Refusal to repair street lights putting lives at risk – Jackson

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has said the refusal by the Minister for the Department of Regional Development Danny Kennedy to repair street lights is putting the lives of motorists and pedestrians at risk.

 

The Waterside Councillor said

 

“It is now been revealed that over 17,000 street lights remain out of order. This is unacceptable. The minister’s stubborn refusal to put the safety of road users and pedestrians first could end in tragedy.

 

“Poor or inadequate street lighting also increases the fear and vulnerability of the elderly and infirm.

 

“Danny Kennedy’s inaction on this issue is putting lives at risk.

 

“The minister is clearly at fault on this life and death issue as he made no initial provision to deal with street lighting in his annual budget.

 

“It seems that the minister’s only plan has been to cross his fingers and hope his Executive colleagues would bail him out.

 

“Mr Kennedy needs to tell the public now how he intends to provide safer driving conditions in what is traditionally one of the worst periods of the year for accidents on our roads.”

 

Ends/Críoch

Logue Sends Best Birthday Wishes to St Vincent De Paul Society‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has extended her best wishes to the Society of St Vincent De Paul that was founded 170 years ago this week . Logue described its charitable work in dealing with poverty and deprivation as ‘life changing.’

She  said:

“The St Vincent De Paul organisation has been supporting individuals and families for the last 170 years.

“They have helped fill in the financial gap and acted as a safety net for countless people over the years and rightly deserve our continued praise and support.

“Approximately 1200 conferences or chapters operate throughout Ireland in bad times and in good.

“Their Volunteers are well known in many communities and their private visits to homes regularly make a huge difference to people, be it an individual or a family, from going hungry or having some heat in their home. 

“The St Vincent De Paul has faced growing demands on their budget since the recession, but demand has been particularly bad over the last 12 months.

“I wish them every success in the future with their life changing work and with Christmas around the corner, their heavy workload and commitment will again be put to the test.

“Hopefully their birthday wish of seeing an end to poverty and deprivation will be achieved in next few years and that the many small and generous donations continue to come from a grateful Irish public.

Anderson welcomes Geneva Convention group’s declaration on Israel

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a declaration from 126 signatories to the Geneva Convention expressing concern at Israel’s failure to implement human rights law. 
 
Speaking after the declaration was signed in Geneva, Ms Anderson said; 
“The recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza which killed more than 2,000 people outraged the international community. 
“Now 126 countries who have signed up to the Geneva Convention have backed a declaration expressing concern over Israel’s lack of implementation of international human rights law over Palestine. 
“The declaration states that Israel must uphold international human rights legislation which prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on and targeting of civilians. 
“It also expresses deep concern about the impact of the illegal Israeli settlements and the ongoing blockade of Gaza. 
“It was also welcome that Palestine attended this meeting in Geneva with the same status as the other countries for the first time.
“The international community have a responsibility to ensure human rights of the Palestinian people are upheld and that Israel is held to account for breaching international human rights legislation.” Ends/Críoch

Oakfield / Marlborough vandalism attacks condemned

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly commenting after a number of homes and cars were damaged in vandalism attacks in the Oakfield and Marlborough areas during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

Councillor Kelly said

The last thing any person wants to wake up to in the morning is to find that their home or family car has been vandalised overnight.

In the current economic climate it is very hard to afford to keep a car on the road at the best of times and no one needs this extra expense of having to get their car re- sprayed  or the upset of having to clean graffiti off their home.

I would urge anyone who seen anything suspicious in the early hours of Tuesday morning to contact the PSNI.

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Derry played its part in Cuban Five release campaign -Campbell‏‎

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed the historic announcement of a thaw in Cuban-US relations which includes the release of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five and Alan Gross, a US citizen detained in Cuba.free the cuban 5 solidarity events Derry 17 sep 2012 1.

During his tenure as Mayor of Derry Kevin hosted relatives of the Cuba 5 on a visit here  to highlight the campaign for their freedom

Councillor Campbell  said:

“I warmly welcome the reports that the USA and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic and economic relations.

“It was extremely encouraging to hear that the US will release the three remaining members of the Cuban Five who were unjustly imprisoned for attempting to stop right wing militants from bombing and directly attacking Cuba.

“During my time as the Mayor of Derry I had the pleasure of welcoming relatives and the campaign group calling for the release of the Cuba Five .

Ógra Shinn Féin have also been very active in Derry in raising the profile of the campaign and thousands of people from this city signed a petition calling for the men’s release. All of these campaigns across the world have had the cumulative effect of putting pressure on the American administration.

“I hope they enjoy the Christmas holidays with their family and loved ones.

“I hope these collective prisoners release will help build confidence on both sides and create a positive inclusive backdrop for these new talks.

“This marks a historic shift in US-Cuban relations and I hope, with many others, that this will lead to a new approach towards agreement which will improve bilateral relations.

“The US blockade of Cuba was unjust, counterproductive, and should be lifted. I hope these new talks will lead to a new beginning, and end a historic conflict that has impacted so negatively on the ordinary Cuban people.

“I agree with US President Obama and the Cuban President Rául Castro that changes are the right thing to do.”

 

Kelly condemns robbery of Elmwood Bookmakers

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly commenting after the robbery of a bookmakers at the cross lanes between Elmwood Street and Beechwood Street on Wednesday night.

He said Councillor Colly Kelly

 “Once again we are greeted with the news that a small business has been subjected to a robbery. This time last year there was a spate of robberies around the Christmas period, and this bookmakers was robbed on St Stephens Day.

 

Many small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and providing much needed employment for local people.

 

The staff are only doing a day’s work and should not be subject to this type of threat and intimidation.

 

I would appeal to anyone with information on this robbery to bring it forward so that those responsible can be held to account by the justice system.”

 

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Hassan encourages Culmore residents to have their say

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has encouraged residents  in  Culmore to take part in a Health Impact Assessment currently underway and  to raise any concerns they have about the areas.

 

He said “I welcome the news that Derry City Council has appointed consultants to undertake a Health Impact Assessment to determine the potential health impacts of existing and proposed industrial activities on local communities in the Culmore,Strathfoyle and Maydown areas.

As an elected representative for the Culmore area i get calls on a regular basis from residents worried about a number of issues affecting them  there  particularly  health.

Its important that we take those concerns on board and try to address them. This consultation offers residents an opportunity to have their say and i would encourage as many people as possible from Culmore to take part in the process

McLaughlin welcomes cross border Further and Higher education collaborations

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve Mc Laughlin has welcomed a  response given by the Minister for the Department of Education and Learning (DEL) Stephen Farry in relation to her Assembly question asking how Further and Higher Education providers will work with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology to improve cross border collaborations in the Northwest.
 
Ms McLaughlin saidMLA   MAEVE MCLAUGHLIN
 
“I recently tabled a written question asking the DEL Minister, Stephen Farry, how his department, as well as Further and Higher Education providers work with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology to improve cross border collaboration in the North West. I welcome the Ministers answer in which he as informed me that he has been activity pursuing the promotion of cross border collaboration and that  his department has held a number of meetings with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology in the context of improving such collaborations.
 
The minister has told me that within the Northwest region that this partnership is demonstrated between the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in the Northwest region, including the University of Ulster, Letterkenny IT, Ilex and the Northwest Regional college to examine the issues constraining the growth of the sector in the North West and to look at how these can be best addressed through a collaborative approach.
 
I am great believer in creating greater cross border partnerships to ensure that young people in particular are given as much access to the courses of their choice. Courses such as the MSc in Innovation Management in the Public service that is jointly offered by the University of Ulster and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology is a step forward in strengthening cross border links.
 
Furthermore the Northwest Regional College has been working with the Institute in a number of curriculum areas, including the development of early year’s education, qualifications in sport, coaching and development, applied medical sciences, bioscience, fine art, fashions and textiles. This needs to be built on in the future.”
 

Prisoners should be treated with dignity and respect – Campbell

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell said prisoners in Maghaberry should be treated with dignity and respect and called for the August 2010 agreement to be implemented. 

Speaking after a Sinn Féin motion commending the work of the Independent Prisons Assessment Team was passed at the monthly meeting of the Derry and Strabane super council, councillor Campbell said; 

“Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring that all prisoners and their families are treated with dignity and respect. 

Councillor Kevin Campbell

Councillor Kevin Campbell

“The recent ‘stocktake’ exercise carried out by the Independent Prisons Assessment Team is a welcome renewal of focus on the conditions for republican prisoners in Roe House in Maghaberry. 

“It also reinforced the principle that everyone; prisoners, their families and prison staff have the right to live their lives in a hostile free environment. 

“The council has now backed the recommendations of the ‘stocktake’ on the issues of full body searches, relaxations on controlled movement and a review of education provision for prisoners. 

“We are now calling on Justice Minister David Ford and the Prison Service to ensure that the agreement reached in Maghaberry in August 2010 is implemented in the timeline agreed.”

It’s the elections, stupid – Declan Kearney on the Stormont talks

The Irish Government has damaged the Peace Process
LAST THURSDAY, the British Prime Minister engaged in the worst from of car-crash diplomacy, and his front-seat passenger was An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
After nearly ten weeks of talks which at no stage became a real negotiation, the two leaders arrived. That, and the tabling of their joint paper, could have heralded the start of a negotiation but this was never the plan.
Over three weeks ago, Sinn Féin said all the indications pointed towards the ground being prepared for a predetermined British document, with an Irish Government sign-off.
It was apparent for some time that a ‘take or leave it’ paper was potentially being drafted, the core of which would include the imposition of welfare cuts; increased austerity; fewer Executive departments and fewer MLAs: as well as dilution of Haass; and no movement on outstanding issues from the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements.
Sinn Féin told the Irish Government before An Taoiseach came that a potential moment of opportunity did exist and that a comprehensive talks outcome should not be squandered with a setback.
They were reminded that wider community and republican confidence in the political process had been undermined, and that national leadership was required from the Irish Government. Power-sharing, equality, the all-Ireland agenda, adherence to the Haass proposals, Acht na Gaeilge, Pat Finucane inquiry, and Maze/Long Kesh project were all set out as necessary and reasonable requirements – that is, they are already agreed. Kearney
These issues are a litmus test of the Irish Government’s determination to ensure the national and democratic position mandated in referendum advanced; the British sought primacy for its own and unionism’s agenda.
Instead, the paper signed off on by the Irish Government supported the latter.
It went from being a partner in talks to becoming a cheerleader for austerity in the North and the rolling back of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Haass proposals last winter provided a road map for political stability. Had the British Government and unionism agreed then, we would have been able to tackle our economic challenges now from a better position. At that time, Sinn Féin compromised on all our positions regarding the past, parades, and identity and flags. So too did the SDLP and Alliance Party.
The two governments’ paper takes unionist rejection of the Haass proposals and compliance with British Tory austerity as its starting point.
Their paper is aimed at getting Sinn Féin to compromise again on the very compromises which the party made during the Haass talks as a means to encourage unionism to perhaps begin compromising!
That’s really what Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan meant when he demanded “tough compromises” from Sinn Féin on Monday. His intervention, and yesterday’s exchanges in Leinster House, are the warm-up for an inevitable blame game led by the governments. Expect to hear from the British soon.
The two governments’ joint strategy was about trying to jump-start a phoney negotiation, in reverse gear. It didn’t work, so David Cameron walked out.
Given this British administration’s track record, that type of stroke is no surprise. Its focus is the Westminster elections, and trying to keep the DUP sweet.
However, it is a disgrace for any Irish Government to play fast and loose with the political process.
It has now turned away from its commitments to the Barron Inquiry requirements on the Monaghan and Dublin bombings, the Pat Finucane inquiry, and the Ballymurphy Massacre independent panel.
The paper the Irish Government jointly authored has accepted the primacy of British national security interests over truth for Irish citizens.
The rights of Irish citizens in the North have been fundamentally compromised by this Irish Government’s actions. It has broken faith with the Good Friday, Weston Park, St Andrew’s and Hillsborough Castle agreements.
The joint paper presented in the Irish Government’s name is a setback for Irish national and democratic interests.
The politics of last Thursday/Friday were eerily reminiscent of the mid-1990s when the British Tories and Fine Gael were also in power.
This Irish Government has behaved with reckless indifference towards the fate of the political process in the North, and all because of selfish electoral interests in the 26 Counties.

