Friday 26 June 2015

Wicklow Labour TD Anne Ferris is like Wicklow’s own Scarlet Pimpernel – sought everywhere but nowhere to be found

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has slammed Wicklow Labour TD Anne Ferris for trying to pass the blame for the housing crisis in Wicklow onto the housing staff in Wicklow Council and members of the Housing Special Policy Committee (SPC). He labelled her PR stunt as a cynical manoeuvre to try being relevant in Wicklow, a County that has effectively washed its hands of the Labour Party by rejecting all their candidates in the Local Elections.

Cllr Brady said “There is a housing crisis and thankfully most now acknowledge that fact. Sinn Féin and I have been speaking about this for many years now and demanding that the government change their policy of not building social housing. The crisis has however reached boiling point with families presenting as homeless to the council on an almost daily basis. The causes of the crisis are very apparent, a lack of social housing, caps to Rent Supplement and family home being repossessed by the banks. These are all issues that should and could be addressed by the government; instead we have Labour TD Anne Ferris trying to make herself relevant in the debate on the crisis on housing by trying to shift the blame onto Sinn Féin”.

Brady continued “Instead of trying to deal with the problem and trying to progress housing projects in Wicklow, Anne Ferris has chosen to attack the staff in the housing section in Wicklow for not getting projects designed fast enough and telling them to sort themselves out. I don’t expect the Labour TD to know or understand the extent of the crisis in Wicklow whilst sitting in the Ivory Tower of Leinster Hse. She is completely uninformed because Labour has lost all seats they once held on Wicklow County Council. The reality is the housing staff in Wicklow are doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances. Families are presenting as homeless on an almost daily basis and the council simply doesn’t have the houses to give out”.

“The public service recruitment embargo that was introduced by Fianna Fáil and the Greens and subsequently presided over by the Labour Party and Fine Gael has stripped thousands of staff from local authorities and Wicklow is no different. Due to the embargo Wicklow had no architects to develop the badly needed housing schemes that the government only recently gave a limited go ahead for. Thankfully that has now been lifted and one position has been filled over the last couple of weeks and another appointment is due to be made shortly. This will allow the council develop and progress schemes and get them into the department for approval as quickly as possible”.

Brady went onto say “Last November my colleague Cllr John Snell who is the chairperson of the Housing Special Policy Committee (JPC) arranged to meet all 5 Wicklow TDs to outline the work of the SPC, unfortunately Deputy Ferris never showed up. She never showed up to a recent County Council meeting either to listen to presentations on the problems regarding housing in Wicklow. Last week councillors from Arklow and Bray arranged two separate meetings with the Wicklow TDs again the Labour TD was missing in action. Deputy Ferris is like Wicklow’s own Scarlet Pimpernel – sought everywhere but nowhere to be found. Maybe if she turned up to these important meetings she could be better informed of the serious housing crisis in Wicklow, but more importantly what needs to be done to address it”.

Cllr Brady concluded “What the 3,585 families on the housing list or the 150 adults and 125 children that presented as homeless in Wicklow don’t need is a TD trying to turn the housing crisis in Wicklow in a political football by trying to blame others for the mess that their party has created. People want and need houses and Anne Ferris needs to ensure that any blockages in the system that may be creating difficulties in developing housing in Wicklow are lifted. Sitting in an ivory tower sending out press statements won’t fool anyone; people know exactly where the blame lies for the housing crisis”.

Friday 12 June 2015

Brady supports Wicklow single parents at Dáil protest

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has extended solidarity to the large number of one parent families who held a protest outside the Dáil this week against planned brutal cuts by the Labour leader Joan Burton to the Lone Parent Allowance. The cuts are due to come into force on July 2nd.

Brady said “An estimated 12,000 families, including many in Wicklow, face significant cuts to their lone parent allowance of up to €86 per week. This will be the eighth cut to the lone parent allowance under this Labour and Fine Gael government. I was proud to stand with many single parents from Wicklow at the protest that was held outside the Dáil on Wednesday”.

