Two army commanders allegedly colluded with a private developer to hand him seven acres of prime defence land worth Rs 25.50 crore in Pune. A confidential Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) report, a copy of which is with india today, notes that Lt General (retd) B.S. Thakker and Lt General Nobel Thamburaj regularised unauthorised constructions on military land. The report also holds a director in the Directorate General of Defence Estates guilty of passing decisions that helped the developer continue commercial exploitation of defence land. Lt General Thamburaj succeeded Lt General Thakker as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Army Command, in 2006.Residency Club, formerly a residential bungalow, built on defence landThe Army recently court-martialled Lt General P.K. Rath for issuing a no-objection certificate to a private developer at the Sukna military station in West Bengal. There was, however, no transfer of defence land in Sukna. In the Pune cantonment, this alleged nexus between the Defence Estates department and the Army virtually gifted away prime defence land to Ramkumar Agarwal, a private developer and chairman of Citizen Sports and Recreation Club Pvt Ltd. Leased as a private residence, the plot has been turned into a commercial venture, the Residency Club, violating cantonment rules.The area goc-in-c heads the local government in every one of the 62 cantonments across India. Three crucial decisions that virtually legitimised the club’s occupation of defence land in Pune, one of the Army’s most important cantonments, were issued days before the incumbents either retired or moved out of office. Ved Prakash, the director of Defence Estates Organisation (DEO), set aside all notices against the club a month before his retirement in November 2006. Lt General Thakker regularised unauthorised constructions by the club just a day before he retired on January 31, 2006. On December 29, 2008, Lt General Thamburaj admitted an appeal by the private developer against the government notice for unauthorised construction. He took this decision two days before he relinquished his appointment as southern army commander and moved to Delhi as Vice-Chief of Army Staff. These decisions were taken on the case which was subjudice, the report notes.Lt General Thamburaj”The club was in existence for over a decade before I was posted in Pune. They had erected a few temporary structures for sports facilities. Proper procedures were followed and these decisions were not taken on a spur of the moment,” said Lt General Thamburaj. “The club did not monetarily benefit from my decision.” Agarwal, the owner of Residency Club, denied ever having met any of the three officials. “They have nothing to do with the club. They haven’t done me any favours,” he says.The CAG report suggests otherwise. The ‘old grant bungalow’, or a private residence built on defence land, was built in 1940. In 1986, Zarir Cooper, the Holder of Occupancy Rights (HOR), informed the army about a proposal to transfer the land to Agarwal. This was not granted. In August 1987, the HOR once again applied for permission to start a club in the premises, which was once again rejected by the deo. Defence land rules expressly stipulate that the bungalow can be used only for residential purposes. The Government can resume ownership of the land after paying the occupant the cost of the building. In 1999, however, the Director General, Defence Estates overruled the deo’s objection and okayed the transfer of the property to the private party. The main condition for the transfer was that the Government would hold the title to the land and that the bungalow would be used for residential purposes only. The developer challenged the Government’s title over the land in the civil court and began redeveloping the bungalow as a recreation club. The court confirmed the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) title on the land but restrained the Government from interfering with its use as a club. The case remained pending in court.Armed with the court order, the developer converted the bungalow into the Residency Club and made extensive alterations on the land. As none of these constructions were approved by the Cantonment Board, Pune, notices were issued on Agarwal by the board between 1992 and 2006. The builder appealed against the notices. In January 2005, he agreed to pay the MoD an annual lease rent. The Defence Estates Department assessed the rent at Rs 79 lakh per year. “Interestingly, no progress was made in this regard by the MoD,” the report notes. This inaction cost the Government over Rs 10 crore-Rs 7.91 crore in a one-time premium and Rs 3.8 crore in annual rent since 2005.The case then went to the appellate authority, Ved Prakash, then director of Defence Estates. Prakash set aside all the notices and stopped the removal of unauthorised constructions. In 2006, then goc-in-c Lt General Thakker regularised the unauthorised constructions on the deposit of a meagre Rs 8.33 lakh. He did this a few days before he retired.Lt General Thakker”No army commander can pass orders to regularise unauthorised constructions; it is Defence Estates officers who do that. Moreover, if the club has already been around for a decade before I took over them, how does the army commander come into the picture?” says Lt General Thakker.In 2006, the Pune Cantonment Board filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against Prakash’s decision stopping unauthorised constructions.In December the same year, a new Cantonment Act passed by Parliament came into force. The Act transferred appellate powers from the Defence Estates Officer to the goc-in-c. In 2007, a notice for unauthorised construction was served on the club. The developer filed an appeal before the goc-in-c Southern Command. This appeal was allowed by Lt General Thamburaj on December 30, 2008, a day prior to relinquishing charge. This decision taken despite the matter being subjudice, virtually regularised the club’s illegal constructions.The report severely indicts the army and Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) for failing to protect Government property. Despite being aware of the builder’s intent in utilising the bungalow as a club, the DGDE sanctioned the property transfer. Defence Estates authorities failed to pursue the court case: no hearing was held since 1997. This soft-pedalling only loosened the Government’s hold on the land. Despite a decade, the local military authorities failed to finalise the board proceedings that were convened in 1999.Defence ministry officials say the Pune case is symptomatic of the malaise afflicting cantonments in Lucknow, Delhi and Meerut. “Most of the corruption in these cantonment areas revolves around Old Grant Bungalows,” says one official. “Even when leases expire, no effort is made to resume leases on these bungalows,” he adds. In several cases, either the land is illegally sold or the usage is changed from residential to commercial with nobody to check.A CAG report says that three crucial decisions that virtually legitimised the Residency Club’s occupation of defence land were issued just a few days before the incumbents either retired or moved out of office.Bungalow owners allege discrimination by the ‘pick and choose’ policy of lease renewal adopted by the local army commander, cantonment ceo and Defence Estate officer. “Frequent land scams take place because of the flawed land records kept by a single authority, the Defence Estates Department,” says Raghavinder Dass, president of the All-India Cantonment Bungalow Owners’ Association.This new scam to tumble out of the ministry’s closet once again highlights the dangers to prime defence land. Last year, the Defence Estates was severely criticised by a Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) report. The report said that the DGDE, custodian of 17,000 acres of defence land worth Rs 20 lakh crore, had failed in all its primary tasks of audit, accounting, acquisition of land and financial management. The department has been unable to punish its black sheep. One of its officers, A.S. Rajgopal, was promoted twice despite being chargesheeted a few years ago. He retired as principal director of Defence Estates last year. The cda recommended closing down the DGDE. The Government is yet to take any action.Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently told Parliament that 11,000 acres of defence land were being illegally occupied all over the country. Antony said that he had asked for computerisation of the DGDE’s records. “This is preposterous. Computerisation is being held out as a panacea for corruption,” says a senior Ministry of Defence official. Computerisation of the DGDE’s land records has been on for the past five years but the organisation is nowhere near realising a central database. The DGDE has been unable to respond to even basic RTI queries on the size of defence land holdings. With no reform or accountability in sight, defence land scams will continue to stain officers of the armed forces.advertisementadvertisementadvertisement