Campbell welcomes launch of Google Irish language services

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed the announcement that Irish language speakers will now be able to use Google’s email services as Gaeilge. google-51-752x501

He  said;

“This move by Google in making its email services available in the Irish language is to be welcomed.

“It is another step forward for the Irish language community, not just in Ireland but across the world, and is evidence of the continued growth and popularity of Irish.

“The fact that a major global company like Google with more than 435 million users worldwide has recognised the rights of Irish language speakers shows the international status of the language.

“Sadly, that has not been reflected closer to home where we have seen repeated attacks on Irish and Irish speakers.

“Hopefully other companies will follow the example of Google and provide more services through Irish.”

Kelly welcomes oil price reduction‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has welcomed the news that oil prices are the lowest they have been for four years.

The average cost of home heating oil across the north has fallen below £400 for a 900 litre fill for the first time in four years as global oil markets continue to move lower.

 

In real terms it’s a 33 % drop in prices since oil peaked at £600 for 900 litres in February 2013.

 

Councillor Colly Kelly said

“The issue of fuel poverty is one that has been persistent for the past number of years and has been exacerbated by the increasing cost of living.

At this time of year fuel poverty and in particular  energy costs are always high on the agenda.

Many families across this city continue to find it very hard to get the money together to fill their oil tank and on many occasions it’s that stark  people have to make the decision whether to eat to heat their homes.

The news that oil prices are the lowest in four years and are down an average of £200 per 900 litres has to be welcomed.

Whilst this will not solve the ever present problem of fuel poverty the reduced price will hopefully go some way to ease the pressure on many households particularly over the Christmas and New Year period.

EU Palestine vote a step in the right direction – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the EU’s recognition of the state of Palestine is a step in the right direction.MartinaAndersonMEP

Speaking after signing a joint resolution to recognise the state of Palestine, Ms Anderson, the chair of the EU’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, said;

“For us this resolution does not go far enough but it is to be welcomed as a principled step in the right direction.

“This will give protection to the Palestinian territory, its people and its borders.

“It is a long overdue recognition of the international community’s obligation and a positive step towards peace.

“The President of the European Parliament will now forward this resolution to the European Council, the European Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, the governments of the individual member states, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Knesset.

“All member states, including Ireland, must now formally recognise and protect the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital.

“Sinn Féin calls on all parties to refrain from any activities which would undermine the viability and prospects for a two-state solution.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

British and US government must apologise for torture – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the British and US governments must apologise for the use of torture. 

Speaking during a European Parliament debate on torture by the CIA, Ms Anderson said; 

"The senate report into torture by the CIA made for alarming, if unsurprising reading. 

"The British government used the same techniques as the CIA when it tortured 14 Irish men interned more than 40 years ago. 

"The case of the 'Hooded Men' led to the only instance where a European member state took another member state to the European Court of Human Rights.

"In 1976 the European Commission on Human Rights ruled that the British government was guilty of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment. The case was then referred to the European Court of Human Rights.

"In 1978, after pressure from the British government the European Court of Human Rights overturned that ruling and found that the five techniques used against the internees amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment - but not torture. 

"Recently uncovered information showed the British government lied to the European Court of Human Rights on the effects of the techniques the hooded men were subjected to. 

"These techniques were sanctioned at the highest level of the British government by the then minister of defence, Lord Carrington. 

"In fact the US Attorney General justified the use of torture techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay by quoting the EU Court's 1978 ruling on the Hooded Men. 

"Now at last the Irish government has referred the Hooded Men case back to the European Court of Human Rights to revise its judgement. 

"The British government must apologise for its use of torture techniques and the US government must do the same." Ends/Críoch

McGuinness rejects Taoiseach’s claim as laughable

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has rejected a claim that Gerry Adams attempted to block a deal during last week’s talks as laughable.
Mr McGuinness said; DSC_0145
“The statement today by the Taoiseach is a threadbare attempt to excuse his failure and ineptitude in this process. 
“Not only is it completely untrue, it is laughable.
“Sinn Féin is at one on standing by the agreements, standing by the institutions and standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, north and south. 
“The joint paper tabled by the British and Irish governments allowed the British government to renege on key commitments including the inquiry into the state sponsored murder of Pat Finucane and an Irish Language Act. The Irish government also abandoned the demand for full disclosure on the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and an inquiry into the massacre of civilians in Ballymurphy by the British government. 
“I am proud to be part of the Sinn Féin team seeking to reach agreement however this task is made all the more difficult due to the failures of the current Irish government.” Ends/Críoch

Unlock the massive potential of the H2 site –Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has called on landowners and potential developers for the H2 site on the Buncrana Road to seek out all possible options for the site as soon possible.???????????????????????????????

He said he is  prepared to facilitate a meeting with developers, Housing Associations and the Housing Executive to move this to the next stage.

 

Councillor Hassan believes this massive site is key to reducing the homeless problem in Derry.

 

He said “I have been lobbying heavily about this site for the last ten years and flagging up its potential as an area for building hundreds of new social homes.

 

I am concerned that there appears to be ongoing problems around trying to get agreement in moving forward to get full usage of this site and the construction of new homes. I  believe we need to unlock the massive potential this site offers on a key arterial route into our city.

 

Whatever problems there is around things moving on the H2 site I believe if people put their minds to this it can be resolved.

 

It’s imperative that this site is utilised to reduce the 2000 people who are in housing stress and homeless in our city. And create much needed construction jobs.

 

I am prepared to facilitate a meeting with developers, Housing Associations and the Housing Executive to move this to the next stage.

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Moves to address housing problems in the Triangle

Sinn Féin Waterside councillor Christopher Jackson has welcomed the news the Housing Executive is to carry out a report on the current state of homes in the in the Triangle.

The Triangle is a housing development which borders the Dungiven and Clondermott Road

Councillor Jackson said

 

“I have had various concerns raised from residents about the condition of the
properties in the Triangle.Some of these residents have to use brown
bags to dispose of their rubbish. Whilst other properties have
continuous problems with leaks due to the layout of the development.
 
I have had discussions with the housing executive regarding this and
have been told that consultants are currently being appointed to
conduct a survey of the buildings that are in place in the Triangle.
 
The housing executive have been very active in the area carrying out
essential repairs over recent months, but it is timely that a holistic
approach is taken to look at improving the housing stock in the area
so these problems don’t arise in the first place, this is long
overdue.
 
I eagerly await the results of the survey which I’m told will be
available in the new year.

Derry schools to get over £250,000 for upgrade works –Cllr Patricia Logue

Derry Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue said

“I very much welcome this announcement by the Education Minister John O’Dowd that a number of schools in Derry will receive over a quarter of a million pounds in funding for upgrade work on roof, windows and doors. 

Good Shepherd Primary will receive funding for upgrade work to windows and doors – £112,000

And St Patrick’s & St Brigid’s HS will get £150,000 for upgrade work on roof, windows and doors.

This is extremely welcome news in the current financial climate, for the schools state and it will also provide work for those in the building and maintenance trade who have been hit hardest during the downturn in construction industry.

Over recent years we have also seen a massive investment in new school build in the Derry area to ensure that we have modern, high quality accommodation for pupils.

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Logue calls for social clauses /community consultation on £10 Million Tillie’s project

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed the announcement that planning permission for a £10million hotel has been approved at the former Tillie and Henderson site in Derry.

 Councillor Patricia Logue said

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

 

“Sinn Féin has been lobbying for many years for a landmark project at this site so I welcome this announcement that approval has been given for a new £10million hotel complex.

Such plans would help revitalise the entire area at the gateway into to our city centre plus providing much needed employment.

At a meeting as far back as 2010 with local elected representatives and community groups, organised by Triax,Sinn Féin pressed for the inclusion of  social clauses in any construction jobs or jobs that may be created at the site on completion of the project.

It is important now that approval has been granted that social clauses are high on the agenda and that the local community is fully consulted on the plans as this project moves forward.

 

Ends

Anderson praises the work of men’s sheds‏

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has praised the work of Men’s Sheds in promoting mental health awareness among men. 

MEP Martina Anderson

MEP Martina Anderson

Speaking at the launch of the Derry Men’s Shed project in the Brandywell this morning, Ms. Anderson said; 

“The men’s shed provides an excellent environment for men to come together and take part in a wide range of actives or to simply have a chat with friends. 

“At times men can find it hard to discuss their feelings and as a result many struggle to cope but Men’s Sheds have found a unique way of being able to reach out to men and tackle feelings of isolation. 

“It is important that we all feel valued within our community and the ethos of men’s sheds – the promotion of dignity, uniqueness and equality – demonstrates that these core values are the basis of how we should all treat each other. 

“As well as raising mental health awareness, men’s sheds also provide opportunities for men to share and learn a whole range of skills. 

“I have been promoting Men’s Sheds in Europe and this week I hosted John Evoy CEO of Irish Men’s Sheds, as part of a delegation to Brussels to explore opportunities for social economy groups. 

“I will continue to provide groups like Men’s Sheds with access to European funding streams to ensure that the good work they do can continue and grow.” Ends/Críoch

McCartney warns against Fire and Rescue Service cuts

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney  has warned there could be dire consequences if planned cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service go ahead.

 

The Foyle MLA said; raymond mccartney

 

“Sinn Féin has  been in contact with representatives of the Fire and Rescue Service who have expressed concern at plans to significantly cut the organisation’s budget.

 

“In particular they have warned about the impact of plans to cut the budget by up to 15 per cent in one financial year and for this to be completed as soon as possible.

 

“The Fire and Rescue Service has indicated that it is committed to restructuring but believe it would be more suitable if it was carried out over a three-year period.

 

“The Fire and Rescue carry out invaluable work in keeping communities safe, particularly at this time of year. The impact of this plan could have dire consequences to the service they provide.

 

“It could result in redundancies, the closure of fire stations and the removal of fire appliances.

 

“Sinn Féin is calling on the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to engage with the Fire and Rescue Service to work out a sensible and appropriate plan for restructuring instead of attempting to force them into this situation.”

Ends

Options limited over Lisahally jobs -McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin comments following asking for clarity on the future of thirty staff currently employed in the Lisahally Processing Unit.
She said
 
We were  contacted last week by staff from the office out at Lisahally who were told that up to 30 jobs could be lost as a result of moving records to a central location.
I asked for  clarity from the  Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey on the future of Social Security Agency staff at Lisahally.
 
I impressed on the Minister the need that all options should be explored to offset these potential job losses. And that he needed to look within his department to see if other duties can be carried out at Lisahally to secure these jobs.
 
The minister has now replied to a written question I submitted to say officials are looking across both the Social Security Agency and the wider Northern Ireland Civil Service as to what opportunities are available for the staff impacted by this decision and the potential to relocate work, opportunities are extremely limited in the current financial environment.
 
Question

To ask the Minister for Social Development what steps can be taken to support the thirty staff currently employed in the Lisahally Processing Unit; and whether other duties from the Civil Service can be utilised to ensure jobs are retained
.

I am extremely disappointed by the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions to close the Remote Storage Unit in Lisahally. This is part of their wider strategy to move all remote storage across Great Britain to a central unit in Manchester. Whilst my officials are looking across both the Social Security Agency and the wider Northern Ireland Civil Service as to what opportunities are available for the staff impacted by this decision and the potential to relocate work, opportunities are extremely limited in the current financial environment. Officials are also in discussion with the Department for Work and Pensions on the timing of the closure of the Unit. The Social Security Agency will continue to work closely with the Agency Trade Union Side with regard to the impact of this decision for staff.

Sinn Féin councillor won’t be deterred by cowardly attack – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has condemned an arson attack at the home of Strabane Sinn Féin councillor Jay McCauley. Jay 1

Speaking after two vehicles were damaged in an overnight arson attack outside Councillor McCauley’s home, Raymond McCartney said: 

“This attack on my party colleague Councillor Jay McCauley has angered the community in Strabane. 

“As a Sinn Féin elected representative Jay McCauley has been to the fore in representing all the people of the area on a daily basis. 

“The fact those responsible came in the hours of darkness and attacked this family home highlights the cowardly nature of their actions. 

“This hasn’t been the first arson attack in the Strabane area in recent months. Jay McCauley has been outspoken in challenging the criminal elements who are intent on threatening and intimidating the community. 

“Jay McCauley has the full support of Sinn Féin in facing these criminal elements down. 

“He will not be deterred by this attack and will continue with his work in representing all the people of the area.”

