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(en) Britain, Solfed Belfast, The Leveller #14 Page 2 - Short Shrift + Pray Away The Gay? No Way! + Deadly Distractions Stormont, OTRs and The Real Crisis

Date Tue, 18 Mar 2014 19:37:53 +0200

Short Shrift ---- With the regular chaos that is the A&E at the Royal Victoria Hospital since the closure of the City Hospital A&E it, sadly, comes as no surprise that 5 patients died last year at the Royal Victoria Hospital as a result of cuts. ---- Warnings from workers and campaigners that cuts to the health service would cost lives have been ignored by Stormont. The findings of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority also found that management refused to provide proper staffing levels and noted serious incidences of bullying staff. ---- As cuts to our health service continue more lives will be lost as a result. As part of the ongoing campaign against cuts the City Hospital A&E should be re-opened immediately.

Meanwhile on 4th February Stormont
MLAâs overwhelmingly voted to pass a
Bill that robs the pensions of 250,000
workers and increases retirement age to
68. The Bill was passed by 77 votes to 13.

The Public Service Pensions Bill means
that public service workers will have to
work years longer and still come out with
a much reduced pension! Like the faithful
and strong workhorse Boxer in George
Orwellâs Animal Farm public servants
who were promised better pensions and
retirement at 60 are now being worked
longer for less. It appears the pigs at
Stormont want to work us until, like
Boxer, we literally drop.


Pray Away The Gay? No Way!

Early morning of Saturday 18 th January, the
rain and cold would have kept most in their
beds, but around 50 people trekked out to
Ballynahinch to demonstrate against the
reparative (or gay conversion) therapy
conference in the local Baptist church.
The conference was called Setting Love in
Order and was arranged by a number of
Christian organisations aiming to turn
people âex-gayâ, or at least talk about
doing so. They were meeting because they
felt their ârightsâ were under threat, their
rights to deem anyone who does not fit their
narrow, bigoted and dangerous definition
of correct sexuality as ill and in need of

This excuse for religious attacks under the
guise of psychological counselling is little
more than a place for religious parents to
throw their outed teens to âfixâ them, or for
evangelical adults to have their own
religiously induced feelings of guilt and
shame shaped into a faux-love for the
opposite sex.

This is nothing short of abuse and all
medical and psychological bodies that I
know of have said essentially that. To make
even more of a point, last year the largest
âex-gayâ group, Exodus International,
disbanded and apologised to members of
the LGBTQ+ community for, â...the pain
and hurt many of you have experienced,â
as a result of their practices. They also said
that what theyâd been doing had never
worked and that no one had ever been
âcuredâ, exemplified by the fact that their
president, Alan Chambers, came out as still
being gay.

In Ballynahinch the protest was populated
by The Rainbow Project, Cara-Friend, Here
NI, a myriad of political parties and unions,
as well as SolFed Belfast and many
autonomous individuals, all willing to get
soaking wet and hoarse voices from the
chanting, while outnumbering those in the
church hall and presenting a visible
opposition to a few cameras and media
outlets, as well as the passing public who
seemed to show their support.
In fact we were greeted, thanked and
briefly joined by a few passing parishioners
who wanted to make it clear that the
decision to hold the conference in their
church was very much a decision of the
church elders and a few influential
members, and had once again split the

So this seems to have been a small
collection of bigots who sat in a room and
patted each other on the back for being
homophobic, while crying that they werenât
able to do anything about it, and who were
drown out by a larger group of LGBTQ+
people and allies. Next up, the bigots in


Deadly Distractions Stormont, OTRs and The Real Crisis

With austerity, welfare reform, increased
poverty and misery for working class
communities across the north, cuts and
more cuts looming the latest âbig storyâ
has been OTRs and threats to collapse
the Assembly from the DUP.
Revelations of deals made by Tony Blairâs
government relating to on-the-run
âterroristsâ had First Minister Peter
Robinson up in arms, well, mouthing off
about this injustice. Effective amnesties
negotiated for OTRs was a secret deal
too far and undermined, well, everything
the Assembly and power-sharing had
been built on.

The facts are however, that any secret
deal on OTRs has been public knowledge
for at least 7 years. In 2007 the Belfast
Telegraph ran an article of Blairâs
political manoeuvring (lies by any other
name) on the issue. Gerry Kelly has
recently confirmed that Sinn Fein were
told 187 OTRs would not be pursued by
the police while the DUP were assured
that they would be hauled before the
courts if caught. Of course there was no
official statement.

Now the DUP may not have been told
'officially' but they knew what the reality
was as well as anyone. Of course no
official knowledge allows them to put on
a show of indignation. The flipside is Sinn
Fein also have a wee boost for their
republican 'street-cred' by reminding
republicans what they achieved for OTRs.
There is of course nothing accidental about
any of this. Nor did it end in any real
collapse of the power-sharing executive at
Stormont. It simply suits both the DUP and
Sinn Fein to pretend to fight it out on old
familiar territory and provide a distraction
from the real issues. Those issues are the
âausterityâ measures they are both involved
in implementing. Measures they have no
intentions of opposing.

Concerns have been voiced however that at
some point they may provoke an Orange-
Green distraction to collapse the Assembly
deliberately. After a brief period of direct
rule allowing Westminster to impose the
attacks they can go back to power-sharing
with said âissueâ having shored up the
support of their respective constituencies. All
the Assembly parties would benefit from
being able to point to Westminster as soup
kitchens, homelessness, poverty and the
death of working class people relentlessly
increases in step with the rest of the UK.
We suffer and they shift the blame. Sounds
all too familiar, doesnât it?
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