Green light for Gas Heating to 140 homes after delay – Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed the news that a heating replacement scheme which was to begin last September but was put back by Housing Executive is now set to go ahead.

 

Councillor Campbell said:cityside candidates for 2014 kevin patricia colly and liam c mc menamin pics (113)

 

“I am delighted to hear that the heating replacement scheme which was promised to over 140 homes in the city has now been given the green light and will begin at the end of February. 

 

“When the Housing Executive announced the news last September that the scheme was to be put back, there was a lot of anger among residents.  People had run down their oil tanks in anticipation of gas being installed only to be told that because of financial constraints the scheme was put on hold. The residents who were already on tight budgets had to go and find the extra money to fill their oil tanks”

 

“At that time Maeve Mc Laughlin MLA and I did a meeting with senior management of Housing Executive to press upon them the importance of delivering on this scheme.  I am happy to say that the scheme will proceed and these residents will receive letters shortly from Housing Executive outlining the details”

 

Announced consultation for A5 is welcome news – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has welcomed today’s announcement by the DRD Minister of the start of the consultation process on the  A5 road upgrade project.

Raymond McCartney  said; Raymond head shot 22

“Following the announcement of £229 million for the A5 upgrade project as part of the 2016/’17 Executive budget the news that the consultation period is now underway is further evidence of the Executive’s committment to the North West.

“There is no doubt that the A5 project is one of the largest infrastructure projects on the island of Ireland.

“It is vital for the growth of the economy right along the route and will greatly enhance cross-border trade and the continued development of the all-Ireland economy.

“We in Sinn Féin are committed to the A5 project and hope to see work beginning as soon as possible so that communities along the route can reap the benefits.”

Ends

MEP Anderson discusses Indication of Origin of Goods labelling in occupied Territories

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson who is leading an EU Delegation to Palestine, has met with Israeli and Palestinian NGOs to discuss the topic of Indication of Origin labelling.

 

Ms Anderson said,Ca44iS5WcAA5cWO.jpg large

 

“Over 800,000 settlers live illegally in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

 

“These Illegal Israeli settlements remain one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the region and was the topic of conversation during our meeting with Israeli and Palestinian NGOs.

 

“The EU presently contributes directly and indirectly to the occupation of Palestine via trade in settlement products, financial support for Israeli institutions in the occupied territories and investment in Israeli military infrastructure through the nature of its present agreements with Israel.

 

“While labelling only affects 1% of the total trade between the EU and Israel it amounts to an estimated €200 million worth of illegal settlement products to the EU every year.

 

The Chair of the Delegation of Relations with Palestine, Ms Anderson said,

 

“Although we received a renewed commitment from the EU last November to label products from illegal Israeli settlements, we are still waiting for this to be implemented.

 

“The introduction of labelling on these products will inform consumers and allow them to make an informed decision when purchasing goods, the profits of which directly or indirectly, contribute to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

 

“This issue has been a key campaign for the Delegation for Relations with Palestine and we will continue to campaign on this issue in order to put pressure on Israel to respect international law and help advance a sustainable peace in the region.”

McLaughlin welcomes extension of Women’s Centre Childcare Fund

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin  welcomed the announcement that the Women’s Centre Childcare Fund will be made available for another year.

Maeve McLaughlin said; Maeve McLaughlin, City Hotel

“Sinn Féin has been lobbying on behalf of women, their families and the women’s sector for this fund to be continued for another year to protect this essential childcare service.

“On Monday we met with the DSD Minister and pressed on him the need for it to be protected along with funding for Neighbourhood Renewal Programmes.

“I have spoken to many women and representatives from the sector over several months and they all expressed concern that the positive impact from the WCCF would be lost if a gap were to happen.

“I’m delighted their consistent lobbying has paid off and that women and their families will continue to benefit from this service.”

Cosquin electricty out 7 times in a year -McCartney‏‎

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on NIE to resolve ongoing problems of power outages in the Cosquin area.

He was speaking after it was revealed there have been seven  instances of power cuts in the area over the past year.

The Foyle MLA said

My constituency office has received a number of complaints from businesses and residents living in the general Cosquin area about the loss of electricity supply on an ongoing basis. Its alarming that there has been an interruption to supply on seven occasions in that area over the past year. That’s a very high figure for such a small geographical area.

We have been in contact with NIE to raise these concerns and to try and get to the bottom of what is going on here. They have informed us that there is no common thread in the causes for the outages of power.

I feel it’s very important that NIE review the entire electricity network in the area , look at solutions and move on whatever investment and system upgrade is needed.

Its intolerable to be sitting in your home on a dark winters night worrying about if your electric is going to go off or  if you’re running a business or farm the financial implications that would have and looking after the likes of livestock.

Cooper welcomes council support for additional Brooke Park disabled facilities

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the announcement made by DCSDC that they will be exploring options to install additional disabled facilities in the new Brooke Park when it opens later this year. Mickey Cooper

 

He said:

 

‘I am pleased that council has agreed to provide additional support to install disabled facilities in the new Brooke Park. This is in addition to the substantial match funding provided by council to allow the development to proceed. Unfortunately when the original consultations on Brooke Park took place the issue of a wheelchair adaptable swing was not identified which meant it was not included in the designs or budget for the park.

 

After discussions with council and the Outer West Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership I’m glad that progress has been made on finding new monies to address the issue which is obviously a massive boost to the families of people with disabilities who can now avail of the facilities that council support will provide. This will enhance the new Brooke Park even further and I look forward to the official opening later in 2016.

 

Anderson MEP condemns Israeli suspension of Arab Parliamentarians

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned the Israeli suspension of three Arab Parliamentarians and called on the International community to demand that Israel conform to acceptable democratic principles.CVXwOSAUsAAv08y.jpg large

Ms Anderson said:

“Israel is fond of claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East, therefore, it needs to demonstrate this by abiding by the basic principles of democracy one of which is the right of parliamentarians to fulfil their obligations as elected representatives without interference.

“On Monday 8 February, the Knesset Ethic committee suspended two Arab Palestinian legislators, Mrs. Haneen Zo’abi and Mr. Basel Ghattas, for four months and MK Jamal Zahalka for a period of two months from all Knesset activities except voting.

“Netanyahu’s coalition government also approved a new draft bill which will enable the suspension of Arab parliamentarians for making political statements related to issues of so-called national loyalty to the Jewish state or is interpreted as an apology for terrorism if  90 Members of parliament (of the 120-seat Knesset) vote to do so.

“These undemocratic suspensions follow a recent meeting by the three parliamentarians with families of Palestinian killed in alleged attacks on Israelis. This meeting was deemed unacceptable and showing public support for ‘terrorist’ attacks against Israelis.

“This meeting took place following a humanitarian request to the Israeli police for the return of the bodies of their relatives in order that they could bury them. In what is seen as an act of collective punishment the Israeli government keep possession of the bodies for months after the deaths.

“By any measure of international standards these actions by the Israeli government are undemocratic and an affront to human decency.

“The international community must insist that Israel rescind discriminatory laws that allow for punitive punishment and expulsion of democratically elected representatives on the grounds of ethnicity or political persuasion for what is generally accepted as fabricated security reasons.

“The suspension of these Arab parliamentarians must be lifted immediately.”

EU delegation led by Anderson MEP blocked from Gaza

An EU cross-party delegation of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine led by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has been blocked by the Israeli government from entering Gaza.

Martina Anderson said:

“As part of its mandate the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, which I chair, travelled to the region yesterday on a four day fact-finding mission in the West Bank and Gaza.

“But we have been informed by Israeli authorities that the Delegation will not be permitted to proceed to Gaza, and will for the fourth time in two years be denied access.

“EU support to the Palestinians amounts to 300 million euros per annum. 

The purpose of the delegation’s visit is to assess the situation on the ground and the impact EU policies and assistance programmes are having on the lives of Palestinians.

“Despite stating clearly that the remit of this delegation has a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus, we continue to be blocked.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny this delegation access to Gaza for the fourth time.

“It is unacceptable that an official EU delegation to Palestine is refused entry to assess the humanitarian situation and the destruction in Gaza. Since the EU is the largest contributor of finance to Palestinians it is time the EU took steps to insist its delegations are allowed unhindered access to the region.

 “These blatant attempts to deter us from our responsibilities to monitor the impact of EU funding in the Region should not be allowed to go unchallenged. The European authorities must leave Israel under no illusions that there will be repercussions if it insists on blocking access to Gaza by the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine. 

“If Israel thinks that blocking EU-accredited International delegations from visiting Gaza that its illegal demolitions of EU-funded structures and other acts of oppression will be hidden from the wider world then it is seriously mistaken. It will only strengthen our resolve to expose what can only be described as Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people.” CRÍOCH/END

‘Revolution 1916’ the Exhibition

McLaughlin welcomes Assembly Women’s Week

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin  has welcomed news that Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin will host the first Assembly Women’s Week from March 7.Maeve McLaughlin  said; CTE2e25WIAElo4v

“I welcome the fact Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin has announced he will host the first Assembly Women’s Week.

“This will be one of a number of events planned around International Women’s Day in order to celebrate the role of women in public life and encourage more participation.

“Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted the importance of women in politics and three of our four MEPs are women, three out of our five ministers in the Assembly are women and over 40 per cent of our candidates in elections north and south are women.

“It is vitally important we encourage more women into politics and participate in the democratic process and events like this, will help towards achieving that.”

Ends

British government must live up to its responsibilities on legacy -McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said the British government must live up to its responsibilities to resource legacy investigations and inquests into the legacy of the conflict.

Raymond McCartney said; raymond mccartney

“Any veto on the disclosure of information to the families of those killed in the conflict is wrong and must end.

“Sinn Féin has consistently called for maximum disclosure and for investigations into the legacy of the conflict to be resourced by the British government.

“Some have raised concerns about the amount of money which could be spent on inquiries but the reality is that all of this can be avoided; the British government holds the information. They just need to release it.

“There is a clear onus on the British government to live up to commitments made in the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014.

“It must recognise its responsibilities and end its veto on disclosure of information on deaths from the conflict.”

Major campaign launched against Dog Fouling -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said

Just over two years ago following a high number of high complaints about dog dirt I convened a number of public information sessions in the Bishop Street, Brandywell, Bogside areas on the issue of dog fouling, which was  blighting many communities. Patricia Logue new pic 22

Sadly this problem still exists and is having an impact on the local community. The mess caused by dog fouling is dirty, smelly and unpleasant, and creates a significant health hazard, especially to children, and brings irresponsible dog owners into conflict with other users of public places.

