Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They want to put an amusement arcade in the Castle Mill Shopping Centre – Are they mad?

Sinn Féin in Balbriggan stands with the local community in opposing plans for an amusement arcade in the Castle Mill Shopping Centre.

The company 1800 Flowers Ltd of Kildalton, Pilltown, Co Kilkenny, has recently submitted a planning application to convert unit 5 of Castle Mill Shopping Centre into an amusement arcade and it is planned that the arcade would be open from 10 am to 11 pm every day.

Sinn Féin in Balbriggan is 100% behind the residents and businesses in the area who have submitted objections to this proposal.

The area around the shopping centre is a relatively new community and is highly populated. As with many new communities in Ireland a lack of good planning has led to a lack of resources for young people and this in turn has led to instances of anti-social behaviour.

Local residents and community Gardai are working hard together to combat this anti-social behaviour and progress is being made. However, the placing of an amusement arcade in the Castle Mill Shopping Centre will be a disaster for the local community. It will no doubt act as a magnet for anti social elements from right across a very wide area and this will without doubt cause problems for many local residents.

The planning application has stated that the arcade will employ security staff between 6 pm and closing. This itself is a clear admission of the problems associated with amusement arcades. However, will these security staff help the local residents in the area when the kids are hanging around across the street or down the road? No.

The decision on the planning application will be made on 3rd August. If it is approved then there is a further 4-week period in which an appeal to that decision can be made.

We in Sinn Féin say that the council must reject this application now and if it is not rejected then Sinn Féin will assist the local community in mobilising opposition to the opening of the arcade. If the council planning department refuses to make the correct decision, then the local community must help them see that local people will not put up with such nonsense.

As a next step in that process Balbriggan Sinn Féin is sending a letter to the company that owns the premises stating that we will actively oppose the opening of the amusement arcade and we will help to organise pickets etc.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Bord Snip - Written by the rich and aimed at making the poor pay.

THERE has been an angry reaction across the 26 Counties to the recommendations to government of ‘An Bord Snip Nua’ published on 16 July.€5.3 billion of spending cuts, mainly affecting health, education and social welfare, and thousands of job losses have been recommended by the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes chaired by economist Colm McCarthy.

What have been widely described as ‘slash and burn’ recommendations have received an angry reception from health and disability groups, teachers, public sector workers, farmers’ organisations, gardaí and the defence forces. Trade unions representing workers have threatened industrial action if the government proceeds with the recommendations to attack jobs and pay.

Who wrote the report?

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has said Irish society cannot afford to implement the proposed cuts. Morgan criticised Colm McCarthy for proposing cuts to the lowest earners in society while earning €1,000 a week for preparing the report.

"The government needs to question how, in advance of the European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion in 2010, Ireland will be dealing its harshest blow yet to those struggling families that have lost their incomes as a result of job losses, those families who have to wait weeks to get any sort of subsistence from the State, the families that were encouraged to take out exponential mortgages and now have no means to make payment. For the Irish Government that are so keen to redeem themselves in the eyes of foreign lenders, the European Year will highlight how the government has failed those on the margins of society, especially if An Bord Snip’s recommendations are to be adopted.

"I especially find the remarks on welfare payments being a disincentive to labour participation repugnant. While members of the group may be privileged enough to have a career and an extra job on the side, ordinary Irish people are struggling to keep their jobs or indeed to find a job. No-one takes pride in having to stand in a queue for Social Welfare or having to scrape by on the crumbs afforded to them by government."

"Colm McCarthy surely is Doctor Evil in this respect for he has prescribed more pain and misery for the poor as a form of recovery for everyone else."

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the government has made a conscious and motivated decision to bail out the banks, indebting taxpayers for decades to come, but refuses to stimulate the economy to keep people employed and is quite happy to cut dole payments at the same time.Sinn Féin, he said, had identified €80 billion worth of savings which don’t target the vulnerable, through abandoning the "ludicrous NAMA plan". He added, "The government is on a crash diet. They don’t care about the long-term consequences, they just want to inflict pain now on sections of the economy which they have no vested interests in so they can make-up for their own mistakes and look good to international suitors."

He said the vast majority of the proposals in the ‘Bord Snip’ report should not be implemented. "The government should make this clear and not allow people struggling on social welfare or at risk of losing their jobs, to be worried sick about how they will survive."

