Socialist Worker

Eamonn McCann: Fighting for workers and trade unions - and against war and water charges

Eamonn McCann stood for the Socialist Environmental Alliance (SEA) at the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Here we print extracts from his election statement

Issue No. 2041

Eamonn McCann speaking at the Marxism conference in central London

Eamonn McCann speaking at the Marxism conference in central London


The Socialist Environmental Alliance is not running in this election just to make a point. We are in to win a seat – and we believe it can be done.

It’s assumed that the only issue is whether Sinn Fein and the DUP will consolidate their positions. We don’t accept this. We are convinced that there is a seat in Foyle for the SEA and we will campaign in every part of the constituency to deliver it.

We have put the issue of water charges at the top of our agenda. There are many thousands of people across the North in favour of non-payment. But there hasn’t been a single member of the Legislative Assembly supporting them.

That’s a travesty. We need a loud voice in the Assembly speaking up for non-payment. I am the only candidate in Foyle who will do this.

We need the anti-war movement represented in the Assembly, speaking for all who are angry at unlimited expenditure on war while the government pleads poverty when it comes to public services.

Individual members of other parties are genuinely against war and the arms industry. But their parties don’t make this a priority. An Assembly without someone raising the anti-war case at every opportunity would be unrepresentative of the people.

We need someone to speak up for trade unionism. We have seen college lecturers and civil servants forced onto the streets to highlight legitimate grievances over jobs, pay and grading.

Amplifying

There ought to be elected representatives amplifying their case and urging the public to support them. The SEA will do this.

We need to encourage a public mood of positive support for unionisation of private sector jobs in Derry. None of the four centre parties will take this on. Trade union activists in Foyle are entitled to have their trade union aspirations expressed by their elected representatives. Again, we will do this.

All parties these days pay lip service to the environment. The threat to the planet is so stark they have no option. But on transport, for example, they regard concern for the environment as a nuisance.

We will not be lured into an Orange-Green argument on policing. I have spoken up for young Protestants and Catholics on the receiving end of police bullying, and will continue to do so.

We do not believe that proposed changes in policing will make much change in the working class experience of policing. If more Catholics was the answer, the Gardai would be perfect.

I will speak for young people deprived of resources and facilities. Anti-social behaviour cannot be addressed by sending in the police to crack youngsters’ heads, nor through tougher sentences.

The victims of hooligan behaviour have to be protected. But if harsh measures could do it, hooliganism would be long gone. I will encourage a fight in communities for a huge increase in youth spending and facilities and for including young people in all discussions of policing and anti-social behaviour.

I stand for the defence of public services against closures and cutbacks. I will fight against the school closure programme, which treats our school system as a business which has to balance its books.

Falling numbers should be seen as an opportunity to reduce class sizes and provide for children with special needs – not as a chance to shut schools and sell off the land.

I will campaign for guarantees for the future of the Fountain primary school. This case can be made in the context of opposing closures and cutbacks generally. But if a special case has to be made, we will make it. We hope we will not be alone.

I am totally opposed to the neoliberal agenda of New Labour, which lets the free market rip through every aspect of our lives.

I will use the platform of an Assembly seat to amplify the voice of all who are being left behind by the peace process and to encourage grassroots organisation in every workplace and community.

I believe an Assembly in which these views were not expressed would be unrepresentative. We believe we can do it. We call on all who agree with us to get actively involved. We are going to give this a real run.


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Sat 10 Mar 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2041
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