Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mickey Devine remembered in Taghmon

The tenth and last republican to die on hunger strike in the H-Blocks in the terrible summer of 1981 was remembered in Taghmon last night.  'Red' Mickey Devine was only 27 years old when he died on the protest against the criminalisation of republican prisoners.

Veteran Wexford republican Mick Avic O' Leary called the final roll call of the ten men who sacrificed themselves in 1981 to the crowd of local republicans who had gathered in Taghmons republican garden last night.  Mr O' Leary promised that these memorials would continue every summer and that we would never forget the ideals and sacrifices of the ten martyrs of '81.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mythen: Don't insult our intelligence Bill

The acting Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council has criticised a speech made by veteran RTE sports presenter and Fine Gael advisor Bill O' Herlihy at Bael Na mBlath last weekend.  Cllr Johnny Mythen said that O' Herlihys suggestion that Sinn Féin were unfit for government and that only a joint coalition of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael could bring about a true republic was insulting to peoples intelligence.

"The recent speech by Bill O' Herlihy at Bael Na mBlath will go down in history as the greatest piece of delusional false flagging ever witnessed in West Cork," Cllr Mythen said,  "I think Bill will be in line for an all Ireland medal this year for services rendered to the forces of austerity."

"His whimsical attack on Sinn Fein proclaiming it 'has wistful yearnings for past violence' and therefore is not fit for Government in the 26 Counties is a very weak argument indeed, continuing on with a diatribe of false flags about what a true republic should be, when Fine Gael and Fianna Fail had ample opportunity over the last eighty years to build one."

"There is only so much a person can stomach from the likes O' Herlihy's Fine Gael right wing Government who looked after him well over the years.  To quote Collins in such a fashion and then to suggest a Siamese twins approach that will suddenly turn us into a true republic of "Justice and fairness" must be the joke of the century."

"Please have by all means your all Ireland gathering but please respect our intelligence to know the difference between Michael Collins republic and the propaganda being peddled in his name by the well to do and the people whom the status quo will always be their first choice.  Of course the bi-Carmel Government would always be their preference to a true Republic.  God forbid it ever should fall into the hands of true republicans?  Sure their world would come to an end."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kelly welcomes Refuge talks

Wexford Sinn Fein Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed the news that talks are now taking place between the board of management and the unions to discuss the future of the women's refuge centre in Wexford.

Commenting  on the budget overspend at the Centre, Cllr Kelly said that this must not be allowed to overshadow the main priority of the centre which is the protection and retention of the vital services that the centre provides to the women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

"Now more than ever in this present economic climate and continued austerity budgets from the present Government, services such as the refuge centre play a vital role in the community," Cllr Kelly said.  "Financial pressures are a contributing factor in family relationships coming under severe pressure."

The Sinn Féin Councillor is reiterating his call on Ministers Howlin and Kehoe to not allow this refuge centre close and to prevent any reductions in service there.  

"How can you put a monetary value on such a vital service?" Cllr Kelly asked. 

O' Connell: Student grant hold up is very worrying

Many New Ross students are living in fear and on the financial breaking point because there third level grants have not been processed on time according to a local Sinn Féin representative.  Oisin O' Connell, a former president of the International Students Association, said that he had been approached by students who were already considering dropping out due to the huge financial worry which has been placed on them and their families by these processing delays.

"Recently the Irish League of Credit Unions released research which showed that on average it is costing parents nearly €1,000 a month to put their children through college," Mr O' Connell said.  "It is increasingly difficult for students to find part time employment that suits there hours out of study and this leaves them with no choice but to get help from their families."

"The slow processing of student grants again this year is very worrying for students and parents alike.  We all remember the SUSI grant fiasco last year and the horror stories of students dropping out because they couldn't afford food and rent.  It is imperative that we do not witness a repeat of that this year.  These grants need to be processed faster and students should not be waiting until their second term to receive this funding."

"I would also support the call from the Union of Students in Ireland on the government to prevent any cuts to the student maintenance grant in budget 2014.  We need to protect our students welfare and ensure that they can complete their selected courses without being forced to drop out due to financial considerations if we are to build a smart economy that can once again compete on the global stage." 

Wexford Suckler Beef herd must be protected – O’ Súilleabháin

A local Sinn Féin representative is calling for investment in new grants for local suckler beef farmers.  Fionntán O’ Súilleabháin said that small farmers across the county had reached the breaking point after years of cuts and said that unless action was taken to stabilise the suckler beef sector, there would be a devastating knock on effect on the local economy.

“The vast majority of small family-run cattle enterprises in this county are suckler beef led,” Mr O’ Súilleabháin.  “They are the farms that get the least grants, the smallest gross income and often end up suffering most from adverse weather conditions.  They have been pushed to breaking point due to the harsh austerity cuts of recent budgets.  The total agriculture budget has been reduced by 41.2% since the recession began.  This is compared to a reduction of 12.6% for total spending across all Government departments.”

