6 April 2006 Edition

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In Brief

Lisburn Council investigation urged

Sinn Féin Lisburn Council group leader Cllr Paul Butler has written to the Local Government Auditor asking him to investigate Lisburn Council's spending of over £20,000 of ratepayer's money to pay for legal advice. The advice relates to controversial areas opposed by Unionsts such as the displaying of flags and issues relating to equality in general. This was a scandalous waste of ratepayers money he said.

Gerry Adams meets Smith

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams last week spoke to Angela Smith British Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on the future of the TriVirix Company on the Springvale site in West Belfast. He expressed concern at lack of interest within Invest NI over the issue. He said the government should be protecting the substantial public investment already made, protecting the skills-base, and protecting employment in an area of socio-economic need.

FG Councillor got €20,000

At the Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption it has emerged that Dublin Fine Gael councillor Ann Devitt received €20,000 from builder Joe Moran in 2002. Devitt who was then chair of the Northern Area Health Board received the money for negotiating access through health board lands for re-zoned land at Lissenhall Swords.

Devitt, who seconded the original motion to re zone the land at Lissenhall owned by Moran, admits urging fellow Fine Gael councillors to support the motion, but denies a conflict of interest on the basis that she told health board officials she was acting as a consultant rather than health board chair.

Speed urged in demilitarisation

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has welcomed the removal of watch towers from South Armagh and called for the process to be completed speedily. Speaking 3 April he voiced the dismay and frustration felt in the community at the slow pace of demilitrisation. The people of South Armagh need to know that in removing the Jonesboro watchtower, there is not a correlating increase in covert spying operations said Murphy.

Bairbre de Brún in Basque country

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún travelled to the Basque Country as part of a European Parliamentary Basque Friendship Group on 31 March. Speaking before she left de Brún said the purposes of the trip were to look at developments since the ETA cease-fire and to attend an event in support of the peace process. She urged the Spanish Government to release Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi.

Amendments to Criminal Justice Bill 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has put forward amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which would prevent the issuing of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) until the Children Act 2001 is in effect. He said the ASBO provisions currently before the Oireachtas allow for a serious and open-ended curtailment of some of the most fundamental rights of individuals. There was also ample evidence that they do not work, he said.

Nuclear power never acceptable - Morgan

Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has reacted angrily to comments this week by Forfás, a government advisory body, that "Ireland should consider the possibility of developing nuclear energy."

Morgan said that Nuclear power will never be an acceptable option in Ireland. He said the Forfás comments were kite flying and pointed out that they come only a short time after the Government refused to join with Austria and Germany in opposing nuclear power at the recent European Council.

"The Irish people are overwhelmingly opposed to nuclear power. It will never be acceptable here. The potential costs of nuclear power in terms of the destruction of human life and the environment are a price the Irish people have made clear they are not willing to pay", said the Louth TD

International day against racism

As part of the party's Fáilte initiative, civic receptions welcoming people from all ethnic backgrounds were hosted by Sinn Féin mayors and chairpersons in council areas across the Six counties. Events to mark the International Day Against Racism took place in Moyle, Magherfelt, Dungannon, Derry, Fermanagh, Newry, Strabane and Omagh.

The initiative also acknowledged the difficulties faced by many migrant workers and vowed to campaign for increased funding and joined up planning to provide health, education and housing for migrant workers.

Cricketer wins racial abuse case

An Indian cricketer racially harassed by Sion Mills Cricket Club where he both worked and played has been awarded £6,000 in compensation. It was revealed by the Equality Commission that when the man complained he was victimised by the club.

The case was one of a series of race cases highlighted by the Equality Commission on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Head of strategic enforcement at the Equality Commission Eileen Lavery, said the four cases reveal continuing difficulties in the workplace, including allegations of harassment, non recruitment and unfair dismissal.

Kerr launches 'pubs and clubs initiative'

Brian Kerr, former manager of the 26 County soccer team, was in Belfast to help launch an anti-racism campaign in West Belfast.

The 'Pubs and Clubs Initiative', was organised by the West Belfast Anti-Racism Network and took place in the West and Social Club on Friday 24 March.

At the launch WARN spokesperson Flair Campbell said that up to 40,000 beer mats, posters and leaflets were distributed to publicans for use on their premises.

The move is seen by WARN as a way of raising the issue of racism across the West Belfast community.

Also present at the launch was Mickey Culbert, Antrim senior football manager, Derek Hanway of An Munia Tober, a Travellers support group and many community activists from across West Belfast.

Legal advice sought on rural planning proposals

Omagh District Council voted on 27 March, to seek legal advice on recent rural planning proposals and to enlist the support of other Councils west of the Bann in a combined strategy to oppose the Direct Rule administration's plans. Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Begley said in areas West of the Bann few planning applications would meet the qualifying criteria for what the proposals describe as a viable unit.

Board backtracks over education cuts

Unelected members of the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) have bowed to British government pressure and voted to implement budget cuts to education.

The BELB had previously rejected the cuts, refusing to do the "British government's dirty work."However, the Board has now voted by 15 votes to 14 to accept the cuts.

Both Sinn Féin and the trade union, NIPSA, have condemned the BELB decision.

New Cumann in Killyclogher

West Tyrone Republicans convened last week to publicly launch the Murray/Mc Aleer Sinn Féin Cumann. The new Cumann which is based in the Killyclogher and outlying area is named in memory of local republican, Kevin Murray and former Sinn Féin Councillor, Barney Mc Aleer. Kevin was killed in action along with his comrade Volunteer Patrick Mc Donald in Dungannon on 15 March 1974 and Barney was Sinn Féin Councillor for the area, serving three terms between 1989 and 2005. Barney passed away on 9 September last year after a courageous battle against cancer. Above Sinn Féin Councillor Declan Mc Aleer speaks at the launch which was also attended by West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty (seated).

SDLP reject fair trade

SDLP and Unionist Councillors have rejected a Sinn Féin motion which would have committed Moyle Council to promoting free trade. Ballycastle Sinn Féin Councillor Cara McShane, who proposed the motion said she was disappointed by its rejection 28 March. The decision by local Unionist and SDLP Councillors to reject this along with the suggestion that this should be left to other people to take care of is petty and does not take account of public opinion said McShane.

Kerrymen tour West Tyrone

A group of Kerrymen republicans travelled to Tyrone last week to attend the Kerry v Tyrone match. They are pictured here at the Republican monument in Cappagh with former political prisoner from the area, Brian Arthurs and Sinn féin Councillor Declan Mc Aleer who took them on a tour of republican graves and monuments in that part of Tyrone. On their visit they met the families of IRA volunteers killed from the area

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