Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This week we are facing into a building crisis in the political institutions in the North.

The immediate difficulties we are facing into have been triggered by the DUP’s decision to bring forward a welfare bill to the Assembly, which does not implement the protections agreed at Stormont House for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

It appears that the DUP is responding to pressure and demands from the Tories in London. In my view that is a major tactical error.

However, the crisis we are facing is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.DSC_0877

The crisis has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.

Sinn Féin stood in the recent elections against Tory austerity and for social justice and equality. Our approach was mandated by over 176,000 voters, almost 25 per cent of the popular vote

In contrast the Tories received only 9,000 votes in the north, just over one per cent of the vote. This is a party, which doesn’t have a single Assembly or local council seat. They have no democratic mandate for their austerity policies in the north of Ireland.

Yet they have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further eye-watering cuts of £25 billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

These new cuts are set to begin almost immediately and they will devastate our core public services.

In meetings last week I challenged the British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers on two occasions for a breakdown on how the proposed £12bn cut to welfare and £13bn cut to public services would impact on the people of the North.

She refused point blank to tell me despite indications the Tories are even prepared to tax Executive top-up payments for the most vulnerable.

That is unacceptable to Sinn Féin.

We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.

Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.

In my view the measure of any society is how it treats those most in need and those most vulnerable.

In the face of such devastating Tory cuts our public services, our welfare system, our departments and the Executive itself is not sustainable.

None of the Executive parties stood on a platform of implementing these Tory cuts and Sinn Féin will not abandon children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, families with children and the long-term sick.

Sinn Féin has moved a Petition of Concern to stop the passage of the Welfare Bill this week. The SDLP has now supported our position.

I urge the DUP to withdraw the bill and re-engage in the negotiations to achieve the implementation of the welfare protections agreed at Stormont House.

It has always been my view that the outstanding issues in the welfare bill can be resolved, but this requires political will, particularly on the part of the unionist parties to protect the most vulnerable.

But make no mistake about it the biggest threat to our political institutions remains the ongoing Tory austerity agenda of cuts to our public services and the welfare state.

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

We need an immediate negotiation with the British government for a budget, which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.

We are not alone in this battle against austerity. The Scottish Executive has already requested a tripartite meeting of the representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and local Assemblies.

We should be taking this offer up and developing a common position within the Executive and with the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in opposition to Tory austerity.

Sinn Féin will continue campaign for marriage equality in the North – Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said today Sinn Féin would continue its campaign for marriage equality for all in the north.

She was speaking following a resounding victory for marriage equality in the referendum held in the 26 Counties.

Cllr Sandra Duffy said.DSC_0627

“I’m delighted the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality for all.

“This referendum was all about equality, inclusion and respect for our LGBTI brothers and sisters.

“The campaign energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process. This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable.

“Sinn Féin played a very positive and active role in the Yes campaign. We took our message of equality to the doors, put up posters and engaged in a very active social media campaign.

“The fact so many of our people returned home to vote in this campaign highlighted yet again the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the diaspora and for Irish citizens in the North.

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north.

Hassan -Major review of Redecoration grants needed 100s of Derry homes affected‏

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said his party will be raising at the Assembly the issue of Redecoration grants for Housing Executive homes which are getting window or kitchen replacement schemes.

He was speaking after meeting Housing Executive representatives in Derry to clarify the current situation.

Councillor Hassan “There are hundreds of homes in the greater Shantallow area which currently are availing of the window or kitchen replacement schemes.

People are glad that these schemes are taking place as some residents have been waiting over twenty years for this to happen.

But a number have raised with me that currently there is no grants for works after window replacements schemes and only a small grant of £56 for kitchen schemes take place. People are being left with bills to get rooms redecorated, some are having to go take out small loans to pay for this work. In Carnhill alone over 300 homes are currently getting work done, so you can see how many people this is affecting even in one area.

We are not asking for huge sums of money but a reasonable small grant to help complete the work and keep their homes to a modern standard. I will be asking our Assembly team to raise this with the Minister Mervyn Storey at the first available opportunity.

Park Avenue “Possibility of drafting in Traffic Attendants periodically “-Cooper‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has revealed that Traffic Attendants could be periodically patrolling a number of busy junctions in the Rosemount area.

He said there are ongoing problems with traffic management along a section of Park Avenue.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

Councillor Cooper said

“I have been receiving ongoing complaints from residents about the bottleneck of traffic along a very tight section of Park Avenue and its junctions with Academy Road and Northland Avenue.

Many options over the past few years have been tried to help alleviate this but to no avail .I have been in contact again with Transport NI(formally Road Service) to raise those concerns .

They have told me they will look at the possibility of drafting in Traffic Attendants periodically to see if their presence can help the flow of traffic at the busy junctions.

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Marriage Equality must now be extended to North

Marriage Equality must now be extended to North

Yes vote ‘a good day for Ireland’

‘Yes’ campaigners celebrate in Dublin Castle

THE VICTORY of the Yes campaign in the Marriage Equality was “a good day for Ireland” but Gerry Adams says the right to same-sex marriage must now be extended to the North.

Almost two million citizens voted in the Marriage Equality referendum on Friday which passed with 62% voting in favour of the proposal to extend marriage rights to same sex couples.

There were jubilant scenes at Dublin Castle where a crowd of almost 2,000 people had crowded into the main courtyard to celebrate the result – a scene which was replicated on a smaller scale at count centres throughout the state.

The proposal received the support of the main political parties who supported the broad community based ‘Yes Equality’ campaign.

United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon hailed the historic result:

“This is truly an historic moment. Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve marriage equality in a nationwide referendum. The result sends an important message to the world; all people are entitled to enjoy their human rights and human dignity, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Welcoming the result, Sinn Féin South Down MLA Cáitríona Ruane said:

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for marriage equality for all in the North and to end the discrimination against our LGBTI community.”

Attempts by Sinn Féin to introduce marriage equality in the North have been repeatedly blocked by the main unionist parties while the SDLP and Alliance have sat on the fence:

Amnesty International NI director Patrick Corrigan described the North as “the last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands” and said the SDLP and Alliance Party “need to get their act together”.

Sinn Féin welcomes SDLP support for Petition of Concern on welfare

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA  Raymond McCartney  has welcomed the decision by the SDLP to support a petition of concern against the final stage of the Welfare Bill being brought forward to the Assembly next Tuesday by the DUP. 15157102186_4c22677589_o

He said

“We welcome the position of the SDLP in supporting a petition of concern against the Welfare Bill being brought to the assembly on Tuesday.

“I am calling on the DUP to withdraw the bill and re-engage with the other executive parties in negotiations to achieve the welfare protections agreed at Stormont House for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.”

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A day for celebration – Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has welcomed the emerging success of the marriage equality vote as a measure of the progress and maturity of Irish society and of the Irish people increasingly embracing equality, human rights and respect.

Martin McGuinness said:15251175137_aa21579d1d_o

“Today we can all rightfully be proud to be Irish and part of an increasingly tolerant, pluralist and outward-looking Ireland.

“Politicians, particularly in the north need to reflect on this progress.

“The world is moving on and Ireland is taking the lead. Pride in Ireland has taken on a whole new meaning.”

Sinn Féin will continue campaign for marriage equality in the North – Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said today Sinn Féin would continue its campaign for marriage equality for all in the north.

 

She was speaking following a resounding victory for marriage equality in the referendum held in the 26 Counties.

 

Cllr Sandra Duffy said.IMG_1035

 

“I’m delighted the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality for all.

 

“This referendum was all about equality, inclusion and respect for our LGBTI brothers and sisters.

 

“The campaign energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process. This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable.

 

“Sinn Féin played a very positive and active role in the Yes campaign. We took our message of equality to the doors, put up posters and engaged in a very active social media campaign.

 

“The fact so many of our people returned home to vote in this campaign highlighted yet again the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the diaspora and for Irish citizens in the North.

 

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north.

McCartney welcomes recommendations to support vicitims‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said he welcomes the implementation of recommendations arising out of the publication of Keir Starmer’s report which will help victims of abuse.

Mr McCartney said; City centre walkabout

“This report from Keir Starmer was a review of the Public Prosecution’s handling of these cases.

“It is the sole responsibility of the police to investigate reports of crime and it is the responsibility of the PPS to prosecute in cases of abuse.

“At the Assembly’s justice committee we have continually raised the unacceptable and unnecessary delays.

“We welcome any recommendations that will support victims of abuse through the legal system and ensure justice.

“We will judge the recommendations of the report on how they well they serve victims in the future.”

Executive parties should stand together to oppose austerity agenda – Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said Executive parties should stand together to challenge the austerity agenda of the Tory government. raymond mccartney

Raymond McCartney said;

“The challenges facing the Executive have been created by Tory austerity and their agenda of punishing the poorest in society.

“No one in the Assembly stood on a platform of welfare cuts.

“This should not be a crisis within the Assembly or the Executive. Instead, the Executive parties should stand together and confront the source of these cuts, the Tory government.

“This bill should not be brought before the Assembly.

“It is a tactically wrong move by the DUP who appear to be responding to pressure and demands from the Tories in London.

“Instead we should develop a common position within the Executive and with the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in opposition to Tory austerity.”

Nothing Romantic about Our Drinking Culture – Maeve McLaughlin

Foyle MLA and Chairperson of the Assembly Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin commenting on  the ‘Drink Think’ survey has said that the harsh reality is that there is nothing romantic about our drinking culture and that it is in fact killing far too many.

The Foyle MLA was commenting following the publication of survey results by local initiative ‘Drink Think’ which found that 68% of 12-17 year olds have tried alcohol.

“Maeve McLaughlin said:?????????????????????????????????

“The problem of underage alcohol consumption is of course not confined to Derry. It affects communities across the island and further afield. I welcome and encourage the decision of the ‘Drink Think’ campaign to work with Parenting NI to further research parental influences on young peoples attitude to alcohol.

“As with everything in life, taken in moderation and at an age when the body is able to tolerate it alcohol consumption is quite acceptable. But unfortunately there are growing numbers of young people abusing alcohol at young ages when their body and mind are not equipped to deal with the far too often negative effects of alcohol.