Batsman James Vince and right-arm bowler Jake Ball are the two uncapped players in England’s 12-man Test squad to face Sri Lanka in the first of three Tests beginning May 19 at Headingley.England selectors named the squad on Thursday, retaining most of the side which clinched the recent four-Test series in South Africa with two wins and a draw.Alex Hales is set to continue as captain Alastair Cook’s opening partner, with his Nottinghamshire teammate Ball earning a call-up by taking 19 wickets in his first four county matches this season.Hampshire captain Vince, a right-hand top order batsman, is averaging 44.50 in the County Championship this season, including 119 against Yorkshire at Headingley last month.Ball, like Vince aged 25, adds a seam option alongside Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn for the opening Leeds Test.The second Test is set for May 27 at Chester-le-Street and the third from June 3 at Lord’s.Squad: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Vince.
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The recently launched Mi A2 by Xiaomi is all set to go on sale in India today. This is the first ever time that the second Android One phone from Xiaomi will be available for buying, the first one being the Mi A1 which launched last year. The Xiaomi Mi A2 sale will kick off at 12 noon today on Amazon India store, Mi.com and also on offline channels like Mi Home and Mi Preferred Partner Store.The Xiaomi Mi A2 will be available with a starting price tag of Rs 16,999. This is for the 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage variant. At the launch last month, alongside the 4GB RAM model, Xiaomi also launched the 6GB RAM with 128GB storage model, but this variant will not be available for now. The company had said that the 6GB RAM will be coming soon. Xiaomi is yet to reveal the price of the 6GB RAM model of the Mi A12, but chances are it could be priced under Rs 20,000.During today’s sale, the Mi A2 will be available in four colours — Black, Gold, Lake Blue, and Rose Gold.The Xiaomi Mi A2 price in India starts from Rs. 16,999 for the 4GB RAM/ 64GB inbuilt storage variant. It will come with a soft case in the box. The 6GB RAM/ 128GB inbuilt storage variant was also launched, but, the smartphone will be coming soon, and no price has yet been revealed. It will be made available in Black, Gold, Lake Blue, and Rose Gold colour options.advertisementFor the sale, Xiaomi has partnered with Jio to offer data benefits to the buyers. The customers will get Rs 2,200 instant cashback and 4.5TB additional data.As far as the specs are concerned, the Mi A2 Android One phone sports a 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with a 2160x1080p resolution. On the hardware front, the phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processors, which also run phones like Vivo X21, Nokia 7 Plus, BlackBerry Key 2.ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A2 review: Two steps forward, two steps backOn the camera front, the Mi A2 comes with a 20-megapixel camera on the front paired with a soft LED flash. Additionally, the selfie camera uses AI for better portrait shots. On the rear panel, the Mi A2 comes with a primary camera of 12-megapixel Sony IMX 486 sensor, while the secondary camera includes another 20-megapixel Sony IMX 376 sensor. The rear camera setup comes paired with a dual LED flash. On the software front, the Mi A2 runs a stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box. The smartphone is backed by a 3,000mAh battery and comes paired with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 technology support.To know more about Mi A2, read our review
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has recommended to the PCB’s Cricket Committee that Sarfaraz Ahmed be sacked from captaincy as he himself sought two more years to deliver “remarkable results”.The Committee reviewed team’s performances in the last three years, including the World Cup, where Pakistan could not qualify for the semifinals.According to a source, Arthur suggested to the members that Shadab Khan should replace Sarfaraz as captain in the limited-over formats while Babar Azam should be given the reins of the Test side.”Arthur did have some negative things to say about Sarfaraz’s captaincy skills to the members,” the source said.”I need two more years with the Pakistan team and then I can deliver remarkable results,” Arthur is believed to have told the Committee, headed by PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan.Khan will have one more session with the members on Wednesday before forwarding recommendations on the appointment of the new team management to the board Chairman Ehsan Mani.Arthur has been working as head coach with the Pakistan team since mid-2016. He has also applied for the position of head coach with the Sri Lankan Cricket Board.Under him, Pakistan’s biggest gain was winning the ICC Champions Trophy two years back. The team became number one in ICC’s T20 rankings but performance in Test cricket dipped drastically while it remained inconsistent in One-day format.The contracts of Arthur and other support staff member will expire on August 15.Sources said Arthur, who made a presentation to the Committee on the team performances and selection decisions, is said to have left the members unimpressed with his arguments and explanations.advertisement”The members were not satisfied with his argument that after the 2017 Champions Trophy the fielding standards of the Pakistan team went down after the forced exit of fielding coach, Australian Steve Rixon.”Arthur made a big deal out of Rixon’s sudden departure in August 2018 as he had issues with the PCB management over delayed payments,” according to reliable sources.The source added that after Arthur’s presentation, the committee members discussed other options and one of the members suggested trying Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardena but was informed that since he was working with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, the PCB would find it difficult to lure him with a better pay package.Also Read | Would love it if some Indian players attend my wedding: Hasan AliAlso Read | Love the game and rest will fall in its place: Man of the Match Krunal Pandya after India win T20I series
Chelsea midfielder Cesc on emotional farewell: This career goes so fastby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has spoken of his final game before joining AS Monaco.The midfielder was handed a rare start and given the captain’s armband for his final appearance in a blue shirt for the FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest.Fabregas missed a first-half penalty but Maurizio Sarri’s side ran out 2-0 winners thanks to Alvaro Morata’s double.The Blues boss withdrew Fabregas in the closing minutes so supporters could give the Spaniard a deserved send off after 198 games for the club.”Time flies,” said Fabregas. “It feels like last week that I started playing professionally and now it’s more than 15 years.”It goes so fast and you have to be ready every three days, for the criticism with everyone saying how good you are and the ups and downs.”It feels like growing older it never goes away it is technique. Physicality goes away. Technicality stays with you.”Nottingham Forest keeper Luke Steele denied Fabregas the perfect send off when he kept out the former Arsenal man’s spot-kick.Fabregas added: “I saw the keeper going down in the middle of the run and I thought I had it. It was unfortunate.”The day I got 100 caps for Spain I also missed a penalty, so it was destiny.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
