Thursday, 29 January 2009

This time it's Ravenhill's turn

So the South & East Belfast Sinn Féin team have moved on from Rosetta and will spend the next two weeks carrying out the constituency survey in Ravehill.

Already a number of issues have been highlighted and Alex Maskey has already been in touch with constituents in Rosetta regarding a varied of issues highlighted during the survey.

For me this is a further positive opportunity to engage with residents in Ravehill as it falls into the Pottinger Council Constituency.

We'll be out and about again over the coming two weeks and I look forward to meeting people on the doors and hearing their issues, One consistent one for me tonight was the issue of the proposed extension to Belfast City Airport. Sinn Féin opposes the extension and stands firm in calling for a public inquiry into any proposed extension, as someone who lives in the Short Strand I know full well the difficulties in living under a flight path and sympathise completely with the residents who brought their concerns to out attention tonight during the survey.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

just heard the good news

Beidh na ríthe ar ais!
The Kings of Leon are to headline this summer's Oxegen Festival!
Anyone who read my blog about KOL's concernt in Belfast will know that myself, colm, cormac and diarmuid all made a pledge to go and see them no matter where in Ireland they came (at the weekend cormac was talking about going to see them in valencia!) so it looks like na buachailí will be for hitting the road this summer.
Ar dóigh!
The sad news is that NME is reporting that this will be their only appearance in Ireland this year.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

mól an óige agus tiocfaidh sí

Last night I was invited to take part in a cross party panel discussion by the Belfast YMCA's 'Youth in Government' Programme.

I took part in the same event last year and much like then last night's event was brilliantly attended and brilliantly organised. There is no such thing as sitting back quietly at these discussions, the young people, who have been on the course, cut us no slack.

I was joined on the panel by Cllr Tom Akin (Alliance), Cllr Matthew McDermott (SDLP), Basil McCrea (UUP), Cllr Christopher Stalford (DUP) and fellow East Belfast man Cllr Dr John Kyle (PUP).

There were a broad range of topics debated, including the notion of a shared future, Education, Irish Language and Victims. All of us on the panel were put under a fair amount of pressure by the audience and I say fair play to you, no point in us weighing in to be given an easy ride!!

There was of course, a few more light hearted moments, not least of all when Tom Akin (who was delayed and arrived slightly late for the meeting) was finally allowed to speak! (maith thú Tom as a faoighde) another was when Christopher Stalford informed the audience he was only 26 to a somewhat loud reply "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"

For me the real discussions usually take place when these things end and people from the audience choose to have a quiet word with you afterwards and that was the case last night. A man approached me and shook my hand, he informed me he was a former British Soldier who had served here in Ireland, he seemed surprised that I had no issue in accepting his hand. He went on to tell me of a number of issues he had with Sinn Féin, we discussed it and I hope he had a better understanding of where Republicans are coming from, I certainly, in the very brief time we spoke, got a better understanding of some of the issues he expressed.

Mar sin de sin é, deireann an tseánfhocail, mól an óige agus tiocfaidh ; is léir ón ócáid aréir agus aonuraidh, go bhfuil ceannairí polaitiúla na blianta atá romhain, idir iadsiúd ar an phanál agus iadsúid sa lucht éisteachta, dul a bheith breá abálta don oibre!

a cure for insomnia?????

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has lobbied the Assembly Commission on making footage from proceedings there available online on sites like YouTube etc.

They knocked it back.

Is cinnte nach mbeidh suim ag achan duine ar imeachtaí taobh istigh denTionól ach curfhad iontas ort an líon daoine a bhíonn ag amahrc ar an clár 'Stormont Live' achan Luain agus Máirt!

While not to everyone's interest I do think it's a pity because I believe people have a right to know what is taking place within the Assembly, even if they choose not to visit it every day, the option should be there no less. Government should be as open and a 'viewable' as it possibly can and with the growing use of the Internet, sites like YouTube are exactly where the Commission should be looking to take coverage of their proceedings.

bheadh fhios agat, seans nach áithníonn siad an tabhacht leis na suíomh seo mar gheall ar aos s'acu????

It could possibly be the case that the majority of the Commission are of a certain age and don't acknowledge or appreciate the benefits of these sites. Either way I think it is a step back and hopefully Daithí will continue to lobby to make events in the Assembly more accessible to the public in the Six Counties and beyond.

Monday, 26 January 2009

An Tine Bheo

coiste ag bualadh le chéile le tamailín anois i gceantair Mhic Airt chun Cuimhneacháin a thógáil d'iadsúid ón ceantar a bhfuair bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann.

The Short Strand Commemoration Committee hes been meeting for some time now with the aim of erecting a permanent Memorial to the local Volunteers.

Obviously the area has a long and proud Republican history, names in the Garden will be reflective of many different phases of struggle. Charlie Monahan who set out on Easter Week, Liam Tomlinson and Jim Straney who fought and died while fighting fascism in Spain, and all those others from the Parish who have given their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom.

the name of the monument will be 'An Tine Bheo', the 'Living Flame', a fitting name given the very living legacy that those men have left us within the community. Fittingly representative of the families of our Patriot Dead are represented on the Committee also.

Beidh báiliúcháin airgid ag tarlú san am ata romhain agus níl aon dabht agam go mbeidh daoine breá sástá cuidiú leis an tionscadal fiúntach seo.

A number of fundraising events will be taking place over the coming months and I have no doubt they will be hugely supported by people within the community and indeed beyond. I'll certainly keep people up to date via this blog.

Bhí an bua ag Tomaí

Maith thú Tomaí!!!
So my tip for winner Channel 4's Unsigned Act show came through, bhí an bua ag Tomaí!
He's won £60,000 and a recodrding contract. His single 'gimme a call' is out and I like it. Hopefully we'll hear more from Tomaí in the time ahead......

things could go on........again

The Financial Assistance Bill is up before the Assembly again today for Further Consideration Stage. Last week there were a number of amendments debated and voted on last week (11 in total) and the plenary session went on until after 11 that night.

