15 December 2005 Edition

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News In Brief

Tony Smithers

Tony Smithers

Dublin City management gags councillor

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Tony Smithers has reacted furiously to efforts by City Management to gag him at a meeting of the City Council last week. Smithers, a part-time taxi driver, was prevented from speaking on the issue of taxis and hackneys. He said: " I have always made clear that I am a taxi driver. But the idea that I am not allowed talk on a vital issue of Dublin transport like the taxi system, of which I have a great deal of firsthand knowledge, is ludicrous. No-one is saying that councillors who are teachers should not discuss issues related to the Vocational Education Committees, or that architects cannot be involved in planning decisions. I am not hiding my profession. I am trying to contribute to the debate about improving the transportation system in Dublin."

Rape crisis document calls for change

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), representing 16 rape crisis centres throughout the 26 Counties, has produced a position paper calling for 19 points of change.

The document comes in the wake of a shocking report from Amnesty International in Britain on attitudes to rape. A quarter of people questioned thought women who wore tight clothes or got drunk were asking to be raped while more than a third believed girls trying to chat up men are partly or totally responsible for being attacked. The report said the attitudes contributed to so many women failing to report rapes.

The document lists legal loopholes available to defendants in rape cases and calls for legislative reform, including a statutory definition of what is meant by consent. It also demands a state-wide, funded accompaniment service to Garda stations, sexual assault treatment centres and courts for complainants in cases of sexual violence.

Lisburn- byword for bigotry

Lisburn Council has found itself at the centre of more controversy after Sinn Féin asked the Local Government Auditor in the Six Counties to investigate it for misuse of ratepayers' money.

The City Council's AGM barred Sinn Féin from the Economic Development Committee in June and officials then spent thousands of pounds consulting lawyers on whether the action was legal.

The council has since been forced to reverse the discriminatory ban.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler has demanded the council be taken to task over its actions.

Meanwhile, divisions in the Alliance Party over their Lisburn councillors' opposition to same-sex civil partnerships has resulted in their deputy leader not standing in the next assembly election.

North Down MLA Eileen Bell admitted the homophobic attitude of her colleagues, damaged her view of Alliance.

DUP division over same-sex partnerships

The DUP in Ballymoney has resisted the temptation of following the example set by their colleagues in Lisburn and refused to back a motion opposing same-sex civil partnerships.

Although DUP councillor Roy Wilson proposed that no 'no such unions be allowed by Ballymoney Borough Council or in the council area in general' his colleagues abstained in the vote fearing the cost of any legal action.

Women discuss way forward

A conference in Belfast last Saturday saw a number of women gather in the Culturlann to discuss the way forward for republican women.

Initiated by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and Jennifer McCann of the party's Belfast Executive the conference brought together many women activists.

Many of the women were veterans of struggle, while others were barely out of their teens.

Adams recognised the central role women had played in the struggle over the centuries and acknowledged their defining role in many of the key events of the past four decades.

Jennifer McCann told An Phoblacht that the party wanted to recruit more women into its structures and build on the energy and commitment shown by women over the years.

Ógra highlights Collusion at Queens

Ógra Shinn Féin activists staged a protest in Queen's University last week to highlight the establishment of a new law programme allowing serving RUC/PSNI members to study at the University.

Despite heavy handed tactics by the PSNI the protesters held a dignified and disciplined protest.

Sheena Campbell was a law student at Queens when she was murdered by a unionist death squad in collusion with the RUC/PSNI. Pat Finucane, a successful solicitor and Rosemary Nelson a human rights lawyer were both assassinated in operations involving the collusion of the British state security agencies.

Bloody Sunday book

A new book outlining the experiences of the Bloody Sunday families during the Bloody Sunday inquiry has been launched in Derry by the Bloody Sunday Trust. The book entitled the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Families Speak Out, looks at individual experiences encountered by family members and those injured on Bloody Sunday during the day to day proceedings. The book launch was attended by among others Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney and local Sinn Féin councillors.

Crowe for Dublin South West

Séan Crowe TD has been selected as Sinn Féin candidate to contest the Dublin South West constituency at the 26-County general election. Addressing the convention in Tallaght, Crowe said: "I am very much aware of the challenge which this party will face if we are to retain this seat at the next election. However, I am confident that the people of Dublin South West will respond to the hard work which Sinn Féin has been involved in the constituency over many years and not just since the last election.

Offaly Honours Manchester Martyrs

A large crowd of republicans assembled in Birr, County Offaly last weekend to mark the 138th anniversary of the execution of the Manchester Martyrs. The commemoration was organised by the local Michael Larkin Cumann, Sinn Féin.

The main speaker was Speaker Sinn Féin Councillor Brian Stanley from Laois who appealed to anyone there who hadn't yet joined the Sinn Fein party to join and help bring about political change.

ÓSF in Kilkenny

Saturday 3 December saw the first meeting of Ógra Shinn Féin in Kilkenny city.

Sinn Féin General Election candidate Kathleen Funchion, remarked that it marked a new wave of republicanism in the county. "This new Ógra cumann marks a turning point in Kilkenny's input into the struggle", she said.

The meeting was followed by an Ógra Shinn Féin recruitment leaflet drop in the city centret.

An Phoblacht
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