Community anger over theft of grit boxes in Creggan -Campbell

There is anger in the Creggan area of Derry  after a number of grit boxes have been stolen or damaged beyond repair.

kevin campbell

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell said:

“In the midst of the last very cold spell in December Apex Housing Association provided a number of grit boxes and grit for Ballymagowan and Magowan Park. The Triax Neighbourhood Management Team who work at the allotment site in that area took on the task of making sure that the boxes were replenished and the area gritted.

However over the last number of weeks two grit boxes have been stolen and a third damaged.  I find this shocking especially when people are fearful of the coming cold spell and the implications for road safety. And the likes of Ambulances and essential services getting in and out of the area.

These boxes are a lifeline for people being able to grit in and around their homes to prevent accidents .The last thing anyone wants to discover is that the boxes have been stolen or damaged.

There is anger in the local community about these latest incidents.

I am appealing to people to leave the boxes alone, they serve a very important purpose in the community and should not be used for people’s selfish gains.

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McCallion welcomes north west education co-operation

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed increased co-operation between universities and further and higher education colleges across the north west. 

The Foyle MP said:

“Co-operation across education in the wider north west is key to the success and continued development of a first class education system across the region.

“I welcome the fact that moves to formally increase co-operation between further and higher education colleges and universities in the north west are at an advanced stage.

“This initiative will involve closer co-operation between the Ulster University, North West Regional College, Donegal Training Board and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

“Increased collaboration in education across the north west will not only be of benefit to local students across Derry and Donegal but it will also help attract students from other areas, which will be a welcome boost to the local economy.

“This co-operation builds on the collaboration that already exists in health and infrastructure and I look forward to continuing to develop closer relationships in the future.

“I will continue to work with my Sinn Féin colleagues in Donegal to bring this initiative to fruition.”

Off TheStreets new satellite hub for Fernabbey -Cllr Sandra Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor  Sandra Duffy, has welcomed the news  that the  Off TheStreets new satellite hub at Fernabbey will be launched tomorrow Wednesday
She -“This hub will allow Off The Streets to reach more young people in the area and provide services to young people and families in this area. The general Fernabbey area does not have facilities such as a community centre but Apex housing association has made available a flat in the area to off the Streets to allow them to provide this service.
This forward thinking from a housing association must be welcomed and I congratulate them for this. It will allow Off The Streets to bring their particular unique brand of youth work to the area.
The new hub can only add to the service that Off The Streets already provide in the area and across the city in conjunction with their new mobile hub which allows them to take their service to areas that have absolutely no facilities.
Off The Streets are a service that are going from strength to strength and as a committee member I see first hand the great work that they do with many young people and this hub can only enhance this work;
I wish them every success with the future and thank Apex for all the support they have given the organisation.

‘Brexit can’t be allowed to undermine universities’ – Mullan

International students make an important economic, social and cultural contribution to our society and Brexit should not be allowed to undermine efforts to attract and retain them, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan  has said.

The Party’s Education Spokesperson was commenting after a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) concluded that international students contribute £170m to the North’s economy.

“Figures published by Queens University and Ulster University show the significant contribution through fees from international students.  Overall this has increased in 2016/17 from 2015/16, which is positive,” she said.

“However, the benefits they bring aren’t just financial. They also make a positive social and cultural contribution so every effort must be made to ensure our universities have the ability to attract international students because we have the potential to bring many more than we currently do.

“Going forward as the implications of Brexit begin to impact, this ability to attract international students and staff will be increasingly important to the universities sector.

“To ensure the continuing success of our university and research sector, ongoing access to all EU funding streams and programmes must be protected and securing Designated Special Status for the north within the EU is the way to achieve this.

Derry rally for Ahed Tamimi

Sinn Féin Derry held a demonstration Saturday afternoon on the New Road Creggan to call for the release of a  young Palestinian girl.

martina anderson

Ahed Tamimi is a young Palestinian child who has been interned by Israeli forces in Palestine – the world should demand her unconditional release immediately.

Martina Anderson MEP who addressed the demonstration  said “I am calling  for the release of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, who is currently imprisoned by Israel following her arrest from her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

Ahed and the hundreds of other imprisoned Palestinian children should be released immediately.

International solidarity is something the people of Palestine need .This is just a small act of solidarity we are sending from Derry City and would encourage others to do likewise.

Moves to resolve Oakland issues -Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly speaking following having an on-site meeting with The Apex Housing manager for Oakland Park in Creggan  regarding a few issues which residents had been raising.

Councillor Kelly said “Residents raised a number of concerns with me.

colly kelly

The gathering point and at times anti social element within the green space there.

The attempted break- ins over Christmas and the New Year period.

And a general clean up needed where the moss has been gathering on footpaths and surrounding area.

This was a very productive meeting with a cleaning job submitted for the street and they will also be looking at possibilities moving forward regarding the green space.

We will be delivering  a letter to residents offering a free home safety check through the Council which looks at the security of your home to thwart  attempted break ins.

Adams pays tribute to Rosaleen Sands

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has paid tribute to Rosaleen Sands, the mother of Hungerstriker Bobby Sands MP, following her death.

“I was extremely saddened to learn of Rosaleen’s death and, on behalf of Sinn Féin, I extend condolences to the entire Sands clan.

“Roasaleen was a strong, inspirational woman who, like all families of the hunger strikers, bore immense pain but stood by her son Bobby during the darkest of times.

“The dignity and strength she displayed was a testament to her character and her belief in standing up for what was right and just, even if that meant great suffering for herself, Bobby’s father John and their family.

“In many ways she epitomised what all the mothers of the hunger strikers endured and her sacrifice will never be forgotten.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

Major clean up of Rosemount laneways – Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper speaking after a number of laneways in the Rosemount area got a New Year cleanup said “I am delighted that the cleanup of the mews lanes in the Rosemount Avenue area which i requested is now almost complete. A fantastic job has been done by the contractor.

michael mickey cooper

Some of the lane ways were in a very bad state with overgrown weeds and rubbish. This should make access to the rear of the homes more easy for the likes of oil deliveries and refuse collections particularly during the winter months. It’s now important that residents play their part in keeping the lanes in as best shape as possible.

 

Those residents who look after the lanes should not be blighted by a minority who continue to illegally dump rubbish .

Growing waiting times for cancer patients unacceptable -Logue

Sinn Féin spokesperson for health Councillor Patricia Logue  says growing waiting times for cancer patients are unacceptable.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Speaking after the Department of Health publication of cancer waiting times Patricia Logue  said:

“It is very concerning to see targets for cancer waiting times for patients in the north of Ireland have been missed.

“It is unacceptable that some cancer patients needing treatment are having to endure excessive waiting times.

“Although there have been significant improvements in cancer treatment in recent years it is really concerning that waiting time targets are being missed.

“Advances in cancer care need to be built upon, ensuring cancer sufferers receive the better health outcomes they deserve.

“Unfortunately Tory/DUP Austerity has seriously undermined our capacity to deliver public services.

“Yet despite increasing pressures on cancer services HSC staff continue to deliver a high standard of care in what are often challenging circumstances.

“Workforce capacity must be provided to support staff in meeting this increased demand for cancer treatments going forward and this must be a consideration in a comprehensive workforce strategy.

“The development of a Cancer Strategy needs to be progressed to address the challenges facing cancer services now and into the future.”

‘DUP blocked charity cash’ – McCartney

The DUP blocked a proposal to utilise funds for charitable causes which have still not been released, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said.

raymond mccartney

The Foyle MLA was speaking after it emerged that millions from dormant bank accounts have still not been allocated despite being earmarked for charities under a government scheme.

Raymond McCartney  said: “It is my understanding that the Sinn Féin Finance Minister tabled a paper for an Executive meeting in December 2016 seeking agreement on a scheme for utilising over £7m in dormant funds.

“The proposal provided for £4.5m to support social investment, £1.5m for the Arts and £1m for tackling homelessness.

“The paper was cleared by the Deputy First Minister to go on to the Executive agenda but it was not cleared by the First Minister and consequently did not make it on to the final Executive agenda.

“Therefore, it is quite extraordinary for the DUP to now be blaming the failure to release these funds on anyone but themselves.”

Duffy calls for Microbead ban

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy, the Environment and Councillor Sandra Duffy has called for a ban on all products containing microbeads.

She  was speaking after a decision to prohibit the manufacture of the controversial plastic product in England.

“Every year thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from personal care products such as shower gels and face scrubs wash into the sea causing serious harm to wildlife, polluting our oceans and affecting our health,” Sandra Duffy  said.

“If we are serious about fighting against ocean pollution, a small but significant step would be to ban the production and sale of products that contain microbeads in the North.

“I welcome the decision to prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in England. We must now work to ensure that a similar ban is implemented in the North as a matter of urgency to protect one of the world’s greatest natural resources.”

Survey shows urgent need for Road safety measures outside St Pauls –- Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan MLA has said there is an urgent need for traffic calming measures in the vicinity of St Paul’s Primary school on the Moss Road.
She was speaking after a road traffic survey carried out by Transport NI revealed that in excess of 5,000 vehicles per day use the Moss Road.
The Foyle MLA said:

sandra duffy

“In October of last year, I held a meeting at St. Paul’s school with Transport NI and the Education Authority requesting that traffic calming measures be implemented and for new car parking and drop off point arrangements at the school.
“There has already been accidents outside the school and I received a number of concerns from parents and residents. There is a clear need for road safety measures to be introduced.
“A recent road traffic survey carried out by Transport NI found that in excess of 5,000 vehicles use the Moss Road every day.
“I am calling on Transport NI to fast track any measures deemed necessary to improve and enhance safety outside the school as a matter of urgency before someone is seriously hurt.”
CRÍOCH/ENDS

Car torched close to homes in Knockalla Park

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has slammed those responsible for setting fire to a car close to homes in the Knockalla Park area of Galliagh.

Councillor McKnight said

“Its believed that this car was driven around the area for a period of time before it was set on fire  less that 20 metres from local homes in Knockalla Park

The Fire Brigade had to be called out to extinguish the fire.

I will be contacting the Council to have this car removed as soon as possible.

Vandals on wrecking spree smash every light at Linear Park

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has slammed vandals who went on a wrecking spree breaking every light at the Linear Park in Gallaigh.

Councillor Duffy said

sandra duffy

It’s very sad that its just one week into the New Year and we have to be reporting this incident.

On Wednesday night a group of young people broke every light along the Linear Park, known locally as the Black Pads.

This is a disgraceful act of wanton destruction. A number of residents in the area contacted me regarding the incident in which they witnessed a group of young people shake every lamppost along the walkway until each light went out.

 Local people are very angry, this is a popular path used by dog walkers and local residents.

I have contacted the police regarding this incident and reported the lights being out.

 I would appeal to the young people involved to please have respect for the community in which you live and not wreck and destroy  a community asset  just for the ‘craic’, and once again leaving a hefty repair bill.