Is féidir go dtiocfha le sin tarlú arís inniu, faoi láthair Teachtaí ag vótáil.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Short Strand support for Gaza

Members of Sinn Féin's Martin/Treacy Cumann in the Short Strand were out in force over these past few days, rapping doors and collecting donations for 'Irish Medical Aid for Palestinians'.

Bhí mé fhéin amuigh oíche Aoine agus bhí daoine chomh sástá cibé airgead a bhí acu ina luí thart fán teach a thabhairt dúinn. Bhí an cinealtáis doiligh a chrédibheal. Go raibh míle maith agaibh uilig.

People were so supportive of the initative and were more than willing to throw whatever they had lying about the house into the buckets. As well as that a number of the buckets were put in shops in the area as well as in the local Social Club, Saint Matthews. Thanks again to everyone who helped and who gave so generously. Míle buíochas daoibh uilig.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The future of the Short Strand Translink depot

This image from Google Earth shows very clearly just how big the depot, in the heart of residential Short Strand really is. It also shows very clearly just how close the buses, and therefore the fumes, really are to families in the area.

In the past I have highlighted the communities concern around the health implications as a result of the levels of pollution emanating from the depot.

You can see the story here:

recently the Irish News carried a report claiming that this depot could be among several owned by Translink going up for sale. Already I spoken to DRD Minister Conor Murphy on this matter and have today sent off a letter to the Chief Executive of Translink Catherine Mason seeking clarification on the future of the depot.

Obviously there are a number of issues of concern around the depot, not least the damage to people's health caused by the fact that numerous buses start up their engines there in the early hours of the morning. But also the fact that you have a site of this size right in the middle of the 9th most socio-economically deprived ward in the Six Counties, an area with a chronic housing shortage and with numerous people languishing on the housing waiting list.

In all of this we have to consider those people who work in the depot and if it is the case that it may close those workers welfare and redeployment must be of priority to Translink, we in Sinn Féin would expect nothing less.

However if this site is to be sold and a site the size of this was to become available right in the heart of the community then I will be lobbying the Minister for Social Development vigorously to acquire it for the benefit of the people.

South and East Belfast take to the streets again

Bhí muid amuigh arís aréir ag dul den suirbhé i nDeisceart Bhéal Feirste. Arís uile bhí freagra den scoth ón phobail agus ta muid uilig mar gníomhaithe ag baint sult as an seal dul amach ar na sráideanna agus buladh le dhaoine.

We were out again last night carrying out the South & East Belfast Comhairle Ceantair Constituency Survey in South Belfast, the picture shows myself with Alex Maskey and our party's representative in Balmoral Vincent Parker.

Much like last week, party activists got a great response from people on the doors; it's clear that people in that part of South Belfast are more than happy with the work that Alex and the party are engaging in!

Beidh muid amuigh arís thar cuplá seachtain eile i áiteanna difriúla ar fud an Dáil Ceantair agus tá mé cinnte go mbeidh freagar dearfach ansin chomh maith.
We'll be out in different parts of the contituency over the coming weeks and I'll keep you all up to date via the blog on how things are going and what the issues are.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

90 Bhliain ón Céad Dáil

Bhí óáid céiliúradh den scoth eagraithe ag Sinn Féin in Arás na hArd Mheara Baile Átha Cliath aréir.

Bhí na sluaite i láthair, taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den Arás.

Caithfidh mé a rá go raibh sé thar a bheith doiligh agam fhéin agus mo chomráid Alec fháil istigh. Mo buíochas le Michelle as an cuidiú!!!

Sinn Féin's event to mark the 90 Anniversary of the first Dáil Éireann was a roaring sucess. I was priviledged to be present at the occasion with today's Sinn Féin elected representatives, Trade Unionists and the families of our patriot dead.

A stand out moment for everyong was Jack O'Connor's (General Secretary SIPTU) address to those gathered. Another was the historical re-enactments from that momentous day.

Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams also made his key-note address, with some interesting issues being put to activists, liek how we engage with Unionism, how we utilise the Diaspora and how we make the vision of the Democratic Programme, as declared on the 21st january 1919, a reality.

Is léir go bhfuil a lán obair romhain.

The event itself saw hundreds packed into the round room at the mansion house and hundreds more outside. Fair play to those comrades who left the hall to allow elderly activists in. A number of leadership figures went outside to speak to the assembled crowd and explain to them the health and safety issues. Gerry Adams addressed them from standing on a wall outside, reminiscent I'm sure of how our political leaders engaged at the time of An Chéad Dáil. Having spoken to a number of party members who were gathered outside last ngiht, they weren't annoyed, they were just so happy to have been there to mark the occasion and that Sinn Féin is the only political party in Ireland that can command such sincere interest in an event.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Adams remarks after Obama inauguration

took this statement from

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP MLA this morning attended the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama. Speaking in Washington DC after the ceremony Mr. Adams said: "I welcome President Barack Obama's very positive speech. He is clearly signalling his determination to tackle the many challenges facing the US people as well as a change in US Foreign policy and on the environment. It was a great honour to be present at the inauguration. His words were obviously very uplifting to the American people assembled here. In fact my big memory of today will be about the cheerfulness, sense of purpose and positive attitude of everyone I met. The huge crowd of people from very obvious different ethnic backgrounds had a clear sense of the history of this inauguration - 150 years after the inauguration of Abrham Lincoln and the day after Martin Luther King Day. I wish the new President well. We are assured that President Obama will continue the US policy of encouraging and supporting the process of change in Ireland. As we who live on the island continue to make progress people's minds will turn logically to the issue of unity and an end to division in our country. Sinn Fein will certainly be doing our best to achieve that. " Mr Adams is returning to Ireland this evening to attend the First Dáil commemoration event in the Mansion House tomorrow night.

Is fearr an tsláinte ná an táinte.....

The old irish proverb, 'Is fearr an tsláinte an táinte' means 'Health is better than wealth' and I bore that in mind as I headed to the health day in the Short Strand Community Centre this morning.

