Carthy clashes with Education Minister telling Foley she faces ‘widespread loss of confidence’

Carthy clashes with Education Minister telling Foley she faces ‘widespread loss of confidence’


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has told the Dáil that the Education Minister, Norma Foley faces ‘widespread loss of confidence’ at her handling of the sector during the current restrictions.  Deputy Carthy was part of a debate with the Minister for Education last week.


Deputy Carthy cited the failures of the Minister in addressing school transport needs for many families in rural communities and the challenges faced by students who did not have access to laptop computers or broadband.  These were issues brought to the Minister’s attention last Summer, he said, but the Minister has refused to engage with those affected.


The Sinn Féin representative said that the failure to address this longstanding problems raised concerns as to the Minister’s capacity to address the new challenges posed by teachers, students and parents during the new lockdown.  He referenced specifically the issues highlighted by leaving cert students and their families.


The exchange went as follows:


Deputy Matt Carthy: “There is widespread loss of confidence in the Minister’s ability to address the challenges that will face education in the coming weeks and months. Like many Deputies, I have been speaking to leaving certificate students, other students, families of children with special needs, school management, teachers and other workers in education, including SNAs.


“The overwhelming view is that the Minister has not engaged with any of them sufficiently until after a crisis has emerged and that the Minister has failed to understand their concerns with her approach over a myriad of issues.


“A large part of the reason for this lack of confidence is the Minister’s failure to even start to address problems that have been identified to her since last summer.


“I have two questions to put to the Minister. I have raised in the House on several occasions the absolute mess that has been made of school transport for many families, particularly those in rural communities. I have brought to the Minister’s attention a number of instances of children who have been deemed eligible for school transport but who have been denied a place on their local school bus because their parents or guardians submitted their payment after the arbitrary 4 August deadline.


“Families missed that deadline for an array of reasons, including in instances I know of in which parents simply did not have the funds in place at that stage.  They have been treated disgracefully for that.  Bus Éireann has just stopped engaging with them at all. It has stopped engaging with elected representatives on this in many instances.  The Minister has appeared to wash her hands of the matter.


“My first question is this: what will the Minister now do to ensure that all schoolchildren who have been deemed eligible for school transport will get a seat on their school bus before the schools return after these current restrictions?


“Second, I have been inundated this week with communications from parents and families unable to facilitate remote learning because either they do not have access to broadband or they cannot afford laptops. What is the Minister doing to address their needs?”


Minister Norma Foley:  “Regarding the Deputy’s remarks on lack of engagement, which I utterly reject out of hand, it has been the hallmark of my Ministry that substantial engagement right from the very beginning has been attested by the reopening of our schools and ongoing engagement with all the partners in education. This includes parents, teachers, students and managerial bodies right across the weave of education. I therefore reject out of hand the Deputy’s remarks in that regard.


“Regarding school transport specifically, it is very clear that all those who were eligible and who paid on time have been facilitated. Deputy Carthy may or may not be aware of the reality of the Covid-19 situation, which has led to public health issuing advice on school transport. I reiterate, as I highlighted earlier, that everything we in the Department of Education have been asked to adhere to, including flexibility in terms of public health, we have done so.  In adherence to public health, we have accepted the recommendation that we accommodate 50% on our school transport, and we are rolling that out.  Where there is extra capacity, accommodation will be made, but we are abiding by public health in that regard.


“In the context of parents and families, again, I acknowledge that there has been ongoing representation and engagement.  There is a parent voice, a parent representative, in all my engagements.  I have facilitated that regularly and will continue to do so.  It is hugely important. In the Department of Education and in the education sector we work as a collaborative, and I acknowledge the willingness of all the various partners in education to contribute positively”.


Matt Carthy: “The Minister is essentially saying that all the people who have been contacting Deputies across the House are liars.  On Thursday last, her suggestion was that the schools would operate this week for leaving certificate students and children with special educational needs.  That did not happen precisely because the engagement had not taken place beforehand.


