Mid-Ulster Sinn Féin public representatives met with a number of Lough Neagh fishermen in Toomebridge last Friday.
The meeting focused on the sustainability and needs of the eel and scale fishing industries to the lough shore area.
The meeting heard concerns from the fishermen in terms of possible impacts of Brexit to eel exports, the loss of EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Status and the EU interpretation of the eel becoming an endangered species all of which presently contributes to the uncertainty around the long term sustainability of the industry at present.
Commenting Sinn Féin Loughshore Councillor Ronan Mc Ginley said;
“The meeting was very informative in terms of obtaining an understanding of the major challenges being faced by the fishermen along the lough. The implications around the north`s withdrawal from the European Union present this local industry with many uncertainties and problems at present”.
Cllr McGinley continued;
“Fishing families have proven their resilience down through the generations within the lough shore area. The present generation are determined to overcome these challenges, one of which is being able to build family homes and reside within the lough shore countryside. The fishermen are seeking the adoption of rural planning policies of a similar nature to that which currently exists for farmers who wish to reside in the countryside.
Fishing families in the lough shore area should have similar opportunities to that of rural farmers to apply for planning permissions. Sinn Féin have committed to having Mid-Ulster District Council along with other councils along the lough shore, explore the possibilities to create new planning policies for family fishing businesses allowing them to sustain their businesses”
Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy said;
“I support the principle within planning that fishermen should have the same rights to building a home in the rural area as farmers, which is currently one house every ten years.
‘Fishermen make a great contribution to the rural community and it is important that they have the right to build a home to continue the line of fishermen and women.
‘There are a number of issues which are as relevant to fishing as they are to farming- for example, compensation for disasters such as flooding- I feel that the department need to consider this.’
The meeting of the Mid Ulster District Council Environment Committee met during the week to discuss bonfires.
The meeting was attended by all parties, and was focussed on bonfires that take place on Mid Ulster Council property.
Chair of the committee, Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley, said after the meeting;
“I believe the meeting went well. There is always the potential for disagreement on issues like this, but I am glad councillors approached it in a mature and respectful manner. We have a unanimous agreement on how to move positively forward, and I look forward to the outcomes produced by the Bonfire Working Group over the next few months”.
Cllr McGinley cont;
“This was never an attack on culture. The council has a responsibility when events take place on its property to ensure a safe place for all, accountability and respect. Burning illegal materials, lack of insurance, hate crimes etc are examples where this council needs to step up and ensure risk is reduced. The approach agreed by all parties on Thursday night will lay the foundations for accountable, safe and respectful use of council property”.
The Mid Ulster District Council is set to hold a special meeting of the Environment Committee to discuss ‘Rogue Bonfires’ across the district.
Concerns have been raised by Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McGuigan who said;
“We have been liaising with all public bodies through a cross Party bonfire working group. Despite our best efforts to mitigate the problems associated with a number of them, illegal practices continue and are having serious detrimental impacts to the quality of life of many residents within our district. As Sinn Féin Councillors, we feel this is unacceptable”.
Cllr McGuigan continued;
“I have requested a special meeting of the Council’s Environment Committee to ensure everything is being done to reduce risk to rate payers as a result of illegal activity”.
Chair of the Mid Ulster Environment Committee, Cllr Ronan McGinley said;
“After receiving corresponded from Cllr McGuigan, I feel it’s appropriate to hold a meeting to discuss a number of issues he has raised. We need to explore a number of areas, including the need to investigate the financial costs incurred, clarification of risk assessments and public liability, and also to ensure that, as a council, we are reducing risk in line with our responsibilities”.
The special meeting of the Environment Committee is due to take place in Cookstown Council offices on 17th August.
Sinn Féin’s Group Leader Ronan McGinley has said his party is prepared and ready for a big year ahead for the Mid Ulster District Council.
The council is due to hold its AGM on the 1st of June in Dungannon.
Cllr McGinley said :
“Sinn Féin has continued to be the driving force behind the Mid Ulster District Council moving positively forward. The council achieved a great deal in its first three years, and Sinn Féin has been critical to this success. By working in positive partnership with council staff, we have ensured a high standard of service delivery for the people of Mid Ulster”.
Sinn Féin has not disclosed who will be taking positions of responsibility for the incoming year, however it has been confirmed that Cllr McGinley will continue as the parties Group Leader in Mid Ulster.
Speaking after an internal Sinn Féin meeting, Cllr McGinley said;
“I’m proud to have been selected again by the Sinn Féin Council team to lead the group into the 2017/18 term. I will continue to fulfil the role to the best of my ability, and have no doubt Sinn Féin will continue to deliver for the people of Mid Ulster. Our council team is very strong and experienced, and it’s a privilege to work along side them to represent the people of Mid Ulster”.