Caithfidh comhgairdeas a sheoladh chuig Kelly agus Dee agus na ngrúpaí uilig a bhí i láthair ar máidín. Bhí grúpaí sláinte agus comhairliúchán i láthair ag tabhairt eolais do muintir na Trá Ghiorra an máidín ar fad. Maith sibh agus go raibh maith agaibh ar fad.

I took a number of tests myself, one where you put your head into a small box with, what i presume, was UV lights meant to highlight any skin damage caused by exposure to the sun. I was informed I had a bit of sun damage across the bridge of my nose. Some of the girls who are fond of the sunbeds weren't too keen on what they saw in the mirror when the UV lights went on. I'm lots of things but a sun worshipper isn't one of them.

I then moved on to have my blood sugar levels checked, my friend Dearbhlagh Fhloinn suffers from diabetes and I had seen this done a million times before when we were at school. The only problem is i am incredibly cowardly when it comes to needles (even the wee tiny ones they use for this!!). But as always i struggled on for Ireland. Turns out the level was 6.3 and apparently it should be under 11 so I'm pretty happy with that result, buíochas le dia.

From there on to the old blood pressure test, i asked the medical student from Queens University (who along with several others is on placement in the community centre to learn the importance of engaging with people within the medical profession) what I should be looking at for a 23 year old non-smoker. He told me anything under 130 was good. It was 128 so i still maintain I'm doing well. One local community worker (who shall remain nameless........Bernie) shouted over 'get out of politics and it'll soon drop!'

Mar sin de creidim go bhfuil ceart go leor, fiú mba dheachaigh giota thar fomhair le linn saoire na nollaig.

To finish up I partook of one the Turkish shaves on offer, a very relaxing experience. Ronan from Bytes in the Community Centre was kind enough to take my photo while i sat on the chair looking a bit like Dáidí na Nollaig, while waiting for the blade. Maybe they'll send me the photo to put up here.

Anois, beidh orm deánamh cinnte go oibrím chun mo chuid brú fola a fháil anuas gan mhoill (mhol m'áintín dom stad ag glacadh cuid mhór salann le mo chuid bia) agus áit a bhaint amach i mBéal Feirste a dhéanann na mbearr Túircíse!!!!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Tá siad ag labhairt leo

Long day up here in Stormont today, the financial Assistance Bill (which contained 11 amendments) is still being discussed, the SDLP's Dolores Kelly is winding on the motion now.

After that there's due to be a report from the Assembly and Executive Review Committee and then Sinn Féin's motion on the crisis in Gaza, agus 7:20i.n.!!!!!!

Á bhuel, sin mar atá. Is léir go mbeidh na mBall Tionóla (agus Foireann s'acu!!) anseo ar feadh tamailín go fóil.

It has been a long and interesting debate today, at times getting fairly heated and at others slightly mundane. It was interesting to see the SDLP, Alliance and UUP taking part in a joint press conference outside the Assembly Chamber earlier on today. I must say I laughed as I stood in Stormont's Halla Mór listening to Dolores Kelly comparing a piece of financial legislation (aimed at assisting the Executive in being able to help citizens during times of crisis such as flooding, fuel poverty or the recent food contamination) to the Special Powers Act!

Here we have a woman (who has just been warmly congratulated by the UUP's Basil McCrea during the debate in the chamber) standing, much like the SDLP Minister Margaret Ritchie did a few short months ago, with the Ulster Unionists. The reason I laughed was because Dolores probably didn't see the irony in standing beside the political party responsible for the Special Powers Act, while criticising the party who suffered the most as a result of it!

It is becoming increasinly apparent on a daily basis that the SDLP is a totally rudderless ship, with one foot in the Executive and the rest in opposing every single thing brought before the Assembly.

bhfuil siad ag dul na laethanta seo????

Sinn Féin i láthair ag céiliúradh an Oireachtas ar an Céad Dáil 1919

Seo chugaibh óraid ó Teachta Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin agus e ag caint inniu ag céiliúradh Rialtais na 26 chontae ar an Céad Dáil Éireann i 1919.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Ceannaire Dála Shinn Féin

Ar son Sinn Féin is ábhar bróid dom labhairt ar an láthair stairiúil seo chun an Chéad Dáil Éireann a chomóradh.

Ar an láthair seo 90 bliain ó shin tháinig ionadaithe tofa mhuintir na hÉireann le chéile mar tionól náisiúnta agus d’fhógair siad neamhspleáchas Phoblacht na hÉireann. Sa Faisnéis Neamhspleáchais cuireadh an Phoblacht ar bun agus sa Teachtaireacht chun Saor-Naisiúin an Domhain d’iarr Dáil Éireann ar na náisúin aitheantas a thabhairt do neamhspleachas mhuintir na hÉireann. Sa Chlár-Oibre Daonlathach bhí cuspóirí soisialta agus eacnamaíochta na Poblachta curtha os comhair an phobail.

Mar sin is cuí an rud go dtagann muid le chéile inniu chun an lá sin a chomóradh. Ach ní hamháin comóradh atá ann. Tá dualgas orainn obair an lae sin a leanúint lenár linn fhéin. Ní féidir na cáipéisí a glacadh leo ar an 21ú lá Eanáir 1919 a léamh gan a rá go soiléir: ‘Tá daonlathas náisiúnta fós le bhaint amach in Éirinn. Tá tír agus pobal le hathaontú. Agus fiú 90 bliain ar aghaidh níl an Clár-Oibre Daonlathach curtha i bhfeidhm.’.

“Never was the past so near, or the present so brave, or the future so full of hope.”

These were the words of a young republican, Máire Comerford, who was present in this Room 90 years ago on 21 January 1919. She shared with her generation the sense of their historic mission, their selfless courage and their faith in the potential of the Irish people to flourish in freedom.

They were inspired by the ideals of the men and women of Easter Week 1916. Their sights were set on the Irish Republicproclaimed in arms on the streets of this city. They had seen the executions of 16 of their comrades by the British government. They had seen hundreds of people interned without trial in the aftermath. They had experienced British military rule. And the men and women of that generation gave their answer to imperialism by rallying to the flag of Sinn Féin.