“I believe that this widespread attraction to alcohol at a very early age is contributing to the growing incidence of alcoholism in people as young as their twenties. We must do all in our power to educate young people of the dangers of alcohol. Parents have a primary role to play in that education through discussion and example.

“Alcohol misuse is one of the biggest public health issues facing Ireland and its impact cannot be underestimated.  Research shows that alcohol related illnesses cost the Northern economy over £900million per year with £250million of this being borne by the Health Service. Across Ireland every seven hours someone dies from alcohol related illness. Thirteen Hundred lives are claimed across Ireland every year as a direct result of alcohol consumption.

“And we must not forget the devastation and family break-downs that occur through domestic violence fuelled by alcohol.

Concluding the Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson said:

“I cannot praise highly enough all of those voluntary groups, organisations and individuals involved in helping tackle the damage inflicted on individuals and their families through alcoholism and other addictions. They are the unsung heroes of our communities as they quietly go about their work of supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

“We owe them a deep debt of gratitude for their unconditional service to vulnerable people and their families. We must impress on our young people that our drinking culture is not romantic – it’s killing far too many of us. As a society we pay a high price for our relationship with alcohol, sometimes dubbed our ‘favourite drug’.  Our young people must be educated to approach alcohol responsibly.”CRÍOCH/END

Health minister should be seeking to protect the most vulnerable – McCartney‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said health minister Simon Hamilton should be seeking to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Raymond McCartney said; 

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“Simon Hamilton has referred  to £2m a week being taken by the Tory government from the block grant in fines.

“However this £2m is currently staying in our economy, in the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable in society, including children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families. 

“Is the minister seriously suggesting we take that money out of the pockets of people with disabilities to fund public services?

“Sinn Féin’s priority remains the protection of the most vulnerable in our society from the vicious assault on the welfare system by the Tory government in London. 

“It is disingenuous for health minister Simon Hamilton to claim that his budget is being hampered by our refusal to implement savage Tory welfare cuts.

“The British government is responsible for more than a billion pounds in cuts to the block grant and the impact that has had on public services.

“They have also announced plans to implement another £25bn of cuts to welfare and public services.

“Sinn Féin is calling on the local political parties to stand together and demand the restoration of our block grant and protect the most vulnerable against the Tory cuts agenda.

“Simon Hamilton and his DUP colleagues need to make it clear whether they are prepared to stand up for those most in need or whether they intend to punish them at the behest of a cabinet of millionaires.”

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Nesbitt still a cheerleader for Tory cuts agenda – McCartney

Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney has  said that Mike Nesbitt was acting as a cheerleader for the Tory cuts agenda after the UUP leader’s meeting with British prime minister David Cameron in London.15157102186_4c22677589_o

He  said:

“The Tories have cut £1.5bn from the Executive’s block grant over the last four years, which has had a negative impact on the Executive’s ability to deliver public services.

“They have also been involved in an assault on the welfare state trying to impose savage welfare cuts on people with disabilities, the long term sick and large families.

“Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires are now planning to bring forward another £25bn in cuts to welfare and public services.

“Mike Nesbitt singularly failed to raise the consequences of these proposed cuts which would be disastrous for public services and the most vulnerable in our society.

“Mike Nesbitt’s party stood on an austerity ticket with the Tories in 2010.  He failed today to stand up for our public services, people with disabilities and the long term sick and it is clear that he remains little more than a cheerleader for the Tory cuts agenda.”

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McLaughlin concerned at residential care home proposals

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has expressed concern at the proposal from the Western Trust to cease admissions at William Street and Rectory Field care homes.

The Foyle MLA said; William street rally 31st May 2013

“The Western Trust has confirmed they have now been asked to proceed with the proposal to cease admissions to William Street and Rectory Field Care homes.

“This is very disappointing news and will create fear and anxiety among the residents of these homes, their families and loved ones.

“I and other Sinn Féin representatives stood with the residents and their supporters on the street when the proposals to close these homes or limit admissions were first announced almost two years ago.

“Since then we have continued to support the residents and their families.

“The reality is we have an ageing population and we have to plan for that to ensure we have adequate facilities for older people.

“The Trust have said they will now carry out a consultation process on these proposals and I would encourage as many people as possible to take part and have their say.”

 

Ends/Críoch

By-election a three-horse race between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion in strong challenge to Establishment parties

The by-election is between Bobby Aylward of Fianna Fáil, Kathleen Funchion of Sinn Féin and David Fitzgerald of Fine Gael

THERE is panic in Fianna Fáil as internal opinion polls and election workers say by-election candidate Bobby Aylward – long considered the favourtie to take the seat vacated by Phil Hogan – is losing ground to Sinn Féin candidate Kathleen Funchion.

An email sent to all Fianna Fáil TDs and senators by Bobby Aylward’s Director of Elections, Barry Cowen, warned that the party could lose the election if its representatives do not up their game in the area.

A report in The Sunday Times notes:

“Aylward is favourite to win but there are growing concerns in the party that Fine Gael or Sinn Féin could take the seat.”

While many mainstream media outlets – particularly RTÉ – have been keen to frame the contest as a battle between the two main conservative parties, The Irish Times quotes an unnamed Fine Gael TD as saying that Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion “could finish ahead on the first count” with transfers proving to be the crucial deciding factor.

Analysing recent polls and observations by those following the elections, The Sunday Times reports that the young mother and SIPTU organiser “is picking up substantial support, particularly in Carlow” while a rival party worker accepted that Kathleen “could be the dark horse”:

“Sinn Féin is much more transfer-friendly these days. Funchion could pick up a lot of votes as the lefties are eliminated,” the insider said.

Speaking to Kilkenny.com, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD said:

“I think we’ve a chance of winning.

“We take nothing for granted and we and Kathleen will have to earn every single vote we get. But we are running a very experienced candidate, a young mother and a person with a huge capacity to represent Carlow and Kilkenny in the Dáil.”

Referring to the Fine Gael and Labour candidates, she said:

“There is very little point in the people returning the same old type of TDs. If you return the same kind of politician you will get the same kind of political outlook.”

Frustration over delay to Bradleys Pass traffic lights –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan

There is frustration in the local community that following being told that these lights were to installed  by the end of March this year we are nearly into June and there doesn’t appear to be any movement.

 

The Glengalliagh Road is a very busy road for both motorists and pedestrians. Over the last number of years there have been a lot of accidents at its junction with Bradley’s Pass.

 

Calls to have traffic lights installed there have been ongoing for as long as I have been in Derry City Council. The campaign for the lights to be installed has involved all political parties’, community groups, residents and it has been very well covered in both the local print and broadcast media.

End in sight for Killea pumping station –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper was speaking following the land issue for the new pumping station has been solved and agreement reached.

The installation is subject to planning consent.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper said

This is good news for the people for the people of the Killea .We look forward to progress being made on the Killea connection in near future.

Hopefully this new scheme should see a permanent resolution of the issues in Killea and will also give the residents of the wider area a much improved syste

Living Wage would help grow the economy – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the adoption of a living wage would help grow the economy and take people off benefits.

 

Raymond McCartney said:City centre walkabout

 

“Economists and recruitment agencies suggest that higher salaried jobs would have a positive effect on driving growth in the private sector. I have no doubt that this would be the case but I also believe that in the absence of sufficient high paid jobs in the short term that the introduction of a proper living wage would have the same effect.

 

“According to Neal Lucas Recruitment Agency while employees here work longer hours and are paid less, wage levels in the North of Ireland have fallen over the year to April 2014 by 2.2% while they have risen by 0.6% in Britain.

 

“Is it any wonder that there are more working poor dependent on top-up benefits here than there are in Britain. Not only would a living wage give some much deserved respite to the working poor but it would greatly increase the average disposable income. It would also remove many from the benefits trap and the increased spending would generate additional revenue and job creation opportunities for small businesses.

 

“Rather than cutting essential benefits from vulnerable people, politicians need to concentrate on ways of removing the reasons people depend on these benefits. I believe that the introduction of a living wage would go some way to addressing this.”

300 social homes in the Skeoge lands –Hassan  

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news from Apex and Fold Housing Associations that they are building over 300 new social homes in the Skeoge lands for allocation next year.

The Housing spokesperson said ???????????????????????????????

“This is a good news story for social housing provision in Derry and for the hundreds of people on the homeless waiting list.

Cllr, Hassan said

“The number of people waiting for a home in the city has increased dramatically over the past few years .These new homes will go some way to alleviating that problem.

I will continue to lobby at every opportunity to ensure that the need for new social housing schemes is kept firmly on the agenda.

I would also appeal to residents in different areas of the city where social homes developments are taking place to work with the Housing Associations to ensure that there is a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Boxing taster session for blind /partially sighted in Foyle arena-Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed a boxing taster session for people who are either blind or partially sighted in Foyle arena on Saturday.DSC_0627

The event is being run by SportNI and being facilitated by coaches from a number of local boxing clubs who have been specifically trained in how to coach boxing skills to individuals who would usually be limited by their sight.

Councillor Sandra Duffy said

As someone who is partially sighted I welcome this as it can be difficult for people with certain disabilities to engage in sporting activities.

I hope that this will be one of many of these types of sessions that will allow individuals with disabilities to experience different sports and perhaps find a passion or a hidden talent for one.

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McCartney to table urgent oral question on Windsor Park

Responding to reports that the IFA does not intend to disclose the cause of the structural damage which necessitated the demolition of a stand at Windsor Park recently, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said that he intends to table an urgent oral question to the DCAL Minister on Monday.Raymond head shot 22

Raymond McCartney said:

“I find it incomprehensive that an organisation such as the IFA which is in receipt of tens of millions of public funding would think it acceptable to withhold crucial information concerning the almost collapse of a stand which was occupied by football supporters a matter of days before major faults were discovered.

“I intend to table an urgent oral question for DCAL Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín on Monday urging her to demand that the result of the investigation into the cause of the crack necessitating the demolition of the Windsor Park stand be made available in the public interest.”

