Shaun Harkin: "We are disappointed the Chamber of Commerce made the decision to exclude People Before Profit from its hustings."
People Before Profit (PBP) candidate for Foyle, Shaun Harkin, has blasted the Derry Chamber of Commerce for excluding his party from an election hustings meeting.
The event, which had been organised by the Chamber for tomorrow morning, has since been cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
However, the fact that PBP's invite was not even sent out – let alone be 'lost in the post' – has enraged Cllr Harkin who insisted that as a participant in the Assembly Election, his party was entitled to the same hustings privileges as the others.
Only the parties that had participated in the Executive prior to its term expiring last month had been scheduled to attend the event and Cllr Harkin slammed the Chamber for organising “a closed shop”.
He said: “We are disappointed the Chamber of Commerce made the decision to exclude People Before Profit from its hustings.
“They would have only heard from five Executive parties who've presided over a failed economic strategy premised on privatisation of the health service, tax cuts for big profitable corporations, cruel welfare reform and wage cuts for workers.
“The same failure applies when it comes to fighting for rail provision, genuine Magee expansion, infrastructure investment and living wage jobs for Derry and the North West.
“Invest NI has completely failed Derry and the Foyle area. It should be abolished and replaced with an investment organisation fit for purpose to address decades of regional inequality and systemic deprivation.
“The spiralling cost of living crisis has made clear that Stormont Executive parties have prioritised elites, big corporations and the politically-connected.
“The big parties in Derry, whether it's the DUP, Sinn Féin or the SDLP, prop-up a system rigged against workers and the least well-off.
“Elites, corporations and the big parties are a closed shop. They don't want to hear alternative ideas and do their damndest to undermine proposals aimed at challenging runaway inequality that they preside over.
“We will fight to make sure the needs of the vast majority from all our communities aren't locked out, but are heard loud and clear. Send the political establishment a clear message on May 5 by voting to put People Before Profit.”
A spokesperson for the Derry Chamber of Commerce replied by citing “time and space constraints” as being behind their decision to only invite parties who had participated in the Executive before its term came to an end last month.
The spokesperson said: “The Chamber had invited candidates from the five parties that make up the Executive to take part in the proposed event on April 29 to reflect on what has been done in the previous Assembly mandate and discuss what they will commit to for the North West economy in the coming mandate post-election.
“This decision to select parties in this way was taken to manage numbers on the panel due to time and space constraints.”
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