Cllr Antóin Watters Tells Bus Eireann Management – ‘You are playing with People’s Lives’

Antoin Watters Council PicWith Bus Eireann workers being left with no option but to strike from next Monday, Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called for the management to reconsider their position and think of “the inconvenience it will cause to those in rural areas who are dependent on this transport”.

Cllr Watters said “I have been speaking to concerned citizens who already feel isolated in rural areas and now they are facing their lifeline being cut off. They depend on the bus service to take them to doctor’s appointments, hospital appointments, shopping and much more. These are citizens that have seen their rural way of life become more challenging with cuts to what little services they had”.

Cllr Watters said “Bus Eireann Management have no idea what effect their decision will have on ordinary people; the disruption it will cause to school children and workers getting to and from work; the further isolation of our older people and the vulnerable.

“Do not underestimate the value of the rural bus service. Bus Eireann management have shown a total disregard to the people of Cooley and other rural areas. We need to oppose this Government’s policy of privatising our public transport or we face losing our bus services altogether.”

Cllr Watters had a final message to Bus Eireann management, “Get your act together and get this sorted, it is not the fault of the workers, perhaps you need to look closer to home. You are causing massive inconvenience to people in rural areas. You are playing with people’s lives, stop it!”

Broadband for Louth – Gerry Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten to state “when households and businesses in Louth can expect to have full access to broadband?”

The Louth TD was speaking in the Dáil today during a Private Members debate on Rural Broadband.

Teachta Adams said:

“Rural Ireland has long been denied essential services and resources that many urban areas take for granted. This has been particularly true in the provision of broadband, which in the 21st century is essential for business, education and communication purposes.

On Tuesday the Minister announced that the government has chosen to adopt the Commercial Stimulus Model as its ownership model for broadband which will leave our communications infrastructure in the hands of the private sector and not the state. This is a mistake.

The decision to opt for the privatisation model in order to reduce costs is short sighted and deeply flawed and will ultimately cost the state and consumers much more in the future.

There is also widespread concern at the length of time that will now be needed to provide broadband access to all parts of the state.

In my own constituency of Louth the former Minister for Communications Alex White told me in a PQ response last December that there are still 15,000 premises and households in County Louth to be covered by the new arrangement.

The future availability of broadband to much of County Louth will now be dependent upon the private sector provider.

Six months ago Minister White predicted that 85% of addresses in the state would have access to high speed services by 2018, with all addresses by 2020.

Minister Naughten’s scheme will see that timeframe pushed back to 2022 and there is no timeframe for broadband for Louth.”

Government Rural Initiative “derisory and insufficient” – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD and Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today attended the ploughing championships in Laois.

Gerry Adams commended the organisers of the ploughing championships which have again attracted huge crowds.

The Sinn Féin leader described the announcement today by the government of £6 million a year for rural Ireland as “derisory and insufficient to meet the needs of rural dwellers and communities. The announcement is pure PR spin. It’s enough to buy a media headline but is meaningless in making a difference to rural Ireland.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Rural communities and small farmers have borne the brunt of bad government policy for almost five years, including the policy of forced emigration. Given that 70% of our citizens live in rural Ireland the government needs to rural proof its decisions and provide proper investment.

Government policy has forced the closure of Garda stations, leaving citizens and communities vulnerable to crime; schools have been closed and most towns and villages are blighted with boarded up shops.

Following a focussed dialogue with rural Ireland involving thousands of people Sinn Féin produced a detailed report outlining measures we would take to rejuvenate rural Ireland and build sustainable communities.

These include:

  • Regenerating rural towns
  • Keeping open post offices, libraries, Garda stations and other public services
  • Addressing the business rates
  • Prioritising the roll out of high speed broadband.

There are of course many other issues impacting on rural Ireland that must be also addressed, including rural equality, additional supports for dairy farmers, opposition to TTIP and all-Ireland labelling.”

Louth Agricultural Show Hugely Important To Louth

Gerry & Imelda at BellurganLouth TD Gerry Adams and Cllr Imelda Munster  attended the 2015 Louth Agricultural Show which is held each year by the Dundalk Show Society.

For the third year the show was held in Bellurgan Park, on the Carlingford Road.

Teachta Adams and Cllr Munster were joined by Councillor Jim Loughran, Councillor Edel Corrigan and party activist JJ Quigley.

Speaking after the event Gerry Adams said:

“The Louth Agricultural Show is one of the great events of the year in this constituency. It has existed in one form or another for 126 years. A remarkable achievement.

The Louth Agricultural Show provides an opportunity for the farming and rural community to showcase their work during the year and the enormous contribution they make to the economy of County Louth. It’s also a fun day out for all the family.

