Irish Government must defend Irish interests in Brexit – Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams this morning attended the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at DKIT in Dundalk where the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier made a keynote speech on Brexit.

Mr. Barnier revealed that there remains much to be agreed and that the issue of the border is at the centre of intensive work.

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to welcome the visit to Dundalk of the EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at DKIT was also a welcome initiative.

No part of the island, but in particular border regions like Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit. We know from a whole series of reports that our agri-food and agricultural sectors are especially vulnerable.

There is therefore an imperative on the Irish government to defend the two economies on this island and to ensure that any agreement at June’s EU summit, involving the British government, must ensure that the north remain with the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. This is the best way to protect communities on both sides of the border.”

Adams and Ó Murchú Attend Louth Respite Forum

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú have met with HSE management and families of those with intellectual disabilities to discuss the respite needs of families in County Louth.

The meeting of Louth Respite Forum, which took place on Friday 27th April in Ardee, is the latest in a series of engagements regarding the lack of adequate respite provision.

Following the meeting Gerry Adams said,

“Respite is essential for families caring for loved ones with intellectual disabilities.  These families love their children, that is absolutely without doubt.  They care for them diligently their whole lives, but everybody needs a break.

“In order for these parents to provide this intensive level of care into the future, the Government needs to support them through the provision of respite.  I have met with the Minister for Disability Finian McGrath on many occasions and raised the shocking gaps in provision of respite in Louth.

“I welcomed the Minister’s announcement in December 2017 that additional funding would be made available to the HSE in Louth and I am pleased to see the outworking of this with the recent opening of Bower House in Balbriggan which will provide respite for young adults.

“Although welcome we still have many citizens who are not able to access appropriate respite in Louth.  Older people with intellectual disabilities who live with their elderly parents are in desperate need of a proper respite service.  Dundalk Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled have long made the case for their loved ones who are being treated shamefully at the moment.

“I also welcome the news that the HSE will address this with a new premises in Dundalk which will be operative in the Autumn and I look forward to the delivery of this service.

“I also pressed the HSE on the issue of emergency respite, the lack of which led to the complete cessation of summer respite in 2016.  I received confirmation that the HSE are looking at realistic options in the event of an emergency which would not affect the respite of other citizens.

Councillor Ó Murchú added,

“Louth Respite Forum is a very useful platform for engagement between citizens, politicians and service providers.  There is no doubt that there are gaps in provision in Louth, however this forum enables families to hold politicians to account and to put their queries directly to the HSE.”

Repeal the 8th Amendment – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called for a YES vote in the forthcoming Repeal Referendum on May 25th.

His Louth colleague Ruairi Ó Murchu has said that “there is a need to trust women.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The 8th Amendment has no place in a constitution. Doctors and nurses constantly work in the shadow of a constitutional amendment that criminalises their actions, damages the health of women and forces many to flee to other jurisdictions. Some women have died as a result. This is not right.

Deciding where you stand on the 8th Amendment is not easy choice. This is a hugely emotive and difficult issue, but I believe that society must trust women, recognise that they must have the right to control their own bodies, and allow doctors to do their jobs. This is about women’s access to healthcare when they need it.”

Councillor Ruairi Ó Murchu said

“Sinn Féin will campaign passionately for the removal of the 8th Amendment. We respect the views of everyone, including those citizens who seek to retain the 8th amendment. But for Sinn Féin the critical issue is the need to trust women; to protect women; and to ensure there is empathy and compassion in our health system.”

Adams calls for review of Garda facilities for victims of domestic violence

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams this evening called for a review of facilities at all Garda stations to ensure that victims of domestic violence are interviewed in therapeutic and comfortable surroundings. He cited the experience of the Philips family in 2015 two days before the incident in which Garda Tony Golden was murdered; Siobhán Philips seriously wounded and Crevan Mackin took his own life.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Domestic Violence Bill is an important piece of legislation which is urgently needed. One stark statistic highlights its importance. From 1996 over 200 women have died violently as a consequence of domestic violence. Countless thousands more women and children have been the victim of physical and mental abuse.

