5 January 2006 Edition

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News in Brief

Destruction in Poleglass

Christmas night destruction in Poleglass has been slammed by Councillor Michael Ferguson. A gang of around 40 teenagers attacked St Kieran's Primary School and tried to burn down local shops, as well as wrecking a building site of new houses. Ferguson said that there is a serious alcohol abuse problem in the area and that this sort of destruction reinforced the need to invest more in schools and the community sector.

Community worker released

Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay, has welcomed the release of British Human Rights activist Kate Burton and her parents in Palestine. McKay worked with the 24-year old whilst on an aid trip to Cuba two years ago. He said Kate was a genuine and thoughtful person and that it didn't surprise him that she is intending to stay on working in the Middle East, as she has already carried out considerable work in other parts of the world. "As someone who has also worked in Palestine, I can say that her intention to stay on there will be very much appreciated by the Palestinian people who are still suffering human rights abuses by the Israeli Government," he said.

Teacher charity

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Michael Ferguson has called on the NIO Education Minister Angela Smith to provide funding support for the charity 'Teacher Support Northern Ireland', which is due to run out of money on 31 January. The charity has established a health & well-being programme for teachers, providing workplace meditation and training for teachers in stress management. It has also worked extensively with the HSE to promote standards across schools. Ferguson asked Smith to allow investment in the group and to meet with the North South Ministerial Council to discuss developing this kind of teacher support throughout the island.

Funding for Meath railway

Meath on Track, a cross community campaign working for the return of commuter rail services to Meath, has welcomed an announcement from Iarnród Éireann requesting €1.7 million in 2006 for Navan rail plans. However, the group says it is disappointed that the funding will only cover four miles of a 26-mile line. No details have been furnished as to when planning and design of the remaining 22 miles of railway to Navan will take place.

Same-sex couples

Welcoming the introduction of civil partnerships for same-sex couples in the Six Counties, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald called on the 26-County authorities to fast track similar legislation to ensure equality across the island.

McDonald said a disparity now existed, with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people still treated as second-class citizens in the South, particularly in relation to tax, inheritance, pensions, health and state benefits.

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