Anderson condemns killing of Palestinian minister

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned the killing of Palestinian Authority Minister Zeid Abu Ein by the Israeli Defence Forces. 

Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Union’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said; 

“Today’s killing of an elected minister of the Palestinian Authority, Zeid Abu Ein, by the Israeli Defence Forces must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. 

“Minister Zeid Abu Ein was killed while planting olive trees, a symbol of hope and peace, to mark International Human Rights Day. 

“The international community have a key role to play in ensuring Israel is held to account over this killing. 

“Israel cannot be allowed to act with impunity in killing a democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Comprehensive agreement on the past needed – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said there needs to be a comprehensive agreement to deal with the legacy of the conflict. Raymond, Pearse & Padraig2

He was speaking after a protest was held at Stormont by relatives of victims of state violence and collusion,

The Foyle MLA said

“The British government has a clear responsibility to deal with the legacy of the past but to do that it must acknowledge its own role in the conflict.

“It was not an independent party to the conflict, it was a combatant.

“The British government cannot and must not be allowed to abdicate its responsibilities in relation to state and state-sponsored violence.

“A comprehensive agreement is required to deal with all victims and the British government needs to be part of that.

“We need to see a victims-centred approach on dealing with the past where the needs of victims are put first.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support victims in their campaign for justice.”

Ends

McLaughlin challenges health minister over ‘The Cottages’ plans

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to halt plans to reduce services at a children’s respite facility, ‘The Cottages,’ in Derry.

The chair of the Assembly health committee said; 

“I challenged the health minister, Jim Wells, in the Assembly over the plans to reduce services at ‘The Cottages.’ 

“The proposal has caused a great deal of concern in the city, particularly among parents of children who use this valuable and much-needed facility. 

“I called on the minister to halt the plans to reduce the service at ‘The Cottages.’ 

“I met with officials from the Western Trust last week who told me these proposals would only achieve savings of up to £40,000, yet the value of this service far excels that figure. 

“I was encouraged by the fact the minister said he intends to take a personal interest in this matter and that the ongoing consultation has indicated a high level of satisfaction with the facilities at ‘The Cottages.’ 

“I will continue to lobby the minister and the Trust to abandon plans for any reduction in the service.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

 

Growing demand for Irish Language Act – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said it is important the voice of campaigners for an Irish language act is heard at Stormont.

Speaking ahead of a demonstration at Stormont on Wednesday, he saidDIGITAL CAMERA

“Legislation to protect the rights and entitlements of Irish language speakers was a key commitment of the Good Friday Agreement but it has yet to be implemented. 

“The British government and unionist parties are continually frustrating the growing demand from the Irish speaking community for an Irish Language Act. 

“To make matters worse the DUP have gone further with their disgraceful and disrespectful attacks on the Irish language. 

“It is important the voice of the Irish speaking community calling for the implementation of Acht na Gaeilge is heard at Stormont. 

“Sinn Fein will continue to support the demand for an Irish Language Act and I look forward to joining the protesters to send a clear message that this legislation is needed.” 

McLaughlin welcomes £4.4m development at Altnagelvin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the announcement of a new £4.4 million multi-storey car park at Altnagelvin Hospital. 

The Foyle MLA and chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“This car park will form part of the new North Wing development, which will deliver new inpatient ward areas and a new main entrance at the hospital. 

“The North Wing will be built in an area currently being used as a car park and this new multi-storey car park will provide replacement car parking spaces. 

“Work will begin this month on the construction of the car park and additional spaces will be provided in other areas of the hospital grounds until it is completed. 

“I would urge the Trust to engage with patients and visitors to minimise disruption while the construction work is carried out.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Dublin may restore A5 funds – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said the Irish government has agreed to review its decision to withdraw £400 million funding for the A5 road expansion. Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Speaking in the Assembly Mr McGuinness said he believes progress can be made on the issue following a discussion at last week’s North South Ministerial Council meeting. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

“I was pleased to report to the Assembly today that the Taoiseach has agreed to review the decision to withdraw from the A5 project. 

“We had a very constructive discussion at the NSMC and the Taoiseach gave a clear commitment to seek additional structural funds to restore their contribution to this essential North-South project. 

“I very much welcome that commitment because a restoration of the funds from Dublin will reignite this entire project. 

“At the same time, I am continuing to engage with the North’s Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to ensure the legal issues which have delayed the northern end of the project are expedited without delay.” 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson calls for dedicated SME conference

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said more investment and support should be targeted towards Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) to help grow the economy. Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large
Ms Anderson is currently hosting representative of SMEs and community and voluntary organisations from across the North. 
Ms Anderson said; 
“Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the life good of our economy in the North. 
 
“They are one of our main employers and are at the heart of communities and provide around 85 per cent of jobs. 
 
“Despite the challenging economic climate we are currently in as a result of the extreme austerity policies of the British government, many SMEs are continuing to grow, creating employment and pumping money into our economy. 
 
“These businesses need support, encouragement and investment to allow them to continue to grow. 
 
“Huge opportunities exist in Europe to support our SME sector. 
 
“Europe can not only provide practical financial assistance to companies, but also support to exploit the massive potential our membership of the European Union brings. 
 
“Europe also provides opportunities to open up lucrative export markets for our SME sector. 
 
“To encourage the SME sector and to ensure its continued growth I am proposing that a dedicated SME conference should be held in the North.  
 
“Such an event would allow SMEs to tap into models of best practise from across Europe and would be an invaluable resource for those involved in the sector.” Ends/Críoch
 

British government must be constructive in talks – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said it’s time the British government started playing a constructive role in the political talks rather than acting like a hurler on the ditch.

MLA Raymond McCartney

MLA Raymond McCartney

 

He said:

 

“We have seen precious little from the British government in terms of genuine engagement in this process so far.

 

“The British government is not a neutral observer in this process. It is a key player and needs to contribute significantly and materially to finding a resolution to many of the issues causing instability in the political process.

 

“The huge budgetary problems faced by the parties here have been caused by the austerity policies of David Cameron’s Tory-led government.

 

“Their year-on-year cuts to the Executive’s block grant have increased poverty and are having a hugely negative impact on the Executive’s stability and its capacity to deliver frontline public services.

 

“If David Cameron is to play a constructive role in this process then he needs to deal with the major financial difficulties caused by his government’s assault on the Executive’s finances.

 

“The British government could also immediately honour its outstanding commitments from the Good Friday and other agreements. This includes Acht na Gaeilge, an independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and a Bill of Rights.

 

“We have seen little compromise or movement from the British government so far in this negotiation.

 

“If we are to deal with the legacy of the conflict, division and segregation then the British government has to be the major contributor to a Peace Investment Fund, with support from the Irish government, the European Union and the United States.”

The annual Sinn Féin Christmas Post has been launched in the city

Councillor Sandra Duffy   said 4020979918

“The annual Sinn Féin post has been a feature of the Christmas period in Derry now for over thirty years and I would encourage  people to make use of it. Christmas cards will be delivered to any part of Derry City for the minimal price of 20p. The theme of this year’s stamp is the centenary of Cumann na mban and the image is of the recently commissioned mural at Gartan Square.

 

“Cards can be left at the Sinn Féin constituency Office  on the Racecourse Road Shantallow, at the new Ráth Mór office on Eastway /New Road and Spencer Road office . The Post will operate from Tuesday 9th Dec  until midday Friday  19th December”

 

 For any additional  information  can contact 02871 377551 or 02871359747 for   details

 

McLaughlin challenges health minister over ‘The Cottages’ plans

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to halt plans to reduce services at a children’s respite facility, ‘The Cottages,’ in Derry.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

The chair of the Assembly health committee said;

“I challenged the health minister, Jim Wells, in the Assembly over the plans to reduce services at ‘The Cottages.’

“The proposal has caused a great deal of concern in the city, particularly among parents of children who use this valuable and much-needed facility.

“I called on the minister to halt the plans to reduce the service at ‘The Cottages.’

“I met with officials from the Western Trust last week who told me these proposals would only achieve savings of up to £40,000, yet the value of this service far excels that figure.

“I was encouraged by the fact the minister said he intends to take a personal interest in this matter and that the ongoing consultation has indicated a high level of satisfaction with the facilities at ‘The Cottages.’

“I will continue to lobby the minister and the Trust to abandon plans for any reduction in the service.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson criticises Israel over Adams refusal

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised the Israeli government for refusing to allow Gerry Adams TD to enter Gaza. 15251175137_aa21579d1d_o

Speaking after the Sinn Féin president was refused entry to Gaza, Ms Anderson, the chair of the European Union’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, said; 

“It is very disappointing that Gerry Adams has been denied access to Gaza during his three-day visit to the Middle East. 

“During the course of that visit, he has met with leading Palestinian and Israeli politicians, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

“Gerry Adams wanted to visit Gaza to see at first hand the devastation caused by the recent Israeli onslaught and no doubt this contributed to the Israeli government’s decision to refuse him entry. 

“As an internationally regarded statesman and peacemaker Gerry Adams brings a wealth of experience in dialogue and conflict resolution and his expertise could prove invaluable to the ongoing efforts towards peace in the region. 

“This is just the latest in a series of incidents where international politicians have been refused access to Gaza. In September I was refused entry to Gaza when I led a delegation of 16 MEPs from six countries to Palestine. 

“The Israeli government cannot hide Gaza from the outside world and I am calling for an immediate end to travel restrictions in and out of Gaza.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

 

Support Trócaire Gifts initiative this Christmas –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged people in Derry and Donegal to support the Trócaire Gifts initiative this Christmas.Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly said

“The Trócaire Gift initiative is an excellent way this Christmas for people in Derry and Donegal getting a present for someone that can also help transform the lives of people in other parts of the world. I believe that this is a very worthwhile initiative and can be supported from as little as £5.00.

All too often in the rush towards Christmas people buy presents which in many cases are never opened or used. In a small way the money raised by the purchase of these gifts can change the lives of millions of people living in the world’s poorest countries.

I would like to congratulate Trócaire for all their efforts and help in emergencies and disasters that have affected many parts of world in the past twelve months .The work they carry out is invaluable.

Warning over bogus callers –Cllr Patricia Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has urged residents in the Bogside  and Creggan to be on the alert  for bogus callers ,she made her appeal  after reports that a man dressed with a high visibility jacket had called at homes in the area saying he was carrying out work for a Gas company.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

 

Councillor Logue said “I am aware of a number of incidents across the district of someone calling at homes saying he was from the a Gas company when clearly he wasn’t. This can be a very frightening experience at the time and for weeks after when people start thinking about someone trying to gain access to their homes.

“I would call upon people in Derry to be on their guard particularly in the dark nights . 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.

“There is an old adage which states ‘prevention is better than a cure’ so I am calling upon people to play their part in reducing such incidents by taking a few small measures as outlined

Over 90% of farmers receive Single Farm Payment on first day-Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has congratulated the Agriculture Minister in getting over 90% of single farm payments out on the first day.Paul-Fleming

 

 Councillor Fleming said,

 

 “The Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill yesterday announced that 91.3% of single farm payments will be in the bank this week.

 

 “This amounts to a stimulus to the economy of over £223 million and gives the vast majority of farmers an injection of cash in order to manage their farms.

 

 “This week 27,000 farmers will receive their single farm payment which is a great achievement and it is obvious that the minister will meet her target of 93% of farmers paid by the end of December.

 

 “I would appeal to all farmers to work with the department on moving to online applications which would allow the payments to be paid.

 

 “I would also appeal to those farmers who have yet to receive their payments to be patient and work with the department in order to receive their payments as soon as possible.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Irish Language Act remains a priority-McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said securing legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers remains a priority for Sinn Féin.Raymond head shot 22

 

Speaking after representatives of Irish language groups POBAL and Turas travelled to Stormont to meet deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the Foyle MLA said;

 

“Representatives of POBAL and Turas came to Stormont  to call for fair and equal treatment for Irish language speakers.

 

“Sinn Féin met the groups and reiterated our support for an Irish language Act to protect the rights of the Irish language community.

 

“They also held a positive and constructive meeting with Martin McGuinness who assured both groups that securing Acht na Gaeilge remains a priority for Sinn Féin.

 

“Both groups outlined the positive work they are engaged in to promote the Irish language to a wider audience.

 

“Sinn Féin will continue to push for the implementation of all outstanding commitments of the Good Friday and other agreements, including the Irish Language Act.”

