Sinn Féin call for IT training to be offered to parents of students in remote education

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said that the government must recognise the important role being played by parents with regards to distance learning. 
 
MacManus highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many parents and children using technologies for the first time, in order to access education, and said that supports must be in place for parents who may not have a high level of computer skills.
 
The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
 
“Recently we voted on a non-legislative report on digital education policy. The report highlighted many of the disparities between the 27 EU states and within the countries themselves in terms of digital skills. Worryingly, the report highlighted that 42 per cent of EU citizens still lack even basic digital skills.”
 
“We need our government to recognise the increasingly important role parents and families are playing when it comes to education and distance learning. This should be done by both facilitating access to new technologies, but also support and training for teachers, learners and parents, in how to use these technologies. These supports are vital to ensure no learners are disadvantaged as we progress further into the age of online education.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough Welcomes Motion on Irish Language

Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the passing of a Council Motion last month that recognised the great work done by groups in County Louth in the promotion of the Irish language.

The Sinn Féin Councillor also wanted to mark the Irish Langauge festival of Seachtain na Gaeilge which pressed ahead with events from the beginning of the month (albeit in a different format than usual) despite the challenges thrown up by Covid restrictions.

Cllr McGeough said “Seachtain na Gaeilge is the biggest Irish Language Festival in the calendar and I proposed that Louth County Council mark this and invite Louth’s Conradh na Gaeilge to talk to members in the chamber and advise on how we can better support them in their vital work.”

The motion inspired enthusiastic debate in the chamber with Cross-Party support and even suggestions that Foras na Gaeilge could be involved in the presentation. (Foras na Gaeilge is a public body that is tasked with the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island.)

Cllr McGeough said “When you look at what is happening in the 6 counties, where our language is being used as a political football and we are having to fight for not only its promotion but also its survival, you see people coming onto the streets screaming for equal language rights. Yet here in the 26 counties where we have no real opposition to the promotion of our language we can sometimes be guilty of a complacency or a lack of appreciation for our native tongue.

“That is why I think we need to support groups like Conradh na Gaeilge, to ask them how we can help them in their work while at the same time we keep our own traditions and native tongue relevant and hopefully popular with upcoming generations.”

The full text of the motion was as follows:

Molaim go dtugann an Chomhairle seo sonrú ar an fhéile Gaeilge; Seachtain na Gaeilge, a cuireadh tús leis ar 1 Márta. Molaim go dtugann siad sonrú ar an obair iontach ar siúl ag grúpaí fá Chontae Lú leis an teanga a choinneáil beo. Is í Seachtain na Gaeilge an Fhéile Gaeilge is mó sa bhliain.  Molaim go dtugann muid cuireadh ar Chonradh na Gaeilge teacht isteach agus cur i láthair a dhéanamh don Chomhairle seo nuair a bheas sé sábhailte acu a dhéanamh, agus na bearta a féidir leis an Chomhairle seo a dhéanamh a mhíniú.

 I propose that this council mark the Irish Language Festival of Seachtain na Gaeilge, which began March 1st and that they acknowledge the fantastic work being done by groups in County Louth to keep the language alive. Seachtain na Gaeilge is the biggest Irish Language Festival in the calendar and I propose that Louth County Council mark this and invite Conradh na Gaeilge to present to this council, at a future date when restrictions allow, an outline of how an Ghaeilge could be better supported in County Louth.

 

 

 

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Time for Action over Dunleer Bank Closure

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has said the time has come for action over the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close 103 branches in Ireland including the one in Dunleer.

He was speaking after he hosted an online public meeting with Imelda Munster TD.

Cllr McGeough said “the meeting was well attended and included Independent Cllr Hugh Conlon, members of the business community and the Community Sector as well as other customers of the bank. The debate was lively and everyone had their say and we now have a plan to forge ahead to oppose the closure.”

At the meeting, Cllr McGeough pointed out that although Sinn Fein was holding a series of these meetings across the island, this was NOT a party political issue and indeed in other counties concerned Fianna Fáil Cllrs and independents had attended the meetings.

According to Cllr McGeough, “we were unable to do anything when Ulster Bank made the decision to pull out all their branches but it’s different with Bank of Ireland as they were bailed out to the tune of €4.7 billion and the Minister for Finance, on behalf of the Irish people holds a 14% shareholding in the Bank so that is the leverage we have and we need to focus on that leverage.”

