This year we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the decades-long Troubles in Northern Ireland that fractured communities along sectarian lines and claimed thousands of lives.
As we mark this historic agreement, I believe it is important that we reflect on the progress that has made in the previous two and a half decades.
The legacy of peace secured by the Good Friday agreement surely establishes it as not only one of the greatest achievements of any previous Labour Government, but perhaps one of the greatest achievements of any British Government during the second half of the 20th century.
Decades of confrontation and division were ended because at its heart, the Good Friday Agreement brought people together and sought to build trust and cooperation between communities. This commitment to dialogue and compromise, and a willingness to listen to the concerns and aspirations of all sides allowed peace and prosperity to win the day.
The keen Parliament watchers among you will know that in conjunction with my role as your MP in Gower, I am also the Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland. In this role I am afforded the privileged opportunity to scrutinise Government policy on Northern Ireland directly from the dispatch box, but it has also allowed me to speak directly with residents about their experiences living through the Troubles.
On visiting Northern Ireland, I’ve met people who well remember the darkest days of the Troubles, as well as the young adults and children who never had to live through them. I’ve spoken to people from both communities, and all walks of life, but the common denominator is that none take peace for granted. That is testament to the hard work and strength of everyone who played a role in securing the agreement. The Troubles may be in the past, but the significance of the Good Friday agreement is still shaping lives today.
We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland to push forwards building that brighter and more hopeful future for all.
I wish to end with a quote from Mo Mowlam’s book. As Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at the time, she played a vital role in securing the agreement. This quote aptly sums up the peace process and is one that we should also apply to our lives today.
“People working together can overcome many obstacles, often within themselves, and by doing so can make the world a better place.”
Just 2% of Swansea’s veterans have received promised ID card
Just 2% of veterans in the region have received Government ID cards to help them access the services they need, as Gower MP, Tonia Antoniazzi has organised a Veterans’ Voice event to hear local concerns.
In Swansea just 155 veterans ID cards have been rolled out to 8000 veterans.
The Government promised to provide every veteran in the UK with a card in 2019, designed to provide speedy access to health, housing and charity services.
But figures from the ONS confirm there are more than 1.8 million veterans in England and Wales, and just 56,000 ID cards have been given out since 2018, meaning just 3% veterans have been given a card in five years.
In December, Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer has promised to rollout all remaining ID cards by this summer. However, analysis conducted by the Labour Party also showed that at the current rate of delivery, it will take more than a century to give every veteran a card.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has accused the Government of failing veterans prior to holding an event with former personnel as part of Labour’s Veterans’ Voice campaign.
Tonia is holding a Veteran’s Voice event in Gowerton Rechabite Hall on May 31st at 6.30 pm.
Veterans’ Voice is Labour’s nationwide listening campaign to link up with veterans and their families and shape the party’s plans for the next general election.
Shadow Veterans Minister Rachel Hopkins said:
“The Conservatives like to talk up their support for our forces, but it’s clear that they are failing our veterans.
“The veterans ID card is supposed to help our society keep its promise to those who serve by ensuring quick access to services like healthcare. But Conservative ministers have delivered just a fraction of the cards needed.
“Our veterans don’t need empty promises, they need action. That’s why Labour has launched its Veterans’ Voice campaign to hear directly from former personnel and their families, and put their lived experiences at the heart of our future policy offer.”
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said:
“It is crystal clear that this Government is letting down veterans in Swansea. Ministers make sweeping promises about support they will deliver but it’s all talk.
“Labour’s Veterans’ Voice campaign will listen to veterans in Swansea and Gower carefully. We will step up where this Government has failed.”
Tonia Antoniazzi, Member of Parliament for Gower, is set to host a grant event funding advice day for her community groups, clubs and residents in Gower. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday 19th May at Gorseinon Institute between 10 am and 12 pm.
The advice day will focus on helping local community groups and organisations in Gower to access funding opportunities that can support their projects and initiatives. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with experienced advisors who will provide guidance and support on a wide range of topics, including identifying funding sources and compiling successful grant applications.