The Minister, who was addressing the breaking of ground for construction of the Portmore Municipal Corporation’s new administrative building on Wednesday (May 31), urged the local representatives to emulate the late Mayor, George Lee, who displayed “commitment, respect, loyalty and decency”, during his time in Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is imploring councillors to put service at the centre of everything they do.“We want to take local government where the people not only respect you because of your political persuasion… (but) must also respect you because of the kind of representative that you are, the kind of service that you give,” he said.The Minister, who was addressing the breaking of ground for construction of the Portmore Municipal Corporation’s new administrative building on Wednesday (May 31), urged the local representatives to emulate the late Mayor, George Lee, who displayed “commitment, respect, loyalty and decency”, during his time in office.The structure, for which a $190-million contract was signed earlier this month, is to be situated on four acres of land in the vicinity of Braeton Parkway and Municipal Boulevard, which is near to the South St. Catherine Division (hundred-man) Police Station.The 22,654-square-foot facility will feature a ground floor, first floor and attic, and will have energy-efficient features such as LED, and solar street lighting. The overall development plan includes access for the physically challenged, landscaping, adequate car parking, and water harvesting.The 20-month project will be undertaken by HDB Construction Limited. Construction is expected to last for 20 months, beginning on June 1, and the intention is to execute the project in sections, so that the Corporation can move in and use the space during the period of the works.It is expected that the building will be completed by February, 2019.The Ministry is providing $100 million for the project, while the Corporation is contributing $90 million.Custos of St. Catherine, Rev. the Hon. Jeffrey McKenzie, in welcoming the undertaking, said it will result in improved services to residents of St. Catherine, as “when people work in comfort, productivity will be enhanced”. Story Highlights Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is imploring councillors to put service at the centre of everything they do.
The United States has fired the opening shot in the latest softwood-lumber war against Canada, with the Trump administration announcing its first batch of duties on imported wood in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent.The move was expected: the deep-rooted dispute over lumber pricing between the two countries has led to once-a-decade trade skirmishes over the issue, resulting in American duties, then the inevitable court battles, and ultimately negotiated settlements.What wasn’t expected Monday was the enthusiasm with which the new American administration flung itself into the lumber hostilities, touting its incoming countervailing duties as an example of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough, America-first trade posture.Trump underscored the impending move by announcing it to a gathering of conservative media on the eve of the expected announcement. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also highlighted it in an interview.Then came a statement that said U.S. Customs will begin collecting cash deposits from Canadian logging companies because they receive a range of subsidies — most of them around 20 per cent.What comes after the countervailing duties is a study of possible anti-dumping duties, followed by a final determination by the U.S. Commerce Department as early as Sept. 7, and one of three possible outcomes: an agreement, a surprise retreat from the U.S. government or potential years-long court battles.It will all play out amid the backdrop of a bigger trade file: the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.America’s lumber lobby applauded the announcement.“We are pleased with this initial outcome and are looking forward to the (next, anti-dumping) duties expected to be announced June 23,” said Zoltan van Heyningen of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.“Since this is an ongoing matter, we are limiting our comments to our press release.”A late-evening statement from the U.S. administration accused companies of benefiting subsidies ranging from three per cent by J.D. Irving Ltd., to 12.82 per cent for Resolute FP Canada, Ltd., to 20.26 per cent for Canfor Corp., to a high of 24.12 per cent for West Fraser Mills, with most others coming in at 19.88 per cent.Duties will be collected retroactively, too — the U.S. says it will gather them for the previous 90 days. Industry analysts expect the combined duties, Monday’s and the upcoming ones, to range between 30 and 40 per cent.In Canada, pressure will mount on the federal government.The government has adopted an a understated, under-the-radar approach to dealing with Trump. But now as it responds to the U.S. move, it must juggle ongoing softwood negotiations, upcoming NAFTA renegotiations, and a frustrated industry at home.There are already requests for it to provide financial help for Canada’s forestry sector. A government source said conversations are underway, but there won’t be an immediate announcement on that front.The Canadian government will wait to see the details of various punitive measures before calculating the aid amount. It took the federal government more than a year to announce the first of two aid packages after duties were imposed in 2001.It first gave more than $300 million in late 2002 and then $1.5 billion in November 2005, with $900 million for loan insurance to help financially strapped exporters that had more than $5 billion tied up in duties.“(The aid determination) really can’t be made until we’ve seen what the rate and penalty will be,” said an official who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.Quebec Economic Development Minister Dominique Anglade urged Ottawa to help forest companies, but said Monday the province will act immediately: “Day 1, we will be there to support the industry,” she said in an interview.Meanwhile, Ontario named former federal trade minister Jim Peterson as its chief softwood lumber negotiator on Monday. He joins former federal cabinet minister David Emerson who represents B.C. and former U.S. ambassador Raymond Chretien who is Quebec’s negotiator.Unifor president Jerry Dias called on Ottawa to respond to the duties to avoid a repeat of the situation when 15,000 were laid off within months of a combined duty of 27 per cent being imposed in the early 2000s.“It’s hard to exaggerate the impact tariffs will have on hundreds of small communities. The federal government needs to have a plan in place and act swiftly,” he said in a news release.However, provinces aren’t in total agreement about financial support.British Columbia has said it is cautious out of fear that assistance will be construed by the Americans as unfairly helping the Canadian industry. B.C. producers such as West Fraser Timber and Canfor are in a stronger position to weather a U.S. trade battle because they have purchased sawmills in the U.S. and expanded exports to China.In Central Canada, sawmills tend to be smaller, don’t have as much cash flow to pay duties and are therefore more at risk of closing, experts say. That’s why Ontario and Quebec producers have been pushing Ottawa to provide loan guarantees to help them pay duties and stay in business.
