we approach the New Year it is prudent to reflect on the previous
year.This year has been eventful politically and in countless cases
the cracks and crackpots have become more evident, and I'm not even
talking about landrover surfing!
ongoing issue over the union flag at Belfast City Hall has been used
to overshadow so many important issues this year. We have witnessed
an upsurge in orange and green political tomfoolery manufactured here
to deflect from the inability of the Stormont junta to deal with
issues affecting many people.
ongoing decorating of derelict buildings by painting curtains on the
boards which now cover up windows is an attempt to make things more
palatable but it does not belie the wreckage known to many as the
economy. Countless commercial buildings and houses which were once
family homes lie empty when homelessness and unemployment are on the
increase. This practice is merely a physical manifestation of the
attitude of those who hold the reigns of power, just paper over the
cracks, they'll be none the wiser.
the same time attempts are being made to abolish the Northern Ireland
Housing Executive. The Housing Executive was set up in 1971 to
address the housing equality issue, helped along by the efforts of
the Civil Rights Movement. It is claimed by DUP Minister for Social
Development Nelson McCausland that the NIHE model is unsustainable.
The removal of the Housing Executive can be avoided if borrowing
restrictions for public bodies are to be made more flexible. If this
move goes ahead social housing will be placed into the hands of
housing associations which to date has seen rents increases by up to
28%. We must also remember that the implementation of bedroom tax may
still be on the agenda. And on the subject of taxation, just imagine
if multi national companies were made by Government to pay the taxes
they actually owed, yet the haves will continue to get away scot free
and the have nots will continue to suffer.
more than the destruction of the NIHE, public spending is being
slashed across the board further affecting societies poorest and most
vulnerable. The current practice of sending those people with serious
illness to health assessments to decide if they are fit to work or
not are immoral at best. This cost cutting measure at the hands of
faceless bureaucrats is very unfair considering not only are these
people ill but there are no jobs and the prospects of employment
2012 Cecilia Burns, a 51 year old cancer sufferer, had her benefits
cut by government officials who said she was fit to work. Cecilia
from Strabane, County Tyrone, had started a campaign in February to
have the decision overturned but sadly lost her battle against cancer
in August of that year. I'm sure the Stormont Tory led bean counters
didn't lose a night's sleep.The
ongoing manipulation of unemployment figures to give the illusion
things are getting better continues when the stark reality is, people
on benefits are being sent out for long periods of time to work for
their pittance benefit to facilitate the manipulation of
(un)employment figures. This scheme is known as 'workfare.' Workfare
involves major companies having people on benefits work for free and
the unemployed threatened with loss of benefits if they don't do what
they are told. This horrendous exploitation was passed unimpeded by
the parties in Stormont, including so called 'Socialist' parties,
whose representatives earn a minimum forty thousand quid a year –
not including expenses. So take a big bow!
only are our representatives not acting in the best interests of the
people as an Executive their party interests clearly comes before the
people. And before anyone says Sinn Fein MLA's only take home an
average industrial wage, that is a matter of choice for them, they
get their +40k, what they choose to do with it after that is up to
recent times we saw the arrival of former American Diplomat Richard
Haass to deal with issues our elected representatives are incapable
of dealing with. Issues such as ways of dealing with the past,
contentious parades, and the issue of the union flag. It would appear
a resolution is harder to achieve than initially predicted, with Mr
Haass clearly involved in a process of circular reasoning with a
group of people more focused on protecting themselves, votes and
flags than dealing with issues involving the truth or justice. One
thing you can be sure of is that no matter what is decided by the
Haass talks the parties and British Government will ignore these
outcomes when it suits.
the subject of ignoring outcomes, 2013 saw the publication of a
report into the RUC investigation of the 1988 Good Samaritan Bomb in
Creggan, Derry. Three people were killed in a booby trap bomb as they
went to check on a neighbour they were concerned about. Previous
reports into the murders had been scuppered and changed without
reason by the former Ombudsman's office, and these reports were
rejected by the family of victim Sean Dalton who had lodged the
Police Ombudsman's report concluded that the RUC at that time had
prior knowledge of the bomb. It was also found that the RUC had
advised their patrols to stay away from the area yet they put the
lives of the civilian population in the surrounding area in danger.
The report continued to outline the refusal of senior RUC personnel
to assist with the enquiries. The Ombudsman found that there was no
protection of an RUC informer, something since contested
inadvertently by the RUC retired officers association, who also
advised their members not to participate in any investigation.
was noticeable was that when the report was released not one elected
representative in the north welcomed the findings or condemned the
inactions of the RUC. Even the elected representatives in Derry
including those who represent the area where the bombing happened
were mute. These politicians all speak about victims when it suits,
but here was a case of three people murdered and yet not one word
from the great and good. Why the silence from those who claim to be
in support of victims?
to the future is important but this certainly does not mean ignoring
the past, in fact we must reflect on and learn from the past, to
paraphrase what we have been told in different circumstances 'it
hasn't gone away you know'.
on the subject of learning from the past, both Sinn Fein and the SDLP
have on different occasions acknowledged that internment is still
very much in use here. People are spending years in prison awaiting
trial. In the current case of sixty three year old Lurgan man Martin
Corey, he has been imprisoned for over three years without charge,
trial or conviction on the strength of secret evidence. We need to
question the main parties in Stormont asking, are you actively
addressing this situation outside of reactionary lip-service? If yes
then what are your party doing? If not then why not?
closing I would like to remind all elected representatives that you
are on fixed term contracts and if you are not up to the job then we
the people will find people who are.
can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all
the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Abraham
remember: changes are not permanent but change is.