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Oppose The Tory Dictated DUP-Sinn Fein Budget

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Saturday December 18, 2010 00:06author by RNU PRO - Republican Network for Unity (RNU) Report this post to the editors

REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY (RNU) Spokesperson, MARTIN ÓG MEEHAN responded to this week’s Stormont draft budget proposals as; “Draconian cuts dictated by David Cameron’s Tory-led British government”.

REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY (RNU) Spokesperson, MARTIN ÓG MEEHAN responded to this week’s Stormont draft budget proposals as; “Draconian cuts dictated by David Cameron’s Tory-led British government”.

Mr. Meehan said; “It is quite clear that the Stormont partners are more than happy thousands of job losses and severe cuts to crucial services and benefits for those are already amongst the most disadvantaged members of our community. The budget cuts were conceived and ordered by Cameron and their sole purpose is to serve first and foremost the interests of the British government.

London’s order’s will only serve to protect the profits of many of those individuals and institutions most responsible for the economic losses that have occurred and insulate them from any share in the hardships inflicted on the working- class”.

Mr. Meehan continued; “A decent quality of life is a fundamental principle of Irish Republicanism. Whereby every citizen should be treated as equals. Perhaps this budget marks step one in the twenty-five year plan to re-brand the North’s economy to imperialist liking. RNU Activists are already looking to the slogans and protests spearheaded by Sinn Fein against cuts in the 26 Counties. How can Republicans and nationalists take such stands seriously when the same party is only too willing to wield similar cuts at the behest of the British government as part of a Stormont administration? Their hypocritical stance is both shameful and embarrassing and has rightfully been noticed not only by people in community affected, but by the media also.

The Republican Network for Unity will continue to confer and join with authentic opponents of these British mandated DUP/Sinn Fein cuts against those who are facilitating not fighting these policies. We urge others to stand-up be counted and make your voices heard!”

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author by Justin - WPpublication date Sat Dec 18, 2010 18:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Draft Budget which the Stormont Coalition parties have published for consultation will remove between £4-5bn from public expenditure in Northern Ireland over the four year period commencing 1 April 2011. If enacted, this budget will prove disastrous for the majority of people in Northern Ireland.

It is difficult to respond in detail to its provisions because – typical of the way that Stormont works - the details will be laid out at some point in the future by each department. The Workers’ Party will publish a detailed response to this Budget when it is in a position to do so. However, even at this stage we can say that it will not work and it will increase the social and economic hardship of the working class in Northern Ireland.

Under the terms of the Stormont Budget and that of the Con-Dems, at the very least there will be massive cuts in education, Belfast Harbour will be sold off, hospitals will close and welfare provision will become more draconian. As noted in the Irish News (16th December), the Budget is predicated on Stormont earning £540 million from the sale of public assets and this figure relies on a wildly optimistic expectation of future property prices. When this sell-off doesn’t work, the Sinn Fein/DUP Stormont Coalition will doubtlessly introduce even greater austerity cutbacks and levies.

But even as it stands, for thousands of workers this Budget will mean disaster. The pay freeze for the 12,000 civil servants under Stormont control and who earn over £21,000 is a clear attack on working class civil servants and their families and localities. In the UK as a whole 4,000 public sector managers get paid £117,000 a year or more. A pay freeze for this group of people might mean a few belt-tightening exercises but will hardly prove disastrous. For those workers earning in and around £21,000 a pay freeze will mean that they and their families will go without basic goods and services. More generally, the 29% of our people who earn less than £300 per week will be disastrously affected by cutbacks in public sector provision, while for the 25% earning £800 and above cutbacks will hardly affect them at all. Moreover, as unemployment in the public sector and related sectors increases, the number of unemployed workers will increase by the thousands. This is the class reality of the society in which these thatcherite policies will be put in place.