SURREY, B.C. — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the prime minister damaged the integrity of Canada’s immigration system when he tweeted two years ago that Canadians will welcome all those fleeing persecution, terror and war.Scheer was asked about illegal immigration today at a town hall in suburban Vancouver held by the Surrey Board of Trade, where audience members applauded his response.He says people crossing the U.S. border into Canada outside regular checkpoints are “jumping the queue” and causing longer wait times for refugees and immigrants going through traditional channels.The federal government says 34,854 refugee claims were made by irregular border crossers between February 2017 and September 2018 and of those 3,142 — or nine per cent — have been accepted.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently warned people to be wary of fear-mongering about immigration, suggesting the issue will be a hot-button topic during the federal election campaign this fall.The Canadian Press
17 October 2009The United Nations today marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declaring that the fight against a scourge that afflicts over a billion people around the world is at a critical juncture. “At a time of multiple global crises, the poorest and most vulnerable have a special claim on our attention,” he said in a message. “We know that, in any recession, those hurt first – and worst- are the poor.” He noted that according to recent estimates, the global economic crisis has claimed at least 50 million jobs this year and up to 100 million more people are expected to fall below the poverty line in 2009. Climate change further compounds the problem. “Now is the time to amplify the voices of the vulnerable and ensure that the world follows up on its pledges,” he said. “With the right investments and concrete action, we can build upon the gains, fulfil our commitments, and ensure that every man, woman and child has the opportunity to make the most of their potential.” The Day’s theme this year is “Children and Families Speak Out against Poverty,” and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann M. Veneman highlighted the harm that poverty and its concomitant ills of malnutrition and lack of education inflict on the young. “Early childhood, in particular, lays the foundation for a lifetime. Children who are chronically undernourished before their second birthday are likely to have diminished cognitive and physical development for the rest of their lives,” she said in a message. “Investing in better nutrition for children helps improve their lives and contributes to the development of their communities. Research shows that every dollar spent on vitamin A and zinc supplementation for children creates benefits that exceed $17. Noting the importance of investment in education, she cited experts’ estimate that one dollar invested in girls’ education provided a ten-fold return in increased productivity. “Studies also show that educated adolescents are more likely to wait until they are out of their high-risk teenage years before starting a family and have healthier babies,” she said. The UN Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, stressed that 2009 has been one of record job losses, with malnutrition expected to reach a historic peak of over 1 billion people and tightening budget constraints threatening investment in education and health care. “The crisis is not over,” she said in a statement. “In fact, its full impact, particularly on the most vulnerable, is still unfolding. From a human rights perspective, we are far from a recovery on the contrary, poverty and hunger are still increasing.” Echoing those comments, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay noted that although economists are now seeing signs of recovery, it is likely to have little if any impact on the daily lives of many millions of the world’s poorest people for a long time to come. “The prosperity of our society tomorrow depends to a considerable degree on the situation of our children today,” she said. “Children of poor families are amongst the hardest hit in times of economic crisis, and the lack of social protection measures will have lifelong consequences for them, and for the societies in which they live.”Meanwhile, Helen Clark, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), used her message for the Day to call for action to tackle the impoverishment associated with climate disasters in the developing world.“Efforts to eradicate poverty and to tackle climate change cannot be separated,” she stated, noting that the effects of climate change weigh disproportionately on the poorest, and on women and children. She called on countries to reach a climate change deal this December in Copenhagen that is “positive for our climate and for poverty reduction and development.”As this year’s Day falls on a weekend, the UN will be holding a full programme of activities at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, coinciding with the observance of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These will include testimonies from children and families living in poverty and an interactive panel discussion on the theme “Children: the future and present – participation in poverty reduction and the accountability for rights.” Yesterday Mr. Ban used a visit to the UN International School (UNIS) in New York to rally children in the battle against extreme poverty, inviting his youthful listeners to first crouch and then rise in a symbolic gesture of the UN’s “Stand Up Against Poverty” campaign.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Talisman sells 49% stake in UK assets to Sinopec for $1.5 billion by Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 23, 2012 6:22 pm MDT CALGARY – Talisman Energy is selling a 49 per cent interest in its U.K. division — a source of much volatility for the Canadian company in recent years — to Chinese firm Sinopec Corp. for $1.5 billion.Calgary-based Talisman (TSX:TLM) said Monday it will continue to handle operations, while Sinopec will be able to appoint staff to key positions.