“All those leaving certificate students who have been contacting us this week to say they have had no engagement from the Minister or her Department, all the teachers who were absolutely flabbergasted by the Minister’s position only a week ago and all those parents who are still wondering what exactly will happen.


“The Minister asked whether I understood the reality of school transport.  I will tell her the reality of one family in my constituency.  The father passed away in the most tragic circumstances a couple of years ago and the mother has been doing everything in her power to hold her family together under the most difficult circumstances.  As a result of financial constraints and all the other issues in that house, it was 10th August when the mother paid her school transport fees.


“The school bus passes her front door every single morning and she has to get into a car with two of her children and follow it.  That is their lived reality.  I understand that when the schools were reopening in September, lots of issues needed to be dealt with.  But, the Minister had September, October, November and December to sort out issues for these families and she has not engaged at all. The problem is that those families are sitting at home now and are unaware whether or not the children will have seats on their school bus. It is crucially important they do.


“In my county almost half the households do not have access to broadband.  The Minister has not answered, her Department has not answered and the Government has not answered how in the hell these families are supposed to facilitate remote learning for their children.


“It is simply not good enough”.


Speaking after the debate, Teactha Carthy said:


“It has since been reported that Minister Foley turned up to one meeting with the Teachers Union of Ireland an hour late and stayed for only five minutes.


“The Minister may have hoped that engagement would be a hallmark of her Ministry, but what I am hearing from people right across our education sector is that it seems as if the Department and Minister are detached from the realities on the ground.  A huge disservice is being done to parents, teachers and of course students”.


Minister Lacking Vision for Organic Farming

Minister Lacking Vision for Organic Farming – Matt Carthy TD


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on the Minister for Agriculture to clarify the number of additional places that will be available in the organic farm scheme.


The government announced in November that they planned to up to 500 places, yet the Departments own figures now suggest it will be limited to 300.


Teachta Carthy said:


“Minister Charlie McConalogue and his Junior Minister, Pipa Hackett, were quick to promise significantly additional spaces on the organic farm scheme last November – they must follow through and deliver.


“Many farmers have already commented that they felt that the Organics scheme has been too biased towards larger holdings and that many family farmers have been unable to join.  All too often with department schemes farmers are left uncertain as to when or if they will be able to avail of them.


“This not only damages farmers ability to financially plan, but also unnecessarily delays the positive impact these schemes are designed to deliver.


“The Farm to Fork strategy sets a target of 25% of all farmland being organic – Ireland currently lags behind the rest of Europe at around 2%.


“The Minister first needs to commit to deliver the places promised for this year and confirm exactly when applications will open.


“We also need clarity as to how this government intends to close the gap between our current coverage and the ambitious targets within Farm to Fork.


“The government have stated that the move to organic will be ‘consumer lead’ – smaller farmers cannot be excluded in a rush to subsidise larger producers to make up lost ground”.


Governments decision to tax PUP ‘A kick in the teeth’

Governments decision to tax PUP ‘A kick in the teeth’ – Matt Carthy TD


Local Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has slammed the government’s decision to retrospectively tax the Pandemic Unemployment Payment as ‘crass, unjust, and a kick in the teeth to those who lost their jobs in the pandemic.’


As an Urgent Needs Payment for its initial 20-week roll-out, the payment not subject to tax by law but, because the government retrospectively changed the law, workers have now received tax bills up to €1,400 higher than would have otherwise been expected.


Teachta Carthy said:


“Late last year, despite Sinn Féin’s opposition, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs voted to change the law so that PUP payments could be retrospectively taxed.  This was a kick in the teeth to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic and has resulted in an increased tax bill of up to €1,400 higher than expected.  That people are learning of this during a period of another lockdown has caused huge frustration and anxiety.


“Up until August 5th, these payments were made and received under a framework whereby Urgent Needs Payments are explicitly exempt from income tax.  The government set out to change the law in Finance Act passed in December to allow them to retrospectively claw some of this money back from people.