In recent times my party colleague Maeve McLaughlin has also received a high number of complaints about this problem in the Rosemount area.

I contacted at Bogside and Brandywell Initiative(BBI) and asked them  to convene a multi-agency meeting regarding the major issue of Dog fouling in the TRIAX area .Those in attendance included the Housing Executive wardens, BBI,Council dog wardens, Council cleansing.

We have identified target areas. From today all those groups and organisations involved in the process we will be starting a campaign highlighting the problem of dog fouling Dove Gardens/ Lecky Road area. We will be going door to door – giving information on who to contact, what they can do, asking for resident involvement in trying to eradicate this problem.

For resident involvement -call BBI ask for Colm, Donna or Aiden on 71261916.

Clarity needed over future of Creggan window replacement scheme- Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell is calling on the Housing Executive to clarify the situation around the window replacement scheme for Rinmore Drive.

 

Councillor Kevin Campbell said:cityside candidates for 2014 kevin patricia colly and liam c mc menamin pics (113)

 

“I have been informed that the window replacement scheme, which was to happen in 2016, may possibly be put back for another year.  If this is true then this is totally unacceptable.  I have been lobbying Housing Executive for the past three years to have this scheme introduced and i was assured that the scheme would happen this year.  The windows in Rinmore Drive are wooden framed and since they were installed there has been nothing but complaints from the residents with serious draughts blowing through the window frames , leaving the homes freezing during the winter and in some cases there are serious leeks with rain water causing mould on the window frames on the inside leading to damp.

 

“The residents of Rinmore Drive have had to tolerate a lot over the years the latest being the damp problems in their homes .Senior management of Housing Executive agreed to engage a consultancy firm to get to the problem of damp and still to date there is no sign of this happening and now this latest news.

 

“I am calling on senior management of Housing Executive to clarify this situation immediately.  The residents of Rinmore Drive have had enough”.

Anderson MEP urges awareness of EU 112 Emergency number‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has urged anyone travelling in Europe to familiarize themselves with the EU-wide 112 Emergency number.

Ms Anderson said:CWrWZ7UWUAEjEpO

“Every year we hear of holidaymakers finding themselves in emergency situations while vacationing in Europe.

“As we enter that time of year when people are considering holiday destinations I would urge everyone to familiarize themselves with the EU-wide 112 Emergency services number.

“The 112 number was first initiated in 2009 but surveys indicate that less than 30% of Irish people are aware of its existence.

“It can be a terrifying experience to find yourself in a foreign environment trying to deal with an emergency concerning yourself or a loved one and unaware of the quickest way to contact emergency services.

112 is the European emergency phone number, available everywhere in the EU, free of charge.

“It is possible to call 112 from fixed and mobile phones to contact any emergency service: an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police.

“When you dial 112, a specially trained operator will answer the call. Depending on the circumstances and emergency services required, the operator will either deal with the request directly or transfer the call to the most appropriate emergency service.

“If you do not know your exact location, the operator will physical identify where the call originates and pass it to the appropriate emergency services so that help can be dispatched immediately.

“The 112 number is also used in some countries outside the EU – such as Switzerland and South Africa – and is available worldwide on GSM mobile networks.

“I urge anyone intending to travel anywhere in Europe to familiarize themselves with the 112 emergency services number – it could save lives.”  CRÍOCH/END

Initiative to thwart Creggan oil thieves huge uptake –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly

“I was contacted by a number of residents just before Christmas who had home heating oil stolen from their homes in the Rinmore Drive, Creggan Heights and Oakfield Park areas of Creggan. And in recent days there has been a number of thefts in Culmore.colly and kevin

“It’s absolutely despicable that people would do something like this and it caused a bit of fear in the locality due to the frequency of these incidents

“There’s a high level of older people who live in these areas of Creggan and it precisely because of all these factors that we teamed with PCSP to put a stop to these thefts.”

This initiative has been a great success with over 100 homes getting oil locks and nearly 50 bin locks.

If you or someone you know is concerned about becoming a victim to oil thieves you can now contact the PCSP and they will arrange for someone to visit your home and install a security lock to your oil tank. The lock and its installation are completely free of charge.

 

The lock works when it is secured to the top of an oil tank using a pad lock.

Anderson MEP to lead EU Delegation to Palestine

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will lead an EU cross-party delegation of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine to the West Bank and Gaza from 8th to 12th February 2016.CVXwOSAUsAAv08y.jpg large

Martina Anderson said:

“As part of its mandate of democratic scrutiny of the EU policies and budget the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine will travel to the region from 8th to 12th February

“EU support to the Palestinians amounts to 300 million euros per annumand the delegation will assess the situation on the ground and the impact EU policies and assistance programmes are having on the lives of Palestinians.

“In all of our engagements we will be empathising the EU support of a two-state solution that will meet the security requirements of both Palestine and Israel.

“Reciprocal recognition of Palestinian and Israeli security needs, Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and an end to the occupation that began in 1967, should form the basis of a conflict resolution process to resolve all permanent status issues in order to end the conflict.

“The implementation of the EU guidelines on the indication of origin of settlement products will also feature in our discussions. The delegation also intends to address the issue of the EU support to the rebuilding of Gaza, the illegal Israeli demolitions of EU-funded structures and the overall cost-effectiveness of EU assistance to the Palestinians.

“Last but not least, it will alsoassess human rights and democratic developments, including the need for the holding of the long-overdue elections to thePalestinian Legislative Council.

Notes

The group will be led by Delegation Chair Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL, Irish) and composed of 6 other Members: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens, Denmark), Roza Thun (EPP, Poland), Eugen Freund (S&D, Austria), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL, France), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD, Italy) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI, Greece).

Refurb of Coshquin bus shelter welcomed -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor has welcomed the work carried out by Council to refurbish the bus shelter adjacent to the Benview Estate at Coshquin.Eric new head shot 20144

 

Cllr. McGinley said: “In response to representations made by residents of Benview in relation to the dilapidated condition of the bus shelter I asked Council to consider what measures were required to address this situation.   Council has now refurbished the shelter by adding side panels and replacing the roof.

 

Whilst there are still ongoing issues in relation to bus provision for the estate it is important that whilst residents have to use the shelter on the Buncrana Road that they have adequate protection against the elements such as has now been provided.”

Cameron’s vision for Europe is race to the bottom – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the proposals offered by European Council President Donald Tusk, to British Prime Minister David Cameron in terms of Brexit is pandering to the Britain’s right-wing agenda and a race to the bottom.

Addressing the European Parliament this morning, Ms Anderson said,Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large

“Sinn Féin wants to see the creation of a social Europe, a Europe with democracy at its core and a Europe that is closer to citizens.

“It is clear that the right-wing agenda of these institutions and several EU leaders is being put before the needs of citizens.

“The failed policies of deregulation, austerity, discrimination and scapegoating are at the heart of the “EU Reform” agenda heading into February’s Council.

“Cameron and Tusk’s vision for Europe is that of a race to the bottom and total disregard for the concepts of human rights and equality.

The Sinn Féin MEP continued,

“Along with the attack on workers’ and migrants rights contained in the Tusk proposals, the agenda of the British Government is to undermine Human Rights as evident in its proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act – which give effect to the European Convention of Human Rights. The legal opinion presented to the Brexit: Rights and Wrongs Conference which I hosted last Friday proved that this is in fact a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Whilst the EU is in need of radical reform, It’s clear that these proposals would push the EU in the wrong direction. The European institutions can only be changed from within – and not outside – the EU.

“In most international agreements, disputes or otherwise, it’s all about the economy stupid, in the case of BREXIT, it’s all about Human Rights Stupid.” CRÍOCH/END

“Paul’s campaign” to go to Stormont on Monday –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin is to host an event at Stormont on Monday (8th Feb) at 1pm around Sarcoma Awareness and highlighting the story of Derry man Paul Coyle who lost his life to Sarcoma.

IMG_1223

The Foyle MLA said

“I am very pleased to be hosting this event on Monday and raising awareness of this illness.

I am urging people locally to support the campaign to raise awareness of  Sarcoma and look at funding for research into it”

EU Commission should provide protection for social media users – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a commitment from the EU Commission to intensify talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for personal data transfers, via social networks, to the US.MartinaAndersonMEP

Speaking from Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said,

“Whilst social media has become a routine part of 1.73 billion people’s daily lives and it provides an invaluable service in terms of connecting and informing people, it is important that users are protected from any unwanted sharing of personal data.

“In June 2015 the Belgian Privacy Commission brought a case against Facebook on the grounds that non-EU-members who connected to websites that have links to the social network through its ‘like’ button had data collected on their online activities through the use of a ‘datr cookie’.

“On 9 November 2015 a Belgian court ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-members in the country without their consent.

“The court stated that Facebook did not have individuals’ consent to gather information. Furthermore, it stated that Europe’s national privacy authorities had the right to intervene if they believed their citizens’ data to be at risk when companies move information outside national borders.

The Sinn Féin MEP continued,

“Following this I wrote to the European Commission asking them to detail what actions they are planning to take vis-à-vis Facebook to ensure that EU citizens’ privacy is adequately safeguarded, and whether they will take steps to prohibit the use in the EU of ‘datr cookies’ or ‘cookies’ of equivalent effect?

“I welcome their response stating that they have issued a Communication on the Transfer of Personal Data from the EU to the US. The Communication provides an overview of lawful ways for data transfers to third countries.

“The Commission has also intensified talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for data transfers to the US. I’m relieved that moves have been made to rectify these issues, but the Commission needs to deliver on this and should be on hand to provide protection to its citizens.”

ENDS

English referendum should not be imposed on the people of the North of Ireland – Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson along with Alyn Smith MEP and Jill Evans MEP representing the SNP and Plaid Cymru have today (Wednesday) intervened in a European Parliament debate on the EU proposals which may form a basis for agreement to be presented by the British Prime Minster in a referendum on EU membership.martina

All agreed that a possible June referendum, in the event that Britain can agree a deal with the other member states, would be disrespectful of elections in May and give insufficient time for a proper campaign.  All three also agreed that Scotland, the North of Ireland and Wales must not be removed from the EU against their democratic will.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:

“Ireland’s place is Europe and BREXIT is detrimental for Ireland particularly for All Ireland integration.  Sinn Féin wants to see the creation of a social Europe, a Europe with democracy at its core and a Europe that is closer to citizens.

