Garvey Calls for Action on Climate Change

Sinn Féin local election candidate Eugene Garvey has called for action to be taken at local and national level to tackle climate change.

Mr Garvey said “Earlier this month students and young people held a protest on climate change at the Square in Dundalk and throughout the state and across the world. I attended that protest and was very impressed by the passion, commitment and knowledge that they had on the subject. What they were calling for was that their local authority and the Government take action to try and arrest and reverse the damage of climate change.”

Mr Garvey said “we have all seen the change in our weather, sometimes we seem to be getting the four seasons in one day, we have seen the polar bears dying and the plastic in our oceans and it’s distressing. Local authorities are required to develop an adaption plan however I believe we need to be more ambitious than that. Let’s not just do the bear minimum. Adapting to climate change is crucial, but we also need to take action to halt further environmental destruction.”

“As a Sinn Féin election candidate” said Mr Garvey, “I am determined to act locally to protect our environment and eco-system. There are steps that we can take individually like stop using plastic, recycle and be aware of our carbon footprint but we also need for example a programme of tree-planting and maintenance of habitats for pollinators. There are a wide range of things we could do as a collective.”

Mr Garvey also warned against introducing a carbon tax on households. “Corporate polluters must be forced to take responsibly for their emissions, but any attempt to impose carbon tax hikes on families will be opposed by Sinn Féin.”

Louth Family threatened by Drug Gang

Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams today questioned the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil, on the issue of Drug Related Intimidation against families in County Louth.

The Louth TD specifically raised the case of one family whose home was fire-bombed over St. Patrick’s weekend. Teachta Adams expressed his disappointment at the Minister’s refusal to answer the questions he asked, specifically around the provision of additional resources for the Louth Division of An Garda Síochána.

The Minister also failed to inform the Dáil when the evaluation of the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme by An Garda Síochána will finally be published.

Gerry Adams said: “There is a growing problem of extortion with violence and threats by drug gangs in County Louth. These gangs are demanding that the families of those who they claim owe them money must now pay the alleged debt. I am also told by party colleagues that this is a serious problem in Dublin and elsewhere. Last week, accompanied by Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú and Cllr Pearse McGeough, I visited one family in Louth who are quite simply living in terror.

“Over the space of 6 months this family paid a drug gang a total of three thousand seven hundred euro for debts allegedly owed by their son. The drug gang has targeted this family in a sustained campaign of intimidation and threats and attempted extortion. The drug gang are now demanding another eight thousand euro.

“However, this family is demonstrating remarkable courage in the face of threats, and is standing firm and rejecting the drug gang’s demand. When I visited the home, the family were clearly very anxious. Their fears are well founded. Over the St Patrick’s weekend their home was petrol bombed while they slept in their beds. Luckily the impact of the bomb breaking a window woke the family and they extinguished the fire before anyone was hurt.

“This family are working closely with the Gardaí whom they have praised highly to me. Other families have also been targeted. Other homes have been attacked. Cars have been destroyed. Families have fled their homes.

“Last Friday I spoke to the Chief Superintendent of the Louth division. I want to commend the Gardaí for their actions and efforts to date. During my last meeting in Dundalk Garda Station in January the officers informed me that the Louth Drugs and Crime Unit is now up and running with 3 extra staff in Dundalk and 5 in Drogheda. This is a good start but these numbers are still far too low to deal with the scale of the problem There are other cases which have come through my office and no doubt many more which I am unaware of.

“It is my belief that most of this intimidation can be traced to two drug gangs in Drogheda where local families have been subject to similar threats of intimidation over drug debts allegedly owed by family members. I want to commend the neighbours and friends of the family I visited. This local community is 100 per cent behind them. Drug gangs will not intimidate the people of Louth. But it should not be left to the community or An Garda Síochána.

“I am disappointed that the Minister did not deal with the questions I raised, including the allocation of additional resources for the Louth division of An Garda Síochána to support the work of its drugs unit. I also asked the Minister if he will consider introducing or supporting legislation to ensure that proof of identity is required for the purchase of mobile phones. Mobile phones are frequently used in the illegal drugs trade and many of the threats issued to the family being victimised in this case were by mobile phone.

“There is a need for a well-resourced, holistic, multi-agency approach bringing together all of the stake-holders in the state, community and voluntary sectors to tackle the scourge of drugs and its associated health and criminal issues.”

Concluding Gerry Adams TD said: “I have submitted Parliamentary Questions regarding the ongoing evaluation of the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme by An Garda Síochána, and the work of the Family Addiction Support Network. Last year the Minister told me that this evaluation would be completed by the end of 2018. We are now well into 2019 and it hasn’t been published.”

