Cooper secures funding for Christmas events programmes across Derry

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed council approval for a funding package of £25,000 for Christmas programmes across the city which he secured following negotiations with the legacy department of Derry City Council.

He said the funding, which will be combined with funding from the Dept of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)would allow all four neighbourhood areas in Derry as well as the rural areas to enjoy a full programme of Christmas events in their areas:

Mickey Cooper new head shot 2013 888

Councillor Cooper said
“I am delighted that council have approved this allocation. I have been in negotiations with council, the Department  of Culture, Arts and Leisure(DCAL) and community engagement officers for a number of weeks to identify funding opportunities and also draw up suggested programmes for each community area across the city and in the rural areas of the Waterside.

As a result of this funding, which will be combined with a pot of money provided by DCAL we will be able to host co-ordinated Christmas events in all areas of the city.

I am particularly looking forward to the launch of the events programme for the Outerwest . Areas like Rosemount, Hazelbank, the Glen and Ballymagroarty will be able to avail of a co-ordinated Christmas programme for the first time.

I’d like to thank Derry City Councils legacy deptartment, DCAL and all the community representatives involved in making this happen and look forward to further details being released in the next few weeks”

Ends

Where exactly do the SDLP stand on a border poll? – McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the SDLP to state clearly where they stand on the issue of a border poll following the recent historic referendum in Scotland.

He said:Who Fears logo(2)

“The SDLP need to state clearly as a party whether they are in favour of a border poll or not.

“On one hand Colum Eastwood in the Belfast Telegraph and Derry Journal says now is the right time for the debate given the recent Scottish poll while on the other hand Alasdair McDonnell said at the British Labour party conference this week that it would be a distraction?

“People will clearly be asking the question where do the SDLP stand on this question. Given the historic nature of the Scottish independence vote now is the time to begin the debate in earnest.

“Sinn Féin has called for a border poll in the lifetime of the next assembly. We do not want a rushed job but a meaningful and informed debate.  The SDLP should join with us in this campaign.”

 

Ends

McCartney condemns hate crime

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has condemned a racist hate crime in the Fountain area of Derry. raymond mccartney

Speaking after graffiti was painted on the home of a Romanian family in the predominantly loyalist estate, the Foyle MLA said; 

“Racism in all its forms is wrong and must be condemned. 

“The fact that this incident happened in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon is concerning. 

“Derry is renowned for the warm and friendly welcome it extends to visitors and this incident is not reflective of the city. 

“I would call for anyone with information on this incident to bring it to the PSNI.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Anderson addresses Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson addressed the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in the European Parliament in Brussels today. ??????????

Speaking to the tribunal, which is made up of international jurists including South Africa’s Ronnie Kasrils and Pink Floyd frontman and human rights campaigner Roger Waters, Ms Anderson said; 

“The moving insight that has come before this tribunal on the 51-day onslaught on Gaza has reinforced my determination to do all I can as chair of the European Parliament’s Palestinian delegation to help the people of Palestine. 

“The imagery from Gaza, showing the full scale of the destruction, reaffirms the reason why the delegation of MEPs which I recently led to Palestine was refused entry to Gaza. This Tribunal allows us to present the facts of what is happening in Palestine. 

“The facts I witnessed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are clear. It is a fact that what we are witnessing is apartheid at its worst. 

“It is a fact that Israel has occupied 170,000 acres of Palestinian land since the Oslo accord in 1993.  It is a fact that Israel has breached international law by moving its population into the occupied territories. 

“It is fact that 34 Palestinian parliamentarians are among 7,000 Palestinians who are interned under what Israel calls administrative detention. 

“All of these facts are ignored by the majority of MEPs who should act immediately to suspend the European Parliament’s Association agreement with Israel in light of these gross human rights abuses.

“I will not ignore these facts and will continue to campaign for justice for the people of Palestine.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Logue welcomes Minister’s pledge to tackle pupil absence

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has welcomed what she describes as a ‘positive response’ from the Department of Education in regards to a recent Public Accounts Committee report into pupil absenteeism.

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

 

Patricia Logue said:

 

“The Minister has accepted all six of the Public Accounts Commitee’s recommendations regarding the urgent need to tackle the enduring issue of pupil absence . Significantly the decision to establish an over-arching Absence Strategy will be vital in tackling this issue.

 

“In light of this the Education department have begun to engage with a wide range of stakeholders so that a far-reaching and extensive consultation will inform such an important strategy in future.

 

“The department have also confirmed that they will now review guidelines for Extended Schools Programmes to ensure that, where appropriate, they will include specific reference to supporting attendance and promoting engagement and involvement by vulnerable children at greatest risk of underachievement.

 

“Furthermore the Minister has signalled his intention to commission a fundamental review of the Education Welfare Service.

 

She concluded:

 

“I would agree with the Minister that the issue of absenteeism extends beyond the reach of education interests, so I further welcome confirmation that the department of Education will examine how interdepartmental structures might be harnessed to promote the importance of school attendance.

 

“I would also reiterate the importance of parents and families taking an active interest in their young people’s education, as an encouraging educational environment at home can have a hugely positive effect on the learning process in school.”

Bring welfare legislation to the Assembly- Foyle MLA

inn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on Nelson McCausland to bring welfare legislation to the floor of the Assembly.Raymond head shot 22

Speaking after a Sinn Féin motion on the disastrous impact on welfare cuts was debated at the Assembly ,Raymond McCartney  said;

 

“We have already seen the disastrous impact of welfare cuts in Britain, particularly on the most vulnerable in society, including families on low income, those with disabilities and the unemployed.

 

“The implementation of these cuts in Britain have been a disaster and even the coalition parties are split on key  aspects of the welfare legislation.

 

“Sinn Féin is opposed to Toryism and austerity north and south because we are an all Ireland party and because it is the right thing to do.

 

“In this day and age the need for food banks should be a badge of shame for any government. The numbers of people made homeless or driven into poverty should make any party unfit for government. That is why Sinn Féin is opposed to welfare cuts.

 

“Supporters of these cuts have told us that there is no other option and that we have already secured the best deal of all the devolved administrations but this ignores the opportunity presented to us with the promises made to Scotland in the days leading up to the referendum vote.

 

“If Nelson McCausland believes these cuts are acceptable then he should bring the legislation to the floor of the Assembly and allow the representatives of the people to have their say.

 

“We do have a choice. Sinn Féin supports the calls made by trade unions, church leaders, charities and a wide range of community groups who work to tackle poverty on a daily basis.

 

“The cuts that are now being imposed on services across departments are due to reductions in the block grant over a number of years. Adding welfare cuts on top of that would be a hammer blow to our communities.

 

“It is our job to protect our communities against these cuts and I would urge all parties to get together and present a united front against this agenda.”

 

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Community shock over theft from Parochial House- Logue

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue has said there is shock in the Long Tower parish on hearing the news that a charity box was stolen from the Parochial House on Pump Street.

She said Patricia Logue new pic 22

 

“People in the local community are rightly shocked on hearing this news. The Parochial house  is always very busy with people coming and going , getting passports signed ,buying Mass cards or on parish business .So hopefully someone will have seen something that can lead to apprehending the culprit.

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Logue urges victims to report domestic abuse

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has urged victims of domestic abuse in Derry to report their abusers to the police or a support group.violence1

She made her call after PSNI figures showed there had been 27,000 domestic abuse incidents in the last year.

Councillor Logue said :

 

“Campaigners representing victims and survivors of domestic abuse believe this figure greatly under-represents the total number of cases of domestic abuse, which occur every year.

 

“I believe the majority of cases of domestic abuse go unreported as evidence suggests that one in three women has been a victim of abuse in their own homes.

 

“The only way to end this disgraceful cycle of violence is to report the offenders.

 

“The silent victims of domestic abuse need to be aware that there are support services available to them and should feel no fear in speaking to someone.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Avail of Free pet neutering and microchip services- Cllr McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has encouraged dog owners to avail of the free  neutering and microchip services being provided in the Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank areas.

 

Cllr. McGinley said: “There have been longstanding problems across the city from unwanted litters and stray dogs which cannot be identified and the Dogs Trust initiative has proven in the past to be an effective way to address these difficulties.

 

Neutering will prevent unwanted litters whilst micro-chipping allows stray dogs to be quickly identified and returned to owners.   It is important to note also that micro-chipping is a requirement for possession of a dog licence.national-microchipping

 

The Dogs Trust will shortly be providing a very welcome free service in the Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank areas and I would encourage dog owners to take this opportunity and bring their dogs along to the locations highlighted below.”

 

11.00-12.30 p.m.   Monday, 29th September – Lay by @ St. Eithne’s Primary School.

 

11.00-12.30 p.m.   Thursday, 2nd October – Holy Family Car Park.

 

11.00-12.30 p.m.    Monday, 6th October- Lay by @ St. Eithne’s Primary School.

 

11.00-12.30 p.m.   Thursday, 9th October – Holy Family Car Park.

Campbell slams theft of Foyle Search and Rescue charity boxes.

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell commenting on the news that a number of charity boxes belonging to Foyle Search and Rescue have been stolen from  business premises across  the city. 

Foyle Seach and Rescue was the Mayors charity during his year in office. Charity-Box-e1307568122598

Councillor Kevin Campbell said

 

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

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

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Destruction of files an attempt to block justice – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the destruction of secret files into shoot-to-kill deaths ahead of inquests was an attempt to block justice. top-secret-files_iStock_000004093101Small1-300x198

Speaking after it was revealed that files on shoot-to-kill deaths were destroyed weeks before inquests were due to begin, Mr McCartney said; 

“The fact that secret files into the killings of nine people in Armagh, including five republicans, were destroyed just weeks before fresh inquests into their deaths is shocking but sadly it is not surprising. 

“Over several decades the British state has gone to great lengths to cover up its role in the conflict and this is yet another example of that. 

“While it is unclear whether it was the Ministry of Defence, MI5 or another agency who ordered the destruction of these files, it highlights the lengths to which the British government will go to cover up the truth. 

“It should be remembered that at the heart of this there are families who are being denied the truth about what happened to their loved ones. 

“The British government is clearly denying the families of those killed in these incidents their basic human rights by blocking access to the truth. 

“It also exposes the lie that the British government was not a protagonist in the conflict. 

“All of this highlights the need to for an appropriate method of dealing with the past.”ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin welcomes children’s heart surgery move proposals

 

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed proposals to move children’s heart surgery services to Dublin rather than England. 

 

 

Speaking after reports that a panel of experts recommended moving children’s heart surgery services from Belfast to Dublin, the health committee chair said; _66665109_surgery

 

 

“It is clear that we need an All-Ireland solution to this issue. 

 

 

“Children should not have to travel to England for surgery when it is available on the island. 

 

 

“This report has not been made public yet and I am calling for parents of children affected to have access to it. 

 

 

“This will be the first item I will be raising with the new health minister at the health committee meeting today.”

 

All persecution must be condemned – McCartney

 

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said persecution against any group must be condemned. raymond mccartney

Speaking after a debate in the Assembly on the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria. 

“Persecution against any group, wherever it occurs and for whatever reason, is wrong and must be condemned. 

“Many minority groups are being persecuted in this region and that needs to stop. 

“It should also be remembered that the suffering in this region is not confined to one faith group or ethnic community. Tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds have been killed in the ongoing conflicts there. 

“Unfortunately such persecution exists across the world. Persecution of minorities in northern Iraq is no different to the persecution of minorities in north Belfast and elsewhere.” Ends/Críoch

Lower the voting age -Cllr Colly Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly  has said that the involvement of 16 and 17 year-olds in the Scottish Referendum has shown that the voting age should be lowered.colly new road pic

He said; 

“It is important that the voices of young people are heard and lowering the age to sixteen would be an important step in allowing more people to participate in the democratic process.

