Wednesday, 27 May 2009

phone company o2 needs to respect language rights

Caithfidh O2 meas a léiriú do Ghaelgóirí – Ó Donnghaile

D’iarr urlabhraí Shinn Féin d’Oirthear Bhéal Feirste Niall Ó Donnghaile ar an comhlacht guthán phóca O2 míniú cén fáth nár glac siad le ainm agus seoladh duine trí mheán na Gaeilge.

Dúirt an tUasal Uí Dhonnghaile,

“Chuaigh fear ón Trá Ghearr i dteagmháil liom le rá nár glac O2 le ainm agus seoladh s’aige as Ghaeilge. Cuir sé teachtaireacht chucu leis na sonraí seo ann ach níor ghlac O2 leis.

Faoin Cairt Eorpach um Teanga Réigiúnacha agus Mionlach, chomh maith le Comhaontú Aoine an Céasta, tá ceart ag saoránaigh an foirm ghaelach dá ainm agus seoladh a úsáid gan bac. Faoi láthair sa Trá Ghearr tá breis agus 90% de sráid ainmneacha dhá theangach cheanna féin. Níl fadhb ar bith ann go dtí seo ag an chórais phoist leis seo.

Tá a lán comhlachtaí gutháin ag obair le Gaelgóirí agus is rud dearfach seo.

Tá gearán déanta ag an fear agus tá muid ag súil le freagra agus réiteach leis an fhadhb ó O2 gan mhoill.” CRÍOCH
Mobile phone company O2 must respect the Irish Language – Ó Donnghaile

Sinn Féin’s East Belfast representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has called on the mobile phone company O2 to explain why consumers have not been able to register with the company using the Gaelic versions of their names and addresses.

Speaking this afternoon Mr Ó Donnghaile said,

“I have been contacted by a resident in the Short Strand who tells me he received a text message from O2 asking if he wanted 4 free SIM cards; all he had to do was text them back with his name and address. The man did this using his name, which is in Irish and his postal address which is also in Irish, he was then contacted by O2 to say this would not be accepted.

The reality is that under equality legislation, the Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, citizens have the right to use the correct Gaelic version of their names and addresses. In the Short Strand alone, almost 90% of the street names are officially bi-lingual. Much like myself, the Royal Mail has no problem delivering post to this man’s home when he uses the correct version of his name and address, it is therefore difficult to understand why there is a problem with O2.

Other mobile phone companies in Ireland are actively working with the Gaelic speaking community and in some instances they can avail of predictive texting in Irish, amongst other initiatives.

I know the man in question has been in contact with the O2 complaints department and I would call on them to urgently clarify if they are discriminating against Irish speaking citizens or if this is a simple oversight.

I, like man concerned look forward to hearing the explanation from O2 and hope to see this issue rectified as soon as possible.” CRÍOCH

Thursday, 21 May 2009

it's no wonder he's smiling!!!

this report featured in this weeks South Belfast News.....

MP tops ‘other expenses’ list in Westminster

South Belfast News 20th of May 2009

by Alana Fearon

As the MP expenses scandal rumbles on at Westminster, it has been revealed that South Belfast's only MP is the third highest expense claimer in the north.
Alasdair McDonnell is currently one of 18 MPs from the north with a seat in the House of Commons and number three on the local highest expenses claimers list.

In the last three financial years, the SDLP man claimed a total £444,862 in expenses for his role as South Belfast MP, according to the Sunday Times MPs' expenses list. It also shows that Dr McDonnell claimed £22,000 in "other" costs making him the joint first highest claimer in that category out of all the MPs in Westminster.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds was the highest expenses claimant in the north followed closely by fellow DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

However figures revealing that Dr McDonnell's total expenses claims from 2005-2008 amounted to almost £450,000 have caused controversy among the South Belfast-based Northern Ireland Residents' Coalition.

The Sunday Times list shows the South Belfast MP claimed a total £156,830 in expenses in the financial year 2007/8 making him the 150th highest expense claimer out of the 646 MPs at Westminster.

The SDLP MP and MLA claimed £23,083 for his second home allowance, £16, 967 in office expenses, £94,769 in staffing costs - the 56th highest staffing costs in the Commons - and £22,011 in "other" costs. Other costs includes travel, IT, postage and stationary and makes the SDLP MP the joint first highest claimer in that category.

He also claimed £9,310 for regular journeys between his home, constituency and Westminster and £320 for family travel costs. He claimed no London supplement.

In previous years he claimed £145,728 and £142,304 in total respectively.
Stranmillis resident Andrew Charles from the NI Residents Coalition said Dr McDonnell should explain his claims.

"Despite having two constituency offices, one of which is only open part-time and the main office which is on the same site of his GP surgery, which was recently relocated to a new fancy premises, these costs seem to be on the high side given that he is also an MLA," he said.

"The people of South Belfast have a right to ask our MP to stand over these expenses. How can he be the third most expensive MP in NI, and still practice as a part–time GP according to his register of Member’s interests? Dr McDonnell should come clean with the electorate as to his costs and job priority. South Belfast needs a full-time politician.”

The House of Commons Register of Members' Interests states that the South Belfast MP is a part-time GP, owns a farm in Co Antrim from which he gets rental income, is paid his MLA salary and has shares in Arrow Travel in Belfast. The register was last updated on May 6 but Alasdair this week denied being a practicing GP.

Dr McDonnell went on to say that many of Andrew Charles claims were "disingenuous".

"I am not a practicing GP, I am a full-time politician working as hard as I can to deliver the best constituency service possible across South Belfast to all of the people of South Belfast.

