Cllr Tom Cunningham Registers Objection to British Nuclear Power Plant

Cllr Tom Cunningham

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has registered his objection to a proposed nuclear power plant being built in Surrey citing concerns over public accountability and the effects on Irish agriculture in the event of an accident/incident at the plant.

Although the Sizewell C Project is proposed for Suffolk on the East coast of England and may pose a lower risk than those nuclear plants on Britain’s West coast, this does not mean, according to Cllr Cunningham, there would be zero risk to Ireland.

Cllr Cunningham has objected to the proposal under the terms of the 1991 United Nations Espoo Convention and the 2011 EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive which requires transboundary public consultation in respect of the Sizewell C Project and its potential impacts on neighbouring States.

The Drogheda Rural Councillor explained that “The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) recognised that even though the concentrations of radioactivity in the air and radioactive contamination on the ground along the east coast of Ireland in the event of an incident at Sizewell C would be one order of magnitude lower than if an incident occurred at the closest nuclear site, Wylfa, an incident at Sizewell C could still result in food controls and agricultural protective actions being introduced in Ireland. Anything that poses a threat to our fishing or agricultural economy must be challenged.”

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study conducted in 2016- The Potential Economic Impact of a Nuclear Incident — An Irish Case Study estimated the potential financial losses to Ireland in the event of a nuclear incident to be as high as €160bn.

Even in the lowest risk scenario where there is no actual contamination in Ireland, the reputational losses in relation to tourism and export markets could be as high as €4bn.

Cllr Cunningham said “Given that Ireland relies heavily on its food exports and tourism, in the event of an incident even the perception of contamination would lead to a significant economic impact and that is something County Louth or the country as a whole can afford.”

Cllr Cunningham also cited his concerns over the nuclear plant’s accountability after Brexit. “As part of Brexit, the British Government has opted to leave Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community.  This is concerning because they would no longer be subject to the European Court of Justice and to a coordinated regulatory regime. In actual fact, concerns have also been raised by the British nuclear regulatory body, ONR regarding Britain’s readiness to leave Euratom. They also have expressed concerns regarding a skills shortage to deliver a British State System of Accountability for control of nuclear material to meet its international obligations. ONR also expressed concerns regarding the long-term funding of the new nuclear regulator which does not bode well or instil confidence.”

Cllr Cunningham said “I am concerned that any country feels they should have a free hand with nuclear power with little or no accountability to an international body like Euratom, but I am particularly concerned when that country is our nearest neighbour and the people in County Louth and along the East coast of Ireland could be affected.”

In conclusion Cllr Cunningham said “Given the absence of access to the European Court of Justice after Brexit, the concern of the long term funding of a new nuclear regulator and the potential impacts to the Irish public and our economy, I feel it is imperative that this proposal be challenged and stopped. In this day and age we should be looking for safer and more eco-friendly ways of generating power anyway.”

If you would like to submit an objection to the Nuclear Power Plant then please contact Cllr Cunningham through facebook for details. All objections should be lodged before 28th October 2020

Cllr McGeough Stands Against Racism

Sinn Fein Councillor has welcomed the passing of his motion at last month’s County Council meeting on racism.

In a reply to the Councillor’s motion, the Council told him that there was an imminent launch of a new Louth Meath Migrant Strategy 2019-22 which would hopefully address some of Cllr McGeough’s concerns about the rise of racism in the county particularly in the form of graffiti.

Cllr McGeough said “Thank you for the response and I look forward to the launch of the new Louth Meath Migrant Integration Strategy 2019-22 due later this month. I just hope it is strong enough to deal with the ignorance of a small number of people in this county.

“Since May this year there have been 4 incidents of racist graffiti in Ardee and in July the Gardaí said they was an indication of ‘extreme right-wing groups or persons resident in the locality’ and they have stepped up patrols in the area.

“I myself was targeted by these ring-wing groups and faced a campaign of online abuse by supporters of this right wing extremist Party including a video naming me by their so-called party leader. It wasn’t nice.

After the second graffiti incident which took place on a privately owned fence I took a paintbrush myself and went out and painted over it because I didn’t want the home owners to put themselves at risk after what happened to me.

“The latest incident took place just over a week ago and again, it fell to the decent people of Ardee to scrub it off including 2 young lads from Direct Provision emergency accommodation. They are a credit to the community in Ardee.

“Racism needs to be challenged at every level and it needs to be stamped out before it gets a hold. That lack of education can be challenged by diversity programmes/work-shops that will promote awareness of the problem and equip people with the tools to deal with it or address it as it happens.

“The Irish people are a good people, what we are talking about here is a small minority but they are like a cancer, if it isn’t dealt with it will spread.

“There is an excellent project on facebook at the minute called ‘Black and Irish’ which highlights and celebrates the identity of Black Irish people and seeks to tell people of their experiences, struggles and successes. Some of their stories are heart breaking and very upsetting to hear, the level of racism they have had to put up with.

“Our hate crime legislation needs to be strengthened. We need to send a strong message to the country that we have a zero tolerance for racism and those who carry out a hate crime will be dealt with and punished accordingly. This Council needs to send a strong message to our legislators from all Parties that our current hate crime laws are too weak and need to be rectified as soon as possible before it’s too late and the issue is out of control. We need to be pro-active instead of re-active on issues that we can see coming down the road.”

At this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr McGeough again raised the issue with teh Gardaí seeking an update. They assured him that it was on their radar but so far there had been no arrests although they were aware of the rise in the issue and had stepped up patrols in the area.