In successive by-elections in 1917 and 1918, Sinn Féin triumphed. In October 1917 here in the Round Room of the Mansion House the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis adopted a new Constitution which was committed to achieving the independence of the Irish Republic and to opposing British rule in Irelandby any and every means at their disposal.

The British government tried to impose Conscription on the Irish people in 1918 and it was met by the determined resistance of a people’s movement. In April 1918 the one-day General Strike Against Conscription led by the Irish Trade Union Congress dealt the fatal blow to the British government’s plan. It is appropriate that we remember here the legacy of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union which this month celebrates its centenary. It played a pivotal role in the struggle for national independence, workers’ rights and socialism in Ireland.

The overwhelming victory of Sinn Féin in the December 1918 General Election was on the basis of a Manifesto committed to the establishment of the Irish Republic. That was the mission of An Chéad Dáil Éireann. The Declaration of Independence adopted in this Room ratified the establishment of the Republic and pledged the Teachtaí Dála and the people to make the declaration effective by every means at their command.

Dúirt an Ceann Comhairle Cathal Brugha go raibh siad ag cur deireadh le riail Shasana in Éirinn. Dúirt sé go raibh deireadh le ráiméis. B’shin an tuiscint a bhí aige agus ag a chomh-Theachtaí. Bhí dóchas acu go mbeadh dualgas idirnáisiúnta ar Rialtas Shasana neamhspleachas na hÉireann a aithint. Ach bhí siad ullamh chun troid ar son na saoirse sin má bhí gá le troid.

It was an All-Ireland Dáil that assembled here, a Dáil united in opposition to the intention of the British government to partition Ireland. We know the tragic outcome. Dáil Éireann was suppressed by the British government which waged war on Irish democracy. Our country and our people were divided and the mass movement so strongly manifested here in January 1919 was split apart in January 1922.

We salute all those who struggled for Irish unity and independence since the First Dáil Éireann met. We recall all those who suffered imprisonment and who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom, as so many of the first Teachtaí Dála did. No-one can credibly deny the spirit of freedom that links, to take but two examples, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, TD for Mid-Cork who died on hunger strike in 1920 and the TD for Cavan-Monaghan Kieran Doherty who died on hunger strike in 1981.

Equality was the basis of the Democratic Programme adopted here 90 years ago. The Programme set out progressive social and economic goals based on the principles of the 1916 Proclamation and articulated by Pádraig Mac Piarais and James Connolly. Its key section stated that the sovereignty of the nation “extends not only to all men and women of the nation, but to all its material possessions; the nation’s soil and its resources, all the wealth and wealth-producing processes within the nation and we reaffirm that all rights to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare”. It declared “the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the nation’s labour”.

The Democratic Programme said it was the duty of the government of the Republic to ensure that no child should suffer hunger, cold or homelessness and should be provided with proper education and training. The Programme promised to ensure that the aged and infirm would be “no longer regarded as a burden but rather entitled to the nation’s gratitude and consideration”. The Republic also had the duty to “safeguard the health of the people”.

The Programme pledged to build Ireland’s economy and reinvigorate industries which would be developed “on the most beneficial progressive co-operative industrial lines”.

After nine decades the Democratic Programme remains to be implemented.

If over the past decade the public right and welfare had been placed above the interests of private profit and property then our economy would not now be in recession.

No Government truly committed to the sovereignty of the people over all the resources of the Nation and their development for the benefit of the people would have given away the massive Corrib gas reserves off our west coast.
And a Government taking seriously the duty to ensure that no child should suffer from poverty, that all should share in the Nation’s wealth and that the health of the people should be safeguarded, would never preside over the inequality and division in Irish society today.

Níl sé mar obair againn na ceisteanna sin a phlé go mion inniu ach ní féidir an Chéad Dáil Éireann a chomóradh gan an fhírinne a rá faoi sochaí na hÉireann lenar linn. Is fíor freisin nach gcuireadh i bhfeidhm cuspóirí na Poblachta ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Ba i nGaeilge a rinne an Chéad Dáil a obair ar an gcéad lá sin. Caithfear a admháil nach bhfuil an Dáil agus an Seanad ag tabhairt an cheannaireacht ba chóir. Is le pobal na Gaeilge an cheannaireacht san obair chun an teanga a chothú agus molaim iad as an obair sin. Ba chóir go mbeadh sé mar rún againn inniu teanga na Céad Dála a chur ar ais in a áit ceart mar teanga náisiúnta na hÉireann.

The sovereign will of the Irish people was denied by British imperialism in 1919. In its Message to the Free Nations of the World the Dáil looked forward to a new era of national self-determination and the ending of what it called “military dominion for the profit of empire”. But the hopes of subject peoples across the globe, including the Irish people, were dashed as the British and French empires reasserted their control after the First World War. Those two powers divided the Middle East between them and ensured continuing Western domination of the region. We see the terrible legacy today in the region’s many conflicts and I take this opportunity to extend solidarity in particular to the dispossessed people of Palestine whose agony the world has witnessed in recent weeks.

Our purpose today should not be simply to commemorate. The work begun on 21 January 1919 remains unfinished. Today should provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the need to end the division of our country and of our people. We are all mandated to work, by peaceful and democratic means, to bring about the unity of Ireland.

We in Sinn Féin hold that as our central task. We take very seriously the need to address the fears and apprehensions of unionists. Our engagement with that community is very real and is ongoing. For the first time republicans and unionists are sharing power in the North-East of our country. The Good Friday Agreement is working, though much remains to be fulfilled. There is a new political dispensation. We have moved beyond the conflict of decades and have built a peaceful path forward. For us that path leads to a democratic Ireland, a nation built on unity and equality.

As we mark the 90th Anniversary of An Chéad Dáil Éireann we look forward to the day when the elected representatives of all the people of our country will once more gather in the national assembly of a United Ireland.

Creidimíd go dtiocfaidh an lá sin agus is ar a shon atáimíd ag obair. Is é sin ár gcuspóir. Is é sin an dóchas a bhí anseo 90 bliain ó shin agus atá fós ann. Agus is é sin an bealach ar aghaidh do phobal na hÉireann uile.