“Scotland has shown that young people are eager to participate in the democratic process.

“In other countries, such as Austria, where younger people have the vote the indications are that they are more likely than other age groups to vote.

“It is now time that young people were given the right and responsibility to vote.”

Demilitarisation needed across North – Ó hOisín

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has said there is a need for demilitarisation all across the North. 

Speaking ahead of a large scale British military exercise on Binevenagh mountain next week, the East Derry MLA said; 06-17-2010 071

“The decision by the British army to hold large scale war games in Binevenagh is a backward step. 

“We want to see demilitarisation right across the North, not hundreds of heavily armed British forces marauding across a public forest park which has been classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   

“We want to see demilitarisation in all its forms, with no exceptions, and this decision flies in the face of that. 

“As Irish republicans we do not believe that British forces should be on the streets of any cities, towns or villages anywhere in the North.  

“The people of this area have suffered at the hands of British forces for decades and it is completely insensitive to bring this exercise to Binevenagh.” Ends/Críoch

Increasing number unable to pay household rates-McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said more and more people in the North are finding themselves in debt and unable to afford to pay household rates as a result of the recession and Tory austerity policies.

Raymond McCartney said:

Foyle MLA Raymond McCarttney and Michael McCrossan

Foyle MLA Raymond McCarttney and Michael McCrossan

 

“There is no doubt that householders have been hit hard by austerity and cuts brought in by the Tory-led coalition since 2010.

 

“There has been a six-fold increase in the number of people forced to seek special arrangements for household rates payments due to financial difficulties.

 

“Last year court action was taken by Land and Property Services against almost 49,000 households who found themselves in arrears.

 

“These increasing debts are an indication of the pressure families are under as a result of Tory cuts and austerity.

 

“Those who are calling for further vicious cuts to welfare would do well to remember that additional cuts would push many of these families into further poverty and hardship.”

Anderson calls for EU action on Ebola

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised the European Union’s reaction to the Ebola outbreak in west African and called for the deployment of immediate medical aid. 
Speaking after voting for for immediate action on Ebola in Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said; ??????????
“The Ebola virus is now affecting the whole west African region yet the response from the international community has been dangerously inadequate. 
“We are in the grip of a public health crisis of international concern. 
“Sinn Féin is concerned about the slow and derisory reaction from Europe to this Ebola outbreak. 
“The European council of ministers need to meet and mobilise an immediate medial response to provide humanitarian aid by deploying medical staff. 
“The EU could learn  from Cuba which has already deployed 165 specialised medical staff. Europe needs to at least match that response before it is too late.” Ends/Críoch

Salmond will be a loss to Scottish politics – McGuinness

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said that Alex Salmond will be a loss to Scottish politics and the Scottish people after he announced his intention to stand down as First Minister.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Martin McGuinness said:

“I have been privileged to work with Alex Salmond over the last number of years.

“I found him to be a successful and inspirational leader of the people of Scotland.

“He has been a giant in the political life of Scotland and its people.

“He stood shoulder to shoulder with me in meetings with David Cameron in opposing Tory welfare cuts.

“I send my very best wishes for whatever the future holds for him.”

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Sinn Féin day of action in Derry against Tory cuts this Saturday

Sinn Féin is to hold a day of action against proposed Tory Welfare Cuts in Derry this Saturday as part of a six county campaign this weekend.

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

 

Outlining the campaign Councillor Sandra Duffy said

 

“We have been out across the city this week delivering thousands of leaflets outlining our opposition to the Tory welfare cuts agenda and asking people to sign a petition .The response we have got on the door step has been great and people are telling us they are glad to see Sinn Féin taking such a robust approach on the issue.

 

On Saturday we will launching a billboard at Free Derry Wall and our activists will be in the city centre with the petition and we would ask many people as possible to sign it ,to send a clear message to the DUP and others to join with us in  tackling  this issue head on.

 

“Martin McGuinness said earlier this week that Sinn Féin is of the view that the Executive parties should stand together against vicious welfare cuts being imposed by a cabinet of Tory millionaires.

 

“The people of Scotland have shown what can be achieved by standing up to the Tories. In a last-ditch attempt to prevent a ‘Yes’ vote, the British establishment is now offering them the increased fiscal and tax-raising powers, as well as control over welfare, which Sinn Fein is demanding for the people of the North.

 

“People should have a choice on this. In Sinn Féin we have made our choice. We reject this attack on the poor, people with disabilities and the most vulnerable in our society. We will defend and stand with the working class-communities that the Tories are targeting.

DUP must use influence to relieve pressure on policing budget – McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Vice-Chair of the Justice Committee, Raymond McCartney MLA has called on the DUP leadership to use its influence positively to relieve the pressures on the Policing budget.Raymond head shot 22

Commenting after the appearance of Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA before the Assembly Finance committee Raymond McCartney said:

“I agree wholeheartedly with the Finance Minister’s call for ‘more transparency around the pressures facing the policing budget’.

“But what should be obviously transparent to the Minister is the unacceptable waste of millions of pounds policing the illegal protest camp at Twaddell and the proliferation of marches being organised by groups protesting the democratic decision by Belfast City Council on the flying of the Union Flag.

“Perhaps the Minister should focus his attention on those members of his own party who encourage and actually participate in this unacceptable drain on the policing budget and resources.

“If the Minister and his Party colleagues would use their influence positively on this issue I have no doubt that it would go a long way towards relieving many of the pressures affecting the ability of the PSNI to deliver the effective community policing that we all signed up to.” CRÍOCH/END

McGuinness calls for border poll

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has called for a border poll in the North following the Scottish independence referendum. 
Mr McGuinness said; 10157312_10152784476263642_2844411426185871120_n
“The debate around the referendum ensures that things will never be the same again for Scotland or elsewhere. 
“It showed that it is possible to discuss important constitutional issues in a spirit of respect for all sides. I believe we could do that without opening up divisions which would be detrimental to the institutions. 
“We also need to get our approach to working those institutions right. We have many challenges to face and it is clear that there is a rump within the DUP of between nine and 12 powerful individuals who have been blocking progress in the Assembly. 
“But with agreement and a united front we can overcome those challenges. 
“We have huge budgetary challenges facing us and Peter Robinson and I are in agreement that the decisions taken by this Conservative-led administration has amounted to a gutting of the block grant. 
There is agreement on a number of issues. All of the parties are agreed that we should have the power to set our levels of corporation tax. 
 
“We will also be calling on the British government to transfer full fiscal powers to the Assembly. 
 
We have to find agreement on what extra powers would benefit the people we represent. 
“There is a debate to be had and I enter into that in a spirit of positivity and constructiveness to find an approach we can all agree on.” Ends/Críoch

Increasing number unable to pay household rates-McCartney

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said more and more people in the North are finding themselves in debt and unable to afford to pay household rates as a result of the recession and Tory austerity policies.Raymond head shot 22

Raymond McCartney said:

 

“There is no doubt that householders have been hit hard by austerity and cuts brought in by the Tory-led coalition since 2010.

 

“There has been a six-fold increase in the number of people forced to seek special arrangements for household rates payments due to financial difficulties.

 

“Last year court action was taken by Land and Property Services against almost 49,000 households who found themselves in arrears.

 

“These increasing debts are an indication of the pressure families are under as a result of Tory cuts and austerity.

 

“Those who are calling for further vicious cuts to welfare would do well to remember that additional cuts would push many of these families into further poverty and hardship.”

Ends

Need to stop rising road deaths – Kelly

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly  has said we need urgent action to stop the carnage on the roads and get us back to the downward trend in deaths of recent years.

Councillor Colly Kelly

Councillor Colly Kelly

 

Councillor Kelly   said,

 

“Last year 56 people died on our roads yet this year we have now seen 57 people killed before we enter what are usually the months when more fatalities occur.

 

“Over the past few years we were on a downward cycle with less people killed on the roads year on year. Now we are back to a position that has seen an increase both this year and last year.

 

“We now need to have a serious look at how, why and where these fatalities are occurring and devise a strategy that will save lives on the roads.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Rosemount gates installed after long campaign

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper has welcomed the installation of gates at Epworth Street, Ernest Street and Lower Nassau Street  DSC_0043

He said “It’s been a long process to get to this stage, my party colleague Maeve McLaughlin has also been working on this issue for some time.

This will hopefully address many of the long standing issues around anti-social behaviour that sadly has blighted the area in recent years.

I have already received positive feedback from local residents.

It is important to thank Derry City Council  for processing the issue, Glen Development Initiative, Housing Executive, the  PSNI for funding and contractor for their help.

All residents will have their keys and locks issued in next week.

Ends

Women at heart of EU decision making – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said women are at the heart of decision making as part of the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament. 

Speaking as the group, which includes four Sinn Féin MEPs, made history when it counted more women than men in its membership, Ms Anderson said; ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“Gender equality is a key priority for Sinn Féin on councils, in the Assembly, in the Dáil, in the Seanad, at Westminster and in Europe. 

“I am delighted that the GUE/NGL group we sit with in the European Parliament now has more women than men. 

“After the May elections, not only did the group’s representation in the parliament increase by 50 per cent, the gender balance became equal for the first time. Now, as Tania González Peñas has joined the group, the number of women has risen to 27. 

“This puts women at the heart of decision making in the European Parliament and is yet another example of Sinn Féin’s commitment to equality.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Campbell calls for threat against NIE workers to be lifted

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has expressed his concern that meter readers from NIE have been threatened not to enter parts of Creggan.3895995549

 

He called for the immediate lifting of any threat against the  workers.

 

Councillor Campbell said:

 

“I was contacted by a number of residents who informed me that they were only receiving estimated billings and when they contacted NIE they were told that because of a threat against their workers they would not be sending staff into read meters in these areas.  I have subsequently been told of other parts of the city where workers have to go in pairs for personal safety.

 

 

This has caused grave concern among these residents as sending out estimated bills based on the last bill is not a true reading.  We are now entering the winter months and the amount of electricity people use in regards to lighting and heating their homes can double at this time of year.

 

 

“People normally budget for these bills but if they are receiving estimates based on the summer period there will no doubt be a shortfall. And when this issue is resolved, people will be faced with debt they have not budgeted for .This is very concerning  especially in the economic times we find ourselves in,people simply just do not have surplus money for any type of large unexpected  bill.

 

Concluding he said

 

I have been in contact with the PSNI and NIE in regards to these threats.

 

It is absolutely ridiculous that workers are being targeted in this way.

 

The people behind these threats firstly need to withdraw them and need to realise that in the long run they are damaging this community and creating a financial burden down the line for local residents.”   

Personal debt levels very worrying –Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor  Sandra Duffy has said levels of personal debt in the North are very worrying.

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 

Speaking after a report by charity, StepChange, highlighted the high rates of personal debt in the she said;

 

“The level of personal debt highlighted in this report in very worrying.

 

“The fact that almost 2,000 people sought help from this charity in the first six months of this year demonstrates the huge financial pressures people are facing.

 

“I’m very concerned that more and more people are turning to money lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates. That locks them into crippling repayments and even more debt.

 

“This situation will only get worse for people in Derry and across the north  if the drastic welfare cuts proposed by the Tory-led government are implemented.

 

“Sinn Féin are opposing these Tory cuts to protect people from spiralling cycles of debt where they are at the mercy of money lenders and modern-day gombeen men.

 

“I would urge anyone in Derry experiencing financial difficulty to seek help as soon as possible by speaking to independent debt charities.”

Anderson welcomes new Health Innovation Corridor programme

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the launch of a new programme to promote the North West Health Innovation Corridor. 
 
 Ms Anderson said; Bxj7lUnIYAAip0Z.jpg large
 
“The North West Health Innovation Corridor was launched in May 2013 by the President go the 

Massachusetts State Senate, Therese Murray, and since then has gained a growing international reputation  for excellence. 

