Monday, February 24, 2014

Rural Post Offices are under attack - Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly during the campaign to reopen the Duncormick Post Office
A Wexford Councillor is calling on the government to put faith in An Post and stop the downgrading of our postal network.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said that he supported giving post offices more responsibilities instead of withdrawing services as the Fine Gael/Labour coalition now plan to do.

"Almost 380 post offices have closed in this state in the last decade," Cllr Kelly said, "Many more have been downgraded.  In many cases the local communities were given no warning that they were about to lose this vital community service, as was the case when the post office in Duncormick closed suddenly in 2012."

"This government is currently engaged in plans that could destroy our post office network forever.  Attempts are under way to move social benefit payments away from An Post.  This would be a major blow to the viability of post offices, especially small rural based ones."

Duncormick Post Office was closed without explanation in May 2012. It has never reopened.

"Pro government spokespeople will say that we have the third highest ratio of post offices to population in Europe.  This may be true but only goes to highlight the social importance of these stations.  In a country that lacks a proper rural public transport service, the local post office has become a vocal point for the community."

"Sinn Féin supports giving our post offices more responsibility instead of reducing their capacity to serve.  An Post should be given the opportunity to take over motor tax renewals, rents and other government payment services.  Withdrawal and lodgement services should also be made available at post offices across the state."

Traffic jam chaos is danger to school kids - Roche

An unmanageable build up of traffic outside Bridgetown Vocational College during school pickups and drop offs is a danger to pedestrians and motorists, especially students according to a local community activist.  Mick Roche claims that a lack of parking caused by a failure on the County Councils part to efficiently plan for the development of the surrounding area is to blame.

"The build up of traffic at school times is now completely unmanageable," The Sinn Féin local election candidate said, "Children are crossing the road to meet their lifts while oncoming traffic is trying to manoeuvre through the chaos.  It's only a matter of time before an accident happens."

"At the moment there is no pedestrian crossing on either of the roads that border the school grounds.  There are no effective traffic calming measures in place.  There are no footpaths on the far side of the road in front of the main entrance.  There is also no authoritative figure to guide the flow of traffic.  In other built up areas where schools exist, often with smaller catchment areas, lollypop people are employed to safely get students across pedestrian passes."

"The fault for this situation lies with the complete lack of planning by local authorities during the boom year’s rapid development of Bridgetown village and the expansion of the student pool in the schools catchment area."

"We will be petitioning the County Council to make use of local waste ground to accommodate parked cars.  If this is impossible, traffic calming measures and safe pedestrian crossings need to be put in place to prevent a potential accident in the future."

O’ Connell supports temporary replacement while Apex is being repaired

Following severe damage to the Apex leisure centre during the recent storms which have put the popular family destination out of action for the immediate future, a local Sinn Féin rep has joined calls to make use of a closed gym as a temporary replacement.  Oisin O’ Connell said that the idea for the council to use the now closed Woodbine Leisure Centre to replace the Apex during refurbishments was certainly worth investigating.

“The Apex represented a focal point for people to meet and a great destination for families in New Ross town,” Mr O’ Connell said, “It will be missed during the refurbishments that are unavoidable following recent storm damage.”

“Recently I was approached by a group of young New Ross men who are proposing that another local leisure centre which went out of business in the last year could be used as a temporary replacement.  The Woodbine Leisure Centre on the Woodbine Road went into receivership a year ago.  The building could easily be restored and put back into action.  In fact, much of the gym equipment is still on site.”

“I am asking New Ross Town Council to investigate the possibility of taking over the Woodbine facility while repairs are being done.  It would allow staff to be rehired and the service to be restored long before the apex repairs are finalised.  It would also allow an abandoned building in one of our industrial estates to be reopened.  This would attach more people into the area and would surely send out a strong signal that our town is adaptable and open for business.”

Use tax revenue on cigarettes to help smokers quit - Kelly

78% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes goes directly to the government in the form of excise duty and VAT.  Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has called for this money to be used to subsidise proven methods that can help smokers with a will to quit to kick the habit.