“It is telling that Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael had never changed the law to undo the significant tax-avoidance measures that vulture funds and banks continue to avail of.


“It is all the more galling that the PUP tax bills have started to arrive in the same week that the government approved a pay rise of more than €90,000 for the incoming secretary general of the Department of Health.


“Government TDs changed the law to enforce these new taxes, they must now change the law again to undo this punitive measure”.


Government Agriculture Priorities all wrong as Meat Factories get €100million without conditions

Government Agriculture Priorities all wrong as Meat Factories get €100million without conditions – Matt Carthy TD


“That the only Agriculture funding announced post Brexit has been a €100 million package to meat factories and other processors is very telling of the governments’ misplaced priorities.”  So said Sinn Féin’s Agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy TD this week as he called on the Minister for Agriculture to clarify what measures will be made available to farmers affected by the fallout from Brexit.


Teachta Carthy said:


“The government have announced that €100million will be made available to Meat Factories and other processors through the Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products.  Unfortunately, cabinet failed to use the opportunity of that funding to implement necessary conditions on recipients.  There will be no obligation on the meat factories to improve the working conditions in plants; there will be no obligation to undo the corporate structures of the factories which are renowned for their secrecy and tax avoiding elements.  Crucially there will be no obligation on meat factories to act in a fairer manner with the source of their product – Ireland’s family farmers.


“Yet while this funding has been made available for the processing sector there have been no new measures announced post-Brexit for farmers.  It appears that the government have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the most important aspect of food production.


“Before Christmas at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Minister McConalogue confirmed that the Covid supports included in Budget 2021 were effectively an extension of existing programmes re-packaged.


“As the full cost and impact of Brexit becomes apparent, it is imperative that Minister outlines exactly what supports he intends to make available to farmers – particularly those vulnerable sectors such as suckler beef farmers.


“Sinn Féin’s budget proposals would have created a new scheme giving suckler farmers up to €300 per cow – this is the type of policy that would have a real and positive impact on both farmers pockets and the environment.


“The Minister needs to make certain that 2021 is the year in which our family farmers are prioritised.  Special funding schemes for the Meat Processing Industry that are not contingent on the much need reforms of that sector will simply reinforce the view that the Government’s agriculture priorities are all wrong.


“Minister McConalogue can begin by outlining what Brexit supports will be available to farmers in the time ahead”.


Carthy urges progress on Ballinacarry Bridge works

Carthy urges progress on Ballinacarry Bridge works


Local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he will continue to demand the speedy delivery of necessary roadworks on the Castleblayney to Dundalk road including the long-awaited improvement works at Ballinacarry Bridge.


The local Dáil Deputy recently raised the matter in the Dáil with the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan.  In a response received from officials in the Department, Carthy was informed:


“Planning and design work on the proposed N53 Hackballscross to Rassan road improvement scheme is being undertaken by Louth County Council, which is the road authority for the area, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) provided an allocation of €300,000 to the Council this year to enable this work to progress.


“The proposed scheme involves the realignment of approximately 3km of the N53 national secondary route. A further allocation of €50,000 was provided by TII to Monaghan County Council this year for the proposed N53 Ballinacarry Bridge improvement scheme which is currently being progressed by the Council and is at early planning stage”.


Speaking this week Deputy Carthy said:


“The Castleblayney to Dundalk road is one of the busiest regional routes in the border region.  In recent years some improvement works have been carried out and are to be welcomed.


“Much more is required, and I will continue to press the Department and the relevant local authorities to expediate all expenditure to ensure that there are no undue delays once funding has been allocated.


“In particular, I will work closely with my local Councillor colleagues to secure the speedy implementation of the necessary safety improvement works at Ballinacarry Bridge.  This black-spot has been raised by Sinn Féin over several years, especially through the dogged efforts of our longstanding Councillor, Jackie Crowe, and the required works cannot be subjected to any further delays.”


