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

Outsourcing giant Capita handed £145m for UK.gov’s (Tories) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) extension

Part of plan to ‘transition’ to a new IT system

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions has handed Capita £112m for a two-year extension to the controversial Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments contract.

The outsourcer has also been awarded £33m to extend its PIP assessment contract with the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland for the same amount of time.

PIP, which replaced the Disability Living Allowance in 2013, is designed to help people with a long-term condition or disability lead independent lives by providing additional financial support.

Along with Atos, Capita was first awarded the deal in 2013 estimated to be worth a total of £512m to mid-2017.

However, along with the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) contract, PIP has repeatedly come under fire for making inaccurate and incomplete assessments.

Last year, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee said the decision to contract out both PIP and the ESA was driven by a perceived need to introduce efficient, consistent and objective tests for benefit eligibility.

“It is hard to see how these objectives have been met. None of the providers has ever hit the quality performance targets required of them, and many claimants experience a great deal of anxiety over assessments,” it said.

In June 2018, minister of state for disabled people Sarah Newton said the government was seeking a two-year extension to “better allow for a stable transition” to a new provision. In a ministerial statement, she acknowledged there is “still more to do to deliver the high quality of service those claiming PIP rightly expect”.

She added: “At the same time we will look to enable more providers to deliver PIP by developing a DWP-owned IT system.”

The government accepted the key finding by the Work and Pensions Committee (PDF) to make video recording of assessment interviews a standard part of the process. It also recommended greater online support, including chat and interactive media, or a “dashboard” to keep claimants updated on their claim.

Jon Lewis, chief executive of Capita, said of the contract win: “These contract extensions are testament to the commitment of our healthcare team, our consistently strong operational performance, and the strength of our longstanding relationship with government.”

With many thanks to: The Register and Kate Hall for the original story 

 

No special help for terminally ill PIP applicants because of Stormont standoff

Nichola Mallon wants the process to be fairer and more compassionate for people with the ‘least time to spare’

SDLP MLA Nichols Mallon

People facing terminal illness will have no special help to make urgent PIP applications because of the continued limbo at Stormont.

SDLP MLA Nichoal Mallon is trying to help hundreds of people navigate the new PIP rules.

And she had given special attention to those with terminal illnesses and life limiting conditions.

She has repeated called for a review of the definition of the term ‘terminal illness”.

There has been no working government in the North of Ireland since January 2017

But her plea urging action from the Department of Communities has responded with a resounding ‘no’ blaming the Stormont impasse.

Officials urged to explain how they will protect sick and disabled people from “appalling PIP experiences”
Mrs Mallon said: “I’d written to the Department for Communities to see if, in light of the Secretary of State’s Guidance on Civil Service Decision Making, work might be able to begin on making the PIP application process fairer and more compassionate for those with a terminal illness.

Stormont protest calls for politicians to “get back to work”
“The answer in short – no.

“So those with the least time to spare, the terminally ill applying for PIP are left to wait until whenever the Stormont standoff and stalemate might end.”

Record £37.1million paid in additional Northern Ireland benefits to people who made a call

The letter sent to Nichola Mallon

The letter from the Department of Communities stated: “The statutory framework introducing PIP – including a definition of terminal illness used for the special rules – in Northern Ireland was put in place by the Westminster Government following the approach agreed by the Executive to introduce welfare Reform here and the subsequent legislative consent motion endorsed by the Assembly.

Proposal for Universal Credit claimants to get half price public transport can’t go further because there is no Minister
“In the absence of Ministers the Department is constrained in the actions it can undertake: civil servants do not have the authority to commence work on a major policy review or take legislative decisions to break parity that go beyond the current arrnagemtns as previously agreed by the Executive and Assembly.”

Universal Credit cake sparks outrage

With many thanks to: Belfast Live for the original story.

Introducing “Westminister” (The Sinn Féin PuP)

Why am I such a critic on Sinn Fein, well are they not meant to be the voice of Republicans isn’t that why they were voted into power all those years ago.? After all if you dare speak out against SF, you get a barrage of abuse from their supporters, well I am entitled to my own options just like they are. The only difference is I never sported rose tainted glasses and have the backbone to be upfront and very vocal, even if I’m hated for doing so. So all I ask is what is their definition on Equality, Integrity and respect for all because as I see it they talk the talk but defiantly don’t walk the walk.