"A war is currently being fought with the tobacco industry," Cllr Kelly said, "Health experts estimate that manufacturers of tobacco related products must recruit fifty new customers every single day to replace smokers who have died or quit.  The answer from these experts is prevention.  The majority of smokers begin the habit in their teens so it is hoped that higher prices and bland packaging can stop young people from beginning."

"The tragedy here is that seasoned smokers are expected left with two choices; continue to smoke at high cost or pay a significant amount of money to access proven treatments.  There is another option that is available to our government."

"Money brought in through taxation on tobacco products could be used to subsidise proven treatment methods for smokers who wish to kick the habit.  These products such as patches should be made available free of charge to those people with a true desire and will to quit."

"7000 people die in Ireland every year from smoking related illnesses.  While Sinn Féin supports the introduction of preventative measures such as standardised packaging, this will not save people who have been smoking for years.  It's time to use the revenue generated from smoking taxes to help smokers quit once and for all."

Mythen calls for 24/7 mental health unit for County Wexford

The Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council has called on the Minister of Health to provide a full time mental health acute unit for County Wexford.  Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen had a motion to this effect passed at last week’s town council meeting.

“County Wexford has one of the highest rates of suicide per capita on this island,” Cllr Mythen said, “In fact this county has seen twice the national average of deaths by suicide.  Successive governments promised that a full time bedded mental health unit would remain in the County even after the closure of St Senans.  This has not been the case.”

“Many families who lost loved ones are concerned that alleged bed shortages for people suffering mental health issues which require immediate medical intervention may have cost lives.  Time and again we have heard about these tragedies yet nothing is done to prevent them from happening again.”

“A motion passed by Enniscorthy Town Council has called upon the Minister of Health, Dr James Reilly, in conjunction with the HSE, to provide a much needed 24/7 mental health acute unit in County Wexford.”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Compensation must be made available for power cut spoiled food

Hundreds of homes across County Wexford who have lost perishable food because their freezers were out of action due to recent power outages should be entitled to compensation according to a local Councillor.  Cllr Anthony Kelly says he aims to have the matter raised in the Dail this week by the Sinn Féin Leinster House team.

"We are looking at thousands of euro worth of frozen food having been spoiled due to the recent power outages," Cllr Kelly said, "Though no one can be blamed for the storms, and the ESB workers battled bravely in extreme conditions to restore power as quickly as possible, there is still an onus on the state to ensure that some form of compensation is made available to these households who have lost supplies."

"In the six counties and the UK consumers can claim compensation for their energy distributer for unscheduled power cuts.  Compensation can also be claimed for loss of perishable goods due to lack of power."

"The government must enact emergency legislation to ensure that energy distributers can cover the costs of lost food for families across the country.  If this cannot be done, then these seemingly more minor costs must be taken into account and included in the national storm compensation plan."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Roche renews call for culling of dangerous trees on rural roads

A local election candidate has renewed his calls for the culling of dangerous trees on roads across rural Wexford.  Sinn Fein’s Mick Roche said that the recent storms and the sheer volume of trees which had fell across roads and public areas was proof that a plan of work to cut back trees and foliage had to be implemented immediately.

“Last week four main routes in my own area were completely blocked by fallen trees,” Mr Roche said, “Had anyone bothered to conduct a simple survey, the fallen trees could easily have been identified as being in a dangerous state.  We are incredibly lucky that no one was seriously injured or killed during the recent storms as the sheer volume of trees and foliage that came down is awesome.”

“Luck has a nasty habit of running out and sooner or later a bad accident will occur.  The County Council must act before that can happen.  A countywide survey needs to be implemented to identify potentially dangerous roadside trees and then a prompt culling programme needs to be engaged.”

“Sinn Féín is not calling for a mass wipe out of trees across the county.  We would support the idea of sowing replacement saplings for every tree that has to be removed, but public safety must come first.  Falling trees are not just a nuisance to motorists; they are a very dangerous hazard that must be neutralised.”

