10 August 2000 Edition

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Closures hit Wexford

People believe that the South West Region is minting money. After all, Wexford is on the east coast. But it isn't true. The jobs are leaving and Wexford is fast becoming a satellite town with very few employment opportunities for young people.

Six weeks ago, Celtic Seafoods, a fish processing concern, laid off their remaining staff of 20 workers plus office staff. The company, which processed herring roe for the specialist European market, has other plants in Dunmore East and in Killibegs. The workforce was largely made up of women, many of whom had worked there for over 15 years. They received a pittance of redundancy money. The average payment was £500.

In Hartmann's, a Dutch multinational company, which closed its New Ross factory two years ago, average redundancy payments were £25,000. ``Where is the justice in these settlements,'' asks Sinn Féin Councillor John Dwyer, a former union organiser at Hartmann's, who was finally made redundant for his pains.

Hartmann's Ire. was a part of the huge Dutch multinational which is the world's second largest garden furniture manufacturer with plants all over the world. It had received several million pounds in IDA money since it first set up in 1978, and employed some 200 staff before it was run down and finally closed.

Following the closure of Celtic Seafoods, a delegation went to see Tanaiste, Mary Harney looking for a task force or employment in the region. They came back with nothing.

Water Charges

The European Commission has produced a document reasserting the need for members states to charge for water, as ``the only way to encourage the rational and sustainable use of water resources''.

The paper insists that water charges are merely the local application of the ``polluter pays'' principle, which is enshrined in the Amserdam Treaty. So we are all polluters now, that is, if you drink water. Where will they go next with this distortion of the principle, which was intended to mean the producer of waste (the manufacturing company) should pay to dispose of it?

The Dublin government has reiterated its reluctance to impose water rates, given what happened the last time, and says that it is determined not to succumb to pressure from Brussels. This, of course, has not stopped the government from trying to impose waste charges across the country, in the hope that they will not meet the same fate as the water rates.

Brussels however, holds the purse strings. Through the Cohesion Funds, it is heavily involved in funding Irish water projects. If the Dublin government wins on waste charges, what is the betting they will try water charges next? Does the EU have so much control over government fiscal policy? Yes.

Focus in need of £1 million

When the 26-County Department of Health announced that it was to appeal Judge Kelly's injunction placed on the health boards to provide accommodation for troubled children, the Department specifically mentioned that they had always acted with great concern in meeting their obligations to care for the homeless children.

However, it transpires from Focus Ireland's annual report that the organisation, which does a great deal to support children who are homeless, has been forced to seek donations of £1 million to enable it to meet its running costs in the provision of facilities for homeless young people.

Just who is the state kidding? What is the inexplicable parsimony that Focus Ireland is forced to seek donations when the state, as Mary Harney tells us, ``is awash with money''.



Wexford Sinn Féin hits cyberspace

Sinn Féin in Wexford has been coming on in leaps an dbounds in recent years, and now New Ross Sinn Féin has stolen a march on cumainn throughout the country by setting up its own Web site.

It's a source of information about the local Sinn Féin organisation, with links to Sinn Fein nationally. The site also deals with local issues like housing, the lack of employment, factory closures and waste management, which has been of particular interest in Wexford, where the County Council rejected the proposed regional plan for an incinerator at Campile.

The site is also a local activist's dream, with links to a host of interesting and relevant sites.

The site, which attracted 400 visitors in its first month, features excellent graphics and animation to suit the day that's in it. Its designer says this is only the beginning.

As the media keep telling everyone, Sinn Fein is an upwardly mobile party that's going places with youth, and New Ross is most definitely on the map, somewhere in cyberspace.

Check it out at http://sfnr.cjb.net/

You can even e-mail your comments, at the click of a button.

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