Government must force banks to provide payment break extension without additional interest for COVID-impacted borrowers

Government must force banks to provide payment break extension without additional interest for COVID-impacted borrowers – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has joined calls to the government to force lenders to provide payment break extensions without additional interest for borrowers impacted by the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions.


On December 2nd the European regulator announced that it was reactivating its guidelines for COVID-19 payment breaks in response to the second wave of the virus.  This allows the Government and Irish banks to provide for a 3-month extension to payment breaks for those borrowers that needed it during the second and third waves of the virus.


Speaking this week, Teachta Carthy said:


“The third surge of the Coronavirus poses a grave threat to the health and security of our society.


“Just like previous waves, this latest surge has resulted in job losses, continued unemployment or financial insecurity for many mortgage borrowers and businesses.


“When this pandemic began, the European Banking Authority issued guidelines that allowed Government and lenders to provide for payment breaks for borrowers who were impacted by the virus.


“Due to Government inaction, Irish borrowers were only able to avail of 6-month payment breaks while borrowers in Germany, Italy and Spain were able to avail of breaks of between 9 and 12 months.


“Worse still, these banks charged borrowers additional interest during their payment breaks, increasing their outstanding debt by thousands of euros.  By the end of November, over 9,000 mortgage holders and SMEs whose payment breaks had ended were unable to return to normal repayments.


“We know that banks and lenders have failed to offer many of these borrowers sustainable solutions in these difficult times.


“On December 2nd the EBA announced that it was reactivating its payment break guidelines.  This was an opportunity to provide real relief for thousands of borrowers who have now faced two rounds of restrictions since November.


“Despite calls from Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, for the Government and banks to seize this opportunity, they failed to do so.


“As we face another prolonged period of public health restrictions, we are again calling on the Government to do the right thing and secure a payment break extension without additional interest for those borrowers who need it.”



Carthy reiterates call for additional services at Monaghan Hospital

Carthy reiterates call for additional services at Monaghan Hospital


Local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has reiterated his call for the government to instruct the HSE to restore additional services to Monaghan Hospital.   He said that the removal of services from local hospitals such as Monaghan by successive governments has been exposed as a fallacy during the Covid-19 pandemic.


In the Dáil prior to the Christmas break Deputy Carthy had asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly whether additional services would be restored to Monaghan Hospital in 2021.


In his response, Minister Donnelly stated:


“The services at Monaghan Hospital, as part of the Cavan & Monaghan Hospital in the RCSI Hospital Group, include theatre, day services, diagnostic services, ambulatory care, a Minor Injury Unit and a wide range of out-patient services.  It also has 20 rehabilitation in-patient beds and 11 step-down beds, providing an invaluable service to patients following discharge from acute hospital services.

“A 23-bed Intermediate Care Unit in Monaghan Hospital is planned as part of Winter Plan 2020 to provide step down beds for Cavan Hospital patients.  We are advised by the RCSI Hospital Group that 5 of these beds have opened recently and that the other 18 will open on a phased basis in the coming months”.


Speaking this week, Deputy Carthy reiterated the longstanding Sinn Féin demand that services at Monaghan hospital be restored and developed.  Crucially, he said that proposals to return emergency services to Monaghan must be brought forward.


He said:


“2021 must be the year when the downgrading of Monaghan Hospital is reversed.   The policies of removing services from hospitals such as Monaghan have been exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic as other centres have been overburdened.


“Crucially, we need to see proposals to restore emergency services at Monaghan Hospital.  We know that pressures that are evident in A&E departments in centres such as Cavan and Drogheda.  The policies of successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have clearly failed.  That needs to be acknowledged and those policies need to be reversed.


“I will continue to challenge the Minister for Health and all parties of government to return to common sense.  That means returning services to our local hospital”.


Matt Carthy TD delivers online oration to mark anniversary of Brookeborough Attack

Carthy delivers online oration to mark anniversary of Brookeborough attack


Due to Coronavirus restrictions the annual New Years Day commemoration to mark the anniversary of the deaths of IRA Volunteers Fearghal Ó hAnnluain and Seán Sabhat following an attack on Brookeborough barracks in County Fermanagh, could not proceed.