“It would be possible to create temporary employment for people across the County who could be hastily trained and brought in to strengthen council teams as they go about this culling operation.  Such a job of work will cost money but maybe the €800 million being taken from motor tax revenue to fund Irish Water would be better spent in an effort to avert a potential disaster and save lives.”

Albatros safe demolition is a matter of urgency

Following on from the severe damage caused to the old albatros factory and the surrounding area in a recent storm, New Ross Sinn Féin has called for plans to safely demolish the abandoned complex to be moved forward.  At a meeting of the local branch last night it was stressed that this was an issue of public safety and members admitted that they were shocked and angry that the local council had allowed no action to be taken up until now.

The old Albatros factory demolition was due to be completed in three to five years by the owners of the site, Thomas McDonagh & Son.  Recent storms have caused huge damage to the site and led to debris being scattered across the locality.  Not only was flying debris a threat to public safety, but the material itself is the highly dangerous asbestos. 

The executive of New Ross Sinn Féin commended local council workers for cleaning up the area but stated that it was completely unfair that the people of New Ross have to live under these conditions.  They posed the obvious question, how long before another storm causes more asbestos to be blown throughout the area, onto public roads and into people’s gardens?

McDonagh & Sons stated last year that the site posed ‘no health, safety or public risk.’ Clearly this is not the case and the given timescale for the demolition of this old factory can no longer be accepted by the local council.  Local Sinn Féin is moving to have this issue raised in the Dail next week to ensure that emergency safe demolition of the albatros complex is prioritised.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fishing funding welcomed but much more support required – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed the announcement that funding will be made available by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to help fishing communities like Kilmore Quay recover from the recent storms.  The Sinn Féin Councillor stressed however that much more support was needed and that communities like Kilmore Quay had been on their knees long before the first winds blew this year.

“We welcome the release of emergency funding for coastal communities who have been battered by the recent storms,” Cllr Kelly said, “But this funding will not cover the full extent of the losses of equipment and damage to vessels and tackle.  It will not cover the loss of at least six full weeks of work due to adverse weather.  It will not cover the cost of having to pay in advance to move vessels to safe ground in the middle of a storm.  It will not make up for years of neglect.”

“In the immediate future we will be pushing that the Minister makes pay outs from this scheme prompt and simple, with a scale back on paperwork in the circumstances.  We will also urge the Department to prepare a further emergency package as we have not seen the last storm of the season.  In the long term, Sinn Féin will continue to work with communities like Kilmore Quay and strive to end the state criminalisation and systematic neglect of our fishing fleets.”

Marshmeadows flooding raises need for state disaster insurance

Gerry Adams and Oisin O' Connell touring the Marshmeadows area
“There is simply no logic or justification for a business to be told that you cannot get insurance because you are based on a flood plain,” according to local Sinn Féin election candidate Oisin O’ Connell, “If that is what we are to accept then areas like Marshmeadows will very quickly be void of all business activity and left abandoned.”

Mr O’ Connell was speaking as he toured the Marshmeadows flood site with Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams recently.  He told Mr Adams that he believed strongly in the establishment of a limited state insurer for emergency zones which simply could not be covered by private insurance.

“Such provisions are already in place in many other countries, including the United States,” Mr O’ Connell said, “It is necessary.  How else do you expect businesses to operate in such areas? Maybe we have accepted it for so long because we have got lucky and this is the first year where floods have been consistent and severe all at once.”

“The businesses in Marshmeadows and elsewhere were told that they could not get insurance because they were on a flood plain.  In such a scenario there has to exist a fall back.  In this case, a state insurer who will cover the operation and pay out in the event of a disaster like the one we have witnessed in recent weeks.”

Mr O’ Connell said that such a measure needed to be put in place now for future floods but admitted that it would do little to help the businesses that have been impacted on this year.  “I welcome the fact that the government has announced a compensation fund but this must be made easily accessible and pay outs must be quick or else many businesses that have incurred heavy losses will go to the wall before they can be aided.”

