Monday, May 23, 2011

Ray McCreesh & Patsy O' Hara remembered in New Ross

A vigil was held in New Ross yesterday to remember hunger strikers Ray McCreesh and Patsy O' Hara on the 30th anniversary of their deaths. Heavy rain and the Leinster match couldnt keep Wexford Republicans away, who gathered in numbers to commemorate the lives and deaths of these young Irish men.

Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly and Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen were among those who attended the event, which was organised by the County Wexford '81 committee. Further events will be held throughout the county to mark this anniversary year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

“The people of Wexford must become more intolerant”. Wexford SF stage protest at WGH

Members of Wexford Sinn Féin held a protest at Wexford General Hospital last Friday evening to demand an investigation into the missing €21 million which had been allocated for vital extension work at the hospital.  The protest followed a Sinn Féin motion calling for an investigation being defeated at the last meeting of Wexford Borough Council by the combined votes of Fine Gael and Labour reps.  Wexford SF Cllr Anthony Kelly said that there would be “regular and escalating” protests at Wexford General Hospital until the government made a genuine statement as to what happened to the funding instead of “sweeping the whole issue under the carpet.”

“What we need now is definitive answers and accountability from the top," Cllr Kelly said,  "What happened to the funding for our hospital?   Was it ever there or was it diverted elsewhere?  Some people have been playing political games with the future of the acute services of Wexford hospital.  Prior to the last election, Enda Kenny said the following about Wexford General; ‘The A&E department as it presently exists is unfair to patients and also to staff’.  Mr Kenny promised changes if his party entered government.  Sinn Féin will be calling on the Taoiseach to honour his promises about WGH in the Dail, at local council meetings and at protests like this one.”

Enniscorthy Cllr Johnny Mythen said;  
"The people of Co. Wexford and all the staff of Wexford General Hospital deserve a straight answer to a direct question.  Where did the 21million for the new A&E and the new maternity unit go? Will we have another U turn like we witnessed with the mental health acute centre at St. Senans hospital?  Wexford general hospital belongs to the people of Co Wexford.  In a true republic the people are supreme.  The Sinn Fein party in Wexford believe that the response of the Government to this question and the rejection of Cllr. Kelly’s motion calling for a public investigation into the disappearance of the €21million is an indication that nothing has changed to protect the future of our hospital.  This is why we wish to continue to support all the staff in Wexford General and the people of Co. Wexford in making sure this issue will not be going away."    
"This issue goes beyond politics and I’m calling on people of all political faiths to join us," Cllr Kelly said,  "To quote our current health Minister, It’s time for the people of Wexford to become more intolerant.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hospital is not “a waste of money” – Kelly

  Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has described the refusal of the Fine Gael/Labour members of Wexford Borough council to support an enquiry into the missing €21million earmarked for Wexford General Hospital as aiding and abetting those who were responsible for losing it.  Cllr Kelly said that his party will highlight this treacherous act against the people of Wexford, and will be holding protests outside the hospital until the money is located or replaced.  Responding to claims by labour councillors that an enquiry would be a waste of money, Cllr Kelly said that, “Anything which could benefit Wexford General Hospital and the patients who use it, will never be a waste of money.”
Cllr Kelly said;
“I’m stunned that councillors elected by the people of Wexford town decided to vote against a motion to find out what happened to this vital funding. The purpose of calling for an investigation is to find the answers to this political mystery.  After all this new coalition Government promised total accountability.”
“The coalition’s account of this missing money leaves more questions than answers.  If the money never existed, why did Minister Howlin say it was there and ready to be used? How can our new government continue to blame the last one for their own failures when they are now in office for nearly three months? Why has Dr James O’ Reilly reneged on promises he made to the people of Wexford about WGH prior to the election? These are serious questions and deserve to be answered in a professional manner by people who know what they’re talking about.  Instead our local Labour and Fine Gael councillors dismissed the issue as unimportant and not worthy of investigation.  Try telling that to the patients who are sleeping on trolleys in Wexford General tonight!”
Wexford Sinn Féin will be continuing their ongoing “ Save Wexford Hospital ” with a protest outside the hospital this Friday evening at 7.30pm.  All who want to know what happened to the hospital funding and want to see Wexford General protected are welcome to attend.
 * Pictures from the long running Sinn Féin campaign for a better services for staff and patients at Wexford General Hospital

Tax the rich not the poor

“An unfair and unjust tax,” is how a member of Enniscorthy town council summed up the Universal Social Charge during a protest calling for its immediate abolishment on Gorey’s main street last Saturday.  Sinn Féin members handed out leaflets giving reasons why the USC should be abolished, and asked passersby to sign postcards calling for the abolishment of this controversial tax.  Wexford Sinn Féin will be delivering these postcards to Leinster House in the coming weeks.