Munster: 95 year old woman waits over three hours for ambulance, as paramedics instructed to sit in office for 12 hour shifts

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has lambasted the Minister for Health after reports that 95 year old woman in Drogheda was left waiting three and a half hours for an ambulance last Sunday night.

Deputy Munster was speaking on statements on Covid-19 in the Dáil chamber on Wednesday evening, where she also raised the case of two paramedics who have been on managerial leave at the Drogheda ambulance service since the end of July, which has seen them spending 12 hour shifts sitting in an office, unable to go out in an ambulance or carry out any duties.

Deputy Munster said:

“On Sunday night a nursing home in Drogheda called an ambulance for a gravely ill 95 year old resident. That woman was waiting for three and a half hours for an ambulance.

“I’ve since learned that there are currently 2 paramedics in Drogheda ambulance station on managerial leave, which means they spend 12 hour shifts sitting in an office in the station, not working.

“This has been the situation since the end of July and there is no sign of the matter being resolved. The two workers want to return to work, but are being prevented from doing so.

“I am told that this week alone, 14 shifts will have to be covered due to various members of the ambulance service being on leave.

“The service has long been understaffed, but in the midst of a pandemic we have to ensure that all qualified health workers who can work, are working.

“We are facing into what is expected to be the hardest winter for healthcare in the history of the state, and we are woefully unprepared.

“Pressures on the service are going to increase, and we can expect increases in sick leave and Covid-related leave for staff in the coming weeks and months.

“I have written to the Minister for Health asking him to explain the three and a half hour wait for an ambulance, and this is before we head into the depths of winter. He needs to get ahead of this.

“The issue with these two paramedics must be resolved as a matter of urgency, and the wider long-standing issues of understaffing at the ambulance service have to address immediately, or there could be tragic consequences for people this winter.”

Imelda Munster: Government must protect workers’ rights as strike continues at Premier Periclase

IImelda Munster, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath has again raised the matter of the ongoing industrial action at Premier Periclase, RHI Magnesita, in the Dáil.

Deputy Munster was speaking as workers at the plant spend their fourth week on the picket line, due to the collapse of a long-standing collective agreement at the company, and the company’s refusal to engage with worker representatives at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Deputy Munster said:

“This dispute isn’t about a pay rise. It’s due to the company’s proposal to lay off workers and put others on reduced hours while transferring work to non-union labour and retaining contractors on site.

“It’s classic union-busting and we must stand up against this type of behaviour.

“Workers had no choice but to take to the picket lines, as management repeatedly refused to engage in talks at the WRC in any meaningful way.

“Four days into the strike, the company issued letters to workers informing them that the long-standing collective agreement with SIPTU and Unite the Union was no longer valid.

“Since then the company has attending the WRC, but is still refusing to sit around the table with the unions are the WRC to resolve this matter.

“I have written to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, and the CEO of the RHI Magnesita asking them to intervene and ensure that the company engages with unions at the WRC.  Yesterday I asked the Minister of State Damien English TD to do the same, and I implored him to protect workers’ rights in this state.

“The Minister of State maintained the usual hands-off response and referred to the voluntary nature of industrial relations in this state.

“I am very concerned that if this type of behaviour goes unchecked it will be a race to the bottom for workers’ rights, as other companies follow suit.

“Workers took a 5% pay cut in 2016 when the company was in financial trouble. This is no longer the case, and the company was in a position to give a 20% pay increase to their CEOs. The workers want to engage with management, but they are refusing to do.

“Workers have fought long and hard for their rights. The WRC is the state apparatus to resolve disputes of this type, and the company won’t engage with them. The state has a duty to ensure that all parties act in good faith and engage with WRC in cases of this type. As usual our government has washed their hands of this and have left workers out in the cold.”

O Murchú: Brexit – playing poker with a man who doesn’t play by the rules

The Brexit brinkmanship from the British government has been compared to ‘playing poker with a guy who doesn’t keep the rules’, a Dundalk TD has told the Dáil.

Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú was speaking in Leinster House this week ahead of the proposed Internal Markets Bill was put before Westminster, which was described by the North’s Secretary of State Brandon Lewis as ‘a breach of international law in a specific and limited way’.

The Dundalk TD said: ‘It is unacceptable that we could have a British Government that is basically saying that it is OK for them to break international law.

‘It’s like playing poker with a guy who never keeps the rules.

‘We thought that this was the British Government setting a negotiating stance and then we had the news that Jonathan Jones, the head of the British Government legal team resigned in relation to this.

‘We need an answer in terms of what the EU and Irish Government is going to do’.

He said there was huge worry about what the British government intentions are, particularly in Dundalk.

The Louth deputy said: ‘We are worried that if they are willing to circumvent the Irish protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement, that we will have difficulties into the future.

‘People in border areas like Dundalk are very worried about what the future is going to hold, not just from a business point of view, but a societal one.

‘We do not want to see any sort of infrastructure or any sort of checks along the border. It’s utterly unacceptable given the history that we have, particularly in my area. 

Deputy Ó Murchú said he welcomed what Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney had to say about the government’s reaction to the situation.

He said: I welcome what Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney has said about the anger of the government.

I also welcome his comments about the mitigations involved in the Withdrawal Agreement and in relation to the Irish Protocol regarding the single market and customs union,  in terms of business.

‘We do not need to impact on people’s lives and it’s unacceptable, that must be pointed out to the EU.

‘The Irish Government must remain firm. If we have a circumvention of the Irish Protocol and all that can come from that, and if we do not have those protections, it will be utterly unacceptable by the people that there will be any impositions in relation to border checks or infrastructure’.