“This new programme will involve collaboration between the University of Massachusetts, the University of Ulster, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the Clinical Transitional Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) in Derry. 
 
“It will provide the opportunity for start-up health innovation companies in Derry to travel to Boston each month to learn from the US market and will also allow companies for Boston to come to the north west. 
 
“The launch of this programme is the latest investment in this process, which began as a result of trade missions I led to Boston with the co-operation of Senator Murray. 
 
“And I’d like to congratulate Senator Murray on receiving the Tip O’Neill Award, which was presented by President Michael D Higgins at the weekend. 
 
“This is a further strengthening of the relationship between Derry and Boston and I am sure that will continue with many more collaborative initiatives as the health innovation corridor develops further.
 
“All of this will help us realise our goal of bringing about improvements and innovations in health and social well-being.” Ends/Críoch

Stop welfare cuts campaign to be launched in Hazelbank

Sinn Féin Foyleside Councillors Mickey Cooper and Eric McGinley have called on residents and community groups to support the campaign against the proposed Tory welfare cuts.995644_742839099105490_5846638456199882466_n

 

Announcing the start of the campaign  the Sinn Féin Councillors said: “ This week will see Derry Sinn Féin activists deliver thousands of leaflets across the constituency highlighting the implications of the proposed Tory welfare cuts.

 

These cuts will impact severely on the most vulnerable in our society and those least able to afford reductions in their income.   It is not only those wholly dependent on benefits who will be affected but also those who are on low working incomes and rely on support such as working tax credits.

 

Sinn Féin is opposed to welfare cuts imposed by Tory millionaires and we will not be bowing to pressure from other parties in the Assembly to impose these austerity measures on our communities.

 

The Foyleside area includes many individuals and families who will be directly affected by the policies of the Westminster government and we will be asking residents and community organisations to sign the petitions which Sinn Féin will bring to the doorstep.

 

We are calling on all sections of society to join with Sinn Féin in opposing welfare cuts and helping to protect those most in need within our communities.”

Warning after Waterside break-ins – Jackson

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has urged residents in the Waterside area to be on alert after a number of homes there were burgled

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor  Christopher Jackson

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Christopher Jackson

 

Councillor Christopher Jackson said

 

“Over the past week there have been a number of break- ins at homes in the Waterside area .Thieves have also  targeted bikes and  garden tools left outside.

 

I have spoken to one local resident who  has been left badly shaken after finding a number of people acting suspiciously outside her home .  I would urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation or hears, sees anything suspicious outside their home to call the police straight away.

 

“Thieves have no respect for you or your property; helping to catch them is the best way of safeguarding your own property and your neighbours.

 

I would also appeal to anyone with information or who may have seen anything in their area to pass this to the PSNI. People like this cannot be allowed to prey on our community.

Fire Service prevent large blaze at the New Road –Cllr Colly Kelly‏

Sinn Féin Councillor  Colly Kelly has commended the quick actions of the Fire Service on Saturday afternoon for preventing a fire spread on a large green area adjacent to the Beechwood Steps and homes at Beechwood Avenue /Westend Terrace.IMG_4451

 

Councillor Colly Kelly said

 

“I received  a number of phone calls from  local residents on Saturday afternoon to say the green area beside the steps at Beechwood Steps was on fire. The air was filled with thick smoke and a large area of the green space there was on fire.

Thankfully the Fire Service was on the scene very quickly and the fire was extinguished.

The ground has been dry for the last few days and this fire could have spread very quickly as there is a lot of shrubbery and trees around the steps and within yards of homes on Beechwood Aveune , Westend Terrace.

Apart from diverting valuable resources from the Fire Service on a busy Saturday afternoon , lives could be at risk as this type of fire tends to travel quickly disorientating people with their huge smoke plumes therefore trapping them and putting their lives at danger.

Ends

Living wage would promote economic growth -McCartney‏

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney  has said all jobs created with Invest NI support or public procurement contracts should be paid at the living wage.tony-sandra-and-elisha-shantallow-oct-2013-c-mc-menamin-pics-(72)

 

Speaking following  the launch of a NICVA report on the living wage, the Foyle MLA said;

 

“For the first time, there are now more people in work who are living in poverty than those out of work.

 

“The casualisation of labour, through low pay, zero hour contracts, growing self-employment and under-employment, presents an ever-growing challenge to those of us concerned with the rights of working people.

 

In July of this year the new Derry and Strabane Council  unanimously supported our party’s call for adoption for a living wage to be introduced.

 

“The introduction of a living wage would stimulate economic growth by increasing gross wages by £221 million, lead to the creation of 2,500 jobs and deliver a £1,300 annual pay rise for 173,000 low-paid workers.

 

“It would also lead to a reduced reliance on in-work benefits such as working tax credits and housing benefits and lead to increased productivity among workers.

 

“We need to work collectively to eradicate poverty traps.

 

“One of the first steps that need to be taken is that all jobs created with Invest NI support or through public procurement contracts should be paid at or above the living wage.

Emotional Hearing from Mother and Baby Homes Delegation-Anderson

A Hearing took place this morning in the European Parliament Buildings in Brussels of a delegation representing the survivors of “Mother and Baby Homes” in Ireland.BxE0_ihCcAA8sIj.jpg large

The delegation was organised by Sinn Féin and the hearing chaired by Martina Anderson MEP.

Various organisations such as Justice For Magdalene’s, Adoption Rights Alliance, Bethany Home Group and Irish First Mothers Group were present to deliver harrowing tales of abuse suffered by both mothers and children in Church and State run institutions.

Illegal adoption practices including forced separation of mothers from children, vaccine trials on children without consent, and forced labour in terrible conditions were just some of the human rights abuses highlighted at today’s hearing.

Several women present were able to give affecting first-hand accounts of their experiences. Particularly disturbing were descriptions of children being forcibly “kidnapped” from their mothers and sold on what was essentially an “adoption market”

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance drove home the message that the hurt inflicted on Irish women was due to a “systematic social engineering policy devised by Church and State.”

The audience also heard from individuals who had been born in to “Mother and Baby Homes”. Despite having mothers who wanted them they were treated as orphans and spent the early years of their life in some of Irelands Industrial Schools, many being subjected to both physical and sexual abuse. Others from the Bethany Home Group told of being “farmed out” to work as child labourers.

The Irish State has also been putting many barriers in place for those who wish to track down their parents and siblings whom they were separated from at birth. The documents and records necessary are currently being held by the HSE yet victims are being told they will have to wait 4-8 years before they will have access.

Martina Anderson MEP has stated that: “The Irish Government are trying to sweep a shameful part of Irelands past under the rug rather than give justice to the victims”.

“As with every scandal in Ireland this one began with a denial, then a delay, then a lie, followed by a cover up and eventually if forced the Irish Government will throw some pennies from the table at it in hope that it will go again.  SF MEPs will work to ensure that this one will not go away and that the Survivors of the Mother and Baby and other Children’s institutions – Protestant and Catholic get the justice they desire and deserve”

ENDS

Open Long Kesh site to the public – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called for the Long Kesh prison site to be opened to the public. Raymond head shot 22
Speaking ahead of the European Heritage Open Days which will be held this weekend, Mr McCartney said;
 
“In previous years visitors and historical groups were able to visit the Long Kesh site and had access to the buildings on the site including the prison buildings and the WWII hangars.
 
“However since Peter Robinson’s ‘letter from America’ last year access to the site has now been restricted and no-one has been able to visit the prison buildings. 
 
“This is an untenable position for a site of such historic interest.  Full access to all the facilities on the site should be granted immediately.
 
“Opening up Maze/Long Kesh in this manner could pave the way for developing the wider potential of the whole site. 
 
“With access to the jail and the WWII hangars reinstated and the site developed as a fee-paying visitor experience everyone would be a winner.” Ends/Críoch

Outer West Neighbourhood PB to oppose Tory welfare cuts- McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the decision of the Outer West Neighbourhood Partnership Board to oppose the proposed Tory welfare cuts.eric head shot 2013 pic 1

 

 Councillor . McGinley said: “Sinn Féin took the opportunity at the Board’s AGM to call for opposition to the welfare cuts proposed by the Conservative government at Westminster.

 

These cuts will impact severely on the most vulnerable in our society and those least able to afford reductions in their income.   It is not only those wholly dependent on benefits who will be affected but also those who are on low working incomes and rely on support such as working tax credits.

 

Sinn Féin is opposed to welfare cuts imposed by Tory millionaires and we will not be bowing to pressure from other parties in the Assembly to impose these austerity measures on our communities.

 

We are calling on all sections of society to join with Sinn Féin in opposing welfare cuts and helping to protect those most in need within our communities.”

Campbell welcomes intensive Irish language classes

Sinn Féin  Councillor Kevin Campbell has welcomed a series of free intensive Irish language classes offered by DCAL as part of the Líofa initiative.

 

Councillor Campbell  said:

Sinn Féin Councillor and spokesperson on the Irish Language, Kevin Campbell with Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín

Sinn Féin Councillor and spokesperson on the Irish Language, Kevin Campbell with Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín

 

“Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s announcement of intensive Irish language courses to be held across the North is great news.

 

“These dianchúrsaí will cater for all levels of learners, from complete beginners to more advanced speakers.

 

“Clases will be held on Saturday, September 13 from 10am to 4pm.

 

“The intensive courses are a great opportunity to start learning Irish or to brush up on whatever Irish you may already have.

 

“They also provide advice on follow-up classes in your local area.

 

“These free classes are being offered at a range of locations in each of the Six Counties as part of the hugely successful Líofa initiative pioneered by Carál Ní Chuilín, which is promoting fluency in Irish.

 

“This further highlights Sinn Féin’s commitment to the promotion and development of the Irish language.”

 

Classes will be held locally

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry

Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Ends

SF comment on Shantallow car fires

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said lg_tony_hassan_copy2

“There have been a number of incidents in the area in recent days, which we don’t believe are connected but none the less are having a terrible impact on local residents. This is normally a very quiet community and these incidents are certainly not the norm .I would appeal to anyone who has information about them to bring it forward to the police.

Ends

Minister needs to accept ban on blood from gay people wrong- Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has called on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to withdraw his appeal against a court ruling enabling gay men in the North to donate blood.1234090_10152158334668642_543777002_n

He was speaking after Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said that comments by Mr Poots in the Assembly which suggested that his appeal would not be treated fairly.

 

Councillor Fleming said

 

“I welcome the statement today by Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan which said the Health Minster’s comments on the Appeal Court were ‘detrimental to the rule of law and damaging to public confidence in the justice system’.

 

“Not only should the Minister immediately withdraw his remarks but he also reverse his decision to ban gay people donating blood.

 

“At a time of great challenges for the department of health the minister should stop wasting valuable resources in pursuit of a political anti-LGBT community agenda on blood donations and adoptions.”

Attempted hijacking of taxi in Ballymagroarty –McGinley

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley commenting on the news of the attempted hijacking of a car from a female taxi driver in Ballymagroarty area of Derry in the early hours of Wednesday morning said Eric new head shot 20144

 

 “This must have been a very frightening experience for the driver particularly as it happened in the early hours of the morning when there aren’t too many people about.

 

People out trying to provide an essential service for our community should not be targeted in this way. 

 

I would urge anyone with even the slightest piece information to bring it forward straight away to police so this can’t happen again.

Tackling inequalities key to suicide prevention – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said tackling inequalities is a key factor in suicide prevention. 

Speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Foyle MLA said; 

“Suicide has touched so many families and communities right across Ireland. It impacts on young and old, male and female, from all walks of life. 

“While suicide affects everyone, it has been well documented that poverty and poor health and education have a huge impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“These can lead to addiction problems and low self esteem which in turn can increase vulnerability and isolation. 