“The north should have its own referendum, calculated and counted separately and the outcome respected. The result of an English referendum should not be imposed on the people of the North of Ireland.

Alan Smyth, the SNP MEP added,

“We have elections in May and a fundamentally different set of attitudes to EU issues, and a June referendum would be disrespectful of democracy in our countries. We in Scotland were in our own referendum promised by the Prime Minister that Britain is a ‘family of nations’ and we are fully entitled to expect that to be respected now.

“Scotland has a different politics and a different attitude to the EU. If, as I expect, a majority of Scots vote to remain in the EU, it would be a democratic outrage for us to be removed from the EU against our will.”

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans concluded:

“I represent Wales and EU membership has brought us positive economic, social and cultural benefits. I also believe that the EU has benefitted from having Wales as a member.

“There is a great deal about the EU I would like to change. But we can only do that by working with our European partners – to improve policy and make the EU more effective and more responsive. We are far better off working for change from within than shouting from the side-lines. If Wales votes to remain in, we should not be dragged out against our democratic will.

“I want to really engage people in an open, honest, fact-based and mature debate because it’s a decision that will affect many generations to come.” ENDS

 

Vote Sinn Féin for a Fair Recovery

Sinn Féin campaign to secure better deal for amateur sport clubs a success-McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the agreement of the Rates Amendment Bill in the Assembly . After a 3 year campaign, the introduction of a Private Members Bill and a consultation with hundreds of sport clubs the DFP Bill agreed today will introduce full rate relief for Community Amateur Sport Clubs (CASCs) without bars that will represent up to £750,000 in sport club investment.Raymond Brandywell Head shot

Speaking after the Bill was agreed he said:

“Our 3 year campaign to get a better deal for amateur sport clubs, for our GAA, soccer, rugby clubs, etc, has been long and difficult.

“What the Assembly has agreed to represents a huge investment in our amateur sport clubs and comes on the back of excellent work of Daithí McKay, consultation with hundreds of sport clubs and the drawing up of a  private members legislation.

“After  he secured an amendment to the Bill this week, the first regulations for this relief will be introduced before September. A consultation on these will begin in the coming weeks.

“The Department of Finance and Personnel has adopted much of Daithí proposal, which I welcome, but it has yet to agree the way forward for our CASCs with licensed premises.

“This is unfinished business as far as we are  concerned but I welcome the commitment by the Department to review this situation in the time ahead.

“But this is a better deal for many of our CACSs who will not have to pay rates on their clubrooms, storage facilities and their club stands, etc.

Martin McGuinness expresses condolences to family of Mark Farren

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA has expressed heartfelt condolences to the wife and family, of well-known Derry City footballer Mark Farren.

Mr McGuinness said;1142524474

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Derry City footballing legend Mark Farren.

“Mark fought a courageous battle with his illness, bravely supported by his wifeTerri-Louise and their families.

“Mark will be remembered by Derry City supporters and the people of Derry for his exploits on the football pitch, but he was much more than a footballer. He was also a gentleman and loyal friend. His loss will be most acutely felt by his wife Terri-Louise, and the wider Farren and Holmes families.

I extend my sincerest and heartfelt condolences and those of my Party to them at this very sad time.

“Ar dheas Dé go raibh a anam” CRÍOCH/END

McLaughlin welcomes legislation to tackle so-called ‘legal highs’

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed news that legislation to tackle so-called legal highs will soon be extended to the North.

Ms McLaughlin, the chair of the Assembly’s health committee, said; legalHigh_1799455c

“There is no doubt about the misery psychoactive substances or so-called legal highs cause across all communities.

“Toxic substances, which masquerade under the guise of legality, have led to deaths and caused untold harm to so many, particularly young people.

“The passage of the landmark Psychoactive Substances Act will ban the production, supply and importation of these deadly substances and penalties will involve up to seven years imprisonment.

“Sinn Féin has consistently called for an all-Ireland approach to deal with so-called legal highs and this legislation, which will come into effect here in the Spring, will be similar to legislation already in place in the 26 counties.

“The legislation in the south was successful and led to the closure of almost 100 so-called head shops.

“While this legislation is welcome in terms of tackling the local sale of so-called legal highs, many of these substances are sold online and we must ensure every effort is made to make sure these substances are not available anywhere.”

Sadness following the death of Mark Farren -McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said

 

Its very sad hearing the news  that Mark has passed away following a  brave battle with illness. Mark had great courage and a tremendous spirit.

 

My thoughts and prayers and those of the people of this city are with the Farren family at what must be a very difficult time.

Ends

How can we leave our heritage to profiteers? – McDonald

Sinn Féin TD and Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has appealed to the Government to honour the “ordinary Irish men and women risked life, limb, death, and incarceration, not only to free Ireland from foreign rule, but to build a nation of equals” during the Easter Rising by halting the demolition of the Battlefield Moore St site.

The Dublin Central TD said:DIGITAL CAMERA

“100 years ago, Dublin quaked and trembled, under the bullets and shells of an empire. As ordinary Irish men and women risked life, limb, death, and incarceration, not only to free Ireland from foreign rule, but to build a nation of equals; an Ireland to be proud of, a country to be defined by the high ideals of the Proclamation.

“And how little this government thinks of these men and women and what they went through. We can look at 1916 through the mists of time, even through rose tinted glasses, and romanticise their struggle.  How easy it is to forget how real it was for them. How real their suffering was, how real the despair was for them, facing into an uncertain future, and then the horror of the drawn out.

“They thought not of themselves. Their actions were unselfish. And today it is the actions of ordinary unselfish people who are fighting to preserve their legacy. It was people power saved Kilmainham Gaol for the nation, it wasn’t any government that saved that national edifice, a dedicated group of citizens saved this historical building for the nation.

“And it seems that it rests once again with people power to repeat history and to save for the nation for future generations the 1916 historic revolutionary quarter of the GPO/Moore Street area.

“An area that should rightfully be designated a national monument, an area that should rightfully be preserved and developed under the protection of the state. It should not be left to the vagaries of developers or speculators, whose only interest is in their profit margin.

“How can we leave our heritage to profiteers?”



Martina Anderson MEP calls for immediate release of Palestinian journalist‏

Martina Anderson MEP has called on European governments to act as a matter of urgency to secure the immediate release of Palestinian Journalist Mohammad Al-Qeeg who has been on Hunger Strike since 25 November in protest against his unlawful arrest and detention without charge by the Israeli government.
 
Ms Anderson said:CVXwOSAUsAAv08y.jpg large
 
“Mohammad Al-Qeeg’s condition according to recent medical reports acquired by PalMed Europe is deteriorating rapidly and unless action is taken immediately could die at anytime.
 
“Mohammad is a journalist who is being held without charge or trial by the Israeli government.
 
“His arrest and detention is a blatant violation of articles nine, ten and eleven of the World Convention on Human Rights, which is intended to safeguard civilians from arrest or detention without charge and guarantees a fair trial in a court of law. 
 
“Israel is flagrantly ignoring every aspect of international Human and Civil rights Conventions. But just as unacceptable is the international community’s tacit support through its inaction which allows Israel to continue its illegal and inhumane treatment of Palestinians.
 
“I intend to raise Mohammad Al-Qeeg’s situation at the Palestinian committee in the European Parliament and to bring it to the attention of the various Group Leaders at the European parliament to demand the necessary steps are taken to put pressure on the Israeli government to release Mohammad Al-Qeeq immediately to save his life.” CRÍOCH/END

EU Commission should provide protection for social media users – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a commitment from the EU Commission to intensify talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for personal data transfers, via social networks, to the US.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said,CWrWZ7UWUAEjEpO

“Whilst social media has become a routine part of 1.73 billion people’s daily lives and it provides an invaluable service in terms of connecting and informing people, it is important that users are protected from any unwanted sharing of personal data.

“In June 2015 the Belgian Privacy Commission brought a case against Facebook on the grounds that non-EU-members who connected to websites that have links to the social network through its ‘like’ button had data collected on their online activities through the use of a ‘datr cookie’.

“On 9 November 2015 a Belgian court ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-members in the country without their consent.

“The court stated that Facebook did not have individuals’ consent to gather information. Furthermore, it stated that Europe’s national privacy authorities had the right to intervene if they believed their citizens’ data to be at risk when companies move information outside national borders.

The Sinn Féin MEP continued,

“Following this I wrote to the European Commission asking them to detail what actions they are planning to take vis-à-vis Facebook to ensure that EU citizens’ privacy is adequately safeguarded, and whether they will take steps to prohibit the use in the EU of ‘datr cookies’ or ‘cookies’ of equivalent effect?

“I welcome their response stating that they have issued a Communication on the Transfer of Personal Data from the EU to the US. The Communication provides an overview of lawful ways for data transfers to third countries.

“The Commission has also intensified talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for data transfers to the US. I’m relieved that moves have been made to rectify these issues, but the Commission needs to deliver on this and should be on hand to provide protection to its citizens.” ENDS

McLaughlin welcomes care home investment

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said the extra £1.6m announced for care homes should be used to remove the uncertainty over closures of homes across the North.

Ms McLaughlin said,MLA   MAEVE MCLAUGHLIN

“I welcome the announcement by the Health Minister Simon Hamilton that £1.6m is to be used to bring some stability to the sector.

“Over the past few years confidence in the sector has reached rock bottom as homes have faced the threat of closure with residents not knowing from one day to the next what was happening.

“It is important we invest this money wisely so as to create confidence within the industry. However we need to look at further investment in our care services especially domiciliary care if we are to keep people out of hospitals and care for our ageing population.”

Emergency multi agency meeting over Gartan Square

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly who hosted  a multi agency meeting on Friday  attended by a large number of residents from  Gartan Square in the aftermath of   several  anti community incidents there  ,said the meeting  was “positive and in problem solving mode”colly and kevin

The meeting took place against a backdrop of anti community activity and a serious fire at the flats complex last week.

Councillor Kelly said “It was important that this meeting took place. Residents are at their wits end with the incidents going on in and around their homes with the most serious being the fire there last week during which residents living on the top floor were lucky to escape from their homes.

Residents raised their concerns and asked for whatever help there could be in resolving these issues to let them live in peace and quiet.

