Cllr Antóin Watters Calls For Sanctions on Brazilian Beef in EU

Antoin WattersLouth Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called for sanctions to be imposed on Brazilian beef being imported into the EU following a report last week of three processing plants in Brazil being forced to close. There is believed to be thirty companies under investigation under ‘Operation Weak Flesh’ including Brazil’s largest beef exporter JBS.

Cllr Watters visited Europe recently with a delegation of Young Farmers from the Cooley area. “I got to see at first hand the issues they are facing and it’s tough. Being a farmer is not an easy option for anyone and with Brexit looming God only knows how the farmers are going to be affected but we know it won’t be for the better.”

“Brazil would be Ireland’s main competitor in the EU beef market. The quality of Irish beef produced from grass-fed, free-roaming cattle, bred on family farms like those on the Cooley peninsula is of the highest standard. We should not have to compete with produce from countries where standards are shoddy or at times non-existent.”

Cllr Watters supported calls on the Irish Government to intervene and halt the importation of Brazilian beef into the EU as it was reported, there were ‘dangerous additives being used to bulk up poultry and salmonella-contaminated meat being exported to Europe’. It all seems to be about money with allegations of officials being bribed in order to get the required certification.”

Cllr Watters advised customers “this whole situation serves as a warning, cheaper is not better. When you buy local, you know you are getting the unique excellence of Irish beef. Our farmers should not have to compete with these ‘shoddy practices’.

Travel pass to be provided for children’s dental appointments

Imelda Munster white coatSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has welcomed the announcement that travel passes are to be provided by the HSE for primary school children in the Drogheda/ South Louth area who since January have been forced to travel to Dundalk, having been left without a local dental service. Deputy Munster raised this matter with the Minister in the Dáil several weeks ago, and expressed concern that many children do not have the means to travel to Dundalk, leaving them with no access to dental services.

Deputy Munster had suggested that a mobile dental unit might be a practical solution in the short term, however government Ministers had claimed that this was not possible for health and safety reasons, despite their use being widespread in England.

Deputy Munster also suggested, in the absence of a mobile unit, a HSE-run hourly shuttle bus to assist families with their travel needs, as they are now obliged to travel to Dundalk and Navan.

Eventually, the HSE has agreed to provide a travel pass for families who have no alternative means of travel, and who previously availed of services in the town but are now forced to attend either the service in Dundalk or Navan, a development which Deputy Munster has welcomed.

Deputy Munster said:

“Upwards of 4,800 children have been left without a service locally since the New Year, and a local dental service is not expected to open until June. I am happy to hear that the HSE has heeded my calls for a solution and that arrangements are finally being made to ensure that children whose families who do not have access to a car can still access dental care.”

The transport will be by way of rail, bus and passes will be issued prior to the dental appointment. Parents are asked to present to their local health centre in Drogheda with their dental appointment card to receive a transport pass. Failing that, other verification of their appointment can be used to make arrangements.

 

Imelda Munster criticises lack of social housing building in Louth, as council land banks lie idle.

imelda-munster-tdSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has again raised the matter of council landbanks in County Louth in the Dáil. Questioning Damien English TD, Minister of State in the Department of Housing, she asked whether the Minister’s department had completed collating the data for the landbanks available for housing and criticised the lack of progress in delivering housing for the people of Louth.

Deputy Munster said:

“The situation in County Louth is shocking, and given the scale of the housing crisis I am sure that is replicated right across the State. There are almost 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in County Louth, many of whom have been waiting more than nine years to be housed. The number of applicants on the housing waiting lists exceeds the entire supply of council-owned housing stock in County Louth, which is a shocking statistic to bring to the attention of the House.”

“Meanwhile, there are 54 acres of council-zoned landbanks throughout the county on which Louth County Council pays €3 million a year in interest only for the loans. Citizens are deprived of vital services and amenities because the council must pay such an amount in interest, while the land lies idle and barren as not a single house has yet been built.”