“Collectively, we will invest more in the UK than Talisman would have on its own, leading to a stronger, more sustainable business,” said Talisman president and CEO John Manzoni.“We are reducing our working interest and capital spend in the U.K. business by approximately half, allowing us to focus on and fund growth areas within our portfolio. This brings our total divestment proceeds to approximately $2.5 billion so far this year.”Manzoni said the company plans to use about $500 million from the proceeds to buy back shares.Talisman UK, based in Aberdeen, Scotland, has 564 full-time employees and about 1,950 contractors.The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year, once the companies receive regulatory and government approval.Talisman has been looking to better focus its far-flung assets and scale down its presence in the North Sea, where operators were recently surprised by a big tax increase by the U.K. government. It’s also a tough environment to operate in, which has caused Talisman and other companies to run into production problems.“The North Sea business has been the business that has caused the most volatility within earnings and has really caused them to miss production guidance quite a few times,” said Lanny Pendill, an energy analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis.“That has really caused investors to pretty much lose confidence in the story, and that’s why Talisman looks so cheap right now.”He said Edward Jones has a “buy” rating on Talisman based on the “belief that management and management’s strategy will address the weaknesses in the business and as they regain confidence from investors, over time the huge discount in the stock should evaporate or at least become less and less, and that should equate to pretty good share performance.”However, Moody’s Canada Inc. called the deal “credit negative” for Talisman, believing the company would use little of the cash toward debt reduction.“While Talisman will receive $1.5 billion in cash, it will use $500 million of the proceeds to buy back shares and we expect relatively little debt reduction even though retained cash flow will drop by 15 per cent,” it said in a note.Talisman was not the only Canadian company to announce a major deal with a Chinese firm on Monday.Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) agreed to be taken over by another state-owned Chinese outfit, China National Offshore Oil Co., for $15.1 billion in cash.Nexen and Talisman are both among the smaller of Canada’s big energy players, and have been perennial subjects of takeover speculation in recent years.“(Talisman’s) got assets out there that would appeal to other larger firms. They’ve got the big Asian business. Of course they’ve got the North Sea. They’ve got a great position within North American shale gas so that could very well be appealing to other energy companies,” said Pendill.A takeover of Talisman is “possible, but it’s certainly something that you can’t count on from an investor perspective.”Talisman shares soared more than six per cent or 75 cents to close at $11.80 Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Building boom blankets Vancouver with multimillion dollar projects VANCOUVER – The number of building permits issued by the City of Vancouver has reached an all-time record.City officials say permits issued in 2015 soared 14.6 per cent over the year earlier and was up 105 per cent compared with 2008.Value of the permits issued last year has been pegged at $3.2-billion.According to the city, 10 major construction projects valued at more than $50-million were approved in 2015, including a 52-storey downtown highrise valued at $279-million.More than 300 permits were issued with a value greater than $1-million.Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is upbeat about the construction boom saying the record-setting pace provides optimism about the future of the city’s economy. by The Canadian Press Posted Jan 13, 2016 12:47 pm MDT Last Updated Jan 13, 2016 at 2:34 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
“The index appears to have bottomed out with higher probabilities for a rise in its value in coming months” said Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at FAO, in a press release on the monthly survey .Last month, the Index averaged 192.6 points, meaning it now stands 13 points – or 6.4 per cent – below its level a year ago. The trade-weighted index, which tracks prices of cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils, and sugar on international markets, is now around its level of August 2010.The inching up of vegetable oil and grain prices offset ongoing declines in dairy prices. Dairy prices declined 3.4 percent from October and 29 percent from a year earlier to average 178.1 points.Cereal prices rose significantly for the first time since March, as growing conditions for the just-sown wheat crop in the Northern hemisphere, appear less than ideal. However, rice prices weakened as newly-harvested supplies arrived to market. The Cereal Price Index averaged 183 points in November, up 2.6 percent from October, but down 5.8 percent from a year earlier.The Vegetable Oil Price Index also rose, increasing 0.7 percent to 164.9 points – still almost 17 percent below its level a year earlier – due to lower-than-anticipated global production of sunflower oil and some slowdown of palm oil production in Malaysia and Indonesia. However, soy oil prices were weak, dampening the sub-index’s rise.Sugar prices were down 3.2 percent from October, reflecting an 8 per cent decline over the year, and meat prices remained stable at historically high levels.
