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Colreavy calls for greater energy price reduction.

‘…falling price of crude oil should lead to lower domestic bills for electricity and gas customers.’

Sligo News File Online.

Michael Colreavy, TD,  Sinn Fein
Michael Colreavy, TD,
Sinn Fein

Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has welcomed the reduction in energy prices announced by Bord Gáis Energy and has called on other energy providers to follow suit.

Speaking on the issue, Deputy Colreavy said:

“The falling price of crude oil should lead to lower domestic bills for electricity and gas customers.

“Today’s announcement by Bord Gáis Energy is a step in the right direction.

“At this time of the year the risk of households suffering fuel poverty is at its greatest and price reductions should benefit those most at risk in society.

“The falling price of oil should lead to reduction in what energy companies pay for energy on the international market.

“These savings need to be passed on to the customer.

“Energy companies should also use the low price of oil to fund renewable energy technology so that sustainable prices can be guaranteed into the future.

“I am calling on all energy companies operating in Ireland to reduce their charges for Irish households.”

EU Environment committee votes in favour of mandatory country of origin labelling-Lynn Boylan MEP

Stronger food labelling for processed meats.

Sligo News File Online.

Lynn Boylan, MEP, Sinn Fein.
Lynn Boylan, MEP, Sinn Fein.

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has successfully pushed for the Environment committee to accept mandatory country of origin labelling for processed meat products, despite a concerted campaign from lobby groups against the initiative.

Speaking today from Brussels Ms Boylan, GUE/NGL spokesperson on this report stated:

“I am happy with the outcome of the meeting today. The Environment Committee voted in favour of stronger food labelling for processed meats. Although there is currently legislation which ensures that unprocessed beef is labelled there is none for processed meats – so your steak will be labelled with country of origin but your burger doesn’t have to be.

The horsemeat scandal seriously dented consumer confidence and across Europe consumers have overwhelmingly shown their desire to know where the food they buy and eat comes from. In Ireland up to 95% of consumers want every stage of the animal’s growth accounted for.

The benefits of origin labelling are not limited to consumers it is clear from the number of producers and farmers that have voluntarily opted into the Bord Bia scheme in Ireland, that it has clear advantages to the food industry.

The committee vote today has sent a strong signal to the European Commission that these consumers cannot be ignored any longer. The report calls on the European Commission to come forward with mandatory origin labelling for meat with processed meat as an ingredient and many of my amendments which highlighted the need for more transparency in the food chain were endorsed.

This is an excellent step and I hope the full plenary will follow the example today.”

Talks on outsourcing of Sligo traffic warden service ongoing.

Concern whether privatised service would best serve business and other interests.

Sligo News File Online.

Ciaran Hayes, CEO, Sligo County Council.
Ciaran Hayes, CEO, Sligo County Council.

Talks are said to be ongoing regarding plans to outsource the
provision of the traffic warden service in Sligo.

County Council CEO Ciaran Hayes has recently spoken of proposals to broaden pay and display zones and put more traffic wardens on the streets of the town.

The town currently has two traffic wardens and, it’s believed
a further two are to be appointed. At one point the number
was down to one.

Traffic Wardens are represented by the Impact Trade Union.

Outsourcing of the service has been on the cards for some time,
however, there are concerns as to whether privatisation would
best serve Sligo business and other interests, particularly if it
would lead to higher parking charges and clamping.

It’s understood the council has proposed that privatisation be
introduced as a pilot project, initially for 6 months.

Perry demands restoration of Sligo mammography services.

Letter to Taoiseach, Enda Kenny insisting government reinstate facility.

Sligo News File Online.

John Perry, TD, Fine Gael.
John Perry, TD, Fine Gael.

Sligo-Leitrim TD, John Perry is bidding to have the mammography
service restored to Sligo General Hospital.

The former junior minister has written to Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
and the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar warning that he will be
taking all necessary steps to ensure the government  fulfills its
commitments with respect to the service.

The service was discontinued in 2012.

Mr. Perry is currently in talks with an investor concerning the
possible development of a distillery at the 18th century Hazelwood
House, south east of Sligo town.

Taoiseach dismisses claim state funding for Knock airport possible without EU approval.

‘Consent required under EU State aid rules and regulations.’

Sligo News File Online.

Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has said that State aid for Knock Airport is dependent on approval from the EU Commission.

He was was responding to claims by Mayo Fianna Fail TD, Dara Calleary that the Commission did not have to sanction State funding for the airport.

Mr. Calleary maintained that funding can be provided without EU
authorisation if an airport is a regional gateway or of economic signifance.

Rejecting this, Mr. Kenny said consent of the EU was required under
all state aid rules and regulations. The government, he stressed, will
continue to support the airport within the specified constraits.

Pope, in Philippines, says same-sex marriage threatens family.

“The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage…”

Catholic News Service.

 MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Appealing to the traditional values of Filipino Catholic families, Pope Francis made one of his strongest calls as pope against movements to recognize same-sex unions as marriage.

Pope Francis meets families in Manilla.

 “The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage,” the pope said on Jan. 16, hours after warning that Philippine society was “tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.”

 “As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture,” he said.

Pope Francis made his remarks at a Mass in Manila’s cathedral and then at a meeting with families in the city’s Mall of Asia Arena.