Among these victims is Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was shot and grievously wounded in October 2015 in the same incident which saw Garda Tony Golden murdered and Crevan Mackin take his own life.

Siobhán was the victim of sustained domestic violence. Two days before she and Garda Golden were shot she went with her family to Dundalk Garda station. She had been the victim of two days of a sustained assault by Crevan Mackin. She had been beaten and slashed and was in a distressed physical and emotional state.

According to her family’s account, and despite Siobhán and her father telling the Garda that Mackin had threatened their lives, the Officer refused to take a statement and insisted that Siobhán go to Omeath the next day and speak to Garda Golden.

The family was also deeply upset because their conversation, which was of a very intimate and personal nature, had to take place in the very small public hallway of the Dundalk station in front of other members of the public.

I made numerous representations to the Minister on this and to the last Minister and was advised last December that the policy of An Garda Síochána on Domestic Abuse Intervention had been revised. Minister Flanagan wrote to me to say that An Garda Síochána had established Divisional Protective Services Units in three Garda Divisions, including Louth.

When I subsequently raised this issue with the senior Garda in Dundalk they acknowledged that the station was still inadequate for dealing with this kind of situation. They told me that they had applied for funding to correct this so that Garda could meet victims in a proper, fitting and more therapeutic environment.

The funding was refused they said. I have no doubt about the sincerity of the Minister in respect of this Bill but a genuine commitment to the victims of domestic violence to report their abuse and to seek help it must also ensure that not only is this Bill passed but has the financial supports needed to ensure that it can be implemented effectively.

I would appeal to the Minister to order a review of the existing facilities in Garda stations for the victims of domestic violence to tell their story.

Finally, I want to commend Safe Ireland, Women’s Aid and all of those statutory and voluntary activists who work to provide a safe place and a space for victims of domestic violence and who campaign every day in support of victims of domestic violence. I also want to acknowledge the bravery and strength of those victims who speak out against their abusers.”

Pearse McGeough: Annagassan Silt Build-up an accident waiting to happen

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has called on Louth County Council to address the build-up of silt at Annagassan Harbour once and for all following an incident on Saturday.

Councillor McGeough said “Saturday was the first decent day that we have had this year weather wise and I was sickened to hear that a young child who was walking along the sand at the Harbour accidently walked onto the silt and got stuck. The person who was with the child managed to get them free with much difficulty but not before the child had sunk into the silt almost to their shoulders.”

Councillor McGeough has been calling on Louth County Council to address the issue of silt build up for a number of years. “The silt was so bad in 2012 that four berths at the end of the Harbour were reduced to three and that remains the case even today.”

Cllr McGeough said “this is a health and safety issue. If we are lucky enough to get a decent summer this year, you are going to have children playing or pets being walked. If they go into the water at all there is a chance they could get stuck and not come out of the water. Louth County Council needs to take what happened on Saturday as a warning and address the build-up of silt as a matter of urgency.”

Where the sand meets the silt. Children or animals wouldn’t notice the difference

Councillor McGeough contacted the Council this morning and asked for additional signage to be erected immediately. “That won’t stop young children or dogs going into the silt accidently or unknowingly but at least adults will be more aware of the danger until such times as the issue is addressed.”

“Despite remedial work being done at the Harbour since 2012, the silt is back with vengeance and needs to be dredged on an on-going basis, not just when it gets dangerously built up. Although there is no actual policy on harbours, Drogheda Port is dredged regularly to allow ships to get up the Boyne. Surely there should be a certain amount of maintenance work done on other harbours where the public are visiting or people are working. It is basic health and safety.”

Concluding, Pearse McGeough said “we should not be waiting for a tragedy to happen to act. We have had a warning of what could possibly happen if this silt is not dredged. It is not good enough to say there is no money or no funds. The Chief Executive was able to come up with €300,000 to cover an ‘administrative error’ over the Drogheda parking shambles, I’m sure if she tried hard enough she could come up with the funds needed to address this silt build up as it’s an accident waiting to happen.”