Roche asks Hogan to visit Bridgetown and drink its tap water

A Bridgetown man running for local council has sent a letter to Minister Phil Hogan asking him to pay a visit to South Wexford and drink a glass of water from the fardystown water scheme.  Mick Roche said that he had preserved a glass of water taken from a house in Hazelwood estate and wanted to see Minister Hogan drink it before the he even considered asking the people of South Wexford to pay a water tax.
Liath Ní Riada and Mick Roche in the home of Tracy McCabe last week
“I’ve sent Minister Hogan an invitation to come to Bridgetown and drink a glass of water which came out of the tap at a house in Hazelwood last week,” Mr Roche said, “The water is coloured and it’s impossible to smell it without feeling nauseous.  There are children living in the house where this water came out of the tap.  Their parents had the local council test the water last year and it was deemed fit to drink.  I want to see just how fit the Minister will be after he drinks it.”

“Minister Hogan famously said that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs when asked to explain the squandering of €85 million by Irish Water on consultant’s fees.  If the Minister expects us to stand idly by while he puts a tax on us for water that is not fit for rats yet alone humans, then he will have to adhere to his own mantra and break a few eggs.  Come down to Bridgetown and have a glass of this putrid water and then we’ll have a talk about water charges, if you are still standing Minister.”
Copy of letter sent by Mr Roche to Minister Hogan

Mr Roche insisted this was not a publicity stunt and said that families getting their water from the Fardystown scheme faced dirty water at regular intervals over the course of a year.  “It can be clear for weeks and then it will get coloured again,” he said, “But the smell rarely goes now.  At least that’s how it seems.  I wouldn’t dream of giving it to my dog, and certainly not to my kids.  If Minister Hogan is truly worried about building a sustainable water conservation programme, which is what his tax is supposed to be about, he will visit us in Bridgetown and take the Fardystown water test.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kelly demands answers over boat mooring charge during storm

Cllr Anthony Kelly chairing the recent public meeting in support of the local fishing community in Kilmore Quay
A Wexford Councillor has called an emergency meeting between Wexford County Council and a delegation from the Kilmore Quay fishing community following a recent public meeting in the Stella Maris Centre.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said that forcing Kilmore Quay fishermen and women to pay in advance to move their boats to safety during a recent storm was outrageous and another attempt to dehumanise the crews that man our fishing fleets.

"During a recent storm, dangerous debris was being washed in against ships which had already paid an annual charge to be moored in the harbour," The Sinn Féin rep said, "Before the crews could move their vessels to safety, the harbour master demanded that another mooring fee be paid in advance.  Many of these boats fished for lobster and their owners had made no income since November.  They were left with a decision; find money somewhere or let their boats be destroyed."
Liath Ní Riada speaking to the crowd in the Stella Maris Centre

"This incident is just the latest in a steady attempt to dehumanise the Kilmore Quay fishing community and to turn them into the villains of the ongoing EU quota saga.  I chaired a recent meeting of over one hundred members of the South East fishing community in the Stella Maris Centre in Kilmore Quay which was also attended by Mary Lou McDonald TD, Martin Ferris TD and our EU candidate Liath Ní Riada.  The stories we heard that day shocked us.  As one man in the crowd said, fishermen are the only people in Ireland who fear their own armed forces, referring to the harassment that the fishing community has felt from the Irish Navy."

"Fishermen are not criminals and there is no justification for treating them in this manner.  I am facilitating an emergency meeting between Wexford County Council and a delegation from the Kilmore Quay fishing community to iron out these differences and to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."

Local man Mick Roche, who will also be contesting next Mays local elections on the Sinn Féin ticket, described the incident as deplorable and called for an immediate shift in how both local and national government treat coastal communities. 

"Many of our fishing crews only have work for half a month due to the roll out of the various quotas," he said, "They are also prevented from working due to adverse weather conditions and the damage that has been done to their vessels and equipment during the recent storms.  However, despite having no work, life is made extremely difficult for them when they visit the Department of Social Protection.  Many cannot access basic benefits when needed.  This must change immediately and Sinn Féin will liaise with Annes Street and the local fishing communities over the coming weeks and months to try and get this rectified."

