Gerry Carroll is a west Belfast People Before Profit MLA who has risen in stature since taking a council seat in 2014 to topping the west Belfast Assembly polls in 2016 and retaining his seat in 2017.
I have been a Socialist activist since my late teens and have been involved in campaigns around Palestine, opposing the Iraq War, fighting water charges, equality and anti-poverty issues. I was elected as Vice President of the Student’s Union at Jordanstown and after that have been elected to Belfast City Council and subsequently Stormont.
In between being elected I have also worked as a Youth Worker in west Belfast.
What inspired you to get into politics?
I started reading radical political books when I was at school and continued that process well into university. I have been an activist for over 10 years now and see my role as an MLA to politically organise and mobilise people to campaign for a better society, as well as representing people on individual issues. Socialist, radical activists and people who wanted to fundamentally change the world ultimately inspired me to get politically active.
Who do you admire in politics or public life/political role models?
I admire people who took on the establishment and fought to change the society around them. There are too many to name but a few historical figures would be Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, James Connolly. Ultimately though, history is made by the mass of ordinary people, many of whom never made it into the history books – those people are important and need to be recognised.
What drew you to People Before Profit?
When I began to read and think politically I was convinced of the need for anti-capitalist politics and People Before Profit was/is the only party committed to anti-capitalist policies, North and South of the border. I was also drawn to the unique style of people power and mobilising communities and workers to fight for themselves. I found this refreshing from the usual, cynical nonsense constantly put out that you cannot change the world. Being a member of a party that supports rights for women and all oppressed groups is essential in my view.
What are the key issues facing your constituency?
There is a wide range of issues affecting people in west Belfast. Chief among them are mental health, economic inequality and health waiting lists.
However, at the minute the biggest issue people are worried about and seeking help for is Universal Credit and ‘welfare reform’.
This inhumane system is making people angry, worried and extremely anxious to obtain benefits that they are entitled to. People are being ground down by this cruel system.