An onsite meeting will take place today Tuesday with all the agencies to see what measures can be put in place as speedily as possible to help residents out.

85 new social homes in the Skeoge lands – Hassan

After visiting the Fold housing Development at Glenabbey (Skeoge)Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news that some of the 85 new social homes will be ready for allocation at the end of February.tony-sandra-and-elisha-shantallow-oct-2013-c-mc-menamin-pics-(72)

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. When these 85 social homes are ready at the end of February this will bring the number of social homes that Fold housing has developed at the Skeoge Lands to 320.

I have to congratulate the Fold Housing Association and also the Developers Braidwater for all the new builds of social homes that is happening at the Skeoge lands, I am aware that Fold are planning more new builds in the near future.

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

Ends

Ministerial sub group delivering for the North West – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the north west has benefited hugely from the work of the ministerial sub group set up to tackle regional disparities.

Mr McCartney said; raymond mccartney

“The ministerial subgroup which was established to tackle the regional disparity which existed in the north west for decades is already yielding positive results for the city and wider north west region.

“Those who criticise the work of the subgroup would be better looking at their own voting record, particularly those who voted against the 2016/17 budget which guaranteed funding for the A5 and A6.

“These are two landmark infrastructure projects which will transform the economic and physical landscapes of the north west, help create jobs and grow the economy.

“The work of ministerial sub group has also resulted in a project to create Grade A office accommodation to Ebrington as well as planning the economic strategy for the former Shackleton site at Ballykelly which will house the DARD headquarters.

“This is real delivery that people can see and Sinn Féin will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure it continues for the benefit of all.”

Council facility users need to be accommodated during closure – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said that users of the indoor facility in the Brandywell Showgrounds need to be accommodated while health and safety issues are resolved.

 

Councillor Logue said,Patricia Logue new pic 22

 

“Sinn Féin have been informed by Council officers that the indoor facility within the grounds of the Brandywell Showgrounds is to shut immediately due to health and safety concerns.

 

“It is now important that all users of the facility are offered alternative arrangements while the health and safety issues are resolved.

 

“The closure of this facility only highlights the need for a major regeneration of the area.

 

“Sinn Féin are determined that the transformation which has now begun is completed as soon as possible so that issues like this don’t arise again in the near future.”  

Blackout of street lights in Bogside –Cllr Colly Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called on Transport NI (DRD Road service) to move quickly to restore streets lights to a number of streets in the Bogside. Several hundred homes have been left without street lights over the weekend.colly and kevin

Streets affected include Limewood Street,Tryconnell Street ,Beechwood Street,Elmwood Street and Elmwood Road

Councilllor Colly Kelly said “I understand that Transport NI (formally DRD Roads service )is under pressure to fix lights across the city but this isn’t one or two lights out, this is five streets in a heavily built up area with no street lights what so ever.

Residents are concerned that an entire area is in complete darkness , there is a fear over home security and emergency services being able to see their way around the streets.

Ends

‘We must move beyond recrimination’ – McGuinness

Irish society must learn to move beyond the politics of recrimination if the potential of peace is to be fully realised, Martin McGuinness has said.

The North’s Deputy First Minister was speaking at the Kinsale Peace Project at the weekend  where he insisted that political maturity is needed across the island if our people are to be truly reconciled.

Martin McGuinness said:1142524474

“The Irish peace process is rightly held up as a beacon of hope for conflict situations across the globe and I am very proud of the role that my party has played in the success of that peace process.

“Politics on this island and between Ireland and Britain have been transformed. We are in a far better place now than at any time in our painful history.

“However, we are still on a journey and I have long argued that the next phase of the peace process needs to be the reconciliation phase. That requires leadership and political maturity from all parties, right across the island.

“There needs to be an end to the politics of recrimination because that leads us nowhere. I have been in government with the DUP for eight years now, serving with Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and now Arlene Foster as First Minister.

“There was a time when the prospect of Sinn Féin and the DUP in government together was unthinkable but we have achieved that. We have shared power for almost nine years and the institutions have remained in place. The sky didn’t fall in.

“And during all that time there hasn’t been one word of recrimination about the past between myself, Ian, Peter or Arlene. That is because we know that, in order to realise the potential of peace, in order to govern for the mutual benefit of our people, we must look to the future.

“Of course we can never forget the past but neither can we become prisoners to it. We have all suffered in the conflict and if we allow ourselves to get dragged into constant recrimination about the past, the only people that serves is those who would wish to drag us back there.

“I think all of us on the island need to learn that lesson. It’s ironic that much of the political and media recrimination today originates in this part of the island. It saddens me to say that and I often wonder what happened to the political maturity shown by people like Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern who put peace before party politics.

“There needs to be a return to that kind of mature and responsible leadership. The prize of peace and a reconciled people on this island is far more important than the petty party politiciking that has become the primary feature of politics in this state over recent times.”

Youth set fire to bushes in City Cemetery -Kelly

I was contacted late on Saturday afternoon by a man who was going up to visit his father graves just before the City Cemetery closed. As he was driving from the Lonemoor Road gate up to the top of the cemetery he seen a couple of young boys about 12-13 years of age wearing hoodies setting fire to trees .He stopped his car and challenged them, they ran off up through the older section of the cemetery.COLLY

He used a couple of bottles of water he had in his car to put the fire out before it spread and he said it was lucky he was passing because  if the cemetery had been locked it would have spread .

Once again we are appealing to people of any age to respect the confines of the City Cemetery, there seems to incidents happening on an all too regular basis in there now and it needs to stop.

Hassan calls for clarity -transfer of 100s of HE homes

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has called on the Housing Executive to clarify if they intend to transfer several hundred homes in Derry and across the north to Housing Associations.tony-sandra-and-elisha-shantallow-oct-2013-c-mc-menamin-pics-(72)

Councillor Hassan said –“Tenants have contacted me concerned on hearing news that the Housing Executive (HE) may be intending to do this. Staff are also fearful about the future makeup of the Housing Executive and the impact that would have in our city.

We need clarity from the Housing Executive immediately to inform residents if they are indeed making such plans and the subsequent impact that would have on tenants and HE staff locally.

We should also be mindful that when a Housing Association takes ownership of Housing Executive stock, the tenant can expect a rent increase and that will have a deep impact particularly for those on low pay.

Concluding he said

All the things that are currently happening within the Housing Executive many believe point to the break-up of the organisation as we know it.

We all need to be robust in our defence of the Housing Executive we can’t afford to lose it.

Council facility users need to be accommodated during closure – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has said that users of the indoor facility in the Brandywell Showgrounds need to be accommodated while health and safety issues are resolved.

 

Councillor Logue said,Patricia Logue new pic 22

 

“Sinn Féin have been informed by Council officers that the indoor facility within the grounds of the Brandywell Showgrounds is to shut immediately due to health and safety concerns.

 

“It is now important that all users of the facility are offered alternative arrangements while the health and safety issues are resolved.

 

“The closure of this facility only highlights the need for a major regeneration of the area.

 

“Sinn Féin are determined that the transformation which has now begun is completed as soon as possible so that issues like this don’t arise again in the near future.”  

Ireland’s place is in Europe – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said leaving the European Union would be disastrous for the economy of the north.Martina-2

Speaking at a conference she hosted in Belfast this morning, Ms Anderson said;

“There is no doubt that a British Exit from Europe would be bad for Ireland, particularly for the development of all-Ireland integration.

“Partition would be reinforced, with the introducing of customs checkpoints, trading tariffs – all of which would have an adverse impact on all-island economic activity and cooperation.

“BREXIT would reduce the spending power of many sectors and none more so than the agricultural sector.

“Given that the Common Agricultural Policy is the sole competency of the EU, there would be no more Single Farm Payment for our farmers and that would result in a loss of €2.5 billion euro.

“In addition, the North would stand to lose €982 million in Structural Funds which are crucial for SMEs, community regeneration and community groups the length and breath of Ireland.

“On the international stage the joint First Ministers market the North not just as a good place to grow and develop businesses but also as a gateway to Europe for US investors seeking access to the EU market with a potential 500 million consumers.

“As we face the potential dangers that a BREXIT presents, there is no doubt that we would be in a much better position if this island operated on the basis of a united, integrated economy and society.”

Executive to meet in Derry and Fermanagh – McGuinness MLA

The First and deputy First Minister have confirmed that Executive meetings will be held in Derry and Fermanagh over the coming weeks.

 

Commenting on the development, Martin McGuinness MLA said:

 

“This initiative stems from a conversation Arlene and I had around the need to redress the concern that the Executive is perceived as too Belfast-centric.

 

“Of course it is a symbolic move but we are also very focused on actions to redress regional disparities. That is why the monies for the A5 and A6 have been agreed in the budget. That is why Michelle O’Neill is moving her entire department from Belfast to Co. Derry.

 

“There is obviously potential for much more to be done and I am very focused around Magee University for example. However, I am encouraged by the positive discussions I have had with Arlene and I think initiatives such as this demonstrate our shared view that the executive belongs to the people of Brookeborough and the Bogside as much as it does the people of Belfast.” CRÍOCH

Increased funding for community care would relieve pressure on Emergency Departments – Maeve McLaughlin MLA

Sinn Féin Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, has called for increased funding to be directed towards community care and early intervention to relieve pressure on Hospital Emergency Departments.IMG_1223

Commenting on the contents of the Emergency Care waiting time statistics October-December 2015 released today Maeve McLaughlin said.

“These statistics show the only area of emergency treatment which is consistently reaching targets is in treating minor ailments.

“However, when it comes to more serious conditions the targets are almost never met.

“This begs the question – do all of those with less serious ailments really need to attend Emergency departments at all?

“Would we not be better served if increased funding was to be directed towards community care and early intervention to keep people out of hospitals?

“Are patients with less serious ailments attending emergency departments out of frustration at not being able to access a GP appointment?

“It is time for the proposals for Emergency departments brought forward a few years ago by the College of Emergency Medicine to be implemented.

“Properly funded care in the community and early access to GP service would, I believe,alleviate many of the pressures being experienced by those most in need of emergency care.”

Over 300 children in temporary accommodation in Derry – Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor  Tony Hassan said there is over 300 children  in temporary accommodation in the city,  and said  with  2,300 family’s Homeless  and in housing stress there is a radical rethink needed on the current housing policy from  the Department of Social Development.