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Moves to address access for gritting lorries in Creggan –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly speaking after problems arose this week with Transport NI gritting lorries being  unable to access Creggan Heights due to a high volume of parked cars blocking their route.

colly kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly said

“I have been contacted by residents and drivers who have raised concerns that the gritter vehicles were unable to access Creggan Heights on Tuesday night due to the high volume of parked cars.This is very worrying as this is a main arterial route through Creggan.

I have been working  with Seán Dolans GAC who have agreed to open their club house car park during times of adverse weather for residents to park their cars for a short time to allow the gritter vehicle to access Creggan Heights.

It’s vital that residents are able to park their cars at their homes, but also vital that the gritter vehicle and  emergency services can access the area for the health and safety of residents and drivers.

Great day for Gaelic games in the Waterside as pitch gets green light -Jackson

Sinn Féin Councillor for the Waterside area Christopher Jackson has welcomed the decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to give the go ahead for a purpose built GAA pitch for Na Piarsaigh Doire Trasna GAC in the grounds of the former Immaculate Conception College.

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

Councillor Jackson said “This is great news for Gaelic games in the Waterside. News of this development will undoubtedly build on the great work that is currently ongoing between the communities there.

Despite being one of the only GAA clubs in the county without a home ground the club has been going from strength to strength over recent years both on the pitch on and  off it through the promotion of Irish language and culture. With over 300 members Na Piarsaigh are an integral part of the Top of the Hill community. This pitch will ensure that this remains the case for generations to come.

The campaign for this pitch dates back to the 1970s and has come to a reality due to the Social Investment Fund (SIF )fund driven by the late Martin McGuinness. Martin realised the impact projects such as this would have in communities and I would like to congratulate all those on the SIF board who shared Martins vision.

Once built  I also hope that it will attract more young people into sport and provide a positive outlet.

Mullan ‘hopeful’ that school surpluses can be accessed

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan is hopeful that schools will be able to access surplus revenues following her discussions with the Education Authority.

The Foyle MLA commented: “Following reports from schools that they have been unable to access their surpluses, I raised the matter in a meeting with the EA and I am hopeful of a positive solution.

“Many schools are under pressure as a result of the budget cuts imposed by the Tories and supported by the DUP.

“So in those schools where budget surpluses do exist, these should be freed up for use in front-line education and not held back.

“Given the circumstances that many schools find themselves in, I believe the EA were sympathetic to my argument and I hope this matter will now be resolved quickly.”

Duffy calls for local agencies to benefit from ‘tampon tax’

Local agencies should have access to revenue raised from the so-called tampon tax, Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy  has said.

sandra duffy

She was speaking after local sexual abuse charity Nexus reported a recent 21 percent rise in referrals for their specialist counselling services.

Sandra Duffy commented: “Often people do not realise how prolific sexual violence is and sometimes the hardest thing for somebody who has experienced sexual violence is to tell another person about their experience.

“Unfortunately the majority of survivors do not inform the police and reported sexual offences are just the tip of the iceberg.  I would like to commend NEXUS, Women’s Aid, the Men’s Advisory Project and the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre for taking forward the ‘Break the Silence’ initiative which I fully support.

“While it’s fantastic that more is being done to encourage people to come forward to report sexual offences, those agencies working with victims and survivors remain under-resourced.  Local agencies should have access to funding generated through the tampon tax as is the case in Britain.  All impediments to local agencies accessing this vital funding stream should be immediately removed.”

DUP not interested in resolving political crisis – O’Neill

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said today that the DUP leader’s call for direct rule makes clear that the DUP has no interest in resolving the issues at the heart of the current political crisis.

Speaking today Michelle O’Neill said:

“The call today by the DUP leader for the introduction of Tory Direct Rule makes clear they have no interest in resolving the issues at heart of the current crisis and no interest in re-entering powersharing on the basis of equality and respect.

“Martin McGuinness made clear there can be no denial of the rights of citizens and no return to the status quo. The agreements make clear there can be no return to direct rule.

“Sinn Féin is ready to engage in meaningful talks to resolve the issues and re-establish the power sharing institution however the question is, are the DUP serious about partnership government.

Report outlines Brexit damage to human rights-McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has called the publication of the Human Rights Consortium’s report ‘Rights at Risk’ a ‘damning indictment’ of the scale of Brexit’s impact of citizens’ rights in Ireland.

The Foyle  MP said:

“This a welcome and timely report from the Human Rights Consortium, setting out the expanse of rights issues to be put at risk as a result of a Tory-DUP Brexit.

“The report also contains several serious Brexit concerns, as identified by the public. The Peace Process, increased austerity, assaults on welfare rights, the rights of migrants, and other serious economic and social concerns were highlighted by stakeholders.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that civic society is speaking with one voice on its opposition to Brexit. As the disastrous DUP-Tory Brexit crusade limps on, our communities and economy are increasingly put at risk.

“Designated Special Status for the north within the EU is the only credible means by which we can address many of the concerns raised in this report, and protect the rights and livelihoods of citizens.”

Refusal to accept second class citizenship is not a red line – Kearney

Writing in his latest blog, Sinn Féin Chairperson Declan Kearney has reiterated the words of Martin McGuinness that there will be “no return to the status quo”.

Reflecting on Martin’s decision to resign as Joint First Minister following the DUP leaders’ refusal to stand aside to allow the RHI scandal to be properly investigated, Mr Kearney has said:

“He was absolutely resolute about the need to resign.The political situation had become unsustainable. It was untenable for Martin and other Sinn Féin ministers to remain in the Executive with the DUP given the cumulative build-up of financial scandals; that party’s institutionalised bigotry and bad faith; and, the hallmark disrespect and sneering contempt shown by DUP members towards northern nationalists, the LGB&T community, ethnic minorities and women, which had come to define the political institutions.

“Martin was insistent, against the advice of others for health reasons, that he should travel to Belfast the next day to meet and personally inform Arlene Foster, before making himself available to do media.

“He wanted to tell the DUP leader himself because he believed that was the right thing to do. He was very clear about that even though similar courtesy and respect had rarely been afforded him by so many in the DUP.

“Martin travelled to Belfast on Monday 9th January. Afterwards he said privately that the journey from Derry to Belfast and home that day felt like climbing Everest, such was the physical toll it had on him.

“That particular day has now forever immortalised the phrase that ‘there would be no return to the status quo,’ which Martin used in his press conference.

“Those words have come to symbolise the deep-rooted nature of the unfolding political crisis at the heart of the institutions.

“Martin McGuinness’ resignation was not a stunt. Sinn Féin’s commitment not to return to the status quo is not superficial or expedient.

“When the Sinn Féin leadership repeats there will be no return to the status quo we mean every word of that. Our position carries the same meaning and determination one year on from when Martin immortalised the phrase.

“The denial of rights; disrespect for the Irish cultural tradition and republican and nationalist political identity; abuse of the political institutions; rejection of proper power sharing based upon a commitment to anti-sectarianism; and, refusal to implement past agreements, most notably on legacy; is all directly in conflict with sustainable institutions.

“The DUP leadership knows exactly what must be done.

“It knows that talk of red lines and humiliation is a smoke screen, and entirely bound up with the internal dynamics of that party.

“The reality is the DUP is not a monolith. There are decent pragmatic people in that party.  They know, as does the DUP leadership, that an Irish language act, marriage equality, a bill of rights, dealing with the past, and anti-sectarianism measures pose no threat to anyone in this society.

“When these issues are properly resolved the political institutions can be re-established.

“If there is to be a political breakthrough in 2018, both the DUP and British government must agree to full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and the formation of a rights-based power sharing Executive which is avowedly anti-sectarian.

“It is not a red line to state that the days of second class citizenship in the north are over.”

Sinn Féin working to keep medical school on track in coming days

Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill and local MP Elisha McCallion are to hold a number of engagements over the coming days to seek to resolve concerns over feared delays to the planned medical school at Magee.

Elisha McCallion revealed that her party leader is to raise the matter with the head of the Civil Service, the head of the Health Department and the University of Ulster.

“Michelle and I will be involved in a number of meetings and engagements over the coming days as part of an intensive effort to ensure the medical school stays on track,” the Foyle Sinn Féin MP said.

“Locally, Sinn Féin have been continually engaging with the university and they assure us they remain fully committed to the medical school.

“Obviously, recent claims from within the Health Department that the project could be delayed have caused understandable concern.

“The medical school is a ground-breaking project both or the expansion of Magee and the development of our overall economy so we will be seeking firm assurances from all the key stakeholders that it remains on course to take its first intake of students in September 2019.”

ENDS/CRIOCH

Duffy welcomes renewables report

Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Councillor Sandra Duffy has  welcomed the publication of new data revealing that low carbon and renewable energy production is out performing fossil fuel production for the first time.

She  commented: “I welcome the publication of the data collected by Dr Iain Staffell, it shows that positive steps are being taken to move towards a low carbon and ultimately a carbon free society.

“However we cannot rest on the positives of the data, but ask what more can be done to ensure that we meet our European Renewable Energy Targets and commitments under the Paris Agreements.

“Renewable energy production from wind is continuing to grow and outperform the production capabilities of fossil fuels such as coal. It is therefore essential that there is a continued effort to develop and expand our renewable energy portfolio to further decrease our reliance on coal.”

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Department of Communities must listen to public’s PIP concerns

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said that the Department of Communities should act on claimants’ concerns over transparency and fairness of PIP assessments.
The Foyle MLA was speaking following an independent report which recommended that PIP assessments should be recorded, citing a lack of public trust in fairness of procedure.
Karen Mullan said:
“For many months Sinn Féin have raised concerns about the fairness, accuracy and transparency of PIP assessments carried out by Capita.
“We have observed serious procedural problems that act as a barrier to people with disabilities accessing PIP.
“My party colleague Alex Maskey MLA has met with Capita and the Department of Communities to voice these exact concerns being raised in our engagements with constituents.
​ “The Department of Communities should take account of the many serious concerns of claimants about the integrity of PIP assessments.
“In an effort to rebuild trust and confidence in these assessments, the Department should provide equipment to assessors to record interviews with claimants, if and when requested.”

‘GCSE assessment flaws must not penalise students’ – Mullan

Every step must be taken to ensure that flaws in the GCSE assessment process do not penalise students, Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan has said. 

The Foyle MLA was speaking after it emerged that hundreds of pupils here will have their GCSE computer science coursework marks revoked after details of the task were leaked online.

“This move affects students completing GCSE Computer Science through the AQA, OCR, Pearson and Eduqas exam boards,” Karen Mullan commented.

“Although these are all English-based boards, many local pupils who sit their exams through these bodies are being penalised as their coursework will not be counted towards their final grade.

“That is hugely unfortunate and unfair on those pupils who completed their work with integrity.

“Lessons need to be learned from this episode and every possible measure taken to ensure that flaws in the GCSE assessment process do not penalise students and that the integrity of the GCSE process is maintained.”

Health transformation requires partnership approach’-Logue

Patients and the Health and Social Care (HSC) workforce must be fully involved in the transformation of the service, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue  has said.