“The IFA recently released figures showing that budget cuts including the abolition of the suckler cow welfare scheme and cuts to the Disadvantage area and REPS schemes have cost suckler farm incomes about €130 per cow.  Add to this the huge financial strain of trying to buy in extra fodder at high prices due to the recent bad winters and the pressure of day to day cuts and stealth taxes under an austerity government and you realise that the whole suckler beef industry is in danger of utter collapse unless action is taken.”

“The Irish beef and livestock sector is worth €2.3 billion to our economy.  Farmers and farm families spend €8 billion per year in the local economy.  Any collapse in this sector will be felt right across Irish society.  It is crucial that correct investment in the form of new suckler herd grant is made now to grow this economically important sector and prevent any kind of a systematic failure.  50,000 non-farm jobs are already maintained through the success of the Irish cattle and sheep sectors.  With proper nurturing of these industries, a further 10,000 jobs can be created by 2020 according to experts.”

William 'Barney' Cosgrave remembered in Cooletagart

"We'll remember him and people like him not only for their great personal sacrifices, but also for the causes which still live on."  Those were the words of New Ross Sinn Féin County Council candidate Oisin O' Connell at a commemoration event for local war of independence patriot, William Cosgrave, in Cooletagart last Friday night.

Mr O' Connell was joined by members of the local Gleeson cumann beside the roadside monument to the republican staff captain who died in the 1930's.  William 'Barney' Cosgrave was with Jim Parle, John Creane and Patrick Hogan when they were captured by the free state army at the residence of Major John Larkin in 1923.  Cosgrave made a daring escape.  His three comrades were later executed in Wexford Gaol on the 13th of March.

Veteran Wexford republican Mick O' Leary laid a wreath on the monument and an oration was given by Mr O' Connell. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cllr Johnny Mythens speech to the London Wexford Association

The following is the transcript of a speech given by the acting Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council, Cllr Johnny Mythen, to the London Wexford Association in Enniscorthy recently.  The Sinn Féin Councillor highlighted the important role that the association has played, and continues to play, for young Wexford men and women who are forced to emigrate to London in search of work.
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow councillors, Cathaoirleachi  and our distinguished guests, the London Wexford Association and their chairman Tommy Hannell.  We are all very proud and honoured tonight as fellow Wexford yellow bellies to welcome home for the first time on wexford soil the annual get together of the London Wexford Association, and to say from the bottom of our hearts, Failte roimh sa bhaile fein ar do thalamh fein le do mhuintir fein agus do chuid fein contae loch Garman.  Welcome to your own home, your own land, your own people and your own county wexford.
London has the strongest Irish heritage of any English city.  This is very evident through the many Irish centres, dancing and music schools, An  Londain luchleas gael, the famous Father Murphy’s club, and the many Irish associations like the London Wexford association, who create an atmosphere of a home from home and help in nurturing and sustaining an Irish identity and an Irish culture to exiles both young and old. 
Six million people living in England have Irish Grand Parents.  900,000 people of ethnic Irish origin live in London today.  This movement of Irish people to England has continued throughout many decades
This tide has ebbed and flowed as a direct response to Political, economical, and social conditions.  The latest figures show that 350,000 people, mostly under 25, have emigrated in the last four years.  Last year alone 1000 of our sons and daughters emigrated from Co. Wexford.
This is why now more than ever associations like the London Wexford Association should be supported in every way possible, because they have forged in the past and present an unbroken and unbreakable bond between the London Irish and their native Co Wexford.  For that we as wexford people we are eternally grateful.
Finally, we sincerely hope you will enjoy your home coming and the rest of the evening.  We thank the staff and management of the Riverside park hotel for their top of the range service and hospitality, and last but not least, Robbie Ireton, who’s wonderful idea it was to invite the London Wexford Association to this wexford gathering. Thank you Robbie, and thank you all for accepting the invitation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to divert your attention for a moment before any formal speeches, just to say we are all very conscious that a little over a month ago our former chairman Pat Cody spoke at his last official function here at the strawberry festival ball.  If all things were fair and right in this world he would have been speaking here tonight. We remember Pat with fond affection, and pray for his family and friends who miss him dearly. May he rest in peace.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Proof that SNA cuts are seriously impacting our children, says O' Súilleabháin

A new study offers proof that cuts to special needs assistants and the services they provide are having a real and deadly impact upon children with disabilities according to a local teacher and Sinn Féin spokesperson.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that the latest ERSI study showed that the governments irresponsible approach to snas was now taking its full toll on our children.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"A new study by the ERSI shows that while 7% of children without any learning disabilities find school difficult, this figure rises to 12% when looking at children with special needs in mainstream schools.  This is the proof that we always knew would come which clearly shows the devastating impact that the governments slashing of the sna budget is having on our children."

"Cuts to special education services in recent years are having a terrible knock on effect right through the system.  It will only get worse.  42,500 students will need additional help from this September, a rise of over 4000.  22,000 pupils will also need support from special needs assistants.  There will simply not be enough help there to reach every child and many will fall through the cracks because this government has not prepared the system adequately."

"These figures are shocking but unfortunately not surprising.  The cuts that have been made will continue to affect children in the system for years to come and will only increase if the government pushes further cuts to special education in budget 2014."