McLaughlin expresses sympathy following death of Una Crudden

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has paid tribute to cancer campaigner Una Crudden following her death from ovarian cancer. condolences

The chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“I was saddened to hear of the death of cancer campaigner Una Crudden and my sympathies are with her family and friends at this difficult time. 

“Una was an inspirational woman who did so much to raise awareness of ovarian cancer despite her own failing health. 

“I met with Una as part of her campaign and was struck by her bravery and determination. 

“It is now up to all of us to ensure her legacy lives on and and that we continue to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.” 

Reduction of Waterside anti-community activity since increase in PSNI patrols –Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson welcomes the reduction in antisocial behaviour on lower Chapel road over recent weeks.1238129961

He said “A few months ago I had been contacted by a number of residents of Chapel Road who had been plagued with antisocial behaviour, particularly at weekends.

I reported this to the police at the time and asked for additional resources to be directed to the area to address some of those issues. There are a lot of elderly residents living on the lower part of Chapel Road and off streets who felt particularly vulnerable to this type of behaviour.

Due to an increased PSNI presence, residents in the area have been telling me that have been able to feel more secure in their homes at night.

One of the residents has told me there has been a notable reduction in antisocial behaviour recently.

I would urge people going through the area late at night to be mindful of the residents and their property when they are returning home.

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New Health Minister agrees to meet Derry addiction taskforce

Chairperson of the Assembly’s Health committee and Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the news that the new Health Minister Jim Wells has agreed to meet the Derry addiction taskforce.

Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin said “I am pleased to have received correspondence  from the Minister that he is happy to meet with the recently established  Derry addiction taskforce to discuss the rehabilitation services for under-16s in the Foyle area. He has also said that reducing the harms caused by substance to individuals, families and communities is a key priority.

It is hoped that meeting can be arranged at the earliest opportunity in the New Year.

I very much welcomed the formation of taskforce in Derry earlier this year. It has brought together the relevant statutory bodies and services providers.  The role of the taskforce will be to develop Derry’s proposal on the future of addiction services.

What is required is an early intervention model that addresses the core reasons for addiction especially among our young people – no one should underestimate that challenge.  The Taskforce includes Western Health Trust, Public Health Agency, PSNI, WELB, Drug coordinating teams, as well as direct service providers from the community sector.

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Clarification needed on Lisahally social security jobs – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said clarity is needed from the Social Development minister on the future of Social Security Agency staff at Lisahally. 

Speaking after staff at the office at Lisahally were told that up to 30 jobs could be lost as a result of moving records to a central location, the Foyle MLA said; 

“This is a very worrying development for the staff involved with the news that up to 30 jobs are at risk. 

“It is my understanding that staff have been told this is a result of a Department of Work and Pensions decision to move customer case files to a central location in England. 

“They have been told the storage facility at Lisahally will no longer be operational from April 2015. 

“I would question the timing of this announcement as staff have told me that a voluntary redundancy scheme which is currently being offered is due to close tomorrow (Thursday). 

“I would urge management at the Social Security Agency to engage with staff and trade unions to discuss their concerns about this. 

“I am also calling on the Social Development minister to clarify exactly what is happening at Lisahally and what it will mean for staff. 

“All options need to be explored to offset these potential job losses. The minister needs to look within his department to see if other duties can be carried out at Lisahally to secure these jobs.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the minister to discuss this issue.” Ends/Críoch

Support systems for dementia are crucial – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said adequate support systems must be put in place for those living with dementia and their families. ??????????

Speaking after meeting with representatives from Alzheimers Ireland at the European Parliament in Brussels, Ms Anderson said; 

“There is a real need to break down the stigma that often surrounds dementia. 

“Many people have a bleak image in their mind of what dementia can look like. They are often surprised to learn many people with dementia can live active lives, socialising and engaging with the wider community. 

“It is crucially important that support mechanisms are put in place for people diagnosed with dementia to help them cope with their illness. 

“As a carer I know how important it is for families to get adequate support. We could not have coped without the assistance we receive from work carers who help us look after our mother. 

“There needs to be political will across Ireland to provide resources and support for those living with dementia. Health ministers in Dublin and Belfast should be working together to ensure people with dementia and their families get the support they deserve.” Ends/Críoch

Anderson to continue to lobby for ‘Hooded Men’ in Europe

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the Irish government’s call for the European Court of Human Rights to reopen the ‘Hooded Men’ case. MartinaAndersonMEP

Ms Anderson said; 

“I welcome the fact the Irish government has called for the European Court of Human Rights to review its judgement on the ‘Hooded Men’ case. 

“Over recent years I have repeatedly raised the case of the ‘Hooded Men’ at the European Parliament.

“I brought a delegation of victims of collusion, which included Liam Shannon, one of the ‘hooded men’ to the European Parliament, earlier this year. 

“I also facilitated meetings between representatives of the ‘hooded men,’ their solicitor and human rights campaigners from the Pat Finucane Centre, with representatives of the EU Commission. 

“As part of my work to expose Britain’ failure to comply with human rights obligations around the Article 2 right to life legislation I met with the Human Rights Commissioner in Strasbourg to discuss the ‘hooded men’ case. 

“That engagement led to Commissioner Nils Muiznieks coming to Belfast and publicly calling on the British government to live up to its responsibilities on the past. 

“I will continue to lobby on behalf of the ‘Hooded Men’ at the European institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg as this case progresses.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Adams to visit Middle East

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD will travel this week to Israel and Palestine for meetings with senior leaders to discuss the ongoing crisis in that region.

The Sinn Féin leader will fly to Tel Aviv on Wednesday. On Thursday morning he will meet with Israeli Labour Party leader Issac Herzog. Mr. Adams will travel to Ramallah later that day where he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gerry Adams also has an invitation from UNWRA the United Nations Works and Relief Agency to visit Gaza. The Sinn Féin President will be meeting with Palestinian and Israeli groups.

Speaking this morning Mr. Adams said:2 gerrys

“I last visited Israel and Palestine, including Gaza, in 2009. Since then the political situation has deteriorated further and tension at this time, especially in Jerusalem, is very high.

“The conditions for the people of Gaza have also worsened with the continued Israeli blockade and the summer assault by its army on Gaza which saw huge loss of life and destruction of property. This is a key reason for me travelling at this time is to visit Gaza. I would be very disappointed if the Israeli government blocks this.

“I want to learn first-hand from leaders and citizens of the current difficulties faced by all of those living there; to extend my solidarity to the Palestinian people in this the ‘International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’; and to help in any way I can to assist the building of a successful peace process.”

Tory welfare policy driving more people to food banks – Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has said the dramatic increase in the numbers using food banks is an indictment of the welfare cuts agenda of the British government.

Speaking after it was reported that there has been a huge increase in the numbers of people using food banks, he  said;

“The latest report from Age NI shows that the numbers of people in the North using food banks has increased by almost 500 per cent.

“This huge increase is worrying and is an indication of the growing levels of poverty people are experiencing.

“This is a direct result of the British government’s year-on-years savage cuts to the block grant.

“The austerity policies coming from the Tory government in London are disastrous for the people of the North.

“More and more people are struggling to put food on the table and are being forced to rely on food banks just to get the simple necessities to survive.

“The millionaires in the Tory cabinet in London are more concerned about their friends in the banks whose greed crashed the economy than the growing numbers of people who are using food banks just to get by.

“We need to see all parties in the Executive speaking with a united voice and challenging the British government on their welfare cuts agenda to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Hassan to raise lighting problems with DRD officials

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan is to raise the issue of the non-repair of street lighting across the city with DRD Road officials at the councils regional services meeting which takes place today  Tuesday (2nd December)93395584

Councillor Hassan said “I have been inundated with complaints from across a wide area of the city with serious concerns about the non-repair of street lights and in some instances road lights .The first bite of winter has hit us this week with the heavy fog and this has brought home to people the impact of having to no street lights and looking out at darkened streets or roads.

It can be very frightening for anyone particularly people living on their own in an area with no street or road lights outside their home. It can make them feel very vulnerable. There is also the health and safety of pedestrians and motorists to be taken on board.

People have been saying to me that they pay rates and expect these services to be provided.

I will be raising this with DRD Road officials when they are attending the council regional services meeting on Tuesday.

Ends

Anderson welcomes new Sean Dolans GAA pitch

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the opening of new facilities at Sean Dolans GAA club in Creggan, Derry.

Speaking at the opening of a new pitch at the club, Ms Anderson said;10568911_782132518509481_7064007662924534515_n

This is a great moment for this club and this community.

“Sean Dolans has a long and proud history of carrying the torch of Gaelic games in the Creggan Community and in the city of Derry.

“This city is always seen as a soccer city. However, when you look at the participation of children, young people, young adults and families in Gaelic games in Derry City and across the different fields of hurling, football, camogie – nothing could be further from the truth.

“And when we link into the sporting element of our culture – the dancing, the music and language sectors – our city has a vibrant Gaelic cultural mass to be very proud of.

“Why Derry is less promoted as a GAA bastion is maybe because we are not highlighting or championing our clubs and our events and activities enough. That is why it is very important for Sean Dolans to do what they have done today. It is a public declaration of intent in terms of Gaelic sporting games in this community, this city and county. I am deeply proud to be part of that.

“We must put in place the structures to encourage children and young people to participate in Sean Dolans, families to become members of Sean Dolans and we need the structures to sustain this in terms of the finance, the coaching and the players required.

“The current Sean Dolans committee has worked tirelessly to sustain the club over recent times – they brought the club to the place we are at today – which is a good place – but we want to be even better, bigger and back to winning campaigns.” Ends/Críoch

Wear a red ribbon on Monday for World AIDS Day-Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called on people in Derry to wear a red ribbon to mark World AIDS Day on Monday 1st December:

Councillor Kelly said world aids day candle -colly kelly



“Monday  December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day in which the world comes out in solidarity and support for those who are living with HIV and AIDS.

“The Red Ribbon is the international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness and is used to promote awareness and support of a worthy cause and to remind others of the need for their continued support and commitment.

“We must constantly be proactive in supporting prevention awareness programmes for HIV in Ireland, these programmes must be sustained and given the proper funding to help reduce the levels of new infections and put in place the support services that are needed for caring for those suffering with HIV.”

Ends

Europe makes a genuine improvement to people’s daily lives – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said European funding makes a genuine difference to the lives of thousands of people each day in the North. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Speaking after addressing the European Regional Forum event in Belfast this morning, Ms Anderson   said;
“There is no doubt that membership of the European Union makes a huge contribution to everyday life in the North.
“Today’s event was about maximising the benefits of European engagement and to explore new ways of realising the potential that Europe holds.
“I told the delegates that every piece of work I take on in Brussels and Strasbourg is done on he basis that it will benefit the people I represent.
“In particular, I highlighted the role that I have played in Europe in the campaign against so-called ‘legal highs’.
“To date, as a result of working closely with Belfast City Council and the Attorney General, we have been able to stop the sale of these toxic and potentially deadly substances in Belfast.
“I also updated delegates on my role as chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council in promoting and defending the rights of the Palestinian people.” Ends/Críoch 

Moves to address Lower Garden City tree problems –Cllr Mickey Cooper

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed confirmation from Derry City Council that they are going to address problems around overgrown trees in the Lower Garden City area of the city.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

He said “Following  a number of concerns being raised by residents about the overgrown trees in Lower Garden City I had an onsite meeting (today Thursday)with representatives from Derry City Council .I relayed the concerns  from residents and asked that a solution could be found to sort this out as speedily as possible.

Council has now agreed to put in place a programme of work to resolve the issues around the trees and they have said the work will be completed before the end of February 2015.

If any resident wishes to discuss this with me I can be contacted on  07743175709.

Ends

Over £250,000 facelift for Carlisle Road –Cllr Colly Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has welcomed the news that Carlisle Road is to receive over a quarter of a million pounds facelift

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

He was commenting after the Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey announced that Carlisle Road in Derry is to get a £268,000 facelift.

“This is good news for the businesses along Carlisle Road and residents who live in the surrounding streets. We have seen how schemes in other parts of the city have revitalised entire areas such as the Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place.

This facelift  will see new paving, enhancements to the street lights and the carriageway resurfaced on what is the gateway from Craigavon Bridge into our city centre.

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Gerry O’Hara Election Blog

Welcome.