 

Councillor  Hassan said,

 

Their needs to a radical rethink by  Department of Social Development around  forward planning for new social housing to address  the situation that we find ourselves in with so many families homeless in this city,it  is dreadful.

 

I was shocked to learn that over 300 children are living in temporary accommodation in Derry.

 

Families living in overcrowded conditions and in temporary accommodation with their children could mean that some of these children might not see a home of their own for years. This is not including families who find their own private accommodation and don’t get the extra 20 points after 6 months.

 

This situation cannot go on much longer as it will have affect on the health and wellbeing of the families who are in housing stress.

 

The points you need for a social home at the moment is between 200/190 points and if you are not near that level of points you may not be housed for years.

 

Housing associations are doing the best they can with several hundred of new homes planned this year but the new Minister of the Department of Social development must act and bring money to the table to allow these families to live in dignity as it is there human right to do so.

 

ENDS

 

McLaughlin welcomes Executive Active Ageing Strategy

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the launch of the Executive’s Active Aging Strategy.

The Foyle MLA said:?????????????????????????????????

“I welcome the announcement of the launch of the Executive’s Active Aging Strategy . And I acknowledge the sterling contribution by the Active Ageing Strategy Advisory Group headed up by the Commissioner for older People.

“Older people are a very important section of our society who seldom receive recognition for the contribution they have made to their communities.

“They deserve to be supported in every conceivable way in order that they can live as active and independent a life as possible for as long as they can.

“Older people have a continuing valuable contribution to make in regards to family cohesion and enrich the social fabric with their experience and knowledge.

“I look forward to seeing the roll out of this ambitious strategy in the coming period.”

Ends

British government must remove its veto on disclosure-McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has stated that the British government must remove its veto on disclosing information to families who lost loved ones in the conflict as the way to progress. raymond mccartney

His call follows the Chief Constables comments last night on legacy issues at Queens University.

Raymond McCartney  said: 

“The issue of dealing the past and how to progress it was addressed in the Stormont House Agreement.

“The structures to deliver this were not set up due to the insistence of the British government that they maintain a veto power on any issue relating to the disclosure of information to victims families .

“It is this element that seems to be missing from the Chief Constable’s analysis.

“Victims of the conflict have a right to the truth about the past.”

Martina Anderson MEP hosts European hearing on the rights of persons with disabilities

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will today host a major European Parliamentary hearing on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Speaking from Brussels, Martina Anderson said;

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

“I am delighted to be co-hosting this vital hearing and equally delighted to have been appointed the lead MEP on this file for the Civil Liberties committee in the European Parliament.

“In May last year the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities presented a report to the European Union outlining deficiencies they identified. They made several recommendations for immediate consideration and implementation by the EU.

“The lack of a strategy for implementing the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the EU institutions was a primary concern. On top of that the lack of obvious human rights based approach to policy making within the institutions was another highlighted concern, as well as the fact that new and future legislation, regulations and policies haven’t been harmonised with the Convention.

Ms Anderson continued,

“After meeting with Disability Action in Derry, the need for an Accessibility Act was highlighted, especially after the UN initiated a private inquiry into investigating violations of disabled people’s human rights as a result of British welfare cuts.

“Indeed, spending cuts in Member States have hurt people with disabilities the most. What must it be like for the 80 million disabled people who need access to computers, ATMs, telecommunications, banking and transport – services that we all take for granted?

“An Accessibility Act would put obligations on Member States to take the necessary measures to include legislation to ensure accessibility, and it would support the UN Convention of the rights of persons with a disability – a Convention that Ireland has yet to ratify. So whilst the proposed Directive is welcome, and a step in the right direction, I think it is long overdue.” ENDS

McCartney condemns City Cemetery security alert

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney condemned those behind a security alert, which has led to the closure of the City Cemetery in Derry. 

Mr McCartney said; M4034S-4208

“I condemn the fact City Cemetery has had to be closed as a result of a security alert.

“Many people use the City Cemetery every day visiting the graves of family members and loved ones.

“Not only has this security alert caused disruption to the local area but it will undoubtedly add to the grief and distress of grieving relatives.

“It is disgraceful that anyone would attempt to use the City Cemetery for any purpose that would lead to a security alert.

“The City Cemetery is a shared space and should be respected by everyone in the community.” Ends/Críoch

Robust organ transplantation legislation needed – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said robust legislation is needed to increase the number or organ donors.

Ms McLaughlin said; CTE2e25WIAElo4v

“All parties are committed to increasing the availability of organs for people requiring transplants which are life saving and life changing.

“The organ donation bill as it currently stands remains on course to achieve that objective as it places a responsibility on the health minister to promote organ donation through education and awareness raising on this sensitive issue.

“Expert evidence, both medical and legal, said that a section of Joanne Dobson’s bill was totally inadequate.

“Experts from clinicians to charities heavily criticised the opt-out system proposed by Ms Dobson.

“They suggested that it could have had a negative impact on the intent of the bill which is to save more lives through transplants.

“We need robust not flawed legislation which will achieve that aim, this is what all those who gave evidence called for and that’s what we all must work to bring about.”

Residents have lucky escape in malicious fire at Gartan Square –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has said residents living in top floor flats at Gartan Square in the Bogside had a lucky escapeon Friday night  after a malicious fire was started in a bin shed adjacent to the end flat and main stairway from the complex.12417717_991760064229707_7920259328183140477_n 12573856_986790758043655_8591208694156427842_n

Councillor Kelly said “The residents living in the top row of the flats had a very lucky escape tonight. This fire was started in the shed at the end of the row which houses the bins for local residents. Flames engulfed the stairway and smoke entered a number of homes.

I would like to commend those who raised the alarm and ultimately have saved lives here.

I attended the scene with a representative of Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) to help residents in whatever way we could.Residents are very angry and still in shock.

We have been trying to address a number problems of anti-community activity in and  around the area over the past few weeks.

I will be hosting a multi-agency meeting along with residents as a matter of urgency. Anyone who has information in relation to this incident should bring it forward to the PSNI straight away.

Anderson MEP shares Farmers concerns

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has expressed concern for the farming industry in the north, following the release of The Gosling Report, commissioned by NI Producers Association and Farmers for Action UK NI.CWrWZ7UWUAEjEpO

Ms Anderson said,

“We knew the farming industry has been hit hard in recent years; however the Report, compiled by Economist Paul Gosling reveals some stark statistics and figures. Agriculture is one of our most important industries.  It is responsible for 1.4% of the North’s economic output, compared to 0.6% in Britain.

“However, Gosling’s research has found that although farming incomes have collapsed globally and the collapse has been much more severe in the north than in Britain.  In 2014 alone, farming incomes in the North of Ireland fell by 17%, compared to 4% in Britain.

“Many of the North’s farmers are operating at a loss.  Some 14% of the farms in the six counties reported a loss in 2013/14; 23% did so in 2012/13.

“Let’s not forget that whilst nearly 50,000 people in work on our farms, almost half of them as employees, many other jobs are dependent upon the farming industry.  For every ten jobs in meat production, another six and a half jobs are indirectly created in other parts of the economy.  In dairy production, every ten jobs within the sector generate another ten jobs elsewhere in the economy.

“An added worry is the potential British exit from Europe, which could see a disastrous impact on the farming industry. The loss of millions of pounds of CAP each year and a curtailment in cross border trade could lead to the collapse of one of our most important industries.

“Despite the accomplishments efforts of my party colleague Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, with the Going for Growth and Farm Business Improvement Scheme, the support is not there from the British Government, her southern counterpart Minister Simon Convey or the Agri-Commissioner in Europe, Phil Hogan.

“Agriculture is a cornerstone of the North’s economy, in terms of the proportion of economic activity it is directly and indirectly responsible for and therefore needs to be front and centre of any in/out Brexit debates, as well as added support and protection from the British Government and the EU.” CRÍOCH/ END

Thieves target cars belonging to Feis goers –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has slammed thieves who targeted the car belonging to a family attending a Feis in the city at the weekend.COLLY

The car belonging to the family was targeted as hundreds attended an all-day Feis being held in the Long Tower Youth club on Saturday.

Councillor Kelly said “This is a despicable act. Here we had hundreds of people attending a very positive event for the area and indeed the entire city and someone decides they are going to go out and target a few cars.

I would appeal to anyone with even the slightest piece of information in regards to those behind this to bring it forward to the police straight away. And if anyone finds someone’s discarded personal belongings in the general area to hand them in.

Ends

Warning after Bogside incident -Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged residents in the Bogside and Brandywell to be on the alert after an incident this week during which a man who is suffering with Dementia handed over a large sum of money to a person going around the doors selling kitchen utensils.Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Kelly said “This man’s family are very distressed about this incident .A person called at his home when his relatives were out getting a few messages .When they returned home they seen the kitchen utensils and then discovered that a large sum of money well in access to the worth of the goods was handed over.

Sadly this is not the first type of such incidents we have seen in Derry in recent years. The family of the man have asked me to get the message out through the local media to alert families of relatives living on their own or suffering from illnesses that this sort of stuff is going on.

Concluding he said

There are a number of steps that people can take to ensure the callers are genuine. If people are in doubt they should request to see identification, furthermore they can secure the door with a chain before answering the door, alternatively if the caller is genuine, they will be able to provide a phone number and business address for the person to call to make sure they are genuine.

 

ENDS

Ó hOisín welcomes go-ahead for new Dungiven sports centre

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has welcomed the decision that a state of the art new leisure centre will be built in Dungiven.

The East Derry MLA said; 12548841_989451897777541_3334599599240252225_n

“The news that this long-awaited new Dungiven sports centre will go ahead will be widely welcomed in the local area.

“The local community have campaigned long and hard for this sports facility and tonight’s decision by Causeway Coast and Glens Council is great news.

“I recently hosted representatives of the local sports clubs who were involved in the campaign at Stormont and brought them to meet with my party colleagues deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

“The majority of the funding for this project is coming from Carál Ní Chuilín and is further evidence of Sinn Féin’s commitment to invest in leisure and strengthen local communities.”

Residents meet with PSNI over Strand Road incidents‏-Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed a meeting he facilitated between residents of the Lower Strand Road and the PSNI to come up with workable solutions to tackle problems affecting residents and motorists in the Lower Strand Road at night time.Mickey Cooper

Councillor Cooper said “Residents have been in contact with me for some time now asking for something to be done to come up with workable solutions. One request in particular was that they could meet the police to outline directly their concerns.