Is a change gonna come???

The famous Sam Cooke song 'A change is gonna come' is certainly in my personal top ten favourite songs and it has been used time and time again during the campaign and subsequent election of the USA's first African American Uachtarán; I'd say it is apt.

As I sit sit here I am watching Barack Obama making his first speach as the 44th President of the United States of America. A great task lies ahead, it remains to be seen how much Barack Obama can do or more importantly is allowed to do as Uachtarán.
What cannot be denied at this stage, is the quiet significance of Sam Cooke's (himself an often overlooked African American figure) song. Certainly a change has come, Barack Obama is now President; what the citizens of the US and people throughout the world must now see is more change and real change at that.
I think Gerry Adams summed it up well on his blog;
"Republican Ireland will look to the new administration to help encourage movement towards unity and an end to the partition of our small island. Plenty of work for Irish America and our friends. The rest of the world, including Ireland, will look also for peace in the Middle East and Iraq, for even-handedness everywhere and for progress on the big environmental issues. So tomorrow marks the beginning of all of that. We hope."

Go néirí leat Barack, tá súil againn gur féidir leat.

Rún ar Gaza os comhair an Tionól inniu

Sinn Féin's motion on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza goes before the Assembly later on this afternoon.

Is cinnte go mbeidh díospóireach crua (agus ar léibheál áirithe is mórán trua sin!) ag titim amach ach an rud is tábhachtaí na go bhfuil guth láidir, aontaithe ag teacht ó na hInstitiúidí seo ag impí ar an deireadh leis an slad sa chuid sin den domhain.

I note with interest this contribution from Gerald Kaufman in the British House of Commons recently: Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence.My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that“500 of them were militants.”That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews.Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.The great Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, with whom I campaigned for peace on many platforms, said: “You make peace by talking to your enemies.”However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the west bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of road blocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Beannachtaí ó Nua Eabhrach

Seo chugaibh an blag is deanaí ag Uachtaráin Shinn Féin, Gerry 'Mór' A agus é ar a' bhealach go Washington DC.

Tá sé le feiceáil ar bhlag s'aige

So I see Gerry A is keeping us all up to date on his journey to the inauguration of President Elect, Barack Obama.

His latest blog is over on

Short Strand Health Day

The Short Strand Community Centre will be holding a 'Health Day' this Wednesday from 10:00am until 12:00pm

There'll be a number of things taking place, including Health MOT's, checks on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

There'll be some healthy foods on offer and lots of different prizes for those taking part.

I see there's also Turkish shaves for the fellas, I know it was very popular at the health day during the Féile so I think I'll definately bite the bullet and give it a try!!! Fair play to Paul and Dan Miff who were the first ones to give it a go over the summer!!!

Goods news too is that everything on offer is free of charge.

I have no doubt we'll see plenty of residents round at the centre on Wednesday morning and I must say I'll find it difficult to stick to the healthy snacks and not call in to Paddy and Geraldine in the canteen for a good aul fry!!!

Sinn Féin Ard Fhéis 2009

Beidh Ard Fhéis Shinn Féin ag titim amach ar an 20ú agus 21ú de Mí Feabhra san RDS i mBaile Átha Cliath. Mar is gnáth is ócáid den céad scoth air mar is ansin a dhéantár polasaithe a pháirtí a gcrúthadh. Bíonn rúin ó Chumann ó ar fud na tíre agus bainim an-sult as an árgóint agus díospoireacht comráideach a thiteann amach thar an Ard Fhéis.

Caithfidh mé a rá, téann a lán oibre ar aghaidh sa chúlrá, agus ní obair furasta ata i gceist. Ar ndóigh d'fhreastal mé ar neart Ard Fhéiseanna roimhe seo, ach is é seo an céad ceann domhsa mar oifigeach preas don pháirtí. Beidh le féiceáil!!!lol

Sinn Féin's Ard Fhéis will be taking place next month in the RDS in Dublin. Over the 20th and 21st of February, activists from across Ireland will converge on an Ard Fhéis to formulate, debate, articulate and implement party policy.

See if u can spot me!!!!

I always find Ard Fhéiseanna an exciting and sometimes inspiring time, they give you the opportuinity to get the feel of things from comrades from across Ireland but it also gives you the chance to get up and have your say at a National forum, not all political parties can boast that.
An Ard Fhéis also gives you the chance to hear from our international guests, usually from Palestine, South Africa, South America and the Basque Country. As well as this there are invited guests from the Trade Union Movement and other progressive organisations from throughout Ireland.
I have attended and had the honour of addressing a few Ard Fhéiseanna and I am looking forward to this years for all the reasons outlined; it will be my first as a full time press officer for the party, but I relish new challenges!!!
The Ard Fhéis allows for visitors and I know much of it will be carried on the web and the TV, I'd encourage people to have a look and see for themselves, this very unique event in practice. At the time I'll certainly try and keep this blog as up to date as humanly possible and make sure as much video footage and images are posted up here for people to see.

bí aireach ar na mboithre

Tá sé a chuir sneachta anseo ag Cnoc an Anfa faoi láthair agus tá neart comrádaithe ó Contae Doire a rá go bhfuil sé ag cuir ansin le tamailín anuas.

According to RTÉ website we're in for a fair bit of snow this evening and Derry comrades passing through the office say it has been fairly heavy there for a good part of the day.

I like a bit of snow but people should just remember to take the utmost care on the roads and take it into account when travelling. Bí Slán.

Gerry K in the Philippines

Bhí an tAire Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh sna hOileáin Fhilipíneacha ag iarraidh cuidiú le próiseás síochána ansin tríd iad a chuir ar an eolais faoin próiseás anseo in Éirinn.

Bhí iar-comhairleoir Tony Blair, Jonathon Powell ann chomh maith.

Gerry Kelly has returned from a stint in the Philippines, with former advisor to Tony Blair, Jonathon Powell. Gerry was there giving some insight into the peace process here in Ireland, hopefully being able to assist the fledgling process in that country.

This is another example of conflicts across the world looking towards the key players in the process here in Ireland, for guidance and sometimes even assistance.