“We in Sinn Féin stand firm against the Universal Social Charge,” Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen said.  “It is an attack on the incomes of ordinary people that just cannot be afforded.  It is a completely unfair tax that takes the same percentage from people earning €16,016 per annum as it does from someone earning €100,000 per year.   This tax needs to be abolished and instead the Government should work on building a fairer tax system by creating a progressive tax base that taxes fairly and equalises wealth.”

“Before they entered government, the Labour party felt the same way as Sinn Féin about the Universal Social Charge.  They even campaigned for its abolishment during their election campaign.  Now they have performed a total U-turn on this stance to the point where Wexford town labour councillors voted against a Sinn Féin motion calling for the abolishment of the Universal Social Charge last week.  The Labour party must stop procrastinating and make their policy on the USC known.  Are they for this unfair tax or against it?  The people of Wexford need to know now!”

Cllr Mythen recently had a motion calling for the abolishment of the Universal Social Charge unanimously passed by Enniscorthy Borough council.  It was supported by local Labour and Fine Gael Council members.  The same motion was defeated on Wexford Borough council by the combined votes of Fine Gael and Labour members.
Cllr Mythen’s motion read; That Enniscorthy Town Council: Acknowledge that the Universal Social Charge is an unfair and regressive tax, is having a detrimental effect on the lower and middle class incomes of our constituents and the entire working population of our Country. Therefore we call upon the Government to abolish the Universal Social Charge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Royal Visit

Some sections of Irish society wish to celebrate the visit of The English Queen, Elizabeth Windsor, this week.Some may even want to wave the Union Jack. That is their right.  However,one would hope hope that this section of our people will also understand and accept that many other Irish citizens are politically opposed to this visit, and will respect their democratic right to do so peacefully.

It is premature and will cause great offence to many Irish citizens, particularly to those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British state forces in Ireland. The timing, on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is particularly insensitive. It is widely believed that this attack, involving the greatest loss of life of any incident in the conflict, was carried out with the involvement of British intelligence. To date no files on this atrocity have been released.

This visit is being presented as a signal that we are leaving the past behind us. But the British monarchy is all about the past.  It is based on a set of values, that belong more to middle-ages and which I believe most Irish people do not share. It stands for hierarchy, sectarianism, deference and inequality. Elizabeth Windsor claims to be monarch of part of our country. However, the values she represents have no place in Ireland.

The British monarchy is intrinsically linked with the British military. Most of the royal family command British regiments, and the queen herself has been commander in chief of the British armed forces for over sixty years. These forces have been responsible for the murder of Irish citizens, north and south.(Incredibly, the commander of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, Col. Derek Wilford, was later decorated by the queen!)
 The British establishment continue with a policy of cover up in relation to many deaths during the recent conflict.

We are living in changed and changing times and thankfully many are  working towards the normalisation of relationships between the people of these two islands based upon mutual respect and equality.  But it is incorrect to suggest any such relationship currently exists and therefore it is premature (and unwise in a time of recession) to invite the English queen to this part of Ireland to be feted and celebrated, at massive cost and inconvenience to members of the public.
 It is particularly bizarre to witness the sycophantic, cap-doffing attitude among some sections of Irish society towards English royalty. (Amusingly, some were even disappointed that their names didn't make the invitation list for state functions!)
Who could ever forget the,infamous words of the last Fine Gael Taoiseach on the occasion of the visit of England's Prince Charles (and colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment) to Dublin in 1995. Many in this nation, who class themselves as "citizens" rather than subjects, must surely have cringed when Mr. Bruton stated that Charles Windsor "represented so much of what we aspire to as a people". Let's hope  we will not witness a repeat of such cap-doffing nonsense this week.

Let me conclude with a quote from James Connolly, whose anniversary occurred just last week. He stated, "a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom."

 -Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin

What would Connolly say?

What would Connolly say? 

Would he say that launching an enquiry into why €21 million earmarked for vital extension work to a hospital was a waste of money? Would he say that it was still ok to spend such large sums on security for a pompous photo shoot of a foreign monarch in Dublin? Would he say that imposing unfair taxes on ordinary people while allowing the wealthy to escape much of the burden was ok?

Apparently this is what the Labour party believes James Connolly stood for.

This article is being written in response to a piece by the Labour mayor of Wexford. In his article (Never ask questions unless you know the answers), Cllr Ryan has a go at Wexford Sinn Féin for holding a picket outside Labour HQ in Wexford last May Day. This is to be expected and you cant argue with someone wishing to defend their party. However there are a few issues raised by the Labour mayor that need to be addressed.

