Socialist Worker

Socialists stand for a ‘different type of politics’ in Stormont assembly poll

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2543

Eamon McCann out campaigning

Eamon McCann out campaigning (Pic: People Before Profit Derry)


The Northern Ireland assembly at Stormont is heading for a period of “administrative devolution” following an election this Thursday, with the assembly operating without an executive.

The assembly collapsed after Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and first minister, Arlene Foster, became embroiled in a scandal over a green energy initiative.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme will cost hundreds of millions of pounds. It encouraged firms to switch from fossil fuels to renewable heating systems and paid business owners to use fuel. So they did—at an enormous cost.

It has been dubbed the “cash for ash scandal” since it emerged that users could earn more money the more fuel they burned.

A public inquiry is imminent. Sinn Fein has said it won’t rejoin a power sharing executive while Arlene Foster leads the DUP.

The People Before Profit Alliance (PBP) won two seats in Stormont last May. Gerry Carroll topped the poll in West Belfast.

He said, “Last year we knocked on doors and said there is an alternative to austerity, to running down the health service and education.

“It took a while to explain to people. But now you just say three letters—RHI, RHI, RHI.”

He added, “Sinn Fein wants to make this election about the DUP and the DUP wants to make it about Sinn Fein. For us, this election is about the record of the Sinn Fein/DUP executive.”

Spooked

The party hoped to take a second seat in West Belfast and a seat in North Belfast, and retain the Foyle seat won by Eamonn McCann.

Eamonn said Sinn Fein was “spooked” by the PBP.

“The DUP and Sinn Fein depend on Catholics and Protestants being hostile to one another,” he added.

“If that went away and there was no hostility what would Sinn Fein and the DUP do? Among the parties at Stormont we have punched above our weight to an extent that no one else has done.

“We have made a real difference, even though there were only two of us.”

PBP fielded seven candidates in six constituencies for this week’s election.

Gerry said, “What we’re calling for is a different type of politics, a politics which is not about corruption.”


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