éirígí has announced the names of two candidates who will be standing in May’s Six County local government elections.
John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir will both be standing in Belfast; McCusker in the Lower Falls constituency and Mac Coitir in the Upper Falls area.
The socialist republican party took the decision to intervene in the council elections at its Belfast Ard-Fheis on January 23.
Republican ex-prisoner and former blanketman Pádraic Mac Coitir lives in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast and has been involved in socialist republican and community politics since 1970.
He said: “When I first became involved in the republican struggle, the goals of the civil rights movement were making the headlines, including the right to a job and the right to a home. Forty years later, these very basic and very limited demands have still not been achieved.
“This is why there is a need for a party like éirígí to stand in these elections: to reinvigorate the struggle for social and economic justice and the fight against partition and the British occupation.
“I am very proud to have been chosen by the éirígí membership to represent the party and its socialist republican politics and I am looking forward to engaging with as many working class people as possible in west Belfast over the next number of months.”
Thirty-three-year-old Falls Road man John McCusker holds a masters in international politics and has been involved in the republican struggle all his adult life.
He said: “In light of the current economic crisis, it is clear that the old solutions and the old institutions have failed west Belfast miserably. What éirígí is bringing to this election is a platform that stands for active opposition to British government and Stormont cuts, a platform that offers an alternative to discrimination, poverty and partition and a platform that stands for rebuilding strong, vibrant communities.
“I am honoured to represent that platform and the politics of éirígí.”
Announcing their candidature, cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said: “In line with the decision taken by the party membership at our recent Ard-Fheis, éirígí will be standing candidates in both of the west Belfast local government constituencies.
“John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir are two sterling activists who have devoted decades between them in fighting for the rights of working class people and in pursuance of socialist republican objectives.
“West Belfast has been discriminated against for decades and remains one of the most socially and economically deprived areas in western Europe. This was the case 20 years ago and it remains the case today. The vicious cuts which are being implemented by the British government and its Stormont administration are going to make an already bad situation an awful lot worse.
“éirígí is standing in this election to give the working class people of west Belfast an opportunity to say enough is enough. The fight back against poverty and partition, against inequality and exploitation starts now and there are no two better people to be at the forefront of that fight than John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir.”
Leeson added: “Elections will constitute only part of that fight back. Ultimately, real change in this society will only come about when enough people get politically active in their communities, on the streets and in their workplaces.
“This will be the core message of éirígí’s electoral campaign: Together, working class people have the power to stop and rollback the cuts and, eventually, remove those responsible from power.”