Adams calls for confidential EU/British Report to be published

Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the call by the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly for the European Commission to publish the confidential study conducted by the British government and the European Commission in 2017 and which listed 142 cross-border activities on the island of Ireland that would be negatively impacted by a hard Brexit.

The Louth TD submitted a PQ on this issue in October and received a response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs last week in which the Minister placed the onus for publication on the British government and the EU.

Mr. Adams called on the Irish government to publicly press the EU to publish the report. The Louth TD said:

The 8 December 2017 Joint Report between the British Government and the EU Commission referenced the report of a mapping exercise which shows that “North-South cooperation relies to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and policy framework”. The report warned that the British “departure from the European Union gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance and development of North-South cooperation.”

The mapping exercise was a detailed examination of all those areas of North-South co-operation, as provided for by the Good Friday Agreement, which were underpinned by the EU membership of the British and Irish states.

The Good Friday Agreement established six North-South Implementation Bodies and “six areas for cooperation and implementation“. These covered a wide range of issues including, the environment, health, agriculture, transport, education/higher education, tourism, energy, telecommunications, broadcasting, inland fisheries, justice and security, and sport.

It is known that the report identified 142 areas of co-operation between the North and South. Some of these are very detailed. For example, the area of health. It requires equality of patient rights, but also things like single standards for medical devices, the approval of medicines at EU level, mutual recognition of medical qualifications, mutual acceptance of cross border ambulance activity. Cross border health co-operation also includes heart surgery in Dublin for children from the North, as well as cancer treatment in Derry for people from the South. 

There are also joint initiatives on shared waterways and agreement to treat the entire island as one epidemiological entity for the purpose of animal diseases.

I am calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to urgently press the EU Commission to publish this confidential report. In the context of the Withdrawal Agreement reached last week between the British government and the EU it is imperative that citizens on this island understand fully the consequences of Brexit and especially of a bad Brexit on matters that affect their daily lives. 

Council/Irish Water a ‘Merry Go Round’ of red tape – Flood

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at the Irish Water-Louth Council arrangement calling it a ‘Merry Go Round of Red Tape’.

Cllr Flood was speaking after the recent Louth County Council Budget meeting where he raised queries regarding the costs to the Council around water services.

Cllr. Flood said “I was contacted by a Marsh Road resident in October regarding the sight, taste and smell of their drinking water. The lady advised her drinking water had a chemical taste and smell, not a
bleach smell and there was black bits floating in it. Boiling the water didn’t help the quality of the water.

“I contacted Irish Water and requested a fix as soon as possible. After an investigation they resolved the issue by flushing out the main waterline for the Marsh Road and the problem was resolved in that location.
While I am glad that I was able to resolve the issue for Marsh Road residents, the fix took longer than it should have.”

Cllr Flood explained the roundabout process of making representations. “Firstly we contact Irish Water, who then contacts the Local Authority to investigate the issue. The Local Authority then report back to Irish Water, who then weighs up the costs of a fix, and then once again they contact the Local Authority who actually carries out the repair.”

Cllr Flood said he is frustrated at this process and it is delaying urgent repairs taking place. “ Not only is it frustrating but it also means there are two sets of assessors, one in the Local Authority and another in Irish Water. This arrangement is a waste of time and money and residents are the ones affected. The Fine Gael Government and their Fianna Fail partners are not moving to resolve this. The only way to ensure a speedy and more cost effective fix is to return Water Services to Local Authorities and to dissolve the quango that is Irish Water.”

“In the meantime, our heads are spinning as we have to ride this merry go round each time there is an issue.”

1350 Respite nights to be delivered in Dundalk: Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed confirmation from the HSE that the new respite house for Dundalk will provide 1350 bed nights per year.
Speaking following his attendance at Louth Disability Forum meeting in Ardee on Friday 16th November the Sinn Féin councillor said,
“I am very pleased for people with disabilities and their families that this house is to be operational within the coming weeks and that 1350 bed nights will be provided annually.
“The HSE confirmed to me that currently the care provider, Praxis, is meeting with the people who will stay in the house and their families to get to know their personalities and needs.
“The property, on the Dublin Road, Dundalk, is being assessed by HIQA on Monday 19th November and hopefully the registration process will be completed soon after.
“I have spoken with families who will be using this respite service and they are delighted to finally be able to avail of respite in Dundalk.
“I hope that this new premises will go some way towards redressing the inadequacies in provision for people with disabilities in County Louth.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne Warns Council of Consequences of Placement Fees

At last week’s Municipal District of Drogheda’s monthly meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne firmly queried Director of Services for Housing as to whether Louth County Council had bought into the idea of offering placement fees to estate agents.

Cllr Byrne said “It emerged this week that some Local Authorities are offering estate agents €500 + Vat in ‘placement fees’ in return for them securing private rental accommodation for homeless families. I want to know firstly, are Louth County Council participating in this? And secondly, if there has been a direction from Minister Murphy to do the same?”

Cllr Byrne who is Chairperson of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee went on to voice her concerns that this would be a very bad move for the County.

“I understand that until social and affordable housing stock is increased dramatically in Louth it may seem that there is no alternative but to engage in these desperate negotiations but by God, it is plain to see this will distort the market even further. There is already an over-reliance by this Government, and in turn this Council, on the private rental sector and if that stock, in short supply as it is, is removed to facilitate backroom deals without the implementation of subsequent measures, the consequences will in turn lead to more and more families entering homelessness than the local authority will be able to manage!”

In response to Cllr Byrne’s concerns, Paddy Donnelly in his first meeting in the district in his new role as Director for Housing,  confirmed that Louth County Council are not currently participating in this scheme. Whilst stating that this may be a ‘viable option for some’, this then sparked serious concerns to Cllr Byrne that this may a route the Local Authority would consider in the future.

Mr. Donnelly alleviated these counter concerns by committing to the meeting that there are no plans for Louth County Council to engage in this process in the future.

Cllr Byrne has welcomed this outcome and vowed to monitor this going forward.

Full redundancies should be paid by TAFC Headquarters: Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has called on the former Director of The Authentic Food Company (TAFC) to honour staff redundancy payments.

Teachta Adams was commenting on the liquidator’s High Court petition, which was heard on Monday 12th November.

Deputy Adams said;

My office made contact with the liquidators, Deloitte, who were formally appointed during the high court appearance on Monday.

The liquidators confirmed to me that the company is now deemed terminally insolvent and they do not hold any realistic hope of TAFC being bought as a going concern.

They also provided me with a copy of the report presented to the high court.

This report indicates the Dundalk company to have assets of €11.9 million and liabilities of €26.6 million, with €8.5 million of this owed to ‘group companies’.

In light of this I have again written to the former company director, Nik Basran, who I understand is also the director of the other Alternative Food Company groups, asking him to honour staff redundancy packages.

Many staff of TAFC were long term employees with years of redundancy entitlements built up.

They have been treated shamefully by an unscrupulous employer which cut them adrift in the run up to Christmas.