British government must stop delaying access to truth about collusion – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the British government must end its tactic of delaying access to the truth about collusion. Collusion_is_not_an_illusion

Mr McCartney said;

“I was at the court today for the close of the judicial review into the failure of the British government to hold a full inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

“Throughout the course of this judicial review the court heard mounting evidence of Britain’s complete and total failure to honour its commitment, made at Weston Park, to fully investigate the killing.

“Details emerged which found that senior British government officials were concerned that details which would come out during an inquiry would be worse than anything coming out of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This case follows a judicial review into the failure of the Historical Enquiries Team to publish a report into the activities of the Glenanne gang which was involved in more than 100 murders, including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

“It also comes after revelations which found that RUC Special Branch handed over guns to agents which were later used in 60 killings.

“The British government cannot ignore the fact that its forces and agents were involved in collusion and murder and it must stop delaying the truth.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Finucane family in their long campaign for access to truth and justice.” Ends/Críoch

 

All-Ireland approach to tackle addiction and suicide needed – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said an all-Ireland approach is needed to tackle addiction and suicide. MLA   MAEVE MCLAUGHLIN

Speaking during an Assembly debate on suicide in Derry, the Foyle MLA said;

“The issue of suicide is one which touches all communities across our island.

“Sinn Féin have established an addiction taskforce in the city to identify and fill the gaps in current service provision and to date 20 organisations from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors have signed up.

“There is a clear need for a crisis intervention services in the Derry area where users, particularly young people, can be treated in a safe place.

“There has been considerable discussion on the need for a detox unit in Derry.

“And while that may be what is required, the reality is we have a purpose-built rehab and detox facility on our doorstep in White Oaks, Muff, County Donegal which is not fully functioning and is currently unavailable to people in Derry.

“I am calling on the new health minister to visit the White Oaks facility to see the difference it could make.

“I encourage him to engage with his southern counterpart towards the creation of an all-Ireland approach to tackle addiction and suicide.

“Addiction does not recognise borders and neither should treatment.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

McCartney welcomes latest confirmation on A5 upgrade

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the latest confirmation that the Executive and Irish government remains committed to the upgrade of the A5.

The Foyle MLA said; Raymond head shot 22

“In his report on the most recent North South Ministerial Council meeting, Roads Minister Danny Kennedy reiterated the support of ministers from the Executive and Irish government for the project.

“The minister also said he intends to circulate a paper to his Executive colleagues on the A5 in the coming weeks.

“This is great news and will be welcomed by the vast majority of people who want to see progress on this project.

“Securing the A5 dual carriageway project is a top priority for Sinn Féin.  It is essential for economic development, job creation, reducing journey times and most importantly, reducing the number of road deaths and injuries.

“We will take every opportunity to keep this project high on the agenda at Stormont and in Leinster House.”

UDA-linked group’s threat to young Gaels wearing GAA shirts

UDA-linked group’s threat to young Gaels wearing GAA shirts

THE UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) is putting the lives and safety of young Gaels at risk through an online post by the North Antrim and Derry UPRG linking the GAA to the IRA, Sinn Féin’s Caoimhe Archibald has warned.

In the post the unionists use a photograph of Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey with young people wearing GAA shirts along with the message “Sinn Féin = IRA = GAA. No there’s no connection.”

Earlier this year the group posted a message saying “When you see someone out with a GAA kit on, remember that they might as well say I am a republican and support the IRA . . . the GAA is the sporting wing of Sinn Féin/IRA.”

Caoimhe Archibald, who received a death threat from the shadowy ‘Real UFF’ in the days before the Westminster election, said:

“Apart from the threat levelled at me, the UDA in the north Antrim area are almost certainly behind the killing of Brian McIlhagga in January and at least six shootings in which one man lost his leg.”

McIlhagga was shot in the leg with a shotgun when a UDA gang dragged him from his Ballymoney home. He bled to death as the blast severed an artery.

The increasing threat posed by the UDA in the north Antrim area is underpinned by its boast that it was the only UDA brigade to vote against the UDA ceasefire in 1994. Over the years it was accused of numerous sectarian attacks throughout the north Antrim and north Derry area.

Caoimhe Archibald said:

“The silence of the unionist parties in face of this violence and threats is deafening.”

‘Like Connolly, we need to be both practical and visionary’

‘Like Connolly, we need to be both practical and visionary’

ONLY the top 40% of households in the 26 Counties actually benefited from the last Budget with the greatest benefits going to the top 10%, Gerry Adams said at a wreath-laying ceremony at the James Connolly monument in Dublin today to mark the 99th anniversary of the revolutionary socialist leader’s execution by Britain after the 1916 Easter Rising.

“First and foremost Connolly was a workers leader,” Gerry Adams said.

Describing his role as a Belfast organiser for the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) in 1911, he said:

“He organised the workers of Belfast, especially the linen slaves, thousands of young women who worked in hellish sweat conditions in the mills which were the backbone of the Northern economy.”

Speaking of his role during the 1913 Lockout, Adams said Connolly saw the Irish Citizen Army not only as a defence force for workers, but a revolutionary army dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism:

“1913 was an epic struggle which the Dublin bosses and the owner of the Irish Independent newspaper, William Martin Murphy, set out to crush the workers and their organisations. Eventually the Dublin workers were starved back to work – but they and Connolly remained defiant and continued to organise.”

“During that 1916 Rising, Connolly was the Commandant General of the Dublin Division of the Army of the Irish Republic. Pearse described him as ‘the guiding brain of our resistance’. He was one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation which guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all our citizens and pledges to cherish all the children of the nation equally – sadly real equality does not exist in this society”

Speaking opposite the SIPTU trade union headquarters, the Sinn Féin leader said:

“Fine Gael and Labour’s four Budgets have been the most unfair and unequal since the economic crash. There has been a huge growth in social inequality. A third of our children now live in consistent poverty. Over 1,000 children are homeless in this city.”

Low-income and middle-income earners have been severely penalised by Fine Gael and Labour, he said. The abolition of the PRSI ceiling, increase in VAT, the introduction of a Family Home Tax and Water Charge have significantly increased the tax bill of ordinary workers.

“The abject failure to do anything practical to alleviate the plight of those in mortgage distress or those struggling with spiraling rents has further increased financial pressure on ordinary families. These are the same damaging policies agreed by Fianna Fáil with the Troika in 2010 and implemented by Fine Gael and Labour since 2011.

“There is a better, fairer way. Sinn Féin advocates a reform of the tax system to ease the burden on low and middle-income earners while also increasing revenue to invest in a fair and just recovery.”

He said that Sinn Féin in Government would:

● Abolish the Property Tax and Water Charges;

● Reform the USC to ease the burden on lower earners;

● Ensure high-earners pay their fair share of income tax;

● Increase employer’s PRSI to address the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund;

● Introduce a wealth tax to generate funds for investment in job creation.

“Sinn Féin passionately believes that the economy must serve society, not the other way around,” Gerry Adams said.

The Sinn Féin leader also welcomed the recently-published ‘Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government’ published on May Day by the unions affiliated to the Right to Water Campaign.

Gerry Adams said Sinn Féin needs to prove its policies are workable and yield results:

“Like Connolly, we need to be both practical and visionary. For Connolly, socialism and national self-determination were two sides of the same coin.”

James Connolly commemoration 2015 2

McLaughlin welcomes further commitment on Magee

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a further commitment from Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry that he will apply for additional funding for the expansion of Magee.

The Foyle MLA said;  ?????????????????????????????????

“The expansion of the university at Magee is vital to the regeneration of Derry.

“The Strategy Board in Derry commissioned consultants to prepare a business case for the expansion of Magee and that is currently being scrutinised by officials.

“I asked the minister for an update on the expansion of Magee and was pleased that he reiterated his commitment to bid for extra money from the Executive for the expansion.

“The minister said that he does not currently have the funds for the expansion. However, he said he will make a bid to the Executive if the appraisal makes the case that it represents good value for money for the North.

“I have no doubt the business case will show that the expansion of Magee will not only represent good value for money for Derry but for the North generally.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support the expansion of Magee and will ensure that the minister fulfils his commitments.” Ends/Críoch

 

Vote YES to Marriage Equality

Fresh approach needed from new health minister – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for a fresh approach from the new DUP health minister.

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“Hopefully the announcement of a new health minister by the DUP will signal a new approach to the department.

“Simon Hamilton needs to abandon the approach of his predecessors, move into the 21st century and embrace equality.

“He needs to realise the days of outdated prejudices are over and base his policies on addressing need rather than religious beliefs.

“The new minister will have a lot in his in-tray and will have to address the crisis in pay for frontline heath staff, refocus on primary care and work to instil confidence in Transforming Your Care.

“Sinn Féin will continue to prioritise frontline health services and stand up for the hard-pressed staff and ensure their dedication and professionalism are recognised.”

‘Tory cuts are totally unacceptable’ says Martin McGuinness

‘Tory cuts are totally unacceptable’ says Martin McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA of Sinn Féin

DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness says the proposed level of cuts by the newly-elected Conservative Government in London is “totally unacceptable” and pressing ahead with them could lead to a “very serious situation” in the Northern Executive.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Monday, the Sinn Féin MLA said:

“In the aftermath of the Stormont House Agreement we were very concerned by the approach taken by the DUP in relation to keeping the payments of people on social security and future claimants. We made it clear that we would not proceed until such a time as those people were protected.”

He said that following a period of negotiations with First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, he is confident of finding a way forward, noting that negotiations are resuming today.

While the Conservatives were returned to Westminster with an overall majority, in Scotland the Scottish National Party swept the boards with the Conservatives taking just a single seat. In the North of Ireland the Tories failed to take any seats and took just around 1% of the vote:

“The big complication is that the British Tory party say they intend to bring in €30billion more of cuts including €12billion in welfare. They have been refusing to answer questions by journalists as to where the axe will fall. That is something that needs to be of concern to all the parties in the Assembly,” he said.

“I come from the school of thought that our Government will be judged on how it defends the most vulnerable, the disabled and weakest in our society. And if that has to come out of our block grant, then so be it. We want to ensure we protect front-line services like healthcare and education”.

