Cllr Pearse McGeough: ‘Tenants have Rights Too’

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough informed Louth Chief Executive Joan Martin that “council tenants have rights too” at this month’s Council meeting.

The issue was raised by Cllr McGeough and several other councillors during the manager’s report. Cllr McGeough said “there are council tenants that are waiting for maintenance works to be carried out and many have been waiting for quite some time. Financial constraint is the reason being given as to why these repairs are not being carried out. Repairs are still being prioritised but what M/s Martin fails to recognise is that Council tenants have rights too.”

Cllr McGeough compared the Council to a private landlord and said “if a private landlord said they couldn’t afford to repair a tenant’s home because they didn’t have enough money, can you imagine the furore there would be? Their tenants would be entitled to report them to the Residential Tenancy Board.”

“All landlords have responsibilities including ensuring the property is in good condition and to carry out repairs within a reasonable time. There is an onus on landlords to ‘reimburse the tenants for any repairs they carried out on the structure that they requested with the landlord which the landlord did not carry out within a reasonable time’. Louth County Council is a landlord and they are not adhering to these rules.”

Councillors also raised the issue of ‘voids’ or vacant properties in the county. M/s Martin told the chamber that the only way she could afford to turn these properties around was if the Cllrs present increased the Local Property Tax by a full 15%.

Cllr McGeough said “there is a fund at central government to help with vacant properties and we need to avail of that to the maximum. It is a disgrace that we have over 70 ‘voids’, not to mention the vacant properties boarded up around the county while there are families with children living in B&Bs and hotels and people living on the streets.”

Adams calls for implementation of UN Con. on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams joined with party colleagues on Tuesday evening in the Dáil in demanding that the government do more to deliver on the rights contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He commended Louth Groups and individuals who advocate their services for citizens with disabilities.

He said: “They provide much needed supports for citizens in this constituency with disabilities and have fought a battle a day with successive governments over the lack of funding, planning and resources. It took 11 years for the government to ratify the UN Convention. This is totally contrary to the Convention and is unacceptable.”

In March this year, 11 years after the state signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government finally ratified the Convention.

On Tuesday, at a briefing with a range of disability groups the difficulties confronting citizens with disabilities, including the lack of planning, resources and funding, were discussed.

Gerry Adams TD said:

“The eventual ratification by the government of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was an important step forward. However, it is meaningless if the Convention is not implemented in full and if the legislation needed to achieve this is not enacted by the Oireachtas.

That means that the Government must ratify the Optional Protocol, as they had previously promised. In addition, the Assisted-Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 remains at a standstill with the essential establishment of a Decision Support Service still awaited. We also need progress on the enactment of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016.

Today in a briefing organised by Teachta O Caoláin, Shelley Gaynor and James Cawley from Independent Living Movement Ireland; Sarah Lennon, Inclusion Ireland; Kathy Moore, Rehab Ireland; Allen Dunne, Disability Federation of Ireland and Joan Carthy, Irish Wheelchair Association; told us that without adequate services citizens living with disabilities are like prisoners.

In Louth I work with many groups and individuals who advocate for services for people with disabilities; groups like the Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled; Louth Respite Group; WALK Peer, and others. I commend them all”.

Anord workers deserve fair treatment – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has met with staff at Dundalk switchgear manufacturing company, Anord, regarding its restructuring proposals which include up to 23 voluntary redundancies.

Staff members, many of whom have been Anord employees for over 25 years, are concerned that the redundancy package proposed does not reflect the commitment they have shown to the company over the period of their employment.

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has said that the management of Anord in Dundalk must behave honourably in respect of redundancy terms offered to staff.

Gerry Adams said;

“I have met with Anord workers, some of whom have been with the company a lifetime, and the terms that they have been offered by the company are simply not acceptable.

“It’s alarmingly clear from the discussions that I have had with staff and with Union representatives, that they believe that the company intends to get rid of their current electricians and re-employ alternative, cheaper, labour.

“Anord is a global company and I respect the fact that it has been an employer in the Dundalk area for 50 years.

“I have made contact with the company directly and I urge them to maintain the good name of Anord in the area and to treat their staff with respect.

                         Cllr Antóin Watters

“I have also written to the Minister for Employment to urge her to use her influence to assist the workers in whatever way she can.”

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Waters added,

“I have been inconstant contact with Anord staff and I hope that this issue can be brought to a successful resolution for all parties involved.

“These staff have been loyal to Anord for over 25 years and they deserve a fair package.”

 

Implement Children First Act – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has given a qualified welcome to the commitment by the Taoiseach today to examine the possibility of accelerating the full implementation of the Children’s First Act before the current deadline.

Teachta Adams raised the issue with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD today in the Dáil following the publication on Saturday in the Irish Times of a letter from Barnardo’s; the Children’s Rights Alliance; and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.

Teachta Adams said:

“In their letter to the Irish Times Barnardo’s; the Children’s Rights Alliance; and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty expressed their concern at the delays by the government in commencing the Children’s First Act.

This Act was enacted this time last November. Among its provisions it provides for mandatory reporting by key professionals; mandated assisting; comprehensive risk assessment and preparation of Child Safeguarding Statements by services for children; and the establishment of a Children First Interdepartmental Implementation Group on a statutory basis.

The children’s rights groups are concerned that only three sections of the Children’s First have commenced. In a recent Dáil response the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone admitted that the full commencement of the Act will not occur until the end of February 2018. Among the provisions still to be commenced are those relating to mandated reporting of child abuse and the preparation of Child Safeguarding Statements by organisations providing relevant services to children.

The three groups who are in the front line of protecting children and defending their rights say that as a result of the government’s inaction children do not have sufficient legal protection when it comes to their safety.

They also say that in their work with children they see every day the impact of this legislative gap. The priority of government must be to commit to the safety and security of children. The Children First Act needs to be implemented in full and quickly.”

In his response the Taoiseach said that he would look at the possibility of accelerating the timetable for the full implementation of the Act.

I have now written to Minister Zappone asking for a full breakdown on those outstanding parts of the Act that have yet to be implemented; her existing timeframe for this and whether she believes it is possible to accelerate this process.

 

Landmark European judgement on violation of Travellers Rights welcomed – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth Gerry Adams TD has welcomed “this week’s landmark judgement by the European Committee of Social Rights into the violation of Travellers rights by the government. The committee found that the government has failed to provide enough accommodation for Travellers, that many of the sites provided are in a poor condition and that legal safeguards for Travellers threatened with eviction are insufficient.

This judgement has implications for the treatment of the Travelling community in Louth and in particular the 23 families who were evicted at the start of the year by Louth County from the Woodland Park site.”

Teachta Adams said:

“In the last four months Traveller families in Dundalk have been subject to forcible eviction on two occasions and threats to evict on others. As a result of the action of Louth County Council Traveller families have been forced to squat on illegal sites in the Dundalk area. They are not alone. According to the ECSR report the number of families living in unsafe, unserviced and unauthorised sites has increased by 50% in the last two years.

“The publication of the ECSR judgement against the State is a damning one and cannot be ignored by the government or by other state bodies, including local authorities.

“I will be meeting the new Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney this week to find a solution to the issues in my own constituency, including the provision of an emergency halting site for Travellers displaced there, in keeping with the State’s obligations, and I intend to put the findings of the ECSR judgement to him so his Department begins to take seriously the consistent breaches of the human rights of the Travelling community by successive Irish governments.”