Instead of gathering as usual at the monument to the two men at Altawark, almost 15,000 people viewed an online commemoration that featured an oration by Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy.


Separately, wreaths were laid on New Years Day at the graveside of Fearghal Ó hAnnluain in Monaghan town by Cllr. Seán Conlon and at the monument at Altawark by Fermanagh Councillor, Sheamus Greene.


In his online remarks, which were recorded alongside the grave of Monaghan’s Fearghal O’Hanlon, Deputy Carthy said that ‘the tide of history is with those who seek to build a united Ireland based on social justice and equality’.  He said that the Sinn Féin leadership were determined to pursue this objective in 2021.


Remarks by Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy


“A chairde; Because of Covid, as has been the case so many times over the past year, we cannot gather in commemoration together as we would traditionally.


“I am honoured to address you online today from the graveside of Fearghal O’Hanlon rather than at the monument to Fearghal and Seán Sabhat at Altawark.


“Fearghal Ó hAnnluain, an IRA Volunteer from Monaghan Town, died with his comrade Seán Sabhat from Limerick, during an attack on the RUC barracks at Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh on New Year’s Day, 1957.


“Sean and Fearghal were members of the IRA’s North Fermanagh Resistance Column, also known as the Pearse column, participating in the IRA’s Border Campaign of the late 1950s.


“When he volunteered to go on active service with the IRA Fearghal, was joined by comrades from all around Ireland. They were young activists in the main – Fearghal was not yet 21 when he was killed.


“From whatever part of Ireland they came, these Volunteers were united in their determination to fight against British occupation of their country, and to establish the right of the Irish people to unity and freedom.


“Fearghal, who played senior football for Monaghan, was an extremely popular young man, a fluent Irish speaker who grew up in a very republican household in Monaghan town where the border was a very real influence.


“At Brookeborough, the Pearse Column used an open backed lorry with a mounted machine-gun to attack the barracks, but their mines failed to explode and the column was raked with machine gun fire from the barracks.


“Several Volunteers were hit. Sean Sabhat was killed outright. Fearghal was wounded about the legs and lost consciousness.


“The column withdrew and the badly riddled lorry was abandoned at Baxter’s Cross.


“Fearghal and Seán were taken to the shelter of a byre with the hope that assistance would be forthcoming from the locals. The remainder struggled, cross-country towards the border.


“Fearghal died later and his comrades believed he was killed when RUC, B-Specials and British military came upon him where he lay with his dead section leader.


“The Brookeborough Raid is the most enduring engagement of the IRA’s Border Campaign and Fearghal and Sean were the campaign’s first IRA casualties.


“It occurred in an Ireland stunted by conservatism North and South and blighted with economic stagnation and gross inequality leading to massive unemployment and emigration.


“It showed that in spite of – or perhaps because of – the state to which Ireland had been reduced there were still young Irish men and women willing to risk their lives to achieve a truly free nation.


“In the era before the intensive censorship, and pervasive propagandising by the establishment media, Sean and Fergal were mourned across the island.


“County councils passed motions of sympathy. Fifty thousand people, including many elected officials, attended Sean Sabhat’s funeral.




“Meanwhile the Unionist government at Stormont, the British government, and the government in Dublin sought to suppress the campaign.


“Internment was imposed and there were extensive raids and arrests with the RUC and B-Specials taking a leading role. In January 1957 the Unionist government imposed a ban on Sinn Féin – a ban which was not lifted until 1974.


“In the meantime Sinn Féin contested the 26-County General Election of March 1957, electing four abstentionist TDs – Eanachán Ó hAnnluain, brother of Fearghal, in Monaghan, prisoner candidates John Joe McGirl in Sligo-Leitrim and Ruairi Ó Brádaigh in Longford-Westmeath, and veteran republican John Joe Rice in South Kerry.


