O’Murchú: EU Solidarity needed over Brexit

There can be ‘no blinking whatsoever’ by EU negotiators when it comes to the Brexit endgame, a Dundalk TD has said, as new figures from the Revenue show that most export businesses in Louth have a customs number.

Sinn Féin’s Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú raised a number of Brexit-related issues in Leinster House recently. During a debate on Pre-European Council statements, he said: ‘We are being told this is coming down to governance, a level playing field and fishing rights. It looks like this is a game being played by a British Government seeking fishing rights on which it does not seem to have the capacity to follow through.

‘Whether we are talking about the withdrawal agreement or the possibility of a free trade agreement, this is about mitigating the worst aspects of Brexit. Some of that will be within our control but not all of it will be.

‘There is a belief that this British Government is literally playing games because approximately 45% of exports from Britain go to the European Union. It requires a deal as much as anybody else.

‘I could not say I could ever trust the British Government, and one could not trust this British Government in particular. We must ensure we can maintain the level of European solidarity and that there is no blinking whatsoever’.

He made the comments against the backdrop of the ‘renewed threat’ of the Internal Markets Bill and the possible introduction of a Finance Bill by the British Government, that could, Deputy Ó Murchú said, ‘undermine the Irish Protocol’.

Hauliers, he said, are also facing the vista of Dublin Port being clogged with freight traffic and lorries having to ‘drive around’ until there is space.

Deputy Ó Murchú also raised the issue of how the French port of Calais has not allowed for an exemption for Irish goods exported through the land bridge in Britain.

Tanáiste Leo Varadkar said he would meet the French minister for European Affairs at the weekend to discuss this and other issues.

Meanwhile, Minister Paschal Donohoe has revealed, following a parliamentary question from Deputy Ó Murchú that, according to Revenue, ‘1,374 businesses in Co. Louth are currently registered for customs and therefore have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number’.

Revenue has also said that ‘94% of imports from and 99% of exports to the UK in 2019 undertaken by businesses in Co. Louth were undertaken by businesses that have an EORI number’.

In addition, the minister said that Revenue initially determined that it required 600 additional staff.

In the period between September 2018 and October 2019, Revenue assigned over 580 staff to Brexit related roles. Revenue recently re-assessed its requirements and determined that it will require approximately 300 staff in addition to the 600 already approved.

Revenue is currently recruiting and training these staff and that as an integrated tax and customs administration, it will deploy resources to quickly confront any risks as they emerge.

Ó Murchú: Acceleration of Broadband is Imperative

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Broadband and Communications, Ruairí Ó Murchú TD has welcomed the commitment by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to ‘technically and commercially assess the plans to accelerate the National Broadband Plan’.

Mr Ó Murchú made a number of recommendations around the survey, design, build and connection aspect of the National Broadband Plan commenting on the number of community accessible Broadband Connection Points that have yet to go live.

He said: ‘I welcome NBIs commitment to provide the Minister for Transport and Communication Networks an update on the possible acceleration of timeframes in early 2021.

‘Households just outside of Dundalk and Drogheda in my own constituency face the situation where neighbouring households and townlands have access to broadband through private operators while they do not.

‘In Dundalk 2,770 households have been given the timeframe of August – October 2021 for an anticipated date for connection.

‘I urged NBI given the proximity of private operators and existing infrastructure in areas, that short-term solutions be considered.

‘I welcome the commitment made today by NBI to approach private operators to discuss short term solutions for these households.

‘The National Broadband Plan aims to have 544,000 homes, schools, farms and businesses fitted with a fibre connection by 2025. There will be households waiting five years for a broadband connection and the survey and design phase must take into consideration the fastest option for household connection.

‘The announcement by National Broadband Ireland of a team solely focused on the acceleration of all aspects of the broadband rollout is positive and I look forward to receiving the detailed monthly updates they have committed to.

‘At a time when many people are working from home, we need to ensure more than ever that households have access to the broadband service they need and deserve.

‘It is imperative that this project is delivered as soon as possible’.

Louth SF & Adams extend Condolences on death of Saeb Erekat, Palestine.

Former Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has extended his “deepest condolences and solidarity to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the death of Saeb Erekat who has died as a result of Covid-19”.