McCallion welcomes banning of so called “legal highs”

Sinn Féin Councilllor Elisha McCallion has welcomed the news that a so called “legal high known as  Seratoni  has now been banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Seratoni technically known as 4, 4’-DMAR comes in tablet or powder form.44-DMARTablets


Councillor Elisha McCallion said “I welcome the news that this drug has been banned as a class A drug. It is linked to a staggering 37 deaths in Britain and the North of Ireland.


We need to be constantly exploring every option, legislative and otherwise, to deal with the scourge of these so called  “legal highs”.

The scourge of these drugs has caused untold suffering for many families in Derry and across the north.

We will continue to lobby the Department of Justice to take a robust stance on the menace of these so called legal highs and Martina Anderson MEP is asking the European Commission to look at this issue.

DUP leadership continues to condone Irish language insult – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness today contrasted the actions of party leader Gerry Adams in apologising for an inappropriate comment and the DUP’s Gregory Campbell who insulted the Irish language community at the weekend.

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness said:

“Gerry Adams has clearly apologised for an inappropriate comment he made last night in an unscripted remark at a public meeting. That was entirely the right thing to do.

“In contrast Gregory Campbell repeated comments in a prepared speech at his party conference, which have caused deep offence to the Irish language community. This speech was carried in full on the DUP website with the offensive passage actually highlighted.

“I would like to know where the DUP leadership stands on this latest outburst by Gregory Campbell.

“Was Gregory Campbell speaking on behalf of the DUP when he made those offensive remarks or was he representing only his personal view?

“It’s important that the DUP leadership makes it clear that it will not condone anyone in their party attacking any community in this society.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Anderson calls for alcohol advertising ban

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for a ban on alcohol advertising in the European Union. B3TflPpCIAA7dm0

Ms Anderson made the call during Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWARH). 

The MEP said; 

“The European Union is the highest drinking region in the world resulting in huge level of harm. 

“Twelve per cent of children across the European Union live in families adversely affected by alcohol. 

“As well as the cost to health, alcohol-related harm also costs the economy more than €155 billion every year, of which €74 billion is a result of productivity losses. 

“Alcohol is linked to more than 60 diseases including cancer, liver and digestive diseases, alcohol dependency and depression.

“At this morning’s event I asked the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is he could commit to an advertising ban during his time in office. 

“He agreed on the need for such a ban but acknowledged if will be a challenge. 

“I will continue to lobby for all measures to protect people from alcohol-related harm.”

Gerry Adams clarifies ‘bastards’ comment

SINN FÉIN President Gerry Adams TD has apologised for his use of the term “bastards” to describe bigots, homophobes and racists within unionism who oppose equality.

Gerry Adams reiterated his substantial point that bigotry needs to be tackled through education and equality.

Speaking at a public meeting in Enniskillen on Monday night, Gerry Adams was asked by a member of the audience what the point was of sharing power with “bigots, homophobes and racists” within the DUP.

Adams responded to the question, saying:

“The point is to break these bastards. And what’s going to break them is equality. That’s what’s going to break them – equality. 

“Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated? And that’s what we need to keep the focus on.”

Immediately, unionists jumped on the comments, claiming a false equivalence between Gerry Adams’s use of a swear-word to the DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell’s tirade of abuse intentionally directed towards Irish-speakers over the last week.

The DUP MP was cheered and applauded at a DUP conference on Saturday for making offensive remarks about Irish-speakers and mocking the language.

Campbell said he would treat calls for an Irish Language Act and Bill of Rights “like toilet paper”. Despite outrage over the remarks, the DUP did not condemn the former Culture Minister.

Yet the DUP were quick out of the traps following Gerry Adams’s utterance of a swear word. Arlene Foster, apparently without irony, claimed Adams had been “disrespectful to an entire community”.

Gerry Adams posted from his Twitter account after the event, saying he shouldn’t call bigots, racists or homophobes ‘bastards'” but reiterated that only equality and education could “break them”.  

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland:

“Gerry shouldn’t have said it and he did apologise and I think that is in strong contrast to others who have made much more offensive remarks who have not apologised. 

“I think it’s very important to say the context Gerry made the remarks was in the context of people who were homophobes, racists or sectarian bigots. But that doesn’t excuse the use of the word.”

◼︎ On BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback show with William Crawley on Tuesday, Gerry Adams said he was sorry for his use of the word “bastards” and if he “made a hames” of what he was saying but he stood by the substance of the points he was trying to make.

Health chair McLaughlin hands in 16,000 petition Putting Patients First

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and chair of the Assemblys Health  committee Maeve McLaughlin as she handed in Putting Patients First – public petition signed by 16,000 people across the North IMG_9330

Speaking from the Assembly she said

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this “ Putting Patients First “ petition to the floor of the Assembly today.  “ Putting Patients First” is not only an important principled approach to how we deliver health care  but it also gives voice to thousands of people across the north in their support for their General Practices.

Over 16,000 people across the North signed this petition.

In order to shift left from acute to community/ primary care and early intervention it is important that we acknowledge the increasing pressures on GPs and support this infrastructure  to deliver the very services we envisage under Transforming Your Care(TYC).

GPs will be a necessary part of the shift from hospitals to care in community.  The petition calls for General Practice to receive 11% of the healthcare budget.  The shift would enable General Practice to deliver shorter waiting times for appointment , and more flexible opening hours, longer appointments and more flexible opening opening hours, longer consultations better continuity of care and positive benefits for health services as a whole , reducing pressures in hospitals.

In real terms funding for General Practice in the North has fallen by £21.20m from 2008/9 and 2012/13 a percentage decrease of 8.2%

GPs saw a 7% increase in activity in past year alone.

GPs out of hours has expressed an 18% increase over last 5 years.

To deliver care to an ageing population TYC needs to deliver more GPs ,practice nurses, district nurses, health visitors backed up by pharmacy colleagues and members of the allied health professionals in the community.

GPs are encouraged by recent investment in premises and encourage more investment in the Hub and Spoke model.  I am particularly pleased that cityside In Derry has been identified as a priority project.

However GPs do not feel engaged with TYC process – they feel that work has sifted but the resources have not followed

Anderson welcomes Pope Francis’ visit to European Parliament

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed Pope Francis’ visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. 

Speaking after the Pope addressed MEPs in the parliament, Ms Anderson said; 

Sinn Féin MEPs Matt Carthy, Martina Anderson and Liadh Ní Riada at the European Parliament in Strasbourg during Pope Francis' speech.

Sinn Féin MEPs Matt Carthy, Martina Anderson and Liadh Ní Riada at the European Parliament in Strasbourg during Pope Francis’ speech.

 

“Pope Francis is head of the Catholic Church and head of state of the Vatican and is one of the few personalities that has such a broad appeal that reaches policy makers. 

“He has publicly challenged poverty and deprivation and promoted social justice. 

“It is important he addressed the European Parliament at a time when EU policies have resulted in such misery, poverty and deprivations. 

“Pope Francis’ challenge to international capitalism with his remarks that human beings are reduced to cogs in a machine and disposed of when no longer needed are to be welcomed. 

“While the EU is a secular project and none of its institutions are connected to any religion and are in place to serve all equally, the ethical dimension is an important part of the EU’s work. 

“Our values on protecting the poor and tackling inequality are laid down in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”  ENDS/CRÍOCH

Need to look at energy supply for 100s of Brandywell homes–Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor and local resident Patricia Logue said Patricia Logue new pic 22

I am calling on the Housing Executive to look at the current provision of energy supply to hundreds of homes in the greater Brandywell area and look at the feasibility of installing gas central heating systems there.

Over the years local residents have complained to me about their lack of energy options and problems around oil heating systems .This could provide a cleaner and more efficient source of heating for the residents and give them a cheaper option. In this day and age every penny in the weekly budget counts. The five or ten pounds saved  from any bill can quickly be redirected to be used somewhere else in a household budget.

In the Derry City Council area specifically, 30% of households are in fuel poverty and 26% of households with children are in fuel poverty.  Overall, the North has higher expenditure on energy bills than Britain, paying £2,114 a year for heating and electricity which is more than double the highest energy bill in Britain.

There has been a 64% rise in home heating costs over the last 5 years.  Low household incomes, rising fuel costs as well as poor insulation and inefficient heating systems all contribute to fuel poverty.  As the cost of fuel continues to rise, this chronic problem can only get worse with people having to decide whether to ‘heat or eat’.

I will be having a series of meetings with the organisations who have also identified a number of issues around energy supply including the  Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, Dove house and Colm Barton from the Triax Neighbourhood Management Team .We will also be  discussing  fuel poverty and other social and health inequalities in the area.

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Support Christmas Blood donation appeal-Councillor Colly Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has urged people in Derry to support the Christmas and New Year Blood donation appeal this week.be_a_star

 

 Councillor Colly Kelly said “I would urge as many people as possible to support this year’s blood transfusion campaign “Be a star for someone this Christmas”

You always think of patients needing blood transfusions in the event of road accidents but rarely do we  think of people with medical conditions needing  treatment all year around.

 

There is a lot of pressure place on the Blood Transfusion service. They have said  that the need for blood is constant, with 500 patients in the north needing transfusions each week, but at this time of year it can be particularly difficult to maintain their  blood stocks.

 

I would urge anyone who can help to go along to the Clooney Hall on the 5th December and the Bloodmobile at Rafters on the 18th December.

DUP leadership must rein in Campbell’s appalling behaviour – Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has described Gregory Campbell’s behaviour at the DUP conference as appalling and called on the party to reprimand him. 

Mr McGuinness said; GCMP

“I was disappointed at the comments made by Gregory Campbell when he set out to demean the Irish language and all of those who love the language. This included the thousands of school children who attend gaelscoileanna. 

“I was then absolutely appalled to hear him repeat those remarks at the DUP party conference. 

“I was further disappointed that the leadership of the party was not prepared to rebuke or reprimand him. 

“This is not a time for making excuses. It is a time for leadership and taking action to ensure this never happens again. 

“It sends a negative message right to the heart of the talks we are engaged in to find a resolution to the outstanding issues. 

“Under no circumstances can this be passed off as comedy; there was absolutely nothing funny about it. 

“It was disgraceful and shameful that any elected politician can engage in the baiting of a large section of the community. 

“There are people on the DUP benches who are filled with hatred for the Irish language, people who have hatred for all things Irish, people who are Islamaphobic, and the level of homophobia within that party is also of huge concern. 

“At a time when Peter Robinson and myself are working to implement strategies for building an integrated community, it is hugely disappointing to hear this language used.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

 

Anderson gets Irish diplomatic passport

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said her newly acquired Irish diplomatic passport helps her represent the community at the European Parliament. 

Speaking after becoming the first MEP from the North to hold an Irish diplomatic passport, Ms Anderson said; 

“As an Irish republican I am proud to hold an Irish passport and as a public representative I applied for a diplomatic passport to assist me in my work as an MEP. 

“In my role as a Sinn Féin MEP I have to travel on a regular basis to represent all of my constituents at the European Parliament. 

“That involves travelling to the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg as well as travelling to other locations on parliament business. 

“In particular, as chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, I have to travel to Palestine and Israel. 

“Having an Irish diplomatic passport will make that travelling process easier by cutting down the length of time I spend going through airport security checks on a weekly basis. 

“This will give me more time to devote to the job I have been elected to do, representing each and every person in the North and at the European Parliament.”

SF backs health workers’ industrial action-McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA  and chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin said:

“The British Tory Government has implemented a policy of pay freezes and year-on-year cuts, which in reality are pay cuts which have left many within the health service in poverty.

“The vast majority of workers within the health service are under paid and deserve to have a decent wage.

“The service these people provide should not be taken for granted and we must support their call for a decent wage.

It’s important to show our support for proper wages and conditions for health workers.”

Ends

McLaughlin to host transgender event at Stormont

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin will host an event in Stormont’s Long Gallery to raise awareness of the rights of the transgender community. 

Speaking ahead of the ‘Transgender Rights are Human Rights’ event on December 9, the Foyle MLA said;

“I am pleased to host Focus – The Identity Trust in the Long Gallery for an event to raise awareness about issues affecting the transgender community as part of the Human Rights Festival 2014.

“The transgender community make a valued contribution to cultural diversity in our society. 

“However, the transgender and intersex communities still face discrimination and intolerance on a daily basis. 

“The event, ‘Transgender Rights are Human Rights’ will look at the challenges and difficulties encountered by the trans community. 

“It will also provide an opportunity to show solidarity with the trans community. 