“We can help prevent suicide by challenging inequalities and deprivation and promoting positive mental health. 

“Programmes have been put in place to tackle suicide in areas of high deprivation and it is crucial these services are supported and expanded. 

“I would encourage anyone who is experiencing a personal crisis to reach out and seek help. There are many organisations such as The Samaritans and Lifeline and others who provide round the clock help and support to those in need.” Ends/Críoch

Public asking questions of unionist leadership – McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has said the public has to ask why the DUP now want fresh talks after walking away from previous talks processes. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

“We in Sinn Féin are open to discussion.

“We were involved in a genuine effort in the Haass O’Sullivan talks to get a resolution to several key issues. 

“Unfortunately the unionists walked away, just as they walked away from the all party talks on parading, identity and the past. 

“Now we have the people who repeatedly walked away from talks asking for new talks. 

“The public has to ask what is that about? Is it about a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement or the St Andrew’s Agreement? Is it a unionist desire to return to majority rule or an effort to keep Sinn Féin out of decisions.

“The DUP want anti-agreement parties including the TUV, UKIP, PUP and elements of the Orange Order at their proposed new negotiations. People will question the reason for this and the prospect for agreement in any negotiation involving anti-agreement elements.

“Sinn Féin is for negotiations and dialogue and we have been absolutely clear that the British and Irish governments, as well as the US administration are involved. 

“There are a number of issues that need to be resolved including the toxic issues which were addressed in the Haass O’Sullivan process.

“But it should be also remembered that in relation to welfare cuts our argument is with the British government, which doesn’t care for the most marginalised and disadvantaged in our society.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin welcomes commitment on Whiteoaks

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a commitment from the health minister to engage in discussion on funding the Whiteoaks addiction treatment centre. 

Speaking after raising the issue in the Assembly, the Foyle MLA said: 

“I raised the issue of funding the Whiteoaks addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre in Muff with health minister Edwin Poots in the Assembly. 

“Given the ongoing debate on the need for a detox facility in the north west, it is unacceptable that there is a purpose-built facility so close to Derry which is not operational at present.

“This is a result of the fact that, while there is an agreement in place with the health authorities in the 26 counties, no such agreement is in place with the health authorities in the North. 

“I welcome the minister’s commitment that he is happy to engage in discussions with Whiteoaks and I would call on him to begin those discussions immediately. 

“Substance misuse is a serious problem in the north west and we must ensure that every avenue is explored to deliver the best possible service for those in need.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Rossnagalliagh to get bus service after long campaign -Duffy‏‏

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed the news that after a long campaign Translink are to introduce a bus service  to Rossnagalliagh.

The new stop will be incorporated on the Woodrook route.

Sandra Duffy

Sandra Duffy

 Councillor Sandra Duffy said

 

“This is good news for the residents of Rossnagalliagh and surrounding area.

We have been campaigning on this issue now for the last eighteen months and are glad to receive this news. In May of this year I wrote to Translink to ask for a reassessment of the route and hoped that they would include a bus stop at the entrance to Rossnagalliagh in the near future.

“The residents of Rossnagalliagh have to walk out of their estate onto either the Glengalliagh Road or the Buncrana Road if they need to get a bus.

Whilst this may be ok for some residents for others who have a disability or young children this inconvenience can be very problematic and can result in residents choosing not to go out at all, which in turn can increase feelings of isolation and loneliness for these residents and contribute to poor mental health.

I would like to thank Translink for their cooperation.

Ends 

Sinn Féin MEPs meet with Palestinian Prime Minister‏

Sinn Féin MEPs met Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah this morning in a meeting in Ramallah, as part of a European delegation to the region.

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

MEPs in Palestine Bethlehem

Prime Minister Hamdallah praised the efforts of John Kerry during the peace negotiations but said that international diplomatic efforts were in vain when Israel disrupts the negotiations. Israel claimed that divisions between Palestinians mean Israel has no partner to negotiate with, yet once Fatah and Hamas united to form a consensus government the Israelis walked away from the table, accusing Fatah of working with ‘terrorists’.

Once again this demonstrates that Israel was never serious about negotiations or establishing a Palestinian state. UN resolutions are applied all over the globe but not here: there have been 10 UN resolutions all supporting the 1967 borders yet they are not applied.

The Prime Minister called on the international community, particularly the United States, to agree on a timeframe within which Israel must end the occupation, dismantle the apartheid wall, move settlers back to their own territory as defined by the green line and afford the Palestinians the dignity and respect to govern themselves as international law decrees.

Speaking today from Ramallah, Martina Anderson MEP said:

 

“We will double our efforts to get the 4th Geneva Convention and international law implemented for Palestinians and will work with other MEPs to push for a suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement; article 2 of this agreement can be invoked when there are clear breaches of human rights.”

McGinley welcomes Outer West Family Support Hub announcement‏

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley has welcomed the commitment from the Western Health & Social Care Trust to install a Family Support Hub Coordinator in the Outer West area.

Councillor Eric McGinley

Councillor Eric McGinley

 

Councillor McGinley said:

 

“At a recent Child Poverty seminar convened by Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin the WHSCT representatives in attendance fully accepted the need and the rationale for a Family Support Hub in the Outer West area.

“It is the long expressed view of Sinn Féin that the delivery of early intervention services in this locality will best be progressed through the creation of a distinct and separate family support hub.

“The need for such a dedicated and focused arrangement has been well articulated based on the challenges facing families across the Outer West area.

“Sinn Féin welcomes the stated commitment of the WHSCT to support the installation of a hub coordinator and we look forward to seeing this happen at the earliest opportunity.”

 

 

CRÍOCH/END

McGuinness sends best wishes to All-Ireland Primate Eamon Martin‏

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA has sent best wishes to the Archbishop Eamon Martin on his succession as Primate of all-Ireland on the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady.

 

Mr McGuinness said:DSC_0877

 

“I have known Archbishop Eamon Martin for many years. He is a progressive thinker and a man who has demonstrated an ability to connect with ordinary Catholics.

 

“The people of Derry in particular will be rightly proud at his elevation to the highest office of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

 

“The next few years will be crucial for the Church and Archbishop Martin as he sets about restoring confidence in congregations throughout the country. I look forward to his official elevation to the position of Cardinal and Primate of all-Ireland. I wish him well in meeting the many challenges that he will face in the years ahead.” CRÍOCH

Anderson refused entry to Gaza

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised the Israeli government for refusing an international delegation of MEPs entry to Gaza. BwslcXqIEAAIfo2.jpg large

Speaking from Jerusalem, Ms Anderson, who is leading the delegation, said: 

“The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from six countries, entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is ‘not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance’. 

“This beggars belief considering that the horrific and harrowing humanitarian situation in Gaza is a direct result of Israel’s 53-day military attack on the Gaza Strip. 

“This resulted in 2,145 fatalities, including 581 children, not to mention Israel’s eight-year blockade of the region.

“We want to go to Gaza to assess the situation on the ground first hand. 

“This would have enabled us to relay that information back to the European Parliament and push for greater provision of EU humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the blockade and occupation. 

“We call on the Israeli authorities to overturn this decision and grant us access.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin secures Magee expansion Assembly debate

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an adjournment debate on the campaign for the expansion of the university at Magee. 

Speaking ahead of next week’s debate in the Assembly, the Foyle MLA said; 

“The expansion of Magee is vital for the development and regeneration of Derry. 

“There is a political and civic consensus that the Magee expansion must go ahead.

“I have secured an adjournment debate which will be held in the Assembly next week on Tuesday, September 16. 

“Recent comments by the employment and learning minister Stephen Farry casting doubt on the expansion of Magee caused great alarm in Derry. 

“This debate will allow local representatives and others to outline the importance of the expansion of Magee. 

“A full business case for the expansion of Magee will be on the employment and learning minister’s desk in October and it is our hope he will look positively on that. 

“The expansion of Magee is a crucial part of the One Plan, which is a Programme for Government commitment, and Sinn Féin is determined to see it delivered.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Health a priority for Sinn Féin – McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said today that addressing the difficulties in the health service is a priority for Sinn Féin. sandra and martin mcguinness photo 1

Martin McGuinness said:

“Peter Robinson and I met yesterday to discuss the challenges facing the health service.

“We are working together to address those problems. 

“Any decision on budgets will of course have to be agreed at a full meeting of the Executive but health remains a priority for Sinn Féin.” 

Ends/Críoch

Welfare cuts a blow to Protestant and Catholic families, says Gerry Adams

In an article in Tuesday’s ‘Irish News’, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD outlines Sinn Féin’s opposition to welfare cuts and says they should be opposed by a united Executive

SINN FÉIN has been accused of having no ideological basis for our opposition to Tory welfare cuts.

Either those making the accusations haven’t been listening or they have chosen to ignore what Sinn Féin has been saying.

I have long argued for a rights-based, citizen-centred society. Sinn Féin’s commitment is to the republican ideals of equality and social justice for all citizens. No one therefore should be surprised when this results in a consistency of political policy.

Sinn Féin is politically and ideologically opposed to austerity in Ireland – North and South – and in Europe.

There is a fallacy that our opposition to austerity is merely to do with an electoral calculation in the south. This is nonsense.

There is nothing in republican ideology that seeks to create a ‘benefit-dependent nation’ but what Sinn Féin will do is campaign for the right of people to live free of poverty and inequality.

‘Welfare reform’ is a misnomer for what is taking place under the Tories, which is an attack on the most vulnerable, the sick, the disabled, those out of work because of Westminster’s policies, and those on low incomes.

These citizens are being made to pay for the excesses and recklessness of property speculators, developers, bankers and tax dodgers. This is being imposed by a British Cabinet of millionaires with no experience, understanding or regard for life in the North of Ireland or indeed in working-class communities in Britain.

Tory policy threatens to destroy the economy through savage cuts to public funding and welfare.

The implementation of these measures in England has been a complete disaster and has plunged thousands into poverty and deprivation.

The North is a society emerging from decades of conflict. Clearly, you cannot apply here that which applies in England and Wales.

What we need is investment in jobs and business, not the removal of £1.9billion from the economy.

Citizens most directly affected by the conflict are among those suffering the highest levels of deprivation. The percentage of people in receipt of disability benefits is higher in the North than anywhere else in Ireland or Britain. Welfare cuts will merely worsen their situation.

Before the term ‘welfare reform’ was mooted, the Tories were imposing cuts by reneging on the St Andrew’s commitment of £18billion and imposing a £4billion cut to the block grant. These cuts impacted upon services and the present health crisis in the North can be traced back to these cuts.

At the time when other parties said such cuts were insurmountable, Sinn Féin produced a paper on how we could raise up to £1.6billion to offset them. Some may recall that we refused to sign off on the Budget until other parties also came to the position of looking at alternative ways of raising money to protect services.

The financial powers currently retained by Westminster should be devolved to the executive because people here are at the mercy of an unaccountable Tory regime determined to penalise the poor.

Sinn Féin has consistently produced proposals proving there is an alternative to cuts.

Welfare cuts should be opposed by a united Executive. They are a blow to the rights and welfare of ordinary Protestant working-class families as they are to their Catholic neighbours.

It would suit the DUP better to defend the rights and welfare entitlements of working-class unionists and loyalists than expend energy on bringing people on to the streets over the flying of flags or the right of Orangemen to parade wherever they please.

Of course, this merely underlines my contention that this is fundamentally a question of ideology – of what type of society you want to build.

Those politicians now predicting that the sky will fall unless welfare cuts are imposed are the same politicians who were prepared to roll over on the issue of water charges and who told the public then that the taps would be turned off.

Sinn Féin faced down prophets of doom then and we can do so again with the support of citizens, the other parties and civic society.

We will work positively to address health pressures – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said today that she would look positively at addressing current pressures on the health service.?????????????????????????????????

