2 December 2004 Edition
Mary Lou McDonald visits Cork
Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald visited a number of community and family centres in Cork last week to promote Sinn Féin's policy on childcare provision. She found a common theme of underfunding, neglect by central and local government, but a strong a determined community spirit in the face of this neglect. Childcare, particularly affordable childcare, is the poor relation interms of government funding.
Many projects survive on CE or FÁS schemes and the regular turnover means that expertise and training is lost every few years. Childcare provision should be seen as a proper job and funded as such by government. Lack of childcare facilities mean that many children do not have any pre-schooling and go into large primary school classes unprepared. They are then at a further disadvantage because underesourced schools cannot give them the support they need. This disadvantage may stay with them all the way through school and is a contributory factor to early school leaving.
On Thursday 25 November, a representative group of farmers from various parts of West Cork met with McDonald and Councillor Anne O Leary to impress on them their huge concerns for the future of farming in the Disadvantaged Areas.
The main areas addressed were the National Reserve, Modulation, the upcoming review in 2006 of the Area Based payments, the weanling issue, REPS, lack of Indexation and Walkways payments. The farmers felt that these are matters that need to be raised at a European level as a matter of urgency.
"The farmers left me with a clear impression that there are many issues that need to be taken up on their behalf at European level and I fully intend to do so," said Mary Lou. "While Sinn Féin supports the introduction the Single Farm Payment as a potential security for farmers, it is now clear that many areas were left unresolved and that there are significant groups who may lose out. Those problems need to be addressed both at national and EU level and myself and our representatives in Leinster House will continue to ensure that this is the case."
The Sinn Féin representatives also met a delegation from the Bantry Concerned Action Group to discuss the way planning was granted to Ballybane Windfarms Ltd for a windfarm at Glanta Commons near Bantry.
According to the campaigners, permission was given without without any indication of the route for the pylons from the windfarm to the ESB network. The resources and legal privileges of the ESB are now being used to force through planning permission for the powerline.
"Little consideration has been given to the views of the residents on the proposed route," said group chair Joe Burke, citing in particular the proximity of power lines to homes and people's worries about cancer and leukemia. They asked McDonald to present their case to the appropriate authorities in Brussels.