MIL-OSI UK: The Alternative to Arms – Gerry Adams – New York Times ‘Turning Point’ Article

Source: Sinn Féin

6 December, 2018 – by Gerry Adams TD

This is an article – published December 5th 2018 –  from Turning Points, a magazine that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead. OpinionTURNING POINTSThe Alternative to ArmsBy Gerry AdamsDec. 5, 2018When the Second World War ended in 1945 there were 51 member states in the United Nations. Today there are 193. Many of the new states emerged out of struggle and conflict as old empires crumbled.That cycle of political struggle continues today. The Brexit crisis may cause huge economic damage to Ireland’s economies and may even threaten the Good Friday Agreement. In Catalonia and the Basque Country, both of which seek independence from Spain, in Hong Kong and Palestine, people fight or have fought for the right to self-govern.The world is dominated by nations’ struggles to make their own laws and to decide their relationships with other nations. But for people to have control over the decisions that affect their lives, we must empower them through diplomacy, cooperation and dialogue. When governments put simple human decency and the rights of their people first as they negotiate the world’s conflicts, democracy will follow.That, however, is easier said than done, especially when the individual people responsible for upholding the law often value their own power over the common good.When I was a teenager in Belfast I realized that my peers and I were not being treated fairly. Northern Ireland was created when the British government partitioned Ireland. People were divided on sectarian lines and Catholics were deemed to be disloyal. We were denied basic rights in what was effectively an apartheid statelet.The inequality we experienced was deeply embedded in our society, to the point of being policy. Still, I thought that fixing it was only a matter of bringing it to the attention of the people in charge. Once they realized the problem they would rectify matters.I soon learned that the people in charge relied on that inequality for their power. They were unlikely to eradicate it if that would cost them their leverage, and any solution would be tempered to a degree that would keep them in charge. People who have power, or even the illusion of power, are loath to give it up. Those on the other side of this equation — the disadvantaged — include many who believe they cannot change their situation. Some are reluctant even to consider that change is possible. Some are afraid of change. Some are used to society being organized in a certain way, even when that society discriminates against them. Some are too busy surviving or living their lives to consider that things could be different.There can be no progress without political struggle, but for it to succeed, people must be empowered. They need to have a stake in society and in their communities. They have to be cherished, and their humanity has to be respected and defended. They have rights and entitlements that must be upheld and promoted. Society needs to be citizen-centered, shaped around these rights.The reality, of course, is that progressive change in society rarely comes of its own accord. It has to be engineered, negotiated for. Violence often breeds when people believe that they have been left with no alternative. And this belief can become more entrenched as states use extrajudicial and violent means to defend their interests.Annual worldwide military spending is estimated to be over $1.7 trillion today, whereas the United Nations and its related agencies spend around $30 billion annually. Conflict is fueled by poverty, economic exploitation and the desire to control water rights, oil reserves and other natural resources.Britain had fought dozens of counterinsurgency wars before it sent its soldiers to Irish streets in 1969. It had a well-established policy that saw the law, according to Brigadier Frank Kitson, as “just another weapon in the government’s arsenal … little more than a propaganda cover for the disposal of unwanted members of the public.”Irish republicans and others succeeded in shifting from conflict to peace by building an alternative to armed struggle with the Good Friday Agreement. It provides for certain rights for Northern Ireland, including the right to a referendum on whether to remain a part of Britain or to end that relationship and establish a united Ireland. The agreement emerged slowly as a result of hard work, with parties and governments eventually being prepared to take risks, and with the support of the international community. It is still very much unfinished business.In the conflict between the Spanish state and the Basque independence campaigners a similar process, closely modeled on Ireland’s, has succeeded in ending armed conflict, even though the Spanish government has not fully engaged so far. Sinn Féin leaders have often traveled to other conflict zones, including Afghanistan and Colombia, advocating the primacy of dialogue, negotiations and peace processes.I have traveled to the Middle East on several occasions, speaking to Palestinians, visiting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and speaking to senior leaders in Israel and Palestine. Regrettably, the failure of governments to uphold international law and U.N. resolutions, and the Israeli government’s refusal to defend democratic norms and find equitable and fair compromises, has left many Palestinians living in desperate conditions, with no hope of a different, better future. As a result, the Middle East exists in a permanent state of conflict.To change this demands a genuine effort to understand what motivates, inspires and drives people to make the choices they do. The dialogue that fosters that understanding is what ultimately empowers opposing sides of a conflict to come together.Whoever described politics as the art of the possible was reducing politics to a mediocre trade. People’s expectations of their worth must be raised — not lowered. When we do that, we enable democracy to take hold in even the most dire situations.