McGuinness says a united approach from all the parties in the North is needed:

“Speaking with one voice we can make it clear to the British Government that the level and depth of the cuts that they are proposing is totally unacceptable.”

Asked if more cuts from the British Government could leave question marks over Sinn Féin’s participation in the Executive, he said.

“If this British Government presses forward with the level of cuts that they have indicated I think that would be a very serious situation indeed – not just for Sinn Féin but the other parties also,” adding that such a move would seriously undermine the Executive.

McGuinness also said the proposed referendum on EU membership for Britain, which could see the North of Ireland forced out of the EU, is unacceptable to his party.

Investing in the Border Corridor: Gerry Adams TD‏

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has met with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to discuss the difficulties faced by citizens and businesses in the counties along the border corridor, and to examine ways in which the economic potential of the border corridor zone can be maximised. 16549238749_4e0c5f784d_k

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Currently island wide trade generates £3 billion annually. There is significant potential to grow this. There are already a number of cross border initiatives in existence which can be built upon. 

InterTradeIreland was set up to promote trade and business on an all-island and cross-border basis and for the enhancement of the global competitiveness of the all-island economy to the mutual benefit of both jurisdictions.

The Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Louth County Council have a Memorandum of Understanding which has the aim of practically easing the affects of the border.

The North West Gateway Initiative was established to foster and encourage economic growth in the North West area, covering the Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Donegal Council Areas. The objective is to provide a focus for sustained cooperative action from the two Governments which, over a period of time, would make a real difference to the region.

And the Stormont House Agreement also contains a commitment for relevant Ministers from North and South in the North West to consider strategic approaches to the development of the region as envisaged in the North West Gateway Initiative.”

Gerry Adams said:

“Partition is the greatest obstacle to economic growth across Ireland. It has stalled our potential for economic and social growth. But it is the people and businesses along the border that pay the daily price of partition. 

The lack of investment and the application of structured discrimination, especially in the north, has ensured that the border region suffers from higher than average levels of unemployment, emigration, stunted economic growth and high levels of deprivation.

It’s time to unleash the potential of the island economy. 

There is a natural draw towards the greater integration of services, structures and bodies on an all-Ireland basis in order to deliver quality services and economies of scale. The same logic applies when it comes to driving sustainable and fair economic growth.

It makes no sense for six and a half million people to be split into two separate tax, currency and legal systems, and with two separate economies in competition with each other. Combining our strength, in agriculture, life sciences, and across all sectors will deliver greater economic growth.

To achieve this we must address once and for all the barriers to economic growth across Ireland. We must ensure our economy delivers for all people and eradicate economic inequality. The first step must be to build a viable integrated system – a border corridor economic zone – that works for those who live and work along the border.”

 Martin McGuinness added: 

“It is vital that both administrations on this island work together to prioritise economic development across the island, and to address the challenges facing border businesses. It’s time to agree a timescale and plan to build a Border Development zone to harmonise trade and maximise returns for border businesses and the island economy.

Sinn Féin believe that is time to remove the barriers to island-wide trade; to reduce transaction costs for border business, to remove barriers which prevent the transfer of staff north and south and to build island wide co-operation and trade. If we are to achieve this we must also work together to upgrade our island-wide transport infrastructure.”

Previous messageNext messageBack to messages Culmore riverfont wall work completed -Hassan‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the completion of the new wall along the river front at Culmore Point

Cllr Tony Hassan said ???????????????????????????????

“It’s great to see the new wall at Culmore being completed .Its been well versed the problems that were happening there over recent years and fears of residents at times of high tides with  flooding and surface water. I would like to commend everyone who has been involved in the campaign to get it to this stage.

There are still several outstanding problems being encountered by residents and i will be endeavoring  to get those resolved in the coming months.

Ends

McLaughlin welcomes progress on old Waterside railway station

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed progress on the redevelopment of the old Waterside railway station. ?????????????????????????????????

The Foyle MLA said;

“The campaign to redevelop the old Waterside railway station to create a modern, purpose-built railway station for Derry has been ongoing for some time.

“I asked the transport minister for an update on the progress on the redevelopment and I am pleased the project is moving forward.

“The minister told me that as part of the procurement exercise to appoint a design team, Translink have now issued a pre-qualification questionnaire for design services. 

“Translink will also issue an invitation to tender documents shortly which will include the project of redeveloping the old Waterside station into a modern station.

“This progress is welcome and marks another step forward towards the full redevelopment of the old station, which is widely regarded as an architectural treasure, into the type of modern station that Derry needs and deserves.

“Sinn Féin want to see this redevelopment as soon as possible, together with the completion of the upgrade work on the Derry to Belfast line to improve the transport infrastructure of the north west.” Ends/Críoch

Old City Court water pressure problems to be resolved –Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the news that a contractor will be in Old City Court this week to fix the water pressure going into the apartment block there.

Councillor Logue said Patricia Logue new pic 22

I have been dealing with the concerns of residents to try and find a resolution to issues around water pressure going into their homes for some time now.

Residents have found it very difficult to carry out  the normal day to day  actives such as filling a kettle for a cup of tea , bathing  or showering because the pressure of the water was that low.

It has taken some time to find  the source of the problem and I am pleased to have been informed that contractors will be on site this week to sort this out.

 

Ends

Work of Sinn Féin representatives will not be disrupted – McCartney

Speaking after a series of bomb warnings at Sinn Féin offices and homes of representatives in the city, Mr McCartney said;

“A series of threats and bomb warnings have been made against Sinn Féin offices in Derry as well as to the homes of elected representatives.

“The PSNI is aware of all of these incidents.raymond mccartney

“This comes after threats against my party colleagues Mickey Brady and Conor Murphy in Newry and Armagh and the cowardly attack on the home of Martin McGuinness here in Derry.

“Clearly the people behind this are intent on intimidating our party activists and disrupting the services we provide to all the public.

“It is an attempt by negative elements to disrupt what has been a positive election campaign, highlighting all that is positive in the city.

“Sinn Féin will not be intimidated by these threats and we have continued with our work of providing first-class constituency services to all in the community.”

What is the ‘One Plan’? Gearóid Ó hEára

 

 

We hear much mention of the ‘One Plan’ in discussions about investment and regeneration in the North West. But how many residents are aware of what it actually is?

 

The One Plan was the result of a unique participative and inclusive two-year long development process launched in June 2011.  The process involved gathering the views of some 1,000 people, from residents to community and voluntary sector representatives and the statutory and private sectors. The uniqueness of the consultation included the recognition that a new focus needed to be brought to bear on how we bring about social and economic renewal as well as physical renewal by targeting inequalities and promoting equality. These unique features were developed and promoted by Sinn Féin, resulting in the One Plan being recognised as international best practice.

 

During the development and consultation process the One Plan first identified the needs and inequalities in the City and Region and then created a set of interventions to target and redress them. This resulted in the creation of 11 catalyst programmes aimed at delivering on employment, education and skills, families, children and young people, health and wellbeing, integrated transport, community infrastructure, the environment and the economy.  The programmes are deliberately interdependent, cohesive and mutually supporting, depending on and complementary to each other.

 

Although still in the early stages of delivery, significant investment has already been made in the City and Region as a direct and indirect consequence of the One Plan.

 

For example, £30m programme funding and £100m capital funding was secured for the City of Culture programme; the €14m Northwest Regional Science Park was opened in September 2014; £7.4m was invested in the re-development of Ebrington Square and the Business Plan for Magee an essential first step in the university expansion has been completed.

 

The £2.2m Urban Broadband Super Connected City Fund went live; £3.3m was secured for the Community Work Programme; £27m worth of improvements were made to the railway line; Council’s Business Development Programme worth £1m was delivered; the Age Friendly City Charter was launched; and Music City 2014 was delivered. That is approximately £200 million investment in the region since the One Plan was launched.

 

Although a sound beginning, the One Plan has much more to do in the coming years, and my priorities will be insisting that a focus kept firmly on job creation as the top priority and particularly on youth employment.  Sinn Féin is dedicated to comprehensive delivery of the One Plan commitments and will continue to stand up for Derry by working diligently to make it happen.

Do Believe Me…Just Watch

Attack won’t deflect me from building the peace – Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness said today people intent on dragging society back to the past would not deflect him from his efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future.Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

Martin McGuinness was speaking after paint bombs were thrown at his family home last night.

Martin McGuinness said:

“This was an attack not just on me but on my family too, including my grandchildren who were in the house at the time.

“I would like to thank my neighbours for all their help and assistance in the aftermath of the attack.

“This attack on my family follows an arson attack on the car of a Sinn Féin member in Derry last week and on Sinn Féin election billboards and posters in the city.

“The people behind these attacks have nothing to offer the community and they are intent on dragging society back to the past.

“Neither I or the people I represent will allow them to do that.

“I will not be deflected from my work as a Sinn Féin representative and as Deputy First Minister of building a peaceful and prosperous future for all our people and creating a society built upon equality and inclusion.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Adams condemns attack on McGuinness

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has condemned the attack on the family home of Martin McGuinness in Derry last night.2 gerrys

Mr. Adams said:

“This is not the first attack on Martin and on his family. As a champion of the peace process Martin has been a frequent target of attack of those who are opposed to it and who want to turn the clock back to the violence of the past.

Those responsible have nothing to offer the people of Ireland.

They have no strategies or political programmes.

They must be resisted and rejected. Neither Martin or Sinn Féin will be intimidated by these groups.”

Enforcement needed to prevent sale of alcohol to young people – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said stringent enforcement legislation is needed to help prevent the sale of alcohol to young people.

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Anderson said; ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“Alcohol-related harm is the third highest cause of preventable premature death and disease in Europe.

“Excessive drinking is an extremely serious public health issue, which takes a heavy human toll on individuals, families and the community at large.

“We had an alcohol strategy in place from 2006 until 2012. This focused on preventing the negative impacts of alcohol on the unborn, young people, as well as on the workplace and road safety.

“Unfortunately, industry lobbying prevented the mandatory labelling of the calorie count in alcoholic drinks but we want the Commission to revisit the issue.