Gerry Adams said:

“Ba mhaith liom mo chombhrón a thabhairt do chlann Erekat. It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Saeb Erekat. In the course of my visits to the Middle East and as part of Sinn Féin’s long relationship with the Palestinian people I had the pleasure of meeting Saeb Erekat. 

“As the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and as the chief negotiator for the PLO, Saeb was steadfast in his defence of the rights of the people of Palestine to freedom and independence. He was committed dialogue and peace and to the creation of a genuine peace process in the Middle East that would resolve all of the relationships and ensure a peaceful, democratic future for the people of that region.

“In 2014 during the Israeli assault on Gaza Saeb made time to brief me about the desolation and destruction being inflicted on the citizens of that besieged area by the Israeli government. He worked hard to secure a humanitarian ceasefire in the face of Israeli rejections.

“Saeb was very conscious of the long positive relationship between the Irish and Palestinian people. He thanked the people of Ireland for their ongoing support for the Palestinian people.

“Saeb will be missed by his comrades, his family and the Palestinian people. As they and we seek to advance the peaceful and democratic objectives to which he dedicated his life there is an onus on the Irish government, at this important juncture in international relations, to implement past Oireachtas motions and recognise the state of Palestine.”

Councillor Pearse McGeough on behalf of Louth Sinn Fein said “this is sad news for the Palestinian people and also for those who support the cause of Palestinians. Saeb was an inspiration to all those who love or desire freedom throughout the world. Saeb was always a good friend of Ireland and he will be sorely missed.

“I think it is incumbent upon the Irish Government to stop paying lip service to the Palestinians and recognise the State of Palestine already passed in Oireachtas motions.

“To all Saeb’s family, friends and comrades I extend on behalf of the Party in Louth, our sincere condolences.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis”


Cllr Antóin Watters: Gyles Quay Projects One Step Closer

Cllr Watters said “earlier in the year I had a road safety meeting with Louth County Council and highlighted the junction at Bush Primary School requesting road safety signs and road markings. I am delighted that the school has been awarded €13,500 to enable these works to be carried out.”

There was also good news for Gyles Quay. Cllr Watters said “Local man Niall Ferguson and I met with a Council engineer earlier this year to discuss a project which would see improvements to the Gyles Quay area in the form of an upgrade. Following on from that meeting we have secured €50,000 through Clár and we are looking forward to works starting which will see landscaping, new bins, benches and an upgrade of the public toilets.”

Cllr Watters however was disappointed that his application for a bus shelter at Grange Cross, through Cooley Community Alert, was unsuccessful but promised that “I will continue to pursue all avenues until we have that bus shelter up.”

Cllr Watters concluded “it is always good to see your hard work coming to fruition and this is one of those days. This is a good day for the Peninsula.”

Ó Murchú: Dealgan Families Deserve Closure

The families of those who died during the Covid-19 outbreak in Dealgan Nursing Home in Dundalk ‘deserve answers and the government has to find a way to give them closure’, Deputy Ruairi Ó Murchú has said.

The Dundalk TD was speaking after families who lost loved ones in the nursing home earlier this year met Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister with Responsibility for Older People, Mary Butler to push for a public inquiry into what happened at the Toberona facility.

Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘I know that families were somewhat deflated following the meeting, but they pushed the ministers hard for a public inquiry into what happened at Dealgan.

‘Because of that, Minister Donnelly has told the families he will come back to them in the next few weeks. The government has to step up to the plate on this issue and has limited time to do so.

‘The Dealgan families want the truth about what happened to their loved ones. Thanks to their persistence and tenacity, they have managed to get a lot of information through Freedom Of Information (FOI) and some of this is disputed by Dealgan.

‘The only way for the truth to come out is through a public inquiry.

‘There is no time to wait. On Friday, it was revealed that there are five nursing homes in the State on the HSE’s ‘red’ list, where they are in need of significant assistance.

‘In addition to the truth about Dealgan, the families also want to ensure that the same situation never happens again. Again, the only mechanism is a public inquiry.

‘I have spoken to the HSE in this region last week about issues around nursing homes and they advised me there is better communication, infection control and PPE supplies than there were at the beginning of April.

 ‘I hope the ministers reflect on what they heard from Dealgan families and go back to them with a constructive, truth-finding mechanism’.