She  was commenting after Sinn Féin met Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle to discuss the progress of the Department of Health’s Working Group on partnership in the transformation of health and social care services.

She said: “It is vital that the transformation of the HSC is based firmly on the principle of working in partnership with those who use and those who deliver health and social care services.

“Real and meaningful partnership, which would involve people from the very beginning of processes, including in the design stages of transformational changes, is a fundamental principle of Michelle O’Neill’s Delivering Together plan.

“The success of transformation requires genuine partnership working.

“Imbedding partnership in the design and delivery of transformation will require ongoing work and I would encourage the DoH Working Group to continue to develop this approach, with those who use and deliver HSC services.”

Nominations for Sinn Féin Leadership open today – Ard Fheis to take place on February 10th

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA announced today that the Special Ard Fheis to elect a new Uachtarán Shinn Féin will take place on February 10th and that the nomination process opened this morning. (Monday 8th of January).

Speaking today, Mr Kearney said;

“At our recent Ard Fheis Gerry Adams requested that the incoming Ard Chomhairle meet to organise a special Ard Fheis in the new year to elect a new Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

“The special Ard Fheis is now set for Saturday 10th of February in the RDS, Dublin. The nomination process opens today Monday8th January and will close on Friday, 19th January.

“Regional debates will be organised for candidates to address party members.

“This is an exciting time for Irish Republicans and part of the process of renewal and regeneration in the party.  Sinn Féin wants to build on the political momentum which has resulted in over half a million people voting for our Party, and to deliver, in government, the type of real change which they are demanding.

“2018 will be a challenging year for the Irish people. Meaningful talks to restore the political institutions are urgently required to ensure the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will be a positive point in the history of our island.

“As we move closer to a General Election in the South a step change is needed. The complete failure of the Irish government to deal with the crises in health and housing is intolerable.

“Sinn Féin with a new leader will face into the next general election offering the electorate an opportunity to elect a new government committed to tackling these crises properly.

“We will also continue to deal with the challenges posed by Brexit and build support for designated special status for the North within the EU, as the only realistic alternative to the British Tory plan to deliver a hard Brexit border.

“We look forward to another historic Ard Fheis and a healthy and democratic campaign to elect the next Uachtarán Shinn Féin.”

ENDS//

McCallion confident new A5 legal challenge will fail

A new legal challenge against a section of the A5 Derry to Dublin road upgrade is expected to be unsuccessful, Foyle Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said.

Commenting after The Department of Infrastructure confirmed a new legal action has been lodged against the £800 million project, Elisha McCallion said: “This latest challenge is disappointing but not unexpected given that a small group of opponents to this vital road development remain determined to delay progress against the wishes of the vast majority in the North West.

“However, having met the Department of Infrastructure recently, I am assured that the development process has been meticulously followed and have every confidence that this legal challenge will be unsuccessful.

“This move is merely a delaying tactic and I hope an early court date can be set so that this issue can be expedited speedily and the construction of the road can begin as early as possible this year.”

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Kelly slams those behind suspect device in Bogside

inn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has slammed those responsible for leaving a suspect device in the Bogside on Sunday

The device was found  under the Lecky Road Flyover.

Councillor Kelly said

“Whoever  left this device has only succeeded in causing hardship to the local population.

It’s very upsetting for many of the elderly residents and those with young families caught up with all this disruption.

It is obvious that the those behind leaving such devices are out of touch with the will of the vast majority of the people of the Bogside who want to move forward without this type of disruption.

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Rates support cut is attack on most vulnerable’ – McCallion

A planned cut to a grant that helps reduce rates bills in poorer council areas is an attack on the most vulnerable and should be axed, Foyle Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said.

“The rates support grant is a key inequality measure that helps the seven less well-off council areas keep the rates base as low as possible,” she commented.

“Therefore, it is extremely concerning that officials in the Department of Communities have now confirmed their intention to cut the grant.

“In the Derry and Strabane District Council, they are proposing a cut of almost £150,000. That is a relatively small sum in the context of the overall council budget but it hugely significant in terms of a fund which is a key measure in tackling inequality.

“Measures which are in place to assist the most vulnerable areas and citizens should not be targeted by cuts. We all understand that departments are under pressure as a result of Tory-DUP cuts to the overall budget but these should not be forced onto those who can least afford it.

“As MP for Foyle, I am seeking a meeting with the lead official in the Department and I will be pressing for an immediate reversal of this decision. I hope that the other council areas and parties support me in that.”

Logue welcomes additional GP funding

Sinn Féin spokesperson for health Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed additional investment to GP services.

“Additional investment in GP services is to be welcomed,” she commented.

“GPs provide vital primary care services to the community and are the bedrock of our health service.

“Investing in GPs is necessary if we are to move towards multidisciplinary primary care teams identified by Michelle O’Neill in her transformation plan Delivering Together.

“It is important GPs are supported to continue to deliver a high standard of care to those in the community who need  it.”

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Latest figures shows there is a clear need for Passport Office in Derry –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has  called on the Irish government to recognise the latest figures in passport applications coming from the Six Counties and to open a dedicated resource  In Derry City.

Councillor Kelly said;

“According to figures published in the past week, 53,715 people in the North applied for Irish passports the year before the vote on Brexit. This increased to 67,582 in 2016, and 80,964 in 2017.

“Staff in the Passport Office have been doing a fantastic job under immense pressure as a result of Brexit. The Irish government must acknowledge that increased demand from the public warrants necessary investment to meet a clear and identifiable need.

“During his recent appearance in front of the Oireachtas Committee on the Good Friday Agreement,  Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile  put it to Minister Simon Coveney that he explore the idea of a dedicated “citizenship hub” located in the North. I firmly believe that the office should be located in Derry City.

This could be a place for passport applications to be processed but also a valuable resource in assisting Irish citizens in terms of their legal rights & entitlements post-Brexit. It would also create jobs.

“Senator  Ó Donnghaile  has written to Minister Coveney seeking an update on his department’s plans to meet this growing demand.”

McCartney welcomes news on DAERA North West move and jobs

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has welcomed confirmation by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) that an initial 240 civil servants will relocate to new headquarters in Ballykelly by March 2018.

The Foyle  MLA said:

raymond mccartney

“News that 240 staff members will move to the £20 million facility in the first phase of relocation is to be welcomed.

“The move by my party leader Michelle O’Neill as the former Agriculture Minister to decentralise the then DARD headquarters to Ballykelly was a positive step for the local area and the wider North West in bringing employment to the area.

“Sinn Féin is committed to tackling the regional imbalances in our economy created through decades of neglect and under-investment, this includes decentralisation of public sector jobs. I look forward to more staff being located to the new headquarters over the next number of years through the relocation plan.”

NEW SPINE ROAD AT SKEOGE IS NOW OPEN

In a  new year statement from Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the completion  of the new road system at the Skeogelands that will allow more  development of social homes in the area.

Cllr Hassan said.

tony hassan

 The new road is called the Spine Road and will stretch through the present Apex development to the second roundabout at Skeoge. It will also access onto Lower Galliagh Road to allow residents in the Woodbrook areas to access the Skeoge Road.The completion of the Spine will now allow the building of over 650 social homes this year ,much needed homes for the 3,500  families who are homeless and in housing stress in the city.

This development will see a lot of open space, play parks, some community  facilities,  a school,  and retail outlets. The number of people waiting for a home in the city has increased dramatically over the past few years and these new homes  will go some way to alleviating that problem. In 2018 Sinn Féin will continue to lobby at every opportunity to ensure that the need for new social housing schemes is kept firmly on the agenda in the Council area.

Ends.

Heartless oil thieves target Cornshell homes

Speaking after a number of oil thefts in the Cornshell Fields area over the Christmas holidays local Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said

sandra duffy

“These are heartless criminals who care nothing for the people in their community who were left over Christmas and during particularly cold weather with no heat in their homes. This is the last thing these families needed at this time of the year.

If anyone would like to contact me I can arrange for the local community safety team to fit a lock to their oil tank to make things more difficult for these thieves.

Ends

Kelly appeals to “light up” bicycles in the city

Councillor Colly Kelly has urged parents in the city to ensure that before they let their children out on bikes purchased for Christmas that they purchase  a safety helmet and that they have a light fitted to the bike.

colly kelly

His comments come following a number of reports of children riding bikes with no lights along a number of busy roads in the city.

Councillor Kelly said “I was contacted by a constituent who was quite shocked to come across a number of young people this week travelling across Craigavon Bridge late at night with no working lights on their bikes and none of them were wearing safety helmets.It was dark and raining at the time and had the traffic been busier he feared there could have been a serious accident due the high volume of traffic that would normally be on the bridge.

I  would make an urgent appeal before anyone lets a child out on a bicycle that they get them a helmet and get a working light on the bike .And if possible wear light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark.

If this appeal stops one child from being hurt or seriously injured then it is worth it.

Ends

Mesh restriction welcome but full moratorium needed’ – Logue

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue  has welcomed a leading health watchdog’s call for the use of controversial mesh implants to be restricted.

She  was speaking after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended against vaginal mesh as a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse.

Sinn Féin  have continously engaged with women injured by mesh and the Department of Health on this issue,” she commented.

“We have consistently called for a moratorium on the use of mesh.

“Whilst this news marks a considerable move in the right direction, a moratorium should be extended to cover the full range of procedures in which men and women are experiencing severe life changing complications.

“We will continue to work to ensure that those people injured by mesh have access to appropriate treatment and that appropriate action is taken to protect people from future injury.”

Mullan welcomes £663,000 funding for north west environmental improvement

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed an announcement by the Department for Communities that £663,000 will be allocated for environmental improvement schemes in three Neighbourhood Renewal Areas in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

Karen Mullan said:

 “I welcome the allocation of £663,000 in funding for environmental improvement schemes from Department of Communities for the north west.

 “The schemes will include the upgrading of footways and the resurfacing of carriageways at Lone Moor Road between Letterkenny Road and Brandywell Road, Danesfort and in the Magirr Park area of Strabane. 

 “This funding will be beneficial for community infrastructure, improving access for residents, upgraded street lighting and improved carriageway-footway links which will enhance accessibility and pedestrian safety. 

 “These works are due to start in early January 2018 and will run alongside the ongoing redevelopment scheme at the Brandywell Stadium and will run for six weeks.”  

Gerry Adams TD welcomes Taoiseach’s remarks on Irish Unity

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s assertion that he aspires to a United Ireland but also said  “the Taoiseach should match his aspiration by devising and supporting strategies to promote the agreed reunification of Ireland.”

Teachta Adams said;

“The Irish government, and particularly the Taoiseach, should become active persuaders for Irish Unity.”

“If the Taoiseach is serious about a united Ireland he should help to build and present convincing and cogent arguments in favour of it.

“He should engage with Unionism on that basis.

“The potential for progress demands a new approach aimed at unlocking Unionist opposition to a new future by reminding them of the positive contribution they have made to society on this island.