“Speakers at the event will include Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and legal expert Lord Carlile.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Campbell’s repugnant attitude to Irish language must be rejected – Ó hEára

Sinn Féin spokesperson and Irish Language enthusiast Gearóid Ó hEára has called on Unionist political leaders, particularly Peter Robinson to unequivocally disassociate their parties from the repugnant attitude towards the Irish language displayed by Gregory Campbell.DSC_8334

Gearóid Ó hEára said:

“Gregory Campbell’s personal attitude to all things Irish and particularly to our native language is well known. But when delivering his latest diatribe he claimed to be speaking on behalf of the DUP party.

“It is therefore incumbent on DUP leader Peter Robinson to clarify if Mr Campbell was indeed speaking with the authourity of and on behalf of the Party.

“If Mr Campbell had made such disparaging comments about any other language or section of society he would be rightly investigated for incitement to hatred.

“The silence of other political leaders on this issue would seem to infer an ambivalent attitude to the denigration of Irishness on their behalf. It’s time that they too confronted this type of sectarianism. CRÍOCH/END

SDLP need to wake up to threat of anti-agreement axis – Adams

inn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said today the SDLP needed to wake up to the fact that negative anti-agreement unionism is forming electoral pacts in the run-up to next year’s Westminster elections.15251175137_aa21579d1d_o

 Gerry Adams said:

“For the past two years the political process has been challenged by a negative anti-agreement unionist axis which is attempting to turn the clock back. 

“Progress on a whole range of outstanding issues from the Good Fridayand other agreements, including an Irish Language Act, has been blocked.

“The SDLP’s refusal to consider a strategic approach to the next Westminster and Assembly elections by pro-agreement progressive parties ignores the reality that unionism is currently forming electoral pacts.

“The unionist parties have quite clearly set out their objective in successive party conferences of taking seats at the expense of pro-agreement parties.

“This would be a setback for the political process in the North. It would also add further momentum to the British government’s shift towards increasingly partisan support for negative unionism.

“There is a clear need for more innovative and forward-looking politics which can effectively counter the unionist anti-Agreement axis and the SDLP should be playing a role in that.” 

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings highlights need for Living Wage-Campbell

Sinn Féin Counciilor Kevin Campbell has stated that the results of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) serves to highlight the need for a living wage.

 

In July of this year the new Derry City and Strabane District Council voted unanimously to support a Sinn Féin motion calling for the adoption for a living wage to be introduced.3895995549

 

Councillor Campbell said

 “Sinn Féin has consistently pointed out the growing gap between those who are getting richer and those workers whose living standards are continually being eroded. We were the first Party on record calling for the introduction of a living wage.

 “The publication of this ASHE survey paints a very bleak picture in terms of the average earnings for families across the north and validates our proposal for a living wage.

 “While it can be claimed that the economy is showing signs of a slight recovery, it is clear that the working poor and those citizens dependent on benefits are not seeing any improvement in their living standards. Any measurable growth would seem to be the preserve of the already well-off across our society.

“These figures clearly show a trend towards low-paid jobs which can only perpetuate dependence on in work benefits. This dependency does not improve the lives of workers but allows for increased profit margins for those employers who refuse to pay a living wage.

“In order to address the problem of increased working poor, we need to see the introduction of a living wage for all workers and the abolition of zero hour contracts.”

In 2014 people deserve to be paid a decent wage and Sinn Féin believes that introducing the living wage will ensure that the lowest-paid workers will enjoy a better quality of life.

Prevent Christmas smash and grab thieves” -Kelly

Sinn Féin Cityside Councillor Colly Kelly has warned motorists against leaving valuables and presents in cars as they go about Christmas shopping.

Councillor Colly Kelly said Christmas-shopping-001



“The next couple of weeks  will be very busy with people out and about doing their Christmas shopping in Derry .It’s also a time when criminals see it as an opportunity to target parked cars for smash and grab thefts. Particularly in dark side streets or badly lit car parks where there isn’t many people about.

People will often leave presents or belongings sitting on seats to go into shops or cafes and think it will be ok to leave it for a few moments. I would urge everyone to take precautions and lock any valuables in the boot of their car. It’s better to take that extra few moments for security than let someone’s Christmas be ruined.

Ends

Logue condemns Derry shooting

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has condemned the shooting of a man in the  Cecilia’s Walk area of Blighs Lane tonight.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said

“Tonight’s shooting at  Cecilia’s Walk has to be condemned. There can be absolutely no justification for this type of action. This must have been a very frightening experience for everyone caught up in this, especially as its reported that  a number of young children were in the vicinity at the time of the shooting.

It’s very sad that when thousands of people were out tonight celebrating the turning on of the Christmas lights in the city centre that others were trying to drag our society backwards and bringing guns onto our streets.

We are in a new era, we are creating a new society for the younger generation and there can be no place for this type of activity.

End

Anderson nominates Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for major European award

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has nominated Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for the prestigious European Citizen’s Prize 2014.

Martina Anderson MEP with Gearóid Ó hEára supporting Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Martina Anderson MEP with Gearóid Ó hEára supporting Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Speaking after the announcement that Comhaltas was shortlisted for the award, Ms Anderson said; 

“Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is a fantastic organisation which promotes and celebrates Irish traditional music throughout the world. 

“It is best known for organising Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, by far the largest celebration of traditional music and culture, each year. 

“I am extremely proud to be a member of my local branch of Comhaltas and to have been involved in the incredible Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry in 2013. This was widely recognised as the biggest and best Fleadh in the history of the organisation. 

“Ahead of the Fleadh coming to Derry I brought the Comhaltas Ard Chomhairle to the European Parliament in Brussels to showcase the amazing work of the organisation. 

“I was pleased and honoured to nominate Comhaltas for the European Citizen’s Prize 2014. This is a prestigious accolade recognising groups who have particularly distinguished themselves in strengthening integration, openness to others and the development of mutual understanding.

“Each European member state is entitled to make one nomination for the award and the initial Irish nomination was for the Blue Star Programme Teachers. However, after lobbying myself, the vice-president of the European Parliament, Dimitrious Papadimoulis, said he would support Comhaltas and proposed that Ireland be given a second nomination. 

“His proposal was adopted and now Comhaltas has been shortlisted for this award and deservedly so,” she said.  

Gearóid Ó hEára, chairperson of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2013, welcomed the nomination. 

“The nomination for this prestigious prize is a recognition of the great work carried out by Comhaltas not only to promote Irish culture but to celebrate that culture in an inclusive and welcoming way. 

“The hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Fleadh in Derry will know that Comhaltas brought all communities together in a celebration of our shared culture in a way that has never been seen before. 

“Martina Anderson has done tremendous work to secure this nomination for Comhaltas and I look forward to them winning this award.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Executive must take united approach on north west unemployment – McGuinness

The Executive must take a united approach to tackle the high level of unemployment in the north west, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has insisted.

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

Speaking after today’s meeting of the Executive, Martin McGuinness said: 

“I am increasingly concerned at the high levels of unemployment in the north west.

“As well as the economic crisis, there are historic reasons why that is the case. However, I firmly believe there is a responsibility on the entire Executive to tackle this issue, not least because the Executive is already committed to redressing the regional disparities, which exist in the North.

“There is also a specific focus required from individual ministers, particularly in terms of issues such as the promotion of Derry to investors and the wider North West, the expansion of Magee University and the provision of the required infrastructure and office space.

“I have raised this matter with Executive colleagues and there will be further discussions in the time ahead regarding the practicalities of what the Executive can do to assist the north west.

“I believe that all Ministers are open to providing whatever assistance they can from their respective departments.

“I will continue to work with all stakeholders including the local Council and The Ilex Urban Regeneration Company to build on the good work that has already been done to ensure the high levels of unemployment and disparity which exist in the north west are successfully tackled.” Ends/Críoch

Anderson supports COPD awareness in Europe

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a campaign at the European Parliament to raise awareness of COPD. 

Martina Anderson MEP at the COPD awareness event at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Martina Anderson MEP at the COPD awareness event at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Speaking from Brussels on World COPD Day, Ms Anderson said; 

“Events like this by the European Public Health Alliance are necessary because many people don’t realise just how common an illness COPD is. 

“It affects more people in Europe than breast cancer and diabetes. 

“Unfortunately it kills around 300,000 people across Europe each year. 

“It is also an illness which is on the increase throughout Europe, increasing by more than 60 per cent in the last 20 years. 

“As a result, many families across the North, including my own, have been touched by COPD. 

“More must be done to raise awareness of the condition as well as promoting preventions and ensuring equal access to early diagnosis and correct treatments.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Warning over Bishop Street lead thefts -Cllr P Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has warned residents in the greater Bishop Street area to be on the alert for lead thefts.

Councillor Patricia Logue

Councillor Patricia Logue

Its follows a number of thefts of lead from homes in Long Tower Court and Moore Walk in the early hours of Thursday morning.

She said

People would find it hard to believe that when they are in their beds, that in the middle of the night there are people taking lead from their properties. But this is exactly what happened in the early hours of Thursday morning in Long Tower Court and Moore Walk.

This is just not opportunist small time thefts.

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

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

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

 

Ends

 

McLaughlin welcomes progress on cross-border learning zone

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a commitment from Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry on a cross-border learning zone for the north west. 

The Foyle MLA said; 

“I asked the minister to outline what progress has been made with ministers in Dublin on the development of a cross-border learning zone in the north west. 

“Stephen Farry said he and his officials are engaged with government ministers in Dublin on a range of issues to increase cross-border cooperation. 

“In particular he said he is working with Department of Education and Skills to prepare a joint paper on cross-border education issues. 

“This is particularly welcome as part of the wider campaign for the development of Magee and increased cooperation with other colleges across the wider north west, including Letterkenny Institute of Technology. 

“The development of a cross-border learning zone covering the wider north west region would provide more educational opportunities for all of our young people.

“Meetings are continuing between officials from both departments, north and south, and a joint paper is being prepared which will be submitted to the Assembly’s permanent secretaries group next month. 

“We will continue to ensure all opportunities for greater all-Ireland co-operation on further and higher education are pursued.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Urgent need for American and European ‘hands-on’ role in Stormont talks

There is real risk of political drift, culminating in a British position which attempts to dilute the Haass compromise proposals

AS BILATERAL TALKS took place on Wednesday in Belfast between political parties and the Irish and British governments to discuss dealing with the past, parades and other issues, DUP leader Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt spent a second day visiting Brussels.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness went to the European Parliament one month ago to encourage cross-party support for the landmark resolution on the Northern political process (passed overwhelmingly today – Thursday) and to meet the leaderships of all political groups and senior officials in the parliament. The two unionist leaders’ trip was a belated political reaction to that Sinn Féin initiative.

No similar resolution about Ireland has been passed in Europe before.

It expresses concern that the implementation of the Peace Process has reached an impasse, welcomes the current talks and urges all parties to participate constructively to resolve all outstanding issues.

It was supported by every political group in the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, the talks in Belfast continue to lack a process and political momentum. Both are required for any possibility of progress to be made. Increased international attention will be needed to bring that about. 

This Conservative Party-led British Government has been completely indifferent to what is needed to end the current impasse. 

Its relegation of the North to a political backwater, an associated lack of positive politics, commitment and negotiation capacity, and their system’s loss of institutional memory and skills on Ireland all negatively feed into this British approach.

Add to that the Conservatives’ own unionist political bias, the political crisis in the British state, next year’s Westminster elections, and hedging their bets with the DUP.

The Conservatives and the British system are not concentrated on making these talks work. 

Sidebar conversations involving them about negative default scenarios regarding the New Year, if not before, are counter-productive.

As a result of the European Parliament resolution, it is now prepared to offer any support which can be of assistance to the Northern political process.

The United States administration is keenly aware that the Good Friday Agreement itself and the viability of the political institutions are directly threatened.

Gary Hart starts talks

US Senator Gary Hart has already conducted one round of meetings here to offer encouragement.

It is clear that unless the US Government – through Gary Hart – is directly involved in these talks, no substantive political negotiation will occur while the British continue pretending they are facilitators and not participants.

Instead, there is real risk for political drift, culminating in a preordained British position paper being tabled which attempts to dilute the Haass compromise proposals and is bereft of a serious economic reconstruction plan for the North.

● Senator Gary Hart should now be given a central role in helping to shape and drive the talks agenda.

● The political resources of the EU Parliament should also be brought into play. 

