Belfast Telegraph

People Before Profit hoping to win more Assembly seats

People Before Profit (PBP) has said it is hoping to win extra seats in West and North Belfast this Assembly election.

Foyle candidate Eamonn McCann said anything more than the two it took last year would be a bonus.

He and Gerry Carroll, who topped the poll with more than 8,000 ballots in west Belfast for the anti-establishment radical left-wing party last year, are aiming to defend their votes.

Mr McCann said: "Anything above that will be a bonus.

"We are expecting to make advances in this election.

"Among the parties at Stormont we have punched above our weight to an extent that no one else has done.

"We have made a real difference even though there were only two of us."

PBP is fielding seven candidates in six constituencies for the March 2 poll, mainly in the greater Belfast and Londonderry areas.

It launched its manifesto in west Belfast on Tuesday.

Key pledges included:

:: Ending privatisation, defending public services and keeping natural resources in public ownership.

:: Fighting corruption and "opening the books" on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), Social Investment Fund (SIF), NAMA and Red Sky.

:: Reforming the rates system to ensure fairer revenue raising.

:: Removing "Thatcherite" anti-trade union measures.

:: Providing greater investment in the NHS and ending all private involvement including use of agency workers.

:: Ending links between paramilitaries and the state.

:: Supporting reforms for Irish speakers, women and the LGBTQ community.

:: Achieving justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday and the Enniskillen bombing, among others.

Mr McCann introduced a trade union freedom bill in the dying days of the last Assembly which he said would make it easier to take effective strike action.

The veteran socialist campaigner claimed none of the Establishment parties had ever moved to get rid of anti-union laws.

He said: "It is because we have a different approach to politics.

"There is no Orange/Green solution to problems arising for workers, arising from the lack of rights, the denial of rights to trade unions and trade union members."

Mr Carroll said they were targeting extra seats in his constituency and North Belfast.

He added: "People are sick that it is one law for corporations and ministers and one law for everybody else."

Mr McCann said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for small parties following the RHI scandal, adding: "We are told that this is an unrealistic pipe dream, that people are Orange or Green.

"What a counsel for despair.

"The fact that we had two people elected last year shows that there is a constituency which can be approached, saying that we want Catholic and Protestant votes.

"It is fundamentally not true that only Orange and Green issues matter."

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