"Mr Charles states that some of my rent claim for 'fancy' new premises 'seem to be on the high side. I would ask Mr Charles what qualifies him to make these assertions and query whether he has been inside the constituency office where he is more than welcome to visit.

"I run two constituency offices across South Belfast and pay for the rent of my main office on the Ormeau Road out of my own pocket. The only thing I don't pay for out of my own pocket is staffing costs and utility bills."

The SDLP man went on to say that his party believed in total transparency, clarity and accountability surrounding MP's expenses.

"This is public money for public roles and therefore must be entirely justifiable," he said.

"I am on public record for backing calls for the early disclosure of expenses and fully support the planned full publication procedure agreed by parliament and I fully stand by all my expense claims.

“I am fully committed to the people of South Belfast who I have had the privilege to serve since 2005 as MP. All the expenses I receive are used to provide the highest constituency service to all of the people of South Belfast."

He concluded by saying: "One would hope in the interests of all Northern Ireland residents that Mr Charles is asking the same questions of Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson who have both submitted higher claims.

“Otherwise Northern Ireland residents will be entitled to ask is Mr Charles simply doing the bidding on behalf of his friends in the DUP who are in no position to lecture anyone on the use of public funds."

Monday, 18 May 2009

Stoop Down Lower Party

contrast the image of this so called republican (above) with the image of cork native ronan o'gara the other week!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

thanks for the photos micky

One of the greatest privileges I as a Republican have is getting to meet and know the families of our Patriot Dead. This is something any Republican recognises as a very privileged and humbling experience.

So on Easter Sunday morning of this year, before the big events of the day, Republicans in Belfast decided to hold a small ceremony honouring the families of those Belfast Óglaigh on the Roll of Honour, the event was hosted by the National Graves Association, I was honoured to be asked to chair it.

We met several times in advance of the event, Easter is an exceptionally busy time for Irish Republicans, to discuss what it would entail. Obviously Easter is a busy day for people so we were expecting a healthy but realistic amount to come to the poignant and reflective gathering. We wanted to provide the families of those members of Óglaigh na hÉireann, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann and Cuman na gCáilíní with a chance to get together, to have cup of tea, to meet up and have yarn before the march to milltown that lay ahead.

The purpose of it was also for us to say, 'we're with you, we thank you and we remember you and your loved ones and the sacrifice that you and they have made for our struggle'.

Tom Hartley, Belfast's First Citizen, and one of our party's finest orators, was the man who made the presentation to the families. The bronnadh itself was a small Easter Lilly, Tom spoke of it symbolising, purity, life and love, fitting attributes considering the people we had gathered to remember that day. The presentation was made to the Family of Fian Gerard McAuley, the first name on the recent Belfast Roll of Honour, and the family of Óglach Harry Burns, the last name on our Roll of Honour. Each family was then asked to send a representative to recieved a lilly from the various representatives in the hall. Nothing could have prepared us for the sheer volume of families who were with us that morning, Tom made it very clear that next year big Bob will have to book a bigger venue!

I look forward to it!

It was an honour to be associated with the event and I thank Micky for sending me the photos.

Beir Bua!

Short Strand Artwork

Bhí láinseáil de múirphictúireacha sa Trá Ghearr an seachtain seo chuaigh thart, bhí dóchas orm cuireadh a fháil go dtí an imeacht seo.

A number of artworks were launched along the so-called 'peacewalls' (that's a term i just dislike) in the Bryson and Madrid Street areas of the strand this week.

The Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Tom Hartley was in attendance as was chair of the Council's Good Relations Unit, Naomi Long MLA.

While there was a very healthy debate at the Short Strand Partnership on the merit of putting art displays up on the walls, the final products were clearly impressive to everyone at the launch.

I took some convincing, and still am not totally convinced that this is a brilliant thing, i would be much more in favour of getting rid of the bloody walls altogether but nevertheless while there they give an opportunity for people right across the community to turn a negative into a positive and express themselves in an artistic fashion. Now that is important.

Fair play to everyone involved, especially the group from the Doyle Youth Club and Short Strand Community Forum.

The photo shows me with Paul McCrory (who we all know as Coccher) with Tom Hartley, Naomi Long and the guys from the Doyle who along with artist Tom Agnew, put a lot of work into the artworks.

I must say however that I am deeply upset and offended at the manipulation of these artworks by the Irish News to take a photograph of an Israeli Ambassador at them without consenting anyone in the community beforehand. The short strand community is one that is very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people and gave extremely generously when the local Sinn Féin Cumann went door to door collecting on behalf of the besieged people of Gaza. No one, least not an Israeli official should use this situation as a comparison to the illegal wall encaging the people of Gaza, no such legitimacy for their illegal and brutal activities will be found by cynically using this communities difficulties to forward an unacceptable Israeli myth!

Monday, 4 May 2009

i haven't been blogging as much.....there's an election on!!!

Gabhaigí mo letihscéal as an easpa bhlagadóireacht ar na mallaibh a chairde ghael, ta muid i bhfoirm feachtais toghchána agus ta fhéin fíor gníomhach, mar a gcéanna le gníomhaithe shinn féin fud fad na tíre seo!!

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately friends and comrades, we in sinn féin are on the election footing of late and like most of the party throughout ireland that's where attentions will be firmly fixed between now and june 4th.

I will do my best to get on and blog between now and then as regularly as possible, in the meantime for anyone who actually cares the twitter is going strong over at

in the meantime why not read the latest bulletin for the rosetta area of south belfast over at

san idirlinn beirigí bua!!!