Martin McGuinness has been in Sri-Lanka, Alex Maskey in the Basque Country and Gerry Adams has, in past, visited the Middle East.

While accepting that the process here has had its fair amount of ups and downs, it seems that throughout the world the key players here are identified as people who might have a practical input in trying to resolve issues there.

Although to be fair to Gerry, and I think he is right when he said this on Stormont Live earlier, you shouldn’t go to these places presuming you have any great insight into the conflict there. Nothing worse than being preached to I suppose; but if it’s an insight into building peace here in Ireland they want, then Gerry has been working at it for quite some time!

An Céad Dáil - New Website

Tchím go bhfuil suíomh idirlíne ar líne anois don céiliúradh 90 bhliain ón Céad Dáil Éireann.

Tá rialtais na 26 Chontae ag céiliúradh an ócáid amárach agus beidh bail don Shinn Fein i measc na grúpaí i láthair. Mar is eol daoibh beidh ócáid SF ag titim amach ar an 21ú Eanair, an ceadaoin, agus is cinnte go mbeidh Poblachtanaigh ón tír ar fad i láthair i arás na hard mheara ar 7in fa choinne cur i láthair ó Uachtarain an Pháirtí, Gearóid Mac Adhaimh.

Sin raite tá Gerry sna Stáit Aontaithe faoi láthair ag insealbhú Barack Obama i washington DC. Tá súil agam go mbeidh seal aige muid uilig a coinneál suas chun data ar na himeachtaí ansi tríd blog s'aige

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Hip Parade Vs Tommy Reilly

agus mé i mo shuí anseo tá mé ag amharc ar 'Orange Unsigned Act' ar stáisiún 4

I've been following the show 'Orange Unsigned Act' on and off for a few weeks now and keeping a keen eye on two scottish acts, hip parade and tommy reilly.

Not sure about the other acts on the show tbh, but here's hoping either one of the scots acts will win. i still haven't convinced myself which one i'd rather see win yet!!
I particularly like Tommy Reilly's song, 'gimme a call'.
I do know he has had the votes of my two good friends, cormac and frances from the very start.
But anyway, I'll wait and see how they both perform before i FINALLY make up my mind!
ádh mór daoibh

UPDATE: so they both got through to the final, along with Scarlet Harlots. So it should make for some interesting viewing, and listening, on next weeks final.

Prospects and challenges for republicans

The following is an article that appeared in this weeks An Phoblacht, surely worth a read.....

Lifting our game in 2009


THIS new year got off to a high octane start, but for all the wrong reasons. The economic and political horizons of 2009 have been shaped by the global and domestic financial and economic factors which by last December had driven the Irish economy into recession.Currently new weekly developments expose the systemic nature of the crisis imploding within the 26-County economy and the inbuilt gombeen practices underpinning Irish capital.It is now impossible to predict what will happen next. However, there was prescience in the analysis commended to the party at Sinn Féin’s Regaining Political Momentum conference in November 2007.It noted: “The indications point to an economic downturn in the mid-term...”We said:“Sinn Féin’s political position has to become synonymous with what should be articulated as a new commonsense in Southern society which is distinctly republican and clearly promotes prosperity but implacably opposes poverty and inequality. We need to be as relevant in times of economic boom as we should be in periods of economic bust.”Then, Sinn Féin adopted Regaining Political Momentum as a thematic political, organisational, policy, and parliamentary project. The strategy exhorted us to unlearn old assumptions and habits and to adopt new methods of planning and organisation to properly compete in the political arena of the South – to say nothing of the challenges of new politics in the North.Looking back on 2008, the party’s efforts in the South, particularly, can best be summed up by the sean fhocal “Tús maith leath na hoibre.”Much hard work was undertaken by the Organisational Development Unit, from within Leinster House and in improving our publicity presentation and output and electoral operations.Those new approaches to getting the party fit for purpose paid dividends in Sinn Féin’s own campaign to maximise the ‘No’ vote against the Lisbon Treaty in June.But we have much more to do.

ALL BETS ARE OFF Some republicans have understandably expressed concern that there appears to be no measurable publicity return for the party’s efforts in the mainstream media or opinion polls. But this is to miss the point.The political and economic context since September has been very fluid.Developments have fundamentally shaken many of the assumptions that previously shaped wider public opinion and popular political discourse. That is including perceptions about the coherence of the Coalition’s policy thrust, the confidence and competence of Fianna Fáil ministers, the viability of the Fianna Fáil and Green Coalition, the quality of political opposition, and the role of banks and financial institutions, to name a few.Regardless as to the accuracy of recent opinion polls, and despite apparent ineptitude and mismanagement, Fianna Fáil is operating to a definite plan that is driven by an electoral cycle – similar to how it managed the 2002 election, absorbed hits in the 2004 elections, and used public finances prior to the 2007 general election.So, Fianna Fáil should not be taken for granted either in respect of inevitable collateral damage from the recession or, conversely, an ability to weather the storm successfully.What is clear is that all bets are off in the new circumstances of 2009.This year there will be two electoral opportunities: the combined local elections and European contests South and North in June; and a new referendum on the Lisbon Treaty anticipated for October.Republicans need to lock into these contests and work backwards to the present.What we do between now and June, and then October, will determine the degree to which the republican project gains momentum and surges forward nationally.Equally complex but distinct challenges confront the party, North and South, in 2009.Three fundamental constants will demand ongoing attention as we work through this milieu:-1. Remaining ideologically centred;2. Ensuring our strategic position in society is correct;3. Ensuring that our core messaging is consistent with the above and where popular opinion is at.These constants need to govern the party’s work on two levels: the ‘air war’ (media and publicity) and the ‘ground war’ (campaigning and community activism). And when we are squeezed out of the air war, as presently in the South, our ground war efforts must compensate.