“This is a great day in the continuing effort to build sustainable fisheries that can help feed the world,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva in a press release.The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) – adopted as an FAO Agreement in 2009 after a years-long diplomatic effort – is the first ever binding international treaty that focuses specifically on illicit fishing. The threshold to activation of the treaty – which called for at least 25 countries to adhere to it – was surpassed last month, triggering a 30-day countdown to today’s entry-into-force. “We hail those countries that have already signed on to the agreement and who will begin implementing it as of today. We invite governments who have yet to do so, to join the collective push to stamp out illegal fishing and safeguard the future of our ocean resources,” Mr. Graziano da Silva added. Currently, the parties to the PSMA are: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organization), Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Vanuatu. The Organization has been informed that additional formal instruments of acceptance of the Agreement should be received shortly. Hardening ports against pirate fishersAccording to FAO, parties to the Agreement are obliged to implement a number of measures while managing ports under their control, with the goals of detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being offloaded and sold, and ensuring information on unscrupulous vessels is shared globally. These include requiring foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter ports to request permission in advance, transmitting detailed information on their identities, activities, and the fish they have onboard. Landings can only happen at specially designated ports equipped for effective inspections. Ships suspected of being involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing can be denied entry into port outright – or permitted to enter for inspection purposes only and refused permission to offload fish, refuel, or resupply. Vessels that are allowed into ports may be subject to inspections conducted according to a common set of standards. They will be required to prove that they are licensed to fish by the country whose flag they fly, and that they have the necessary permissions from the countries in whose waters they operate. If not, or if inspections turn up evidence of IUU fishing activity, vessels will be denied any further use of ports and reported as violators. Once a ship is denied access or inspections reveal problems, parties must communicate that information to the country under whose flag the vessel is registered and inform other treaty participants as well as portmasters in neighboring countries. A first of its kindOperating without proper authorization, catching protected species, using outlawed types of gear or disregarding catch quotas are among the most common IUU fishing activities. Such practices undermine efforts to responsibly manage marine fisheries, damaging their productivity and in some cases precipitating their collapseWhile there are options for combating IUU fishing at sea, they are often expensive and -especially for developing countries – can be difficult to implement, given the large ocean spaces that need to be monitored and the costs of the required technology. Accordingly, port state measures are one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to fight IUU fishing. The now-active port state measures agreement provides the international community with valuable tool for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a stand-alone goal on the conservation of and sustainable use of oceans and a specific sub-target on IUU fishing.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today (Thursday 16 January) announced plans that would require all new London taxis to be zero emission capable from January 2018.The new vehicles will need to be able to run on battery power alone in some areas of the capital in order to improve air quality in readiness for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone planned for central London by 2020.Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said, “The London taxi is iconic in so many ways – not least in terms of its eye-catching looks and the way it is piloted by wily experts who know the capital like the back of their hand. To date its one Achilles heel, particularly of older models, has been the pollution generated by chugging diesel engines. As part of my mission to improve our air quality and drive innovation, I’m making a firm pledge to Londoners that from 2018 all taxis presented for licensing should be zero emission capable.”Garrett Emmerson, TfL Surface Transport Chief Operating Officer, said, “We are working with the wider industry and the Green Investment Bank to provide assistance to cab drivers who want to be among the first to get behind the wheel of these cutting edge vehicles that will significantly contribute to improving air quality in the capital as well as delivering benefits to cabbies themselves, in terms of reduced running costs.”Five vehicle manufacturers presented plans to develop zero emission capable taxis including Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz.Through Source London the capital already has one of the most developed public charging networks in the world with almost 1,400 charge points. The scheme will be managed by IER from the summer and they have ambitious plans to increase the number of charge points across the capital to 6,000 by 2018, with targeted services for taxi drivers.The Mayor has already delivered on a number of measures to address emissions from taxis and to retire the oldest vehicles in the London taxi fleet. In January 2012, a 15 year age limit was introduced for taxis along with a requirement that all newly licensed taxis must meet, as a minimum, the Euro-5 emissions standard. Around 3,000 of the most polluting taxis have also been removed from the London fleet. TfL has also undertaken a campaign to educate drivers on the fuel savings and reduced environmental impact that can be achieved by not leaving their engines idling at taxi ranks.Plans to green the taxi fleet are part of the Mayor and TfL’s programme of measures to improve air quality in London, including tighter Low Emission Zone standards; growing Europe’s largest fleet of hybrid buses; accelerating the introduction of ultra-low emission Euro-6 buses; retrofitting 900 older buses to reduce their NOx emissions and introducing pure electric buses.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
The dramatic progress in car safety, emissions, efficiency and in-car tech since 1979 was revealed today by a special vehicle display at the 40th Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Test Day. In a celebration of the evolution of the car, 40 models spanning 22 brands and five decades were brought together, underlining the rich heritage and neverending innovation of the automotive industry.From the driver’s airbag, introduced in 1981, to electronic stability control in 1995 and reversing cameras in the 2000’s, the advances in systems designed to protect drivers, passengers and other road users have been extraordinary. Safety is the number one priority for car manufacturers, and the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems such as Advanced Emergency Braking and Collison Warning are now available on the majority of new cars, helping to prevent accidents and save lives.1Emissions performance has also improved dramatically over the years – it would take 50 new cars to produce the same amount of pollutant emissions as one vehicle built in 1970.2 From catalytic converters, widely introduced to reduce carbon monoxide in 1993, to diesel particulate filters, which capture 99% of soot particles, in 2011, and selective catalytic reduction systems, which convert NOx into nitrogen and water in 2015, progress has been astounding. This is evidenced by the ability of the industry to meet the toughest ever emissions standard, including the world’s first on-road test.Enormous strides have also been made in reducing carbon emissions, with average new car CO2 down by -31.2% since 2000. Lightweight materials, including aluminium and carbon fibre, aerodynamic