23 March 2005 Edition

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News in Brief

Gildernew asks what's going on with the Electoral Register

Sinn Féin Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew is urgently seeking an explanation from the Omagh Electoral Office after it sent out letters to potential voters requesting information to be sent to the office before a date that had already lapsed.

"Already this week, I know of people who have received letters asking them to forward evidence of their address before 15 March and the envelopes for the letters are dated 17 March," Gildernew told An Phoblacht on Tuesday.

"The Electoral Office has a case to answer here and we would be pressing for these people to be given a fair chance to get on the register. Nationalists have been denied their vote before, Sinn Féin are not going to let this happen again."

Racist attacks

A Bangladeshi restaurant owner was kicked and punched in the face by a number of men in a vicious racist attack in Newry on St Patrick's night.

In a separate racist attack in West Belfast, a Filipino family fled their Harrogate Street home after a man armed with a knife tried to steal their car on Friday 18 March. Despite appeals from the local community to stay, the couple moved out and are now living in accommodation provided by the hospital.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley appealed to the wider community to stand up against racist bullies.

Mass Sinn Féin resignation from Library Board

Sinn Féin Councillors Tom Hartley, Danny Lavery, Gerard O'Neill and Deputy Mayor Joe O'Donnell have all resigned from the Belfast Education Library Board in opposition to £7 million cuts to frontline services that will impact on catering, maintenance, transport and special educational needs services.

"The most vulnerable children and young people will suffer," said Hartley. "Sinn Féin will not stand over these cuts. They are the responsibility of British Minister Barry Gardiner.

"These are not one-off cuts," he warned. "There will be year-on-year cuts over the next number of years that will totally decimate vital services in the BELB area."

SDLP snubs relatives group

Relatives group An Fhírinne has accused the SDLP of snubbing an event at Magherafelt District Council aimed at highlighting RUC collusion with unionist paramilitary groups.

Members of the group were guests of Sinn Féin Council Chair Patsy Groogan on Monday 14 March and included relatives and friends of former Magherafelt Sinn Féin Councillors John Davey and Bernard O'Hagan, both killed by unionist paramilitaries. However, none of the council's three SDLP councillors turned up.

Belfast Council to fund loyalist bonfires

Nationalists are accusing unionist members of Belfast City Council of sectarianism after it was revealed that a council committee has agreed to fund a loyalist bonfire programme to the tune of £43,000, while dismissing an application to fund this year's St Patrick's Day Carnival.

Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan, who sits on the committee, was irate.

"In this decision we have seen the bigotry and sectarianism which still exists in Belfast City Hall," she said. "Here we have unionist councillors agreeing to fund loyalist bonfires which stir up sectarian tensions in the city and are totally anti Catholic, while refusing to fund the St Patrick's Day committee whose carnival included all communities and cultures in this city".

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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