He also pointed out that “Instead of having 103 small campaigns we must consolidate our efforts into a bigger campaign. There is no guarantee that we can save all 103 branches but perhaps we can save some. Pearse Doherty TD is leading the campaign but is depending on local people to get behind it. Louth will not be found wanting.”

When asked about how people can help, Cllr McGeough said “there were a number of good ideas that came from the public meeting and the time has come to forge ahead with them.

  • Email the Minister of finance to get a moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 minister@finance.gov.ie
  • Sign the uplift petition – (consolidation of signatures rather than individual petitions throughout the country)

Petition: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/keep-our-bank-branch-open?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1614717394&utm_campaign&utm_medium=myuplift&utm_source=fb-share&share=535c9548-89b7-46d0-aade-3feac6e5e09f&fbclid=IwAR33YPOSpdL6925tWaTT84_qqW-5WjI_wLhISOHAxnBfhBf1U2kBgJSMwGE

  • Send emails to your TDs – Imelda Munster TD, Ruairí Ó Murchú TD & Ged Nash TD are on record opposing the closure. We have 5 TDs in Louth:

Imelda.Munster@Oireachtas.ie

Ruairi.omurchu@oireachtas.ie

gerald.nash@oireachtas.ie

Fergus.odowd@oireachtas.ie

Peter.fitzpatrick@oireachtas.ie

  • Contact Dunleer branch telling them how valuable the branch is to the area (Telephone 041 6851108, David Duffy is the manager)
  • Banks rely on customer loyalty and traditionally people remain with the same bank regardless of what happens – tell Bank of Ireland, If you leave Dunleer, we are leaving you!

A moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 will allow us to get through this Pandemic and give us time to make a case for Dunleer branch to remain open.

Cllr McGeough: Closure of Dunleer BOI is ‘A Slap in the Face’

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has described the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close their branch in Dunleer as ‘a slap in the face to its customer in the area’.

Cllr McGeough said “Dunleer is progressive community with a strong industry base with a number of very successful community led initiatives that have worked hard to improve the quality of life for citizens and the loss of the Bank of Ireland branch in the area is a huge blow not only to those who reside in the village itself but also to the outlying surrounding areas.”

The Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 103 of its branches across Ireland with Dunleer the only branch in County Louth facing closure.

Cllr McGeough said “I am very concerned at this particular closure because it is the older people who are once again going to suffer. This pandemic has increased anxiety among our citizens and has highlighted the inequality in our society as businesses have been forced to go online while those who are not ‘tech savvy’ or ‘digitally minded’ have been left behind to fend for themselves.

“This is yet another example where big banks ‘assume’ that everyone has a computer, knows how to use a computer, has a sufficient level of literary or has adequate broadband in this rural area. This is a slap in the face for all those customers from the area that have been loyal for probably most of their lives and to make the decision in the middle of a Pandemic when people are already feeling isolated is unforgivable.”

“I am calling on the Bank of Ireland to reverse this decision and think again about the effect it would have on their customers in Dunleer.”

Sinn Féin MEP calls for a ban on Moneylenders using social media to decide on loans

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for moneylenders to be banned from using social media as a means of deciding on the credit worthiness of applicants.

MacManus was commenting after a major European report singled out a specific Irish moneylender for using this practice. The report from Finance Watch quotes Provident’s own website as stating “ As part of our ongoing commitment to understanding our customers better, we sometimes research comments and opinions made public on social media sites. We sometimes also match information on these sites with the data we hold to undertake behavioral analysis and assist with credit decisioning.”
 
MacManus said:
 
“It is shocking that a moneylender can openly admit to using social media as a means of deciding on credit worthiness. Unfortunately, as the report points out a lack of detail in EU legislation in this area means they can get away with this.
 
“The use of social media in assessing credit worthiness raises many issues of data protection. There is of course a question of basic ethics here.

“Furthermore, it also suggests that the decision making process is not adhering to any rational and accountable factors. In short, relying on social media can and will lead to bad credit decisions and consequent difficulties for borrowers.

“I support the report’s call for “detailed rules in the CCD (Consumer Credit Directive) concerning which specific information that should be used to perform a creditworthiness assessment. The assessment should be based only on information needed to allow for an adequate personal budget analysis (data on income and expenditures), including all on-going credit and debts.”
 
“I will be raising this issue with the Central Bank and the EU Commission immediately. Sinn Féin is championing legislation to cap moneylenders’ rates but as this European report show that is only one of the problems with how moneylenders operate in Ireland.  Change at state and EU level will help ordinary workers get fair credit at a fair price.”