Cross-Community Labour calls for an end to intimidation and violent attacks. 

Cross-Community Labour Candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Donal O’Cofaigh has condemned recent attacks on the right to politically campaign. 

“The 2022 Assembly Election campaign has been marred by attacks on the democratic right to campaign and seek the support of the voters. There have been dozens of reports of posters being torn down, across every constituency and affecting every party. Candidates have been intimidated on-line and on the streets. Candidates have faced state interference in their campaigns. On more than one occasion candidates and their campaign teams have suffered violent attacks. 

“We all know that elections are a reflection of society at large. The sectarianism, repression and intimidation that mar everyday life in many working-class communities remains a massive problem during elections.

“The right to free speech, the right to political organisation and the right to vote were hard won, with the labour and trade union movement leading the way. We will continue to defend the right to democratic expression now and in future elections”.

Stormont must deliver domestic violence refuges and emergency accommodation

Cross-Community Labour Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh today pledged that as a MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone in May he would demand Stormont provide proper resourcing of refuges for victims and survivors of domestic violence.

He explained his experience on this issue to date:

“As a councillor I was able to attend a presentation by Women’s Aid on the current problems they were facing. I was both shocked and dismayed to find out that due to Stormont cuts, there were no longer any dedicated domestic violence refuge units anywhere in Fermanagh.
“Subsequently I raised this issue publicly and repeatedly at council meetings and succeeded in getting the council to write to the Communities Minister demanding action. In response, a commitment was made to provide three domestic violence accommodation units in Enniskillen – which was a success.

“That said, even this provision is completely inadequate. It’s widely known that the number of reported incidents of domestic violence has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic but there is literally nowhere for those living in fear to go. This can be a life or death situation. Three or four emergency units are just not enough.”

Continue reading “Stormont must deliver domestic violence refuges and emergency accommodation”

Fermanagh and Omagh Council – an undemocratic farce!

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has again descended into farce. At the latest meeting, the DUP Chair has muted left-wing councillors. First Donal O’Cofaigh, Cross-Community Labour Councillor was muted. Then it was anti-goldmining councillor Emmet McAleer. Independent Eamonn Keenan indicated he wished to speak, but wasn’t even called in.

This was at a meeting where Sinn Féin and the DUP rammed through a 2.72% increase in the rates.The SDLP enthusiastically supported. The DUP Chair only called councillors from the mainstream parties during the discussion.

Donal and Emmet were not called until after Council voted through the increase. Calling in Donal, DUP Chair Errol Thompson told him “and I’ll just remind you that the vote has been taken overwhelmingly.” He reminded Donal he only had three minutes.

Donal said he wanted to protest that “we were completely excluded there from having any input into probably the most important…” At that point, the Chair interrupted: “Can I just stop you there. You weren’t excluded.” As Donal resumed, the Chair spoke over him. “Our voices weren’t heard,” Donal protested. “There’s no public debate on it,” the Chair interrupted. Continue reading “Fermanagh and Omagh Council – an undemocratic farce!”

A Cross Community Labour Alternative comes to Dungannon

Donal O’Cofaigh the Cross Community Labour assembly candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone in the upcoming Stormont election met with Gerry Cullen in Dungannon to formulate a cross-community labour alliance.

The Enniskillen-based councillor and full-time Unite the union official Donal O’Cofaigh was endorsed by the well-known and highly respected socialist politician and ex-councillor Gerry Cullen from Dungannon Town. Gerry Cullen welcomed Donal to Dungannon on Saturday last to agree and endorse his election campaign. Donal will be standing for election to Stormont as the candidate for Cross Community Labour. Gerry Cullen commented that “there is a strong and historic cross community vote in the Dungannon region. Looking back through the history of the Dungannon region there has always been a strong labour vote, it is now more important than ever that a candidate can put forward a political agenda based on cross community values and solid policies that will appeal to an electorate long starved of political representation based on traditional labour values.”

Donal O’Cofaigh stated that now more than ever a cross community labour candidate is needed at Stormont “to offer effective representation on critical issues facing the electorate, the cost of living crisis, the crisis in health and social welfare, the destruction and exploitation of the environment by multinational financiers and the denigration of a once strong and well resourced social and community based infrastructure”.

