Sinn Féin MEP challenges Von Der Leyen on “lack of engagement” over Article 16 shambles
Today in the European Parliament, Ireland’s Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus questioned the Commission on its “Outrageous” attempt to use Article 16 of the Irish Protocol.
Speaking from the floor of Parliament MacManus said, “It is unacceptable that the Commission didn’t see the potential of destabilising the Withdrawal Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement by proposing the use of Article 16 of the Irish Protocol. We must ensure that the fiasco isn’t repeated.”
The Sinn Féin MEP also used his speaking time to call for an openness in communication between Brussels, Dublin and Belfast on all such matters, requesting a “structural commitment with the north of Ireland at all levels, recognising its special status as defined in the Protocol.”
MacManus concluded the address by urging “consistent dialogue with the Joint First Ministers” and for an EU understanding of their responsibilities to Irish Citizens in the six counties. “There needs to be a systemic engagement with citizens, communities and their elected representatives. We must find a way to ensure that EU decisions that directly affect nearly two million north of Ireland citizens – currently without their input – is addressed and resolved. There must be no democratic deficit.”
Speaking immediately after the debate MEP MacManus said “In my opinion it is deeply concerning that the EU did not see the potential for destabilisation of the agreement. This cannot happen again, and you can be sure that we will be working with colleagues across Parliament to ensure it never does!
MacManus concluded by expressing concern on how the Commission are handling the situation. “The silence we’ve witnessed today from President Von Der Leyen and the Commission despite numerous questions regarding the Article 16 debacle is nothing short of unacceptable. It is certainly a cause for grave concern. During many questions from Irish MEPs and others during the course of debate, we saw notable absences and a complete silence in terms of our search for answers to the Commission’s mishandling of the crisis.”
Councillor Edel Corrigan has warned people walking in St Helena’s Park to be wary of the state of the footpaths following the recent bad weather.
Some of the pathways are impassable, forcing walkers to manoeuvre round them onto the grass area which is extremely mucky and slippery.
Cllr Corrigan said “I am think of older people here having to decide to risk the mud or to wade through the water and who may find themselves losing their balance.
“I have contacted the Council who have agreed to put a temporary measure in place this week. That particular part of the Park has a high water table
anyway so with the added rain the grassy area has become saturated and that’s why we have the muck.
“Normally this wouldn’t arise but with the increase in the number of people out walking now because of Covid and more footfall walking around the large puddle it has exacerbated the problem in the grassy area.
“I would ask that people take care until these temporary measures can be put in place.”
Cllr Corrigan & Eugene Garvey survey the muck
Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has called on the government to review the ban on music and dancing at weddings.
The Louth Deputy said: “There are many people out there who have decided to continue with their wedding plans and have made huge sacrifices to do so.
“Couples have cut guest lists and changed venues in order to comply with the public health regulations. In spite of the difficulty this has caused, these couples have adapted and persevered because they want to get married and have a great day celebrating their love with their families and friends.
“However, the reaction from couples getting married to the most recent decision by the government and Fáilte Ireland to ban music and dancing at weddings has been one of extreme disappointment. The couples I have spoken to feel this is a mean-spirited decision by the government which will only serve to ruin their wedding day.
“The public health restrictions are already very specific and restrictive – 25 people only at a wedding – so this is a strange decision.
“This ban is not stated in the government’s regulations and has only subsequently been decided by the Minister for Health, the Minister for Tourism and Fáilte Ireland. This matter should be reviewed by government so couples can have some sort of music and dancing at their weddings in a safe and secure way.”
Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the announcement by Taoiseach Micheál Martin that a review of pay by student nurses will be completed by the end of the month and that those who are not able to get part-time work can avail of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
The Sinn Féin deputy was one of a number who raised the issue with the government during the Order of Business at Leinster House on Tuesday.
Addressing the Taoiseach, Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘Student nurses should be paid, particularly when they do essential necessary work and at a point in time when there are unable to work in other health settings.
‘Now that the Government has made its decision, I welcome that some can avail of the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP. I also welcome that there will be a review of allowances.
‘Third year nursing and midwifery students in the Dundalk Institute of Technology, DkIT, brought this to my attention. Would it be possible for this review as it relates to allowances to be fast-tracked? The payment could be front-loaded and paid upfront to ease some of the financial hardship that they are dealing with’.
In response, the Taoiseach said: ‘The allowances review will be completed by the end of December. The intention then is to act very quickly on that.
‘The pandemic unemployment payment decision was made between the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Protection and will be available to student nurses who cannot partake in normal part-time work because of Covid-19. That is where things are at the moment but we are committed to protect the degree programme itself’.
Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has referred to the new junction layout in Annagassan as ‘an embarrassment’ and is demanding for it to be rectified immediately.
The Farm Road Junction in Annagassan was ‘upgraded’ recently but according to Cllr McGeough “they narrowed the entry/exit so much that there is barely a full car breadth between both lanes. I don’t know who measured the mouth of the junction but they must have thought everyone using that junction was going to be driving minis.
“When you turn into the road, you have to ensure there is no car waiting to exit because you need to take up both lanes when you turn in. There are wheel marks on the footpath at either side as cars have had to mount the pavement either to enter the junction or to leave it to avoid other vehicles.”
Cllr McGeough also hit out at the lack of foresight. “What if there is an emergency and a fire engine or ambulance needs to get down that road in a hurry? They will have to stop and manoeuvre their way round that junction which will cost precious time. There is a bus service along Farm Road several times a day and it is a joke watching the poor driver waiting until the junction is clear of traffic before attempting an extremely challenging manoeuvre just to enter the road. I honestly believe that every time the bus driver manages to get in or out of Farm Road safely they should get a round of applause. The whole thing is an embarrassment for all those involved in that junction upgrade.”
Cllr McGeough said “No-one is happy with this junction and after several representations from local residents and farmers in particular and after consultation with transport providers I will be demanding that Louth County Council rectify this fiasco immediately and not put it on the long finger citing lack of resources. This is a mess and it needs to be put right immediately.”
Following the Ardee Municipal Meeting, Cllr McGeough was informed that a review of the junction would be undertaken immediately. At the meeting Cllr McGeough referred to a friend’s description of the realignment of the junction as the “biggest controversy in Annagassan since the Viking invasion of 841AD”