Socialist Worker

Socialists Gerry Carroll and Eamonn McCann elected to Northern Ireland Assembly

Issue No. 2502

The Northern Ireland Assembly elections saw socialists Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll elected in Foyle and West Belfast.

In West Belfast Gerry topped the poll with 8,299 votes. Speaking at the count Gerry said, "The West Belfast Rising has begun. For too long people have been presented with a false choice.

Gerry Carroll

Gerry Carroll


"That they can support the shambles in Stormont, that they can support the status quo or they can support a return to the armed actions of the past.

"But today People Before Profit has blown that myth out of the water. There is a clear alternative and it's one not based on sectarianism, one not based on armed actions.

"It's one based on people power and socialist politics. Ours is an alternative that believes in standing up to corporations and not giving them a handout. Ours is an alternative that seeks to empower people and not tell them to rely on politicians wedded to the past.

"Ours is an alternative that opposes austerity and seeks to get rid of the gap between the rich and the poor. Ours is an alternative that organises across 32 counties and challenges the establishment in north and south.

"Ours is an alternative that seeks to unite working class people across the divide. We will designate as Other in Stormont. That doesn't mean we'll be afraid to challenge the great and the good in either community when they fail us.

"But history isn't made by people who sit on the fence. History is made by people who seek to bring the fences down.

"But history isn't made by people who sit on the fence. History is made by people who seek to bring the fences down.

"People often are presented in this city as Unionist or Nationalist. We see ourselves as representing working class people of Belfast, from the Shankill or the Falls.

"The media made a lot of Gerry Adams' comments and tweet. No doubt the comments were wrong and Gerry Adams was right to apologise. But the hypocrisy of Foster and the DUP was absolutely sickening.

"Opposition to racism and bigotry is not a game to be played a few days before an election. It's a principle you have to stick by every single day.

“No doubt much will be made in the South about this election result.

“West Belfast has a clear message for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in Leinster House, or Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny as they call themselves.

“You have nothing to celebrate about with this election result because the austerity the people of West Belfast are opposed to is the same austerity impacting on people south of the Border.

“There is a spectre. A spectre is haunting the establishment North and South - and it’s based on socialist politics and people power.

“A day of reckoning is coming and it’s coming soon for people who are pushing austerity wherever they come from."

Eamonn McCann Won in Foyle. In his acceptance speech Eamonn said, "With regard to my own election here and Gerry Carroll - my comrade in West Belfast for People Before Profit.

Eamonn McCann

Eamonn McCann

"We're standing on exactly the same basis fighting austerity North and South. We make no distinction between them. We're still a small party - we've got three TDs and about 13 councillors in the south. And two members of the assembly in the North.

"It's a small thing but we believe that this could be the start of something big.

"We say that because it's our view and interpretation of knocking on doors all over this town that there is an appetite for a type of politics which in the past has been regarded in the past as futile.

"We had great canvassers. Everybody was told, when you knock on a door and somebody answers it, what you're to say is - 'We are from People Before Profit, we are neither Orange or Green'. I regard our success as a vindication of that.

"What's significant is that over all the years that I can remember, people have said to me, all that's fine taking about working class unity. All that sounds good but it's never going to succeed.

"People in Northern Ireland are always going to vote the way they voted. They're never going to see politics in any other way than the way they always have been seen. That has been the conventional wisdom in the north.

"And that assumption has been a factor in creating the permanent deadlock that we sometimes see in the North.

We have shown is that it is possible to succeed in politics in Northern Ireland while not identifying with either communal camp.

"What we have shown, and we're not exaggerating what we have achieved, but what we have shown is that it is possible to succeed in politics in Northern Ireland while not identifying with either communal camp.

"We now have six men representing the Foyle constituency. As one of those men I feel a certain embarrassment about bringing it up. I think this is a situation that is unsustainable. One of the things it does is place a duty on all of us to take women's rights seriously.

"Personally and as a representative of People Before Profit I will be defending and advancing the cause of a woman's right to choose."

Eamonn then led the audience in a rendition of the Internationale.

 


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