Sinn Féin assured us they will fight for the most vulnerable in Society….it is a contradiction. Meanwhile Sinn Féin criticise SDLP (the “Stoop Down Low Party”) for attending the House of Commons. But maybe SF is the “Stoop Further” Party.

It is all a bit of a farce. SF was accepting “welfare” cuts before doing a U-turn, they eventually caved in. Not that their allies in DUP are much more principled. They are content on doing the “hokey cokey” in Stormount.

Yet it would be only half the story to say that Sinn Féin sold out on “welfare” and Legacy matters and casually decided to overlook the Legacy issues and the victims of the Troubles.

Thats the real shame here.

In 1998 nationalists overwhelmingly and unionists narrowly voted for the Good Friday Agreement. We voted on the basis that the victims would not be forgotten. They received vague assurances and the word “Justice” was used a lot.

The promises got more vague. And the number of people who have actual first hand memories of the years 1969 to 1998 decreases with each passing year.

It is now crystal clear that their issues will not be dealt with. They have been quietly told to “get over it” and “its time to move on”

Will Sinn Féin and DUP lose votes? In any normal world, they would deserve to lose votes. They have let people down.

Next step? Well….Sinn Féin bought this pup. Now they have to feed it and take wee “Westminster” walkies in West Belfast, Derry, Newry and Ardoyne.

“Westminster” looks a cute wee puppy now. But he has some Rottweiler in him. Maybe he will be biting Sinn Féin on the arse before he is much older.

Do you know whether the passing of the buck to Westminster of Welfare, If the power was handed back permanently – that makes it significantly worse than just a one off.

For the purposes of this discussion and clarity I would make a distinction between political issues and constitutional issues on the following basis. A constitutional issue being one that relates to the relationship between ‘Britain’ and the North Of Ireland’ and a political issue being one that relates to the ‘Government’ (Stormount) within the North of Ireland.

The first question is have (constitutional) powers been handed back to Westminster permanently- unless we know this we can judge the extent to which SF as a republican party has given up control, Irish people need their own affairs to be transparent concerning very important issues, legacy being one.

In order to judge what SF have done – we need to confirm that they have actually signed over to the British.

Has to be within a framework and I am using the term “constitutional” very loosely. There is no strategy here….its just the latest in a long line of quick fix solutions a sell out.

You are clutching at straws.DUP will share power with anyone. So will SF …they are mirror images in deception. Simply put SF cant be a protest party AND a party of Government. And thats a lesson for all. Faced with a decision, they handed power back to Wrstminster rather than make the decision themselves. They protested about a European involvement in Irish economy but here we have the precedent. If decisions are awkward they would have Westminster and Brussels make them. Worse republicans than Fianna Fáil.

Perhaps you might like to clarify the terms (permanent or temporary) that Welfare powers have been agreed to be passed from Ireland to Britain by SF. Until that is clear any judgement on SF’s performance should be reserved.

We are not talking about ONE UTurn …we are talking about TWO UTurns.
You will also note that the Fresh Start (sic) ignores the Victims ….an arrangement that suits both Sinn Féin and their British allies. The victims are the subject of ongoing negotiations. It seems wrong to hold up the fresh start deal until all the victim issues are dealt with as many of the victim issues are deep seated.

The collective focus of all protest at austerity measures should properly be directed at the Tory government, not Sinn Fein; I think that message will resonate with sf voters. The fact is SF have a say too in the austerity measures and backed down but they have also worked alongside the Conservative Government for eight years. Sf supporters can point fingers but it still doesn’t take away the fact the party they backed went along with the Conservatives decision making why moan about the Conservatives now.

Whatever way it is dressed up SF passed powers back from Ireland to Britain – anyone who doesn’t think that is a BAD move shouldn’t think of themselves as a Republican. There are mitigating factors – which take some of the blame of SF – but SF correctly have to take a percentage of that blame – and that percentage may be argued over,

But the “nothing to do with us it was all the Tories fault” – will not wash except with those who have surrendered their political judgement to party loyalty.