Both Gerry Cullen and Donal O’Cofaigh agreed that there is a mood among the electorate of Fermanagh and South Tyrone to move away from the old worn out politics of the past. “It is important that we as a community look to the future with a different perspective. We must take on board the need for community based political values that incorporate a wish for social and community based initiatives which will benefit all of the community of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, not just a fortunate or privileged few. The political system at present has failed this constituency. It is time to offer the electorate an effective and forward thinking socialist and labour based alternative.”

Stormont must stop Petroleum licensing to end fracking threat

The continued reality of that threat was revealed with the publication before Christmas of the long-delayed Sinn Féin White paper which the party promised would outlaw fracking. Campaigners have long demanded to see the content of the White paper but were bitterly disappointed when newly co-opted MLA Áine Murphy finally did make it public. While the bill does set out a ban on fracking it also specifically limits the definition of fracking to shale rocks – in a way that the legislation which banned onshore fracking in the Republic did not.

This is concerning precisely because Tamboran, the company which sought to frack Fermanagh, specifically identified fracking opportunities in Bundoran sandstone – which would fall outside the narrow ‘shale’ definition identified by Sinn Féin’s bill.

The concerns are even greater as it would appear inexplicable that Sinn Féin would bring forward a bill similar in so many regards as that passed in Leinster House – but mistakenly then adopt a definition of fracking which is at variance to that in the southern legislation. The question is doubly troubling since Sinn Féin is a party which seeks to burnish its all-Ireland credentials at all times. Continue reading “Stormont must stop Petroleum licensing to end fracking threat”

Latest housing stats expose Stormont parties are in the hip pocket of property developers

The latest statistics by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive confirm the long-term decline in public housing at the behest of policies enacted by consecutive Stormont Executives. The parties have consistently failed to properly invest in public housing despite a huge sell off of stock over recent decades.

Unfortunately, the latest statistics are released on a council based basis and not all councils have the 2021 figures published yet. That said, it is clear that public housing policy is totally inadequate in the face of massively mounting demand.

Continue reading “Latest housing stats expose Stormont parties are in the hip pocket of property developers”

Fermanagh and Omagh Council – an undemocratic shambles

Sinn Fein’s Cllr McCaffrey

The Sinn Féin chair of a shambolic meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has excluded independent anti-goldmining Councillor Emmet McAleer from a Council meeting. During most of the meeting, he only called party colleagues.

McAleer’s offence was to query the stance of Sinn Féin on an application for ‘permitted development’ status for seven boreholes by Flintridge Resources near their goldmine at Cavanacaw, just outside Omagh.

At a previous meeting, Sinn Féin councillors had allowed a similar application through by strategically not taking part in the vote or being absent. This time they opposed the application. McAleer said: “This is absolutely shambolic. Sinn Féin remained mute the last time and are now trying to claim the glory. What is going on with your party?”

At this point the Chair of the meeting, Council Vice-Chair Chris McCaffrey of Sinn Féin, said: “Councillor McAleer needs to be removed.” McAleer was then ejected from the virtual meeting. Continue reading “Fermanagh and Omagh Council – an undemocratic shambles”

20 years since the murder of Martin O’Hagan

NUJ and trade union protest to demand

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held vigils in Belfast and Derry on Tuesday September 28th to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan. The vigils also demanded justice for Martin.

Twenty years on, nobody has been convicted. Nobody has even faced trial. This is despite the names of the killers being well-known. Even the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (as conservative as its name suggests) has raised concerns. “It is unacceptable that all this time has passed and not one person has been held responsible for what was a public execution,” a representative said. “The failure to prosecute can create an environment of impunity for those who might attack journalists.”

Martin was a courageous journalist. He had particularly worked on stories about collusion. He was shot to stop him shining light into dark places.

Several members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) gang who killed him are known to be security force agents. At the time he was murdered, Martin was investigating links between the LVF and persons in the security forces. That was why he was killed.

Martin was also the most senior trade unionist killed in the Troubles. At the time of his death he was Secretary of the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ. He was also a socialist, who hated injustice and sectarianism.

Martin was the first journalist murdered in Northern Ireland. It was fitting that the Derry vigil was addressed by Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee. Lyra was the second journalist murdered, two years ago.

Both were killed during the ‘Peace Process’, mis-sold throughout the world as a perfect political solution. In recent years, Northern Ireland has become more dangerous for journalists. Threats have become more frequent, and more sinister.