Sinn Fein must take special blame for agreeing on this budget. For all its talk of the necessity of spending our way out of recession, in this Draft Budget Sinn Fein has totally accepted the neo-liberal Con-Dem agenda. The Budget they signed up to affirms that "the challenge for the Northern Ireland Executive [...] is to both rebuild the economy in the aftermath of the recession and to rebalance it towards the private sector in the context of the constrained public expenditure position" (2.30) and Chapter 3 of the document sets out the background to the UK deficit in terms that entirely reflect the Con-Dem austerity agenda, with its talk of "reducing welfare costs and wasteful public spending" (3.6) . Following the public consultation "a draft Economic Strategy will be developed and this will also reflect the outcome of the UK Coalition Government Paper on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy" (2.33). The Workers’ Party, along with the Trades Unions and progressive economists believe that "rebalancing" the economy means a further move away from public provision and the public good, a further growth in inequality as the rich pocket more, and a further attack on the working class. All this depends on the people of Northern Ireland accepting the austerity agenda. Recent protests and actions have shown that many thousands of people will not tolerate it.

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author by Observerpublication date Sat Dec 18, 2010 20:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

eirigi also issued their response to the northern budget on Wenesday Dec 15th (see below). At the start of the previous week, they launched a "Stormont isn't working campaign" which contains some interesting info about previously agreed cuts and also the full extent of unemployment in the north.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith has called on the establishment parties at Stormont to let the British government do its own dirty work in relation to the stripping of public services.

Mac Cionnaith was speaking after the Six County executive announced it had agreed a budget after weeks of prevarication.

He said: “If the political parties at Stormont, particularly those who claim to be left-wing, are genuinely opposed to the cuts being demanded by the British government, they should refuse to administer them and join the rest of us on the streets in a campaign of resistance.

“A failure to let the British government do its own dirty work and, worse, deciding where best to implement the cuts can only lead working people to conclude that what has happened over the last number of weeks at Stormont has been nothing but meaningless posturing.

“Despite the spin being put on Stormont’s draft budget, it is clear that the Six County executive has totally failed to challenge the British government assault on working class communities and on the most vulnerable in our society.

“Instead, the Six County executive has acquiesced with the British government in administering massive cut-backs. In essence, all that the Stormont executive has managed to deliver today are further attacks on public service workers and further decreases in household income values for the vast majority of families across the Six Counties as a result of increased domestic rates and the introduction of new stealth taxes.

“It is also clear that essential social care services for the elderly and infirm, such as homecare and occupational therapy, will be extremely vulnerable to further cutbacks.

“Education for our young people is clearly under attack, with the schools’ budget being particularly hard hit, and university students will inevitably face increased fees resulting in many being excluded from third level education.”

Mac Cionnaith added: “Asset-stripping is a main plank of the Stormont executive’s budget, which opens the door to the future privatisation of public services.

“This budget will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has observed the impotence of the Six County executive since its establishment.

“In their Programme for Government 2008-2011, all the Stormont parties agreed to implement £1.65 billion [€2 billion] of cuts in public expenditure. That was followed in March of this year by the announcement of another £360 million [€420 million], bringing the total cuts which Stormont had agreed to £2 billion [€2.4 billion], even before the impact of this present budget, with its additional £4 billion of cuts, takes effect.

“Despite an economic recession affecting greater numbers of people than officially admitted, the Stormont parties continue to collude in concealing both their own ineptitude and the full extent of that crisis from the population.

“On the day that this budget was published, unemployment figures in the Six Counties again rose to 58,500 people. Not included in that official figure are another 40-50,000 people who are also seeking work but are not entitled to Job Seekers Allowance. That means that 100,000 are currently seeking jobs in the Six Counties – a real but unpalatable fact that the Stormont parties will not even publicly admit. In that context, Stormont’s aim to create 4-5,000 jobs barely even addresses the problem.”

The general secretary continued: “Stormont’s economic agenda is clearly designed in Britain and implemented without question by the establishment parties in the Six County executive.

“éirígí has consistently pointed out that, as the British government introduced widespread cuts across all public sector services, Stormont would dutifully follow suit through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘health service streamlining’ and ‘investment incentives’.

“For working people in the Six Counties, the result of this budget will be a massively negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and reduced services for the ill and vulnerable and further financial pay-offs to companies through the privatisation of public services to provide jobs with rock-bottom wages.

“Stormont cannot and will not provide any alternative.

“The increasingly obvious signal is that a new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people. Stormont is a clear impediment to that.”

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author by Tim Johnstonpublication date Sun Dec 19, 2010 07:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do the RNU and Eirigi not celebrate the reduction of British financial support to Northern Ireland? Don't they want less interference from London?

And, does it not strike them that were they to get their way and break the political link between London and Belfast, that the Six Counties would have even less money to spend?

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