The Strand Road has been used at night-time to race cars at dangerous speeds with the obvious risks this poses to pedestrians, drivers and passengers. The high levels of noise generated by these vehicles is also having a detrimental effect on residents at a time when they are trying to sleep or relax.

The PSNI officers who attended agreed that the concerns of residents would be taken on board and that there would be follow up meetings and engagements to ensure that the issue was regularly reviewed. This is particularly important given that the nature of the problem has changed from being a weekend only occurrence to something that is now taking place throughout the week. It also involves both death drivers in cheap runabouts but also vehicles which are clearly well maintained by long term owners. In these instances it is vital that the police are aware of the cars registration details so the owners who are causing disruption can be identified. Equally, by engaging residents the police should now be aware of the pattern of behaviour of those causing the disruption to allow them to organise their patrols and other activities to maximum effect.

Whilst cars are viewed as a past-time and a means of recreation their use in this area cannot be at the expense of resident’s quality of life and safety and I am appealing to these drivers to respect the Strand Road neighbourhood and to refrain from these activities.

Who Fears the Youth -Event Sat 30th Jan

Who_Fears_The_Youth

McLaughlin welcomes all party group on suicide prevention

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed news the Assembly is to set up an all-party group on suicide prevention.

Ms McLaughlin, chair of the Assembly health committee said; CTE2e25WIAElo4v

“Suicide is an issue that impacts on every walk of life yet it is often hidden in our society.

“The issue of suicide prevention is a top priority and I am pleased that we have now got agreement to establish an all-party group focused on suicide prevention.

“The aim of this group is to ensure that suicide prevention remains high on the political agenda.

“In 2014 we had 268 deaths by suicide in the north; each and every one of those lives lost was a tragedy. We must do everything we can to support all suicide prevention initiatives.

“The group will also examine the zero suicide model that is currently in place in some parts of the United States and also in parts of England to see if we can apply the same lessons here.

“The new all-party group will hold its first meeting on February 1 and I look forward to its work.”

Sinn Féin can emerge as the largest party – McGuinness

The full text of Martin McGuinness’ speech at Saturday morning’s AGM of Sinn Féin’s Cúige Uladh in Derry when he formally announced that he intends to seek the nomination to stand for the Foyle constituency in this May’s Assembly elections.

“I am delighted to be here once again in a packed Millennium Forum for the Sinn Féin Cúige Uladh AGM.sandra and martin mcguinness photo 1

This will be a huge year for our party.

We will mark the centenary of the Easter Rising with events and commemorations the length and breadth of the island.

And of course as the only major all-Ireland political party we will contest elections, north and south, elections which have the potential to be defining points on the road towards the peaceful and democratic reunification of our country.

The continuing growth of Sinn Féin in every one of Ireland’s 32 counties brings the new Ireland ever closer.

The vision set out a century ago by the men and women of 1916 has never been more realisable.

It is their vision of a new Republic founded on civil and religious liberty, social justice, equality and fairness, which still guides us as republicans today.

As we enter elections north and south I am proud to say that Sinn Féin will have a record number of female candidates fighting those elections.

Three of our party’s Ministers in the Executive are women, three out of four of our MEPs and more than a third of our MLAs are women.

But more needs to be done on gender equality and in eradicating sectarianism, homophobia, racism and bigotry in all its forms and delivering equality for everyone of our citizens.

Disgracefully some of our citizens are still denied their right to marriage equality. That remains a priority for Sinn Féin.

In the 26 counties, we have mapped out how a Sinn Féin-led government would set about building a new fairer society by increasing the minimum wage, abolishing water and property charges, building 100,000 social and affordable homes, increasing health spending, cutting politicians’ pay and securing a referendum on a united Ireland.

Of course, we are already in government in the North.

It is a government with limitations given that we share power with the DUP and the British Government still exercises control over our budget.

However, Sinn Féin’s record in government clearly demonstrates how we have forced progressive politics onto the agenda at Stormont and defended the rights and entitlements of all citizens.

We still have much work to do in order to create a genuinely pluralist, tolerant society of equals. But no one can deny the change that has happened and we will continue to make progress.

You only have to look around this city to see how things have changed for the better.

Twenty years ago, this was an occupied city.

Today it is a city of peace, it’s unrecognisable. We are an example for others to follow.

Imagine where we will be in another 20 years.

Sinn Féin’s presence in government has had a real and practical impact on the lives of our citizens.

We have been the driving force behind the progressive measures that the Executive has taken – things like blocking water charges, protecting our lower student fees and free prescriptions and pensioners’ travel.

And in the Fresh Start Agreement we secured over half a billion pounds to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

We achieved it in spite of governments in London and Dublin, which are wedded to the politics of cuts and austerity.

Well we don’t do austerity. We do equality.

With the DUP we levered more money out of a Tory government in London that has no mandate in the north of Ireland and even less interest.

Other political parties told us that not one more penny was possible. We delivered a deal with the DUP that allows us to protect our core public services, particularly health and education when other political parties gave up or even more irresponsibly, tried to undermine the agreement for narrow, selfish electoral reasons.

Peter Robinson led the DUP in that negotiation which prevented a return to direct rule and the inevitable Tory onslaught on our public services and the most vulnerable in our society.

I want to acknowledge the positive leadership Peter Robinson provided in reaching an agreement with Sinn Féin. When other parties recklessly created a false crisis and engaged in empty posturing, Sinn Féin and the DUP reached an agreement that delivers for our people, our public services and provides unmatched social protections for low-income families.

I am confident that as Peter leaves the political stage, we can continue to deliver positive leadership despite the naysayers. I wish him and his family well for the future and I look forward to building a strong working relationship with his successor, Arlene Foster.

On a more personal note, I’m sure most of you have seen coverage in the media regarding my own intentions for the Assembly election in May.

And I would like to take this occasion to confirm that I will indeed be seeking the nomination to contest that election in the Foyle constituency.

I am doing so because I believe Sinn Féin can emerge in the future as the largest political party in the North. That and the ongoing growth of Sinn Féin in the rest of Ireland would represent dramatic change in the political landscape of this island.

I believe I can help to build on the fantastic work that Maeve McLaughlin and Raymond McCartney have already been doing.

Raymond and Maeve are a superb team and I want to augment the work they are doing as part of a stronger, increased Sinn Féin team to consolidate the delivery of key projects for the north west, including the expansion of Magee, creating employment in Derry and delivering the upgrades of the A5 and A6.

We want to build on the massive investment, which we have already delivered to this city, including the radio therapy unit and new wing at Altnagelvin, the Peace Bridge and Ebrington.

I am proud to say I was the Education Minister that built the new St Mary’s and St Cecilia’s schools. Michelle O’Neill will be the first minister to relocate an entire government department out of Belfast to County Derry.

It’s no secret those are the issues I have been spearheading in the Executive and good progress has been made with, for example, the A5 and A6 monies confirmed in the recent budget.

Of course there is more to be done and I want to see that work through. I want to see this city and region thriving and making the most of the massive potential that we have here.

The best way to achieve that is a stronger Sinn Féin Assembly team in Foyle.

Team Sinn Féin is better for Derry and, if I am successful in seeking the party nomination, I firmly believe that I can help us take three seats in this constituency.

But I also want to stress that this hasn’t been an easy decision for me to take.

I have served as an MLA and MP in Mid-Ulster for 19 years and it has been my great honour and privilege to do so.

I have a very deep affection for the people of South Derry and East Tyrone.

I leave Mid-Ulster with a heavy heart but also safe in the knowledge that Sinn Féin has never been stronger there.

We now have an MP, 3 MLAs and 18 Councillors.

I am privileged to have played a part in that growth and the benefits that such strong Sinn Fein leadership has brought to the constituency.

But Derry is home.

And I want to be part of similar growth here.

We are already well on the way and, if selected, I greatly look forward to being a part of that.

So these are exciting times for me but, more importantly, they are exciting times for republicans everywhere.

We can make history in the coming elections. We can take huge strides forward towards our goal of a new Ireland.

How fitting that would be in the year when Irish people across the globe remember the sacrifice and heroism of 1916.

We are the people – the only people – who can turn the vision of 1916 into a reality.

Let’s go out and do it.”

Stop blaming other parties over Rates Support Grant -McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has called on the DoE Minister Mark H Durkan to stop blaming other parties for his failure to inform Councils what level of Rates Support Grant he will be awarding.Eric new head shot 20144

Cllr. McGinley said: “In response to Councillor Paul Fleming’s reasonable request for additional Rates Support Grant for Derry City & Strabane District Council the Minister attempted to claim that Sinn Féin had prevented him from making such a contribution.

This is wholly inaccurate and a feeble attempt by the Minister to move the responsibility for providing the Rates Support Grant away from himself.

The Minister was given his departmental budget in the middle of December.   He has sole responsibility for administering that budget and deciding how it should be spent.   It is extremely frustrating – less than three weeks before the Rates have to be struck – that the Council still does not know what level of support the Minister will provide.

The Minister let Derry City and Strabane District Council ratepayers down last year when he significantly reduced the Rates Support Grant.   We are demanding he does not make the same mistake again.”

PSNI should apologise in person to Hampson family – Raymond McCartney

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Raymond McCartney has called on the PSNI to apologise in person to the family of Gerard Hampson

Mr McCartney said:City centre walkabout

“There are many aspects of the Gerard Hampson case which raise serious concerns about the actions of the PSNI and their conduct in relation to the manner in which the Hampson family have been treated.

“I have asked my party colleagues on the Policing Board to raise these concerns with the Chief Constable.

“I believe that the PSNI need to show respect to the Hampson family and apologise to them personally.”

Aidan McAnespie killing by British Army at checkpoint to be re-examined by Public Prosecution Service

● The former Aughnacloy Border crossing where Aidan McAnespie was shot dead by a British soldier while walking to a GAA match

THE SHOOTING DEAD of Sinn Féin election worker Aidan McAnespie as he walked through a permanent British Army checkpoint in County Tyrone in 1988 on his way to a GAA match and the dropping of a manslaughter charge against the Grenadier Guards soldier responsible is being re-examined by the North’s Public Prosecution Service at the request of the Attorney General and Aidan’s family.

Aidan McAnespie

Aidan (pictured) had complained of ongoing harassment by the British Army and RUC when he frequently had to use the checkpoint at Aughnacloy.

