Cllr Watters congratulates students & staff at Bush Post Primary School

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has congratulated the pupils of his former school on their Junior Certificate results.

Councillor Watters said:

“Firstly I would like to congratulate every student in Bush post Primary School who sat the Junior Certificate.  I would also like to congratulate their teachers and other staff in the school. Having attended Bush I know how hard everyone works to ensure that all young people reach their full potential.”

“We are very fortunate to have such a good school in the community. It caters for all the young people in the area and provides a very broad curriculum with high standards for all whilst recognising individual interests.

“Bush has provided opportunities for thousands of young people to access careers in their chosen fields and signposted them to universities and further education colleges  to study the sciences, medicine, agriculture, arts and finance, to apprenticeships, jobs in local businesses, construction and agriculture.

“It has grown in numbers every year and works very closely with its local primary schools to ease the transition to 2nd Level education.

“Students who completed the Junior Cert have now moved into their new school term and are either doing transition year, leaving certificate course or LCA. This is a very important time in their lives and I wish them all the best.”

 

Antóin Watters Welcomes Wildlife Ranger to Protect Natural Beauty of Cooley Mountains

Cllr Antóin Watters

Sinn Féin Cllr Antóin Watters has welcomed the news that a Wildlife Ranger will be assigned to the Cooley Mountains.

Having attended a public meeting last Friday with his colleague Cllr Mickey Larkin from South Armagh in the Mullaghbuoy Community Centre, Cllr Watters said “we were present with representatives from the IFA, Mountaineering Ireland and local walking groups. One thing that

Cllr Mickey Larkin

we all had in common was our love for the mountains and our wish to see their natural beauty preserved for future generations.”

Cllr Watters said “The meeting was called following the discovery of yellow markings that had been sprayed on the Cooley Mountains recently. It was agreed that there needed to be more awareness of events being held on the mountains. All those present agreed that a ‘no trace’ approach would be best practice, basically, leave the Mountains as you found them.”

Cllr Watters was also pleased to see that “the organisers are going to meet with local Gardaí to ensure that any future users of the mountain will use appropriate temporary markings and the group will work closely with the Wildlife Ranger.”

Cllr Watters reminded that “the Cooley Mountains are for all to enjoy and are important for local tourism. The area is one of outstanding beauty so I will raise this issue with Louth County Council and my colleague Cllr Mickey Larkin will raise it with Newry, Mourne & Down District Council and we will also raise it at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Group which deal with cross border issues between the two Councils. Let’s leave nature as we find it.”

L-R Helen Lawless (Mountaineering Ireland), Cllr Micky Larkin, Cllr Antóin Watters, Matthew McGreehan & Ciaran Sheelan (both Louth IFA)

Review of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) should favour most disadvantaged – Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has stated that “farmers who experience the highest levels of disadvantage due to the non-productivity of their land should be the highest beneficiaries in the ongoing review of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC).”

Deputy Adams said,

“Currently the scheme (Areas of Natural Constraint ANC) by which additional payments are made to those farmers trying to make a living on land disadvantaged by its physical condition, eg hill farmers, is being reviewed.

“Last week’s Dundalk Democrat featured an article from Deputy O’Dowd which criticised Sinn Féin’s support for those farmers represented by the Irish Natura and Hillfarmer’s Association (INHFA) and displayed a worrying disregard for the difficulties facing farmers working poor land.

“In fact Sinn Féin is proud to stand with the most disadvantaged farmers and to argue for a greater allocation of State resources for them.

“Sinn Féin Senators currently have a motion on the Seanad Order Paper on this issue which they have attempted to have debated on three occasions.  However neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil Senators will facilitate this or agree to a vote on the motion.  Yet, at meetings held all over the State, representatives of these parties duplicitously speak in favour of the INHFA’s demands regarding the review of ANCs.

“The Sinn Féin motion calls for the retention of mountain grazing as a separate category under the review of the ANC scheme and for the payments to properly reflect the multiple biophysical and specific constraints experienced by farmers who farm mountain-type land and for those payments to be at similar rates to the current offshore island rates.

“During last week’s Seanad debate on this subject Fine Gael Senators referred numerous times to the widening of the ANC scheme to include a greater number of farmers.

“Superficially this might sound like Fine Gael supporting the farming sector but the reality is that there is a limited amount of funding available. Fergus O’Dowd knows this. He’s fooling nobody.

“Sinn Féin welcomes the review which provides an opportunity to address the inequalities that exist in farm incomes. We support the retention of this scheme and believe that all available funding should be allocated toward those farmers who are struggling with physical constraints that reduces the productivity of their farms.”

 

Antóin Watters: Questions to be answered on Narrow Water Bridge

Antoin WattersSinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called on the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to push ahead with the Narrow Water Bridge project given the amount of money that has been spent on consultants.

Reports are that €1.3 million was paid out to consultants before the project was shelved and the offer of EU funding was withdrawn due to it not being drawn down in time.

Antóin Watters, Councillor for the Dundalk-Carlingford/Omeath area said “There are questions that need to be addressed. Councillors were not fully informed as to the cost of consultants or money paid out. On top of the €1.3 million paid to consultants, there was a further €304,000 paid to ‘the other side’ when a dispute arose. What was the nature of this dispute and why did it cost so much?

Cllr Watters continued “we had hoped to see this bridge from Omeath to Warrenpoint completed in 2015 and it would have been a tremendous boost for tourism in the area, but here we are in 2017, the project has been shelved and we are nearly €2million in the red and a shovel hasn’t even turned the first sod.”

“Given that so much has already been spent on the project and given the importance of the bridge to the tourism of the Cooley peninsula, I, and my party are calling on Louth County Council to progress with it and not just write it off along with the €2million.”

Additional Garda numbers for Louth must be permanent – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams commenting on the revelation that Garda Tony Golden had provided the Cooley Peninsula Community Alert Group with a handwritten note outlining concerns over Garda numbers in the district as ”deeply disturbing.” And he has called on the Minister for Justice to ensure that the additional Garda numbers deployed in Louth are made permanent.

Gerry Adams said:

“Garda Tony Golden was a widely respected community Garda who worked closely with the community in the Cooley Peninsula. His report to them, prior to their meeting with the then Minister of Justice Alan Shatter, reflects widespread concerns in the area about cutbacks to Garda numbers and resources.

Parliamentary responses I received from the Minister for Justice during the summer confirm Garda Golden’s concerns. The PQ responses show that there has been a gradual decrease in available Garda numbers from 314 in the Louth Garda Division in 2010 to 277 on April 30 2015. This is a substantial drop of 37 Garda in the last five years.

The number of Community Gardaí has also dropped from 22 in 2010 to 16 for this year. This figure has remained unchanged in the last three years despite the increase in burglary and theft related offences.

The issue of Garda numbers and available resources is crucial to communities across the state but especially in the border region. There is an onus on the government to enhance the all-island policing arrangements and structures.

There is also a concern that the two existing joint task forces – the Cross-border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group and the Cross-border Tobacco Enforcement Group – are not being effective. A review of the work of both needs to be undertaken and additional officers and resources should be provided where appropriate.

I welcome the decision by the Garda Commissioner to deploy 25 additional Gardaí to county Louth and the establishment of an intelligence unit for the area. But these additional Garda are only deployed on a temporary basis. The increased numbers should be permanent.

What is also needed is greater co-operation across the border and a holistic and strategic plan for tackling organised criminal gangs exploiting the border. This should include a cross border task force involving the police services in both parts of the island and revenue services and with a dedicated all-Ireland focus.”