She was speaking after chairing a special meeting of the Assembly’s health committee at Stormont today.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

“There are clearly pressures on the health service and we need to ensure there is adequate funding to meet the needs of the sick and vulnerable.

“That requires additional resources and additional scrutiny and the minister has said that there is still waste in his department.

“Sinn Féin will come at this positively; the health service is too important to be caught up in party politicking.

 “We need to stretch ourselves to find funding in what are very challenging economic circumstances.

“On top of this we must ensure there is adequate scrutiny so that any additional resources are targeted at frontline services where they are most needed.” 

Continued isolation of prisoners is wrong – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the continued isolation of republican prisoners in Maghaberry is wrong. BwnGlOUIMAA5Zln.jpg large

Speaking after visiting prisoners in Maghaberry with party colleague Jennifer McCann MLA and Séanna Walsh from Coiste na nIarchimí, Mr McCartney said; 

“We met five prisoners who are currently held in isolation because the NIO believes they are under threat. 

“It is our view that these prisoners meet the criteria for admittance into the segregated regime in Roe House. 

“We are of the opinion that these alleged threats are spurious as there is no clear evidence. 

“Their continued isolation is wrong. 

“The NIO and Theresa Villiers must immediately ensure these prisoners are transferred to Roe House. 

“It is our intention to seek a meeting with Theresa Villiers to highlight our concerns about the ongoing isolation of these prisoners.”  Ends/Críoch

Kelly praises community effort in Creggan

Sinn Féin councillor Colly Kelly has praised the work efforts of community activists in Creggan to ensure a peaceful weekend for local residents. colly new road pic
Speaking after taking part in community engagement in the area over the weekend, councillor Kelly said; 
“Following a number of incidents of anti-community activity in Creggan last weekend, councillor Kevin Campbell and I engaged with local residents to come up with a solution. 
“We called a meeting of community stakeholders including local residents, businesses, Community Restorative Justice and a number of statutory agencies including the Housing Executive and the PSNI. 
“Over the weekend councillor Kevin Campbell and I joined others from the community on the streets to positively engage with young people and local residents. 
“Thankfully the weekend passed without incident and local residents were able to get peace. 
“We will continue to monitor the situation and engage with the local community to avoid repetition of problems in the future.” Ends/Críoch

Anderson meets Palestinian ambassador to EU

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson met the Palestinian ambassador to the EU, Leila Shahid, in Brussels today ahead of a visit to Palestine next week. 
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Anderson said; 
“I along with my fellow Sinn Féin MEPs met with the Palestinian ambassador to the European Union, Leila Shahid in Brussels today. martina
“The meeting was part of our ongoing engagement in Europe to end the suffering of the people of Gaza. 
“Ambassador Shahid briefed us on the latest situation in Gaza, including the unfolding humanitarian crisis. 
“As chair of the Palestinian Delegation at the European Parliament, I will be leading a group of MEPs on a visit to Palestine next week to witness at first hand the devastation caused by the recent Israeli onslaught. 
“I welcomed the latest ceasefire announcement in Gaza and I hope it will result in a lasting peace which will bring an end to the slaughter of the Palestinian people. 
“I also welcome the conclusions of a special meeting of the European Council held on Monday which called on all sides to respect the ceasefire and to continue negotiations. 
“It also called for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and for unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza.” Ends/Críoch

McLaughlin secures emergency meeting of health committee

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an emergency meeting of the health committee this week to discuss Edwin Poots’ management of the budget.

The Foyle MLA who is chair of the Assembly’s health committee said: 

“Edwin Poots has many questions to answer on his handling of the health budget. 

“Sinn Féin has made it clear we will support more money being made available for health.

“We have a responsibility however, to ensure that any additional money for the health service will be spent on relieving pressures on frontline services.

“Edwin Poots has serious questions to answer about his management of the health budget which has been criticised by his party colleague, the finance minister.

“I have secured a meeting of the health committee so that important questions can be put to the minister. 

“The minister has much to do to restore public confidence in the health system and to convince people that he is actually up to the job.” 

No alternative to dialogue and agreement , says McGuinness in major statement on 20th anniversary of IRA cessation

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said there is no alternative to dialogue and agreement. Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

Delivering a keynote address in Derry this morning on the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire, Mr McGuinness said;

“The absence of dialogue and a commitment to dialogue as the way to overcome disagreements is at the heart of the growing difficulties we are now facing in the peace process across a range of key issues. 

“Rather than making progress on the issues of identity, parading and the past by building on the enormously important work carried out by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan, the DUP and the UUP have now retreated into a coalition with rejectionist unionism and loyalist paramilitaries. 

“Three times in the last six months, the DUP have threatened the political institutions if they do not get their own way. 

“But the real threat to the political institutions is stagnation and the absence of progress. 

“The real threat is the retreat of political unionism from dialogue, compromise, agreement and reconciliation.

“I have personally tried to understand and reach out to the unionist population not least in my engagements with Queen Elizabeth. But reconciliation is not a one-way street. Unionist leaders need to engage in similar initiatives. 

“So there is an enormous onus on those who recognise the enormous progress we have made, and continue to make, since the IRA cessation in 1994 to make their voices heard. 

“There can be no return to the violence and repression that scarred this society for so long.

“I would urge anti-peace process republicans still committed to armed actions to take that same step in 2014 into politics and away from conflict.

“The supporters of the agreement internationally, in particular in the United States of America, need to reassert their interest and influence.

“The two governments need to be champions for progress not, as they have been over the recent past, facilitators of inertia.

“These are the challenges for all of us as we enter a new term in the Assembly but I am convinced that we can find a resolution to all the difficulties facing the political process. 

“There is no alternative to dialogue and agreement. This is the only path to a shared and better future on this island.”

Delegation meet Prisoner Ombudsman to express concerns about conditions at Maghaberry

Sinn Féin MLAs Jennifer McCann and Raymond McCartney have  met with Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonigle to outline serious concerns over conditions in Maghaberry prison.2953517854

 

Speaking after the meeting Mr McCartney said: “This meeting is a follow on from the recent visit to Maghaberry Prison where a Sinn Féin delegation met with republican prisoners in Roe House.

“Following that meeting we initiated a number of meetings including with the Justice Minister David Ford and now the Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonigle to discuss our growing concerns over the conditions in which prisoners are being held.

“The main issues raised with Tom McGonigle were the proposed changes to visiting arrangements, strip searches, controlled movement and prisoners being held in isolation.

“We made it clear that the regime in place at the moment is an infringement of basic human rights and cannot continue. The agreement reached in 2010 must be implemented as the mechanism to improve the situation in the prison.

“Sinn Féin will continue in our efforts to have all these issues resolved to ensure that all prisoners can be treated with dignity and respect.”

Savage sectarian home invasion by 10 men wielding iron bars and hatchet

Mainstream unionist leaders challenged over ‘UDA attack’

THERE is serious concern after a 10-strong gang armed with iron bars and a hatchet viciously attacked a Catholic man sharing a home with his Protestant girlfriend and 11-week-old baby in a unionist area of west Belfast. UDA graffiti had been daubed on the couple’s home and it has been claimed the gang shouted “Highfield UDA” in the savage sectarian home invasion at 9:30pm on Friday night.UDA flag logo

Dee Sturgeon (22), originally from the Markets area of south Belfast, had both his arms broken and a finger was almost severed. He says the gang cried: “You will never be back here again, you dirty Fenian bastard.”

Declaring that he will never again feel safe in a unionist area, Dee Sturgeon said:

“I was targeted because I am a Catholic. I never had hassle with anyone.”

He said he feared for his life.

On Saturday morning, he had to undergo emergency surgery to insert steel plates in his arms and 14 stitches in his lacerated legs.

The gang caused extensive damage to the house and the couple’s car parked outside.

The Ulster Political Research Group, which “gives political advice” to the UDA, said claims the UDA was behind the attack were “rumours” and “untruths”. Gerald Solinas of the UPRG said:

“West Belfast UPRG condemns any violent attack, from whatever quarter it comes from.”

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said the attack was “shocking” and the appearance of UDA graffiti on the victim’s home “is a particularly sinister development”.

●  Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Paul Maskey slammed the failure of unionist leaders Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt and Jim Allister to condemn the brutal sectarian assault of the Catholic man in Ballygomartin apparently by the UDA.

“What we need now is clear political leadership from Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt and Jim Allister whose silence on this attack has been deafening.

“Only a few weeks ago, unionist leaders walked out of talks to join representatives of the UVF and the UDA in demanding an Orange Order parade through Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales.

“Twenty years after the first ceasefires, the UDA and the UVF are still in existence and active. The question is why?

“Political unionism needs to face these paramilitary organisations down instead of cosying up to them for short-term political expediency

Magee University expansion needs to be delivered-McGuinness

Following a meeting with the Derry Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future expansion of the University of Ulster Magee’s campus Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said,

 “I accepted an invitation from Chief Executive of the Derry Chamber of Commerce Sinead McLaughlin to discuss the future expansion of the Magee campus in Derry.

 “There is no doubt that the future economic development of the city is connected with the expansion of Magee campus so it is essential that we work together to see that expansion delivered.

 “In 2009 I attended an event where the University of Ulster announced plans of a financial strategy to invest £250m over 25 years for the expansion of the university on the Magee Campus.

 “In 2011 we seen another announcement of 350 extra places and the transfer of several departments to the campus but since then the development has stalled.

 “Todays meeting was helpful in bringing the economic arguments for expansion together and looking at ways how we can work together to deliver the project of the expansion of Magee.

 “I also intend to raise with Department of Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry his recent mixed messages about the future plans for Magee.

 “The expansion of Magee is a crucial part of the One Plan which is a programme for Government commitment and I am determined to see it delivered.”

Film-maker Ken Loach urges boycott of Israeli cultural and sports events

Ken Loach

FILM-MAKER Ken Loach – who directed The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Jimmy’s Hall – has called for a boycott of all cultural and sporting events that Israel supports, saying Israel must become a pariah state. Loach was speaking at the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Award ceremony in the Sarajevo Film Festival. The award went to two Palestinian documentary directors from Gaza, Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi.

Ken Loach said the situation of the residents of Gaza during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge resembles that of the residents of Sarajevo when the city was under siege in the 1990s.

Loach is one of the celebrity signatories of a petition calling on British Prime Minister to to implement an arms embargo against Israel.

Martin McGuinness attends Albert Reynolds’ funeral

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  attended the state funeral today of former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds.
 
Commenting on his legacy, Mr McGuinness said,Martin McGuinness outside the Dáil giving press statement.

“Albert Reynolds played a critically important role in building the embryonic peace process in Ireland. 
 
“His decision to open up direct dialogue with Sinn Féin was a crucially important development which led ultimately to all-party negotiations and agreement. 
 
“His courage in initiating political dialogue as an alternative to conflict is a model that should be followed across the world.”Ends/Críoch

Campbell condemns those behind Creggan security alert

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned those responsible for a security alert in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday night. 3895995549
Speaking after a delivery van was hijacked in the Iniscarn Road area and a suspicious object placed on board, councillor Campbell said; 
“This incident serves no purpose whatsoever and must be condemned. 
“It must have been terrifying experience for the driver of the van to have this happen while going about his normal business. 
“Once again those responsible have shown complete disregard for the people of Creggan and the wider city. 
“Residents, many of them elderly, had to be evacuated from their homes while this vehicle was examined
“This has brought nothing but disruption to the area and it is totally unacceptable. 
“The fact that this is the second such hijacking incident in the city in a number of days is very concerning.
“The people of Derry have made it clear they do not what this type of thing. 
“The city is moving forward in an atmosphere of hope and we will not allow it to be dragged back to the past by a tiny minority intent on causing disruption.”
Ends/Críoch

Health crisis is a result of DUP support for Tory cuts – McLaughlin MLA

Sinn Féin Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin MLA said today that the crisis in the health service is a direct consequence of the Tory government systematically cutting funding for the health service.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

Maeve McLaughlin said:

 

“The Tory cuts of billions of pounds for essential services have caused the crisis in the health service and reduced budgets right across departments.