Sinn Féin are expected to nominate a number of positions of responsibility within the council on the 1st June.
Mid Ulster Councillor Ronan McGinley has called on people to slow down on local roads. This comes after a number of complaints were made during meetings and local engagements by the Sinn Féin team around the Loughshore area.
The Councillor has called on both local people, and those passing through the area, to be mindful of others, to remember their personal responsibility when in charge of vehicles and to ‘simply slow down’.
Cllr McGinley stated,
“The roads around the Loughshore can be dangerous for a number of reasons. We have seen a significant increase in usage of our local road network, with bigger and heavier vehicles in operation. This has in turn led to a higher rate of disrepair. These points have been raised to Transport NI and I will continue to lobby for investment in this area, an area which I believe has been underinvested for far to long.
However, this particular campaign is about speed. The simple fact is that if people do not slow down, someone is going to get killed on our roads.
There is a large volume of traffic passing through this area, and local residents have continuously raised the fact that speed is becoming a higher risk every day. Despite many speed restricted areas, cars, vans, lorries continue to break the limits.
We can call for measures to be put in place to slow vehicles down, and in some areas, this may be appropriate. But the most effective way that we will increase safety on the roads is for people to take responsibility themselves, and simply slow down.
I would call on all drivers to take responsibility and be mindful of others before something irreversible happens”.
2017 has been an impressive year for Loughshore Boxing Club. Established only a year ago, the club has got off to a great start with a number of awards in junior categories, and most recently three All Ireland medals in the Seniors.
The achievements of the club were recognised tonight by the Mid Ulster District Council who now plan to invite the three All Ireland champions to a Civic Reception.
Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley nominated the boxers for their awards, and after the meeting said:
“Boxing has had a proud history around the shores of Lough Neagh. For a period there was no local club, but Loughshore ABC has filled that gap. Not only have the committee and volunteers worked hard to get the premises and club up to scratch, they have helped bring home the silverware.
Most recently, Kayleigh Magee, Brian Cassidy and Dean Scullion brought home All Ireland medals, a wonderful personal achievement, and they are great role models and ambassadors for the club”.
Cllr McGinley, himself a club member and member of its committee, continued:
“I asked my colleagues on the council to recognise Lougshore ABC as it’s hard to believe the achievements of the club and its Boxers in just under a year. Keep your eyes out for this club in the future, more champions are on the way”.
A cross party delegation from Mid Ulster District Council met with the Under Secretary of State Kris Hopkins following a debate in the chamber regarding Brexit.In July of this year, Sinn Féin brought a motion raising concerns of the negative impact Brexit will have on the people of Mid Ulster. The meeting yesterday was a follow up to this discussion and took place in the Mid Ulster District Council offices in Dungannon.
The Sinn Féin council group leader for Mid Ulster, Ronan McGinley, led the delegation made up of two Sinn Féin and two SDLP representatives. Representatives from the DUP and UUP failed to attend the meeting.
Cllr McGinley said:
“56% of the people of the North, Nationalists, Unionists and others voted to remain in the EU. The British and Irish government must respect and give expression to that mandate. The damage that the imposition of an EU border will cause on the entire island of Ireland is clear for all to see and has been well articulated by respected academics, economists and politicians. It is clear that the British government cannot guarantee there will be no return to a hard border and the Irish Government cannot guarantee it either”.
Cllr Niamh Doris, who also attended the meeting said:
“It was good to see that Kris Hopkins attended the meeting as requested by the council in July, and that he was engaged in the conversation with us. However, I stated to him that Martin McGuinness was correct to criticise Theresa May for not attending the meeting of the British Irish Council last Friday, it was the first meeting of the British-Irish Council that British Prime Minister Theresa May had the opportunity to attend and she did not show up. We fear this is further evidence that this British government doesn’t know what it’s doing and has no plan or strategy in terms of Brexit. The people of Mid Ulster share this concern and are anxious about the negative impacts Brexit will have locally”.
The Mid Ulster delegation argued that more needs to be done to explore special status for the North, reiterated the need for the Irish Government to act in the interests of the entire island of Ireland, and raised real concerns around how Brexit will impact Mid Ulster socially, culturally and economically.
Cllr McGinley finished by saying:
“Sinn Féin make no apology for our continued stand that the best way forward for Ireland is through reunification. We will continue to work for and campaign for that legitimate goal. Those who argue now is not the right time for a border poll are wrong”.