I want to commend the organizers and all of the participants”.

Cllr Munster said “This year the proceeds from the show will go to S.N.A.P. (Special Needs Active Parents). This is a very worthwhile and important cause helping families and children with special needs.”

 

SF Team at Bellurgan

 

Adams & Carthy Address Omeath Meeting On Threats To Rural Ireland

SF Omeath meeting Mar 4Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams and EU party candidate Matt Carthy last night addressed a meeting in the Granvue Hotel in Omeath. The event focused on the crisis in rural areas and the threats posed to rural communities by rural crime, the threat to the post offices, Narrow Water Bridge and future European funding.

Teachta Adams urged those present to support Matt Cathy who is standing for Sinn Fein in the European elections. “Matt is an enthusiastic and energetic public representative. He will make an excellent MEP representing the needs of this area in Europe.”

The Sinn Féin leader warned that “at a time when rural Ireland is under attack and thousands of citizens, mainly young people, have been forced to emigrate, we need an MEP and a strong team of Sinn Féin local councillors who will defend rural Ireland and prioritize its needs.

The policies of Fine Gael and Labour; including the property tax, septic tank charges, water charges later this year and other stealth taxes are impoverishing families and hurting rural communities.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The recent report from the Irish Postmasters Union warns that the postal network will have declined by 48% by 2017 without a proper government plan. This would be devastating for rural communities and must be opposed.

Sinn Féin is for equality of access to services, and greater investment in infrastructure and facilities outside of urban centres.”

Speaking on rural crime Gerry Adams said:

One of the biggest issues now facing rural communities is crime and the fear that crime generates, especially among vulnerable citizens. Many elderly people in rural Ireland feel that they have been abandoned.

The closure of Garda stations has put the safety of communities at risk as criminals and anti-social elements receive a boost of confidence in the absence of nearby Garda stations.

The Irish Farmers’ Association, the Garda Representatives Association, political representatives from across rural Ireland and the vast majority of Gardaí, have rejected Garda station closures as they know the value of community policing.

County Louth ranks fourth among the 26 counties for crime levels.

Recently myself and Councillors Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran met An Garda Siochána on the issues of policing, crime levels and cross-border crime. I have also met senior PSNI officers.

Gardaí have acknowledged that the limited resources under which they have operated for many years, have now been cut further and that this is having a negative impact on policing.

In recent responses to my PQs the Minister for Justice revealed that Garda numbers in Louth have fallen from a high in 2010 of 314 Gardaí to a low in 2013 of 286.

Falling Garda resources will do nothing to reassure the community. What we need to see is a fully-resourced Garda plan for Louth which includes greater Garda visibility and an increase in community-based Gardaí.

The Louth TD called for greater emphasis on partnership policing between communities and the Garda. He said;We need effective partnership between the police and local communities. The Department of Justice and Equality must give proper recognition and resourcing to such groups.

Sinn Fein will continue to lobby the Minister for Justice on concluding the review of the Joint Policing Committees and will seek to ensure that the recommendations are effective and implemented.

Sinn Fein will also lobby the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to be more pro-active in conjunction with the IFA in relation to security on the farm. In the north, Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has made this a priority.

The issue of crime and anti-social behaviour in this region cannot be separated from the general economic well-being and development of the county.”

Teachta Adams has called for a proper funding package to be put in  place by government to deliver the Narrow water Bridge. He said: “The failure of the Government to ensure that the Narrow Water Bridge was built is an opportunity missed. It has been a bad blow to County Louth.

Money from Europe became available through Special European U Programmes Body because of an under-spend and Sinn Fein Cllr Jim Loughran asserting a judicial challenge. The money offered was not enough to cover the costs and the project promoters were not in a position to raise the extra capital to cover the shortfall.

The government needed to provide a relatively small €6 million funding package from the Taoiseach and the Department of Transport.

When I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil, Enda Kenny said that he was in support of the project. I am disappointed that the Taoiseach’s actions did not match his words.

The bridge will be not be built on promises. A proper funding strategy needs to be put in place.

The Narrow water Bridge project can still go ahead in the future if the political will exists.”

Finally Gerry Adams called for the creation by local councils on both sides of the border of a European Union Funding Unit that would service the region of Louth, Armagh and Down.

This would allow councils to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the European programmes, in particular the 2014-2020 INTERREG budget.

This has been done to great effect in Belfast where millions of additional funding has been drawn down as a result.

If parties are serious about investment, infrastructure, job creation, energy efficiency and tourism, they should back Sinn Fein’s proposal for a more professional approach to drawing down funding from the EU and promoting the County Louth Border region in Brussels.”