“This is where the Irish government could play a critical role. Sinn Féin has sought the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Irish Unity in which all these matters can be addressed and debated in a constructive and positive way. The Taoiseach should support this.”

Mr Adams concluded:

“Aspiration is good but it’s not enough. Irish Unity must be planned for and it must be worked for. Brexit has reenergised and reshaped the debate about a United Ireland. There are many more people talking positively about a United Ireland that at any time in recent years.

“Sinn Féin wants to see a Irish Unity referendum in the next five years. We believe that such a referendum is achievable in that timeframe and we also believe that it is winnable.”

ENDS//

Public want an Assembly which respects rights and diversity for all

The past 12 months has been an extraordinary time politically. We have witnessed incredible political developments, suffered the loss of a political giant but also the reawakening of the demand for fairness and equality at the heart of our political process.

And as we look forward to 2018, Sinn Féin is determined and optimistic that we will realise that demand. That we will restore power-sharing institutions based on the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

There is no alternative, the status quo is not an option.

I am optimistic because I see the transformation that has taken place in this society since the people voted for the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago. I see the young people who will not tolerate their peers being treated as second-class citizens because of their sexuality.

I see civic society standing up to be counted and demanding their rights and entitlements are protected and enshrined on the same basis as they are elsewhere on these islands. They will not accept the denial of language rights, of marriage equality and the right to coroner’s inquests because the DUP dictate it.

People across Ireland have been shaken by the recklessness of the DUP-Tory Brexit agenda and the immense harm it will cause to communities and the economy throughout the island.

That is not the future they want for their children and grandchildren.

Most people want a positive future, an inclusive and welcoming future where everyone is treated fairly and cherished.

That is what Martin McGuinness wanted and that is the challenge he set for us in his resignation letter almost a year ago which set out in very clear terms what needs to happen to put the proper foundations in place.

We have lost Martin, and it is an incalculable loss for us all, but we remain determined to realise the vision he set out.

It is a vision that has already been endorsed by a majority of the people in both the Assembly and Westminster elections. The momentum for change is with us and the demand for a better society is a demand from a majority of voting citizens.

A majority of people in the North voted for parties who support a rights based society and the principles of mutual respect and parity of esteem.

And for the first time in the history of the northern state, designed to perpetuate an unfair and unequal status quo, unionism lost its majority.

Fifty years on from the Civil Rights campaign in 1968, the North is a very different place. A place where the denial of rights, equality and respect will no longer be accepted.

A majority want the restoration of genuine power sharing.

A majority want rights and equality.

A majority reject the frustration of their achievement; the erection of a barrier to this by a minority who have a different political opinion or religious belief.

A majority want an Assembly which accepts the diversity in our society and delivers for all.

I want to lead Sinn Féin back into a new Executive because locally elected ministers are best placed to run local public services and fight back against the threats of Brexit and austerity.

I want to develop the widest possible consensus in political, civic and popular opinion to achieve this.

I believe that can happen early in the New Year but only if the institutions represent genuine and equal partnership Government for all our people.

That will require the British government and the DUP accepting the political and democratic reality which has already been made abundantly clear by the electorate.

If they continue to set their face against the people and against progressive politics, then there is an onus on the two Governments to spell out how they intend to ensure the implementation of previous agreements and pave a pathway to restore the institutions on the basis of equal partnership and respect in the terms set out almost 20 years ago.

DUP and British government need to focus on rights and equality – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said today the DUP and the British government need to focus on the creation of a new Executive and he said there will be no return to the status quo.

He  was speaking after comments by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the Irish government would have ‘real and meaningful involvement’ in the north in the absence of political institutions.

Raymond McCartney said:

“There will be no return to the status quo.

“Sinn Féin is determined to see the restoration of sustainable power-sharing institutions on the basis of equality, rights and respect.

“The majority of MLAs want to see marriage equality, language rights and legacy inquests delivered.

“What the political process requires is the British government and the DUP to focus on the creation of a new Executive and end the denial of rights and equality.

“Unionism’s faux outrage at the Taoiseach’s comments which are simply in line with the Good Friday Agreement is about deflecting attention from its denial of rights.

“Under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement an intergovernmental conference involving the Irish and British governments should be called in the absence of political institutions.

“The onus remains on the two governments, but especially the British government, which has responsibility for equality in this jurisdiction; a responsibility for underpinning in law the rights of citizens in the north of Ireland which are enjoyed by citizens throughout these islands, to pave a pathway to restore the institutions.

“Sinn Féin will accept nothing less.”

Cooper welcomes news on wheelchair friendly play area in Brooke Park

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the news that Derry City and Strabane District Council have confirmed that the new wheelchair friendly play area in Brooke Park will be open in the spring of next year.

mickey cooper michael

A development which will help families whose children are affected by access issues to standard play equipment.

He said ‘It is good news that the council have confirmed that the new wheelchair friendly play area in Brooke Park will be open in the spring of next year.

This will allow the development to be completed. Unfortunately when the original consultations on Brooke Park took place the issue of a wheelchair friendly play area was not identified which meant it was not included in the designs or budget for the park.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved in helping make this now happen and addressing this issue. It will obviously be a massive boost to the families of people with disabilities who can now avail of the facilities there.

Ends

Mullan welcomes progress on flash glucose sensing for diabetics in the north west

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed news that a number of diabetics in the north west have received the go-ahead for participation in a FlashGlucose Sensing System protocol trial.
 
Karen Mullan said:
 
“I was delighted to be informed that the Western Trust area was to start the trials. I had met with constituents and following on from my correspondence with the Dept of Health and the Health and Social Care Board, whom have confirmed a large group of diabetics have now begun a protocol trial period.
 
“The protocol trial started this week and will provide the participants with a GP letter providing them with sensor readers for a period of three months. The activity will be monitored and provided they are used properly and follow protocol rules, if found to be beneficial, patients will keep sensor RX for 12 months.
 
“Use will then be reviewed yearly to ensure protocol rules are being maintained.
 
“The Flash Glucose Sensing system allows diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels without resorting to the traditional method of finger-prick blood monitoring. This is brilliant news for those who will now have access to this modern process of monitoring sugar levels and I look forward to it becoming the norm in future.”

CRIOCH/ENDS

CCTV helps reduce dog fouling incident in Rosemount

Sinn Féin  councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation from DCSDC Environmental Health and Dog Control staff that the number of reported incidents of dog fouling in the Rosemount area has significantly decreased since CCTV and signage was installed at his request in various hotspot areas of Rosemount to address the issue. 

He said that the figures were extremely encouraging and that he would continue to work with council and residents to ensure that the schemes success would continue:

“I am delighted that the number of reported dog fouling incidents in Rosemount have decreased as a result of the cameras and signage being installed. This is further borne out by the increased volumes of dog foul being collected by council staff from the dog bin boxes in the Rosemount area.

Of course the issue of fouling has not disappeared from the area but the fact that the cameras are mobile means we can continue to tweak the scheme to move the devices into streets where the issues are continuing. In that regard it is vital that residents continue to report any issues to either council or myself so we can ensure that resources are targeted in the right streets”

PIP review must address ‘fundamental flaws’ – Duffy

A statutory review of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) welfare payment must address the fundamental flaws at the heart of the system, Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy  has said.

sandra duffy

Commenting after the Department of Communities appointed Walter Rader to Chair the review, Sandra Duffy  said: “I have spoken to many people who work in welfare rights and they have observed serious procedural problems that act as a barrier to people with disabilities accessing PIP.

“The forms involved are extremely complex. In some cases, assessments have been reported as degrading to those people being assessed.

“The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) of over 80 charities and organisations surveyed over 1700 PIP claimants and found that almost 90% of respondents described their assessment as ‘stressful’.

“Over 75% of respondents agreed that the stress and anxiety associated with their PIP assessment had made their condition worse.

“The flaws in the process are further demonstrated by the high levels of successful appeals so it is crucial that the review of PIP examines and addresses all of these serious issues.”

CCTV helps reduce dog fouling incident in Rosemount

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the announcement made by DCSDC that funding is being proposed  to complete a wheelchair adaptable swing at Brooke Park.A development which will help families whose children are affected by access issues to standard play equipment.

He said:

‘I am pleased that the council has agreed to propose  additional support for disabled facilities in the new Brooke Park. This will allow the development to be completed. Unfortunately when the original consultations on Brooke Park took place the issue of a wheelchair adaptable swing was not identified which meant it was not included in the designs or budget for the park.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved in helping make this now happen and addressing this issue. It will obviously be a massive boost to the families of people with disabilities who can now avail of the facilities that council support will provide.

Ends

Cooper condemns Derry shooting

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has condemned those responsible for the shooting of a man in the Ballymagroarty /Hazelbank area of Derry this afternoon.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper said “The shooting of this man is wrong and I condemn it.

“The people of Ballymagroarty /Hazelbank do not want these actions taking place on their streets.

“There can be  no justification for such actions and I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it forward to the police.”

Ends 

Shop local this Christmas – Mullan

Sinn Féin MLA has urged people to consider local businesses when doing their Christmas shopping this year.
The Sinn Féin MLA,  met this week with Jemma Duffy from “Independent Derry” – a local initiative which is encouraging shoppers to support local businesses.
Karen Mullan said:
“The “Independent Derry” card is a fantastic initiative which places local business at the top of the shopping list and guides people through the doors of the vibrant independent businesses that our city has to offer.
“These have been tough economic times and we need to do all we can to help our traders and businesses. They are part of the local community and in our town centres, they are the local community.
“They generate wealth, employment and opportunity and are the glue which binds communities together. I encourage all to consider shopping local this Christmas.”
CRÍOCH/ENDS

‘Workforce strategy and winter pressure prep needed in Health’ –Logue

A comprehensive workforce strategy and substantial preparation for the pressure of the winter months are essential within the Health Service, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has said.

Councillor Patricia Logue

“A high standard of health and social care services are delivered daily in the north of Ireland, often in very challenging circumstances.

“The circumstances facing services and Health and Social Care staff are even more challenging in the winter months.

“Trust preparations for winter pressures are central to meeting increasing needs of the community over the challenging winter months.

“A strong and sustainable workforce is needed to deliver health and social care services throughout the year, and particularly at these times of increased demand.

“We need a comprehensive workforce strategy, as committed to in Michelle O’Neill’s Delivering Together plan, encompassing all of the health and social care workforce to ensure capacity in the system to meet the needs of the community now and in the future.”

H2 site at Buncrana road ready for business-Hassan

Sinn Fein Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the proposed development of 3,500 new private and social homes on the H2 site in the Buncrana Road area of the city.

Cllr Hassan said,

tony hassan

After 13 years of campaigning to have this site developed we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with outline planning approval.The long saga of the H2 site has ended.

I have to commend Derry City and Strabane Planning Committee and the Chief Executive of the Council John Kelpie for bringing this development to the stage which will bring the regeneration of the Buncrana Road area a lot closer than it has been over a decade.