 

“The DUP has supported these Tory cuts which have been about stripping out the National Health Service.

 

“The current crisis has nothing at all to do with the issue of welfare cuts which Sinn Féin successfully resisted during the monitoring round. Otherwise departments would have faced an additional £87 million of cuts.

 

“The health budget was protected and an additional £20m was allocated to health. Sinn Féin proposed additional funding for health but the finance minister allocated it to DETI.

 

“No decision has been made yet on the October monitoring round and Edwin Poots knows well that he needs to bring in any bid for resources to the Executive.

 

“Mr Poots also suggested today on air that maybe he is not the man for the health job, if this is so then he and his party leader should immediately consider his future.

 

“His comments today follow criticism from his party colleague, the finance minister, about an over spend by Edwin Poots of £13.1m and his failure to spend £10.2m of capital funding.

 

“Edwin Poots declared that failure too late for the Executive to reallocate that funding to other areas which are facing cuts.

 

“The Department of Health requires clear leadership in what is a very challenging time for all Executive departments because of the Tory cuts the DUP has supported.

 

“It’s much too important to be held hostage to internal unionist bickering.” CRÍOCH/END

Martin McGuinness expresses condolences to family of Gerry Anderson

Deputy First Minister, Martrin McGuinness MLA has expressed condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of broadcaster Gerry Anderson who has  passed away 6881364507_638b6020bc_z.

.

Mr McGuinness said;

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Gerry Anderson. Gerry was a broadcasting genius who brought brightness to the lives of everyone who listened to him during his distinguished career.

“Of course his loss will be felt greatest by his wife Christine, his immediate family and work colleagues at the BBC. I extend my sincerest condolences and those of my Party to them at this very sad time.”

CRÍOCH/END

Sinn Féin will continue to challenge homophobia and discrimination – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said homophobia must be tackled in all its forms.10603035_10152663303444345_1705315044_n 
 
Speaking before taking part in a panel discussion on Derry as part of the Foyle Pride celebrations, Ms Anderson said; 
 
“The Foyle Pride festival is a fantastic occasion as it gives us the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LBGTQ&I community and celebrate the contribution they make to our society. 
 
“Thankfully attitudes are changing and society is becoming much more welcoming to the gay community. 
 
“Difficulties still exist however and, unfortunately, homophobic attitudes remain in some quarters. These must be challenged. 
 
“Sinn Féin has been to the forefront of supporting the LGBTQ&I community and have been driving the campaign for marriage equality. 
 
“We have tabled motions in local Councils from Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Derry. And we again had SDLP, DUP and UUP councillors not supporting the motions.
 
“Sinn Féin is the only political party where all MLAs turned up and voted in favour of marriage equality in Stormont 2013. 
 
“In Europe as a member of the LGBT Intergroup I have hosted delegations from the LGBTQ&I community in the North and challenged discrimination against the gay community across all member states.
 
“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for the LGBTQ&I community and challenge homophobia and discrimination wherever it arises.” Ends/Críoch

Access to cancer drugs cannot be a postcode lottery -Foyle MLA

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin has met with Prof Mark Lawlor, Queens Cancer Centre and Roisin Foster CEO of Cancer Focus to discuss the availability of new cancer drugs to people in the North.

 Ms. McLaughlin stated,

 “At present there are now 39 cancer drugs available in England Scotland and Wales that are not available in the North of Ireland and many people suffering from cancer would have their lifespan extended if they had access to these drugs.

 “While some of these drugs have not yet been NICE approved they have been subject to clinical trials and are currently being prescribed to cancer suffers in Britain.

 “Accessibility to cancer drugs is an equality issue and I met with Prof Mark Lawlor and Roisin Foster to look at ways of making these drugs available to sufferers in the North.

 “One of the issues arising is the cost of these drugs yet £2.83m was returned to the North in 2013/14 and with a revised Pharmaceutical Price Regulation scheme now in place that figure could be even higher this year.

 “We cannot continue to have a cancer drugs lottery and patients here need access to these drugs in order to combat their illness or prolong their lives.

 “It is ironic that many of these drugs or other leading cancer treatments have been developed at Queens yet remain unavailable to people here.

 “I am requesting a meeting with OFMDFM to discuss solutions to this issue which will provide better outcomes for patients and allow the North to be a leader in terms of health innovation and cancer research.”

 

ENDS

McCartney calls on unionists to tell truth on welfare cuts

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on unionist leaders to tell the truth about welfare cuts. raymond mccartney

 

“Unionist leaders and their pro-austerity allies in the Alliance party have been queuing up  to tell us that Tory welfare cuts are unavoidable.

 

 “But they have not explained to their voters and everyone else the effect that these devastating cuts would have on the most vulnerable in our society.

 

 “Instead they have simply swallowed the justification given to them by the Tory government and they parrot the lines of millionaire cabinet ministers.

 

 “The reality is that these cuts, if implemented, will have a crippling effect on individuals, on people in low-income jobs, on the disabled and on entire communities living in areas of high unemployment.

 

 “They would punish the poor and the vulnerable and will drive those who are already struggling on low incomes further into poverty. No one in the North, unionist or nationalist, voted for that. Welfare cuts are not part of our Programme for Government.

 

 “I challenge unionists and those who support the Tory cuts agenda to go into their communities and attempt to explain why they are so committed to drastically lowering people’s standards of living.

 

 “They need to explain to people struggling to get by in Derry and elsewhere  the real impact of supporting a remote, unelected government of elites in London.

 

 “Growing numbers of people are starting to realise the true consequences welfare cuts will have and are looking for an alternative.

 

 “Unionist leaders would be serving their electorate far better by uniting with those of us who are standing up for all communities, regardless of their political outlook, in resisting these savage cuts

Cooper raises residents’ concerns over PSNI “boy racers” event

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper  said that he has received complaints from residents in the Strand Road about a proposed PSNI “boy racers” engagement event to try and curb problems in the areas.

 

 He said “Earlier this year I raised residents’ concerns that the introduction of a barrier at the former Budget DIY car park on the Strand Road at night time to prevent vehicles entering the site had simply moved the problem a further couple of hundred yards up the road and is now impacting on the lives of local residents living near Smyths car park.

 

Since then we have held meetings with residents and the PSNI to try and resolve these issues. We have called for a twin track approach of enforcement and education around these issues. This has been based on the fact that whilst some of those gathering earlier in the evenings may be open to reducing their activities through education, it is clear that enforcement is key to dealing with the hardcore including those who gather later at night with no concerns about the impact their behaviour has on local residents.

Councillor Mickey Cooper

Councillor Mickey Cooper

 

Some residents have contacted me this week on hearing reports in the media that at an event on the Strand Road site would see the PSNI handing out pizza to the ‘boy racing’ fraternity and holding a raffle for some tickets for Go –Karting.

 

I have contacted the PSNI and raised the residents’ concerns that this would be seen as a reward to the boy racers who are causing problems. They have taken those concerns on board and have agreed to scale back the event so that whilst the racers are engaged by the PSNI they are similarity not being given material incentives to stop their behaviour. I am also in talks with others to seek a longer term solution to this issue and would also encourage residents who have any evidence of criminality amongst the boy racers to either contact the police or myself with the information. This will allow proper enforcement and also remove the stigma from those racers who are not causing problems’

Hassan calls on Minister to break logjam on massive H2 site

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has called on the Minister for the  Environment Mark H Durkan to resolve once and for all the ongoing problems  around Article 40 at Buncrana Road H2 site.

 

Councillor Hassan said there appears to be an ongoing logjam with Planning service, developers and landowners  of the H2 site on the  Buncrana Road  .

 

 

Councillor Tony Hasssan

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

 

 

The future of this site has been an ongoing problem for over 10 years and not one development has been approved.

 

The planning service told councillors in this city in December of last year that issues around article 40 should be resolved by February of this year. It is now August 2014 and there is still no agreement.

 

This land could be used for a large development of social Housing and I know that at least two  housing associations are very interested to build social homes on the site to help  the over 2,000 families who are presently  on the homeless waiting list in Derry.

 

The development of this massive site would also bring work to the construction industry in the city and take many constructing workers off the dole.

 

 

If the landowners and developers can’t agree then the Minister should step in and free the land up for local housing associations.

 

 

Logue sends best wishes to Derry students awaiting exam results‏

Derry Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue has wished all those who are due to receive exam results in the next few days the best of luck and urged all those who do not get the results they expected to explore other avenues and not to give up.

 

Cllr Patricia Logue said

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

-Education Minister John O Dowd , and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Patricia Logue on a recent visit to the Model School.

 

“Hundreds of students in Derry are anxiously waiting to hear how they fared in their recent exams. With students having spent many months and even years putting hard work into preparing for the exams, there is a huge amount of pressure to deliver.

 

“Whether students get the results they hoped for or not, I would like to wish them all the best of luck for the future, as they move from one part of their life to another, which many see as a more exciting and challenging time.

 

To those students who do not get the results they had hoped for or were unable to secure a university place, I would like them to know that there are many other avenues for them to explore and that they shouldn’t give up. There are alternatives to the academic route and the time may now be right for them to focus on their strengths and talents.

 

Ends

Magee meeting with Farry robust but frank

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said that there was a frank but constructive meeting with Department of Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry to discuss the expansion of Magee.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 Ms. McLaughlin said,

 “There is a political and civic consensus that the Magee expansion is critical to economic regeneration of Derry and North West region and there was concerns raised when Stephen Farry made a comment on the radio last week that any expansion was out of the question.

 “Sinn Féin organised a meeting with the Minister which included all groupings associated with the university in order to determine a way forward.

 “While it was a robust discussion I welcome the assurance from the Minister that he will receive the business case and has not ruled out a bid going forward.

 “The needs analysis for the expansion will be with the Minister next week and a full business case will be on his desk in October.

 “The expansion of Magee campus is in the One Plan and therefore in the Programme for Government agreed by all parties so it is important that the Minister makes the expansion of Magee a departmental priority that will the campus expand to the targets set in the One Plan.”

Welcome for review into regulations of care homes-McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the announcement that Older Persons Commissioner Claire Keatinge is to hold a review into the regulations of care homes.

 Ms. McLaughlin said,

 “We have an aging population so we need to make sure that quality of care in our homes is paramount and all the patients are protected and respected.

 “There have been examples where care has failed and regulation has been slow and sometimes less than effective in addressing the problems in these homes and in domiciliary care.

 “We need to move to society that protects and upholds the rights and entitlements of our elderly population

 “This review must also examine protections for whistleblowers who quite often are often neglected are isolated due to coming forward.

 “I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the review and working with the Commissioners to ensure that they are implemented as soon as possible.”

 

ends

Warning after burglaries in the Steelstown area –Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan said lg_tony_hassan_copy2

During the summer months there usually is an increase in crime levels for a number of reasons. One of the main factors is that whilst people are away on holidays their home is left unattended. Despite having security alarms and neighbours keeping a watch etc. there is still a risk.

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

There have been a number of break-ins in  the Steelstown and Shantallow areas in the past month during which the keys of cars have been taken and items such as laptops. 

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

Rural roads will be adversely affected by Kennedy’s threat – Fleming

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has said rural communities would be adversely affected if DRD Minister Danny Kennedy carries out his threat to refuse to repair street lighting and carry out essential road maintenance.

 

Councillor Fleming said,???????????????????????????????

 

 “At present rural communities are at a disadvantage as the condition of the roads are inferior to those in urban areas due to heavy machinery using narrow roads.

 

 “If the minister carries out his threat to refuse to carry out essential maintenance then many of these roads will become unsafe or impassable.