● The Irish Government ought to make these representations.

A properly-structured negotiation process with political momentum will depend on intensified international diplomatic attention, and a ‘hands-on’ role for America and Europe.

FG/Labour Govt in crisis – will struggle to stay in power, says Gerry Adams

THE Fine Gael/Labour Government is in deep crisis, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD told an internal party conference attended by 500 grassroots activists in Dublin on Saturday.

He also called for the biggest possible mobilisation for the Right2Water rally in Dublin on December 10th.

“As each day passes, it is clearer that it will struggle to stay in office until the end of its term.

“Tá an chomhdháil seo inniu mar pháirt d’ullmhúcháin Shinn Féin le go mbeidh muid réidh don lá nuair a chaithfidh an droch-rialtas seo, guth a thabhairt do na doine a rá cén cineál rialtais atá siad ag iarraidh.”

The Sinn Féin leader said that this Government has broken most of the promises it made during the last general election and “Fine Gael, with the support of Labour, have imposed relentless austerity on struggling families and vulnerable citizens”.

He said Fine Gael and Labour have failed to deliver on any commitment to political reform, accountability or parliamentary effectiveness even though the electorate voted last year in favour of reform in the Seanad and across the political system.

“There been no Seanad reform.

“Instead, this Government has used and abused the Dáil, the Seanad, sboards and ministerial positions to a degree that would make even Fianna Fáil blush!

Mary Lou water tax

“Yet again, this week, the Tánaiste would not answer a straightforward question put to her by Mary Lou McDonald.

“The Taoiseach does that regularly with me. 

“Sinn Féin in the Dáil voices the concerns of countless thousands of citizens. That is our mandate.

“Yet, time and time again, the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach refuse to answer straightforward questions.  The Ceann Comhairle continually allows ministers to get away with this.

“Is é is bunús le parlaimint ar bith ná go gcoinníonn an freasúra súil ghéar ar an rialtas.

“Ní tharlaíonn sé seo sa Dáil.

“Bíonn an Ceann Comhairle i gcónaí fábhrach d’Airí Rialtais agus don Taoiseach.

“The Ceann Comhairle’s treatment of Mary Lou on Thursday was unfair and petulant.

“She asked legitimate and appropriate questions about whether water charges would be deducted from the pensions, social welfare and wages of those who cannot afford to pay.

“His refusal to return to the Dàil chamber until Mary Lou left was silly and bizarre, especially when she sat tight – quite rightly – and refused to meekly serve her time. 

“Given his treatment of Opposition parties and Independents, and particularly Sinn Féin, I have no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle.”

Gerry Adams said that rather than use the exit from the EU/IMF bail-out agreement on 15 December to provide relief to those hit hardest by austerity, the Government inflicted further painful measures.

“Fine Gael and Labour can no longer hide behind the Troika for their decisions. They cannot say that ‘the big boys made them do it’.”

He pointed to the unavoidable resignation of Fine Gael Justice Minister Alan Shatter over Garda Síochána Ombudsman’s Office affair, the treatment of whistleblowers on Garda corruption; also Eamon Gilmore’s  resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party in the wake of his party’s disastrous performance in May’s EU and local elections.

“Eamon Gilmore got out just in time.”

Eamon Gilmore – Going places

Yet more woes befell the Government with the Seanad ‘McNultygate’ scandal and two by-election defeats for the Government as well as losing its Seanad majority.

“The Budget was an opportunity to give people a break.

“Instead citizens got water charges, Property Tax, no help for carers, no investment in mental health, and a cut to the top rate of tax, rewarding a wealthy minority.

“The Government failed to listen to citizens and now faces its deepest crisis yet.

“This Government’s Frankenstein creation – Irish Water – has been characterised by excessive spending on consultants, bonuses and cronyism.

“Léirigh Sinn Féin gur féidir leis an Stát íoc as seirbhís uisce den chéad scoth gan bac a chur ar an lucht oibre. Mar pháirt d’aon rialtas gheobhadh muid réidh le táillí uisce. Tá sin déanta again sa Tuaisceart. 

“Sinn Féin is part of the Right2Water campaign.  I am calling for the biggest possible mobilisation on December 10th to demonstrate the continued widespread opposition to water charges.”

1916-executed-leaders

Turning to this week’s Irish Government programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Gerry Adams said:

“This incompetent Government, which has no intention of fulfilling the vision of the 1916 Proclamation, is now determined to dishonour its legacy.

“This week – under mounting pressure due to the fact that, after three years, it clearly had no plan for marking the Rising’s 100th anniversary – it produced a glossy brochure devoid of historical substance or detail.”

Gerry Adams said that and Assembly Junior Minister Jennifer McCann were in the GPO at the launch.

“Outside, the rebellious noise of anti-water charge protesters drowned out the self-serving ministerial speeches. 

“The video to launch Ireland 2016 makes no mention of the Easter Rising or of the signatories of the Proclamation.

“Going by this corporate-style video, the Government believes that the Rising was about Facebook, Google, Bob Geldof, Bono, David Cameron and the English queen!

“This effort and the fig leaf production of a flimsy commemorative brochure are deeply disrespectful to the men and women of 1916 and betray a cynical indifference to their ideals, hopes and vision. 

“It seems that John Bruton won the argument about how the Government should proceed on this important issue.”

But the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s vision of 2016 is no accident, Gerry Adams said.

“The reason this Government won’t mark the Rising appropriately is because it is opposed to the political, social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.

“Despite this shameful official neglect, ordinary Irish citizens, North and South, and the Irish Diaspora will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916.”They will be joined by Sinn Féin.

“And Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in an independent, united Ireland with peace and genuine reconciliation between all who live here.”

Referring to the political talks in the North that are “finally underway”, Gerry Adams said, though, “there is no evidence of a start to the type of credible negotiations that are required to unlock the impasse in the political process”.

He said Sinn Féin’s priority is to defend and to progress the “hugely significant political advances” that have been made over the past 20 years.

“It is of crucial importance however that the Irish Government adopts the same unambiguous pro-Agreement position and very clearly hold the British Government to account in relation to its obligations.” 

AP Election Special poster

In an effort to stem rising public support for Sinn Féin, it is clear that Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil will employ any dirty trick, lie, or disgusting allegation, the Sinn Féin leader said.

“That now includes the vile slur that Sinn Féin is involved in a cover-up of sexual abuse cases. But – despite the tsunami of anti-Sinn Féin propaganda – our activists and members should hold your heads high. Our commitment is to support and  to help victims and survivors and to honestly face up to any failures in the past. Be sure of this – Sinn Féin has not been involved in any cover-up.”

The veteran republican leader emphasised:

“Any  abuser within republicanism has done grievous wrongs to their victims. They did not do this in our name. They have sullied our cause.

“But they are not in any way representative of the tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Féin.

“They are not representative of the tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause. Or of our patriot dead.

“They are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of citizens, North and South, who vote for Sinn Féin.”

Gerry Adams said this “mud slinging” by political opponents is a sign of their political desperation.

“It is about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for gains at the next general election. It will not succeed. The people are not stupid.

“Sinn Féin believes in a real Republic, a citizen-centred, rights-based society. That is the fundamental ideological difference between Sinn Féin and this deeply unpopular government.

“That message is finding a deep resonance among citizens the length and breadth of this country. More citizens voted for Sinn Féin in 2014 than in the famous election of 1918.

“Today’s conference marks the next step in building a strong Irish republican party focused on uniting Ireland and committed to achieving real political, social and economic change.

“Ar aghaidh linn.”

1916 centenary must be all-Ireland and include Diaspora

Irish Government’s Easter Rising programme ‘lightweight’

Easter Rising leaders – left out of Fine Gael/Labour Government 1916 centenary video

THE Irish Government’s 1916 Easter Rising commemorative programme launched this week at the GPO has been described by Sinn Féin as “lightweight” and unfitting to the memory of those who fought for Ireland’s freedom from the British Empire.

A Fine Gael/Labour Government-sponsored video launched this week was widely criticised across the political and social spectrum for failing to even mention the 1916 Easter Rising or any of its executed leaders.

The Irish Times reported that a second version of the tourist-oriented video was hastily updated with “a lingering shot of a copy of the Proclamation” set against a photograph of a burnt-out GPO.

The Ireland Inspires 2016 video urges people “Let’s build a new legacy” when the legacy in the Proclamation of 1916 is still unfulfilled almost a century later.

1916 Govt video

The Irish Government video’s token opening shot

“Both videos feature footage of prominent figures including Ian Paisley, Queen Elizabeth, Bono, David Cameron and Bob Geldof but, other than a brief glimpse of the Proclamation document at the beginning of the newly-updated video, at no point are Pádraig Mac Piarais, James Connolly or indeed any of the other executed 1916 leaders mentioned in the piece,” the Irish Times noted.

The insult was compounded when a spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed that Google Translate was used to translate English into Irish on a Government website promoting the 1916 commemorations.

Sinn Féin Arts & Heritage spokesperson Sandra McLellan TD said that any state programme must be inclusive of the entire island and the Irish nation as a whole, including the Diaspora.

“It must aim to educate, motivate and celebrate around the very ideals and vision as espoused in the proclamation rather than become a military and ceremonial event without substance,” she said.

“Organisations that were centrally involved in the 1916 Rising such as Conradh na Gaeilge, the GAA and trade unions must be included in any official state commemorative programme.

“Citizens and communities must be actively encouraged and facilitated in an open way by the Government to generate and put forward their views and ideas on how we commemorate this critical period in our country’s history.”

Effective regulation needed for private rental sector –Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said a review of private rental sector accommodation must result in effective regulation to protect the rights of tenantslg_tony_hassan_copy2
He said;

“The review of private rental sector accommodation which has been announced  is welcome and something that Sinn Féin has been calling for.

“The current regulations are clearly ineffective and need to be reviewed to include effective regulation to protect the rights of tenants and to make landlords responsible for their dwellings.

“The private rented sector receives huge amounts of public funding for rents through housing benefits and must be accountable to ensure the quality of the housing provided.

“At the moment social housing is provided by the Housing Executive and housing associations, as well as the private rental sector.

 

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Anderson supports COPD awareness in Europe

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has backed a campaign at the European Parliament to raise awareness of COPD. Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large

Speaking from Brussels on World COPD Day, Ms Anderson said; 

“Events like this by the European Public Health Alliance are necessary because many people don’t realise just how common an illness COPD is. 

“It affects more people in Europe than breast cancer and diabetes. 

“Unfortunately it kills around 300,000 people across Europe each year. 

“It is also an illness which is on the increase throughout Europe, increasing by more than 60 per cent in the last 20 years. 

“As a result, many families across the North, including my own, have been touched by COPD. 

“More must be done to raise awareness of the condition as well as promoting preventions and ensuring equal access to early diagnosis and correct treatments.” 

‘SDLP refused to meet me on budget’ – McGuinness

The SDLP refused to engage with Sinn Fein during crucial budget negotiations and instead chose to pursue a publicity campaign of spin and dishonesty, Sinn Fein MLA Martin McGuinness has said.DSC_8208

“It is somewhat ironic to hear SDLP representatives lamenting the state of the health service because when they had the chance to do something about it, they failed to do so,” Mr McGuinness said.

“During the recent budget negotiations, my party made four separate attempts to arrange meetings with the SDLP to discuss how we could secure additional funds for Health and a number of other departments, including the SDLP-run Department of the Environment.

“All of those requests were ignored.

“This indicates that the SDLP didn’t want a resolution and are, clearly, more interested in political point scoring than patients or public services.

 “The SDLP have incorrectly claimed that Sinn Fein voted for a budget that would involve health cuts at the Executive meeting on October 30th. This is simply not true. Either the SDLP do not understand the budget or they are being deliberately dishonest. 

“The reality is that, at the Executive meeting on October 30th, Sinn Fein supported the ring-fencing of the health budget, protecting it from cuts. At that Executive meeting Sinn Fein supported a further £200m increase for our health service in the budget for next year. In stark contrast the SDLP voted against each of these initiatives at the Executive table.

“Bad decisions are being made at a Health Trust level. But these are, in part, a result of mismanagement by successive unionist health ministers. Specific accountability measures were inserted into the draft budget by Sinn Féin to address this mismanagement. Again, this was opposed by the SDLP’s Executive Minister when he voted against the draft budget.

