Sinn Féin needs to become radical again

The areas with the highest unemployment and the worst health issues are republican heartlands. That equation is a poor reflection on those who have had the votes and the power for enough years to change those statistics, at least partially 

SCRIPTURE tells us to “let the dead bury their dead”. Sinn Féin used to call not just for a United Ireland but for a socialist republic.

Universal Credit designed by the Tories delivered to you by Shame Féin and the DUP

 

A policy, if my memory serves me right, most often articulated by Gerry Adams himself. For good reasons, the socialist part of that designation dissipated as the peace agreement became more prominent. With Sinn Féin in government for several years and now the main opposition party in the south, there is a strong argument for resurrecting a dollop of that effective social policy which Sinn Féin claimed was its forté. The claim, unfortunately, sits uncomfortably with the continuing revelation that their most loyal supporters are amongst the poorest and most deprived (and that’s a fact). The areas with the highest unemployment and the worst health issues are republican heartlands. That equation is a poor reflection on those who have had the votes and the power for enough years to change those statistics, at least partially.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report on addiction services, published this week, is only the latest exposé of these realities. The report concentrates on the inadequacies of the department of health and the health trusts. It outlines that the available services are insufficient and that the outcomes of the services are mostly unmeasured. In fact, the data coming from the service is so uncertain that the department cannot publish it and therefore there is little clarity as to whether the services being offered are doing any good. But the most depressing revelation is that the death rate from alcohol and drug problems is four and a half times greater in deprived areas and that hospital admissions for alcohol and drugs is four times greater than in more advantaged areas. The drugs in question are a mixture of illegal and medically prescribed, but alcohol remains the greatest killer.

Gerry Adams (TD) ex-President of Sinn Féin wearing his Poppy lapel honouring the British army who executed his comrades

 

Put addiction into the middle of unemployment and poor health and the result is a cocktail of problems that would test the commitment and the ingenuity of any political system. But the difficulty and complexity is surely a reason to be more incisive and clinical in response. Following through with the addiction metaphor, recovery only begins when the problem is honestly admitted. Shame Féin shows little inclination to admit that too many of the constituencies that they represent, especially in Belfast and Derry, continue to be the most deprived on this island. Deprived communities need employment and jobs, not just improvements in welfare benefits. Scotland, interestingly, is having a close look at universal basic income as a means of giving people dignity as well as a decent income. It is a scheme whereby each citizen receives a guaranteed minimum income, employed or not.

Child poverty, Universal Basic Income,

Deprived communities also need and desire law, order and discipline even more than more privileged communities. It is what provides stability and security. They need political leaders who not only challenge policies that sustain inequality and poverty but also challenge the people themselves to rise above apathy and lethargy. They need leaders who believe in their constituents enough to believe they do not have to be at the top of every negative measurement on employment and health. Sinn Féin are rightly credited with being hard workers. Their local constituency offices are a hive of activity, responding to enquiries and requests from constituents. But business is no substitute for effectiveness. The party has been long enough now to be examined and marked on outcomes. Has the standard of living in working class nationalist/republican areas improved? The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding no. Those are the areas that bore the brunt of the years of the Troubles.  They should not be expected to also bear the disappointment of the peace. Sinn Féin need to become much more radical in examining their performance.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Denis Bradley for his Opinion piece which was published in The Irish News on Friday July 3rd 2020 for the original posting.

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/fionola-meredith/a-party-of-the-people-elitist-sinn-fein-shows-no-cause-not-even-health-tops-ira-myth-making-39336405.html

 

(2)-: https://wp.me/p1yfso-kXD

Almost one million families to be hit by Theresa May’s plan to end free school launches, think tank warns

https://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/BJzWBN5uu_default/index.html?videoId=6016935391001

Related video: Nick Clegg slates Theresa May’s ‘callous’ plan to remove free school meals

The Prime Minister has been branded “the lunch snatcher” over plans that the Education Policy Institute claims could cost hard-working families up to £440 a year

Almost one million children from poor backgrounds will lose the right to free school meals if Theresa May pushes through cuts in the Conservative manifesto, an educational think tank has warned.

The Prime Minister announced last week that universal free lunches for infants will be stopped if the Tories win the June 8 general election, with free breakfasts on offer instead.