This development when approved will provide hundreds of jobs and bring work to the construction industry in the city which will take many constructing workers off the dole for the next number of years.

he went on to say

The news that consultants have begun work on a new junction strategy and environmental surveys in connection with a proposed carriageway along the length of the Buncrana Road has to be welcomed.

The upgrading of the A2 Buncrana Road will also help the regeneration of the area as the Buncrana Road is not capable of taking the volume of traffic that uses it on a daily basis. It could help solve the problems that face residents who live at the junctions of the Collon, Templegrove, Woodbrook, and Whitehouse park areas of the city  .

 

ENDS.

Progress made on city centre taxi ranks – McCallion

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has met with officials from Transport NI to discuss providing more taxi ranks in Derry city centre.

The Foyle MP said; 

“I met today with officials from Transport NI to discuss improvements to taxi ranks in the city centre.

“We are actively working to secure a new city centre taxi rank to make it easier for both customers and taxi drivers, as well as helping to improve safety in the city centre.

“Plans for additional taxi ranks at three locations in the city are progressing to the next stage.

“In January there will be a consultation on the three new proposed ranks at Shipquay Street, Police Court Street and Spencer Road.

“The proposed Shipquay Street rank will operate from 10pm to 6am and will hopefully make it easier and safer for people to get home at night.

“If approved, it will mean the number of taxi rank spaces in the city centre will be almost doubled.

“We will also meet in the New Year to discuss plans for a pilot scheme for taxi rank marshals, the first of its kind in the north, in Derry.

“This is all part of efforts to help improve safety in the city centre and to support our night time economy.”

‘North cannot be collateral damage in British cabinet chaos’ -McCallion

The North of Ireland should not become collateral damage in the Brexit chaos engulfing the Tory cabinet, Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said.

The Foyle  MP was speaking as the British Government Cabinet met  for the first time to discuss the post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

She said: “Clear divides are already emerging within the British cabinet with the hard Brexiteers demanding greater separation from the EU.

“This chaotic, disjointed approach has been typical of the British Government’s approach to Brexit ever since the referendum result.

“The people of the North voted against Brexit. We should not be collateral damage in this reckless agenda. Whatever the future relationship between Britain and the EU eventually is, our peace agreements, our rights as European citizens and our membership of the single market and customs unions must be protected.

“That is what Sinn Féin will continue to defend and we urge the Irish Government and the other EU governments to continue defending them also.”

Anderson to travel to Catalonia for election

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will travel to Catalonia as an observer for the election there on Thursday.

Martina Anderson said:

Martina Anderson and Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

“I will be in Barcelona later this week for the upcoming election in Catalonia alongside other MEPs as observers.

“I was also there for the independence referendum on October 1 and witnessed at first hand the brutal attack on democracy carried out by the Spanish authorities.

“Since then the Spanish authorities have continued their assault on democracy by detaining and charging Catalan elected representatives.

“This week’s election must be allowed to proceed unhindered and people must be allowed to exercise their vote free from fear or intimidation.

“As the people go to the polls in Catalonia this week it is vital that their vote be respected and recognised.”

Duffy backs #FreePeriod campaign

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has called for full backing of the #FreePeriod campaign which calls for free tampons and sanitary towels to be provided in schools for all girls.
Cllr Duffy stated that society is in a bad state when young girls are missing at least a couple of days of school per month as they can not afford to buy sanitary items, our young women can not continue to be disadvantaged in this way, these items which are essentials not luxury should be freely available, these are our daughters and sisters and they should not be made feel ashamed of what is a natural part of being female.
Cllr Duffy has also stated that governments need to look at how they classify these items, tampons are currently taxed as luxury items but razors are not, this is discrimination against women and needs to stop.
The #FreePeriod campaign has asked people to support it by tweeting a message with the hashtag on Wednesday 20th December to show solidarity.

Border force recruitment concerning – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said British Home office plans to recruit hundreds of additional Border Force Officers goes against its stated aim of avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

Martina Anderson said:

martina anderson

“The British Home Office is currently recruiting 300 Border Force Officers, including an unknown number to be based in Belfast.

“This is concerning as it appears to contradict the British government’s stated aim of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland as a result of Brexit.

“The job duties for these posts include operating checkpoints and making decisions on the movement of people.

“The recruitment of these officers also raises the prospect of the British government attempting to turn the north into one big border region in terms of immigration.

“It is also concerning that to meet the criteria for these posts applicants will have had to have been a police officer, a former Border Force officer or have served in the British armed forces.

“This also highlights the importance of ensuring that the communique agreed between the British government and the EU is legally enforced and fully implemented.

“It reinforces the need for the north to have special status within the EU.”

Let’s help Martin hit the £10,000 for charity this Christmas –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has encouraged as many shoppers as possible to call in and see Santa at the Guildhall over the next week as he tries to raise £10,000 for Children in Crossfire.

Martin Gallagher is doing the collection in memory of his son Christopher who tragically passed away in 2006 from Malaria.

Sandra Duffy said “This is a fantastic charity that does so much for so many children across the world and Santa aka Martin Gallagher does an amazing job every year bringing Christmas cheer to the Guildhall and Derry as he keeps his sons memory alive.

This year he has set himself a massive challenge of raising £10,000. I would encourage anyone passing to call and say hello, bring the children & maybe get a selfie with the big man and make a donation to this worthy cause, big or small Santa will appreciate it.

Ends

Cooper condemns attack on gates to anti community activity in Rosemount

Sinn Féin Councillor for Rosemount Mickey Cooper has condemned recent damage to locks which were installed by the council at his request to prevent anti-social behaviour in the Rosemount area. He said the locks, which were installed on the gate at the top of the ‘zig zag steps’ at the bottom of the Creggan Burn Park, would now be covered by additional security casings to prevent repeat damage in the future:

michael mickey cooper

He said “The locking of the gate at the zig zag steps has been universally welcomed by residents in the Lower Nassau/Grafton/Florence Street areas as it has prevented their streets being used as rat run by groups engaged in ASB in the area. The Council had agreed at my request to install the locks and for a local security firm to lock them at teatime on Friday and Saturday evenings during the winter months until new lighting is installed in the area in the future to prevent the area being used as a gathering point in the future. I am disgusted that someone took it upon themselves to bust the lock but i am glad that the council have agreed to install additional casing to prevent this recurring in the future.

Residents are entitled to live their lives in peace and I am determined to ensure that this continues to be the case’

Thwart the Festive oil thieves –Councillor Kevin Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has warned householders across the city to be on their guard against home heating oil thieves in the run up to Christmas.

Councillor Campbell said

“I feel it’s timely to warn people across the city to be on their guard against home heating oil thieves in the run up to Christmas .With now being into the grip of winter , temperatures dropping and nights and mornings getting a lot darker we have seen in previous years a marked increase in oil thefts at this time.

“With the cost of home heating, having oil stolen is causing severe hardship to many families who cannot afford to refill their tanks.

“This type of crime takes time and special equipment such as a tanker or large tank in the back of a van and siphoning equipment.

“I would call on people to be observant. If you see suspicious activity in the laneways around a neighbour’s house, particularly if there is no one at home, to call the police.”

Ends

SDLP should stand up for rights – not surrender them’ -McCartney

Northern nationalism including the SDLP, should stand together to ensure rights are respected so that sustainable power-sharing institutions are established, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has said.

raymond mccartney

The Foyle MLA was speaking after SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood called for the restoration of the executive in response to an open letter from leading figures within northern nationalism for their rights to be respected.

“After the initiative was first criticised by some members of his party, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has now welcomed it and that is a good thing,” Raymond McCartney  commented.

“However, as a solution, he advocates a return to an executive without having addressed the issues of disrespect, the denial or rights, the lack of integrity and the failure to implement agreements that caused its collapse in the first place.

“Rights and equality is the only basis for the restoration of the political institutions. If the SDLP are calling for the restoration of the Assembly at any costs and accepting the anti-rights and anti-equality position of the DUP then let me make it absolutely clear that this is not going to happen.

“The answer now is for northern nationalism, along with the Irish Government, to stand firm for rights, for equality and against Brexit.

“The DUP’s blockade of rights is preventing a return to the institutions. The SDLP should join us to face down the DUP rather than calling for an unconditional restoration of the Assembly and Executive based on DUP prejudice and discrimination.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for rights, for the agreements and for genuine power-sharing institutions. I would urge the SDLP to stand with us in that.”

Anger after bag containing ammunition found beside children’s play park-Duffy

Derry Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy has expressed her horror at discovering that children came across a bag containing ammunition just outside a playpark at Ederowen Park.
Councillor Duffy said 
This area is very popular with local children and families and to think that someone would leave a bag containing live rounds of ammunition for children to find is a very worrying development.
Whoever is responsible for this has again shown no regard for the local community.
This comes just days after a security alert in the area on Wednesday night where local families were evacuated from their homes.
The groups or individuals behind this need to get off the back of our communities and leave people to live their lives without worrying about what their children may find at the local play park.

Hassan welcomes Danesfort upgrade

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that the Danesfort area of the city is to benefit from  an environmental improvement scheme funded by the  Department for Communities.

tony hassan

Councillor Hassan said “I welcome this announcement; I have been working with what was formally know as the Road Services  now Transport NI to get improvements in this area for over two years.

The footpaths and lampposts in the area were clearly in need of an urgent upgrade and replacement scheme.

This will help the safety of the area for pedestrians passing through it and  importantly locally residents who have been waiting a very long time for this scheme to happen .

MP congratulates James McClean winning RTÉ sports personality of the year

Sinn Féin MP for Foyle Elisha MCallion has congratulated  James McClean on winning the RTÉ sports personality of the year award.

The Derry man’s huge popularity with the Irish public was confirmed last night as the Republic of Ireland and West Bromwich Albion winger was voted the RTÉ Sport Sportsperson of the Year.

She said

“Well done and well deserved to our very own James McClean on winning the RTÉ sports personality of the year award.

The people of Derry are very proud of James.

Keep doing what you’re doing; you’re an excellent ambassador for our wonderful city”

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Culmore PO to close in January for refurb –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has urged residents in the Culmore area to plan ahead as to how they access postal services in the New Year.

He made his call after it was announced that the Culmore Post Office needs to close for refurbishment on Tuesday 30th  January 2018.

Councillor Hassan said “I would  just like to alert residents in Culmore that the Post Office there is to shut for a few weeks in January for refurbishment.

It will close on Tuesday 30th January and a new-look Post Office is scheduled to open at the current location on Thursday 8 February 2nd.

Residents can avail of postal services at the Shantallow Post Office, Northside Village Centre, Glengalliagh Road, and the Galliagh Post Office, 1 Fairview Road.

When this new branch opens, customers will benefit from a newly modernised Post Office service with longer opening hours: Monday – Sunday 08:00 – 20:00.

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Mc Callion meets Housing Executive over Bluebell Hill Gardens

Sinn Féin Foyle MP, Elisha Mc Callion has hosted a meeting with senior representatives from the Housing Executive and residents of Bluebell Hill Gardens in the Brandywell.

