Sinn Féin are calling for the Mid Ulster District Council to support the recommendation made by the Constitutional Convention to extend the right to vote in Presidential elections to all Irish citizens regardless of their place of residency.
There is a mixture of deep disappointment and anger among the broad nationalist family in the north at the decision of the Taoiseach not to hold a referendum to change the constitution to allow the people of the north and the Irish diaspora the opportunity to vote for our president in the 2018 election.
Sinn Féin’s council group leader Ronan McGinley said,
“It is understandable that people had an expectation that a referendum would be held following the conventions recommendation . A lot of people are looking forward to the day that they will be able to vote for their President. The Taoiseach’s decision not to hold a referendum is unacceptable”.
“The people of the north and the Irish Diaspora are part of this nation. They should be included in it and not excluded as the Taoiseach is trying to do with this decision. Sinn Féin are calling on the broad nationalist community to unite and lobby the Taoiseach to reverse his decision, which is why I am bringing this motion to the council.
I am asking the council to make its voice heard to the Taoiseach, we have been excluded from the rest of this nation for too long, it has to end”.
The Department of Communities has implemented a consultation which may result in the loss of jobs and much needed services in Cookstown and Magherafelt.
At tonight’s meeting of the Mid Ulster District Council, the decision was taken to communicate with the Minister and the Department in opposition to the potential job losses.
Sinn Féin Councillor Peter Bateson supported the decision of Mid Ulster council this evening stating,
“We would like to see an immediate suspension of the consultation in order to ensure the Department carry out necessary rural proofing. We cannot stand by and see jobs and services leave the area”.
Cllr Bateson’s remarks were supported by party colleague Ronan McGinley who highlighted,
“Sinn Féin have been proactive on challenging the Department regarding the alleged issue of little or no communication with staff, and if this is the case it needs rectified. We have written to the Minister and made the case that front line services in the area need to be protected, especially in the midst of massive changes to welfare. We have sought a meeting with the Minister to discuss our concerns with this consultation
The Mid Ulster District Council have voted in support of the Sinn Féin motion calling for the view of the majority of people in the north to be respected in relation to ‘Brexit’.
Group leader for Sinn Féin, Cllr Ronan McGinley, brought the motion to the chamber for discussion after the overwhelming majority of citizens in the north voted to remain in the EU.
Cllr McGinley said:
“I’m happy the Council supported my motion in the July meeting. I asked for the motion to be heard as Sinn Féin are aware that local people are still concerned and anxious about what the future may bring. If Article 50 is triggered and the north of this island is dragged out of Europe against its will, I believe the massive void which will be left will only be filled by the empty promises of the leave campaigners’.
“People are worried about the impact it will have on our economy, and are angry about the way the DUP and others continue to ignore the will of the majority of the people in the North”.
When asked about the outcome of the meeting, Cllr McGinley replied,
“I’m glad Sinn Féin were supported by the majority of this council. Sinn Féin have been strong campaigners for remaining in Europe and have ensured the Mid Ulster residents point of view will be respected and advocated to the office of First and Deputy First Minister.
I have to say I’m disappointed that not everyone supported the motion. Some Councillors feel that it’s ok to ignore the majority of people from this part of the island, I’m glad that Sinn Féin do not. The decision of our citizens needs to be respected. We have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of the people of Mid Ulster. We need to challenge those who can make a difference, and we need to highlight the fact that the people of Mid Ulster spoke, as did the majority of people who live in the North, and they should not be ignored”.
Sinn Féin have brought forward a motion to be heard at the July meeting of the Mid Ulster District Council. The meeting will take place on Thursday night.
Group leader for Sinn Féin, Cllr Ronan McGinley, asked for the motion to be discussed after the overwhelming majority of citizens in the north voted to remain in the EU.
Cllr McGinley said:
“Right across the 6 counties, the majority of people voted to remain within Europe. It is clear from speaking to local people that there is concern across Mid Ulster within our business community, the voluntary and community sector, the private sector and within agriculture”.
“People are worried about the impact it will have on our economy, and are angry about being dragged out of Europe against the will of the majority. It is imperative that the council discuss this in detail to assess what impact it will have on our area, and to advocate the view of the majority”.