“The international context was important, with several anti-colonial revolts against British rule in far flung parts of the world.


“While the IRA campaign did not come anywhere near attaining its objective of forcing British withdrawal, it placed Partition and the nature of the Six-County state onto the political agenda.


“While the conditions which led to the resurgence of republican resistance in the 1970s were different, the republican activists of the 1950s had a huge influence on the emergence of a strong Movement to fight British occupation and unionist discrimination in the early ‘70s and subsequent years.


“Today, I also want to remember, Matt Ó Mhurchada, Fearghal’s brother-in-law, who was laid to rest in this cemetery earlier this year.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.




“Republicans will always remember and honour those who fought and died for our shared objectives.


“The past year has witnessed the centenaries of key events in the War of Independence, which were less than 40 years old when Fearghal Ó hAnnluain died.


“This year marks the 100th anniversary of Partition – a tragedy for the people of Ireland, which men like Fearghal Ó hAnnluain and Sean Sabhat sought to correct.


“Discrimination and repression were the lived experience of nationalists in the northern state for successive generations.


“2021 will also mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikers.  Among the 10 Hunger Strikers to die, Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty were elected as members of parliament.  Those elections, alongside the widespread public support that was evident across Ireland and all over the world, clearly helped defeat the British attempts to criminalise the Irish republican struggle.


“Those in political and media establishments in Dublin, Belfast or London, who today retrospectively try to criminalise all those who fought for Irish freedom, should know that they too will not win.  We have different narratives on the past, that should be respected and those families and communities who still strive for truth and justice should be supported.  But, our politics needs to be about the future, about delivering a better, fairer and united Ireland.


“The 1998 Good Friday Agreement of revoked the Government of Ireland Act which brought about Partition, and we now have a peaceful, democratic path to Irish unity.


Irish Unity


“It is time now to begin a planned transition to Irish reunification.


“The debate has already begun and the Irish government should accept its responsibility to facilitate it.


“For the people of the North, the choice now is between the narrow, inward-looking vision of Brexit Britain or an open inclusive vision of a New Ireland.


“Four and a half years ago the North voted to remain in the EU. Despite the wishes of the people it now finds itself outside it.


“There will be relief that a trade deal has now been agreed between Britain and the EU and special arrangements for Ireland, encapsulated in the Irish Protocol, will be implemented.


“The Good Friday Agreement is protected, there is no hardening of the border, protections for the all-island economy are in place and there is some certainty for businesses.


“But there is no good Brexit for Ireland, north or south, and the full consequences are yet unknown.


“This is not the end of the road. EU leaders have accepted the unique position of Ireland and have agreed that the North will automatically become part of the EU in the context of a United Ireland.


“So, we need to start planning for a future beyond Brexit and beyond Partition.


“It is time to work towards the creation of a new, United Ireland built on equality, reconciliation and respect for all.


“A chairde, the tide of history is with those who seek to build a united Ireland based on social justice and equality.


“That is the vision for which Fearghal Ó hAnnluain and Seán Sabhat gave their lives.


“And that is what the Sinn Féin leadership of 2021 is committed to achieving.


“The struggle continues.


“And we will succeed.


“Go raibh maith agaibh go léir”.


Carthy brands Minister’s refusal position on Interconnector as ‘untenable’

Carthy brands Minister’s refusal position on Interconnector as ‘untenable’


Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has branded as untenable the refusal of Green Party Minister, Eamon Ryan, to consider options for the delivery of the North South Interconnector through any other means than by the imposition of pylon-supported overhead powerlines.


He said that the Ministers refusal to implement the previous Dáil resolution for a full examination for undergrounding the project, coupled with his refusal to meet with the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee and the North East Pylon Pressure groups, meant that his partners in government, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, had a responsibility to assert their own position.


Deputy Carthy was speaking after he had submitted a Parliamentary Question to Minister Ryan enquiring as to his intentions to commission an independent report incorporating international expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the north south interconnector in line with the resolution of the Dáil on 16th February 2017.  In his response, Minister Ryan stated bluntly “I do not intend ordering a further such review.”