This meeting was requested after the news that the scheme to remedy serious problems with damp, which was due to begin in October this year was to be delayed even further.

“The meeting with Housing Executive was very constructive. We have been given assurances that this scheme should go ahead in February 2018. This is welcome news for the residents affected and I have asked the Housing Executive to fast track the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms for these dwellings, which are long overdue. The Housing Executive are confident that this is possible and have agreed to reconvene with residents in the New Year with a definitive timescale of when these works would be carried out.” Elisha Mc Callion commented.

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue, who has been campaigning on behalf of the residents to have these works completed, said “I am pleased with today’s meeting. I have been working on this issue now for several years and hopefully we will now see this program delivered without any further delays. The additional work including the bathroom and kitchen upgrades alongside a full review of the electrical wiring in these houses is welcome news .The  Housing Executive are now also exploring the possibility of installing gas in the area in the near future.”

Commenting further the Foyle MP said “We must now ensure that there is no further delay in the delivery of these much needed works and I am hopeful that at this time next year the residents of Bluebell will be living in the standard of homes that they deserve”

McKnight welcomes introduction of double yellows at Racecourse junction

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has welcomed the introduction of double lines at the entrance to a busy shopping complex on the Racecourse Road.

Councillor McKnight said “I would like to thank the Transport NI for installing these much need double yellow lines. This is a very busy area due to the number of different retail units in the area and is often extremely difficult for drivers to get out of this junction with cars parked on either side.

There have been numerous accidents in the area over the last few months and my party colleague Tony Hassan has been raising safety at this junction for some tme.So this will hopefully help the situation there .

We are hopeful that a traffic survey will soon be carried out along this stretch of road so that a new pedestrian crossing can also been installed to make this road safer to cross.

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Kelly encourages public to respond to consultation on social housing

Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly  has expressed concerns about proposals in the Department for Communities for a review of social housing allocations.

Councillor Kelly  said:

“The crisis in housing provision, particularly the shortage of social housing, but also the lack of site accommodation and adapted homes should be a clarion call for change.

“Many of the proposals outlined are about hiding problems rather than tackling them.

“They are about getting those responsible for the provision of housing off the hook without changing conditions on the ground. They are about reducing the appearance of need not addressing it.

“People without a home or who are living in overcrowded conditions or who are living in poor quality housing without security or certainty, those paying unreasonable rents or without appropriate accommodation to meet their needs, will not find improvement and progress as a result of these proposals.

“Sinn Féin are encouraging people in Derry  to respond to the consultation and make their views known to the Department.

“Housing inequalities must be properly addressed. This consultation proposes removing points from families who have been on the housing waiting list for too long rather than supporting them.”

Katie Taylor inspiration to young Derry boxers

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has hailed Irish boxer Katie Taylor after she successfully defended her WBA world lightweight title with a unanimous points victory over American Jessica McCaskill.

sandra duffy

Sandra Duffy who is also the secretary of St Joseph’s ABC based in the Galliagh area of the city said

 “This is a great  achievement by Katie.

Katie is an inspiration to many young boxers in Derry and across Ireland, she has encouraged many girls to join the world or boxing.

Boxing is a big sport in this city and many people work away behind the scenes to provide a positive outlet for our young people.

During the year of City of Culture the then Culture Minister Minister Carál Ní Chuilín gave a £1million injection of funds for boxing in the then Derry City Council Area as part of the legacy from the yearlong celebration .

So once again well done Katie and hopefully it will attract more young people into the sport locally.

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Campbell welcomes Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme announcement

Sinn Féin Irish Language spokesperson Councillor Kevin Campbell  has welcomed an announcement from the Department for Communities that the 2018 Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme will open for applications from the 3rd of January 2018.

Kevin Campbell said

“I welcome the news that the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme will open in January.

“I congratulate Carál Ní Chuilín for the initiative, which has exceeded it’s 2020 target of 20,000 this year.

“Hopefully this announcement means that discrimination against Irish-speaking children will not be tolerated in the future.

“The Irish language belongs to us all and it is time that an Irish Language Act was introduced so that Irish speakers and learners are afforded the same rights as citizens across these islands.

“Application forms can be downloaded from the Líofa website www.liofa.eu or by contacting Líofa directly on 028 9051 5058.

“The scheme will close on the 28 of February and successful applicants will be notified in March 2018.”

Mullan demands answers over SuperValu fears

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan is seeking an urgent meeting with the operators of the SuperValu store in Waterloo Place amid reports it has been earmarked for closure.

Karen Mullan said:

“There is a responsibility on the Musgrave Group to publicly outline their future intentions for their store in Waterloo Place.

 “We have been contacted by workers expressing concern regarding the future of their jobs following speculation in local media that the store will closing next year. They have not been made aware of any plans for closure. 

“In the run up to Christmas, workers are rightly worried about this development and the impact it will have on their future. There is an onus on management to make their staff aware of any potential impact on their employment.

“In the current climate, any fear of job losses is a blow to any worker and their families and will only increase pressure on attempts to build economic stability in the north west. 

“I have written to senior Directors at Musgrave and have asked for an outline of their future intention for the Waterloo Place store and if this will impact on any of the other SuperValu stores throughout the city. I have also requested information on what this will mean for the staff currently employed there.

“It’s of great importance that in any circumstance, workers’ receive their full rights and entitlements.” Críoch/Ends

Council walk out on Jerusalem further indication of ‘rights denial’ – McKnight

Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight has said the DUP’s ‘walk out’ of December’s full meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council is a further indication that the DUP can’t come to terms with the need for justice and rights in the north of Ireland and across the world. 

 

The walk out came after Councillors voted unanimously against President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

 

Caoimhe McKnight said:

 

“I welcome the passing of a motion on the floor of the Council today condemning the crass and reckless decision by President Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the ‘complete and united’ capital of Israel.

 

“The fact that DUP Councillors walked out of the chamber at the very mention of justice and rights of Palestinians living in Jerusalem is a further indication of their anti-rights, anti-justice agenda which is out of sync with a majority of people on these islands.

 

“But it’s hardly surprising. They are holding up the restoration of an Executive by denying language rights, marriage equality and access to legacy inquests.

 

“Even the Tories seen Trump’s decision as reckless, yet the DUP failed to condemn it. They need to come to terms with the principles of justice, rights and equality.

 

“People right across society recognise that the unilateral move by the US will have grave consequences for peace process and the two state solution, which was already on life support because of Israel’s continued colonisation of Palestine, continued illegal Israeli colonial settlement building, and the apartheid regime that Israel is enforcing in Palestine.

 

“The international community is rightly united in its rejection of Israel’s jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem. We have sent a clear message from Derry today, the city of Civil Rights, that we reject it also.

 

“We must continue to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters, condemn Israeli aggression, their violations of human rights and express our support for the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people for Statehood based on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

 

“The Irish government must send a clear signal and in line with the Programme for Government, recognise the State of Palestine.”

 

CRIOCH/ENDS

McCallion meets with Sajid Javid to discuss Derry and Strabane City Deal

British government support for the Derry Strategic Growth Plan is needed for the city and district, and the north-west of Ireland, Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion MP has said.

The Foyle MP was speaking following a meeting in Westminster with British Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.

Elisha McCallion said:

“The prospect of a City Deal for Derry city and district has real potential, but must be specific to the longstanding and unique economic needs of Derry.

“These needs have been outlined in a comprehensive Strategic Growth Plan, developed organically in partnership with key stakeholders in Derry city and throughout the district.

“As a result of my meeting today I have secured another meeting between Sajid Javid and these stakeholders in Derry to discuss how a City Deal can support our Strategic Growth Plan

“Any potential investment must address infrastructure deficiencies, and a lack of meaningful employment opportunities.

 “The British government must meaningfully contribute to the Strategic Growth Plan to encourage economic development in areas that have suffered under the weight of their relentless Tory cuts, now supported by the DUP.”

Greater PSNI response needed to ongoing criminal activity in the Ballymagroarty

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called for a greater PSNI response in relation to ongoing criminal activity in the Ballymagroarty area of the city.

eric mcginley

Cllr. McGinley said: “There is a growing sense of frustration from residents at the lack of action being taken in relation to arrests and prosecution of criminals who have been wreaking havoc within our communities.

These individuals have been responsible for break-ins, attempted burglaries and car crime and appear to be carrying out these activities with impunity.

Whilst we appreciate the PSNI requires credible evidence to bring these criminals to court there is a concern being expressed that not enough focus is being placed on this problem’

I have requested a meeting with the PSNI to raise our concerns and I will be asking for   more resources to be deployed to combat the criminal actions of a number of individuals who are plaguing our communities.

In most cases these criminals are gaining entry to homes through unlocked doors and I would appeal to residents to be vigilant at all times and ensure doors are properly secured.”

Appeal for safety fence on Lecky Road Flyover to be repair -Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has contacted Transport NI to carry out urgent repairs to safety netting /fence which is damaged on the Lecky Road Flyover.

colly kelly

Councillor Kelly said “I am urging motorists to be careful whilst travelling up the Lecky Road Flyover due to the safety wire on the barriers which seems to have been damaged, is hanging off out onto the roadway.

I have reported this to Transport NI and asked them carry out urgent repairs to safety wire as a matter of urgency.

Ends

Katie Taylor inspiration to young Derry boxers

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has hailed Irish boxer Katie Taylor after she successfully defended her WBA world lightweight title with a unanimous points victory over American Jessica McCaskill.

Sandra Duffy who is also the secretary of St Joseph’s ABC based in the Galliagh area of the city said

 “This is a great  achievement by Katie.

Katie is an inspiration to many young boxers in Derry and across Ireland, she has encouraged many girls to join the world or boxing.

Boxing is a big sport in this city and many people work away behind the scenes to provide a positive outlet for our young people.

During the year of City of Culture the then Culture Minister Minister Carál Ní Chuilín gave a £1million injection of funds for boxing in the then Derry City Council Area as part of the legacy from the yearlong celebration .

So once again well done Katie and hopefully it will attract more young people into the sport locally.

Ends

Mullan calls for teaching payrise

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan MLA has called for teachers here to receive a pay increase.

The Foyle MLA was speaking after the Department of Finance confirmed that uplifts can be approved for public sector workers.

“Teachers should receive a pay increase,” she commented.

“Teachers and other public sector workers provide a vital service and deserve a fair wage for their work in the delivery of vital services which have been subjected to years of relentless Tory austerity.

“John O’Dowd in his role as Education Minister set aside resources for teachers to be given a pay increase but his successor Peter Weir refused to implement it.”

Karen Mullan also reiterated Sinn Féin’s call for the public sector paycap to be lifted altogether.

She said: “The Tory Government should provide additional resources to ensure we have adequate finances to remove the paycap and to protect public services.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose austerity, defend frontline services and campaign for adequate funding for our public services and our public sector workers.

“I have personally engaged with representatives of teaching unions on this issue and will continue to do so.”

