Monday, 15 October 2012
éirígí picket Newry event for Ed Balls
Despite persistent rain, members of éirígí held a successful picket today outside the front entrance of the Canal Court Hotel in Newry where a business lunch was being held, attended by the British shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls. Those attending the lunch included ministers from all of the Stormont parties.
The protest was part of the party’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign and was held to highlight the fact that Stormont’s failed economic agenda is designed in Britain and implemented by local politicians.
éirígí members also handed out leaflets to shoppers and other passers-by, many of whom expressed their support for the protest.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith, who was present on the Newry picket-line, said, “The social and economic fabric of the Six-County state is in complete disarray and the Stormont assembly is unable to provide any meaningful or effective solutions.
“The previous economic recession of the Thatcher era during the 1980s saw unemployment in the 6 counties reach a peak of 123,500 by October 1986.
“In the intervening years, various British governments introduced no less than 13 separate measures to massage and hide the true levels of unemployment. Those measures are still being used by the Stormont coalition today to hide the extent of mass unemployment within our communities.
“Stormont’s ‘official’ statistics are heavily massaged to minimize the number of unemployed persons downwards. Those massaged figures put the number of unemployed at 71,000.
“Stormont is deliberately concealing the fact that there are another 60,000 men, women and young people who need and want work, but who are excluded from the ‘official’ count.
“Today, in the Six Counties, the scandalous reality is that there are an estimated 130,000 people seeking work.
“Almost one in four young people aged 18 to 24 are unemployed as a result of Stormont’s economic ineptitude.
“One senior economist has described the method used by Stormont for measuring unemployment as ‘unreliable’ and ‘not well regarded in the economics world’.
“Over 11,000 people recently applied for the 450 full- and part-time jobs due to be created by a large international supermarket chain in Portadown. That demonstrates just how critical the demand for employment has become.”
Mac Cionnaith continued, “In addition to unemployment, child poverty levels are also growing unabated under Stormont and the welfare reform bill will mean that the less well-off in our society will again be the hardest hit. Yet, Stormont politicians are united in a campaign to secure further tax-breaks for large businesses and multi-national companies which already make vast profits.
“It’s clear that Stormont is simply not working for ordinary people and that is the message which our party activists will be driving home over the coming weeks and months.”
Local éirígí member Stephen Murney also criticised the PSNI for attempting to harass party members participating in the picket.
He said, “The PSNI attempted to take the names and other details of party members immediately the protest commenced. Our members quite rightly refused as the PSNI could not even state the legislation under which they were seeking that information. Even when it was pointed out to the PSNI that there were no legal grounds for anyone to provide them with such details, the PSNI continued to persist in their harassment.
“It was only after one of our members phoned a solicitor and then offered the phone to the lead PSNI officer for the solicitor to inform that officer of the limitations of their powers that the PSNI backed off. At one stage, the PSNI also demanded to see the credentials of a press photographer who was covering the events both inside and outside the hotel.
“The PSNI actions once again demonstrated that political policing is still very much a reality.”