Ministers must put weight behind campaign to reopen refuge - Kelly

Speaking at a public meeting called in opposition to the temporary closure of the Wexford Women's Refuge, Cllr Anthony Kelly has reiterated his call upon the county's two sitting Ministers to put their weight behind the campaign to overturn the controversial HSE decision.  Cllr Kelly appealed to Ministers Brendan Howlin and Paul Kehoe to put human decency before partisan politics and use their considerable influence in cabinet to get the refuge reopened immediately.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The HSEs decision to close the Wexford Women's Refuge is down to them going over budget by €67,000 so far this year.  Government Ministers earn two and a half times this in basic salary each year.  The refuge served a catchment area of 150,000 people and has provided a crucial haven for hundreds of women and children who have escaped violent relationships.  How can the HSE, government or anyone else put a price on such a vitally important service when clearly there are other alternatives?"

"One hundred and forty seven women and children have already been turned away from the refuge this year because they simply haven't had the funding available to help everyone despite the valiant efforts of the wonderful staff there.  How many more running from domestic violence will find no sanctuary over the next thirteen weeks because of an insane HSE cost saving measure?"

"I would appeal to Ministers Kehoe and Howlin to ignore partisan politics in the interest of human decency and common sense and join the campaign to get the women's refuge reopened immediately.  There can be no justification for closing this service for even one day, yet alone thirteen long weeks."

Social housing waiting list increased by 30% in New Ross town

There are now 348 households on a waiting list for social housing in New Ross, an increase of 30% since 2011.  This is as a result of government neglect and a total lack of vision according to local Sinn Féin rep Oisin O' Connell.

Mr O' Connell said;

"This rise in families waiting on the social housing list in New Ross is at odds with what is happening in other parts of the county, where the waiting list has actually dropped.  Questions must be asked as to why it is New Ross that has apparently been given the short straw and left behind.  The truth is, in a country where we have 14.5% of properties vacant, there should not be waiting lists on this scale."

"The fact that 348 families are stuck on an ever increasing housing list is an absolute disgrace and proof of the total lack of vision employed by this government.  Even when faced with a simple equation of many empty houses and equally as many families looking for homes, they are incapable of doing the arithmetic and once again fall flat on their face."

"Earlier this year Sinn Féin petitioned the government to tackle the social housing crisis by getting tough with NAMA and taking back property which is really owned by the taxpayer anyway.  We also called for the construction of 5000 new housing units by the end of 2013 with a further 4000 being built next year.  So far our calls have fallen on deaf ears."

Kelly raises concerns about frontline services in Wexford

Cllr Anthony Kelly has raised concerns that there may be further cost saving cuts implemented at Wexford General Hospital this winter following the HSE admission that they are expecting to run €100 million over budget.  The Wexford Borough Councillor said that the temporary closure of the women's refuge centre showed the lengths that the authorities were prepared to go to close this deficit and said that he was worried we would see more temporary closures at our local hospital.

"Last winter Sinn Féin were vocal in our opposition to the cost cutting temporary closure of operating theatre two at Wexford General Hospital following a budget overspend by the HSE," Cllr Kelly said.  "This year the HSE are once again running over budget, and already we have seen the lengths they are prepared to go to rectify this with the controversial closure of the women's refuge in Wexford town."

"The HSE have stated that the biggest overrun is coming from the states hospitals, expected to go €75 million over budget by the end of the year.  They do not state that the reason for this is because of health cuts introduced by the Fine Gael and Labour coalition and the previous Fianna Fail led government."

"Though Wexford General is not one of the hospitals with the largest overspends, we would still be concerned that more cost cutting measures would be on the way.  Any form of downgrading at our local hospital, permanent or temporary, will be fiercely resisted.  Stealth cost cutting will not be tolerated and will be exposed and opposed if attempted."

Social housing crisis must be addressed - Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has renewed his call on the government to implement a realistic action plan to tackle the growing social housing crisis in Ireland.  The Sinn Féin rep said that recent figures showing that the national waiting list has risen by 12,827 over the past two years is proof that the state is not taking this issue seriously enough.

"There are currently 111,145 households sitting on waiting lists for social housing across this state,"  Cllr Kelly said.  "When you consider that 14.5% of dwellings lay unoccupied nationally, you realise what a gross travesty this really is.  It is an indictment of this coalition government that absolutely nothing is being done to counteract the rising waiting lists."

"The waiting list for social housing has grown by 50% since 2008.  The few things we have had in abundance during this recession are empty houses and unfinished estates yet there are twice as many families without homes now as there were at the start of this.  Why has nothing been done to take back the property that NAMA has acquired?  Why has there been no action to offer unfinished houses to families who might finish them as part of a deal for reduced rent?"

"This government doesn't care about the provision of social housing and the families who lie in eternal vigil on the ever increasing waiting lists.  It's one of the many things they share with their Fianna Fail predecessors.  After all, a recent report has shown that only 15000 social houses were provided during the boom, one fifth of what was promised.  No wonder we have these waiting lists now."

