- PUP manifesto launched
- PUP Manifesto launch – Thursday 21st April – City East, Newtownards Road, Belfast
- Brian Ervine welcomes news that PSNI are to set up a new special unit that will target prolific offenders within the community
- Progressive Unionist Party continue protest against H.E.T. bias
- East Belfast MLA candidate Brian Ervine reacts to news that 1200 workers at call centre company given job warning
The launch will commence at 11am and PUP leader Brian Ervine will outline the party’s policy ideas on health, education, the economy, welfare, environment, policing and electoral reform. Belfast city councillors Dr John Kyle and Hugh Smyth will also be speaking at the event. All of the party’s Assembly and local government candidates will be available for radio, television and newspaper interviews afterwards.
Hard copies of the manifesto will be available to all journalists on the day as well as being available for PDF download from pupmanifesto.com from Thursday morning.
Brian Ervine welcomes news that PSNI are to set up a new special unit that will target prolific offenders within the community
Progressive Unionist Party Leader Brian Ervine welcomes news that PSNI are to set up a new special unit that will target prolific offenders within the community.
The new unit will contain around eleven officers and will given a mandate to target the most prolific offenders. These offenders will be mainly young men who have been jailed for serious crimes.
The offenders will be put under surveillance, searched on the spot, and officers could call to their homes unannounced. This special team will be rolled out in West Belfast this summer and depending on results could then be introduced in other areas.
East Belfast MLA candidate Brian Ervine welcomed the introduction of this new PSNI unit and hopes that it can be replicated in other areas as soon as possible ‘I have worked within the prison service for many years and I am all too aware of the extremely high risk of reoffending that some young men pose. Hopefully this new unit will be an effective deterrent to the small number of people it targets. Within my own community in East Belfast there have been a number of arson attacks. So far it is only by the grace of God that someone has not been killed. If this new unit can help in any way to stop these sorts of behaviours then I call for it to be launched in other areas of Northern Ireland sooner rather than later.’
Following up on recent demonstrations at Stormont and the PSNI headquarters P.U.P. members, led by East Belfast MLA Candidate Brian Ervine, took their protest to the H.E.T. Headquarters in Sprucefield.
Brian Ervine arrived with a letter detailing the grievances that the P.U.P. and the Unionist community as a whole has with the H.E.T’s methods of investigation. It was Mr Ervine’s intention to hand deliver this to the H.E.T’s head, David Cox. After waiting at the gates for 30 minutes, an H.E.T. Press Officer appeared and accepted Mr Ervine’s letter of complaint.
Brian Ervine commented ‘I look forward to the time when the H.E.T. is transparent in nature and methods and can represent with impartiality, both sections of this society. At present this is certainly not the case. A delegation from the P.U.P. will meet the Chief Constable on Monday 4th April to raise our concerns.’
Below is a copy of the letter handed to the H.E.T. Press Officer.
Whom It May Concern,
The Progressive Unionist Party wish to protest about the overwhelming imbalance in the Historical Enquires Team’s investigations.
According to your own figures, 72 arrests have been made; 70 from the Protestant Unionist Loyalist community and 2 from the Catholic Nationalist community. Allowing Mr Cox’s figures for operation Ballast i.e. 65 arrests (some would hotly dispute these figures) that leaves 7 arrests with 5 being from Loyalist communities and 2 being from dissident Republican communities.
When one considers that 60% of murders and atrocities were committed by the Republican movement, 30% by Loyalists and 10% by security forces then the unfairness is even more glaring.
The PUP have no problem with the concept of historical enquires in order to give closure to victims etc, but there must be fairness and equity in this divided society. This patently is not the case.
Your team is perceived in my community as a secret grouping who are extremely reluctant to part with any information concerning their enquiries and their methods and who are waging a clandestine campaign against the PUL community.
One dissident Republican, Gerry McGeough, claimed that he was offered exemption from investigation and arrest by Sinn Fein if he stopped criticising their party.
Your team has received extra funding from the Minister of Justice who claims he is unaware of your operational mandate. Also some people in the Police Ombudsmen office were surprised to find that their remit does not cover the H.E.T.
There is a very serious consequence of this obvious imbalance. Every arrest attracts the attention of the media and creates the impression that it was mainly the PUL communities who were responsible for the Troubles. This demonises and scapegoats these communities.
It is significant that not one member of the Provisional IRA or Sinn Fein has been arrested since the H.E.T. was set up. The perception in our community is that this is for political reasons. Should certain people be arrested the political fallout would be disastrous.
At best we have what appears to be a concerted effort to denigrate the PUL communities and at worst, if Mr McGeough is correct we have corruption in the highest levels of our judicial system.
The figures do not lie. There is an imbalance. The lack of transparency and the clandestine nature of the H.E.T itself gives grave cause for concern and undermines its neutrality. This approach demonises one community and in the long term will breed resentment, bitterness and alienation.
Unless the H.E.T becomes transparent in its nature and methodology and is seen by all communities to be fair and even handed then it will be perceived as yet another stick to beat the PUL community.
East Belfast MLA candidate Brian Ervine reacts to news that 1200 workers at call centre company given job warning
Progressive Unionist Party East Belfast MLA candidate Brian Ervine reacted with shock at the news that 1,200 workers at HCL BPO services in Belfast & Armagh have been told to accept less favourable terms or their employment would ‘terminate’.
Two major clients of HCL BPO Services have recently asked for big cuts in the costs of their contracts. This has led to the call centre company to write to their workforce informing them that they will be presented with new contracts which would ask them to accept such things as pay freezes and cuts in benefits or lose their jobs. HCL BPO does not recognise trade unions.
