West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Councillor responds to Draft Programme for Government Framework

Published: 30 July, 2016

West Tyrone Sinn Féin Councillor Glenn Campbell has responded to the recently closed consultation on the Draft Programme for Government Framework.

Expressing his disappointment at the lack of focus on the Irish Language, Cllr Campbell said, "I am greatly disappointed that there is no reference to the Irish Language anywhere in the document. This omission needs to be corrected. I want to see the rights of Irish language speakers, and learners, protected within the Programme for Government.

"There needs to be a plan for the protection, promotion and development of the Irish Language. This should include a commitment to provide greater support for Irish Medium Education. As a parent of a child at Naíscoil na gCrann in Omagh, and as a learner of the Irish Language, I want to see a commitment to the provision of post-primary Irish Medium Education in the Omagh area. "A Programme for Government that does not take on board the views of the growing Irish Language community is not fit for purpose and needs to be revised to provide proper support for our native language and all who enjoy speaking it. "

In his written response, Cllr Campbell also included consideration of the following:

Welcoming progress and focus on full delivery of the new A5

Called for inclusion of the A32 as a key transport corridor connecting the South West Acute Hospital and the currently being constructed local enhanced hospital in Omagh

Improving Mental Health

Improving access to Further and Higher Education

Addressing inequality within Broadband Provision

Rural Childcare

Meeting Housing Demand and Planning

Full response is given below.

ENDS

FULL RESPONSE:

Response to Draft Programme for Government Consultation - Cllr Glenn Campbell, Sinn Féin, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

The Irish Language:

I have read the draft programme for government and I am greatly disappointed that there is no reference to the Irish Language anywhere in the document. This omission needs to be corrected. I want to see the rights of Irish language speakers, and learners, protected within the Programme for Government.

There needs to be a plan for the protection, promotion and development of the Irish Language. This should include a commitment to provide greater support for Irish Medium Education. As a parent of a child at Naíscoil na gCrann in Omagh, and as a learner of the Irish Language, I want to see a commitment to the provision of post-primary Irish Medium Education in the Omagh area.

A Programme for Government that does not take on board the views of the growing Irish Language community is not fit for purpose and needs to be revised to provide proper support for our native language and all who enjoy speaking it.

Delivery of new A5 and upgrade of A32: I want to welcome the re-commitment to the delivery of the new A5 and the recognition of the importance of its construction. The A5 is indeed a key economic corridor and a vital piece of infrastructure that must be delivered as soon as possible. I would also ask that the upgrade of the A32, connecting Omagh to Enniskillen, be also included in the Programme for Government. This road is vitally important as it will connect the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen to the new local enhanced hospital in Omagh that is currently under construction.

Improving Mental Health: I welcome the inclusion of Indicator 6: Improve mental health within the Programme for Government. Mental wellbeing is indeed a key factor in determining physical wellbeing. I would like to see more being done to ensure children and young people learn of strategies to maintain good mental health from an earlier age. Programmes such as Aware - Mood Matters for Young People (AWARE 2016) are important and should be fully supported.

Access to Further and Higher Education: Before I proceed, I wish to declare an interest as I am employed as a Lecturer within Further and Higher Education. On a daily basis, I see the difference that access to further and higher education makes to people's lives. I welcome the commitment within the Programme for Government to "increase the proportion of graduates moving into employment, or on to further study" (Indicator 41).

I also want to see greater opportunities for students, living west of the Bann, who wish to live and study closer to home. Greater support should be provided to learners who have traditionally found it difficult to progress into higher education, e.g., single parents, those with special educational needs, those with a disability. I also want to see more being done to recruit students from lower socio-economic backgrounds into both Further and Higher Education.

Addressing inequality within Broadband Provision: Indicator 24 (Improve Internet connectivity) is vitally important to the people I represent across West Tyrone. Areas such as Eskra, Garvaghy, Roscavey, Dromore, Fintona, Clanabogan, Tattyreagh and Seskinore all suffer from an unacceptably poor level of Broadband provision. A high quality broadband connection is essential for those who wish to access services online from home, work from home, study from home, and help children with homework. The people living in the rural areas that I represent are just as entitled to a fast Broadband connection as those living in the big cities and towns. The Programme for Government must ensure that this inequality is urgently addressed.

Rural Childcare: I welcome the Executive's commitment to giving "our children and young people the best start in life" (Outcome 14), however, I would like to see more discussion on rural childcare provision and how the Programme for Government will provide support for working families who struggle with rising household bill and lack of affordable childcare. Greater financial support should be provided to childcare providers to ensure they are able to offer more affordable access to childcare in rural areas.

Meeting Housing Demand and Planning: The commitment within the Programme for Government to improve the supply of suitable housing is welcomed. There is a shortage of housing in many areas that needs to be addressed (Indicator 8). This is particularly the case in many parts of West Tyrone, including Dromore, Fintona, Eskra, Seskinore, Tattyreagh, Clanabogan, Garvaghy and Roscavey. The shortage of housing needs to be addressed through the development of social housing and by improved planning legislation that will be more sympathetic to non-faming rural dwellers.

AWARE (2016) Available at: https://www.aware-ni.org/symptoms-of-depression.html [Site accessed 21/07/2016]