Wexford Women's Refuge closure affects the whole region

The closure of the Wexford Women's Refuge will have a detrimental effect upon families across the south east according to a local Sinn Féin representative.  Oisin O' Connell said that the critical shelter in Wexford town, which has been closed by the HSE for the next thirteen weeks in a cost saving venture, is one of only five centres around the south of the country that offer sanctuary to women and children fleeing domestic violence.

"The HSEs assertion that families looking for sanctuary in the closed refuge in Wexford town will be able to seek asylum in one of four other centres across the south of the country is completely false,"  Mr O' Connell said.  "These other centres, like their counterpart in Wexford has been over the past few months, are being overran as it is.  They cannot accommodate all of those needing help in their own areas, yet alone those needing shelter from a Wexford centre that serviced a population of 150,000."

"The closure of the Wexford refuge for thirteen weeks means that those fleeing domestic violence will be left out in the cold, at the mercy of the very pending danger they find themselves in.  They will not get help from other centres that are already overstretched.  This cut amounts to the state abandoning these families."

"Sinn Féin is calling for the immediate reversal of the decision to close the women's refuge.  It's been closed because of an alleged over budget run of €67,000.  What a tiny sum considering how much the government has pumped into bailing out banks and bondholders.  It is brazen cheek to suggest for even a minute that this closure is justified, warranted or rational.  This centre must be reopened now."

O.A.P.s put under duress by Government spin doctors again

The Vice Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council has condemned the leaking of rumours that the old age pension will be cut by €10 in the next budget by what he calls 'government spin doctors intent on putting people under duress'.  Cllr Johnny Mythen said that such a measure should not even be considered for a moment and if implemented would meet mass opposition.

"The recent claims and counter claims from Government ministers to cut the old age pensions by €10 is causing worry and  concern across the whole nation.   At a time when even the strongest of people are feeling the strain, the threat of cutting more money from the oldest and most vulnerable section of our society is despicable."

"The elderly have already suffered eight austerity budgets, seeing cuts to fuel , phone and home packages.  Now add property tax, university service tax, plus pending water charges on top, and your left with very little out of your €240 pension."

"To take another €10 will result in pushing many old age pensioners over the poverty line.  This is unacceptable in any civilised society, and a reminder to everyone that we all grow old and deserve a dignified and decent pension at the end of our working lives."  

Kelly calls for cross party support to reopen women's refuge centre immediately

The decision to close Wexford women's refuge centre for thirteen weeks as a cost saving measure is unacceptable and must be reversed immediately.  Those are the views of Cllr Anthony Kelly who has called for an emergency meeting of Wexford Borough Council in an effort to get the HSE's decision overturned as quickly as possible.

The Sinn Féin Councillor said;

"The decision to close the women's refuge centre as a temporary cost saving measure will cause irrevocable damage to the lives of local women and children who rely upon the shelter, food and care offered by the refuge.  There will be no savings made by this closure unless the HSE is recommending that these people in need should be put out onto the street.  That cannot be allowed to happen and the council will need to provide emergency housing which will end up costing more than the savings being talked about here."

"Last year the HSE closed down an operating theatre at Wexford General Hospital.  This year it's the women's refuge centre.  What's next?  Its seems the HSE under the current government believes it's ok to put a value on human life.  They seem to believe that closing a vital refuge centre to make small savings is more important than protecting vulnerable women and children."

"I am calling upon all elected reps in this county, local and national, to stand together and push for a full reversal on this totally irresponsible decision.  This is not a political issue, it's an issue of affording vulnerable people the most basic provisions for life; shelter, food and care.  This closure will cause untold hardship and could cost lives unless we stand together and force the HSE to back down."

Mary O’Rourke’s FF-FG unity bid would be logical: Sinn Féins Ó Súilleabháin

Responding to recent comments from former Fianna Fáil politician, Mary O’Rourke, that unity of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be a good idea, Sinn Féin spokesperson for North Wexford said that such a coalition would be logical.

Ó Sùilleabháin said:“It is good to see such a very experienced politician as Mary O’Rourke calling it like it is: there is no difference at all between the social and economic policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.  While she may think that unity of the two parties would be good, it would be a disaster for working people to see such a party in government."

"They are both parties which favour protecting the banks and big business and imposing vicious austerity policies on working people.  However, if they joined up it might put a stop to the carry-on in the Dáil where they pretend to disagree with each other to get a headline or sound bite when they are really on the same side when it comes to making people who cannot afford it bear the burden of the crisis"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Ross youths forced to emigrate to cut unemployment figures

Twice as many New Ross people are emigrating as are coming off the live register into employment on average, according to a local spokesperson for Sinn Féin.  Oisin O' Connell said that figures showing that over 150,000 under 25's have emigrated since 2008 while the rate of unemployment within that group stays at 26.5% shows that we have a crisis that is not being addressed by our government.

"There are currently 7250 leaving Ireland every month in search of employment and a better life abroad," Mr O' Connell said, "Make no mistake they are not choosing to leave, this is not a lifestyle choice as a certain Fianna Fail Minister once said.  This is forced emigration.  Our friends and neighbours from across South Wexford are being forced out due to the mismanagement of the economy by successive governments and the total failure of the austerity politics."