“The Commission had a mandate to report on this requirement, which was due last December, and we are still waiting for it.

“Prevention and the stringent enforcement of legislation to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors are an absolute priority at a time when drinking habits and patterns are causing serious harm.”

Ó hEára not deterred by attack on election billboard

Sinn Féin’s Gearóid Ó hEára has described an arson attack on an election billboard in Derry as an attempt to attack the democratic process.

Mr Ó hEára said; 10943651_349116878605532_19972503230405095_n

“An election billboard supporting my election campaign was destroyed by arsonists in the Buncrana Road area of the Derry overnight.

“This was not just an attack on my election campaign but an attempt to attack the wider democratic process.

“Election posters and billboards from all political parties should be treated with respect.

“This arson attack will not dissuade me or any other Sinn Féin activist and we will not deterred from delivering a first-class constituency service, standing up for communities, promoting equality and opposing austerity.” Ends/Críoch

Campbell condemns burning of cars in Creggan.‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell speaking after cars outside two homes in the Creggan area were burned overnight one of cars belonged to well-known local community worker Sean McMonagle. 11013421_10153278737553914_2616061336994062610_n

Councillor Kevin Campbell said

“These are absolutely disgraceful acts and should not have happened.

There is a lot of good positive work going on in the local community ,no one wants to see this happening.

The last thing any person wants to wake up to in the morning is to find that their family car has been burned overnight. In the current economic climate it is very hard to afford to keep a car on the road at the best of times and no one needs the extra expense of having to replace a car.

Those involved in these actions have only succeeded in terrorising their own communities by inflicting inconveniences upon them.

New Green gym facility opens at Leafair –Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the official opening  of a new Green outdoor gym at Leafair.

Councillor Hassan said11209683_10152744988705723_4974335158693205902_n

“It great to see the new outdoor Green Gym opening at Leafair today. It’s a positive news story for the area.  I would like to commend everyone involved in making this project a reality in particular the Leafair Community Association who have been the driving force  behind this.

The new facility at Leafair has been chosen as a pilot project and is the first of its kind in the north.

It will go some way to help improve the health and fitness of its users.

And add to other facilities already there such as the 3G pitch.

McLaughlin calls for new health minister as soon as possible

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for the new health minister to be appointed as soon as possible.

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; ?????????????????????????????????

“I had called for outgoing health minister Jim Wells to come before the health committee to explain his outrageous and offensive remarks against the gay community made at a hustings event last week.

“Following the announcement of his resignation, it is my understanding that he will not be attending the committee as previously arranged.

“I would call on the DUP to announce his successor as soon as possible as any delay in the appointment of a new minister for this important brief is not acceptable.

“Health cannot be left to drift with no one at the helm.

“It is also important that we see a change of policy rather than just a personality from the DUP so that we genuinely have provision for health is open and accessible to all.”

Enforcement needed to prevent sale of alcohol to young people – Anderson‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said stringent enforcement legislation is needed to help prevent the sale of alcohol to young people.

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Anderson said;

“Alcohol-related harm is the third highest cause of preventable premature death and disease in Europe.

“Excessive drinking is an extremely serious public health issue, which takes a heavy human toll on individuals, families and the community at large.

“We had an alcohol strategy in place from 2006 until 2012. This focused on preventing the negative impacts of alcohol on the unborn, young people, as well as on the workplace and road safety.

“Unfortunately, industry lobbying prevented the mandatory labelling of the calorie count in alcoholic drinks but we want the Commission to revisit the issue.

“The Commission had a mandate to report on this requirement, which was due last December, and we are still waiting for it.

“Prevention and the stringent enforcement of legislation to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors are an absolute priority at a time when drinking habits and patterns are causing serious harm.”

Warning after criminal gang target family pets in Waterside

Waterside Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said

It’s shocking that once again people are targeting family pets .Several months ago we warned about a number of incidents in Derry and Strabane where it appeared that dogs had been poisoned by would-be thieves to prevent them from barking during break-ins. Christopher TOH 1

In these incidents it now appears that homes are being marked so that criminals can return in the middle of the night or when the people are out to steal the family pet to either sell on or use in illegal dog fights.

This is really a new low in criminality, targeting defenceless pets to make a quick profit.

 

This criminal activity must be condemned and I would call on anyone with information on such incidents to bring it to the PSNI.

 

I would encourage all pet owners to be vigilant and to keep an eye on their pets to make sure they do not fall victim to this crime.”

Gríosaíonn Ó hEára vótóirí eitiú do dhéine

Ghríosaigh Gearóid Ó hEára, Iarrthóir Shinn Féin do Westminster vótóirí teachtaireacht a chur chuig rialtas úr na Breataine go bhfuil a gclár ciorruithe déine do-ghlactha.

Dúirt an tUasal Ó hEára:

“Tugann Toghchán Westminster ar an 7ú Bealtaine deis do vótóirí an Fheabhail teachtaireacht láidir frith-dhéine a chur chuig rialtas na Breataine.

“Is tubaiste é do thuaisceart na hÉireann clár déine an rialtais i Londain faoi stiúir na dTóraithe.

“Níor thug sé dúinn ach dífhostaíocht ard, eisimirce, bochtánas, tearcfhorbairt, agus imshaol eacnamaíochta leochaileach.

“An tseachtain seo caite féin, gheall na tóraithe tuilleadh ciorruithe crua ar sheirbhísí poiblí agus ar chosaintí leasa.

“Tá an deis agat teachtaireacht láidir a chur chucu go bhfuil dóigh níos fearr agus níos cothroime le beart a dhéanamh de réir ár mbriathair maidir le comhionannas agus téarnamh cothrom eacnamaíochta tríd an pholaitíocht fhorásach de chuid Shinn Féin.

“Tá Sinn Féin ag éileamh go n-aistreofar lánchumachtaí fioscacha ó Londain chuig an Fheidhmeannas. Is í seo an dóigh is fearr le cinntiú go bhfuil an cumas againn geilleagar a chruthú a shásóidh riachtanais ár bpobail.

“Le do chuid tacaíochta, déanfaidh Sinn Féin beart de réir ár mbriathair ar fhís geilleagar láidir uile-oileánda.

“Rachadh sláinte, oideachas, an timpeallacht, infheistíocht isteach, iompar, turasóireacht, fuinneamh, talmhaíocht agus forbairt ghnó chun sochair ag cur chuige uile-oileánda.

“Tá polasaithe s’againne faoi thús áite a thabhairt don phobal.

“Ghabh muid orainn féin bunseirbhísí poiblí sláinte, oideachais agus an chórais leasa a chosaint.

“Cuireann fís Shinn Féin maidir le comhionannas agus athmhuintearas náisiúnta in aghaidh an chláir chaolaigeanta sheictigh agus choimheádaigh atá na páirtithe aondachtacha ag cur chun cinn sa toghchán.

“Leanfaidh muid ar ghlór láidir a sholáthar do dhaoine leochaileacha agus ar chur in aghaidh an tseicteachais, an chiníochais agus an homafóibe.”

CRÍOCH

Anderson meets Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks in Strasbourg

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson met with the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, to discuss ways of handling the past.

Speaking from Strasbourg after meeting Commissioner Muiznieks, Ms Anderson said; ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“I met with Commissioner Nils Muiznieks in Strasbourg today to discuss how legacy issues from the conflict are addressed.

“It followed on from Commissioner Muiznieks visit to Belfast last year when he called on the British government to fund investigations into the legacy of the conflict.

“At today’s meeting we discussed the mechanisms for dealing with the past contained in the Stormont House Agreement, in particular Article 2 right to life obligations and issues  around coroners courts.

“We discussed the importance of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) which could also assume the role undertaking investigative support for the coroners courts for legacy inquests.

“We also discussed the role of the Implementation and Reconciliation Group which would identify themes, trends and patters and outline initiatives which promote reconciliation.

“I also invited Commissioner Muiznieks back to the North and I look forward to him returning.”

Take care with new Bogside speed ramps-Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged motorists travelling through the Bogside to show due care and attention whilst number of new speed ramps are installed along the busy Elmwood Road area.

Councillor Colly Kelly said

There have been several road upgrade schemes going on in the locality over the past few weeks, the latest being the introduction of a number of speed ramps along Elmwood Road .This road gives access to over 200 homes in the areas . A lot of children would play along this road because it’s at the bottom of five or six side streets and its always very busy particularly with the good weather and the bright nights. So I would ask motorists to be patient whilst this work takes place and the new roads system beds in.

Ends

Derry will keep moving forward despite futile attack – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has condemned those responsible for an explosion in the Crawford Square area of Derry.
Mr McCartney said ;

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“This attack has achieved nothing and must be condemned.
“Families had to be evacuated out of their homes late at night as a result of this incident.
“Thankfully no one was injured as a result of this reckless attack in a built-up residential area.
“This has brought nothing but disruption to the lives of local people and to the city generally with the closure Northland Road, one of the main arterial routes ‎in the city.
“This is a city moving forward and the people have made it clear that they do not want these type of incidents.
“We will not allow a tiny minority to drag us back to the past. ”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Cooper expresses sympathy following fire tragedy in Derry‏

Commenting on the news that a man aged in his 20s has died in a house fire at De Burgh Square in Derry this morning Mickey Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper who was at the scene expressed his condolences to the family of the young man.

He added: “The entire community are in shock at the terribly sad news in the area this morning.”

McCartney calls for support for marriage equality motion

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called for cross party support for marriage equality ahead of a debate in the Assembly this week.

 

Raymond McCartney said;City centre walkabout

 

“Marriage equality threatens no one.

 

“It gives gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people equal rights under the law in relation to marriage.

 

“Sinn Féin is currently campaigning for a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum in the South.

 

“Giving all couples equal marriage rights under the law does not threaten anyone’s beliefs, religious or otherwise.

 

“Churches are free to define marriage as they wish but the state has a duty to treat all citizens equally.

 

“The Assembly needs to send out a clear message to the LGB&T community that it will support their rights.

 

“This is an equality issue and Sinn Féin is calling on all the local parties to support our motion on marriage equality which will be debated in the Assembly this week

McLaughlin calls for equality in health as Wells steps down

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said today that Jim Wells has made the right decision in stepping down as Minister for Health.