MIL-OSI UK: Broadband Tender answers ‘raise more questions for Department of Communications’ – Cullinane

Source: Sinn Féin

6 December, 2018 – by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee David Cullinane said today that the Department of Communications has more questions to answer in relation to its handling of the broadband tender process, despite its appearance before the Committee this morning.
The Waterford TD said:
“The Secretary General of the Department of Communications was before the PAC to answer questions on the broadband tender process.
“In politics, public perception is a key dynamic when it comes to public contracts.
“I put it to the Secretary General that the Minister Naughten’s engagements with David McCourt, the chairman of Granahan McCourt, a key bidder for the national broadband plan contract, did not look good.
“In response, he accepted that it would have been better for former Minister Naughten to have had officials with him.
“He also confirmed that the removal of around 300,000 households from the original tender changed the dynamic of the tender itself.
“It would appear that the decision to do so seriously compromised the viability of the project, I would add possibly fatally.
“Rural Ireland has suffered as a result – with significant consequences in terms of investment, growth, and viability.
“We need, therefore, to get to the heart of the decision to change the tender in 2016 and why it was taken.
“The PAC needs to do its job. It needs to investigate the tendering process and I hope this becomes a key part of the Committee’s work in the New Year.
“Public oversight demands that we do so.” 


MIL-OSI UK: Press release: Fishing trip cost Leicester man over £1,400 – a licence costs £30

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

A 44-year old man from Leicester has been found guilty of fishing without a licence, failing to state his name and address, and obstructing a constable in the execution of his duties in June 2018.

The case was brought to Leicester Magistrates Court by the Environment Agency on 5 December 2018 where Matt Ralton, of St Stephens Road, Leicester was proved guilty in his absence and ordered to pay a total penalty of £1,428.

The penalty includes fines of £800 plus costs of £548 and a victim surcharge of £80 after Ralton was found in breach of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1975) and the Police Act (1996) on 2 June 2018 at Watery Gate, Normanton Turville, Thurlaston.

Following the verdict, Peter Haslock, Area Enforcement Team Leader for the Environment Agency said:

This case shows anglers how seriously the courts take these offences and highlights how we do not tolerate obstructive behaviour towards our officers under any circumstances. It acts as a reminder to anglers of the importance of having a rod licence and we hope it will provide a deterrent to any angler who is thinking of fishing without a licence or of failing to give details to an officer.

All of the money raised from rod licence sales is used to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, benefitting anglers and, for those caught cheating the system, we will always prosecute.

Every year across the country, thousands of anglers are prosecuted for not having a fishing licence. As well as cheating other anglers, fishing illegally can carry a hefty penalty. Getting caught without a licence could land a fine of up to £2,500.

Any angler aged 13 or over, fishing on a river, canal or still water needs a licence. A 1-day licence costs from just £6 and an annual licence costs from just £30 (concessions available). Licences are available from or by calling the Environment Agency on 0344 800 5386 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Anyone with information about illegal fishing activities can contact the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


MIL-OSI UK: MPs cannot be allowed to undermine backstop – Anderson

Source: Sinn Féin

6 December, 2018 – by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the backstop cannot be allowed to be undermined by Brexiteer MPs. 
Martina Anderson said: 
“The backstop as already agreed between the EU and the British government must be maintained and protected. 
“It was put in place to avoid the imposition of any physical infrastructure or any hardening of the border. 
“Theresa May cannot now cast that agreement aside and allow MPs to decide on the operation of the backstop. 
“None of those MPs represent the people living along the border who would be most impacted by Brexit and whot the backstop was agreed to provide protection for. 
“British MPs cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the backstop just as they have done over the democratically expressed views of the people of the north. 
“The Withdrawal Agreement cannot be unpicked in some attempt to paper over the deepening cracks in the Tory party and the wider British political system. 
“The backstop is the insurance policy for people in the north and those along the border in particular. It must be protected.”