"Twice as many people are emigrating as are coming off the live register into employment.  They are leaving because there are no jobs for them here."

"Sinn Féin have consistently called for an end to austerity politics and the introduction of a massive stimulus programme to get the country back to work.  We have proposed major job creation projects within this county including the construction of  a new sugar beet processing plant in New Ross, the development of Rosslare Europort and the construction of state funded business parks in the larger rural villages which ballooned in size during the boom but were never developed properly by the state at the time."

Rosslare Customs strike again - Kelly praises second drugs seizure

Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed a second drugs seizure by the customs team at Rosslare Europort.  The Wexford Borough Councillor said the seizure of cannabis worth €1.2 million which came just twenty four hours after Ralph the customs dog discovered €1.5 million of heroin showed the incredible efficiency of the staff at Rosslare Europort and also revealed the amount of illegal substances that dealers are attempting to move into the south east.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The customs team at Rosslare Europort cannot be praised enough for preventing a bank holiday bonanza of illegal drugs from making it into Wexford town and the surrounding towns and villages of the south east.  Clearly dealers see a potential mass market for these substances in this region.  The vigilance of staff at the port, particularly super sniffer dog Ralph, may have saved lives in this town over the bank holiday weekend."

"The efficiency of the customs team in Rosslare shows just why it is rightly considered a world class port by Sinn Féin.  We have consistently called for further development at the port so that it can accommodate larger international freight and ship it out faster.  At least we know now that as Rosslare Europort grows it will not be an easy target for the international drugs trade."

Digital learning would be cheaper and more efficient - O' Connell

An iPad for every school child would work out cheaper for parents and provide a far more efficient education for our children according to a local spokesperson for Sinn Féin.  Oisin O' Connell, speaking at the launch County Wexford Sinn Fein's Back to School paper for 2013,  said that the state should be embracing new digital technology and providing the funding to bring it into every classroom, easing the incredible financial burden on parents.

Mr O' Connell said;

"A recent study commissioned by local Sinn Féin found that 62% of parents find school books to be the highest expense during the dreaded back to school period.  It's not surprising when you consider that these books are constantly updated and reprinted to meet the demands of an ever changing curriculum and most schools still favour using expensive workbooks instead of copies."

"Only 57% of parents surveyed said that they would like to see schools switch to using laptops, e-books and iPads in order to cut down on the expense of school books and writing materials.  This is because they presume that digital learning will be more expensive.  This does not have to be the case."

"The government has an obligation to make affordable digital learning possible in this state.  Last year we called on the government to enter talks with Apple, Samsung and other producers of digital tablets in order to usher in a new era of state funded electronic learning.  There is a even more exciting possibility.  The state could produce its own tablets, not just creating digital learning devices for our children but in doing so, creating thousands of new jobs and a whole new industry as well."

"Digital learning has proven itself time and time again is studies.  In California, where state funded digital learning has already been introduced, a study done by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt showed that students using iPads saw their math test scores increase 20% in one year compared to students using traditional textbooks.  If we are to build the smart economy that Fine Gael and Labour like to talk about so much, then this is the foundation for it."

Cullenstown development would boost tourism - O' Connell

The development of tourism services and safety features at Cullenstown strand would further boost tourism in the New Ross district according to a local spokesperson for Sinn Féin.  Oisin O' Connell said that this fantastic summer had shown the true economic potential of South Wexford's beaches but had also revealed a lack of development in certain areas.
Oisin O' Connell outside an abandoned shop/diner in Cullenstown

Mr O' Connell said;

"The great summer weather we have experienced in recent weeks has led to shown the awesome economic potential of our coastline.  A trip to Duncannon during the hot weather would reveal the endless possibilities  that a well planned, well managed beach community could offer."

"I was recently contacted by locals who had visited Cullenstown beach, near Carrig-on-Bannow.   They asked me to come down and have a look at the area myself.  While it is clear that coastal erosion has had a damaging effect on this strand, a good crowd were on the beach when I arrived and it was clear that this was another area that had huge potential.  In fact, up to twenty years ago, Cullenstown was one of the most popular beaches in the south east and a major tourist site."

"The thing that struck me about cullenstown was the lack of services.  The local shop and restaurant have been boarded up and empty for over a decade.  The road connecting the big beach to  a more recluse smaller one is almost impassable.  There are signs along the beach warning that parts are not suitable for swimming but there are no lifeguards on duty, even during the hottest days when crowds descend on the beach."

"Cullenstown is a beautiful beach and could be an economic gem if properly managed.  The failure of local government to plan and manage the development of Cullenstown has had a telling effect on the local area which is devoid of the most basic of services.  Sinn Féin will be petitioning for new development plans to be drawn up for abandoned coastal areas like Cullenstown so we may truly optimise the potential of South Wexford's coastline."