designs, turbocharging, engine downsizing and technologies such as direct fuel injection and stop-start – which cuts the engine when the vehicle is stationary and is now fitted to four out of every five cars sold – have all helped deliver huge fuel efficiency gains.3 A new car gets you almost 50% further on a litre of fuel than it did in 2000, helping consumers save money and reduce their environmental impact.4Furthermore, where once there was a limited choice of powertrains and transmissions, today there is something to suit every driving need, with a range of manual and automatic gearboxes on everything from low emission petrols and diesels, to ultra low emission hybrids and plug-ins, zero tailpipe emission pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.Radical changes have also happened inside the car, with today’s cabins almost unrecognisable from those 40 years ago. From the first cassette players in the seventies and in-dash CD players and centre console carphones in the mid-eighties, to GPS satnav and Bluetooth, the driver experience has improved immeasurably. Today, the smartphone revolution and internet connectivity has led to the introduction of integrated systems such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing drivers to safely access music, maps and services via their phones.Innovation continues apace. Over the next decade, the rollout of a new generation of connected and autonomous cars will revolutionise our roads and society. Starting with technology such as Traffic Jam and Highway Pilot, where, in the right conditions, the car can take over the task of driving in slow moving traffic or at higher motorway speeds, and followed by cars that will drop you off and park themselves, the benefits are immense. By 2030, it’s estimated that 47,000 accidents will be prevented and 3,900 lives saved, helping to deliver an annual £62 billion boost to the UK’s bottom line.5Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,Back in 1979, cars featured the ground-breaking technology of the time – ABS, catalytic converters and cassette players. Fast forward to 2019 and we see even more sophisticated tech: autonomous emergency braking and automatic parking; connected in-car services; advanced petrol; diesel, hybrid, plug-in, battery electric, and even hydrogen powertrains. With such a diverse market, coupled with attractive finance options and competitive prices there has never been a better time to buy a new car. The future is even more exciting and, while George Jetson’s flying car might still be some way off, the next 40 years will see a seismic shift in automotive innovation.Notes to editorsList of vehicles in 40th SMMT Test Day Heritage Display1. Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark (2002)2. Audi 100 GLS (1978)3. Audi quattro turbo 20v (1990)4. BMW i8 Coupe (2019)5. BMW M1 (1981)6. Citroen BX 16valve Phase 2 (1989)7. Citroen GS Pallas (1979)8. Fiat Panda Cross (4×4) TwinAir (2016)9. Ford 280 Capri (1986)10. Ford Cortina Crusader (1982)11. Honda NSX (1990)12. Honda Prelude (1989)13. Hyundai Nexo (2018)14. Jeep CJ-7 (1982)15. Kia e-Niro (2019)16. Kia ProCeed GT (2019)17. Lexus RC F (2018)18. Maserati GranTurismo MC (2017)19. Mercedes-Benz G 350d 4MATIC (2016)20. MINI 60 Years Edition (2019)21. Mitsubishi Colt Lancer (1974)22. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen Limited Edition (2001)23. Mitsubishi Shogun MK1 (1987)24. Nissan Bluebird LX 5dr (1986)25. Nissan Juke (2012)26. Nissan Qashqai 1.6 Visia 2WD Manual Petrol (2008)27. Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-Spec (Victory Specification) (1999)28. Peugeot 205 GTi Mi16 Conversion (1992)29. Porsche 911 (1986)30. Renault ZOE (2018)31. Suzuki SC100 Whizzkid (1982)32. Toyota Carina E (1993)33. Toyota Prius (2000)34. Vauxhall Astra MK1 GTE (1984)35. Vauxhall Cavalier MK1 (1980)36. Vauxhall Cavalier MK3 (1994)37. Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (1993)38. Volkswagen Golf GTI MK1 (1983)39. Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance 2.0 TSI 245PS DSG (2019)40. Volvo XC40 (2019) Dramatic advances in car safety, fuel efficiency and comfort on show today as 40th SMMT Test Day celebrates evolution of the car.Unique display of 40 vehicles demonstrates vast range and diversity of cars on sale since 1979.Milestones include rollout of airbags, GPS satnav, reversing cameras, ABS, ESC, hybrid powertrains and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Available as either as standard fitment or option extraDEFRAJATO dynamics47.5% improvement in fuel economy based on average new car MPG figures of 58.4 MPG in 2018 vs 39.6 MPG in 2000SMMT Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The Global Race to Market*: comparing full year figures and information for 1979 and 2018 based on SMMT data and publically available informationClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
Alabama rolled over the Notre Dame Monday night, 42-14, to easily claim its second straight national championship and third in four years and reinforce its position as the top program in the nation.From beginning to end, the Crimson Tide dominated and sent the resounding message that the SEC reigns above all conferences. To wit: ‘Bama’s title is the seventh straight for the SEC.Led by quarterback AJ McCarron and running back Eddie Lacy, the Tide alternately bruised and picked apart the Irish defense, making star linebacker Manti Te’o, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and his cohorts look like Alabama roadkill.“They just did what Alabama does,” Te’o said after the game.Notre Dame was undefeated and No. 1 in the country coming into the game, but it had not faced a team like Alabama. The Crimson Tide used a lethal combination of power and finesse to overwhelmed the Irish on both sides of the ball. Lacy ran right through the Irish defense on a 20-yard touchdown in the game’s opening minutes, capping an 82-yard drive, which was the longest given up on the season by the Irish.It was a harbinger of dominance to come.McCarron led his team down the field on their second possession for 61 yards, climaxed by a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Michael Williams, who was standing in the back of the end zone unattended. The Tide went up 14-0, and they were just beginning to roll.Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon put the Tide up 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter on a 1-yard run. The Crimson Tide got to that point on the strength two long McCarron completions: one to receiver Kevin Norwood for 25 yards and the second to freshman extraordinaire Amari Cooper for a 27-yard gain.Once Yeldon scored, all Irish hopes of winning their first national championship since 1988 vanished into the warm Miami night air. Irish fans were hushed and their players were in awe.”We’ve got to get physically stronger, continue close the gap there,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ”Just overall, we need to see what it looks like. Our guys clearly know what it looks like now – a championship football team. That’s back-to-back national champions. That’s what it looks like. That’s what you measure yourself against there. It’s pretty clear across the board what we have to do.”Already up 28-0 at halftime, the Crimson Tide opened the third quarter with the similar control, making it 35-0 on a 34-yard hook up from McCarron to Cooper. If it was not already over, it was then.And so, Tide coach Nick Saban sits atop the college coaching mountain with four national championships, three at Alabama.“We’ve had a lot of really great football players who’ve worked really hard,” Saban said. “Because we’ve had a great team, we’ve been able to have a significant amount of success.”Kelly took the hard lesson from the defeat: His team still has a ways to go.“We made incredible strides to get to this point,” he said. “Now it’s pretty clear what we’ve got to do to get over the top.”Lacy finished with 140 yards on 20 carries and was voted the game’s offensive MVP. McCarron, who was last year’s MVP, threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns on 20 of 28 passing.The stoic Saban said: “Whether I look it or not, I’m happy as hell.”But he said he gets back to work in two days. No extended rest for champions.
