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Workers Party pledges to tackle homelessness issue

The Workers Party has warned of a homelessness "crisis" here while insisting that a new, vibrant Northern Ireland can be created in the first 100 days of the new Assembly.

The party, which is running four candidates, called for 10 pieces of legislation in its manifesto, including a same-sex marriage Bill, changes to abortion law, introduction of voting rights at 16 and the reinstatement of the Civic Forum.

It also called for the "increasing privatisation" of the Housing Executive to be halted while the homeless are dying on Belfast's streets.

"There are serious problems in relation to the provision of social housing and levels of homelessness have remained at historically high levels since 2005/6," the manifesto said.

"With mounting pressure on social housing and large-scale savage attacks on benefits, there is a real danger that homelessness will rise to crisis levels. It is already a matter of shame that in a period of a few weeks earlier this year four people lost their lives sleeping on the streets. This is the legacy of our main political parties.

"There has been a steady privatisation of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. It must be maintained as the primary public housing body for the provision of new homes and as landlord of public sector tenants. The Assembly should reinstate it as the lead housing agency."

On abortion, the document added: "It is quite clear that Northern Ireland is still dominated by socially conservative voices and that these are having an adverse, traumatising effect on women.

"We recognise that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices. This is fundamental to any reasonable concept of gender equality."

The party's four candidates are Conor Campbell, who is running in west Belfast, Lily Kerr (South Belfast), Hugh Scullion (Mid Ulster) and Gemma Weir (North Belfast).

Ms Kerr said the party offered a "socialist, secular, anti-sectarian" choice to the electorate and claimed the last Assembly had turned Northern Ireland into a "repressive social backwater".

Belfast Telegraph