The North’s richest getting richer


Despite the rest of us struggling to pay off the bills, poverty wages and coping with increased living costs or being flung on the dole the so-called great and good in our society the wealthiest have never had it so good. Top of the list in the wee north is Eddie Haughey who has a combined wealth of 340 million.

Lord Ballyedmond owns veterinary healthcare firm Norbrook Laboratories. Paid more than £2m last year. Along with a car collection (Rollers, Jags, Bentleys and a Ferrari), he also owns a Sikorsky S76B helicopter, just like the British Queen. He owns an island on Lake Victoria in Africa, Corby Castle and estate in Cumbria. It appears times are hard for the lord of the manor as he is 'only down 80 million'. In stark contrast a single mother from Strabane who successfully appealed against her jail sentence of 3 months this week for stealing 10 pound jeans.

 Third on Northern Ireland’s top 40 rich list we have Belfast property tycoon Shamus Jennings worth a staggering 187 million (up 4.3m). In the midst of a shortage in social housing and increasing homelessness we all know whose properties we need to expropriate and bring back into social use. Last on the list is former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill and a great manager he was too for the hoops. Lets hope someday he will do some good with his money but I certainly won’t be counting on it.

 In the Republic we already have a situation in which 1% of the population own 30% of the wealth while on a global scale the latest rich list produced by Forbes magazine shows that the collective wealth of the world’s 1,210 billionaires has reached a new record high of $4.5 trillion- up nearly $1 trillion on last year’s total.

At the same time three billion people (around 50% of the world’s population) exist on a meagre $2 a day. Then they have the cheek to tell us that we live in a free and equal society and that we are all in this together type nonsense.

Meanwhile Rise, Belfast’s biggest piece of public artwork, is now under construction. Costing half a million the massive silver and white steel sculpture, which will be taller than the city’s Albert Clock, is being built at the Broadway Roundabout — just yards from where some householders still have outside toilets and some of city’s most deprived areas. Some have already dubbed it ‘The balls on the Falls’.

“When this was first suggested by DSD (the Department for Social Development) I and this community were totally opposed to it,” said Ulster Unionist councillor Bob Stoker.

“As one man said to me, ‘I’ll be able to sit in my outside loo and look at the lights’.

“Housing regeneration is more important than public art.'

We maybe entering a ‘new era’ but its clear we the working class are not part of it and it is about time we begin to realise our collective potential as a class and fight back.