‘‘Stormont needs a real opposition in 2011’

Members of Derry’s People before Profit alliance have said their priority for the new year will be to encourage and help organise resistance to the Stormont/Westminster cuts.

Party spokesperson Eamon McCann said no working class family in the North West would be left unscathed as cuts take effect.

He said: “Thousands of public sector workers are threatened with redundancy, while the rest face a pay freeze. Meanwhile, a 2.5 percent VAT rise will lift overall inflation towards five percent.

“Students fear the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a huge hike in tuition fees. House repossessions will rise as families fall into negative equity while rent and mortgage benefits are slashed.

“Services for the elderly and the disabled have already been cut back. Welfare benefits will be cut in April. Private sector employers are taking the opportunity to push wages down and worsen conditions.

“Workers are hampered in defending themselves by Thatcher’s anti-union laws, now operated by Stormont.”

The veteran socialist campaigner said 2010 had shown that resistance could work.

“The outlook for workers and working class communities is gloomy. But there are reasons to be cheerful, too. We have seen in 2010 that resistance can work,” he said.

“The attempt by the DUP and Sinn Fein to curtail the right to protest was defeated when the certainty of civil rights demonstrations against them forced the abandonment of the Assemblies Bill.

“Water charges remain off the agenda because massive numbers of people have continued to make clear they’d refuse to pay them. The student demonstrations have made EMA and tuition fees a hot potato for the Executive.

Grassroots

“Direct action by the Derry Anti War Coalition finally drove the Raytheon arms company out of Derry. In all these instances, grass-roots organisation yielded results when more conventional methods had proven futile.”

He continued: “We will carry the same radical, campaigning spirit into the Assembly and local elections in May, speaking out loudly for people in the bottom half of society, irrespective of the community they come from. We will judge every issue according to its impact on working-class people - not on how it affects the balance between Orange and Green.

“What Stormont needs most in 2011 is an effective Opposition. An Assembly in which 105 of 108 members come from government parties is a sham. We will provide a real alternative within the Assembly, and we will use the clout and credibility of membership of the Assembly to encourage grass-roots resistance outside.

“Let 2011 be the year we get real, and create a genuine alternative to the ramshackle inefficiency of the current arrangement, all too evident over recent days. Public sector job losses and spending restrictions have been a major factor in the inability of the water service to respond to the cold-weather crisis.”