“One family Ireland has estimated that there are 6,740 lone parent households in Wicklow of which 87% are lone mothers and 13% are lone fathers. One-parent families make up 12% of all households in Wicklow. Many of these will be affected by the cuts”.

“The impact of this, especially on children, in Bray, Greystones and Arklow and across the county will be significant. It will drive many more families into poverty.

“Lone parent families are among the most vulnerable people in our constituency. CSO figures show that 63% of lone parent families are living without basic necessities. It is estimated that at least 135,000 children are in constant poverty and living with without basic necessities.

“One parent families are also at a greater risk of homelessness. 60% of households seeking urgent housing assistance are one parent families.

“The Labour Leader Joan Burton claims that her cuts are about forcing lone parents to enter employment or education. When she announced the cuts, the Labour leader claimed that there would be affordable childcare and after school care.

“The reality is that for many parents’ childcare remains unaffordable. In addition, there are few jobs and many employers in the lower-paid sectors of the economy will not guarantee workers regular or sufficient hours.

“For many, the Burton cut will mean having to choose between putting food on the table or paying an electricity bill.” Ends

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Speech i delivered at the AGM of Bray Municipal District having served my term as Cathaoirleach

The AGM of the Bray Municipal District took place on Tuesday 9th June. This seen me step down as the Cathaoirleach, having served my year. Here is the speech i gave at the meeting.

It’s hard to believe a year has gone by and that my year as Cathaoirleach of the new Bray Municipal District is coming to an end. I want to thank the members of the council for their support over the last 12 months, I’ve endeavored to be fair, respectful and open to all the members over the course of the year. I also want to thank that the staff of the council for their work under the new challenges of the reconfigured structures with the County.

It’s been a challenging and difficult year on both on a personal and political front for me and this local authority. Over the course of my term I’ve had to work alongside officials who are trying to evict my family and I from our home and that case is still before the High Court, but I’ve worked with them, putting my personal issues aside as it was my duty to the citizens of this District to work for the betterment of Bray, Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue. It’s been a politically challenging year coming to terms and getting to grips with the new Municipal District structures which I think have been a disaster and has seen a hollowing out of the local authorities and have left us with a council representing the people of Bray, Kilmacanogue and Enniskerry but with little or no powers. We have a housing section in the District, not only do we have no houses for the people we represent, we have a shortage of staff. This has made my role as a public representative very difficult and something that needs to be addressed immediately. The Department for the Environment and Local Government will be shortly holding a review of the changes and the new system and I think this council needs make a submission.

When elected as Cathaoirleach last year I said i wanted to be a champion of equality, an advocate for strong community and bearer of change. I believe with the passing of the recent referendum, we live in a more equal society, I was delighted also that Wicklow County Council supported my proposal to fly the Rainbow flag during pride week. Hopefully this District will follow suit and fly it as well.
Over the year I represented this council at many public events and was delighted to meet many community groups. I endeavored to use my term to support those groups and use this council chamber as a forum to give them a voice and a platform to showcase the excellent work they do. Whilst there are too many to mention i want to just highlight one, the Be Well Bray group, last year i helped them launch their month and invited them into the council. They are a group of young people promoting a practical and positive outlook within youth mental health, they have been chosen to represent Wicklow in the Pride of Place competition and I wish them all the best in the judging which takes place tomorrow.

Last year I stated I was going to give a proportion of my Cathaoirleach’s money back to the community, whilst i financially helped out many groups over the course of the year, i still have funds available and if any club or group has a specific plan or project I would be delighted to hear about it and try help them out financially in some way.

During my term i was delighted to ensure the refurbishment of the Ballywaltrim playground progressed and that has now been thankfully opened. I also had to privilege of opening the tenders of the Dargle Flood Protection work which have made huge progress over the last year. We also have the feasibility study into the provision of a badly needed full time fire service and I look forward to the report following the public consultation process.