BREAKING LIMITATIONS The continuing progress towards the transfer of policing and justice powers in the Six Counties is a positive prospect. But our political opposition takes solace from the institutional and fiscal limits which the Northern political institutions place upon the republican project.We need to move beyond these limitations and bring a distinctive brand of politics which is high impact in policy and political terms by harmonising a concentrated effort by Sinn Féin ministers to assert themselves upon priority policy decisions with co-ordinated campaigning/publicity work by MLAs, councillors and the wider party on these and other issues.Our opponents will be content to let the new politics of the North become anaemic. So Sinn Féin needs to bring a distinct republican policy competence and leadership into the Assembly and outside. The challenge for us in the North in 2009 is to maximise ‘wins’ for ordinary citizens in the Six Counties and continue consolidating the party whilst building political strength.

BUILDING AN ALTERNATIVE In the South, a range of existing and emerging political and social dynamics have already challenged our approach to building Sinn Féin as a serious political alternative.Southern society is an increasingly sophisticated melting pot of opinion and expectation. Our party needs to develop an intuitive appreciation for, and understanding of, popular opinion in metropolitan Dublin and across the state.We need to be able to competently intervene with these new economic conditions in the 26 Counties, correctly position Sinn Féin, and look beyond this crisis to where we need to be strategically in the long-term. Key to doing this is deepening our understanding of Irish society overall, particularly in the South, so that when we speak and act, we do so with relevance, commonsense and authority.In parallel, our party-building efforts need to be accelerated and increased. It is not an option to contest the forthcoming elections with the same organisational base we relied upon in 2007. In such circumstances we will at best run hard to stand still. Dublin is a distinct priority for vastly expanding the activist structures. Currently, this is the most important work for ALL Dublin republicans.We need to create new capacity within the party, expand the organisation, and recruit in every area. By failing to do so, we self-impose restrictions on building Sinn Féin’s political strength. We are still too small.We need to appeal to Middle Ireland’s intrinsic sense of patriotism and popularise the imperatives of independence and a united Ireland – of unfinished business. And in doing so we can excite the idea that it is indeed time for change in the economic and social order of society. The launch of our united Ireland strategy allows us to bring momentum to such engagement and outreach across the island and with the Irish Diaspora.With proper co-ordination of everything we must do in the coming months, a new patriotic consensus can be forged which maximises political unity among republicans, nationalists, democrats and progressives across Ireland.This can become a year for turning adversity into enduring opportunities for republicanism.2009 is not a year for getting distracted by others or distracting ourselves. It is a year for all republicans to get off the sidelines and crowd the field. It is a year to massively lift our game

Belfast day of action in support of Gaza

Belfast day of action in support of Gaza

Sinn Féin activists from across the city were out in force yesterday to take part in Sinn Fein’s day of action, supporting Irish Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

Despite the bad weather activists were out and about and gathered thousands of pounds which will be donated to the charity.

Maith sibh achan duine a glach páirteach ann.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Faoi dheireadh thiar thall!!!

Finally, our Minister for Culture Art and Leisure and die-hard Glasgow Rangers supporter Gregory Campbell has announced that he will host a reception in Stormont for the victorious All-Ireland winning Tyrone Senior and Minor sides.

And about time too!!

While a firm Co an Dún supporter, I know the Ó Donnghaile Clann can trace much of their roots back to Tír Eoghain so I can heartily congratulate them on their achievements!

Fair play to my north Antrim comrade, Daithí McKay MLA who, along with Barry McElduff and Martin McGuinness kept the pressure on the Minister that the GAA (particularly All-Ireland winning sides) were as worthy as any group to be hosted at the Assembly and also recognised for their immeasurable contribution to Irish society. I spoke to Barry about this issue numerous times since the win at Croker, and he is keen to make the point that although Tír Eoghain won through the back door, they'll be very proudly entering the front door of Stormont with the Sam Maguire firmly in hand.

Maith sibh Contae Néill

Sinn Féin motion on Gaza to be debated next tuesday

Sinn Féin Protest at Stormont
Beidh rún Shinn Féin ar an Gaza ag dul os comhair an Tionól ar an Mháirt seo chugainn.

Dár ndóigh i ndiaidh dearcadh Nelson McCausland ón DUP ar 'Stormont Live' le Gerry Adams an seachtain seo chuaigh thart beidh sé suimiúl le féiceáil an mbeidh Aontachtóirí ábalta tácú le rún a bhfuil ag impí ar stad leis an slad agus ligeáint do bia agus cógas dul isteach sa Gaza.

Seo chugaibh an rún: 'This Assembly condemns the appalling loss of life in Gaza and calls on those responsible for all attacks on civilians to cease. The loss of life and scale of injuries among the civilian population is totally unacceptable. There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Humanitarian aid organisations must have the freedom of movement to deliver their aid unhindered to the people of Gaza. This Assembly calls for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza This Assembly further calls on the international community to mobilize to secure these objectives.' John O' Dowd Carál Ní Chuilin Raymond Mc Cartney
I made sure I carried the banner as Ghaeilge

Thursday, 15 January 2009

South & East Belfast Sinn Féin; out and about

Sinn Féin activists from throughout the South and East Belfast Comhairle Ceantair have been out and about these past few nights, and will be for the next number of weeks, carrying out a political canvass on behalf of the party.

The purpose of the canvass is to touch base with residents from throughout the South and East, keeping in touch and finding out from constituents the issues that they want raised.

Anocht bhí muid i nDeisceart Bhéal Feirste agus bhí mé breá sástá bualadh le neart comrádaí Ghaelach ar na doirsí!

Many of the issues raised are what you would expect, anti social behaviour, concerns around litter and dog fouling but never the less these are issues people are effected by and we are obliged, as a party with an elected MLA in the area, to help where we can.

South Belfast is a varied constituency and I always enjoy canvassing the throughout it; bíonn fórmhór na ndaoine i gcónaí iontach deas agus cáirdiúl linn, fiú muna thacaíonn siad le Sinn Féin.

Tá neart oibre romhainn mar gníomhaithe sa Chomhairle Ceantair, thar tréimhse fhada, ach tá muid ullmhaithe agus réidh fanna choinne. Ar ndóigh ta mise a' dúil go mór leis an canbhasáil a glacadh isteach i nOirthear Bhéal Feirste.