Commenting on what Cllr McGinley believed the outcome of the meeting would be, he said:
“The decision of our citizens needs to be respected. We have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of the people of Mid Ulster. We need to challenge those who can make a difference, and we need to highlight the fact that the people of Mid Ulster spoke, as did the majority of people who live in the North, and they should not be ignored”.
Mid Ulster District Council is set to discuss a deficit that exists within current local government legislation to provide full access to democracy in times of maternity and paternity leave for Councillors.
The motion is being brought to the June council meeting by Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley who has raised the issue with the Council’s Chief Executive.
Cllr McGinley said:
“If a Councillor intends to take maternity or paternity leave they face a tough decision, to give up their position on council or leave their constituents unrepresented. The legislation is complex, but it appears not to support Councillors and family life. Councillors who commit to public service are not treated as employees, therefore they are not covered by employment legislation. This has an extremely negative impact on individuals who are working hard to strike a balance between their professional and home life”.
“If a councillor is seeking to take maternity or paternity leave, they should be afforded the same rights as those in employment. A Councillor can take time out, but they are not allowed to be replaced if they intend to return to Council duties after the period of absence. This leaves the voice of all those who voted unheard and this is unacceptable”.
Cllr McGinley continued,
“We have an obligation to make public service available to everyone, therefore this situation needs to change quickly. That is why I am requesting that the Council recognises this deficit, and also sets up a meeting with the Minister of Communities to request a resolution”.
The council is due to meet on Thursday night where this will be discussed.
Sinn Féin’s group leader in Mid Ulster, Ronan McGinley, has contacted the Chair of the Mid Ulster District Council requesting a special meeting of the Council to discuss the impact of Brexit for local people and business.
The majority of voters in Mid Ulster voted to remain in the recent referendum, and the Sinn Féin council team believe there is disappointment and concern among Mid Ulster residents.
Cllr McGinley said:
“Support for remaining in Europe was shown, not only in Mid Ulster, but across the North. There is a blatant democratic deficit highlighted in this referendum, this part of the island is to be dragged out of Europe against the people’s wishes. The decision will have impact on the daily lives of our citizens, and the operation of our local business and farming industry. It is imperative that this deficit is challenged.
The outcome of the vote strengthens the case for a border poll here in Ireland, it’s time people have the opportunity to have their voice heard through a referendum on this issue.”
Cllr McGinley continued,
“I fear the agriculture industry, one of the most important industries on this island, one which holds great importance in Mid Ulster, now faces serious problems. I haven’t much confidence in the British government replacing the funding and subsidies received by Europe, this is going to be felt by our friends and neighbours. This will impact everyone and all sectors. I have asked the current Chair of the Council to hold a Special Meeting so that we can discuss the outcome and ensure Mid Ulster continues to move forward positively.”
Speaking about the current status of the European Union, Cllr McGinley was not completely complimentary,
“Although Sinn Féin supported the remain vote in this referendum, as a Party we have constantly highlighted the need for reform in the EU. There is a real need to reinstall trust. The institutions must take on board the growing concerns of voters.”
Sectarian graffiti has appeared along the Battery road, damaging public property and causing upset among local people.
Sectarian slogans have appeared along the arterial route to Cookstown on bus stops and the road itself, and residents have contacted a local councillor to highlight their concern and anger.
Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley has hit out at those who carried out the vandalism,
“Community relations around the Loughshore are generally good. To see this recent graffiti is extremely disappointing. It’s not acceptable at any level and I would ask those involved to catch themselves on. We are entering into a time of year where tensions can be high, it’s imperative that silly acts like this are stopped’.
The Sinn Féin councillor had asked council officials to step in and remove the graffiti, commenting on this Cllr McGinley said,
“Council resources, like everything else, are stretched. I’m disappointed that I have to ask our council officials to do this, but offensive and sectarian vandalism should not be tolerated. People should not be forced to look at this as they go about their business. I’m sure council will react quickly, but those responsible should know that their foolish behaviour is not only offensive, but wasting rate payers money and council officials time. They should grow up and engage in something positive.