Northern Ireland

People Before Profit Alliance hails 'opportunity' for smaller parties

People Before Profit Alliance members
Image caption The People Before Profit alliance launched its election manifesto on Tuesday

The assembly election is a once in a lifetime opportunity for smaller parties, the People Before Profit Alliance said at its manifesto launch.

The party, which won two seats in Stormont last year, describes itself as the anti-establishment alternative.

It said its' target of gaining seats in the 2 March election has been made easier because of public fury over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The party is standing seven candidates and said it was very confident.

'RHI, RHI, RHI'

Gerry Carroll, who topped the poll in west Belfast last May, said: "Last year, we knocked on doors and we said there is an alternative.

"There's an alternative to austerity; there's an alternative to running down the health service; to running down education and under funding education and it took a while to explain to people.

"But now, you just say three letters - RHI, RHI, RHI."

Image caption Gerry Carroll said public anger over the RHI scandal had made his party's job easier

The party is hoping to take a second seat in west Belfast, to retain the Foyle seat won by Eamonn McCann, and it is aiming to win a seat in North Belfast as well.

"This election is about the record of the executive," Mr Carroll said.

"Sinn Féin want to make it about the DUP; the DUP want to make it about Sinn Féin but, for us, this election is about the record of the Sinn Féin/DUP executive."

'Spooked'

The party's manifesto calls for an end to corruption at all levels; an end to links between paramilitaries and the State and the introduction of an Irish Language Act.

They also support rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community; reform of the rates system and an end to privatisation.

Mr McCann claimed Sinn Féin was "spooked" by the People Before Profit Alliance.

"The DUP and Sinn Féin depend on Catholics and Protestants being hostile to one another," he added.

"If that went away and there was no hostility between the communities, what would Sinn Féin and the DUP do?"

Mr Carroll said: "What we're calling for is a different type of politics, a politics which is not about corruption.

"Also, we're calling for the books to be opened; the books for RHI, the books for Nama, Red Sky, Social Investment Fund and all the scandals, because we think the public should have their say and give their verdict on what's been going on."