Maeve McLaughlin said:?????????????????????????????????

“Mr Wells has clearly been under increased pressure as a result of his wife’s serious illness and his decision to step down was the right thing to do.

“However, his position as Health Minister was clearly untenable after his attack on the LGBT community which was completely unacceptable from someone holding the position of Health Minister.

“The public wants equality in health provision. They want a health minister who will leave their religious beliefs at the door and run the health service for all.

“Outdated and discriminatory practices are not acceptable.

The DUP should end its opposition immediately to marriage equality blood donations from gay men and to adoption by gay couples.”

British Government again snubs Taoiseach’s call for release of Dublin/Monaghan bombs files

British Government again snubs Taoiseach’s call for release of Dublin/Monaghan bombs files

● Talbot Street, Dublin – scene of of one of the bombs

THE Taoiseach has been snubbed by the British Government after he again sought the release of their files and papers relating to the May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Thirty-four people were killed, including an unborn child, and almost 300 injured when three no-warning car-bombs exploded during rush-hour in Dublin and a fourth in Monaghan town on 17 May 1974.

The unionist Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the well-co-ordinated attacks, which have all the appearances of being carried out with the assistance of British state forces. No one has been convicted of the attacks.

SF book

Today’s Irish Times reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan pointed out that Taoiseach Enda Kenny, on a recent visit to Belfast, made clear the importance the Irish Government attached to disclosure and co-operation in dealing with the legacy. Despite this, the British have stonewalled a friendly neighbouring government’s important request.

Now the Irish Government is waiting for a new Secretary of State for the North to be appointed after the 7 May Westminster general election before he makes another approach, one of many over several years.

The minister said he would continue to ask the British Government to give them access to an independent international judicial figure and original documents it had relating to the bombings.

Meanwhile, the questions remain to be answered as to why the British authorities are not co-operating, and what will happen if the Tories once again dominate the new government after 7 May?

Military action won’t solve Mediterranean migrant crisis – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there can be no military solution to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. 

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Ms Anderson said;

“EU foreign ministers are meeting today to discuss the growing crisis in the Mediterranean that has led to the deaths of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe.

“Reports that one of the options being considered includes military action against Libya to destroy the boats before they leave is both alarming and foolhardy.

“Military action will not solve the humanitarian crisis where untold numbers of people, desperate to find a new life, are dying in the Mediterranean.

“In fact, it was military action by the British government and others in Libya, Syria and Palestine which has totally destabilised the region and created the conditions where migrants feel they have no other option but to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean.

“Instead of attempting to impose further military action which would further destabilise the region, the international community, and the European Union in particular, must step up its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the survivors of these modern-day coffin ships and prevent further deaths.” Ends/Críoch

Dozen homes targeted in lead theft spree -Cllr P Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has warned residents in the greater Bishop Street /Foyle Road area to be on the alert for lead thefts.Patricia Logue new pic 22

Its follows the thefts of lead from a dozen homes homes in Iona Court and Moore Walk this week.

She said

People would find it hard to believe that when they are in their beds that in the middle of the night there are people taking lead from their properties. But this is exactly what happened in Iona Walk and Moore Walk this week. I know that at least 12 houses were targeted and most of lead was taken from the backs of the houses.

This is just not opportunist small time thefts.

 

There have been a number of stories in the local press over the past few years regarding the theft of lead from homes, businesses and schools in the Derry area.

 

I would urge the PSNI to put in place whatever resources are available to apprehend whoever is behind these thefts, and if the community have any information on who is responsible they should bring it forward.

 

I would also urge scrap merchants in the Derry and Donegal area to be wary of people trying to sell off lead material quickly.

 

Ends

Hassan welcomes start to work on Culmore rivefront

Welcoming the news that work has begun on a new wall along the riverfront at Culmore after a long campaign Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said

I have been campaigning for some time now for the various agencies to look at the problems being faced by residents in the Culmore area. One area that I felt needed special attention was the wall along the river front.

 

I said there was a need for DRD Roads Service  to remove the sections of the railings at the roadside along the riverfront and replace it with a continuous solid stone wall in consultation with local residents and Derry City Council. I even invited Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill  last year to visit Culmore and while not all of the issues relating to flooding fell under the minister’s remit, Minister O’Neill did acknowledge that some of the agencies who have responsibility for flooding related issues are part of her department.

 

We were informed in November of 2014 that TransportNI (formally DRD Road Service)had responsibility for the maintenance of the wall.I also  proposed a motion calling on Derry City Council to contact them  and have the wall repaired as soon as possible.

 

I am pleased to have received news  today that preparation work on the new wall has started.

Jackson condemns trouble in TOH

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has condemned a number of incidents in the Top of the Hill area tonight during which a fire was started outside the home of  a 70 year old women and the PSNI were attacked in a follow up investigation.

Councillor Jackson said Christopher TOH 1

These incidents have to be condemned. This must have been a very frightening experience for this resident.

The police have to be allowed to carry out their work in responding to emergency situations.

I was on the ground tonight with local community workers to try and stop this escalating.

There is a responsibility on parents to know what their children are getting involved in here.

End

‘Right to Know’ Breakfast Campaign Early diagnosis for people with dementia

 

Speaking at the event chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin said CCn1DhQUwAAh_TS.jpg large

 

As Chairperson of the Committee for Health, I am very pleased to close this important campaign to raise awareness about dementia.  I would like to thank the Alzheimer’s Society for inviting the Committee to sponsor the event, and also the attendees today for showing up and providing their support to this valuable cause.

 

The ageing population throughout the region will unfortunately lead to a continuing increase in numbers of people with dementia.  Dementia is a serious and often misunderstood condition that has a devastating impact on the lives of those affected and on loved ones around them.  The heartbreak of knowing that those affected will never be the same and will slowly deteriorate with time is painful and excruciating; that is why early diagnosis and intervention is key to managing the disease.  Early diagnosis can give families time to cope and plan for the next stages and to ensure that their loved one is properly cared for.

 

 

 

We also heard today the significant impact that a Dementia Support Worker can make post-diagnosis – they can help people with dementia maintain their independence, improve their sense of well-being and take control of their own lives.

Today’s event has greatly helped me to better understand this issue and I give my full support to the work of the Alzheimer’s Society.

 

To finish, I hope that you have found this event interesting and informative and on behalf of myself and the Committee, I’d like to thank all the participants for being here today.

Westminster Election Manifesto 2015

 

 

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Sinn Féin calls for monthly student payments-Logue

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has urged people to support a petition organised by Phil Flanagan MLA calling on the Employment and Learning Minister to make student loan and support payments on a monthly basis.

She said;

“We are extremely concerned at the worsening financial situation facing many students.

“More and more graduates are having to settle for low-paid, part-time or zero-hour contract jobs, reducing the availability of part time employment for current students.

“As a result many students have no financial support and are completely reliant on the income they get from their student loan or support payments.

“These are currently paid in three instalments over the academic year, in October, January and after Easter. This makes it very difficult for students to budget and causes great financial distress to many people. No other section of our society would be expected to budget in such a way.

“The Scottish government has moved away from this policy to what I believe is a much more progressive and student-friendly approach of paying students in ten-monthly instalments.

“We are disappointed that Stephen Farry has refused to implement such a change here despite the student bodies calling for it.

“This petition will allow students to demonstrate to the minister that this proposal has popular support.

“I would encourage people to sign this petition, which can be found at

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/90827-change-the-way-students-receive-their-support-payments.

Cars vandalised in Bogside –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly commenting on the news that a number of cars have been vandalised in the Lone Moor Road area of the Bogside over the last two weekends

Councillor Colly Kelly saidCouncillor Colly Kelly

“There were a number of vandalism attacks on cars in the Lone Moor Road area and several of the side streets over the last two weekends.

It has involved wing mirrors being kicked off and damage to paint work .Replacing a wing mirror on a car now a days can cost over a £100 never mind the cost of repairing damaged paint work.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that this is happen .In the current economic climate it is very hard to afford to keep a car on the road at the best of times and no one needs this extra expense and upset.

I would appeal to anyone who has any information on those responsible to bring it forward.

Ends

McGuinness meets with Christy Walsh

Belfast man Christy Walsh has suffered a miscarriage of justice and should be compensated, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said.

Mr. McGuinness was speaking after meeting Mr Walsh in Stormont today.

“I met this afternoon with Christy Walsh, who is clearly a victim of injustice,” he commented.

“He spent many years in prison and should be entitled to compensation for his experiences.

“Sinn Féin has raised this case with David Ford and we will continue to support Mr Walsh in his quest for justice.”

10,000-strong petition delivered to Dunnes Stores HQ today

10,000-strong petition delivered to Dunnes Stores HQ today

A PETITION with over 10,000 signatures from members of the public over the past five days was handed into Dunnes Stores HQ on Georges Street in Dublin City Centre at lunchtime on Wednesday in solidarity with staff who claim they have been victimised and even sacked after taking part in a one-day strike on 2 April over working conditions.

The petition, organised by independent campaigning organisaton Uplift, calls on Margaret Heffernan, CEO of Dunnes Stores, to guarantee that Dunnes workers are not intimidated or victimised for trying to secure better working conditions.

Siobhán O’Donoghue, spokesperson for Uplift, said:

“Dunnes Stores cannot afford to ignore public pressure. They know only too well the damage that could be inflicted to the company’s ‘bottom line’ if the public turn against them. Ten thousand people represents a lot of customers.”

Dunnes Strike Mandate

● Sinn Féin solidarity with striking workers

Trade union Mandate said they have received reports from members all over the country who have experienced:

Dunnes Stores strike 2015 Mandate logo

● Dismissals

● Cuts to hours

● Changes in roles

● Changes in shift patterns

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary, said:

“As a very last resort, and with no other option available to them, our members in Dunnes Stores took legitimate and reasonable industrial action.

“All they want is for their company to meaningfully engage with them through their union with the objective of creating decent working conditions.

