A TIPPERARY COUNCILLOR is to resign his seat and leave Labour over concerns that the party has “lost its core values”.In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Bobby Fitzgerald confirmed he is formally resigning his Labour seat on South Tipperary County Council.“It is regrettable that I have taken this course of action, however, I feel that the policy and the agenda pursued by the Labour party at national level is leading to untold hardship and misery to ordinary families and people which the Labour party should represent.”The Carrick on Suir resident believes the party needs “real leadership” instead of forming part of a government that supports an economy which “benefits a few at the expense of most”.He said he now intends to spend more time with his family and concentrate on his business interests (he is a managing partner and founding member of an accountancy and consultancy firm in Tipperary).“I will continue to be a vibrant and an active member of the community and work at all times to ensure and achieve that the town will be a better place for its entire people irrespective of their political persuasion.”Fitzgerald’s resignation and statement are not the first signs of tensions at grassroots level. But cracks have also become visible higher up the chain. Chairman of the party Colm Keaveney, who was elected by delegates at the annual conference last April, has already lost the whip for voting against the Social Welfare Bill in 2012. He is one of five TDs who are now excluded from the parliamentary party for dissent.Labour ‘caught on the back foot’ by FG on Meath East by-election date
“Continuous bombardment and street fighting are exposing children and their families to a deadly combination of violence, disease and deprivation,” UNICEF Representative Julien Harneis said, sounding the alarm on behalf of the conflict’s most vulnerable.According to the UN, more than 700 children have been killed, with more than 1,000 injured since last March. Additionally, about 700 had been forced to become child soldiers. Children, who make up about half of the 2.3 million people in Yemen displaced from their homes, are also struggling to get water on a daily basis, and facing the risk of acute malnutrition and respiratory tract infections. They are also without access to education.“The longer-term consequences of all this for Yemen – which was already the Middle East’s poorest nation even before the conflict – can only be guessed at,” said Mr. Harneis, adding that “public services like health, water and sanitation have been decimated and cannot meet the ever-increasing needs of a desperate population.”In response, UNICEF and partners are doing the best they can in an extremely hazardous working environment: they have provided vaccinations against measles and polio to children under the age of five, as well as treatment for malnutrition. Moreover, over 3.5 million affected people were provided water and sanitation, with vulnerable communities receiving humanitarian cash transfers in the cities of Sana’a and Taiz.“But so much more is needed. The children of Yemen need urgent help and they need it now,” Mr. Harneis stressed, calling for unhindered access to areas where civilians are dying without functioning hospitals, where medicines are in short supply and children are at risk of dying from preventable diseases.Ongoing conflict in Yemen wreaked havoc on the country, inflicting damage on civilian infrastructure, straining depleted resources and exacerbating an already precarious humanitarian situation. Despite some progress in identifying a framework for negotiations and defining a set of confidence-building measures, UN-facilitated peace talks in December 2015 had to be adjourned until a ceasefire could take hold.Regarding current status of the talks, Ahmad Fawzi, interim Director of the UN Information Service in Geneva, told the regular bi-weekly press briefing today that the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was still in the region. Following intensive talks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Envoy was to visit Sana’a in Yemen. Responding to a question about the resumption of talks, Mr. Fawzi said 14 January had been mentioned as a preliminary date, but the Special Envoy’s preference was now to hold the next round of talks in the region, and he was working with the parties to agree a location that was acceptable to all, with a provisional start date after 20 January. Switzerland remained an option for the Special Envoy, and the Swiss authorities were supportive in every way and happy to host such a meeting. The host Government continued to offer to facilitate such political processes in an efficient and generous manner, added Mr. Fawzi.
Rampant West Ham booked a first League Cup semi-final for 20 years after knocking holders Manchester United out of the Carling Cup at snowy Upton Park.Former Red Devil Jonathan Spector was in inspired form, scoring with a header and a close-range finish to notch his first goals in English football.The disjointed visitors, previously unbeaten this season, conceded again as Carlton Cole nodded in after the break.Cole then turned Jonny Evans to fire simply past Tomas Kuszczak.Though Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson predictably did not select his strongest team, the starting XI could still boast the likes of Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez.So it still registers as something of a shock that West Ham, bottom of the Premier League, ran out such convincing and deserved winners against the league leaders – especially in light of the Londoners’ poor start to this season. And under-pressure Hammers boss Avram Grant may now insist they are over their bad patch after a performance that was rich in promise, both individually – Nigerian striker Victor Obinna was hugely impressive as he created all four goals – and collectively.The match started fast in freezing conditions, with both teams attacking each other as the play moved swiftly from end-to-end.West Ham could have suffered a dispiriting early deficit but for the heroics of England squad goalkeeper Robert Green, so maligned after his disastrous World Cup campaign.Only seven minutes had passed when Gabriel Obertan burst into space in the box to hammer a powerful low shot towards goal, but Green superbly pushed it onto the post before James Tomkins quickly hacked the ball away to safety.The visitors briefly appeared to take control, with French under-21 winger Obertan causing Julian Faubert problems as he narrowly failed to present Giggs with a simple opportunity to score. Though Radoslav Kovac smashed a decent chance over the bar, the Hammers appeared to be playing firmly on the back foot.Yet Spector took charge of the match in the 15th minute as he brilliantly rampaged through the heart of the visitors’ half, with Anderson’s failure to challenge allowing him to set up Obinna.The Nigerian’s shot nestled in the net after an obvious deflection and Upton Park celebrated what they thought was a goal for a full minute.But, though it looked like the ball had come off United defender Chris Smalling, the referee rightly ruled that it had skimmed off Spector – and disallowed it because he was offside.Minutes later Spector, who made eight first-team appearances for United, gave West Ham the lead. A clever cross from Obinna was hung up perfectly over United’s back-line and the American beat Fletcher to it and looped a well-placed header past Poland’s Kuszczak.West Ham were now winning most of the individual battles and Spector added to the Londoners’ advantage seven minutes before half-time.Once again slaloming through the opposition’s sleepy midfield, Spector popped a sharp pass into the feet of Obinna, who controlled it well under a heavy but futile challenge from a slipping Fabio.Spector then sprinted to collect the loose ball before firing home emphatically from close range with both Smalling and Kuszczak unable to stop him.The visitors tried to respond and Bebe, playing on the right, had a header plucked just from underneath the bar while Green again had to avert danger from under his own bar as Fabio’s cross deflected viciously off Luis Boa Morte. But West Ham had the best remaining chance of the first period, Obinna forcing a superb low stop from Kuszczak after Cole’s knock-down.Ferguson brought on Federico Macheda for the largely ineffective Bebe for the second half, but it made little difference as United’s display remained distinctly below the standards they usually set.Defensively they were especially lacking, and slack marking allowed Obinna to whip over a brilliant cross for Cole to nod a textbook header past Kuszczak for his 50th career goal.The excellent Obinna embarrassed Rafael da Silva, on for his brother Fabio, in the 66th minute with some impressive trickery down the left wing to create West Ham’s third goal.His pass into the middle of the penalty area was controlled well by Cole, who turned Evans with remarkable ease before slotting a low shot home easily. With the snow falling ever heavier, the white match ball was replaced with an orange one before the humbled Evans was replaced by Wes Brown in defence.Giggs then failed to control Fletcher’s clever through-ball when clear while Hernandez headed wide when well placed, summing up United’s misery.Obinna even tried an ambitious free-kick from over 30 yards before the end, displaying the confidence coursing through the veins of a west Ham side which notched their biggest win over United in 80 years.Source: BBC
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