Ná déan dearmad gur féidir leat coinnigh suas chun data nó gabh i dteagmhal linn ag

and as well as that our Comhairle Ceantair's latest winter bulletin can be viewed at

tá nós agam duit.......

tchím go bhfuil cóip úr de *nós, éagrán ghaeilge den céad scoth ar líne .

tá siad ag déanamh cur léirmheas ar scannán fa saol Ernesto 'Che' Guevara Lynch, an réabhlóidí clúiteach ó Mhéiriceá Theas. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an scannán maith agus na mbeidh sé ró 'hollywood', is breá liom Steven Soderbergh mar stiúthóir agus deir sé go raibh sé i gcónaí ag iarraidh ar scannán seo a chuir ar an scáileán, mar sin de tá súil agam go mbeidh páisiún s'aige le fhéiceál.

níl fhios agam an mbeidh tú in ann cuidigh liomsa Ainle!!!

So I see my old school friend and one of lifes gentlemen, Ainle Ó Cairealláin is writing for An Druma Mór's NUACHT24 giving hints and tips on how to loose those holiday pounds we all emass over Christmas.

Easier said than done Ainle!!!

But certainly I'll give it a try and you can read Ainle's hints and tips by visiting and click on the NUACHT24 tag.

I hope yous have more luck than me!!
You can view Ainle's website at providing first class advice and services in relation sport science

more solidarity with Gaza

Sinn Féin has taken part ina number of solidarity events with other groups and organisations over the past while. that continued today with SF members attending a protest outside the EU Commission offices in Belfast City Centre today.

I hope to add a collection of photographs from a number of these events over the coming days.

Fundraiser in aid of Gaza

Corás Fuaime Rasta Ruaidhe, or the Red Rasta Sound System, are hosting a fundraiser in aid of 'Palestines Child' in An Chultúrlann on Friday 17th from 9 till late
Obviously events like this can help raise awareness but also do a lot to raise much needed funds for the people of Palestine.
bígí ann

Closure of the Ulster hospital's A&E ward

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA and deputy Chair of the Assembly Health committee, Michelle O'Neill has just issued this press release in relation to the closure of Dundonald's A&E ward:

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA and deputy Chair of the Assembly Health Committee Michelle O'Neil has expressed her concern at the closure of the Ulster Hospitals A&E department and her support for the staff there and the staff of the other main hospitals in Belfast.
Ms O'Neil said,
"Obviously it's a cause for concern for people when one of our main hospitals in the Belfast area has to shut its A&E department but the reality is that we are dealing with unusually high levels of sickness this winter.
"I want to send solidarity and support to the staff in the Ulster hospital, I have no doubt that this was an immensely difficult decision to make; however I am hopeful that the issue will be resolved as quickly as is possible. Our hospitals in Belfast provide a very high standard of care and I want to reiterate the calls that people should ring the Ulster Hospital before attending.
"This is an issue that health Committee will have to look at in the time ahead; this type of situation must be prepared for in advance so as that hospital wards are not being closed when people might need them most." CRÍOCH
I must say i share Michelle's concerns and have no doubt that this is an issue she will be raising at the committee. Obviously the Ulster Hospital is widely used by people from across East Belfast and beyond and hopefully the ward can be re-opened as soon as possible. I suppose we are very lucky here in Belfast in that we have such a high standard of hospitals across the city.
If anyone feels they need to attend the Ulster Hospital the have been advicsed to call ahead and check the latest situation. You can call them on 028 9048 4511

Why Mountpottinger must go!

For years now Sinn Féin in East Belfast has been campaigning for the dismantling of Mountpottinger Barracks in the Short Strand.

The campaign has been carried out under the banner of ‘HOMES NOT FORTS’. This slogan is very relevant to a community with growing numbers languishing on the Housing waiting list.

Here, in the heart of a residential area, we have a notorious, militarised fort, with an even worse history, taking up precious space for community use.

The history of the base is well known, RUC men emerged from it to murder young men on the streets of our Parish, its arsenal doors were thrown open to Loyalist Paramilitaries and of course on the 27th of June 1970, when the parish came under sustained and relentless attack, the doors of the barracks remained firmly shut to a people pleading for help.

Under its ‘watchful’ eye, countless innocent people were murdered by sectarian gangs.

That’s one aspect to the Mountpottinger, the others, are very practical reasons why this facility is not needed.

In one year, between April 2006 and April 2007 over £120,000 was spent in maintaining the barracks; £92,000 of which went on hiring private security guards to sit within the base because most of the time no one would be there. Only one part time neighbourhood team, consisting of 1 sergeant and 4 constables is based there and on top of this between June 2007 and June 2008 a mere 16 people actually used Mountpottinger. Of course within the new economic climate it defies belief how anyone can justify this facility remaining! (Although Robin Newton of the DUP tries his darndest!)

Even Hugh Orde has said the base is a waste of money and that it must go, he even stated clearly that his officers didn’t want to work in the type of conditions that a base like Mountpottinger provided.

So here we are, with an upcoming DPP consultation into the future of the Mount taking place next month I am hopeful that politicians and community reps from across the East will join with us in trying to achieve a decent policing service for all of our people.

Mountpottinger is a relic of the past, a symbol of everything that was wrong with policing here in the North; Sinn Féin are about moving beyond that, not just for the people of the Short Strand but for the people of Dee Street and Lord Street, of the Hollywood Road and Dundonald. The old notions expressed by people like our MLA Robin Newton are relics in themselves also; Robin seems to cling to the old DUP notion of ‘let’s put a ring of steel around the Short Strand’.

Those days are over Robin.

What he needs to do is reflect upon the sterling cross community work taking place on the ground, work that is trying to provide a safer environment for everyone and realise that the notions of old have no place in an East Belfast that is moving on.

Mountpottinger must go for a wide variation of reasons, not least the hurt and pain it has inflicted upon the community who live under its shadow, but as we struggle in East Belfast, for further funding for our community and youth sector, as we struggle to have policing resources properly utilised, Mountpottinger stands, as it has always done, a block to progress, but this time a block to everyone in East Belfast.