Time to cut back to school expenses - O' Súilleabháin

A Gorey teacher has described the results of local back to school expenses survey as disturbing and serving as a wakeup call for reps from local government parties who have ignored the plight of parents at this time of year for too long.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin, a spokesperson for North Wexford Sinn Féin and representative of the INTO, said that successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fail governments had ignored their constitutional responsibility to children's education.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Ireland is one of the last states in the EU where the government does not contribute to some, if not all, of the cost of a child's education.  It should be the opposite.  The Irish constitution lays a firm responsibility on the government to take responsibility for a child's education.  Article 42.4 of the Constitution states, 'The State shall provide for free primary education'."

"A survey carried out by local Sinn Féin over the past six weeks reveals the financial strain that Wexford parents are put under at this time of year as a direct result of the states shirking of its constitutional responsibilities.  91% of parents surveyed said that they find this time of year to be a source of huge expense and stress."

"There are clear and concise actions that the government can take to cut down on this expense.  Sinn Féin have put forward progressive measures that would bring on us on a par with the six counties, where for example school books are financed by the state."

"We are calling for the establishment of a centralised book lending scheme which would provide all primary and secondary school children with access to free text books.  In addition to this, the wasteful workbook should be abolish as it is nothing but a source of expense on parents.  School crests that can be affixed to generic supermarket bought jumpers should be made freely available to cut down on the cost of school uniforms."

"Wexford County Council should begin consultation with the Department of Education, every school in the county and suppliers of electronic tablets and similar devices in order to launch Wexford as the first county to go completely over to digital learning.  The tax on digital devices used for learning should be removed in line with school books.  Digital learning could be a much cheaper and more efficient form of education if properly subsidised by the government."

O' Connell welcomes IFA pre budget submission

The Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has welcomed the IFA's pre budget submissions for 2014, describing them as being mainly common sense policies that any right minded government would already be implementing.  Oisin O' Connell said he was particularly supportive of the call to utilise more of the EU rural development funding available to us.

Mr O' Connell said;

"Up to €290 million will be available to the Irish government to draw from the EU Rural Development Programme this year and every year until 2020.  That's a rise of over €100 million since last year and all of it comes at no additional cost to the Exchequer."

"Since 2011, agricultural funding has been cut by 13% while other government departments have seen cuts of around 5%.  These disproportionately high cuts have come at a time when Irish farming faced a weather generated crisis which has led to a shortage of fodder and credit." 

"If agriculture is to survive and flourish in this state, in keeping with the impressive targets laid out in the Food Harvest 2020 plan, then funding will have to be made available to the sector.  Rural Ireland is dependent on a strong agri sector.  This EU funding would not just benefit farmers, but entire rural communities across this country."

Sinn Féin support Seanad abolition

Sinn Féin will be calling for a yes vote in the referendum to abolish the Seanad, which will take place on Friday 4th October.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said that his party favour political reform across this state.  "That goes for the Dail as well as the Seanad," he said.

"The Seanad is an outdated, elitist structure which has acted as a glorified boys club for the favourites of the government of the day for decades.  There is no doubt that honourable men and women have served with distinction in the upper house, but there numbers have been outweighed by the ranks of unelected individuals with vested interests who have been accountable to nobody."

"99% of the Irish population have no say in who gets elected to the Seanad.  Where is the democracy in that?  It has 60 members, 43 of whom are elected by county and city councillors, TDs and Senators, six are elected by graduates of NUI colleges and Trinity College Dublin, and eleven are appointed by the Taoiseach."

"Some people worry that without the Seanad, the Dail will have too much power.  Sinn Féin accepts that reform of the Dail should go hand in hand with the loss of the Seanad, but the fact remains that the upper house has acted as cheerleaders for the government for many years now."

"The Seanad has supported this austerity government on every single occasion including the introduction of the property tax, cuts to disability payments and the promissory note deal which is costing the tax payer €30 billion.  They supported the previous Fianna Fail/PD/Green unholy alliance when they were busy squandering the wealth of the nation and digging a debt hole for every man, woman and child in this state.  They have failed time and time again to carry out their mandate and prevent the Dail from making mistakes that will impact on the lives of the citizens of Ireland."

22 robberies in one day is intolerable - O' Connell

A local Sinn Féin representative has appealed for people to come forward with information to the Gardaí following a spate of robberies in recent times, cumulating in twenty two house burglaries between Duncormick and Fethard in a single afternoon.  Oisin O' Connell said information that might seem insignificant to the holder could be of huge value to the Gardaí and help prevent future attacks.

Mr O' Connell said;

"In a single afternoon twenty two homes were robbed between Duncormick and Fethard.  That's twenty two families violated in one day.  The situation is becoming intolerable.  Sinn Féin is appealing to anyone with any information about these robberies to come forward to local Gardaí now.  This situation will only get worse unless we meet it head on and take decisive action."

"People, particularly the elderly who live alone, are living in constant fear at this stage.  It seems that gangs carrying out these attacks have an intimate knowledge of local areas and know exactly when to strike.  This aside, they are not invisible and many of these burglaries are being carried out in broad daylight."

