PES Manifesto adopted with Clear Focus on Job Creation

2 03 2014

Attwood PES

The PES Manifesto for the European Elections 2014 was unanimously adopted today at the PES Election Congress in Rome 1 March. All PES Member Parties at the Congress voted on the text in an open ballot.

“Conservatives and liberals have made a big mess of managing Europe and the crisis. Every unemployed person knows it, every youth whose future is in jeopardy knows it. Our job is to get the biggest turnout possible to make sure that finally, the conservatives know it too. With these ten key points to guide us and with Martin Schulz as our Common Candidate we will succeed”, Sergei Stanishev PES President stated in his opening speech.

The ten-point roadmap sets out what the next five years would look like with a progressive majority in the European Parliament and Commission. The ten points are:

1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: With 27 million Europeans and nearly a quarter of young people out of work everybody in the PES agrees that the fight against unemployment must be the number one priority. Our focus on job creation will we be the overarching theme for everything we do in the next five years.

2. Boosting the Economy: Austerity-only policies have harmed Europe and punished those who least deserve it, while rewarding reckless speculation. To relaunch the economy we will invest in a smart re-industrialization programme focused on innovation, research and training.

3. A Financial Sector serving all Europeans: We will not tolerate the policy of “Pain for people – billions for banks.” Speculators will never again be allowed to gamble with people’s lives and Europe must never again spend €1.6 trillion bailing out banks.

4. A Social Europe: We will fight for a Europe that leaves no citizen behind. We will redress attacks on public services such as health, education and housing and ensure that economic freedoms do not outweigh social rights.

5. Equality and women’s rights: The principle of equality is at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen. Gender equality is of utmost importance to the progressive family. The PES will also continue the fight against all forms of discrimination.

6. A Diverse Union: We will fight for a Europe that respects everyone’s rights and obligations. True solidarity amongst Europeans must be shown via a concerted effort to eliminate the last remains of extremism on our continent.

7. Safe and Healthy Lives: European citizens deserve to live safe, healthy and happy lives. Food quality, safe consumer products and the right to protection of personal data and information should be guaranteed for all Europeans.

8. A Democratic Europe: For the first time European Citizens have a say in who gets Europe’s top job. The EU needs to be a democratic union of equality and participation. Brussels must work for Europe’s citizens, not the other way around, and the PES is committed to respecting and empowering local and national governments.

9. A Green Europe: The EU must retain global leadership in the fight against climate change, via intelligent investment in the green economy, renewable energy and smart technology. The protection of nature and natural resources must be addressed to both reduce our ecological footprint and bring down energy bills.

10. Carrying Europe’s Principles Around the Globe: The European Union must continue to promote the universal principles of democracy, peace and respect for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights. We will support social justice and play an important role in combatting global poverty

Attwood: EU climate and energy proposals less ambitious than they should be

22 01 2014

renewable-energy green

Attwood: EU climate and energy proposals less ambitious than they should be

Whatever the details of the EU climate and energy proposals today, Northern Ireland and Ireland must continue to roll out its green and renewable strategies according to West Belfast MLA and European candidate, Alex Attwood.

“Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland has some of the very best quality wind, wave and tidal in the world today. This is a catalyst to roll out renewables – both as economic drivers and as environmental remedies. Nothing has changed.

“Green energy is an essential feature of our economic future and opportunity – it remains so whatever about today’s proposals.

“The net effect on the EU proposals is that these are still ambitious but less ambitious than they could have been or the SDLP would argue for. A binding 40% emissions reduction from 1990 levels and 27% of energy from renewables (UK argued for 50%) is less in its scale than what the SDLP would propose given the character of climate change and the critical temperature increases that are now being recorded.

“The SDLP will continue to press that renewables, waste reduction, energy efficiency and a single minded carbon reduction approach are big ways for our economy to prosper and our wonderful environment in Northern Ireland to be enhanced.”