1. "Connolly was an able man who showed that it was always necessary to cut a deal so as to protect your interests." - Perhaps, but would James Connolly have conceded to IMF dominance? Would he have put the interests of foreign financial institutions before the interests of the Irish people? Some deals should never be cut. 
Would Connolly have supported the Universal Social Charge, a grossly unfair tax? Would he have supported the idea of a pension levy on ordinary people while the wealthy were allowed to avoid it? Connolly lived his whole life in poverty. Putting the needs of the wealthy before the needs of the ordinary man would have surely sickened him. I have no doubt that he would have strongly opposed any group that supported this notion, whether they had a red rose or a starry plough as their symbol.
2. "Wouldn’t it be great if some of those who organised the picket at SIPTU in Wexford actually joined a union and perhaps read up on Connolly’s life?" - Is the Labour mayor of Wexford, a county where there are twenty thousand people on the live register not to mention those who are out of work and cannot claim benefits, suggesting that only Union members should be allowed to stage protests against the incompetence of our government? Are the Labour party planning on setting up a new union for the half a million unemployed citizens in Ireland? James Connolly spent most of his live out of work or moving from one dead end job to the next. Im sure he would be able to identify more with the unemployed of Ireland, who struggle from one day to the next, than with the wealthy leadership of the modern labour party.
Maybe it is Labour members of Wexford Borough council who should read up on Connollys life. Recently they voted against a Sinn Féin motion calling for the abolishment of the Universal Social Charge. I think anyone vaguely familiar with the life of Connolly would know which way he would have voted on that motion.

3. "Strikes me that James would have very little time for those in Wexford who used Mayday as a self seeking publicity stunt."- Kettle calling the pot black surely. As you can see from our photos, Wexford Labour had no problem getting their pictures taken at pickets up until they entered government. What a difference entering government can make. They've also forgotten many of their pre election promises.

4. "Perhaps they would have been better off coming up with an alternative that would contribute to getting our country out of the mess it was left by the wealthy insiders." - Sinn Féin is the only party on this island putting forward progressive alternatives which could get this nation back on its feet. Would we have introduced an impotent jobs initiative? No, we would have introduced a proper jobs stimulus to get this country back to work. We would put €600 million into a job creation and retention fund, €400 million in state childcare and the pre education sector and €1 billion into infrastructure projects. We would have also ringfenced €500 million into a Youth Jobs Fund to create 20,000 jobs for the under 25s. As always, our proposals are costed and could easily have been implemented by the Labour party in government. Unfortunately, it is the Labour party, and not us, who cannot come up with effective alternatives to the last Fianna Fail government and have instead condemned the people of this country to more bad government and further austerity budgets. What would Connolly say?  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Universal Social Charge protest in Gorey

"Tax the worker 'til we have nothing."  Thats how a Gorey woman described the Universal Social Charge when talking to Wexford Sinn Féin activists yesterday.  Wexford Sinn Féin were staging the protest against the controversial tax, handing out leaflets explaining why the USC is an unfair tax, and asking passersby to sign postcards to the minister calling for the immediate abolishment of this cruel charge.

"A tax on the working-poor", was how Labour leader Eamon Gilmore described the Universal Social Charge last February.  What a difference an election can make!  Last week, Labour members of Wexford Borough Council joined their Fine Gael comrades in voting against Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kellys motion calling for the abolishment of the USC. 

Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen got on better.  His motion calling for the abolishment of the USC was passed unanimously by Enniscorthy town council last month.  The Fine Gael and Labour members were only too happy to endorse a motion that not only went against their government, but also went against their party colleagues living a few miles down the road. 

Is there a split in the County Wexford branches of Fine Gael and the Labour party?  Surely this made all the papers? No, it didnt make any of them... strange that.

Wexford Sinn Féin have vowed to continue their fight against the unfair Universal Social Charge and will be taking the campaign to your town soon.

Francis Hughes remembered in Castlebridge

County Wexford Republicans gathered in the memorial garden in Castlebridge last Thursday evening to remember hunger striker Francis Hughes on the 30th anniversary of his death.

The occasion was organised by the local ’81 commemorative committee as part of a series of events aimed at reminding and educating the people of County Wexford about the H Block hunger strike, which saw ten republican prisoners die on hunger strike in the summer of 1981.

A vigil will be held in New Ross next Saturday (the 21st) to remember hunger strikers Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’ Hara. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kelly vs the false promises

Cllr Anthony Kelly has taken the fight to the Fine Gael/Labour coalition, tackling their Wexford town council members on the continued hardships being caused to families by the Universal Social Charge, and the missing €21 million earmarked for the "guaranteed" extension of Wexford General Hospital.

