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Jim Allister: 'TUV is bulwark against republican Brexit agenda and DUP backsliding'

With the Westminster election now just a week away, we hear the views being put forward by two of Northern Ireland’s smaller parties, Traditional Unionist Voice and the Workers Party

By Jim Allister

The key national issue in this election is Brexit. With TUV, you know where you stand on this important matter. We expect and demand that Northern Ireland's leaving of the EU must be as emphatic as that of any other part of the UK.

We joined as one nation, we must leave as one nation. There must be no question of "special status" within the EU for this part of the UK.

Such would move the border to the Irish Sea. That's the real agenda behind the demands of republicans, who for most of their history have lambasted the EU.

The real union that matters is our Union with the rest of the UK. Until recently the DUP told us, because of Stormont rule, the Union had never been more secure. Now they claim that you must vote for them to save the Union.

As TUV warned, putting IRA/Sinn Fein in government has weakened the Union and permitted them to hold the country to ransom with insatiable demands on issues such as an Irish Language Act.

Having said "never" to an Irish Language Act before the last election, it is clear that the DUP is laying the groundwork for a major climbdown on this issue once the election is over.

A strong TUV vote is the best insurance policy against this.

As for Stormont, it will continue to be mired in failure so long as its perverse system requires at the heart of government a party, Sinn Fein, that does not want Northern Ireland to work. Ipso facto, this Stormont won't work.

Another key republican demand is movement on legacy issues, which will help them rewrite the past.

Ian Paisley's comments about IRA commander Martin McGuinness being a peacemaker who saved lives makes it crystal-clear that, rather than resisting republican efforts in this regard, he has assisted them.

I believe the real peacemakers who saved lives were the brave men and women of the security forces, who took on McGuinness's wicked IRA.

Thus, on election day in North Antrim, voters will have their say on this issue.

With regards to local issues, the people of North Antrim know TUV stands up for them. We will fight for a fair deal when it comes to jobs and investment.

While we have lost many good, well-paying jobs, the response of the Executive has been to continue overlooking North Antrim.

Invest NI has only sponsored seven visits by potential foreign investors to the constituency in the last five years, in contrast to 827 to Belfast.

My party has been the only one to consistently highlight this issue and I will demand fair and equal treatment and refuse to accept anything less for North Antrim.

I am determined to get the best deal for our agricultural sector. With the UK leaving the EU, it is vital that we fully exploit the opportunities which this will open up for farming.

Farmers must get their fair share of the billions we will save as a result of no longer funding Brussels.

We must also ensure that farmers are liberated from the red tape imposed by Euro bureaucrats.

Jim Allister is leader of Traditional Unionist Voice

Michael Donnelly: Working people suffer as parties trade on tribal fears

This election has been dominated by talk of sectarian pacts, inter-party deals and paper candidates. The major parties have sought to turn the campaign into yet another sectarian headcount, this time based on Brexit and the border. The reality is that it is about neither.

What really matters to working people in Northern Ireland? Look beyond the political posturing and the electoral rhetoric and you'll find that daily life is beset by very real, pressing and systemic problems.

This society is more divided now than it was 20 years ago. There has been absolutely no progress towards forging a single, united community of working people.

There are more than 100,000 children living in poverty. Average wages are lower than 10 years ago.

We have the second-highest level of workless households of all regions in the UK and at least 15,000 people in Northern Ireland are officially homeless.

An increasing number of people on benefits include the working poor: people who are in low-paid, part-time work and who have to have their wages topped up by the State.

Many thousands of people - most of them women - are on zero-hours contracts.

There is a crisis in education, health and social care. There are cutbacks to social welfare. Funding to culture, the arts and youth services have been very significantly reduced.

In every aspect of social, economic, cultural and community life, working-class people have been subjected to public expenditure cuts, marginalisation and exclusion.

Almost every aspect of our lives, from health to education, from housing to leisure and from information to care of the elderly, are now commodities to be bought and sold - and profited from.

It is little wonder that the parties responsible want to divert attention by trading on tribal fears.

The Workers Party is committed to the primacy of a socialist, secular, democratic society based on principles of equality and justice.

We stand for the creation of sustainable, well-paid jobs, fulfilling and dignified work in safe and healthy conditions. This is one of the key tasks of government.

We reject low pay and precarious employment, the dismantling of workplace rights, the privatisation of public assets and restrictions on trade union freedom.

We demand a real living wage.

There is sufficient wealth and enough resources to tackle our most pressing issues. Yet the gap between the rich and working people grows relentlessly wider.

The problem is that this wealth and these resources are held in the hands of too few people and are not being used productively to create the growth and jobs we need.

Income differences between top earners and those on the lowest wages are now higher than at any time since records began.

Working people and their families never benefit from division, or nationalism, of whatever colour. Working people need a Workers Party - committed to uniting workers to defend their own interests.

This election is an opportunity to affirm that at the ballot box.

Michael Donnelly is president of the Workers Party

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