 

“With a rising death toll on our rural road network we actually should be looking at improving the quality of these roads as opposed to threatening to stop maintenance.

 

“If gullies are not cleared regularly then we also face the prospect of flooding which will result in further cost to the department in the long run.

 

“I am also concerned if street lighting deteriorates then many people including children going to school in the dark winter months will be at risk of serious injury or death.

 

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

Access to cancer drugs cannot be a postcode lottery

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin has met with Prof Mark Lawlor, Queens Cancer Centre and Roisin Foster CEO of Cancer Focus to discuss the availability of new cancer drugs to people in the North.

 Ms. McLaughlin stated,

 “At present there are now 39 cancer drugs available in England Scotland and Wales that are not available in the North of Ireland and many people suffering from cancer would have their lifespan extended if they had access to these drugs.

 “While some of these drugs have not yet been NICE approved they have been subject to clinical trials and are currently being prescribed to cancer suffers in Britain.

 “Accessibility to cancer drugs is an equality issue and I met with Prof Mark Lawlor and Roisin Foster to look at ways of making these drugs available to sufferers in the North.

 “One of the issues arising is the cost of these drugs yet £2.83m was returned to the North in 2013/14 and with a revised Pharmaceutical Price Regulation scheme now in place that figure could be even higher this year.

 “We cannot continue to have a cancer drugs lottery and patients here need access to these drugs in order to combat their illness or prolong their lives.

 “It is ironic that many of these drugs or other leading cancer treatments have been developed at Queens yet remain unavailable to people here.

 “I am requesting a meeting with OFMDFM to discuss solutions to this issue which will provide better outcomes for patients and allow the North to be a leader in terms of health innovation and cancer research.”

 

ENDS

Support Trocaire appeal to help prevent Humanitarian crisis in Gaza –Kelly

gaza-bomb

 

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has appealed to people in Derry ,Donegal and Tyrone to support Irish  charities working on the ground in Gaza in efforts to help the tens of thousands affected by the unfolding humanitarian crisis there, and to get food, water and urgent medical supplies in.

 

Councillor Kelly said

 

“The latest atrocities in Gaza, the results of which are being witnessed on TV screens around the world must immediately impress upon world leaders that the time for condemnation alone has passed. The international community including the Irish Government, must intensify efforts to resolve the situation before it deteriorates any further.

 

“There is a humanitarian disaster in Gaza as a consequence of the long standing Israeli policy of sanctions and most immediately the current Israeli assault on that region. There is a growing shortage of basic foodstuffs and fresh water because of damage to the infrastructure in Gaza. Humanitarian aid must have unhindered access to all areas of Gaza in order to provide for the population there, the local health services and aid infrastructure. Hospitals are stretched to breaking point.

 

“There are ways people in Derry ,Donegal and  Donegal can practically help those vital aid relief efforts by supporting Irish charities such as Trócaire.   They have been working in Israel and in Gaza since 2002 and are supporting local organisations on the ground, who are distributing urgent medical aid to vulnerable people   there. Donations can be easily made online at https://www.trocaire.org/donate/make-a-donation?fund=Gaza

Factory Sculpture takes a step closer –McLaughlin

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA commenting on the news that tenders are now out for the Factory Girls Sculpture planned for  Derry.
Maeve McLaughlin said ?????????????????????????????????
“I welcome the news that the tenders for the Factory Sculpture are due out very shortly .Hopefully this will mean that the project can proceed as speedily as possible.
The sculpture will be a fitting historical tribute to all those women in Derry who worked in the shirt factories in very harsh conditions and for little pay.
Women were the backbone of the economy in Derry at a time when there were no jobs for local men and there was great poverty in our city. We need to pay tribute to their contribution and to the life and history of Derry.
Last week’s unveiling of a new mural on the Lecky Road is all part of the retaining and maintaining the very important role that women had in  making the history of Derry and make
 
sure it is  remembered for future generations.

OVER 2,000 FAMILYS LOOKING FOR 67 SOCIAL HOMES IN SHANTALLOW

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the news from Apex Housing that it has allocated the first  of 67 new social homes at Bradley’s pass.
 
The Housing spokesperson saidBALLYARNETT
 
“This is a good news for social housing provision in Shantallow as it will provide families with a modern well equipped home.
 
“Apex Housing have said that 23 homes out of the 67 units have been allocated this week and have also conformed the official name of the development is Racecourse Mews.


“However the number of people waiting for a home in the city has increased dramatically over the past few years with more than 550 people on the homeless list in the Colon office alone.

 

“It is therefore crucial that with over 2000 people on the citywide list that local Minister Mark H Durkan grants planning permission to the Skeoge lands for a major housing development that will help alleviate the crisis in housing.”

Warning following spate of burglaries -McGinley

 

Sinn Féin Foyleside  Councillor Eric McGinley has called on residents to take greater care in securing their cars ,homes and possessions over the summer holidays. Eric new head shot 20144

 

 

 

Cllr. McGinley said:  “In recent weeks there has been a spate of thefts from homes, garages and cars across the Ballymagroarty, Hazelbank and Cosquin areas.

 

 

 

It appears  some of these crimes result from the thieves being able to open unlocked doors and lift whatever items are most immediately available.

 

 

 

Homes with PVC doors are particularly vulnerable and I would appeal to residents to take extra care over the summer months whilst a lot are off on holidays and to get a neighbour to keep an eye on their home.

 

 

 

Be sure to check all doors and windows as often as possible and reduce the opportunities for your possessions to be stolen. Don’t leave items on show in cars and i would appeal particularly to Taxi drivers to remove their float from their vehicles each night.

 

 

 

The criminals involved in these break-ins and thefts only need a moment and I would urge residents to make it as difficult as possible for them to carry out these acts.”

 

£17.5m Investment in SportNI welcomed-Duffy

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed confirmation from DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín that SportNI is developing a new £17.5 million programme to improve infrastructure and boost performance and participation in sports.Sandra Duffy Glasgow pic from weekend

 

Sandra Duffy said,

 

“We have received correspondence  from the Minister that the £17.5 million lottery funded programme will be rolled out over a five-year period with investment for organisations being available from the end of this year.

 

“The new funding will be used to improve and develop sporting infrastructure and boost sporting performances.

 

“I particularly welcome the fact it will also be targeted towards increasing participation in sport and leisure among underrepresented groups.

 

“This will be underpinned by social outcomes such as addressing poverty and social exclusion.

 

 “SportNI intend to facilitate workshops in the autumn.

 

 “These will outline the funding priorities and assist groups in identifying and developing suitable projects.

 

“I appreciate the vital role that sport plays in creating a healthy society so I welcome this announcement.

 

 “In the meantime, I advise organisations in Derry to register their interest online by logging on to www.sportni.net/funding+registrations.

 

 “SportNI will then automatically contact organisations once more details of the programme becomes available.”

 

ENDS/CRÍOCH

McLaughlin –Closure of Shipquay books

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin said

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin

 

 

“I am very sorry to hear that another local small business Shipquay Books and News is set to close after serving the city centre community for over a quarter of a century. I would like to thank the owners and staff for the service they have provided.

 

In January of last year I expressed my fears that the closure of the Bank of Ireland and subsequent removal of cash machine could have a knock-on effect for other businesses on the street and footfall through the area.

 

Sadly the closure of Shipquay books will also be a loss of an outlet for  local newspapers and locally produced books and that is something no one wants to see.

 

Ends

‘North’s political process is in trouble,’ says Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams: Critical of unionist axis, Downing Street and Irish Government

GERRY ADAMS has warned that the political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998. “The political process is in trouble,” the Sinn Féin leader said.

In what was described by Sinn Féin as “a keynote statement” issued on Friday, Gerry Adams said that the unionist axis against the Good Friday Agreement (which includes the mainstream unionist parties, the Orange Order and smaller parties linked to the UVF and the UDA), the pro-unionist stance of British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and the refusal of Downing Street to honour its own obligations are combining to create the most serious threat to the political institutions in the North in recent years”.

Most worryingly, Gerry Adams said, there is no evidence from Downing Street, the NIO or the unionist leaderships of any likelihood of a real negotiation on all of these issues commencing in September.

The Sinn Féin leader was also critical of what he called the Irish Government’s “passivity”.

He said that all of this presents a very significant challenge to everyone who wants to see progress and to all those who support the Good Friday and other agreements, including leaders of civic society, the community sector, the trade union movement, the business sector, as well as political parties.

Instead of actively and determinedly working with the joint First Minister Martin McGuinness to maximise the potential for a new beginning, Gerry Adams said, former First Minister David Trimble and now Peter Robinson have minimised the promise and potential of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The fact is that the anti-Agreement axis has been very active in asserting a negative agenda,” Gerry Adams said. “Too many in the pro-Agreement axis, with some notable exceptions, have been passive. This includes the Irish Government.

“The DUP has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to participate positively in any of the institutions. Instead, it has adopted a tactical approach aimed at serving the political agenda of a fundamentalist rump in their party rather than the needs of the whole community.”

The Sinn Féin leader recalled that Martin McGuinness has noted: “We are in government with unionists because we want to be; they are in government with us because they have to be.”

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The unionist axis, including the Orange Order

Gerry Adams said that the Tory-led government in London wants to impose changes to the welfare benefits system mirroring similar changes that have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales, “changes that have resulted in disastrous consequences for the disabled, the unemployed and those in low-paid jobs”, Gerry Adams said.

“These should be opposed by a united Executive. These changes are not about reform. They are about cuts and they are part of a Thatcherite agenda designed to dismantle the welfare state. And Sinn Féin will oppose them.

“The effect of all of this and of the British Government’s handling of the political situation has been to reinforce political logjams.

“The political process is in trouble.”

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“The British Secretary of State is contemplating conceding to another of the recent unionist demands by setting up some form of inquiry into the Parades Commission decision on the Ardoyne march – a move that would dangerously damage the integrity of the Parades Commission, undermine the residents and further undermine the Haass proposals.

“Regardless of political allegiance, everyone who values a future based upon equality must become a champion for progress in their own community, in the workplace, in the voluntary and community sector, across the trade union movement, in the churches and the media.

“If the unionist leaderships refuse to engage positively in new negotiations then the Irish and British governments, as co-equal guarantors of the Agreement, must ensure that outstanding issues are implemented.”

Gaza Toy Appeal -“The generosity of people has been outstanding “Campbell

Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell  said

 

“The generosity of people has been outstanding” 10271635_10153056997853642_7633316812466403653_n

 

“A great effort has been put in by the organisers of the local Gaza Appeal and they must be commended.

 

Hopefully this appeal and others across Ireland will go some way in helping the people of Gaza rebuild their lives and the children have some sort of rest bite from the daily and nightly onslaughts.

Solidarity greetings from Gerry Adams read out at London demo on Gaza

The following statement from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was read out at today’s massive demonstration in London in support of the people of Gaza attended by 150,000 people.

“I would like to send solidarity greetings to you today, on behalf of myself and Sinn Féin, in solidarity with the people of Gaza.


Many tens of thousands of people across the island of Ireland, like all of you here today, have come out in cities, towns and villages to say that this is unacceptable, and that ‘we stand with the Palestinian people’ for their right to live in peace, dignity and in a viable state.


@JayneBFisher reading out solidarity message from @GerryAdamsSF at the #GazaA9 rally in Hyde Park

@JayneBFisher reading out solidarity message from @GerryAdamsSF at the #GazaA9 rally in Hyde Park

We stand for a just and peaceful settlement – not one which attempts to starve the people of Gaza into submission through an illegal blockade; not one, which breaks international law.

Not one, which believes you can negotiate peace by excluding political representatives.

Nor one, which believes it can bomb and massacre innocent children and civilians with impunity.

That is why I called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland. We need to send a clear and strong message. This must stop now.