"Everyone has a role to play in preventing these burglaries.  The Gardaí in this county are doing everything they can but thanks to government austerity cuts, they are too few in number.  There are only 18 Gardaí to every 10,000 people in Wexford compared to a national average ratio of 25  to 10,000.  Rural garda stations, such as the one in Ballywilliam, have been closed down leaving communities even more vulnerable."

"Recently some local communities have started text alert schemes to try and keep their neighbours updated on suspicious behaviour in the area.  It is this type of community spirit and collective responsibility that will be crucial in eventually smashing the gangs who are carrying out these robberies.  It's vital that information is shared to the local authorities.  Even the most inconspicuous piece of information could prevent a robbery or attack"

Phone scammers are targeting Enniscorthy residents too - Mythen

Cllr Johnny Mythen has warned people to be vigilant of phone scams after being contacted by several constituents  recently.  The Vice-Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council said that cybercriminals were no longer staying on line and were increasingly engaged in ringing homes and claiming to be representing reputable organisations like Microsoft and Dell.

Cllr Mythen said;

"This international criminal activity has long operated in other countries, but now  it's happening right here in Enniscorthy.  Local people are reporting that they are getting  bogus phone calls from individuals who claim to represent  trusted organisations.  They will tell you that there's a serious problem with your computer or smart phone, gain your trust, and then ask for personal details which they will use to gain access to your bank accounts or steal your identity."

"These cybercriminals will often claim to represent one of the following reputable institutions; Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Centre, Microsoft Tech Support, Microsoft Support, Windows Technical Department Support Group or Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team).  Do not under any circumstances purchase  services or software from these callers and also ask them immediately if there is a fee involved with this call.  Never provide them with your credit card information and never give them remote access to your computer, even if they claim that there is a serious problem with it."

"These scams are becoming more and more prevalent.  Unfortunately with new technology comes new ways to rip you off.  Be aware and alert to phone calls requesting any private information or personal details.  Other scams to watch for are emails claiming that you have won the lotto in a foreign country despite not having purchased a ticket.  They will ask you to cover the admin costs or ask for your bank account details so the money can be transferred.  Another common scam is by means of text congratulating you on winning a substantial prize which can be claimed by ringing a special premium rate number to arrange for collection."

SUSI grants must be processed on time this year - O' Súilleabháin

A local teacher and spokesperson for Sinn Féin has said that Wexford students cannot afford a repeat of last year's SUSI grant scheme debacle.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin called on local government TDs to insure that their administration guarantee that Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) will process third level grant applications and payments on time for the 2013/2014 academic year.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Last year we heard horror stories from County Wexford students who found themselves without money for the most basic provisions because of the failure of the governments 'revolutionary' SUSI programme.  Many local students were forced to drop out due to the economic hardships they were experiencing.  All this because thousands of applications were delayed, rejected in error, lost and, even now, some remain outstanding. We cannot have a repeat of that fiasco this year."

"On top of all the hardships already incurred by affected students, those with fees that remain outstanding will not be entitled to graduate."

"Last year the government introduced SUSI to replace the work previously carried out very efficiently by VECs and County Councils as their innovate measure to improve the pay out of college grants.  It was a complete failure from the start and many would have very real concerns that the same thing will happen this year."

"Local government TDs, Deputy Paul Kehoe, Minister Brendan Howlin and Deputy Liam Twomey need to represent the students of this county now by insuring that their government does not allow SUSI to collapse for a second year running.  They need to move now because it will be too late when students are hungry, impoverished and being forced to drop out in October."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sinn Féin choose O' Connell for New Ross

A Foulkesmills farmer has been chosen to contest next years local elections in the New Ross district for Sinn Féin.  Oisin O' Connell, a trained economist, was chosen at a packed election convention in the Horse and Hound, Ballinaboola last night.

Speaking after being elected unanimously to represent Sinn Féin in New Ross, Mr O' Connell said;

"The New Ross district has been crippled by the austerity policies of this government and their predecessors.  Unemployment is rampant and communities have been purged of their young people, who through no fault of their own have been forced to emigrate to find work.  A change of direction is long overdue."

"Sinn Féin have stood against the policies of austerity from the beginning.  We have offered fully costed, solid alternatives which have been ignored by the very people who got us into this economic mess.  As a Sinn Féin candidate, I pledge to push for stimulus and job creation in South Wexford and to oppose the failed plan of cuts, cuts and more cuts which has clearly not delivered economic recovery."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cherishing all the children of the nation equally

County Wexford Sinn Féin Back to School Paper 2013


Never before have so many Irish families found themselves struggling to equip their children to go back to school in September.  A combination of five years of recession, failed government austerity measures and an unwillingness by successive Ministers for Education to tackle the very obvious burdens within the system have created a situation where many parents in County Wexford will borrow, let other bills go unpaid and even cut back on food just to meet the back to school costs.

The Irish Proclamation of 1916 laid out the very progressive ideal that the state would cherish 'all the children of the nation equally'.  A century later, this ideal does not hold up to reality.  Its estimated that one in five Irish children have gone to bed hungry and woke up cold on a regular basis in the past year.

Social benefits like the back to school clothing and footwear allowance and childrens allowance are not sufficient for families who are in serious debt and mortgage arrears.  Despite the best efforts of parents across the land, children are going to school hungry, without proper clothing or equipment.