The Cavan Monaghan TD said that this position presented a challenge and responsibility to Minister Ryan’s partners in government, especially Fianna Fáil.


Deputy Carthy said:


“Fianna Fáil, while pretending to be in opposition in the last administration, put forward a Dáil resolution.  The current Minister now says that he has no intention of implementing it.  In recent weeks we have heard plenty of rhetoric from local Fianna Fáil TDs and Councillors, but there is no sense that the party intends to stand up for these communities.  Either they support the campaign to underground or they don’t.  If they do, then they must insist that EirGrid cease their ongoing activities and that the examination they previously sought is put in place.


“For our part, we in Sinn Féin will continue to support campaigning communities.  Recently, our party president, Mary Lou McDonald, and vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, met with the North East Pylon Pressure group to reaffirm our position in this regard and to confirm that our representatives, north and south, will do everything in our power to ensure that this project is completed using underground technology”.


Question to the Minister


*  To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will commission an independent report incorporating international industry expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the north south interconnector in line with the resolution of Dáil Éireann of 16 February 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Matt Carthy.

* WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15th December, 2020 from Minister Eamon Ryan.


The Government believes this important new cross-Border infrastructure will significantly facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the power system in line with the Programme for Government.  It will improve the efficient operation of the all-island Single Electricity Market, increase the security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland, bring economic benefits to the region and support the achievement of our climate objectives on the island of Ireland.


The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions.  Most recently and fully in line with the resolution of Dáil Éireann of 16 February 2017, my department commissioned an independent report incorporating international industry expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the north-south interconnector. The report from the International Expert Commission was published in October 2018 and it found that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this piece of critical electricity infrastructure. I do not intend ordering a further such review.


2021 must be the year to advance Irish Unity

2021 must be the year to advance Irish Unity – Matt Carthy


“2021 can and must be the year that the Irish government starts to prepare for a United Ireland.”


So said Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, this week after he expressed disappointment that Taoiseach Mícheál Martin refused to engage on the subject in a meaningful manner during a discussion in the Dáil.


Deputy Carthy had asked the Taoiseach if the shared Island unit in his department would conduct an economic appraisal of the benefits and challenges that a United Ireland would present.  The Taoiseach responded by asking Deputy Carthy why he had not condemned conflict related instances from 1979.  The Sinn Féin TD retorted that this was a pathetic contribution from the head of government considered that he (Deputy Carthy) was just two years of age in 1979!


In his contribution to the debate Teachta Carthy had said:


“It appears from the Taoiseach’s response that the shared island unit will discuss everything relating to cross-Border issues apart from the potential to undo the Border itself.


“Does the Taoiseach accept that the Good Friday Agreement sets out the peaceful democratic route to reunify our country?


“Because, it clearly sets out a mechanism.  Those of us who want to see Irish unity need to convince others that it is in their best interests, that we will all be collectively better off in a united Ireland and that we will be able to reach higher to meet the challenges that face our country.


“The Taoiseach has said on a number of occasions that he wants to see a united Ireland at some point in the future.  I put it to him, therefore, that he has a responsibility, along with those of us who share that aspiration, to convince others that it is in their best interests.


“That means we have to talk about it. We have to talk about all of the challenges that unity will bring, but also the benefits it will bring.


“It is my firm belief that a united Ireland makes economic sense, that we will be better off and that we will have the capacity to make all of the people of our country, North, South, east and west, better off.  To do that, we need to gather the information because there will be some who will contend otherwise.


“I do not understand the Taoiseach’s reticence and reluctance around carrying out an assessment of the economic benefits and challenges, if there are any, of Irish unity.


“Will the Taoiseach step up to the mark? This is the big, national conversation of our people.


“This is the generation who can deliver a united Ireland. I am asking the Taoiseach to be part of that, as opposed to being part of the barrier to it”.


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