I have urged the Irish government to end its shameful silence.

We in Sinn Féin have demanded a recall of our parliament, the Dáil, but to no avail.

Like in Britain, they want to avoid, at all costs, facing up to their complicity in the horror we have seen.

International pressure can make a difference.

So I commend everyone out in London today. We will continue to demand a just peace and stand with the Palestinian people.”

Expansion of Magee must go ahead – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said the expansion of Magee college must go ahead. 

Speaking after Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry said the expansion of the college will not go ahead, the Foyle MLA said; 

“The expansion of Magee college is crucial for the regeneration of Derry. 

“All voices in the city are united in calling for the expansion of the university. 

“It is a key component of the One Plan and, as such,  a Programme for Government commitment agreed by the Executive. 

“Stephen Farry is practising microphone diplomacy, announcing unilateral decisions on the airwaves and is playing politics with vital issues. 

“It is totally wrong to use the proposed Tory-led welfare cuts as an excuse to block the expansion of Magee. 

“The cap on student numbers at Magee must be lifted and the minister must withdraw these comments and work with the University of Ulster and all stakeholders in Derry to deliver the expansion of Magee.

“I will be convening an emergency meeting of the Education and Skills Implementation group of all the stakeholders to ensure the expansion of Magee goes ahead”

Magee expansion must proceed as planned

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the expansion of Magee needs to proceed as planned. 
 
Mr McGuinness said;

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

Martin McGuinness and Sandra Duffy

 
“Comments by Stephen Farry in relation to Magee are outrageous and irresponsible.
 
“Any decision on this issue is clearly controversial, has serious equality implications and will therefore need to come to the Executive where Sinn Fein will robustly challenge the DEL Minister’s position. 
 
“Sinn Fein is totally committed to the resourcing and expansion of Magee.
 
“I intend to raise this issue at the first meeting of the Executive in September.” Ends/Críoch

Derrylin and the price of freedom

JIM GIBNEY, who proposed the idea of standing Bobby Sands in the Fermanagh & South Tyrone by-election, was at last Sunday’s hunger strike march in Fermanagh and in this feature he recalls the year of 1981.

THE CAR JOURNEY on Sunday to Derrylin to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike evoked strong memories of that momentous year. Back then I was constantly on the road from Belfast to Fermanagh and Tyrone on one errand or another related to the Hunger Strike.

Back then I relied on friends to drive me on my very busy schedule. On Sunday, I drove myself to Derrylin.

On the way I recalled hearing the news on the radio of the sudden death of Frank Maguire MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone and the idea striking me that we should stand Bobby Sands if a by-election were called. Later, I spoke to Gerry Adams about the idea and we, in turn, met Bernadette McAliskey to discuss it with her as her name was mooted as a possible candidate. Bernadette was on crutches and still recovering from an assassination attempt a few months earlier.

As I passed along the M1 motorway, I glanced at the Long Kesh site. The internment cages have been demolished but the prison hospital where the lads died on hunger strike is preserved with a number of other prison buildings for future generations to visit and learn about life for the prisoners and the guards who lived there.

With other republicans I am a member of a group that helped to protect and preserve the prison buildings, especially the prison hospital, and I am very proud of that.

I was interned in Long Kesh as an 18-year-old and again spent four years there in the H-Blocks in the mid-1980s.

In 1981, I visited Bobby, Francis, Raymond and Tom in the prison hospital and Martin and Joe in the visiting area of the prison.

As I passed the road sign for Loughgall I thought of the lads killed by the SAS there in 1987.

The sign for Dungannon brought me back to 1981 and the faces of Bernadette McAliskey and Francie Molloy came into my mind and the huge effort both put into Bobby’s election campaign. Their electoral knowledge was invaluable. The rest of us knew nothing about elections. I was 27 and had never voted.

Derrylin Sands poster

In the back of a car on the way to a meeting in our Dungannon election office I recalled writing a draft of Bobby’s election manifesto for his approval and amendments with the message about electing him to save his life.

I recalled sitting in a car with Gerry Adams at a church car park close to the Dungannon electoral office with Bobby’s nomination papers, with hours to go, ready to pull his name from the election contest if Noel Maguire (Frank Maguire’s brother) did not withdraw his nomination. We couldn’t risk Bobby fighting an election unless he had a clear field.

From a phone box close by I was in touch with Jimmy McGivern who was at a house in Dungannon. Republicans there were in touch with republicans in Lisnaskea who were in touch with the Maguire family.

As I drove towards the Ballygawley roundabout I recalled the hourly battle republicans had with the UDR on this stretch of main road to keep Bobby’s posters on the lamp-posts and telegraph poles.

There was a permanent team of republicans travelling that road, putting up posters as quickly as the UDR took them down.

The road signs of Augher, Clogher, Fivemiletown reminded me of the single-decker bus packed with canvassers from all over Ireland but especially west Belfast who, dressed in Bobby Sands T-shirts, knocked as many doors as they could in those villages.

The bus, its colour cerise pink, was dubbed ‘The Pink Panther’.

The sign for Maguiresbridge brought Owen Carron’s name to mind. Owen, who was Bobby’s election agent, was building a house in Maguiresbridge which had been destroyed by a loyalist bomb.

The sign for Enniskillen brought me to the Technical College where the announcement was made on Friday 10 April, that Bobby had won the election and that guttural cheer from Danny Morrison welcoming it.

As I approached Lisnaskea, more names came into my head. The Gleesons, with whom Gerry Adams and I had called to see, to sound out their opinion about standing Bobby in the election. I looked up the main street and recalled Gerry and I going into Maguire’s pub to speak with Noel about him withdrawing his name from the electoral contest.

I was there on one other occasion meeting Frank Maguire, who was then MP, about the situation in the H-Blocks and Armagh Women’s Prison.

As I got out of the car in Derrylin last Sunday, I saw a poster of Owen Carron on a lamp-post. It was a replica of the one used when he stood in the by-election after Bobby’s death. He won the seat with an even bigger margin than Bobby had.

I met Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin’s newly-elected MEP, with her partner Eoin Ó Broin and we chatted about the rise and rise of Sinn Féin in the South. We were joined by ‘Fawnsey’ from south Derry who had been on the Blanket Protest in the H-Blocks.

Pat Fahy, the campaigning solicitor from Omagh, also joined us and told the gathering the story of when he and I were canvassing for Bobby.

As I passed a pub at the end of the Derrylin Road I recalled a bitter cold winter’s night in 1978 when Fergus O’Hare and I met Owen, for the first time, to set up the Fermanagh Relatives Action Committee.

Along the road as I walked I was joined by Dessie McManus, who I hadn’t spoken to in 30 years. I think he was 20 when we last met. He was Owen Carron’s driver. He has a great memory and we spoke non-stop of those frantic and tragic yet heroic days.

Derrylin rally pic

I stood in the field outside Derrrylin where the Hunger Strike rally took place beside Phil Flanagan. He wasn’t even born when Bobby and the others died.

He is one of Sinn Féin’s bright and young MLAs elected for Fermanagh. There were several bright and young republicans on the stage who spoke about 1981, including Michelle Gildernew, who has held Bobby’s seat twice, taking it the first time in 2001 on the 20th anniversary of the Hunger Strike.

The guest speaker last Sunday was Ireland’s Palestinian Ambassador who spoke about the horror of the daily massacres of his people in Gaza by the Israelis.

He said that he and many others in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria first heard about the struggle in Ireland through the news coverage of the deaths of the Hunger Strikers.

His last words to the rally were that the Palestinian people, despite the human carnage, would never give in until they had their own homeland.

As I walked to my car, those words in my ears, I thought of the lads who died in the H-Blocks and of Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike, alone, in English prisons in June 1974 and February 1976 and I thought – the price of freedom is very, very dear, indeed.

•  This article was first published by the Bobby Sands Trust.

McCausland got Housing Executive figures wrong – Hassan

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has said the statement issued by the Department of Social Development and Housing Executive on a settlement with contractors on overpayments is an exercise in gobbledygook.

The Derry Sinn Féin housing spokesperson said;

 

“The fact is the minister and the chair of the Housing Executive made serious allegations that named contractors had been overpaid by the Housing Executive to the tune of £18 million.

 

“These contractors were then suspended from carrying out maintenance works.

 

Councillor Tony Hassan

Councillor Tony Hassan

“Now it has been stated that three of four contractors have agreed to pay £670,000 to the Housing Executive, while the fourth contractor was found not to have been overpaid at all.

 

“At the time we stated that the minister needed to explain where this figure came from but he refused to do so. It’s clear that Nelson McCausland got this very wrong and he should now consider his position.

 

“This issue had led to a delay in carrying out vital repair work such as refitting kitchens and window replacement schemes at Housing Executive properties across the North.

 

“In light of this settlement, I would hope that planned maintenance work will be carried out as it should have been in order to bring properties up to the standard that tenants deserve and require.”

“Locate alcohol unit in more appropriate location” Logue

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area, Patricia Logue has pledged her support for the residents of Bishop and surrounding district in their position regarding a proposed 24 bed Alcohol dependency unit at the former Nazerath House.

Cllr Logue said:Councillor  Patricia Logue

“I am in full agreement with the Housing Executive ‘Supporting People Strategy’ and the great work being done in existing facilities for those with alcohol dependency problems.

“However, given the number of existing facilities in the TRIAX area – four within a five minute walking distance – I can understand and support the residents in their objections to this proposal.

“As well as the existing facilities this proposal is for a site which is attached to a children’s school which raises child safety concerns for parents.

“I have been in consultation with and spoke in support of the residents and parents at the public meeting and now call on the statutory services to review their proposals and seek a more appropriate location for this facility.” CRÍOCH/END

Tax office jobs must be saved – McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said jobs must be saved at a tax offices in Derry, Enniskillen and Newry. 

“Sinn Féin has been campaigning on behalf of staff at the Derry tax office on Duncreggan Road whose jobs are under threat. 

“My party colleagues Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew met with the British government treasury minister in March to raise concerns about the impact of job losses. 

“Sinn Féin has also met with the Equality Commission in Belfast to discuss our concerns about the possible loss of these jobs. And we will be meeting the new treasury minister in the coming weeks to discuss this issue. 

“This is clearly an equality issue. These offices in Derry, Newry and Enniskillen are in nationalist areas and employ predominantly women. 

“Loss of these jobs would have a disproportionate impact on women in nationalist areas. 

“As well as the impact job losses would have on staff, it would also lead to a reduction in services for local people with concerns over personal tax. 

“Staff has been told there may be opportunities for redeployment. The reality is those opportunities are extremely limited as this is a London-controlled service, so staff would not be able to transfer into the civil service in the North. 

“This is another example of the British government trying to target disadvantaged areas while seeking to protect the greater London area and the south of England where there are greater opportunities for the redeployment of staff. 

“These job cuts must be resisted and Sinn Féin will continue to support staff at the local centres to ensure the posts and service remains in place.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Early detection of diabetes crucial –Duffy

Councillor Sandra Duffy

 

“We felt it was very important to go along and take part in Risk Assessment roadshow.

Sinn Féin Councillors Sandra Duffy, Eric McGinley and Paul Fleming taking part in the Risk Assessment roadshow at Waterloo Place in Derry

Sinn Féin Councillors Sandra Duffy, Eric McGinley and Paul Fleming taking part in the Risk Assessment roadshow at Waterloo Place in Derry

 

There needs to be a focus on helping to try and raise awareness of this illness ,and alert patients to the early warning signs and to increase knowledge and awareness about diabetes and its treatment. Initiatives like this are very important.

 

She  went on to say

 

“For many adjusting to the news that they or a member of your family has diabetes takes time and it is often helpful to meet other people who have been through a similar situation. They can offer understanding, help and support at an important time”

 

 

Ends

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