Deputy Munster also criticised the government’s slow progress in rolling out a proper social housing scheme, 8 months on from the launch of the Rebuilding Ireland document.

Deputy Munster:

“We are now over eight months on from the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, and the government has still not completed the mapping of the local authority landbanks. This should have been completed a long time ago, long before the publication of Rebuilding Ireland. It beggars belief that in the middle of a housing crisis the Minister had not ascertained what land belonged to local authorities across the State.”

“The Minister of State indicated there are 26 different projects but only six are being done by the local authority. The rest are from public-private partnerships and approved housing bodies. With the six developments, there will be a total of 123 homes over the next two to three years. There are 4,000 people on the housing list.

“Of those 123 homes, 20 have an unknown date of completion, seven are regeneration projects and 24 come from the acquisition of vacant units. There are three renovations included in that figure.”

“The government seems to be saying that Louth should be happy enough with 123 houses, with only a certain number being newly built, over the next three to four years, in the middle of a housing emergency.”

“It is clear as a bell that the Government’s entire policy to solve the housing crisis is developer-led and developer-driven and completely ineffective”.

 

No Borders, No Barriers, No Brexit – Sinn Féin host Public Meeting

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has today said that the Irish government must commit to working meaningfully with all political parties and all stakeholders in the aftermath of the triggering of Article 50 and the formal beginning of the Brexit process today. 

He said that ‘Brexit presents a very dangerous situation for Ireland, north and south, but that threat can be minimised and a special designated status for the north within the European Union can be secured, if all of us work together in pursuit of that goal’.

Today the British government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process which will formalise their exit from the European Union.

Sinn Féin has called for special designated status for the north of Ireland to remain in the European Union. We have done so because it is in the interests of the Irish people; for farmers, for students, for small businesses, and Irish society; for human rights protections, environmental standards, for peace and reconciliation and for infrastructure. 
 
56% of people in the north voted to Remain in the EU – that has to be respected.
 
Tomorrow, on Thursday March 30th, MEPs from across Europe will join with Martina Anderson MEP and Matt Carthy MEP at a public meeting to discuss the way forward. Louth Sinn Féin TD and Party President Gerry Adams will also address this meeting.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th March, in the Carrickdale Hotel, County Louth, at 7:30pm.
 
It will be an opportunity for you to voice your concerns to people who will have an influence on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. You, and representatives of your organisation are most welcome.
 
No Border, No Barriers, No Brexit 
Public Meeting
Thursday March 30th
7:30pm
Carrickdale Hotel, Co. Louth
All Welcome

 

Sinn Féin amendment passed at Transport Committee to push Ross into action – Imelda Munster TD

imelda-munster-tdSinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD today put forward an amendment to a motion before the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on the Bus Éireann crisis calling on all stakeholders to get involved in talks to resolve the dispute, and seeking to establish the cause of the financial crisis at Bus Éireann. The amendment to a motion proposed by Fianna Fáil was accepted by the committee. Fianna Fáil withdrew their motion and Deputy Munster’s amendment was carried.

Deputy Munster has once again called on the Minister to facilitate talks between all relevant stakeholders, including the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport to resolve the dispute.

She also called on the Minister to carry out of a full review of the Expressway service and market, and to carry out a review of loss-making routes to establish whether the over-saturation of the market is the cause of the current difficulties in Bus Éireann.

Deputy Munster said:

“Whilst I agreed with much of the original motion, I felt that it was too vague and it needed strengthening. That is why I put an amendment to the motion and I am happy that the committee supported that amendment today.

“Minister Ross has gone missing again. The situation is escalating week by week and he is refusing to do his job. I hope that by establishing the cause of the crisis we can come to a real solution. In the meantime I hope that Minister Ross will come to his senses and take his responsibilities as Minister seriously. Our public transport network depends on it.

“No one wants to see a strike. It’s not fair on the travelling public or on the workers.”