At the latter event, the pope called on his listeners to resist “ideological colonization that threatens the family.” The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said later that the pope was referring to same-sex marriage, among other practices.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who was present at the reporters’ briefing, cited claims by African bishops that foreign aid to their countries is sometimes offered on the condition that they accept “alien” views of sexuality and marriage.

Civil law in the Philippines does not recognize marriages or unions between people of the same sex.

The pope’s comments came less than a week after a speech to Vatican diplomats in which he criticized “legislation which benefits various forms of cohabitation rather than adequately supporting the family for the welfare of society as a whole,” saying that such legislation had contributed to a widespread sense of the family as “disposable.”

In November, Pope Francis told an interreligious conference on traditional marriage that preserving the family as an institution based on marriage between a man and a woman is not a political cause but a matter of “human ecology,” since “children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Jose Maria Bergoglio opposed same-sex marriage in Argentina, calling it an “anti-value and an anthropological regression” and “destructive of the plan of God,” and writing that it expressed the “envy of the devil.” But
he did not repeat such statements following his election as pope.

When asked why he had not spoken about Brazil’s legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage during his July 2013 trip to the country, the pope said the “church has already spoken quite clearly on this. It was unnecessary to return to it.”

In an interview published in September 2013, Pope Francis told Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things,  and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

The pope’s latest statements come during a year of preparation for the October 2015 world Synod of Bishops on the family, following an October 2014 extraordinary synod on the same topic.

At the earlier gathering, a midterm report stirred controversy with remarkably conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including those in same-sex unions. While such unions present unspecified “moral problems,” the document stated, they can exemplify “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice (that) constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.”

That language was absent from the final report, which quoted a 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering
homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotelyanalogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

 In a December interview with Argentine journalist Elisabetta Pique, Pope Francis described the midterm report as “merely a first draft,” and said it had mentioned “positive factors” of same-sex unions in an effort to help families support their gay members.

 “Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod; it did not cross our minds,” the pope said.

Catholic News Service.

Four out of nine Western Development Commission board members former FG and Labour councillors and candidates – Padraig MacLoclainn TD.

‘Appointments to the Commission by former Minister, Phil Hogan raised with Taoiseach.’

Sligo News File Online.

Padraig MacLoclainn, TD, Sinn Fein, Donegal North East.
Padraig MacLoclainn, TD,
Sinn Fein, Donegal North East.

Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, in Dail Eireann today, raised with Taoiseach Enda Kenny the political appointments to the board of the Western Development Commission (WDC) by former Minister Phil Hogan. Three of the WDC board members, Chairman
Paddy McGuinness, Eugene Lavin and Gerard Mullaney are former Fine Gael councillors and board members. Michael Frain ran unsuccessfully for both Fine Gael and then the Labour Party in the 2009 and 2014 local elections.

Eugene Lavin and Gerard Mullaney were both appointed only weeks after losing their county council seats in last year’s local elections.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“Today I raised the brass necked appointments of political friends on to the board of the Western Development Commission by former Minister Phil Hogan on behalf of this  Government with the Taoiseach in the Dáil chamber.

“I believe that these appointments smack of cronyism even more so than that uncovered by the John McNulty affair. In particular, the appointments of Eugene Lavin and Gerard Mullaney, only weeks after losing their county council seats in last year’s local elections
should raise eyebrows.

“Last year, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald launched our party’s policy document on corporate governance ‘Good board/bad board -Transparency, accountability and diversity on State boards’. That document called for an overhaul of how Government appoints members to state sponsored boards. Our document and proposals aim to restore confidence in state sponsored boards across all sectors, including charities in receipt of
subsidies from Government and donations from the public”.

“I have today called on the Taoiseach to review his Government’s appointments to the WDC and I have submitted a parliamentary question to the current Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government requesting that he make a statement on these appointments by his predecessor”.

 

Sligo County Council to shed more jobs.

Plan awaiting government approval.

Sligo News File Online. 

Sligo County Council SignA further forty four jobs will be cut at Sligo County Council as it
battles to reduce its massive debt pile.

CEO, Ciaran Hayes has said the council, which has a debt
overhang of upwards of €150 million, will achieve the reduction in
staff through natural wastage and not filling posts over the next four
years. The move is part of a ten year financial plan awaiting
approval by the government

Cuts of 30% have already been made to the council’s workforce.

Government demands for closure of at least one of the county’s two
motor tax offices is also under consideration. Though local business
figures and councillors are opposing the winding down of services
at Teach Laigne, Tubbercurry, it’s argued that counties much larger
than Sligo have only one tax office.

Meanwhile, the council is seeking a government bailout. At the same time, despite its prevailing debt pile, it is also among one of a number of local authorities reportedly proposing to bailout Ireland
West Airport by way of a shareholding in the development. The airport’s debt is reputed to be around €9 million. It’s believed the
plan, if agreed, could cost Sligo in the region of €2 million euro.

At a meeting of the council in July 2014, Hayes recommended councilors support the airport funding initiative in principle as more formal proposals would be brought before the members at a later date. In December, he described the plan as “an innovative collaboration between the Northwest counties and Ireland West Airport Knock…” that “…will be advanced subject to a Due Diligence report currently being compiled.”