Article 42.4 of the Constitution states, “The State shall provide for free primary education”.  Clearly this is not the case and it is our children who are suffering as a result.

2013 Survey

In order to gauge an accurate view of the expenses faced by parents of school children in County Wexford today, local Sinn Féin commissioned their second annual Back to School Survey.  The survey was completed by just over four hundred parents from New Ross to Gorey during the months of June and July 2013.

The findings of the survey have been summarised here;

91% of parents surveyed find back to school time expensive

62% of parents surveyed find school books to be the biggest expense during the back to school period.  29% cited school uniforms, while 6% said footwear and 3% identified school transport as the biggest expense.

83% of parents surveyed find secondary school to be the most expensive period in a child’s education.

96% of those parents surveyed felt that any cuts to, or the introduction of means testing to the children’s allowance would impact seriously upon their families.

91% of parents surveyed believe that school crests that could be affixed to a supermarket-bought school jumper should be made available to cut the high costs of school uniforms.

81% of parents surveyed said that the introduction of a book rental scheme in all schools would cut education costs. 

89% of parents surveyed find that the children’s allowance is not adequate to meet the cost of sending children to school in 2012.

56% of parents surveyed are in receipt of the back to school allowance.

57% of parents surveyed said that they would like to see schools switch to using laptops, e-books and iPads in order to cut down on the expense of school books, writing materials and constant updates to the school curriculum.

48% of parents surveyed spend over €350 on back to school expenses.  39% of them spend more than €400.

19% of parents surveyed believe that the back to school allowance should be available to all parents while a further 56% felt that the back to school allowance should be available to all families but means tested.

7% of parents surveyed are forced to sell personal belongings to finance back to school expenses.  Another 13% rely upon loans taken out from the provident and other door to door loan agencies.

Comments from Parents

Its a worry on us from the time they get the holidays.  You're trying to think of what else you could cut out to make sure they have everything they need

Voluntary contributions are not voluntary.  Its just another bill and if you dont pay it, your child is stigmatised

The last two years I borrowed money off the provident but I wont even be able to do that this year.

He ripped his new jumper at the end of September.  We had only been able to afford one.  We went without food to get a new one so he wouldnt be laughed at.  Its like a third world country.

Our proposals;

Stop further government budget cuts to our education system. 

Make school crests that can be easily affixed to supermarket bought school uniform jumpers available.  An average school jumper costs around €60 when its true value is less than a third of this price. 

Establish a book-lending scheme across all primary and secondary schools in the county.  Such a scheme should be centralised and would see books provided free of cost to schools for children’s use.

Abolish the charge for the leaving certificate, junior cert and the mocks.

Extend eligibility for the Back to School Allowance to include all families in receipt of Family Income Supplement in addition to those in receipt of social welfare.

Provide every primary school child in the state with a free lunch meal.  Its been estimated that one in five children have gone to school hungry at some point since the recession began.

Wexford County Council should begin consultation with the Department of Education, every school in the county and suppliers of electronic tablets and similar devices in order to launch Wexford as the first county to go completely over to digital learning.  If the tax on digital devices used for learning was to be removed in line with school books and attempts were made by the state to do a deal with providers of such devices, then digital learning would be considerably cheaper over the course of a child’s education.

Oppose third level fees through any guise and reform the grants system to take into account the real costs of going to college.

End the system where schools are reliant on voluntary contributions from parents by raising the capitation grants to cover the real cost of running a school.  An estimated 76% of parents are requested to make voluntary contributions to schools, amounting to €130 on average per child.  Capitation grants which pay for the day-to-day costs of running the school were reduced by 2% in 2011 and a further 1.5% last year.  These cuts combined with the freezing of the summer improvements scheme is making it increasingly difficult for schools to meet their daily running and maintenance costs.

Abolish the post primary transport scheme which unfairly discriminates against students in relation to where they live.  The cost of school transport should be capped at €100 per year, with free transport for primary school children.

End the state subsidy for private education and cap the salaries of university and college heads at €100,000.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kelly commends customs drug seizure

A Wexford Borough Councillor has commended the customs team that seized €1.5 million of heroin in Rosslare Europort today.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said the huge haul had no doubt been destined for the towns and villages of the south east, including Wexford town which has seen a worrying increase in people seeking help for heroin addiction in recent months.

"The customs officers at Rosslare Europort have done another huge service for this county and the whole of the south east," Cllr Kelly said.  "The 10.26kg of heroin seized by them today was destined our local town and surrounding areas across the region.  This drug has been a cause of misery and death across this country and every effort to eradicate it from our community must be made."

"Recently there has been a worrying increase in people seeking help for heroin addiction in the Wexford area.  We can't hide our heads in the sand and pretend that heroin is only a problem for cities like Dublin and Limerick when it's clear that it has penetrated every town and village in the region.  This huge bust indicates the potential market that dealers believe now exists in the south east.  Local politicians need to combat the threat posed by this drug now and stop pretending that our town is somehow immune to its growth."