Cllr Cunningham Calls For Stand Alone Department for Fisheries

Sinn Fein Councillor Tom Cunningham has welcomed cross party support for his motion at this month’s Council meeting calling on the Government to establish a new Department whose sole aim would be to protect the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Cllr Cunningham said “Clogherhead and Louth are not alone in feeling abandoned by successive governments. Coastal communities around Ireland have been let down and in many cases decimated as their livelihoods and way of life has been sold off.”

“I am calling for a dedicated Minister for the Marine, whose sole job will be to promote and develop our coastal areas and communities and reverse the damage that has been done over the years.”

Currently Ireland has the Department for Agriculture, Food and The Marine but according to Cllr Cunningham “the portfolio is too broad and the Marine element is lost as agriculture tends to get all the focus. We have two competing sectors within the responsibility of just one Minister. Cllr Cunningham explained that “the core work of the Department revolves around EU legislation in the Common Agricultural Policy who set the rules on the internal market for agriculture, forestry, organic production, quality of production, food and animal feed safety.

“At the same time you have discussions on the Common Fisheries policy which covers the setting of annual allowable catches and quotas for each species and the allocation of fishing opportunities which in itself is a huge task of work.

“Yet, we have only one Minister sitting at the table involved in these important discussions while some other countries have two, one for Agriculture and one for Fisheries.”

Cllr Cunningham recognised that “Agriculture is important to this State but as an Island Nation, fisheries is equally as important. It is impossible for one Minister to focus his full attention on either of these sectors.”

Cllr Cunningham also pointed out that “small farmers would also benefit from having a Minister who only had a single portfolio; it would give the Minister the opportunity to concentrate on agriculture while a second Minister would be focussing on Fisheries.”

In conclusion Cllr Cunningham said “It is inconceivable that we don’t have a stand-alone Department for Fisheries, Marine and Marine Communities with its own Minister. For goodness sake, we live on an island!”

 Full text of motion is: That Louth County Council calls on the Government to establish a stand-alone Department for Fisheries, Marine and Coastal Communities together with a designated Minister. I feel that the fishing industry and our Coastal Communities are under threat. The new Department’s role would be to safeguard and promote our fishing sector, coastal communities, islands and marine bio-diversity.

Cllr Joanna Byrne slams Louth County Council for not making Homelessness a priority

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has once again slammed Louth County Council for not taking the Homelessness situation in the County seriously enough.

Cllr Byrne was speaking at this month’s Council meeting and said “I want to express my deep dissatisfaction at the reporting of Homelessness from this local authority. We are sitting here looking at a Homelessness report that has not been updated since January. It has been just copied and pasted for the last two months.”

Councillors receive a monthly report giving statistics on the county situation but the report at this month’s meeting appeared to be the same as the January report.

Cllr Byrne then listed a number of what she seen as ‘failures’ on the issue of homelessness. Cllr Byrne said “This is at a time where we have had no Rough Sleeper Count done in the South of the County in 16 months, at a time where the Homelessness section of Louth County Council’s website which provides vital contact information for those who need it has been inaccessible for a month, at a time where the executive of this Council is defying the will of the members who are calling for additional homeless facilities to cater for those suffering with addictions.”

“I don’t know if this copy and paste effort is down to incompetence, laziness or blatant manipulation of the information being conveyed to the members, but regardless of which of the three, it is it is not acceptable.”

These claims were met with cries of dismay from the top table and Director of Services for Housing Paddy Donnelly replied stating he ‘took great exception’ to Cllr Byrne’s remarks. Cllr Byrne concluded in saying” There is no accountability here and in my opinion Homelessness needs to become more of a priority for this Local Authority and as a matter of urgency!”

These claims were met with cries of dismay from the top table and Director of Services for Housing Paddy Donnelly replied stating he ‘took great exception’ to Cllr Byrne’s remarks.

Cllr Byrne concluded in saying” There is no accountability here and in my opinion Homelessness needs to become more of a priority for this Local Authority and as a matter of urgency!”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Rebuilding Ireland Housing Loans reopened

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed confirmation she received from the Director of Services for Housing In Louth that the Local Authority have recommenced appointments with applicants for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans.

Cllr Byrne also received confirmation that applications will be assessed and processed on the same criteria as the last round of applicants. The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme, which assists middle to low income families who are first time buyers and have been refused mortgages by banks is the only scheme available aimed at assisting people in lower wages brackets to be able to buy their forever home.

Cllr Byrne has stated “The recent instruction from the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, for Louth County Council to cease issuing these loans was a major blow to many people who might see this as their only option. There is a huge cohort of people in this county caught in a position of earning too much to be eligible for Social Housing, but not enough to be considered for a mortgage. With an unsustainable rise in house prices, and no affordable housing schemes available, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is the only other alternative, it is imperative that this remains open for applications for constituents in this County.”