these protests - and a similar protest against gender violence in Belfast, organised by ROSA in the wake of Sarah Everard's killing - must be immediately rescinded and reimbursed.
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.
Four and a half years after the vote to leave the EU, a trade deal was finally agreed at the eleventh hour before Boris Johnson’s deadline of 31st December 2020. Parliament had just days to look at the deal before ratifying it, making a mockery of the idea that for the right-wing Tories’ Brexit was all about ‘taking back control’.
Debenhams and Arcadia must open their books to the workers to show where the money has gone. In 2015, the Arcadia Group - owned by multi-millionaire retail tycoon Sir Philip Green - famously sold off the failing BHS department store for £1, but not before Green took £400 million out of the company for himself!
The Living Wage Foundation says that an hourly rate of £9.50 is the minimum required to have a basic standard of living (based on stable, full-time hours). Meanwhile, millions of workers on the so-called ‘National Living Wage’ of £8.72/hour increasingly live in poverty.