McCallion meets Palestinian activists in London

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has today met with Palestinian activists from the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), alongside party colleague Mickey Brady MP.

The Foyle MP said:

“Today Sinn Féin MPs met with Palestinian solidarity activists in London to discuss the major issues currently facing Palestinian society.

“Donald Trump’s flagrant breach of international law, by naming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, flies in the face of any prospect of securing human rights and of Palestinian nationhood.

“Sinn Féin is continuing to engage with Palestinian civic society and solidarity activists to offer our ongoing support for the Palestinian people facing military occupation, illegal Israeli settlements, and gross human rights abuses.”

‘DUP must end its blockade on power-sharing’ – O’Neill

The DUP could remove the barriers to the creation of a new Executive at Stormont by ending their anti-rights blockade, Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has said.

 “Sinn Féin is determined to see the restoration of power-sharing institutions,” she commented.

“The vast majority of the public also want to see this and I very much welcome the initiative from civic nationalism this week calling for respect and equality at the heart of the process.

“Sinn Féin wants to see civic society empowered and participating in the political process.

“It is essential that every sector of society regardless of political allegiance, who want to protect our interests and future, make their voice heard and make it count.

“Ongoing cuts to hard-pressed public services is a consequence of propping up the Tory Government and its austerity project.

“The DUP need to start listening, because the challenges facing our public services, particularly our health and education systems, require the attention and knowledge of locally elected and accountable Ministers working collectively in the Executive.

“The need for cohesive political leadership to drive forward the transformation of our health service set out in the Bengoa Report is the most urgent example of this.

“But the anti-rights and anti-equality stance of the DUP is preventing this. The DUP is, in effect, putting unpopualr party and personal views ahead of our health, education and other essential public services.

“The majority of MLAs want to see marriage equality, language rights and legacy inquests delivered. The majority of MLAs are progressive in their thinking.

“The main block to the delivery of these basic rights and to the full and immediate restoration of the political institutions is the DUP. Its anti-rights agenda is entirely out of sync with public opinion across these islands. The DUP needs to end this stubborn anti-equality blockade which would allow us all to get back to the work that we were elected to do”.

“The British government also needs to stop pandering to the DUP by allowing them to block rights they afford their own constituents.”

Funding secured for major road resurface scheme outside Brandywell Stadium -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the news that funding has been secured to carry out road  major resurfacing and footpath replacements outside the Brandywell Stadium and at homes along the Lone Moor Road as well as  the introduction of new traffic calming measures there.

Councillor Logue said “It good news that the funding has been secured to carry out this essential piece of work.

Residents and anyone who travels this road on a daily basis will tell you it has been in a terrible state for some time.

Over two years ago I welcomed the news that the section of Lone Moor Road in the vicinity of the Showgrounds area had been deemed suitable for traffic calming measures.

It was assessed during 2016 and as a result was placed at number one in the Transport NI priority list.

This work will also complement the transformation underway at the Brandywell Stadium. the greyhound track and new play park.

I would like to thank the North West office of the Department of Communities, the Department of Infrastructure and TRIAX for getting this implemented.

As soon as I get the start date for the work I will let residents know as  with this being a main arterial route there will be a period of  disruption.

McCartney expresses solidarity with postal workers

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has expressed solidarity with the vital role played by postal workers in our society to mark Postal Workers Day today 12thDecember.

raymond mccartney

 

Raymond McCartney said:

 

“Today is Postal Workers Day when we pay tribute to the role postal workers play in our society on a daily basis.

 

“It is particularly important that we stop and recognise the role of postal workers at this time of year, when their workload increases significantly as they make extra deliveries of Christmas cards and parcels.

 

“Postal workers are also a lifeline for older people and those who may be lonely and isolated, particularly in rural areas. Often the role of postal workers goes unnoticed but the fact is they play a key role in all of our daily lives.

 

“I’d like to pay tribute to all of our postal workers for the vital service they provide, not just at Christmas but all year round.”

 

CRIOCH/ENDS

Support operation snowball Christmas food appeal -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue “I would like to commend everyone involved in doing collections across the city. For years there have been many people working away behind the scenes helping people in their hour of need and no more so at times such as Christmas. We are indebted to the tireless work they do.

The continuation of the Tory austerity agenda is leading to community organisations and likes of food banks being placed under pressure in the Derry area to help people.

As the old saying goes every little bit helps. So I would encourage people if they have one or two items they wish to give to the local Operation Snowball Christmas appeal they can leave them  at the front desk in our Ráth Mór office on the New Road until lunchtime on Friday 15th December .We will ensure that it is delivered in confidence to the team who are working on the ground in the TRIAX area which covers the  greater Bogside ,Brandywell, Creggan and Fountain districts.

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Welfare advices services in Derry require adequate funding and support – Mullan

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has said it is crucial that welfare advice services working on the frontline in Derry receive adequate funding to provide their services.

She was speaking following a meeting with independent advice services and Kevin Higgins from Advice NI.

The Foyle MLA said:

“Over the past the number of weeks I have held meetings with the independent welfare advice service providers across the city to hear at first-hand, the work they do on a day-to-day basis and what plans are in place to deal ongoing changes within the welfare system.

“It’s quite apparent that workload being placed on these organisations is massive and they are stretched to the limits. Kevin Higgins from Advice NI heard the concerns from the services providers at first-hand at this weeks meeting.

“Amongst the concerns raised by groups was the introduction of the Tory Universal Credit policy and the impact it will have on people in our communities, this policy is riddled with faults, complications and delays including ridiculous waiting times for payments. It must be scrapped.

“Independent advice groups need adequate funding to be able to fulfil the vital role in providing help and assistance to members of the public. I offer my full support to their calls for this additional funding.”

I also raised these and other concerns with DFC, Permanent Secretary, Leo O’Reilly when I met with him and his staff.  They have agreed to look at this and come back to us.

Crioch/Ends

Road conditions at Cornshell dangerous -Duffy

Councillor Sandra Duffy 
“Sinn Féin have been contacted by a number of residents regarding Cornshell Lane and the dangerous and slippy surface there caused by the ice . I have contacted the local Teamworks project who have agreed to salt the area”

I would urge everyone out and about to take extra care over the next 24 hours due to the snow and black ice.

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Logue welcomes meeting over Iona Court, Old City Court housing conditions

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed a meeting between residents of Iona Court, Old City Court and Habinteg Housing Association in relation a number of issues raised about the condition of their homes.

The meeting was organised by Councillor Logue

Councillor Logue said “I have been working with residents to try and resolve a number of issues affecting their homes.

There have been ongoing complaints about draughty windows and doors, some homes have damp in them and in others the kitchens need replaced.

It was agreed that a house condition survey be carried out in Iona Court and Old City Court and Close.

I am glad to that this survey has now taken place.

Look forward to results of the surveys which hopefully will be early New Year.

It’s vital that the recommendations of the survey are included in 2018/19 planned maintenance schemes.

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Concerns over Affordable Warmth scheme threshold -McGinley

Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called on the Department for Communities to ensure there are increased resources for any new Affordable Warmth scheme.

Cllr. McGinley said: “The Department for Communities has initiated a consultation which proposes a number of changes on how the Affordable Warmth scheme will be structured.   An initial view of the proposals would suggest that the scheme will be more accessible to a greater number of people though we would be concerned at the suggestion that the income threshold for single people would be lowered.

Affordable warmth is a necessity for many households in the North West considering the lack of wealth in the area and there will be many individuals and families who would welcome the opportunity to avail of assistance to more efficiently and effectively heat their homes.

At present there is a significant waiting list within the council area for work to be carried out on properties which have been deemed eligible for the scheme but for which there are a lack of resources.

Sinn Féin will argue very strongly that any new scheme must be accompanied by a significant increase in funding which will allow the Council and the Housing Executive to assess far more properties and allow for the necessary work to then be carried out in a timely manner.

Any new scheme will bring increased demand and increased expectation and we should ensure there is no increased disappointment because the Department has not made available enough funding.”

McCartney addresses rally against US decision on Jerusalem

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney addressed a rally in Derry on Thursday night condemning the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Speaking after the rally, Raymond McCartney said:

raymond mccartney

“This week, the US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and intends to establish a US Embassy there.

“We felt it was important to mobilise the people of Derry on to the streets to highlight our opposition to this decision and to send our ongoing solidarity to the Palestinian people.

“The claim by Israel that Jerusalem is the ‘complete and united’ capital of Israel is in violation of international law and a flagrant breach of the international consensus around a two state solution.
“There is an onus on people and government’s alike to stand up and reject this crass decision.
“The Irish government must send a clear signal and inline with the programme for government, recognise the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
CRÍOCH/ENDS

Successful Tales & Trails Christmas event to return to Brooke Park – Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor for Rosemount Mickey Cooper  has welcomed  the news that  Tales & Trails Christmas event is return to the new Pavilion in Brooke Park on this year.

mickey cooper eric mcginley

Councillor Cooper said “I welcome the news that Christmas event entitled Tales & Trails is to return again to Brooke Park this year.

Last years event was an outstanding success with hundreds of people of all ages in attendance.It was great to see Christmas being brought into Brooke Park and getting such an event right into the heart of local communities.

I hope that this will be a yearly event more events can be staged in the surrounds of the park in 2018

Duffy welcomes drug seizures

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed a number of recent drugs seizures in the Derry and North West region.

She said “I am pleased about the amount of recent drugs seizures in the Derry and North West region.

The people who sell these drugs have no consideration for the impact it is having on the people who use them and their families.

I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it to the police so they can continue to protect communities in Derry from the scourge of drugs.

She went on to say

While these successful seizures  are to be welcomed it is also important to care for those who are addicted to various drugs. It’s vital that we support groups who are working hard in our city and district to help these people get their lives back on track.

Ends

Campbell condemns Creggan shooting

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned the shooting of a man in the Central Drive area of Creggan on Thursday night.

 

He  said “The shooting of this man is wrong and I condemn it.

 

“The people of Creggan and this city do not want these actions taking place on their streets.Just this week we had hundreds of children and people of all ages taking part in Christmas events and events to mark the 70th anniversary of Creggan ,celebrating all that is good about this community. 

 

“It’s clear those responsible have nothing to offer society and are at war with the local community.

 

“There can be no justification for such actions and I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it forward to the police.”

 

Ends 

An amnesty for British soldiers cannot be part of any resolution on legacy – O’Neill

Speaking after meeting the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors and the Victims Forum Sinn Féin Leader in the north Michelle O’Neill commented:

“Sinn Féin is committed to the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement legacy mechanisms.  At every stage of legacy negotiations dating from the Haass O’Sullivan Talks through to the Stormont House Agreement, victims made it clear that all options must be open to them as they pursue truth and justice.

“It is clear that any attempt to bring forward amnesty proposals goes directly against this wish.

“It has been the British government who have abdicated their international obligations to victims and failed to honour commitments made at Stormont House.

