Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fishermen send out an S.O.S. to Minister Coveney

By Councillor Johnny Mythen

Fishermen along the east coast are very concerned that their operations may be tied-up over the coming days and weeks as the ice plants in the three major ports are temporary closed due to health and safety concerns. The fact that the three are closed at the one time is causing and will cause, huge losses to the economy of the south-east Including Kilmore.
Understanding the health and safety of workers has to be paramount and BIM are correct to give priority to the well being of its employees and contractors. However, the current level of risk is due to under-resourcing of the fisheries sector by consecutive governments over a number of decades. And this baby is now rocking on the lap of Minister Simon Coveney.

For all their talk of recovery, this government is lurching from one crisis to another, which is impacting on both jobs and growth.

Fishermen without ice are like crops without sunshine. Their catch arriving back to shore in saleable condition is solely dependent on fresh ice. While there is still a limited supply of ice in each plant, unless we have an immediate resolution to the personnel shortages in the next day or two, these fishing boats will, in effect, be tied to the harbour wall. This will have a huge negative impact on the local economy, fishermen, and those employed in the supporting and processing industries.

The Minister has fallen asleep at the helm here. He would have been easily able to avert this crisis before it began by assigning additional resources to these plants. I am calling on him now to personally intervene in order to bring these plants back into operation immediately. In the meantime, ice must be supplied to fishermen at no extra cost because the south-east and Wexford's fishing Industry is the life blood of our local economy. 

It is astonishing that the fishing industry in three of Ireland's biggest harbours would be allowed to grind to a halt. The lack of interest and political will, which has caused the downgrading of the industry over the years, is squarely to blame. This situation underlines the urgent need for a Government to fully commit and  get behind  our fishing and maritime industries, and recognise  that our fisheries add a significant portion to our Islands exports and is and will always be at the heart of a fair recovery for our coastal communities.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Roche: Traffic calming measures are welcomed for Bridgetown

Cllr Mick Roche has welcomed confirmation that necessary traffic calming measures will be implemented in Bridgetown in the coming weeks.  The local Sinn Féin rep said that this process was needed for public safety and urged any locals with any input into the future needed measures to approach him.

"I am glad to announce that speed bumps will be placed in Lakelands by the school side entrance in the coming weeks after repeated requests from locals," Cllr Roche said, "In addition to this safety signs have been placed on the ten acre approach to the village.  If they prove to cut the speed of traffic entering the village from that side then further signs will be erected on the other three roads coming into Bridgetown."

"As always I would ask that people would feel free to approach me with any input, ideas or criticisms that they might have.  It's my job as your local County Councillor to represent you all so hearing what you have to say is vitally important."

Cllr Roche can be contacted at 086-1004550, or cllrmickroche on facebook.

Bring them home - O' Súilleabháin

SF Cllr calls for scheme to entice emigrants to come home

A scheme needs to be introduced to enable Irish emigrants forced out over the last six years to come home according to a local Sinn Féin County Councillor.  Cllr Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that government already offered tax reliefs to enable large companies to bring in high paid executives to work here and now it was high time that similar actions were taken to bring our emigrants home.

Cllr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Over 300,000 people have left this country since the recession began in 2008.  They left because of economic necessity and many hoped that they could return when things began to improve.  The problem is that most will not be able to afford to return home.  The government has no contingency plan for this and the obvious brain drain that not having those people return will mean for the nation, particularly for rural Ireland."

"Sinn Féin is proposing that a fund be created, financed in part by the National Lottery and the EIB, to enable our emigrants to come home.  Home fares and initial accommodation would be acceptable costs for these emigrants to claim in order to get them back here.  Without them the state will suffer.  Rural Ireland is already feeling the drain of losing so many of its brightest and best.  The power of the Diaspora and the goodwill towards them was evident in the success of the gathering in this county last year."

"Currently the government provides a Special Assignee Relief Programme to large international companies which allow them generous tax reliefs to bring high paid executives to work here.  The government would argue that this benefits the economy but no so more than our returning emigrants would benefit.  If schemes like the special assignee relief programme are achievable then so too is a realistic returning emigrants programme."

Hedgerow interfering with traffic must be cut - Roche

Sinn Féin County Councillor Mick Roche is pressing for the cutting back of any hedgerow or foliage that is interfering with traffic or causing an interference on public roads.  Cllr Roche said motorists are paying more than enough tax to drive on the roads and deserve far better conditions than what they are receiving.

Cllr Roche said;

"I have been approached by people living in rural areas around Kilmore and Tomhaggard who have highlighted the potential safety hazards posed by overgrown hedgerows.  I have also had constituents contact me after damage was caused to their vehicles by outlying hedging on narrow roads."