Tax Payers footing full bill for Water meters

Cllr Mythen being interviewed by South East Radio recently
The Irish taxpayer is being doubled charged for water metering and will now have to foot the bill for all leaks caused as a result of their installation according to Enniscorthy Councillor Johnny Mythen.  The Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council accused the government of using taxpayer’s money to buy political kudos by granting water meter installation contracts to some of its most important supporters.

“Irish Tax Payers money is being flushed down the drain,” Cllr Mythen said, “Over €80 million has already been paid to Irish Water for consultants while another €539 million worth of contracts will go to GMC/Sierra, Coffey Northumberland Ltd, and J .Murphy and sons for installing one million meters across the country.  They charge €500 per water meter.”

“All of this is subsidised by you the tax payer through the reserved pension fund.  Not only are you personally paying for the privilege of having a meter outside your door but all this money will be recuperated back through your water bill.  Double taxation at its best.”

“Another anomaly has arisen in Dublin city where the new water metres are causing major leaks due to the antiquated piping system.  Dublin Corporation is estimating the cost to be around €20 million.  Again this tab will be paid by the tax payer.”

“It is interesting to note if you check out the directors or share holders of the companies mentioned that some are very familiar faces that appear to the fore at various government functions.  Now isn't that a coincidence.  Imagine it won't be long before there is a bid for Irish water on the cards, throwing the tax payer out with the bath water again.”

Fishermen should not be electronically monitored like criminals - Roche

A candidate in the upcoming local elections has called on all candidates to sign a pledge denouncing the use of electronic monitoring equipment to criminalise local fishermen.  Sinn Féin candidate Mick Roche said that the EU were in the process of branding hard working fishermen in a similar category to paedophiles and demanded that local government finally make a stand for these forgotten communities.
After a recent public meeting in support of local fishermen, in the Saltees Chipper, Kilmore Quay
Mr Roche said;

"Only two groups of people will be electronically tagged in our society according to the government and the EU; sex criminals and fishermen.  This is completely unacceptable and yet another attempt by the powers that be to criminalise a group of people who have been consistently abandoned.  This policy of criminalisation is very real and exists because fishing communities are uniting and fighting back.  This is an attempt to turn public opinion against them and it will fail."

"Where Sinn Féin accepts that the use of systems such as VMS and AIS to monitor vessels positions in view of safety and potential rescue operations is necessary, we cannot see the justification in using electronic equipment to monitor a trawlers daily catch.  Such a measure sends out a false message that fishing crews cannot be trusted, that they are wrong to contemplate landing even an iota over any quota and that there is a necessity to police this community because they are against conservation.  This is completely wrong."

"The fishing community in Kilmore Quay supports conservation and knows more about it than many in either the IFI or the SFPA.  Trawlers are sticking to quotas, even though they know that many of their EU competitors are not doing the same and by doing so themselves they are being faced with extinction.  Trawler crews are busy and do not have the time to enter in the data required under the electronic monitoring system.  They would have to hire on another crew member to do so but cannot even afford to pay the crews they have at the moment."

"Local government has unfortunately been very quite on the plight of our fishing communities.  They have stood idly by while Minister Coveney has insulted the fishermen by consistently refusing to meet with them.  They have said nothing as trawlers have disappeared and more and more young fishermen have left the industry and emigrated.  They have put up no resistance against the criminalisation of communities like Kilmore Quay.  I am calling on every single person contesting the next elections to make a pledge to these fishing communities to stand against every aspect of this criminalisation policy and to truly represent this forgotten minority."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Adams visits New Ross to see flood damages