Attwood launches Rathlin Island European Marine Site Management Scheme

3 06 2013

Knocklayde from Rathlin

Rathlin Island and its seas support important nature conservation features including reefs, sea-caves and vegetated sea cliffs, as well as razorbills, common guillemots and harbour seals. These features are of such international importance that Rathlin is now part of a Europe-wide network of protected sites.

The Management Scheme, which was prepared by the Department of the Environment in close collaboration with the Rathlin Development and Community Association, will deliver enhanced protection of the seas around Rathlin by identifying how activities such as dropping mooring anchors on sensitive areas of the seabed could effect protected features and how these impacts could be minimised.

By protecting the island’s natural and important features including its wildlife, the Scheme will contribute to the sustainability of the local economy, as it is these features along with the Islanders themselves that make Rathlin such a vibrant location of both national and international importance. The environment and the people together are an intrinsic part of the island’s heritage.

The Minister said: “This scheme, which has been developed with and by the people from Rathlin, who will also play a pivotal role in its implementation, will protect the Island’s wonderful natural features, both on and offshore, and will also contribute to the sustainability of the local economy.”

He continued by saying that: “Tourism and fishing form an important part of the island’s economy and both depend on a healthy marine environment. I am confident that the Scheme will protect the island’s environment and enhance its economic well being.

“Rathlin and its waters are a great resource. The Marine scheme gives expression to that. Coming in the wake of the passage of the Northern Ireland Assembly Marine Bill only last week, it demonstrates the importance of our marine, it’s protection and positive development.”

£100k for Moyle

4 02 2013

ann street


SDLP Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the news that DOE Minister Alex Attwood has approved funding of £100,000 to deal with decay and dereliction in the Moyle area.

 Councillor Cunningham who chairs the “Revitalise Ballycastle” steering group which is seeking funding to deal with the regeneration of the town centre, and in particular the conservation areas of Castle Street and Clare Street said:

 “Not for the first time the Minister has been able to show the ability to invest unspent monies into the built environment of coastal towns and villages.”

“It is hoped that this intervention will help to stabilise trade in our towns and villages, improve our tourist and visitor appeal, and build up respect for the conservation and unique appeal of our streetscape and built heritage.”

 “On top of Ministers Attwood’s funding if the “Revitalise” project was successful it could offer grants to improve historic buildings within Castle Street and Clare Street to enhance the historical character of the buildings and contribute to an improvement in the local economy as well as remaining an attractive place to visit.”


Environmental institute calls for impact assessments on fracking

21 07 2012


Irish Times Article 21 July 2012

FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor

FULL PUBLIC consultation on “fracking” shale gas is needed so the planning process can “move forward in an open and transparent way”, according to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health for Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee has been briefed by the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network on shale gas exploration. Further meetings with prospective developer Tamboran Resources are expected in the coming weeks.

The institute said there was a need for a wider public debate as the controversial method of extracting gas from shale rock, commonly known as fracking, has generally relied on “a solution of potentially toxic chemicals” to break up rock and release the gas.

Institute director Gary McFarlane said a cautious approach must be adopted and, while it was not “anti-fracking”, there was “insufficient current evidence to confirm that all the potential risks can be suitably reduced or managed within acceptable levels”.

While it was not yet clear what the downsides of fracking might be, he warned that the chemicals used “could contaminate freshwater drinking supplies” and that there were “well-documented concerns that drilling and extraction have led to minor earthquakes”.

Mr McFarlane called for detailed environmental and health impact assessments, with a full public consultation, before any licences for commercial exploitation were considered.

“We need to learn lessons from existing experiences and design systems that are safe,” he said.

The North’s Minister of the Environment Alex Attwood has stressed that there would be no headlong rush into fracking, due to the need to get the right balance between a potential major economic boost and possible environmental damage from the process.

Mr McFarlane said this was the right approach.

“While there has been speculation that fracking could provide enough natural gas for Northern Ireland for 50 years,” he added, “this must be tempered with a need to ensure that all environmental and planning requirements are complied with.”