6 laws that won’t be changed thanks to the Assembly collapse

26 01 2017


The collapse of the Assembly means that radical new laws will fall at midnight tonight. Here are 6 new laws that are now suspended:

1) Marriage Equality

SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood was set to introduce a new law which would legalise marriage for same sex couples in Northern Ireland. The Bill, supported by MLAs from a majority of parties in the Assembly, would have brought the North into step with the rest of these islands, sending a message of hope and acceptance in a society where it’s desperately needed.

2) Housing and Homelessness

Former Belfast Mayor and now North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon was working on legislation to tackle the causes of homelessness, bring together agencies working with those who find themselves homeless and increase support available for people sleeping rough.

The introduction of punitive welfare reform mechanisms by the current Executive and British Government means that homelessness is set to become an even more critical threat to families and individuals in the years ahead.

3) Ban Fracking

Fermanagh South Tyrone man Richie McPhillips understands the value of our beautiful natural heritage, particularly to our tourism economy. That’s why he was building on the moratorium on fracking introduced by SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan with legislation to place a statutory ban on fracking across Northern Ireland, protecting our heritage and our environment.

4) Breastfeeding protection

Before the collapse of the institutions, Claire Hanna had already put her Bill to protect breastfeeding mums and babies out for consultation. The law change was so popular, the consultation response received more replies than the whole Executive Programme for Government.

There remains no law in Northern Ireland protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed her child in a restaurant, cafe or other public place.

5) Acht na Gaeilge

Gaeilgeoir Patsy McGlone was working on an Irish Language act to protect, promote and enhance the rights of Irish language speakers throughout the North. Despite being a commitment in several agreements and despite Sinn Féin holding the culture Ministry for the longest unbroken spell in the history of devolution, no action has been taken on this law. The SDLP was committed to taking a stand on this long before the Assembly collapsed.

6) Investment equality

For too long, places outside Belfast and particularly west of the Bann have been deprived of their fair share of investment. That’s led to a loss of public services, underdeveloped infrastructure and a loss of jobs. SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood was working on a law that would place a statutory duty on all government departments and public bodies to give specific consideration to regional economic balance when making investment decisions.

This place is bigger than the greater Belfast area and Stormont needs to realise that.

Our Only Remain voice

26 01 2017
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has responded to today’s Supreme Court Ruling which decided the British Government could not Trigger Article 50 without passing legislation through Westminster. The Supreme Court also ruled that the British Government were not required to consult the devolved institutions before triggering Article 50.

Mr Eastwood said, “This judgement marks a significant and serious departure from our devolution settlement. It significantly undermines the value placed on the democratic mandate of our Assembly. Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, yet the Northern Ireland Assembly is being denied any role or rights in the upcoming negotiations with the European Union.

The SDLP is now the only party standing by the will of the majority of people in Northern Ireland at Westminster. We will be the only voice of the 56% who voted remain.

“Although the Supreme Court disagreed with the view that there is a legal requirement to gain legislative consent from the Assembly, it remains our view that it is a political requirement to gain that consent and this will be top of our agenda in any post-election negotiations.

“That agenda will also include gaining special status for Northern Ireland in the event of Britain leaving the EU.

“Today’s judgement is particularly serious given the fact that it is being suggested that the unelected, unrepresentative House of Lords will be permitted a vote yet the devolved regions will not.

“I welcome the part of the judgement which ensures that a vote in Westminster will be required to give consent on the triggering of Article 50.  We will submit our own amendments and support any other amendments which protect our interests. We will vote against any Bill which triggers Article 50. I would strongly urge all pro-Remain MPs to join us in this action.

“Last week Theresa May set out her vision for a Tory hard Brexit which, if left unchallenged, will mean a hard border in Ireland.

“Everyone on this island has a responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. It would prove devastating both politically and economically.  That includes the Sinn Fein MPs who do not take their seats at Westminster. If Sinn Fein are serious about new leadership they cannot shirk their responsibility to the people of Ireland and should therefore take their seats to vote against Article 50.”

Overview of Social Security Benefit System and Welfare Reform

24 01 2017


Overview of Social Security Benefit System and Welfare Reform
Thursday 2nd February 2017, 5.30pm – 8.00pm,  CRUN Building,  1 Brook Street, Coleraine

This FREE course provides a basic overview and introduction to welfare reform, including Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and the mitigations package. This will enable participants to answer general queries, recognise when a client or service user may not be claiming what they are entitled to and when they may need a referral to specialist support.

Who Should Attend: 
The course is open to anyone involved in the community or in supporting roles who would like to become better informed about Welfare Reform.

This training is provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau NI and funded by DfC. Light refreshments will be available from 5.30pm

How to Book:
Call 028 7034 7032  or email community.development@causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk
R.S.V.P by the Tuesday 31st January
Please provide the names, organisation details, contact numbers and email addresses for all participants you wish to book on to the course. Places are limited and will be allocated to eligible individuals on a first come, first served basis.