Thankfully after 40 years Fran O’Toole from the Miami Show Band will finally get the recognition he deserves in Bray with the renaming of Bray Bridge after him and the erection of a plaque on his former home on Albert Ave. I was delighted to work closely with Peter Carroll on this special project and look forward to the event in early July.
We did have a little controversy during the year with the issue of the Seafront usage policy. Thankfully the excellent Summerfest will continue this year and I look forward to the committee members coming to the chamber for our next meeting.

Unfortunately the housing crisis and homelessness has gotten worse over the last year. The Government disgracefully has no plans to construct any new social housing in the District this year and only 50 in the entire County. Hopefully the proposed meeting with Minister Harris can take place as soon as possible to try address this issue. We have also had major difficulties with the provision of homeless accommodation in the town and thankfully changes are planned in the near future, however there are still serious problems in the facility in Brighton Tce. And this came to the fore again last week with a second electrical fire. We also need the issue of emergency accommodation for families addressed immediately and a huge effort needs to be placed on finding suitable accommodation for the worsening crisis facing families.

I’m currently working with a fantastic group of young people and together we want to see a skateboard park in the town. This I believe is achievable and I will continue to push and work on this project and bring this project to fruition.
Next year marks the centenary of the 1916 Rising and i hope this Municipal District plays its part in commemorating the birth of the Republic. As Cathaoirleach I achieved unanimous support in the creation of a 1916 commemorative garden (Glor Na Casca) I look forward to the development of this plan and the selection of the site for it, along with other projects that hopefully will be brought forward.

Finally i wish the incoming Cathaoirleach well in the coming year and if i can be of any assistance i will gladly help, I do hope the Cathlaoirleachs office in the council building that was removed last year is reopened for the new Cathaoirleach, the office is important for all Cathlaoirleachs to be able to carry out their function to the fullest. In representing our council in the District.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Social Welfare reform must cherish all children equally: stop cuts to lone parent payments…

The success of the recent referendum on same-sex marriage has shown that Ireland is a changed country; welcoming a diverse range of families in the name of equality. However, lone parent families still face severe levels of poverty, inequality and discrimination. Cuts to the lone parent payment, coming in July 2015, further condone this inequality for lone parent families.

In response to the cuts, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD recently launched a postcard campaign designed to reverse cuts to the Lone Parent Allowance. Cuts to these lone parent payments are due to begin on July 2nd and will negatively impact almost 12,000 families.

This campaign has been welcomed by Cllr. John Brady who pointed to the negative impact such cuts will have on the 12% of households in Wicklow that are headed by a lone parent. Cllr. Brady explained; we know from the statistics (SILC, 2013) that 23% of lone parent families live in consistent poverty. This is almost three times higher than the general population. The proposed reduction of income will further penalise the poorest children in the Irish State, 65% of who live in one-parent families”. Cllr. Brady went on to explain that “any reform of lone parent payments can only commence when there is adequate childcare and other supports available and this has not happened under this coalition Government”.

We know that Ireland has among the highest childcare costs in the OECD. For most low and middle-income households, childcare costs are a serious concern, and this is made all the more burdensome when there is only one parent trying to juggle work and care. It is time, at a national level, to really cherish all the children of the state equally and any proposed social welfare reform must give children in lone parent families the supports they need to prosper with the respect and opportunity afforded to children in other families.

Cllr Brady concluded “The Sinn Féin team of councillors on Wicklow County Council have also tabled a motion in support of one parent families and calling on the government to reverse the decision to cut the Lone Parent Allowance”. Ends

If you will be impacted by these changes or care about those who will be, support the Sinn Fein campaign or join the protest against these cuts that has been organised by Single Parents Acting for the Rights of kids (SPARK) outside Dail Eireann at 3:30pm next Wednesday June 10th.