The Progressive Unionist Party has a long history of fighting for fair employment rights for all and has made representation for those struggling against cuts in the private and public sectors as one of their key aims. Brian Ervine commented ‘Several parts of this news story trouble me. Hugely profitable businesses like BT & Abbey are demanding a reduction in the costs of their contracts with HCL, presumably to keep their profits healthy, and are doing so knowing that this will put jobs at risk. HCL, in turn, ask that their staff agree to incredibly unfair contract changes. In fairness, the 1,200 workers do have a choice, they can sign these new contracts or they can lose their jobs! At this stage it would be fair to expect the worker’s trade union to step in and negotiate a fair and balanced compromise but HCL refuse to recognise any trade unions. The whole situation stinks; once again the ground floor worker is being bullied and cajoled. I will be contacting HCL to see if their senior management has been ‘asked’ to agree to any inferior employment terms.’
East Belfast MLA candidate Brian Ervine agrees with the Independent Health and Care Providers that providing care for vulnerable people and the elderly will be the greatest logistical and financial challenge for the next Assembly. ‘I and the Progressive Unionist Party as a whole have repeatedly called on the NI Assembly to look into what can be done to help the most vulnerable in society by raising issues such as suicide rates in the elderly to the stigma attached to mental illness. If elected I will do all I can to make sure to give a voice to those who have gone unheard, the needy and the vulnerable in our communities.’
Progressive Unionist Party leader Brian Ervine questions the fairness of penalising departments in such an excessive fashion when they are forced to do more with less. The figures for people waiting more than twelve hours to be seen in emergency care departments rose last month, despite a fall in the number of people attending. There were 52,921 attendances at A&E wards in February 2011, compared with 56,476 in January 2011. 1,338 were forced to wait more than 12 hours to be seen compared to 1,236 in January 2011 and 702 in December 2010. With news that the Department of Health is planning to introduce penalties potentially amounting to £500 each time a patient waits more than 12 hours to be seen, these figures will worry many.
Mr Ervine commented ‘These figures are worrying enough, the idea that anyone should have to wait more than 12 hours to be seen in A&E is a disgrace but lets be clear, it’s not the staff on the grounds fault. The middle management can only use the resources they have available and heaping more pressure on to everyone to meet these targets without giving them the required funding will exacerbate the issue. The NI Assembly’s failure to fight the coalition government’s cuts means that yet again that the needy will suffer.’
Progressive Unionist Party leader Brian Ervine has welcomed the growing support for the party’s campaign against the inequality of the Historical Enquiry Team.
After a number of highly successful P.U.P. protests against the sectarianism of the H.E.T. victims groups, Unionist community organisations and now other Unionist political parties are beginning to follow our lead. Yesterday the Democratic Unionist Party met with P.S.N.I. Chief Constable Matt Baggott and asked why the vast majority of H.E.T. arrests were Loyalists. As Peter Robinson and the D.U.P. have stayed silent for so long over the issue we can only assume the P.U.P’s campaign is beginning to strike a chord in the wider Unionist community.
Party leader Brian Ervine has welcomed this latest development. He said “The P.U.P. are delightful that at long last the D.U.P. are following our lead and have highlighted the total imbalance in investigations carried out by the Historical Enquiry Team. This secretive body – which is neither answerable to the Police Ombudsman or the Minister of Justice who funds them – is pursuing a clandestine policy mainly against Loyalists. While the P.U.P. would advocate the pursuit, apprehension and arrest of all perpetrators of murder and atrocity we have been alarmed at the complete disproportion of arrests. Of the 72 arrests linked to H.E.T. investigations so far only two have been Republicans – and neither mainstream Provisional IRA or Sinn Fein members. This is despite the fact that the PIRA and their fellow Republican groups committed 60% of ALL killings throughout The Troubles. One of the two Republicans – Gerry McGeough – has publicly claimed Sinn Fein promised immunity from prosecution if he was to stop criticising the party. If this is true it demonstrates the corruption of our judicial system for political reasons. Sinn Fein are in government in Northern Ireland. Their members also crowd council chambers across the country. If the H.E.T. pursued these people the political fallout would be too great. The upshot is that our community is scapegoated and demonised. At last the First Minister and D.U.P. are beginning to ‘smell the coffee’ and have raised this issue in their recent meeting with the Chief Constable. I suppose it’s ‘better’ late than never’!”
The party’s next protest will be held on Thursday 31st March at 11am at the H.E.T. headquarters at 4 Ravernet Road, Sprucefield, Lisburn.
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After the success of the PUP’s first protest at PSNI headquarters on Tuesday the party will seek to increase pressure on the HET with another protest at Stormont’s gates on the Upper Newtownards Road. PUP leader – and East Belfast Assembly candidate – Brian Ervine will be there alongside former internee and community worker Jim Wilson and leading victims campaigner Willie Frazer. All three men will be available for interviews from 11am and will continue to argue that former IRA and Sinn Fein members are being ignored as the HET delves into our troubled past.
Brian Ervine has stated on numerous occasions he has no issue with the arrest and prosecution of Loyalists as this was agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. The Progressive Unionist party’s problem is with the complete lack of mainstream Republicans being arrested, charged and convicted for their crimes. Of the 71 arrests in relation to HET investigations 70 have been Loyalists and only one a Republican – who claimed Sinn Fein would grant him immunity if he stopped publicly criticising them.
We aim to continue with our protests across Northern Ireland until the HET are operating fairly and are focusing as much attention on mainstream Republicans as they are on former Loyalists.