Last Monday night, at a meeting of Wexford Borough Council, Cllr Kelly tabled a motion calling for the abolishment of the Universal Social Charge. This came after his fellow party councillor Johnny Mythen had a similar motion passed by Enniscorthy town council last month. Despite the pre election promises made by the Labour party in regard to abolishing the USC, the Labour reps on Wexford Borough Council joined their FG partners in voting down Cllr Kellys motion.

Next, Cllr Kelly raised the issue of the missing €21 million which had been billed to cover the cost of vital extension work to Wexford General Hospital. Cllr Kelly pushed a motion calling for an enquiry into the whereabouts of the missing funds. Incredibly, Labour and Fine Gael reps once again voted down his motion.

"I've seen it all now," Cllr Kelly said.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sinn Féin call Labour out

County Wexford Sinn Féin protest outside Labour Constituency Office on May Day

Members of Sinn Féin from across County Wexford gathered outside Brendan Corish Hall on May Day to send a definitive message to the Labour Party; what would Connolly say? Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly led the colourful protest outside the building which is used as a constituency office by Minister Brendan Howlin and hosts meetings of the Wexford branch of the Labour Party.

Cllr Kelly said;
“We want to send a message to the Labour Party, the party that claims to represent workers, on International Workers Day. What would Connolly say? What would that great Irish Socialist say if he saw the Labour party in government with Fine Gael today? What would he think of them transferring tax payer’s money to gambling bondholders and into toxic banks, while half a million citizens are out of work? What would he make of their Universal Social Charge, a regressive tax which effectively cripples low and medium income workers, while the super wealthy still avail of morally criminal tax exemptions? What would James Connolly say if he saw Irelands sick lying on hospital trolleys in overcrowded corridors knowing that ‘socialists’ were in power?

“These are questions that the Labour party must consider. While Fianna Fail were in power, Labour seemed to have all the answers. Now that they are sitting on the other side of the Dail, their ideas seem to have dried up. Labour made promises to protect the working poor and most vulnerable in our society before the election. These promises must be honoured. If not, come the next election, it won’t be Sinn Féin or Connolly asking these questions, but the Irish electorate.”

May Day March in Wexford

“A new government and two new Ministers in the County, but Wexford is still forgotten.” That was the message from Cllr Anthony Kelly as he took part in the Sinn Féin organised International Workers Day parade in Wexford town on May Day. The parade was made more colourful by the addition of a range of flags, including the Starry Plough, the Red Flag and of course, the Irish Tri-colour. Several placards were also standing out as the parade entered the Bull Ring, including one held by a little girl that read; Enda Kenny earns €200,000 a year, how much do you get?”

“We are here today to honour International Workers Day and to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Wexford lockout,” Cllr Kelly said, “but we’re also here to send a clear message to the new coalition Government that we will not allow Wexford to be forgotten. Wexford Sinn fein are calling for a full public enquiry into the disappearance of the €21 Million that was earmarked for Wexford General Hospital. The new Coalition is blaming the last Government and the HSE. The people of Wexford deserve a better explanation.” Cllr Kelly also criticised the Governments intentions of selling off Rosslare Europort and said the Labour Party must stand up to Fine Gael by opposing any privatisation of our state assets.

Enniscorthy SF Cllr Johnny Mythen also attended the parade. Earlier, he and Cllr Kelly had helped veteran Republican Socialist Mick O’ Leary lay a wreath at the spot where Michael O’ Leary (no relation) was batoned to death during the 1911 Wexford Lockout. “It’s ironic that one hundred years on and once again the workers of Wexford are being locked out,” Cllr Mythen said. “The working poor are being crucified by the Universal Social Charge, and where are they seeing their tax money go? Not to build an extension to their local hospital. Not to create jobs for the twenty thousand plus unemployed in this county. Not to benefit the people of County Wexford at all. Sinn Féin campaigned for a referendum on the IMF deal but were defeated by the other parties. The ordinary person is being denied their say. Once again the workers have been locked out.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Ross Sinn Féin call for abolishment of unfair tax on the working poor

Declan Carroll, Oisin O' Connell, Cllr Anthony Kelly & Ger Barron

Pictured alongside Wexford Cllr Anthony Kelly are New Ross Sinn Féin members Declan Carroll, Oisín O'Connell and Gerard Barron at the launch of Sinn Féin's leaflet calling for the abolition of the Universal Social Charge.