The move will cost families around £440 a year for each child affected and is thought likely to save around £650 million a year, according to the research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Jamie Oliver calls May’s plan to drop free school lunches a ‘disgrace’

The EPI found that those losing hot lunches would include 100,000 from families living in relative poverty, and 667,000 from those it defined as coming from “ordinary working families” of the kind that Theresa May has said she wants to help.

Those from the poorest backgrounds will still be entitled to a free midday meal.

EPI executive director Natalie Perera told The Observer: “Around 900,000 children from low-income families will lose their eligibility for free school meals under these proposals. Around two-thirds of those children are from what the Government considers to be ‘ordinary working families’.

“The typical annual cost for an ordinary working family would increase under these proposals to around £440 for each child aged between four and seven.”

Universal free lunches for infants were introduced under the coalition government by Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws, now the EPI’s executive chairman.

The party’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “This just confirms the sleight of hand from the Conservatives – scrapping universal infant school lunches hits some of the most hard-pressed families the hardest. The offer of free breakfasts won’t reach the children who don’t come to breakfast clubs.

“All Theresa May’s talk of helping the ‘just about managing’ will ring hollow as long as this regressive decision remains in place.”

But a Conservative spokesman said: “We don’t think it is right to spend precious resources on subsidising school meals for better-off parents. So instead we will give that money to headteachers, to spend on pupils’ education instead.

“We will make sure all those who need it most still get free lunches – and will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school. So the most disadvantaged children will now get two free school meals a day rather than one.”

When the pledge was announced, Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem education spokeswoman, said: “Margaret Thatcher was know as the ‘milk snatcher’. Theresa May will go down as the ‘lunch snatcher’.”

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original posting

 

Poorest mothers will lose benefits, claims charity

mother and child Save the Children says single mothers may have to work longer or get into debt
 
Single mothers could lose thousands of pounds under planned changes to the benefits system, a charity claims.
 

Save the Children says its research suggests 150,000 women could lose up to £68 a week when the new universal credit takes effect next year.

The report also claims second earners will be affected.

But the Department for Work and Pensions said 600,000 lone parents would be better off under a system that “incentivised work and made work pay”.

Save the Children says single mothers on low incomes would be forced to make ends meet by either working longer hours or by getting into debt.

The charity’s report – Ending Child Poverty – claims the changes would make it less attractive for parents to come off benefits and into work because of poor childcare support.

It also suggests that couples where both work part-time in low paid jobs would be hit by the changes

The charity is urging the Chancellor, George Osborne, to take action in next week’s budget to head off the problems and ensure that single mothers keep more of their income before losing benefits.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

The truth is 600,000 lone parents will be better off under a system which will incentivise work”

End Quote Department for Work and Pensions

Chief executive of Save the Children Justin Forsyth said: “Universal credit will help some families, but mums working hard to stay above the breadline are its big blind spot.

“It’s incredibly hard bringing up three kids on £370 a week – losing almost a fifth of that will push many families over the edge.

“The government must make sure mums who want to work keep more of their incomes and get more support with childcare.

“Otherwise we’ll see fewer women in the workplace and more children growing up in poverty.”

‘Better-off’By the time universal credit is fully implemented, the government expects 900,000 people to be lifted out of poverty.

A spokeswoman for the DWP said the charity’s claims were based on hypothetical examples and it was wrong to assert that lone parents would lose out under universal credit.

“The truth is 600,000 lone parents will be better off under a system which will incentivise work and make work pay”, said the spokeswoman.

“This is in stark contrast to the broken system this government inherited which only rewards lone parents who work 16 hours or more.

“Under universal credit 80,000 more families, including lone parents, will be able to claim childcare support – no matter how few hours they work,” she added.

The government did however admit that payments to some new claimants would be lower under the new system.

Shadow employment minister Stephen Timms said the government must work harder to get universal credit right.

“The best way to get children out of poverty is to get more parents in work,” he said.

“But as this report shows, their current plans will lock in a parents’ penalty, chip away at the incentives for thousands to work and push 150,000 working parents deeper into poverty.”

WITH MANY THANKS TO : BBC NEWS NI.

 

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