"Currently there is a grey area around who actually has responsibility for roadside ditches.  Land owners are generally left to their own device and can cut back ditches at their own expense.  However it is not the responsibility of landowners to keep roads clear and safe.  That is what we pay road tax for."

"I know that the local County Council teams would tackle this situation if instructed.  Currently they are only asked to manage ditches where there is a problem with drainage or visibility that would concern drivers and pedestrians.  I am applying for permission and funding to organise a much needed cutting back on narrow roads across the area."    

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Social housing must be protected, not eroded - Kelly

A Wexford County Councillor has said that the government's plans to introduce a new system of housing assistance under the control of the Department of the Environment could potentially social housing in this state and leave those on housing waiting lists and schemes like RAS in dire straits.  Cllr Anthony Kelly described the Housing Assistance Payment as a calculated effort by the state to relinquish their responsibilities towards social housing.

"Rent supplement was devised as a temporary payment for social housing applicants stuck on a waiting list," Cllr Kelly said, "It unfortunately became a tool for successive governments to use rather than tackle the inadequacies in our social housing system.  It is absurd to think that the Housing Assistance Payment, which is due to replace rent allowance, can tackle the huge problems of housing waiting list and the state being unable or unwilling to take over suitable properties in the hands of NAMA."

"On the outside there seems to be benefits for people switching over to HAP, but when you consider that all applicants will be automatically taken off the social housing list, you realise that the switch over will actually hurt the applicant in the long run.  As usual the government seems to be more worried about massaging the figures than dealing with the core issues."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Roche condemns cuts to Deaf Service

Cllr Mick Roche has condemned the scrapping of funding for an advocacy service provided to thousands of deaf people.  The Sinn Féin Councillor said that with a tick of a pen the government had callously closed a critical service which was used by over 5,000 deaf people.

"The Irish Deaf Society's advocacy service existed to help deaf people access public services, education, healthcare and employment," Cllr Roche said, "For the last eleven years it has bridged a huge social exclusion gap allowing many deaf people and their families to live much more fulfilled lives.  There is no justification for this cut and it looks like the people who wiped it out with a tick of a pen gave no thought what so ever to the long term consequences of their actions."

"The deaf community is very vibrant in County Wexford.  There are about one hundred who organise regular fundraising and social events.  They rightly feel that are often treated very poorly.  It is very difficult for deaf people to engage with the state.  A visit to the hospital, dialogue with the Gardaí or any dealings with other social services can be very difficult.  This callous cut will make their lives even harder."

"The Irish Deaf Society,  the Alzheimers Society of Ireland, the Carer's Association and Muintir na Tire all received €75,000 annually under a programme operated by the Department of the Environment before this cut.  These are real charity groups, operating on the ground under constant financial pressure.  It is insane to cut their funding while other bodies see fit to pay their CEO's exorbitant wages while claiming state funding."

"There was once a notorious Fine Gael/Labour government which was vilified for taxing children's shoes.  Even today people talk about them with contempt.  This current administration has just ruined the lives of thousands of deaf, Alzheimer's suffers, carers and their families.  How will history judge this government? Sinn Féin is calling for this funding to be reinstated immediately."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Kelly: Fishermen are being treated like criminals by the state

Speaking after being present at a SFPA inspection of Kilmore Quay trawlers last week, Cllr Anthony Kelly has again condemned what he describes as the calculated criminalisation policy being used by the state against our fishing community. 

"Fishing crews across the state are being treated like common criminals for attempting to earn a legitimate income,"  the Sinn Féin County Councillor said, "Kilmore Quay vessels have been particularly targeted by what is a very oppressive regime.  I have been present at two inspections in recent weeks and there is a very clear sense of dread, despair and frustration among the fishing community in Kilmore and other fishing villages."

"The current quota system, which the SFPA and the government are intent on enforcing rigidly, is ridiculously unsustainable.  The current quota for monkfish over the course of three months would need to be the total catch landed in a single week in order to pay the overheads and wages.  At the moment a fishing trawler adhering to these quotas is only landing the value of about 25% of its fuel bill.  Where's the money for the other three quarters, wages and other bills going to come from?"

"This government, like its Fianna Fail predecessor, has done nothing to protect our fishing community.  Minister Coveney recently celebrated getting a 2.5% allocation of the total EU grant pot available.  He thought this was a job well done.  However several landlocked EU states also received funding.  Ireland received 2.5% despite having 20% of the EUs fishing waters.  How is this a job well done?"

