15 May 2008 Edition

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MLA urges Assembly trade link with Venezuela

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson

FOYLE Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called on the North’s Assembly to enter into a trade agreement with Venezuela to deliver low-cost heating oil to disadvantaged households in the Six Counties.
During an Assembly debate on the impact of fuel poverty this week, Anderson said:
“This is an issue which should unite all of us in this chamber because it is an absolute disgrace that families living in a so-called 21st western democracy can’t even afford to keep their children warm.
“Of course, we have no power over the fuel companies and we are operating within a system where we have a limited block budget from Britain which is never going to be enough to provide the standard of living to which all our people are entitled. Therefore we need to think outside the box. We need to focus on renewable and sustainable energy sources as a long-term solution to this issue.
“I would also refer members to a proposal from my party calling on the Executive to enter into a trade agreement with Venezuela. Venezuela has a proven track record of providing low-cost oil to socially disadvantaged areas in the US and elsewhere in the world.
“I visited Venezuela recently and met with senior government and oil company officials and I have no doubt that they are keen to explore the possibility of entering into a similar arrangement here.
“I believe that taking initiatives such as these is the kind of leadership the people want us to take and it would be unforgiveable if we fail to grasp this opportunity.”

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