Socialist challenge in Northern elections

On May 5, people in the North will turn out to vote in elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly and local councils. The backdrop to these elections will be the passing of a four year budget containing enormous cuts to public services, privatisation of state assets and wage cuts for public sector workers.

All the main parties have spent the past four years carrying out cuts to public services under the guise of “efficiency savings”. These cuts have pushed the health service to breaking point as waiting lists soar and workers facing impossible demands as a result of closures of accident & emergency services. The cuts in the new Budget will destroy vital services and push the economy in the North even further into recession.

The Socialist Party will be fighting the elections to put forward a principled opposition to the cuts all the parties in the Assembly Executive will make, contesting three Assembly seats and four local council seats.

Tommy Black will be standing for the East Belfast Assembly seat and in the Pottinger ward for Belfast City Council. Tommy is a NIPSA shop steward representing educations workers who face major attacks in the Budget. Tommy has been a vocal opponent of cuts to services in East Belfast such as the Ballymac Playzone childcare centre.

Paddy Meehan is standing in South Belfast in the Assembly elections and will also be standing in the Laganbank ward for Belfast City Council. Paddy made international headlines in 2009 when he was central in organising a residents protest in solidarity with Romanian families who were victims of racist attacks in South Belfast. Paddy is currently organising the Stop the Cuts Campaign in the constituency.

Pat Lawlor, a UNITE shop steward at the Royal Victoria Hospital, will be fighting for a seat on Belfast City Council in the Lower Falls and standing in the West Belfast constituency for the Assembly. Pat is a well-known trade unionist who has brought the issue of health cuts into the spotlight on many occasions. He is the secretary of the We Won’t Pay Campaign which has defeated the introduction of water charges by building massive support for non-payment of charges if and when introduced.

Domhnall Ó Cobhthaigh will also be fighting for a seat on Fermanagh District Council in Enniskillen. Domhnall, an ex-Sinn Fein councillor who resigned his council position in disgust at the anti-working class policies being pursued by Sinn Fein together with the other main parties is an outspoken campaigner against cuts to nursing homes and at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.