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has reiterated his call for a specific aid package to assist householders and small businesses affected by recent flooding and for a more strategic approach by Government to the issue of flood defences.
The Sinn Féin Leader was speaking today as he visited New Ross, County Wexford to see the damage caused by recent flooding in the town.
Accompanied by local Sinn Féin representative Oisín O'Connell, Mr Adams was shown the devastation caused to a number of local business premises in New Ross.
Gerry Adams said:
"The damage caused to local businesses in New Ross by the flooding from tidal river water has been considerable.
"Several businesses are currently unable to operate. Others are engaged in substantial repair work.
"The issue of insurance cover has arisen here as elsewhere.
"I asked the Taoiseach twice last week if the Government would consider a special state-funded aid package for those households and businesses affected by flooding but who, through know fault of their own, can't get insurance cover. I repeat that call today.
"The Government needs also to deal urgently with the fact that there is, as yet, no state-wide strategic plan for flood defences.
"Considering the threat now posed by flood waters to hundreds of towns and villages across the state, this should be a key Government priority."

The South East faces serious challenges and real opportunities

Full text of Oisin O' Connells Ard Fheis speech

Liath Ní Riada, Cllr Johnny Mythen, Martin Ferris TD and Oisin O' Connell
"We have an unemployment rate almost 5% higher, and people attending third level education by over 5% lower, than the statewide average.

We have one of the highest rates of employment in agriculture and manufacturing, but among the tiniest rates of Research & Development in both private enterprise and higher education, that would add value to both.

All the previous are connected, and all need realistic, joined-up thinking to create a virtuous cycle of success.

We have a valuable network of physical, intellectual, and social capital embedded in our communities - but neglected, hamstrung, sabotaged by institutional inertia and the political abdication of responsibility.

Our Institutes of Technology campuses, our rail and port infrastructure, our dormant sugarbeet industry, our fishing, forestry and biofuel potential all want to soar, but languish.

It's not enough only to fight to protect the social safety net that catches us when we fall - we need to remove the nets above us that prevent us from soaring.

Senator Cullinane as official rapporteur has produced the official joined-up thinking  for the oireachtas in the South East Economic Development plan. The plan has broad acceptance, it is doable, it deals with all the above and much more.

No matter who you are, and who you vote for, make sure that they make Senator Cullinane's South East Economic Development plan their number one priority. And the best way to guarantee that, is to make your priority: Sinn Féin, Number 1."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Local branch of Sinn Féin thanks people of Wexford for support

This statement was issued today by County Wexford Sinn Féin in the aftermath of the highly successful Ard Fheis in the Wexford Opera House.

“The local branch of Sinn Féin would like to offer sincere gratitude to the people of Wexford for the kind welcome which they gave to delegates and visitors who attended our Ard Fheis in the Opera House over the weekend.”

“While there are too many local businesses to thank individually, we would like to pay special homage to the staff of the Opera House, Whites Hotel, The Arts Centre, The Fusion Cafe, Mooneys-on-the-Quay, Fifty One Bar and Grill, An Tobar, The Red Door Gallery and to the local Gardaí, Wexford Borough Council, the local Tourism Board, the Chamber of Commerce and local media.”

“Many delegates have already booked another trip to Wexford and the county has clearly made a lasting impression on everyone who attended the 2014 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis.”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kelly welcomes new pedestrian crossing for Murrintown

The provision of a new pedestrian crossing in Murrintown village has been welcomed by a local Sinn Féin Councillor.  After constant lobbying to Wexford County Council over the past few years, Cllr Anthony Kelly said he was delighted to receive news that the project has been green-lighted.

“Murrintown has badly needed traffic calming measures for many years now,” Cllr Kelly said, “After meeting with staff members at Murrintown National School last year and being shown first-hand the confusion caused by having traffic calming measures that resembled a pedestrian crossing in place, I’m delighted to announce that funding from the NRA’s low cost safety scheme will now secure a pedestrian crossing for the village.”

“The next stage of the process will involve the preparation of a design and tender package with a proposed construction start date of approximately June/July 2014.  This will involve traffic / pedestrian counts to establish the type of crossing to be installed.”

“Those local people who have campaigned to highlight the necessity of such a crossing over the past few years should be commended.  The crossing will give people accessing the post office, local school and crèche, and the church a new lease of life.”