“It is important that the public momentum around legacy matters and the proposed NIO legacy consultation is not lost.  There can be no more false dawns or unfulfilled commitments for victims and their families.

“I, like the members’ of the Victims Forum, want to see the NIO consultation on legacy go live immediately and without further delay.  It is essential that all victims have their say.  However any section of the consultation that makes reference or seeks views to a ‘statute of limitation’ for British forces must be removed. An amnesty for British soldiers cannot be part of any resolution on legacy.

“Theresa May is also fully aware of the immediate need to fund the Lord Chief Justice’s Legacy Inquest Plan to deal with the backlog in legacy cases.

“Sinn Féin will continue to consult and engagement with families, campaign groups and NGOs during the consultation process.”

Mullan seeks assurances on special educational needs provision

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has sought assurances from the Education Authority that children with special educational needs (SEN) have access to appropriate provision and support in schools particularly children with autism.

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Karen Mullan.

Karen Mullan said:

“I have been working with families and children with autism and special educational needs. All of those families have highlighted the need for greater provision and support for their children.

“It is essential that the Education Authority listens to children with special educational needs and their families and take steps to ensure their needs and requirements are properly addressed.

“I have sought assurances from them that there will be improvements in assessments, classroom assistants and early years intervention.

“I emphasised that schools need to be better equipped to deal with the needs of pupils with special educational needs and autism.

“I am pleased  the Authority has agreed to explore ways of providing additional support to children.

“Special educational needs provision is a priority for Sinn Féin. We have argued the case for investment in resources to provide support to SEN children and young people. It is essential that the Education Authority acts in the interest of these children and their families.”

Campbell urges attendance at Day of Reflection ceremony on Friday

Former Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry Councillor Kevin Campbell has urged people in the city and district to attend a Day of Reflection ceremony hosted by the current Mayor Maoliosa McHugh this Friday at Guildhall Square at 1pm.

The former mayor insisted that the event is designed to include everyone who died in conflict and insisted “there is no hierarchy of victims.”

Colr. Campbell said it is important to remember the past. “We all want to move on but we cannot do that by forgetting the past. The Day of Reflection gives everyone the opportunity to remember the past, and everyone who died as a result of conflict, in an open and inclusive way. It is open to all sections of the community and everyone is invited.

“It is a short ceremony with a period of reflection to allow people to remember all victims in silence,” he said.

“By remembering the past we are not blocking the future. It is something that we need to do. We need to be able to remember the past together and remind ourselves of the pain and suffering that went before. It cannot be forgotten as we move forward and this is what the Day of Reflection is all about,” he said.

Ends

GFA must be protected in all its parts during the Brexit negotiations -Foyle MP

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said the Good Friday Agreement must be protected in all its parts during the Brexit negotiations.

elisha mccallion

Speaking ahead of a planned demonstration at Bridgend at 11am on Saturday morning The Foyle MP said:

“It is clear the current Brexit negotiations are at a critical stage as the events this week have shown.

“In all of this it is key that the Good Friday Agreement needs to be protected in all of its parts. This is about more than just trade, it is also about citizens rights and the Agreement.

“The fact is that the people of the North voted to remain in the EU and Sinn Féin have made it clear to the key players in the negotiations that the DUP do not represent that view.

“Unless the outstanding issues around Ireland, the border, citizens rights and the Good Friday Agreement are addressed then the Taoiseach should be prepared to use his veto to prevent the negotiations from moving to the next stage.

“There is a way to address all of these issues is for the north to secure special status for the north within the EU.”

Irish citizens must have rights protected immediately – McCallion

Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has said that the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens living in Britain must be protected in the context of Brexit.

The Foyle MP was speaking following the launch of a Traveller Movement report in Westminster on the rights of Irish citizens after Brexit, entitled ‘How to safeguard the rights of Irish citizens in an uncertain future’.

elisha mccallion

Elisha McCallion MP said:

“The Traveller Movement has launched this important paper outlining the challenges faced by Irish citizens living in Britain after Brexit.

“18 months after the Brexit vote, Irish migrants in Britain have yet to receive any legal guarantees of their rights and entitlements. Without these guarantees Irish and other migrants communities will be socially and economically impacted.

“Irish and other citizens in Britain must now have their full entitlements respected and protected.”

Campbell slams tampering of lifebelts along Derry riverfront

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has slammed those behind tampering with lifebelts located on the riverfront in Derry .

His comments follows news from the  Foyle Search and Rescue that lifebelts have been removed and tampered with over recent weeks.

Councillor Kevin Campbell said “I am disgusted that someone has been tampering with the lifebelts along the riverfront.

It’s a very sad state of affairs that anyone would even contemplate doing  this sort of thing. I saw throughout my year as Mayor the work and dedication of the volunteers of  Foyle Search and Rescue and the importance of having  lifebelts along the riverfront and the Peace Bridge.

I would urge anyone with information on the culprits to contact the PSNI straight away.

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Logue welcomes local initiative to highlight global Gender-Based Violence

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed an initiative this week to light up the Council offices on the Strand Road in the colour of purple to support the campaign to highlight  global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

Councillor Logue said “This is an excellent initiative at local level. It’s very important that we  highlight and tackle all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination against women.

 Despite the progress that women have made in all parts of society there are still millions of women and young girls who are suffering horrendous forms of violence, abuse and discrimination because of their sex.

More needs to be done to challenge the culture of discrimination that allows women and young girls to be raped, beaten, trafficked and mutilated on a daily basis.

All of us have a part to play by raising awareness of these crimes and calling on governments to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to eradicate gender based violence.

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Clear that British government has no strategy on Brexit – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said it is clear the British government has no clear plan or strategy on Brexit.
Martina Anderson said:

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

“The fact that the Tory Brexit secretary, David Davis, has admitted that the British government has not carried out any impact assessments on the consequences of Brexit on the economy shows the chaos they are in.
“Eighteen months on from the EU referendum, the fact that the Tories still do not have a clear idea of what they are doing should be astonishing, but unfortunately it isn’t to those of us who have been involved in this process.
“It is clear the British government have not even done the basics on Brexit so how can they expect to handle complex negotiations, let alone plan for the future.
“And if the Tories have shown this level of disregard for the British economy then we can guess how little thought they have put into the concerns of the people of the north of Ireland.
“David Davis may not have done his homework but we have. We know how Brexit will impact jobs, trade, health, energy, and agriculture.
“David Davis has seldom visited the north and has no concept of the concerns of people living in border areas on Brexit. He can’t simply ignore those concerns.
“The best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement, the right of citizens and the interests of people in the north from all this chaos is to secure special status for the north within the EU.” Ends/Críoch

Poll shows majority support special status – Anderson 

Poll shows majority support special status – Anderson 

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the results of an influential opinion poll showing that a majority of people in the north now support special status for the north within the EU.

Martina Anderson was speaking following a Lucidtalk opinion poll, commissioned bu GUE/NGL which shows that a majority in the north support the north securing special status within the EU.

The poll also shows that a majority also supports remaining in the EU through Irish unity in the event of a ‘hard Brexit.’

Key findings: 

martina anderson

–  57.8 per cent support special status for the north within the EU

– A majority of 47.9 per cent support the north remaining in the EU by joining a united Ireland

– 52.4 per cent believe there will be a reduction in rights as a result of Brexit

– 75.8 per cent believe EU standards should be maintained post-Brexit

Commenting on the poll, Martina Anderson said:

“The results of this opinion poll, which was carried out by Lucidtalk and commissioned by GUE/NGL, shows that a majority of people, 57.8 per cent, believe that the north should be given special status within the EU, including remaining in the customs union and single market.

“This vote, just like that of the majority who voted to remain in the EU in last year’s referendum, is drawn from all sections of society across the north.

“The poll also shows that a majority, 47.9 per cent, believe that the north should remain in the EU by becoming part of a united Ireland in the event of a ‘hard Brexit.’

“It also found that 52.4 per cent of people believe that there will be a decrease in rights as a result of Brexit.

“This shows the deep level of concern about the Tory/DUP Brexit agenda and reinforces that the DUP do not represent the views of the people of the people of the north.

“While of course this is an opinion poll, it also chimes with what we have been hearing in our engagements with people from all sections of society from across the north.

“What this shows is that more and more people now realise that securing special status for the north within the EU is achievable and offers the best protection for the Good Friday Agreement and citizens rights.” Ends/Crioch

Duffy welcomes Off The Streets new hi tech state of the art mobile hub.

Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy, has welcomed the launch of Off The Streets new hi tech state of the art mobile hub.

She said

sandra duffy

This mobile hub will allow Off The Streets to reach more young people not just in the Galliagh/ Shantallow area but also across the City, bringing their particular unique brand of youth work to an area near you.

The hub has already had its debut, with services being provided from it on Halloween night at Ebrington. The staff have many great things planned for it now over the coming weeks with youth work programmes planned in some of our new estates, areas such as Knockena and Clon Elagh, areas that at this stage have no static site or building that services can be provided from.

Off The Streets are a service that is going from strength to strength and as a committee member I see first-hand the great work that they do with many young people .

This mobile hub can only enhance this work, I wish them every success with it.

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McCartney urges support for rally against US decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Raymond McCartney MLA has condemned the US Government’s reckless decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin establishing a US Embassy there.

raymond mccartney

Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is the ‘complete and united’ capital of Israel is in violation of numerous international laws.

He also called on people to support a rally being held in Derry’s Guildhall Sq on Thursday 7th December at 7pm.
Raymond McCartney said:

“I want to add my voice to global condemnation of the reports that US President Donald Trump will today declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This is an extremely dangerous, reckless, and worrying move.

“The status of the city of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in the region as East Jerusalem is the future capital of the State of Palestine, but it is illegally occupied by Israel.

“This unilateral move by the US will have grave consequences for the Israel-Palestine peace process, which was already on life support because of Israel’s continued colonisation of Palestine, continued illegal Israeli colonial settlement building, and the apartheid regime that Israel is enforcing in Palestine.

“The international community is rightly united in its rejection of Israel’s jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem. No country currently has its Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a very dangerous and reckless step.

“I would urge people to show their support for the Palestinian people and join the rally on Thursday 7th December, 7pm in the Guildhall Square.”
CRÍOCH/ENDS 

Anderson meets Puigdemont in Brussels as arrest warrant withdrawn

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has met with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Brussels today to discuss Catalan independence.

Martina Andersons said:

Martina Anderson and Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

“I met with Catalan President Charles Puigdemont in Brussels today to discuss the independence referendum and the upcoming elections in Catalonia.

“I welcome the fact that the international arrest warrant issued against him has now been withdrawn.

“I also welcome the fact that a number of Catalan ministers detained following the referendum have now been released on bail but they should never have been charged in the first place.

“Others, however, remain in custody. All charges against them should be dropped and they should be released immediately.

“I assured Carles Puigdemont that I will be in Barcelona for the elections in December just as I was for the referendum in October and of our continuing solidarity with the Catalan people.” Ends/Críoch

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