On Sunday 21 February 1988, Aidan was shot and fatally wounded by a soldier firing a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) from the permanent British Army checkpoint at Aughnacloy.

Grenadier Guardsman David Holden was charged with manslaughter but the then Director of Public Prosecutions later withdrew the charge.

Holden claimed that he was moving the GPMG when his wet fingers (allegedly wet from cleaning the sangar) slipped on to the trigger, which resulted in the discharge of three shots. One of the shots struck Aidan in the back, fatally wounding him.

A report by the Historical Enquiries Team found that the soldier’s explanation “could be considered to be the least likely” genuine explanation.

Now the North’s Attorney General has asked the Public Prosecution Service to reopen the file on the case.

Solicitor Darragh McIntyre said the family maintain their belief that Aidan was unlawfully and deliberately killed.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew said that Aidan McAnespie was shot dead after years of harassment from the British Army and RUC.

“I welcome the decision by Attorney General John Larkin to refer the case to Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory.

“It is important the family of Aidan McAnespie get the truth to what happened that day as Aidan walked through the British Army checkpoint.

“I will continue to support the family who have carried out a very dignified campaign to get justice for Aidan and hope that his inquest can now proceed as soon as possible.”

THE HET REPORT

GUARDSMAN HOLDEN claimed that he moved the weapon by holding the pistol grip with a “loose grip”. As he did so, his finger slipped and he inadvertently pulled the trigger. The HET test fired a GPMG and found that:

“Activating the trigger required having a firm grip on the pistol grip and squeezing the trigger until it activated. It was found to be difficult and required considerable force to activate the trigger without having the hand firmly gripped around the pistol grip.” Holden’s loose grip explanation therefore contradicted the results of the practical test on the weapon.

Furthermore, the HET discovered that the gun was mounted on a pivot that allowed the weapon to be swivelled. Consequently, there was no need for Holden to have his hand on the pistol grip and finger on the trigger-guard since he only had to swivel the butt of the weapon on the pivot in order to reposition the weapon. In addition, another soldier confirmed that he had already repositioned the weapon.

Holden claimed that his hands were still wet from cleaning the sangar 10 minutes earlier. HET investigators analysed the activities in the sangar that day which showed that the cleaning was conducted by a cleaning party and that Holden had resumed look-out duty half an hour before the shooting. The ‘wet hands’ scenario is difficult to reconcile with the timing of the cleaning duties.

Lance Sergeant Peters gave evidence that, on entering the sangar after the shooting and asking Holden what had happened, the reply was that he had squeezed the trigger.

Holden was not interviewed until more than 24 hours after the incident. In the intervening period he remained in military custody. There was a further 24-hour delay before the second interview took place.

The crime scene was not examined by the Forensic Service until the next day and there is no record of any crime scene protection in the interim. This would result in “crime scene evidence recovered being questionable”, according to the HET report.

Manslaughter charges against Guardsman Holden were dropped in 1990. He was fined by the British Army for “negligent discharge” of his weapon and allowed to return to duty. He was later medically discharged from the British Army.

FORENSICS AND BALLISTICS

The gun had been dismantled and cleaned earlier that day. It has not been established why or by whom the gun was left cocked and with the safety catch off. This was totally in contravention of standing orders.

The forensic evidence concluded that a ricochet bullet which struck the ground just directly behind Aidan before it entered his body inflicted the fatal injury.

The weapon discharged three rounds and the fatal bullet was a tracer round. There is now no way of knowing whether the fatal bullet was the first or the last of three shots fired. Swab tests taken from the roadway no longer exist.

If the first shot fired resulted in the ricochet from the fatal strike mark, then this could support the assertion that the gun was aimed at the victim or in his vicinity. The HET later discovered that the forensic report gave no consideration to the possibility that the fatal ricochet was a result of the first shot discharged from the weapon.

It should be noted that there is clear evidence that the guardsman had Aidan (whom he considered to be a ‘suspect’) under close observation as he passed through the checkpoint. However, at the moment of discharge, Guardsman Holden claimed to have been physically repositioning the weapon. In other words, he claimed not to have been aiming at or tracking Aidan when the shots were fired.

The HET questioned “the likelihood of an accidental random discharge striking the roadway only a few feet behind what would be from the vantage point of the machine gun post a minuscule figure at a distance of 283.4 metres”.

Having weighed up all the propositions and taken all the circumstances and available evidence into account, the Historical Enquiries Team decided that Guardsman Holden’s version of events “could be considered to be the least likely”.

Turkey is a war zone, not a ‘Safe Country’

Sinn Féin MEP and member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee in the European Parliament Martina Anderson, has described as insulting the inclusion of Turkey on a list of ‘Safe Countries’ published by the European Commission.CVXwOSAUsAAv08y.jpg large

Speaking from Strasbourg after a debate on the situation in Turkey, Martina Anderson MEP stated;

“The inclusion of Turkey on this ‘Safe Countries’ list is insulting and shocking. The stated purpose of this list is to allow EU Member States to streamline the asylum process, but the reality is something completely different. If passed this list would allow EU member states to remove and dilute the rights and services available to people fleeing war and persecution.

“States would be permitted to make a decision on a refugee at their border, without any appeal process, whilst also removing access to retention facilities for anyone from these ‘safe’ countries. As lead MEP for our Parliamentary group on this file I will ensure the rights of refugees and asylum seekers are a priority for legislators in Brussels.

Speaking specifically on Turkey’s inclusion on the list, Martina Anderson continued;

“By the established criteria Turkey in no way is a ‘Safe Country’ of origin. Turkish democracy has been severely undermined by the actions of the Erdogan regime. There exist restrictions on press freedoms and a fear of arrest and detention. Most critically, however, is the Turkish treatment of the Kurdish population.

“Since July last year the Turkish state has embarked on a merciless military campaign against the Kurdish population. Shoot-To-Kill, mass detention, artillery bombardment, Collective Punishment, military curfews and the prevention of medical aid are daily experiences for the Kurdish people. Our comrades in the Peoples’ Democratic Party have provided us with concise details of the situation there, in which nearly 450 civilians have been killed in a few short months.

“Until there is a lasting and viable ceasefire in the region and a genuine peace process, Turkey cannot be considered a ‘safe country’ for its own inhabitants, never mind refugees.”

SDLP comments on Evason package ‘bizarre’ -McCartney‏

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has said Alex Attwood’s comments following the publication of Professor Eileen Evason’s welfare mitigation proposals are simply bizarre.

Raymond McCartney said; 

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

“It is bizarre that Alex Attwood is welcoming the proposals put forward by Professor Eileen Evason and her panel when his party voted against the recent agreement and the budget, which will fund the mitigations.

“The SDLP rejected the Fresh Start Agreement which contains the half billion pounds welfare mitigation package worked on by Professor Evason and her panel of experts.

“They also voted against the budget which provides the funding for Eileen Evason’s mitigation package and have now in an extraordinary twist backed the panel’s report.

“This is cynicism of the worst type. The SDLP is clearly talking out of both sides of its mouth, and their increasingly negative role in local politics demonstrates a clear lack of direction.”

Appeal for information over Virginia Court attempted robbery- Jackson

Commenting after the attempted robbery of pizza delivery driver at Virginia Court at the weekend.CIS9L8pWwAQ4Ale

 

The attackers were armed with iron bars and a brick was thrown at the driver’s car.

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said

 

I have spoken to the driver and he has been left badly shaken by this incident. It’s a disgrace that people out trying to make a living are coming under attack.

 

 

I would urge anyone with information about this attempted robbery at Virginia Court to bring it forward to the police straight away.

 

 

Ends

Fleming calls on Durkan to act on Council Rates Support Grant

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has called on the DoE Minister Mark H Durkan to increase the Rates Support Grant for Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) and to give certainty to councils by announcing grant levels without delay.

Cllr Fleming said: “The Rates Support Grant is a vital contribution from central government and provides less well-off Councils with the means to provide public services and reduce the burden on rate payers.

“The DCSDC area is the victim of significant socio-economic deprivation and requires government assistance in the form of the Rates Support Grant to redress the imbalances.

“Undue delay by the minister in announcing support grant levels could result in councils striking a higher than necessary rate thereby disadvantaging rate payers. Or even worse if councils strike a rate which is not properly supplemented by the Rates Support Grant it could result in reduction in services.

“Minister Durkan is primarily responsible for deciding what level of support Council receives and following a reduction in support last year Sinn Féin is calling on him to ensure that increased funding is available this year.

“Council also needs certainty on grant level in order that it can strike a responsible rate. Minister Durkan needs to act with urgency as we are running out of time before the rates have to be struck.”

Call for Minister to increase Rates Support Grant for councils-Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has called on the DoE Minister to increase the Rates Support Grant for Derry City and Strabane District Council.Paul-Fleming

 

Cllr Fleming said: “The Rates Support Grant is a vital contribution from central government and provides less well-off Councils with the means to provide public services without the need to penalise rate payers.

This Council area is the victim of significant socio-economic deprivation and requires government assistance in the form of the Rates Support Grant to redress the imbalances.

The Minister is primarily responsible for deciding how much of his department’s budget should be directed towards the Rates Support Grant and Sinn Féin is calling on Minister Durkan to ensure that increased funding is available for the Council as we move towards striking the rate in February.”

Ends

Anderson appeals to Jordanian authorities to allow stranded Syrians to enter Jordan

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has written to Salameh Hammad, Jordanian Interior Minister expressing her concerns around the refusal of the Jordanian government to let 12,000 Syrian refugees enter the country.CWrWZ7UWUAEjEpO

Ms Anderson said,

“I have learnt, with great concern, from an Amnesty International report that the Jordanian government is refusing to let 12,000 Syrian refugees, including pregnant women, children and elderly people, who are stranded in the “no man’s land” at the North-eastern border with Syria enter the country.These refugees are in deep need of aid and lack access to food, water, blankets and medical supplies in a desert border where temperatures in winter can below freezing.

“During a delegation to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 18th – 20th December 2015, my colleagues on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee raised our concerns about the situation of the 3,500 persons back then stranded at this border point with Minister Imad Najib Fakhoury. During this meeting, the understanding was that the main reason for Jordanian authorities not to let all in was the need to carry out security checks.

“However, as pointed out by UNHCR and other stakeholders during the meeting, these security checks could easily be conducted in a centre without leaving people stranded in undignified conditions in Syria and at risk of death.