“Now their employer is blatantly targeting people with the hope of intimidating their own loyal staff and turning them away from any future trade union activities.”

Department of Environment must protect Faughan River – Ó hEára

Sinn Féin Westminster candidate for Foyle, Gearóid O hEára has called on the DOE to withhold permission for any hydro-electric schemes on the river Faughan until comprehensive environmental impact studies into the cumulative effects of five proposed schemes along the river are carried out.IMG_9290

 

Mr O hEara, himself a keen fisherman and a lifelong member of the Faughan Anglers Association, said:

 

“It would seem that the DOE is intent on contradicting their own mission statement, “A Better Environment – a Better Economy” by allowing anti-environmental developments along the river Faughan.”

 

He went on to say:

“The Faughan is designated a Special area of Conservation (SAC) by Europe in respect of the Atlantic salmon and the European otter. Responsibility for its protection lies with the NI Environmental Agency’s Water Management Unit.

“Europe expects the precautionary principle to be applied, in other words if there is a doubt that a proposed project will affect the SAC, then permissions should not be granted.

“The River Faughan Anglers Association (RFAA) a voluntary, cross community and not-for-profit organisation manages the fishing rights of this important salmon river.

 

“With over 900 permit holders, the vast majority from the Derry and Claudy areas and a significant waiting list is an indication of the importance of angling in the area, both in terms of a valuable recreational activity for local people but also indicates the tourism potential for the local economy.

 

“There are five current applications with planners for for the Faughan catchment area, each of which require the abstraction of water, the dewatering of some stretches, along with substantial engineering works and impoundments, which by their very nature will negatively impact on the river.

 

“Each will require a licence from NIEA to abstract water. The application for Ballyarton requires a double abstraction licence for a fish farm, which has operated without one, and for the proposed hydro project.

 

Mr O hEára concluded:

 

“I am calling on NIEA to withhold consideration of these applications until such time as the applicants can demonstrate that the projects will not damage or negatively impact on the SAC

 

“The cumulative effect of five applications for hydros on the Faughan is not being taken into consideration and the department appears unwilling or unable to do so.

“The “competent authority” in this matter – the Loughs Agency – has previously raised concerns on these proposals.

“The Minister and Department of Environment is obliged to gauge the cumulative impact and if there is any doubt regarding the environmental impact on the SAC then approval should be denied.” CRÍOCH/END

Foyle MLA welcomes £200,000 capital grant for rural communities

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the announcement by DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill that £200,000 will be available for Rural Micro Capital Grant Programme with applications opening this week.raymond mccartney

Raymond McCartney said

“The Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme is designed to allow rural community groups to access grants between £500 and £1500 for minor works and the purchase of equipment.

“It is important that we support the many groups that provide a range of activities for the rural community including those providing leisure, educational and health activities.

“These grants will assist these groups in getting access to the latest equipment or having their buildings maintained to the highest standards and allow them to improve their service to the community.

“The Minister has again demonstrated that she is committed to bringing equality to the rural community by announcing this tranche of funding and I would urge interested groups to access the application form on www.dardni.gov.uk/rural-micro-capital-grant-programme-2015.

“Applications are open from this week until 22nd May 2015 so it is important that groups prepare now so that they can access the fund when it comes online.”

Anderson calls for release of imprisoned Palestinian politicians

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the immediate release of all imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said; BsrQvQMCIAIm5jM.jpg large

“The recent arrest of Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar is the latest in a series of measures by Israel to deny democracy to the Palestinian people.

“She is one of 16 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently detained by Israel.

“Khalida Jarrar is a high-profile feminist and advocate for Palestinian prisoners and is Palestine’s representative on the Council of Europe.

“Her arrest comes just months after an Israeli military court attempted to forcibly transfer her from her home in Ramallah to Jericho. She led a high-profile campaign against the move and the order was quashed a month later.

“The arrest of Khalida Jarrar and her colleagues and their transfer from occupied territory into Israel not only violates the Geneva Convention but also international conventions regarding the immunity of elected representatives.

“I have written to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs to urge the institutions of the EU and its member states to call on Israel to release Khalida Jarrar and all other detained members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

Amnesty International welcomes Kincora election pledge by British Labour Party

Amnesty International welcomes Kincora election pledge by British Labour Party

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has welcomed today’s announcement that the British Labour Party would include the sexual abuse of boys in the Kincora Belfast children’s home in an existing inquiry if it wins the Westminster general election.

But Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan said that justice for victims of abuse should not be reliant on the outcome of an election.

“We call on all parties to make a similar pledge to deliver truth and justice to the Kincora victims,” the Amnesty spokesperson said.

“The claims relating to Kincora are deeply disturbing – that MI5 turned a blind eye to child abuse and actively blocked a police investigation, instead using the paedophile ring for its own intelligence-gathering purposes.”

It would be completely unacceptable for Kincora to be left out of any inquiry, he said.

Files ‘lost’

An Phoblacht reported in July of last year that documents alleging child abuse against MPs and senior public figures in the 1980s (when Margaret Thatcher’s Tory party was in power) are among 114 Home Office files on child sex abuse that have been destroyed, ‘lost’ or ‘gone missing’. It is believed that some of this vital information related to Kincora.

The systematic abuse of young boys in the Kincora Boys’ Home in the 1970s and the part played by British Intelligence organisations to keep the scandal under wraps ensured that one side of the murky world of unionist paramilitarism and its links to the crown forces was kept out of the public domain for years.

It all eventually unravelled in the early 1980s.

Kincora William McGrath

At the centre of the affair was Kincora Housemaster William McGrath (pictured).

McGrath was the head of unionist paramilitary group Tara and a man central to the formation of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in 1971.

McGrath was also closely connected to senior figures in both major unionist parties as well as having links to the Orange Order.

McGrath and two other members of staff were jailed in 1981 for sexually assaulting boys in their care.

Choice between equality and austerity is central to Westminster election campaign

Choice between equality and austerity is central to Westminster election campaign

THE Westminster general election is now fully under way in Britain and the Six Counties. Many polls continue to suggest that the next British parliament may be ‘hung’, with the Tories and Labour taking approximately one third of the vote each and the last third being carved out among all other competing parties in England, Wales, Scotland and the North. That includes UKIP and the DUP, the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and Sinn Féin.

Focus on the political economy and how and why the economy and economic policies should function are centre stage.

Gerry Kelly 2015

The Tories have declared that, if re-elected, their plan for reducing the British state’s deficit next time would include an additional £30billion in cutbacks, £12billion of which will come from welfare. They have refused to say what specific new welfare cuts would be implemented. However, given their ideological attack on the welfare state to date, this inevitably means that the disabled, children with special needs and in poverty, the long-term sick, elderly, and care assistants will be targeted.

The ramifications of the Tories’ new plans will be catastrophic.

The British welfare state has already been seriously damaged. There are over 700,000 citizens on zero hours contracts.

The Tories are also committed to a referendum on withdrawal from Europe and this will have its own repercussions.

SNP v Labour 2015

Last month, British Labour Party Shadow Finance Minister Ed Balls admitted his own support for austerity policies, albeit on a smaller scale than the Tories. That signals a future Labour administration has already been compromised by an acceptance of austerity.

So it was significant to hear the trenchant rejection by Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon of austerity during the last fortnight at her party’s spring conference and then on the TV leaders’ debates.

The SNP and Sinn Féin are now the only significant parties in the British state or Ireland giving leadership on anti-austerity politics, and alternative economic and fiscal strategies.

Significantly, the SNP may become the third or fourth largest party in the British parliament after this election.

An unambiguous commitment to equality sets Sinn Féin apart from every other party contesting this election in the North.

All of the unionist parties, including Alliance, have been compromised by the acceptance of austerity. This is why the impasse over implementing the actual agreement on welfare protections remains extant within the Executive.

Ultimately, responsibility rests with the British Government. The political institutions were established to deliver change in the North as it emerged from conflict. Yet the Tories made a decision five years ago to reduce the public expenditure settlement (the block grant), for the Six Counties to support that work by £1.5billion.

Now the Tories have made it clear that they will make even bigger cuts to the block grant, given the chance. That prospect contains very serious economic and social implications for Northern society. The precise intentions of a Labour government are unclear.

When asked about the unionist electoral pact during his visit to Belfast last Tuesday, Tory British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to comment. He had no need. The Tories are standing 16 candidates in the North. They will not contest Fermanagh & South Tyrone or North Belfast. That is an attempt to support the DUP’s Nigel Dodds against Sinn Féin’s surge and to assist the Ulster Unionist Tom Elliot’s challenge against Michelle Gildernew.

Michelle Gildernew 2015

Of course, the Tories have been courting the DUP in particular for some time now. Their focus is on a ‘hung’ parliament and planning for “confidence and supply” arrangements with both UKIP and the DUP.

Ideologically, the DUP and UUP have already bought into the austerity agenda. Their wider electoral pact is a negative, sectarian, and pro-austerity alliance now supported by Cameron’s Tory party. It offers nothing to the unionist working poor, jobless and most deprived, or indeed any section of Northern society.

Simply put, unionism in this election is a byword for no political vision and bad economics – and a proxy to enable even worse Tory austerity in the North.

Caoimhe Archibald 2015

The alternative to the unionist/Tory ‘race to the bottom’ is the type of vision, leadership, and strategy which rejects austerity, supports equality, and is committed to building the alliances across society to bring that about.

That should be the focus of all genuinely progressive parties and organisations in the coming weeks.

St Anne’s works to commence this week –Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has said upgrade works at St Anne’s primary school are to commence this week.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper last month  organised an onsite meeting with residents and senior representative from the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) to discuss the works and resolve any potential impact it would have on the local community.

Councillor Cooper said “I would just like to inform residents that the planned work around resurfacing of the playground will be commencing this week.

It’s hoped that any disruption will be kept to a minimum and that any changes made to pathways during this process would be restored afterwards.

If any resident has any concerns they should contact me on 028 7137 7551.

 

Ends

Housing Executive should be given borrowing powers -Hassan‏‎

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has said the Housing Executive should be given borrowing powers to help address housing need in Derry and across the North . ???????????????????????????????