“The SDLP’s lack of strategic thinking was highlighted at the weekend when they rejected any discussion of a pro-agreement strategy to maximise electoral support for the Good Friday Agreement. The SDLP’s lack of strategic thinking is also evident in their approach to the health service which is driven by party politicking and has nothing to do with protecting patients, the health service or the jobs of health workers.”

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EU must take immediate action – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the EU must take immediate action to calm tensions in East Jerusalem. 

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

 

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

“This morning’s attack at the Har Nof synagogue was wrong and must be condemned. 

“Everyone in Jerusalem must be free to attend their chosen place or worship without fear of attack of intimidation. 

“This incident, and the ongoing tensions in the area of the al-Haram al-Sharif mosque, highlights the need for the European Union to take action to help progress peace in the region. 

“I am appealing for all sides to pull back amid the rising tensions in East Jerusalem. 

“Mere condemnation is not enough. It must be backed with action. 

“The European Union must take action against human rights violations carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people. 

“The illegal actions of Israel in expanding settlements in East Jerusalem also need to be challenged. 

“A resolution passed today states the EU is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to take action to protect the viability of the two-state solution and now it must live up to that and match those words with action.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Any potential health cuts must be subject to equality impact assessments – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to ensure any potential cuts to the health service are subject to equality assessments. 

Speaking after an Assembly debate on the the mishandling of the health budget, the chair of the Assembly’s health committee said; 

“Everyone recognises the pressures experienced by the health service at the present time. 

“However, it should also be remembered that our health budget of £4.6 bn has been protected through budgetary processes.

“As a result of Sinn Féin lobbying, health was allocated £80m in the October monitoring round and an additional £200m in the draft budget. 

“The heath minister must explain how, in spite of this, the health budget was so badly mismanaged by his predecessor.

“The situation got so bad that the finance minister publicly criticised the previous health minister, Edwin Poots’ handling of the budget, which he described as ‘hugely disappointing.’ 

“Unfortunately Jim Wells appears intent on continuing in this vein with the proposals to close community hospitals and units in Ballycastle, Dungannon and Down. 

“It is up to the minister to ensure that any potential cuts are are subject to full equality impact assessments in order to protect frontline services. 

“It beggars belief that when we are faced with such cuts we also have £34m paid to consultants in bonuses, increases in administration staff, and up to £65m paid to the independent sector annually.” 

SDLP response to election call a fundamental error – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has described the SDLP’s response to his call for progressive pro-Agreement parties to maximise representation at the next Westminster election as a fundamental error. And after the SDLP rejected his offer to open a discussion on developing a strategic pro-agreement approach to the next Westminster and Assembly elections.Gearóid Ó hEára and Martin McGuinness

 

 

Martin McGuinness said:

 

 “I think the SDLP’s response to my call is a serious political mistake.

 

 “The refusal by the SDLP’s leadership to even discuss how best we can maximise progressive and pro-Agreement representation in Westminster and the local institutions is a fundamental error.

 

 “I believe the SDLP’s negative response is an ill-thought out, knee-jerk reaction and represents a lost opportunity.

 

 “It demonstrates a lack of strategic vision on the part of the SDLP and points up the need for more innovative and forward-looking politics which can effectively counter the unionist anti-Agreement axis.”

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Great News for Brandywell-Logue

Sinn Fein Cllr Patricia Logue has described progress on the planned service provision improvements in the Brandywell area as “Great News”Councillor  Patricia Logue

Speaking after attending an update meeting at the Long tower Youth & Community Centre on Friday 14th November Cllr Logue said:

“ The full plans for the entire development of the Brandywell, the Showgrounds and the Daisyfield have been a long time coming but its brilliant that we are now at this stage”

Cllr Logue continued:

“This entire project will see redevelopments in the Brandywell Stadium and equally importantly the provision of a brand new leisure centre to replace the old Brandywell Centre and a complete revamp of the Daisyfield, with new pitches, changing facilities, floodlights and parking. The entire development also incorporates a brand new £400,000 playpark, which I hope can be located on the Brandywell side of the Letterkenny Rd.

 “I have campaigned for many years to see the Brandywell, Showground and Daisyfield developed and it is great news to see this campaign coming to fruition. 

Sinn Féin Culture Minister, Carál NiChuilín and Joint First Minister Martin McGuinness have through their departments allocated more than £4,000,000 to this project and as a Sinn Féin Cllr I am glad to see this investment in the Brandywell.”

Cllr Logue concluded:

“At the meeting I made it clear that it is Sinn Féin’s preference that social clauses and local suppliers are maximised and I am looking forward to the appointment of the Project Design Team this side of Christmas.  Work on the stadium should start in April 2015 and the Showgrounds and daiseyfield works will follow on from that.”

“At the completion of this development the residents of the Brandywell will have access to a brand new leisure centre, 2 synthetic pitches and a state of the art play park that will rival any in the city.”

Moves to address dampness in homes at Bluebell Hill Gardens-Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed news from the NI Housing Executive that they are to carry out a survey of homes affected by dampness.

Councillor Patricia Logue said Patricia Logue new pic 22

I have been receiving a lot of complaints from residents regarding dampness and the effects that was having on their homes and their daily lives.

We all know the problems dampness can have on a home and affects it have on people health. The Housing Executive have been doing a lot of work to try and address this but the residents I have spoken to said it wasn’t working in the long  run and there needed to be long term solution to this.

I am pleased to inform residents of Bluebell Hill Gardens in the Brandywell that the NIHE have now appointed consultants to survey all Housing Executive properties on the street.

I am encouraging all residents to use this opportunity to raise the issue of dampness and any other concerns they may have.

The Housing Executive hope to have this survey completed by Christmas .I will be hosting another public meeting when the results of the survey are known .This meeting will enable us to develop a way forward for residents

Sinn Féin welcomes launch of centenary programme by 1916 Relatives Association

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan attending today’s launch at the iconic Wynn’s Hotel said, “I want to congratulate and pay tribute to the 1916 Relatives Association who have produced what is a comprehensive programme of political, social and cultural events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.lynn

“The proposed programme set out by the Relatives Association today will no doubt capture the public imagination and interest in a way that the Government failed to do so last Wednesday at the GPO.

“The Government must now directly engage with the Relatives Association and the public at large to ensure that 2016 is marked in a significant and fitting way which does service to what was a key historical period in our nations history.

“I am therefore urging all citizens and community, voluntary and other organised groups from throughout the island of Ireland and the diaspora to make submissions and tell the Irish Government how the Irish people want to both celebrate and commemorate this historic centenary in 2016.”

Logue expresses sympathy following fire tragedy in Derry

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Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue commenting on the news that a man has died in a house fire in the Upper Bennett Street area just off Abercorn Road this morning.

Speaking from the scene, Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue expressed her sympathy to the man’s family.

This a terrible tragedy and the last thing anyone would expect to hear first thing on a Sunday morning.

I have spoken too many of the local residents here and there is shock in the community.

I would like to express my sympathies  to the man’s family.

Have your say on new community centre Galliagh-McCallion

Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion has called on people living and working in the greater  Galliagh  area to take part in a public consultation which will be taking place next week  to explore the potential for a new community centre based in Galliagh. 1

she said

“I would urge as many people as possible to try and get along to this consultation and have their say on what they think should be a suitable site for a new community centre in Galliagh.And what they would like to see in the new community centre.

A lot of good work goes on in the area on a day and daily basis and this has been complemented with the various reimaging and environmental  projects which have taken place over the past few years.

Public consultation

Wednesday 26th November 2014

St Joseph’s Parish Centre, Galliagh

2:30pm to 4:30pm and 5:30 pm to 7:30pm

Tus Maith team carry out major clean up in city –Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has congratulated staff from the TRIAX Tus Maith team who undertook a major clean-up operation of the laneways in the Marlborough, Oakfield and Windsor Terrace area.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

he said

The footpaths in many of the laneways are badly worn; there is a lot of vegetation, weeds and moss on the lanes. This is causing particular problems for older residents who fear slipping on it putting out their bins.  It was also causing problems for the likes of oil deliveries in the likes of Windsor Terrace and up around Marlborough and Oakfield areas.

I felt it was important to do something to help residents who had contacted me on these issues before the harshness of winter approached. I am very pleased that  the staff from the TRIAX Tus Maith team did a great job. Local residents have asked me through the press to convey their thanks for the work carried out.

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McLaughlin welcomes news on Foyle Hospice funding

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assemblys Health Committee Maeve McLaughlin said

“I very much welcome the news that there will be an uplift in funding for the Foyle Hospice and follows a meeting I had with them during which the issue of the imbalance in funding for the hospice locally was raised  and subsequently lead to my assembly question raising  the issue.

Cancer is an illness that has touched practically every family in our city.

“The remarkable staff in our health service, the Foyle Hospice and those working out in the community are to be commended for all that they do, on many occasions  going far beyond the call of duty. They go about their work with great dignity and respect for the patient and their families in what can be quite challenging times.

We are indebted to services they provide and the important work that they do.

QUESTION TO HEALTH MINISTER
Q-To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety whether he intends to review the funding allocation to Foyle Hospice in Derry, given the level of need in the North West region.

Responsibility for the commissioning of health and social care services lies with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in conjunction with the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The Western Health and Social Care Trust currently sub-contracts with the Foyle Hospice for palliative care services in the north-west. Services provided by the Hospice include inpatient beds, day hospice and community services.

The HSCB recently reviewed the funding provided to voluntary hospice organisations across Northern Ireland. The result of their analysis highlighted that Foyle Hospice had a funding pressure in respect of the services they provide. The HSCB, in discussion with the Hospice, Western HSC Trust and the Local Commissioning Group, have agreed the following:

To uplift the SLA with Foyle Hospice by £200,000 in 2014/15, bringing the value of the funding for services in 2014/15 to £662,497; and

In conjunction with the Foyle Hospice to further review the financial position going forward into 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The HSCB, Local Commissioning Group and Western Health and Social Care Trust met with Foyle Hospice on 6 November 2014 to confirm the uplifted funding for the 2014/15 SLA.
The Western Health and Social Care Trust and Foyle Hospice share the services
of a Consultant in Palliative Medicine. The Trust is commissioned to fund 50% of
this post.

Sinn Féin to hold major public meeting in Derry

Sinn Féin is to hold a major public meeting in the city next week as part of a series of meetings across Ireland .The party have a held a  number of similar meetings in the past in the city with hundreds in attendance at the Guildhall and Millennium Forum.

The first meeting in this series is to be held in Derry.

Outlining the meeting Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said

“Sinn Féin are organising a series of Community Engagement Meetings across the north, led by Sinn Féin Leadership. 

These are public meetings, open to everyone and the maximum effort needs to be put in to mobilise for each of them.  No other party presents themselves in front of the public like this.

Gerry Adams TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Martin McGuinness MLA will each be addressing three of the meetings. They will be complimented by other Sinn Féin leadership figures at each event.

The meetings will provide an update on the current national political and economic situation, outlining the republican strategy towards 2016 and there will be an opportunity for Q & A.

Martin McGuinness will be the main speaker at the Derry meeting which will be held next Tuesday night in the Waterfoot Hotel at 7.30pm.

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SDLP should apologise to vital community and regeneration projects-McCartney

The SDLP should apologise to vital community and regeneration projects –following comments by the party’s West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood,

 

Local Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney  has insisted. Raymond pic 34

 

“During a recent radio interview , Alex Attwood launched an insulting and inaccurate attack, questioning the integrity of key projects and services working for the people of this area,” The Foyle MLA said.

 

“Threatening to remove funding from projects which received funds from the Social Investment Fund, Alex Attwood told BBC Radio that the SDLP were ‘going to be tough on £80million being managed by the Sinn Fein and DUP First and deputy First Minister which in the great part is going to their favoured loyalist and republican projects.

 

“That is an outrageous slur. The Social Investment Fund has been directed at projects in areas of high social deprivation which are aimed at improving the lives of the people who live there. In this area, projects such as a capital cluster to improve play facilities with a value of £1.75m at Ballyarnett, Ballymagroarty and Daisyfield. And £3.3 Million Community Work Programme ,a

 project to improve employment, providing long term placements targeted upon those on the margins but especially the young (25 years) long term unemployed  have benefited from significant investment.

 

“Is the SDLP saying that they would remove this funding as part of their ‘get tough’ policy? Is the SDLP saying that all these projects are republican or loyalist fronts?

 

“The SDLP should apologise to the groups involved immediately and they should lift the threat to oppose their funding.”

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