A central tenet of SF position is that British rule in Ireland is the cause of the problems so the position that says that Tory austerity is the main problem is consonant, resonant, and consistent with that and will resonate with SF voters.

I wouldnt be too sure about that.
It wont resonate with non-SF voters in the North and it will certainly have an adverse effect on their core vote in north.
The whole strategy of SF in south….is to attract people who are prepared to give SF a chance.
FF can justifiably saying that SF complain when the Europeans took over…and SF hand power to Westminster.
Labour can say that they were prepared to take difficult decisions and SF crucify them for it. And SF are unfit for Government as they dont do difficult decisions.
And the various lefty independents can claim to be more consistent opponents of Austerity than SF.

The bottom line is that this is a very bad commitment promise for Sinn Féin and they thoroughly know it.
Sinn Féin have made a massive mistake….and that mistake is compounded by the fact that they actually backed down…broke commitments…sold out the most vulnerable and victims so that they could stay in power.
If you think SF wont lose votes for treachery….you could well be right.
If you think they will gain any votes North or South, you are certainly wrong.
If you think they DESERVE credit…you are just kidding yourself.

With many thanks to: Marianne Collins – Friends of Relatives of Justice in Ireland.

RUC/PSNI gives contract to company ‘Capita’ criticised over PIP assessments

PSNI refuse to reveal how much Capita contract is worth

Capita are to provide control room services for the PSNI

CONTROVERSIAL public sector contractor Capita (formily known as Atos) has been awarded a contract to provide command and control systems to the PSNI.

However, neither the PSNI nor Capita would reveal how much public money the contract was worth.

The company announced yesterday it had been awarded a contract to deliver its command and control system for contact centre and control room operations across the PSNI’s three regional contact management centres.

The contract is for an initial seven-year term with incremental options to extend it to 17 years.

The company said its ControlWorks system will help deliver “operational benefits”, including the ability to assess and prioritise demand and risk at each point of contact with the public and enable the PSNI to “manage all its operations from a single viewpoint”.

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris welcomed the move saying “technology plays a part in everything we do as a police service”.

“It is vital that we invest in future-proof solutions that enable us to provide effective and efficient services 24 hours a day in Northern Ireland.

“Capita’s ControlWorks solution will help us to do exactly that, supporting the way we respond to our communities’ needs and adapting to new and evolving policing challenges as they present themselves”, he added.

George Greig, Director, Capita Secure Solutions and Services, said: “It was clear from the start of our collaboration with PSNI that they understood the importance of having innovative solutions in place to help coordinate resources, make highly-informed decisions and rapidly communicate these to police officers and the public.”

In October last year the outsourcing group announced the appointment of a new chief executive Jon Lewis to help turn around the fortunes of the company.

The new boss slashed profit forecasts and set out plans to raise cash to avoid the same fate as collapsed rival Carillion resulting in 40 per cent being wiped off the company’s market value.

Carillion collapsed under a pile of debt earlier this year.

Capita, which provides IT services to companies and governments, said afterwards it needed a complete overhaul and to ‘retrench’.

In January the information commissioner ordered the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Britain to release a report into Capita and Atos.

The two outsourcing companies are paid hundreds of millions of pounds to carry out personal independence payment (PIP) assessments,

In April last year Channel 4’s Dispatches programme went undercover in Capita. An investigator posed as a trainee disability assessor to see how the PIP assessments were conducted leading to widespread criticism of the company’s practices.

When asked yesterday a spokesperson for Capita said they could not comment on how much the contract was worth.

The PSNI also would not comment on the value of the contract when asked.

With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News for the origional story.

PIPS Halloween Monster Madness

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Today at 17:30 – Tomorrow at 09:00

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Including Special Take Me Outand Fancy Dress£6 ADMISSION FEE and FREE SHOT on arrival£100 To Best Dressed
PRIZES FOR RUNNERS UP

Doors open @ 8pm

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