The threat of charges against Mr Osborn-Brooks had caused a furore. Vincent was stabbed with a screwdriver he had taken with him on the burglary. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Metropolitan Police force has released a mugshot of Billy Jeeves, who is believed to have been involved in the burglary during which the homeowner, a pensioner, stabbed one of the intruders to death with a screwdriver.It is believed Jeeves, 28, was the accomplice who fled the scene in Hither Green in a white van after career criminal Henry Vincent was stabbed with a screwdriver by 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks.Vincent later died of his injuries, but last week police said that Mr Osborn-Brooks faces no further action over the stabbing at his home in south-east London.The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Billy Jeeves, 28, is being sought by police following the burglary, committed at an address in South Park Crescent, Hither Green SE6 at around 00:45hrs on Wednesday, 4 April.”Jeeves has links to Orpington and Swanley in Kent, and Cambridge.”Police also want to hear from anybody who may have seen his vehicle, a white Vauxhall Astra van with registration GU52 AXT – in the days and hours before and after the burglary.”The van was found burnt out and destroyed on the evening of Saturday, 7 April in Star Lane, near Hockingdon Lane in Orpington, Kent.”
Increased reliability and safety despite simplified application is promised by the new adhesive Conti Secur PREMIUM, which is used for a variety of different cold bondings on conveyor belts. As it only has a single component instead of the usual two, it is ready for immediate use and “guarantees a long service life” according to the manufacturers, ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group.“In heavy industry applications, we normally use two-component adhesives. Conti Secur PREMIUM is an innovative new product that requires just one component” explains Wolfgang Kerwel, application engineer at the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group in Northeim. He was the one who originally had the idea for the single-component adhesive, and has worked together with adhesive specialist HB Fuller Company to develop a marketable product that is now manufactured exclusively for ContiTech. Conti Secur PREMIUM has been available since October 15 in 0.8 litre containers. It can be used universally in the same way as Conti Secur BFA.For users, the one-component adhesive based on polychloroprene offers two main advantages – firstly in terms of metering, secondly in terms of application and handling. As there is no need for a reinforcement solution, there is no risk of mistakes being made during metering. Furthermore, every last drop of Conti Secur PREMIUM can be used, without the adhesive vulcanising in the container within a short space of time, which makes the adhesive particularly cost-effective. Conti Secur PREMIUM can be used in a range of different applications, including rubber-to-rubber bonds and rubber-to-metal bondings, as well as for cold splicing of fabric ply belts. Another advantage over two-component adhesives is the reduced packaging volume thanks to the omission of reinforcement solution. This reduces costs both during dispatch and in storage, not to mention during waste disposal.
Michelle O’Neill: ‘Martin and Gerry asked if I was up for the role. I said I was’ Should Sinn Fein win sufficient seats in the Northern assembly, O’Neill will become Deputy First Minister. Jan 31st 2017, 12:27 PM Newly appointed Sinn Fein leader for Stormont Michelle O’Neill (centre) with Martin McGuiness (left), and Gerry Adams (right) at Stormont Buildings. Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesWhile O’Neill said her past is steeped in republicanism, she added she did not think it should define her or the future.I would prefer the focus would be on the future.So what will the future look like under her leadership in the North – and will she share power with Arlene Foster?O’Neill said Sinn Féin won’t be returning to power-sharing with the DUP under the same terms that were decided upon after the last election.You can’t share power with people whose only interest is looking after the elite in society or certain sections in society Image: PA Wire/PA Images O’Neill was announced as the new party leader for the North after Martin McGuinness stood down over the ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal. He resigned because the DUP leader Arlene Foster did not bow to repeated calls for her to step down over the allegations.After McGuinness stepped down in protest, fresh elections were called for the north in March.Explainer: What is the ‘cash for ash’ scandal?>Describing herself as coming from a “strong republican family” (her father is a former Sinn Féin councillor in Dungannon who was imprisoned for IRA membership, while her uncle, Paul Doris, is president of Noraid, a republican fundraising group) O’Neill was appointed leader without election.Deputy party leader Mary Lou McDonald has previously said the nomination for the role of leader in the North is made by the party leader.When asked about how she was chosen as leader, O’Neill explained:I was chosen by the Ard Comhairle – that is the decision-making body of the party… it was put to the Ard Comhairle and it was unanimously decided that I should be leader. Tuesday 31 Jan 2017, 12:27 PM https://jrnl.ie/3214554 SINN FÉIN’S NEW leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has said there will be no return to the “status quo” in the Stormont institutions.Should Sinn Fein win sufficient seats in the Northern assembly, O’Neill will become Deputy First Minister.While she said she “can work with anybody” O’Neill said things will have to change if Sinn Féin are going to work with the DUP again.“We can’t return to the same sort of antics displayed by the DUP,” said O’Neill on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme today. We can’t return to that style of government.However, O’Neill said she she is very much open-minded and determined to find a way forward.She said any future power-sharing arrangement has to be based on mutual respect and a determination of delivering for all citizens.Yesterday, ahead of her meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May met with O’Neill in Cardiff.The new Sinn Féin leader said she made the case to May that Ireland should have special designated status in terms of Brexit.O’Neill said Brexit will be damaging to the Good Friday Agreement, adding that she does not believe Prime Minister May is listening to her party’s concerns.Yesterday, Enda Kenny and May both said they wanted the border between the Republic and the North to be “seamless” and “frictionless”.“I fail to see how that will be the case,” said O’Neill, who added that it was “all words, all talk – we need to see the detail”.Next in line: Mary Lou talks McGuinness, great women and ‘cutting the crap’ in the North>Mary Lou on Trump: ‘I deplore and detest that politics. It makes my skin crawl’> Share49 Tweet Email1 By Christina Finn Michelle O’Neill, the new Sinn Fein leader at Stormont. Image: PA Wire/PA Images Short URL We couldn’t tolerate that kind of approach in government… enough was enough. Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Michelle O’Neill, the new Sinn Fein leader at Stormont. 14,826 Views Martin and Gerry obviously spoke to me about taking on the role, was I up to it. I said I was. Gerry then put it to the Ard Comhairle and there was a full discussion in relation to it and people were able to give their opinion and voice their views on it and the decision was taken unanimously that I should take on the position – a position in which I have said I am absolutely proud to take on. 93 Comments