"In an effort to highlight the continued criminalisation of our fishing crews, County Wexford Sinn Féin has invited leading members of our party including local MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Martin Ferris TD and Gerry Adams TD to visit Kilmore Quay and meet local fishermen in the coming weeks."

Kilmore Quay Fishing on verge of extinction - Roche

A local Sinn Féin Councillor has raised concerns that commercial fishing maybe wiped out in Kilmore Quay in the next decade if decisive action is taken now to safeguard fishermen's income.  Cllr Mick Roche said that unsustainable quotas, constant harassment from the SFPA and a complete lack of support from local and national government had placed trawler owners and their crews in an impossible situation.

Cllr Roche said;

"The current quotas in place mean that an average trawler will make one quarter of the cost of its fuel during a trip.  That means that they are still left with 75% of the cost of fuel, the cost of wages as well as other expenses such as wear and tear and insurance to content with after their total income is recorded.  It doesn't take an economist to realise that this is completely untenable and will result in the total eradication of the domestic industry in the coming years if things do not change."

"Recently Kilmore Quay trawlers have been under constant harassment from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.  My colleague, Cllr Anthony Kelly, has been present during two of the recent inspections of local vessels and has been appalled at the treatment of people attempting to earn a legitimate income at the hands of a state body.  One local fisherman told me that he is constantly looking over his shoulder expecting to see a inspector or a registered letter arriving from the SFPA.  They have succeeded in criminalising hard working people for doing their jobs."

"As a local Councillor, I fully support the Kilmore Quay trawlers who have refused to take part in the disgusting discarding of quality fish.  All of our local trawlers are expected to dump every sole and Plaice caught before landing.  This is a senseless waste and should not be tolerated.  In the coming weeks the leadership of Sinn Féin will returned to Kilmore Quay to continue ongoing dialogue with the fishing crews of the south east.  We will not bury our heads in the sand about this crisis as certain other local politicians have and we will continue to highlight the attempts to destroy this vital industry."

Roche - Water Quality will be a big issue for this Council

A local County Councillor has said that the issue of poor water quality will have to be a major issue for the newly elected council following more protests in Wexford town last week.  Cllr Mick Roche, who has campaigned for a major revamp of the Fardystown Water Scheme, said that the Council had to stand together and demand that funding be made available from Central Government to rectify the situation.

"There is an onus on the County Council to stand together for the benefit of the people of the county like never before," Cllr Roche said, "Its well known that this government has slashed funding to local government in an attempt to force councillors to agree to draconian tax measures like maintaining the maximum property tax payments and supporting water charges or risk seeing local services come to a standstill."

"We need to stand united and ensure that funding is made available from central government to fund vital projects like the much needed cleansing and adding of softening facilities to the fardsytown water scheme.  Its beyond belief that our government would expect people to pay a tax for the putrid water coming through their taps.  Time and again we have seen the pictures of the filthy water arriving in people's homes but yet no definitive action has been taken."

"Last week people in Whiterock were out protesting against the installation of water meters.  Last month it was the people of Hazelwood in Bridgetown.  Both of these areas are serviced by the fardystown scheme and the people living there know all about the poor water quality coming from the mayglass tower.  We can't sit back on this anymore.  The Council has to take a rigid stand on this now."

Sinn Féin will not pass burden onto struggling businesses - O' Connell

A local Sinn Féin Councillor has said that voting to reduce the property tax by the maximum 15% this year will not adversely affect the local business community.  Cllr Oisin O' Connell, a businessman himself, said that he intended to vote for the reduction which had already been ratified by his party colleagues on Cork City Council because it was 'the right thing to do' and felt that there would be no harmful knock on effect for the struggling business community.

"Every Sinn Féin Councillor is mandated to vote for the maximum reduction of 15% on the local property tax," Cllr O' Connell said, "This is the democratic decision of our membership, decided upon at our recent Ard Fheis in Wexford.  This is our policy because it is the right thing to do.  We consistently opposed the introduction of the unfair tax, we highlighted the insanity of diverting central government funding for local government into Irish Water and we made it quite clear that it was our intention to overturn the tax when we enter government and to vote for reductions on local councils until then."

"The last thing any sane representative would want to do is inflict any further hardship on the struggling small to medium enterprise sector who are already crippled with rates and taxes.  In fact, Sinn Féin has led the call for the reform of rates, replacing the current archaic system with a income linked model.  I can see why groups like Chambers Ireland might be concerned, but it was never, and will never be, our intention to make up the gap through further taxes on the business community."

"We have consistently put forward progressive and realistic alternatives to austerity at national level and we will do the same on our local councils.  I commend the action taken by my colleagues in Cork and Wexfords five Sinn Féin reps will follow suit when the budget comes in the fall."