Sunday, 9 February 2014

Wicklow motions on Housing, Pylons and Fire-Service adopted at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Wexford

A large number of Wicklow Sinn Féin members and supporters travelled to Wexford over the weekend to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis that took place in the Wexford opera house. A large volume of motions were debated including a number for the organisation in Wicklow which were supported and now become the party's position on the issue.

Speaking after the Ard Fheis Wicklow Sinn Féin councillor John Brady said "The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this year took place in Wexford and several thousand delegates and supporters converged on the opera house over two days to listen to and participate in debate on many party policy issues. The organisation here in Wicklow had submitted three different motions. The motions related to the housing crisis, pylons and the need for a National fire authority, they were all debated at length and all adopted as the party position on each issue".

The councillor said "The motions we had submitted are real issues of concern here in Wicklow. The organisation put forward some very progressive motions. The first one to be dealt with was on the housing crisis and need to start building social housing using housing trusts that would be established in each local authority, this in conjunction with working being carried out by the voluntary and community sector would seriously tackle the housing crisis".

"The second motion that was submitted by Wicklow was in relation to the plans by Eirgrid to run the Grid Link 400 kv project from Cork to Kildare via Wicklow along with several other counties. This would see the use over huge pylons right across the country side with big implications for tourism, land and property prices, the environment and agriculture. The Wicklow motion calls on the Irish Government to direct Eirgrid to proceed with the proposed project only on the basis that it will run underground, which in line with the view of an international expert commission employed by the government, is a viable option".

Brady continued "Our last motion related to the fire service and the need for the removal of the control of the fire service from underfunded local authorities and put under the control of a newly created all-Ireland National Fire Authority. This would ensure that training, equipment and turnouts would be uniform right across the Country with resources put into areas that need it as opposed to paying the wages of the top heavy chiefs that are simply not needed. I believe the changes will only happen when the control of this emergency service is removed form councils who are constantly cutting corners and trying to save money, this is something we unfortunately have witnessed first hand here in Wicklow and we have far too many deaths because of this flawed policy including two brave fire men. Only then will we see areas like Bray get the full time fire service it needs".

Brady Concluded "Thankfully these and many other progressive motions have been supported by the party's membership and they are now the party's positions on theses issues. Over all the Ard Fheis was very positive and the membership is buoyed up and ready for the Local Elections which are on in May. It was great to see so many new members and candidates and Wicklow had plenty of both there. If the Ard Fheis was anything to go by the European and Local Elections are going to be rigorously contested by Sinn Féin and i think we will have plenty of surprises and shocks for the establishment parties along the way". Ends

Motions put forward by Wicklow at the Sinn Féin 2014 Ard Fheis  and adopted.

108. This Ard Fheis recognises that the 26-County state, via local authorities, is moving away from the provision of public housing and shifting to what is called housing support. This model puts the onus for housing provision on the voluntary and community sector as well as subsidising private landlords.
While voluntary and community housing bodies provide great service and are an essential part of our housing system, they are incapable of providing the level of housing needed.
This Ard Fheis calls for the establishment of housing trusts by each local authority which could source financing for a major public housing build without borrowing as part of the state’s ‘national debt’.

127. This Ard Fheis:
• Notes the proposed plans to expand the electricity grid on the island via the North-South Interconnector, the Grid Link and Grid West projects.
• Supports in principle the enhancement of supply and expansion of the electricity grid and the stated aims of Eirgrid to help secure future electricity supply for homes, businesses, farms, factories and communities, to help Ireland meet its 40% renewable energy target and to provide a platform for economic growth and job creation.
• Notes with concern the impact that construction of the proposed high-voltage 400KV pylon supported powerlines would have, most notably, in the areas of:
• Agriculture
• Health
• Landscape
• Tourism
• Land and property values
• Commends the community-based groups across the island who have been campaigning effectively on the issue, who have helped to inform the wider population of the projects, and have been voicing the many genuine and serious concerns that communities have about the proposed projects.
Further notes:
• That underground cables have lower transmission losses than overhead lines because, due to thermal reasons, underground cables have a larger conductor and therefore significantly smaller losses.• Studies on several 400KV transmission grids show that the characteristics of underground cables can in many cases be beneficial to the overall performance of the network.
• Disturbance of underground cables occurs less frequently than for overhead lines. Overhead cables are affected by severe weather. Only outside influences can disturb and damage underground cables. Underground cables are low maintenance compared to overhead lines.
• Underground cables - at installation - cost more than overhead lines but the fact that they are low-maintenance, have lower transmission losses, have a longer lifespan and no environmental or other negative impact would suggest that the initial additional outlay will be offset over time by the many advantages.
• That an international expert commission, employed by the government, found that the undergrounding of cables was “a viable option”.
Calls for:
• The Irish Government to direct Eirgrid to proceed with the proposed projects only on the basis that they will be undergrounded.
• In the case of the North-South Interconnector, that the lines be placed underground using ducts within the new A5/N2 road development.
• The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, which facilitates the forcing through of such projects regardless of the expressed wishes of communities, be repealed.
• A united all-party front in opposition to the overgrounding of powerlines and to make the case for undergrounding.

161. This Ard Fheis reiterates our policy for an all-Ireland National Fire Authority. This would remove control of the fire service from underfunded local authorities and would provide a cost-effective system to offer live-saving services to those who need it. 

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