“Moreover, closing the border to persons in need of international protection is a violation of the international principle of non-refoulement given the real risk of persecution or serious human rights violations or abuses they are facing.

“Whilst the efforts of the Jordanian authorities to host refugees since the beginning of the conflict in Syria is to be welcomed, I would appeal to the Jordanian authorities to allow all Syrians stranded at the north-eastern border to enter Jordan and also to refrain from sending refugees and asylum-seekers back to Syria in violation of the international principle of non-refoulement.” ENDS 

1916-2016 Centenary Commemoration calendar of events Derry launch

Coiste Doire 1916-2016 Chairperson Barney O Hagan announcing the launch of the Calendar of events for the year said:

“Republicans across Ireland will, in a series of events throughout 2016 commemorate and celebrate the courage and vision of those who planned, led and participated in the Easter Rising 100 years ago. Here in Derry I believe that we have put together an ambitious, informative and entertaining calendar of events that everyone can enjoy.1915451_874943295946624_9007525428970061258_n

Where: Whittaker Suite, Guildhall

Hosted by:  Mayor, Cllr Elisha McCallion

When: Wednesday 20th January

Time: 1 pm

Speakers: Bartle D’Arcy, National Commemorations co-ordinator

Raymond McCartney MLA, Sinn Féin Féin

McLaughlin calls on DSD minister to clarify future of Foyle Haven

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the Minister of Social Development to clarify the future of the Foyle Haven Day Centre in Derry.

Ms McLaughlin said; Maeve McLaughlin, City Hotel

“It is concerning that staff at the Foyle Haven Day Centre in Derry, which provides practical assistance and support to those dealing with addiction and homelessness in the city, have been placed on protective notice.

“This announcement will cause a great deal of anxiety to the staff at the centre who carry out great work for those most in need.

“The centre had previously been funded by The Big Lottery. However, that funding expired at the end of last year. Since then they have been in contact with several bodies, including the Housing Executive, in an attempt to secure additional funding.

“Foyle Haven provides a much-needed service in this city in terms of helping those struggling with addiction and homelessness.

“I have now submitted a question to the Minister of Social Development Maurice Morrow to clarify the situation regarding the future of this vital service and if the Housing Executive will be in a position to provide additional support.”

Over 400 broken street lights in Derry –Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has revealed that over 400 street lights are out of action in Derry.3895995549

The figure was revealed as Councillor Campbell made a number of enquiries about broken street lights in Creggan.

Councillor Campbell said

A number of residents from Iniscarn Road in Creggan have complained that there is a number of street lights out and the street is very dark.

I have spoken to Transport NI and reported them. However, there is a back log of over 400 lights out in the city and this is causing a major problem.

During my discussions with Transport NI  I  emphasised the point that Iniscarn Road has a large pensioner population and this is causing difficulty for them.

I will continue to lobby Transport NI to have them fixed as soon as possible.

If  any resident has any queries or issues to discuss please do not hesitate contacting me on 02871 377551.

Grants of up to £2,000 for community centres – McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the decision of Council’s Health & Communities Committee to make available additional funding for local community centres.Eric new head shot 20144

 

Cllr McGinley said: “As a result of additional monies from central government the Council is proposing to make available grants of up to £2,000 for community centres.

 

This funding may prove useful in assisting centres to carry out repairs to the buildings or to secure additional equipment.

 

Subject to final approval at Council’s Monthly meeting it is intended to advertise this funding early next month and I would encourage groups who are using community centres to identify opportunities for making bids to this fund.”

Ends

Flood protection grants welcomed.-Hassan

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill of a scheme to assist homeowners to protect their homes from flooding.

Tony Hassan  said,

“The announcement by the  Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill is further testament of the commitment by the Minister to ensure people under the threat of flooding are protected.

“The scheme which will cover up to 90% of the cost of fitting flood doors to homes under threat of repeated flooding will help bring peace of mind to those residents as well as protecting their property and processions.

“It is important that home owners are not living on their nerves everytime there is a period of heavy rain and I would appeal to those residents who homes are under threat to contact the Department of Agriculture for full details.

“I am also pleased the Minister is to raise the issue with the Executive of extending the flooding hardship grant to non domestic properties.

“Many small businesses have been hit hard over the past few weeks and these people must also be supported in getting their businesses back up and running.

95th Anniversary Mourneabbey

12549047_982424961813568_2548159972989275961_n

Derry lends it support to Save Moore Street

Ógra members from Derry Caolán McGinley ,Niall Rodgers and Darren McGilloway amongst those with James Connolly Heron and Paddy Cooney on ‪#‎SaveMooreStreet protest

 

Several members of Ógra Shinn Féin travelled to Dublin to support the Save  Moore Street campaign as the country prepares for a year centenary events to mark the 1916 rising.CYXxQWpWsAEvm92

 

Local chairperson Caolán McGinley said “We felt it was important to travel down to Dublin on Sunday and support the Save Moore Street campaign  .It’s an absolute scandal that this is being allowed to happen at what should be a national monument.As Gerry Adams said this is  one of the most historically important sites in the history of the nation and Moore Street has a special place in the hearts of citizens. It is vital to ensure that it is redeveloped in the respectful and dignified manner befitting of its status.

There needs to be a halt to the works being undertaken now in order for consultation to take place amongst the various stakeholders involved, including the Save Moore Street campaign, the 1916 relatives, the Moore Street traders and the local community, who all simply want what’s best for Moore Street.”

It was great to see people from across Ireland being there to support the campaign and the likes of Damien Dempsey lending his support and playing a rendition of the Foggy Dew  to the crowd.

 

Campbell condemns attack on Gritting lorry

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has appealed for attacks on gritting Lorries in Creggan to stop.

He was appealing after a number of incidents in the area.

Councillor Campbell said

“I was contacted by a number of residents late last night with the news that gangs of young people were attacking the gritting lorry with snowballs.

The last time this happened stones were also thrown at the lorry and Roads Service took the service off.

The Creggan area needs the gritter in to salt the main roads for buses and cars to move freely.

I would appeal for these attacks on a vital service to stop and for residents to be mindful of where their children are at.

Children should be in their beds at that time of the night not running about the streets attacking gritting Lorries.

Ends

Concern over Leafair street lights out –McCartney

“We have been contacted by several residents in the Leafair Park area concerned that a number of street lights have been out in the estate. Given the number of issues that have affected this locality in the past year with late night anti community activity it’s very important that these lights are fixed by Transport NI as a matter of urgency.93395584

Ends

Carers entitlements need to be made more accessible – Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has urged carers in our community to ensure they have full information on their rights entitlement.Patricia Logue new pic 22

She  said,

“I would like to pay tribute to the fantastic work which carers do in our community, a role which is often unpaid and unacknowledged.

“Carers are the backbone of the community care system, without whom the cost to the health service would be enormous.

“However, many of them are missing out on the support available for them.

“Carers need to be given the right information on their entitlements which can greatly transform the experience of looking after someone.

“It can be a minefield trying to navigate the myriad of services and entitlements. Many carers miss out on the financial and practical support, which could benefit them greatly.

“The information necessary to support them must be easily accessible to ensure they do not find themselves facing associated problems such as financial hardship, health problems, emotional stress and relationship breakdown.”

‘Bulldozing historic Moore Street will not be tolerated’ – Mary Lou McDonald TD

PROTESTERS gathered outside Leinster House on Wednesday afternoon to demand that the Government protect the historic Moore Street terrace in its entirety, the site of the last headquarters of the Provisional Government during the 1916 Rising.

Speaking to the crowd, Mary Lou McDonald TD accused the Government of selling-off the family silver via the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA):

“It is a disgrace. It is a national scandal. This friends, shows the complete arrogance and contempt to which this Fine Gael and Labour Government have towards the Irish people and they’re time is now up – It is time for them to go!” she said to applause.

“Today, from this rally we demand that the outgoing Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny sits up and takes note. Sending in the bulldozers to Moore Street is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. ”

An occupation of the site, some of which is designated a national monument, took place last week in opposition to demolition works on part of the terrace. The occupation only ended when a two week stay was placed on work pending a court case.

One of the organisers of the Save Moore Street campaign, Patrick Cooney spoke at the event outlining how the families of the 1916 leaders have campaigned for 15 years for the area to be preserved as a battlefield site and a fitting tribute to Ireland’s patriots.

“On the 2nd February we will be going into the Courts with all our determination and history behind us to win Moore Street. It’s not going to be easy and we have to keep the campaign rolling and make sure everybody is involved.”

He also applauded those who had occupied the terrace.

Mary Lou McDonald also called for unity across political divides on the Moore Street:

“Let’s stand together united, in this the 100th anniversary of 1916 to honour the men and women who fought for a real Republic, and resist the destruction by this Government of our national heritage and culture.”

Those present at the event included TDs and Senators from Sinn Féin, including Gerry Adams TD as well as the Mayor of Dublin City Críona Ní Dhálaigh and the Mayor of South Dublin Sarah Holland. Independent TDs were also in attendance.

Review of speed of traffic on Southway -Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has called on Transport NI to carry out a safety review of the roadway at Southway.Patricia Logue new pic 22

Councillor Logue said “I have been contacted by a number of local residents concerned about the speed of some of the traffic travelling through the area.

This is a half mile of road and particularly the downhill section lends itself to vehicles picking up speed.

Residents have asked me to contact Transport NI(Road Service) to see if it was is feasible to put in place any measures that could slow down traffic on this section.

Its always important that we take on board residents concerns and see if we can get solutions. 

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Rural Development Programme drives growth in rural areas- McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle  MLA Raymond McCartney has said the Rural Development Programme will drive economic and social development in rural areas.

 

Raymond McCartney said; City centre walkabout

 

“The £623 million Rural Development Programme benefits farming and food sectors, rural communities and businesses and the environment.

 

“My party colleague  Declan McAleer asked the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill how the programme would enhance all-Ireland cooperation and in her response in the Assembly, the minister said the scheme encourages and promotes cooperation between Local Action Groups (LAGs) north and south.

 

“Four million pounds has been ringfenced to cover the cost of projects funded through the all-Ireland cooperation scheme.And officials from agriculture departments north and south are working together to organise an event in the spring which Local Action Groups (LAGs) from across Ireland will be invited to.

“This highlights the value of all-Ireland working and Sinn Féin’s commitment to promote and develop the agriculture sector across the island of Ireland.”

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