In a statement issued afterwards, Oisín O'Connell called for the urgent abolishment of the grossly unjust Universal Social Charge, and demanded that County Wexfords five Oireachtas members honour their election promises to stand up for the ordinary people of this County, by working in the Dail to bring an immediate end to this unfair tax on the working poor.

“County Wexford’s five TDs each made promises to protect the interests of the citizens of this County during the recent election campaign,” said Oisín, “Now they must honour their commitments to the electorate. This tax needs to be abolished and instead the Government should work on building a fairer tax system by creating a progressive tax base that taxes fairly and equalises wealth.

Not only is this tax causing untold misery for ordinary people, it is also completely unfair. We have discovered an anomaly in the USC that allows people on much higher wages to pay less. The anomaly means that somebody on €30,000 euro is better off under the Universal Social Charge system when compared to what they were paying under the health and income levy system. This is insanity and shows that Fine Gael and Labour are now operating on the same economic policy as Fianna Fail before them – protect the elite, and over tax the working poor. Fine Gael and Labour should honour their election promises to reform our corrupt tax system instead of implementing failed Fianna Fail economic policies.”

New Ross Sinn Féin will be delivering the USC leaflet to 5000 homes across the district in the coming weeks.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bobby Sands remembered in Gorey

Last Thursday night, on the thirtieth anniversary of his death, County Wexford republicans gathered in Gorey to remember hunger striker Bobby Sands.  Carry black flags and placards displaying images of the ten hunger strikers who died in 1981, they caused quite a stir by the 1798 monument in Gorey town.

"Firstly he was intimidated out of his job, and then in 1972, his family were intimidated out of their home," Fionntan O' Suillebhan told the assembled crowd, as he tried to explain what had changed Bobby Sands from being an ordinary working class boy into being an Irish Revolutionary.

"He joined the republican movement at the age of 18, and as he wrote himself, 'my life now centred around sleepless nights, dodging the Brits, calming the nerves to go on operations but the people stood by us. The people not only opened the doors of their homes to lend us a hand but they opened their hearts also. I learned that without the people we could never survive and I knew that I owed them everything.' And I suppose that's a lesson for today's dissidents who think that their group can survive without the support of the people."

Fionntan then read out a few lines of poetry from Bobby Sands.
They tortured me quite viciously
They threw me through the air.
It got so bad it seemed I had
Been beat beyond repair....
 Each dirty trick they laid on thick
For no one heard or saw,
Who dares to say in Castlereagh
The 'police' would break the law!

On behalf of Gorey Sinn Féin, Liam Morris then called for a minutes silence. Afterwards, Cllr Anthony Kelly reminded everyone who attended that the County Wexford '81 committee intended to hold a vigil event on the anniversary of the death of all ten hunger strikers. These events would be spread across the county, and the next one would be held in Wexford town.

Wexford SF oppose privatisation of waste collection

Two Sinn Féin councillors in County Wexford have said that they support council refuse workers, and oppose any plans to lay them off in favour of private contractors. Cllr Anthony Kelly and Cllr Johnny Mythen reiterated their party opposition to any plans to privatise this sector, and instead called on the government to honour their pre-election promises to reform the taxation system, allowing new wealth collected to fund vital public services.

“Following the privatisation of waste collection services in South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown, it now seems that it’s only a matter of time before efforts are made to change things in County Wexford,” Cllr Kelly said. “Wexford Sinn Féin fully supports County Wexfords council refuse workers and will oppose any attempt to get rid of them in the name of privatisation. I’m worried that these workers will be made redundant and sent to join the other twenty thousand unemployed people in this county on the Dole Queue. If we are to witness a private company taking over council waste collection services in County Wexford, then these workers must be redeployed in other areas rather than let go.”

Cllr Johnny Mythen added;
“We hear a lot of talk that privatisation leads to price cuts and that the takeover of this public service by private companies will ultimately benefit ordinary people. The truth is, that in the past we have witnessed such “price cuts” quickly be forgotten as private companies carved out monopolies for themselves, allowing rapid price escalations. Historically, privatisation has been shown to hurt the poor and less well off the worst. Vital services should be available to all and paid for with a fair and progressive tax system based on ability to pay.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wexford Sinn Féin to honour Bobby Sands

County Wexford Sinn Féin will commemorate the hunger striker patriot Bobby Sands in a vigil ceremony this Thursday night (5th May) on the thirtieth anniversary of his death.

A vigil will be observed from seven pm by the 1798 monument at the top of Gorey town to remember the MP who died on hunger strike in protest against Britain’s decision to remove political status for republican prisoners.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe this dignified gathering, and information packs on the 1981 hunger strikes are available from Wexford Sinn Féin for anyone wishing to learn more about this monumental event in our recent past.