|Belfast Comedian Jake O'Kane Speaketh the truth!|
Today began just like any other Saturday morning with the exception of my latest attempt at a diet which normally occurs on a Monday morning. There I was laid out in mismatched pyjamas struggling to eat a poached egg and at the same time trying to forget my usual Saturday morning iced turnover (cake) when I heard the letter box rattle. What I found lying in the hall was the distraction I needed......political propaganda entitled Glor Dhoire (Derry Voice) courtesy of Sinn Fein. If ever there was literature to distract you! However in all fairness to Sinn Fein when it comes to propaganda they are the masters, as they claim credit for everything but the virgin birth.
At the bottom of the leaflet it reads Delivering For Derry now ask yourself and answer honestly what over the past few years has been delivered to Derry that can be claimed beneficial to the population long-term? And bearing that point in mind, cast your mind back to October 2013 when it was announced how almost 1,000 jobs were being created by the call centre company (Stream) in east Belfast. For those of you out there with short memories Stream closed it's doors in Derry in 2011.
Following the announcement the Deputy First Minister, Derry 'delivery' man Martin McGuinness said that "securing this major investment over competitors in other regions is an important win". In contrast to the Derry 'delivery man' his party colleague Derry Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin said “Both Minister Foster and Invest NI need to explain to those hundreds of Stream Global Services employees in Derry who have been made redundant in recent years how they canjustify grant-aiding this Company. “From the announcement made today it does not appear that any particular skill base different than what was already available at its Derry facility is required.”
Yet here we had the chief 'delivery' man Martin McGuinness welcoming the relocating of these jobs in October 2013. This announcement for east Belfast was supported by Government grants of more than £3m. At that point I rightly questioned whether Sinn Fein's promise of delivery was to or from Derry.
On the inside of the Glor Doire leaflet is a piece from Sinn Fein candidate Sandra Duffy on her commitment to the community. Sandra outlines her commitment to the local boxing club stating the building is no longer fit for purpose. She then continues to say that she has been actively engaging with local agencies in an attempt to secure funding.
I can vouch for the condition of the local club having spent my primary four days in the building over thirty years ago, as the building was once part of the local primary school. The building wasn't fit for purpose then and it would seem thirty years on that little has changed.
In August 2012 Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín's announced a £3m investment in amateur boxing. Sandra was there when the Minister visited as you can see from the photograph. Maybe Sandra can shed some light on how much money St Joseph's boxing club was awarded from that 3 million pounds?
And let's not forget that Minister Ní Chuilín's fantastic altruistic act to the amateur boxing community was proved to be no more than the £3.27 million of lottery funding identified for boxing and outlined to the Culture arts and Leisure Committee on the 26th June 2012, it was just the Minister omitted to mention this.
Just down the page from Sandra we have old faithful, Tony Hassan, so faithful he has been known to turn up to the opening of an envelope. Tony who is an old neighbour of mine highlights how Sinn Fein have been actively campaigning for more social housing working closely with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and housing associations. Although I would point out that Tony fails to mention what if anything his party are actively doing to save the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive is currently under threat and if abolished will see social housing placed in to the hands of private housing associations which could potentially see rents increase dramatically and a possible increase in cronyism as was seen when former Belfast SF Councillor Joe O'Donnell bypassed a homeless man on the housing list with 330 points in favour of his niece.
Flip the page and we have Councillor Elisha (McLaughlin) McCallion. In her piece Elisha welcomes the £1milion pounds investment cited above and promises long overdue development for the Carnhill area. Elisha also highlights her involvement in the two year old play park at Fairview Road and with the statue of hope. I think it's fair to say Elisha is known for her 'community' involvement so well known in fact she was given a 'community' job by a fellow party member with no interview.
What I would question is how Elisha as a Sinn Fein councillor can claim credit for the play-park which was in fact a product of her 'community' job in the Galliagh Development Trust. At Council meetings when the matter was discussed Elisha declared an interest and had to withdraw from discussions. Could it be Elisha is quite happy to blur the lines to claim credit for something as a Councillor she had no role in?
Maybe both Councillor McCallion and Hassan who are both Directors of the Greater Area Shantallow Partnership can get answers as to what happened the proceeds from the sale of the Northside Village Complex which is situated in their electoral ward. The Northside Village Complex was sold to a private company in 2007. The Complex was built with public money but despite this none of the money has been invested back into the local community since the sale. The Northside Development Trust are affiliated with the Greater Area Shantallow Partnership.
As I reached the last page I read quite a lot on the projects Sinn Fein have helped deliver, well, allegedly.
A few things that were omitted included welfare reform, the workfare scheme were their party voted to send people out to work for their benefits, the non-existent bill of rights and how Sinn Fein voted during the St Andrews agreement to give MI5 increased powers, Annex E of the St. Andrews Agreement allowed for MI5 to take overall charge of national security arrangements in Northern Ireland, while continuing to run agents, in close collaboration with the PSNI.
I would also point out that despite Sinn Fein holding the education portfolio since the inception of the Northern Ireland Assembly that there have been almost one hundred school names wiped off a map of Northern Ireland Schools in little more than five years. These schools have included primary, secondary and specialist schools.
Derry Sinn Fein have claimed they delivered new schools for Derry however there is no mention from Sinn Fein on the use of controversial Private Finance Initiatives which could end up with the tax payer being more out of pocket.
A recent report published by the Northern Ireland Audit Office states total estimated PFI committed payments relating to the 39 PFI contracts (including two Derry schools) in Northern Ireland is £7.2 billion, with the current cost of PFI contract payments approximately £250 million per annum. The report went further and stated that 'The Executive does not have a published and transparent borrowing strategy, which sets out to ensure that total capital investment remains within affordable and sustainable limits.'
And on the subject of money there was absolutely no mention of the fact that one in three children in the Derry City Council area live in poverty, the highest rate in Northern Ireland.
I wonder why?
And last but by no means least there is no mention of the removal of the 11+ transfer test. Over 10 years ago Sinn Fein's then Education Minister Derry 'Delivery' man Martin McGuinness announced the abolishment of the transfer test. Yet 10 years on grammar schools use unofficial entrance exams were parents not only have to pay for the exam but for the tuition to help their children through the exam, and in some cases parents are paying for two tests, with no guarantee oftheir child being accepted irrespective of the grade they achieve.
Congratulations Sinn Fein, you managed to abolish & privatise the 11+ in one fell swoop, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE never take on the Health Ministry!