MIL-OSI UK: Assembly calls on the Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency

Source: London Assembly

The government should give the Mayor of London more powers to ensure London is carbon neutral by 2030.

Today, the London Assembly called on the Mayor to put an emergency plan in place and declare a Climate Emergency in London.

Caroline Russell AM, who proposed the motion said:

“Catastrophic climate breakdown might be as little as twelve years away – this would have profound impacts on every aspect of our lives in London from flooding and overheating in summers, disruption in our food supply chains as well as in the wider natural world.  

“The Mayor need to be at the forefront of this challenge, declaring a climate emergency and an urgent updating of his carbon reduction targets to make London carbon neutral by 2030, decades ahead of his current plans.  By example setting a precedent for other major and world cities.”

The full text of the motion

This Assembly notes that the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared with a 1.5°C rise, and confirms that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities and others.

This Assembly notes the Mayor’s climate change mitigation and adaptation responsibilities and recognises that he aims to make London a zero-carbon city by 2050 and would welcome further ambitious steps.

We welcome action by Bristol city council and other city councils around the world to declare and commit resources to tackling a ‘Climate Emergency’.

We urge the Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency, supported by specific emergency plans with the actions needed to make London carbon neutral by 2030, call on government to give him the powers and funding to make this possible and, as vice chair of the C40 Cities network, to be a leader on this agenda.


MIL-OSI UK: Sexual health funding cuts attacked by the Assembly

Source: London Assembly

Sexual health funding from London boroughs has dropped by an average of 16 per cent in recent years.  This has made accessing services very difficult and some Londoners are being turned away from struggling sexual health clinics.


Today, the London Assembly unanimously called on the Mayor to urge London Boroughs to make sexual health support a priority.


Sian Berry AM, who proposed the motion said:


“For some people even asking for help for sexual health problems can be a barrier to accessing services – but the situation is worsening as Londoners are having to compete for appointments or even being turned away from clinics already struggling to meet demand.


“We have a clear need for contraceptive advice for London’s women and for more help and information to reduce the high number of sexually transmitted infections in the city.


“The Mayor must use his influence to convince councils to keep these vital services open and accessible for anyone who needs them.” 



Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion said:


“It is absolutely unacceptable that too many Londoners are finding it difficult to access sexual health clinics due to a combination of funding cuts and the rising levels of demand being placed upon them. Vital campaigns about the importance of regular testing are undermined if people are routinely being turned away from clinics.


“Not only are funding cuts to sexual health services putting people’s health at risk, they are a false economy. The Department for Health’s own research shows that every £1 spent on sexual health services saves the taxpayer £11 over the long term.


“At a time of rising demand for sexual health services, we should be making it as easy as possible for people to get the help and advice they need.


“Whilst we acknowledge the significant pressures being placed upon councils across the capital due to significant Government cuts, it is vital that the Mayor uses his powers to urge boroughs to make sexual health support a priority.”



The full text of the motion is:


This Assembly notes that sexual health funding from London boroughs has dropped from an average of £176 million in 2013/14 to £148 million in 2017/18, a 16 per cent reduction. [1]


We note that, although the Mayor does not control where councils make cuts, he is able to exert his political influence, in particular through the London Health Board, to make the case to London councils for them supporting sexual health clinics.


We welcome the work of the London Assembly Health Committee in raising this issue with the Mayor. [2]


We recognise that even asking for help for sexual health problems can be a barrier to some people accessing services and that the situation is worsening as Londoners are having to compete for appointments or are even being turned away from clinics already struggling to meet demand.


This Assembly therefore urges the Mayor to make strong representations to London boroughs urging them to make sexual health support a priority.