The Derry Housing spokesperson  said;

“I welcome the call from the Housing Executive to be given borrowing powers to address the significant housing improvements currently required in Derry and across the North but the finances needed to solve the housing problem must go much further.

“Addressing the future shape of housing provision over the coming 20 years needs political vision and a bold initiative and that has been Sinn Féin’s clear position.

“We believe the Housing Executive’s ability to build homes should be restored as a matter of urgency and a programme of new builds be rolled out to tackle the housing crisis.

“Stopping the deterioration of the current public housing stock is certainly one aspect of housing need which must be addressed but we need more homes and it should be the Housing Executive that builds them.”

Fears follow attempted break-in at Grangemore-Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly said

“I was contacted by a resident in Grangemore  who was away for the Easter Holidays and returned to find two men where in her back garden .Only for the vigilance of her neighbour and alert residents who disturbed the men and contacted the police ,this had the potential to be a lot worse .So I would appeal to  people be careful and make sure they take the necessary safety precautions around their  home especially if they are  away on holidays, or even heading out to the park all day or nipping down in a caravan in Donegal.

He went on to say

I would advise all residents to ensure that their doors and windows are closed and locked at night and when people are out during the day. I would also advise that as cars and their contents are being targeted, people should ensure they are not leaving valuables in their cars or where perspective thieves will see them.

Over the summer I would also urge local people to secure all their belongings particularly in garden sheds, outhouses and garages. Which are all easy targets for criminals. And call on any resident who sees anyone acting suspiciously to contact the police straight away.

Fears after Derry gorse fires –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly commenting on a number of gorse fires in the Derry area in recent days including one on  Southway between Creggan and the Brandywell on Friday night .

Cllr Councillor Colly Kelly saidCouncillor Colly Kelly

“Apart from being a risk to life, property and the wider environment, these fires are also tying up resources of the Fire and Rescue Services that could be needed elsewhere in an emergency.

“Gorse fires can prove to be a serious problem and while some of these fires are started accidentally, the majority are believed to be started deliberately.

“Accidental fires in the countryside can be started through discarded rubbish or carelessness when disposing of items like barbecue coals or cigarette ends that have not fully cooled.

“I would encourage people to be extra careful and ensure that they take everything home that they bring out into the countryside. And also appeal to people not to attempt to tackle gorse fires on their own but to ring the emergency services straight away.

“I would particularly emphasise the danger to young people not to be tempted to set fires as this could lead to a tragedy and could devastate the wider community.”

 

Ends

Tobacco companies can’t be allowed to overrule legislation

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said tobacco companies cannot be allowed to overrule anti-smoking legislation in individual countries.

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Ms Anderson said;

“Countries across the world have introduced legislation to protect citizens from the risks of smoking and to promote healthy lifestyles.

“This has included plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products to cut down the number of young people who take up the deadly habit.

“Tobacco companies have tried to block such moves from becoming law. Now they are attempting to go even further with Philip Morris suing the government of Uruguay over anti-smoking legislation.

“This has been made possible because of the International State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. This is why I and other Sinn Féin MEPs have opposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which contains ISDS.

“We cannot have the situation where Big Tobacco companies can ride roughshod over the legislation of individual countries because they don’t like specific laws.

“The health of citizens is more important than the wealth of tobacco companies.” Ends/Críoch

Latest Derry/Belfast Rail line delay unacceptable – Ó hOisín

Sinn Féin East Derry MLA Cathal Ó hOisín is calling on Minister Danny Kennedy to explain the cause of the latest delay in completing the upgrade of the Derry/Belfast rail link.

Mr Ó hOisín said:1174901_10152240490953642_1298589685_n

“Work on this phase of the line was to have commenced at the beginning of May and be completed by December. In the latest delay in this project we have now been informed that work will not now commence until September with no projected completion date.

“Minister Danny Kennedy is withholding the report on the Project assessment citing ‘commercial  confidentiality’. 

“This is unacceptable and I am calling on Danny Kennedy to make a statement on the cause of these interminable delays to this project.” CRÍOCH/END

Hassan warns over creeper burglaries in Culmore Road area.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan was speaking after a number of incidents in the Culmore Road this week

Councillor Hassan said

“It’s very concerning that these culprits  seem to have no fear and are preying on the whole community as they sleep in their beds at night and should be shunned by everyone.

Earlier this year I highlighted a number of incidents in the Culmore area in which attempts had been made to break into a number of cars and in other incidents cars had been

vandalised.

It’s important that if anyone sees people acting suspiciously late at night in the area they contact the police straight away,”

Ends

Kelly welcomes Bogside roads improvement scheme

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has welcomed an improvement scheme underway in the Bogside area which will see when finished new roadways and footpaths in many of the streets off the Lone Moor Road.COLLY

CouncillorColly  Kelly said “It’s good to see this much needed work taking place. The improvement scheme will see new footpaths and roadways in the many of the streets of the Lone Moor Road .It will also see  new road markings being put in place. This is a very built up area and always busy with pedestrians and traffic.

There has been an element of distribution to the lives of local people whilst this work has been taking place and I have been working to resolve a number of issues raised by residents.

Ends

Investment in digital hubs-Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation from Derry City Council that £20,000 has been ring-fenced to deliver multimedia training courses in the new Department Culture Arts and Leisure funded digital hubs being installed in community buildings across Derry and Strabane. He said the funding for both the equipment and training was the culmination of a long negotiation between himself, Derry City Council, DCAL and other partners:

Councillor Cooper said

“ I am delighted that Derry City Council approved funding to allow the delivery of training to users of the new digital equipment which is being installed in community buildings across the North West, including the Rosemount Factory building. The funding will be used to deliver both short beginners classes and enhanced level 2 and 3 accredited training to users of the facilities to allow them to increase their knowledge and experience to allow them to advance to higher level qualifications at the North West Regional College or University of Ulster or indeed to start their own small businesses within their own communities.

 

 

As part of our City of Culture legacy proposals, Sinn Féin made the case to DCAL that we needed digital equipment in our community areas to allow residents to build their digital capacity. As a result DCAL minister Caral Ni Chulain agreed to provide £250,000 for equipment across the Neighbourhood Renewal(NR) areas in the North West.

 

As I pointed out many times in the over the last couple of years, this equipment was vital in building capacity in STEM based subjects and to allow our young people to step up to higher education.

To allow this step up I also proposed to Derry City Council that some support should be made available to provide formal training to those who wished to avail of it. As part of its programme activities for the Year of Science and Innovation, DCC has agreed to provide £20,000 in support.

I would like to thank both DCAL and Oonagh McGillion at DCC for their foresight in providing this support which will undoubtedly increase educational/skills outcomes and employment prospects for residents across the North West. I will also be continuing discussions with partners in ERNACT , the NWRC and the NR areas to identify support for other elements such as informal training and social enterprise support within the digital hubs following the installation of the new equipment over the coming weeks”

 

It is envisaged that the training will commence in the autumn of 2015 following the installation of the equipment in the spring. Further details will be announced by each NR area in due course.

Drink fuelled anti community trouble in Galliagh –Duffy

Councillor Sandra Duffy said DSC_0627

The weather has been great all week as people have been enjoying the Easter break, but as we have found in the past it also has its downside when large groups of young people gather and engage in on street drinking.

On Wednesday night there were a number of incidents in the Galliagh area particularly between Glencaw and Leafair when large groups of young people fuelled by drink got involved in anti-community activity causing great distress to local residents. Community representatives tried their best to quell the incidents but it’s a very hard situation to deal with in such circumstances.

Residents should not have to live with this carry on right on their doorsteps.

Strenuous efforts have been made by elected representatives, residents, community groups and the police over recent times and it’s clear that this has not been successful in finding all the answers to the problems being encountered here.

McLaughlin welcomes progress on North West Gateway Initiative

 

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a cross-border meeting of ministers to make progress on the north west gateway initiative.

The Foyle MLA said; ?????????????????????????????????

“The North West Gateway Initiative was designed to encourage economic growth in the Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Donegal areas, all of which have suffered from chronic underinvestment in the past.

“As such it is vital to the economic regeneration of the wider north west region.

“I asked the deputy First Minister for an update in the progress of the initiative and he has now confirmed that it has been discussed at a recent North South Initiative meeting in Belfast.

“Following discussions between Martin McGuinness, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan TD and Minister Sean Sherlock TD, departmental officials from north and south have been meeting to discuss the views expressed by stakeholders on the way forward for the North West Gateway Initiative.

“Officials have also met the chief executives of the new Derry and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council.

“A meeting between ministers from north and south to decide how the North West Gateway Initiative will proceed is now being planned for May.

“This is welcome progress for an essential component of the regeneration of the north west.” Ends/Críoch

Ó hEára urges voters to reject austerity

The Sinn Féin Westminster Candidate Gearóid Ó hEára has urged voters to send a message to any incoming British government that their austerity cuts agenda is unacceptable.

Mr Ó hEára said:

“The Westminster election on May 7th presents a challenge for the voters in Foyle to send a strong anti-austerity message to the British government.

“The austerity agenda of the Tory led government in London has been a disaster for the North of Ireland.

“It has given us only high unemployment, emigration, poverty, underdevelopment and a fragile economic environment.

“Only last week the Tories pledged further eye-watering cuts to public services and to welfare protections.

“You have the opportunity to send a strong message that there is a better, fairer way to deliver equality and a fair economic recovery through the progressive politics espoused by Sinn Féin.

“Sinn Féin is demanding the transfer of full fiscal powers away from London to the Executive. This is the best way to ensure we have the capability of creating an economy to meet the specific needs of our people.

“With your support Sinn Féin will deliver on the vision of a strong all-island economy.

“Health, education, the environment, inward investment, transport, tourism, energy, agriculture and business development would all benefit from an all island approach.

“Our policies are about putting people first.

“We are committed to defending the core public services of health, education and the welfare system.

“The Sinn Féin vision of equality and national reconciliation challenges the narrow sectarian and conservative agenda the unionist parties are peddling in this election.

“We will continue to provide a strong voice for the vulnerable, challenge sectarianism, racism and homophobia.”

 

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