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD said: "There must be many people around the country wondering what they did to deserve the punishment recommended to be visited on them by Colm McCarthy who was one of the cheerleaders of the disastrous property bubble that is behind much of the current mess. Indeed as recently as May 2007 DKM Consultants, which provides Mr. McCarthy with one of his other lucrative nixers, was advising people that the property outlook was bright and predicted an increase in construction output in 2009. Ironically that report was done in conjunction with the incompetent speculators of EBS.

"So it will come as no comfort to ordinary decent people around this country that the bill for the mess created by these people will arrive not at the door of the property speculators, gambling bankers, tax exiles and their puppets in the Galway tent but at those of decent hard working people whose lives and society are threatened by the consequences of the excesses and stupidity and greed of the wealthy unproductive elite."

Meanwhile Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty said, "Colm McCarthy and the other members of An Bord Snip Nua are all significantly high earners who are so far removed from the reality facing the hundreds of thousands of people dependent on social welfare that they are not qualified to recommend cuts to social welfare payments. This also goes for the members of government who will now try to implement the disgraceful cutbacks contained in the Bord Snip report.

Commenting on the report Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that if implemented its proposals would have devastating social consequences.

He said:"As well as dismantling the health service, effectively abolishing the medical card system, slashing social welfare, increasing the pupil-teacher ratio in our already under-funded schools and reducing special needs assistants, the recommendations of this report directly threaten the future sustainability of rural communities."

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the Government has no mandate to implement the sweeping measures in the report which would "devastate healthcare for the sick, education for children, care for older people and social supports for all those who need them". He called for a national debate on the way forward and a General Election.

"Our public health system is already suffering because of the continuing cuts which began in 2007. If the further cuts in this report are implemented the public health system will be plunged deeper into crisis with very serious consequences for patients. There is already a shortfall of hospital beds and nurses, insufficient numbers of GPs, inadequate primary care, long waiting lists, and cuts to a whole range of services such as home helps. To impose more cuts in health and social care services would be worthy of Thatcher at her worst and such cuts will be resisted", he said.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The fight against drugs in Balbriggan - Let's involve the community

Local Sinn Féin representative Fergus Byrne has welcomed the seizure of €1.5m worth of drugs in Balbriggan on Wednesday and we in Sinn Féin commend the Gardaí for their action.

This seizure of drugs worth €1.5m in Balbriggan will undoubtedly be a serious blow to the drugs gang responsible and Balbriggan Sinn Féin would like to congratulate the Garda officers involved.

However, whilst this Garda operation is to be welcomed it is clear from the last year or so that increased seizures are evidence of increased demand and availability of drugs in our cities and towns. A further example of this is the fact that there are more people seeking help for addiction now than for a number of years.

We all know that illegal drug use has a devastating impact on the lives on individuals, families and communities and if we in Balbriggan do not deal with this problem now then the long-term consequences could be disastrous.

Sinn Féin has a long history of supporting local communities across Dublin in trying to combat the scourge of drugs in their area. From that experience we know that the only way to tackle the drug problem is through a combined approach involving the Gardaí, support agencies for drug users and the local community.
What the government must do to help tackle the problem is to show a real commitment to taking positive action. Whether the government likes it or not what is needed is
1) EXTRA RESOURCES for the Garda drug squads.
2) EXTRA RESOURCES and increased funding for those working at the coal face in dealing with drug addiction.
3) Commitment to involving the community in the fight against drugs.

On a local level we must push our Fingal County Council and Balbriggan Town Council to give increased support and publicity to the excellent work carried out drug treatment groups active in our local areas.

However, we in Sinn Féin believe that the best way to beat drugs is by involving the local community. Initiatives such as the confidential non-Garda "dial to stop drug dealing" free phone number 1800 220 220 are to be welcomed and should be used by local people to report drug dealing in their area.

However, we also believe that the Gardaí need to actively work with local residents groups in helping to deal with all sorts of anti-social activity within a community, including drugs. Local people know what is happening in their area and they need to feel confident that the Gardaí are there to support them in keeping their community a safe place.

What is required is a positive programme to encourage the setting up of Residents Groups throughout Balbriggan. These groups should have good links with the local council and Gardaí in order to help address the needs of the local community. Local people are willing and able to help address problems in their areas, but they need to feel they have support.

If these steps are taken NOW and communites are actively supported in looking after their area, then we can win the fight against drugs in Balbriggan. However, if not then the problem of illegal drug use, and the criminality that accompanies it, will only get worse.