Organisations in attendance will include Swansea Council for Voluntary Services, Sport Wales, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund, Great Western Railway, Pobl, the Community Foundation Wales, Cwmpas, and the Lloyds Bank Foundation.
Speaking before the event Tonia Antoniazzi said, “This event will be an excellent opportunity for local groups and organisations to receive the advice and support they need to secure funding and bring their ideas to life.
"There are so many talented and dedicated community groups and organisations in Gower and Swansea that are doing fantastic work to improve the lives of our residents. This event will provide them with the tools and resources they need to access funding opportunities and make their projects a reality."
The event is free to attend, and registration is not required. All community groups and organisations in Gower are invited to attend and take advantage of this valuable opportunity.
For the sake of the fans we need to fix football regulation before more clubs change hands or go under
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has called on the Government to bring in a regulator as quickly as possible, following the football white paper which was published in February.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has raised her concerns after Swansea City secured an historic “double doube” over local rivals Cardiff City in the latest south Wales Derby.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP had welcomed the white paper’s publication but was frustrated saying it is already long overdue.
The fan-led review of football governance was published over a year ago. It made a suite of recommendations for better governance in football, including stronger owners and directors tests, fairer distribution of funding down the football pyramid, and a seat at the table for fans, through a shadow board and ‘golden share’ in significant club decisions. Labour called for the recommendations to be implemented in full.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said, “I welcome the publication of the football white paper, but it’s long overdue. Fair financial distribution must be sorted before a regulator comes into force. The failure of the Premier League and EFL to reach an agreement on football finances means lower league clubs will miss out on £365m this season, including Swansea City which will miss out on £15 million.
“It’s been a good couple of weeks for Swans and Wales fans, with derby wins over Bristol and Cardiff, good performances against Coventry and Huddersfield, and that has come on top of a good international break for Wales too. You can see the impact that these successes have had on people in the city. If we want to see more of that success on the pitch, we need to put the interests of football fans first off the pitch.
“Football fans are asking for an independent regulator and a proper voice which clubs will listen to.
“We can’t have any more dithering – the Government should bring in the legislation needed to establish a proper regulator urgently.”
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has today pledged support for the Long Live the Local campaign to help pubs and breweries in Gower recover and thrive. Tonia Antoniazzi joins over 170,000 members of the public who have signed the petition so far, including 188 in Gower.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP is calling on the Government to take action to reduce the burden of taxation on brewers and pubs. Businesses still recovering from the pandemic have been thrown headfirst into an energy crisis which, combined with ongoing inflation across supply chains, is having a devastating impact on brewers and pubs in communities throughout the UK.
Pubs and breweries in Gower support 1344 jobs and contribute £29.4m to the local economy. With one in every three pounds spent in UK pubs going directly to the Treasury, British drinkers and pub goers are some of the most taxed in Europe, and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain`s brewers.
Commenting on the campaign, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said:
“Pubs are at the heart of communities across Gower, throughout the pandemic they demonstrated great resilience and innovation, however the aftershock of the pandemic combined with the energy price and cost of living crises means many pubs remain at risk. That is why I am supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to consider reducing the burden of taxation on pubs and brewers.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said:
“The Long Live the Local Campaign not only celebrates the important role pubs play in Britain but also seeks to remind people that we cannot take them for granted. That is why we are calling on the Government to invest in pubs and breweries through the reform of the unfair tax burden - specifically lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and extending the freeze on beer duty. This will help pubs and brewers thrive in coming years.
“In turn, this growth will create more connected and vibrant communities, local investment and vital employment and ensures our rich pub and brewing heritage continues for future generations to enjoy.
“We are very grateful to Tonia Antoniazzi for supporting the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to help brewers and pubs.”
Tonia Antoniazzi MP for Gower, celebrated the importance of reading for pleasure on World Book Day.
Every year, World Book Day creates bespoke £1 books for children and young adults across the UK and Ireland, to promote the power of imagination and the importance of reading.
Through World Book Day, every child in Gower is given a £1 book token, which they can take to a bookshop or supermarket to get their free World Book Day book.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP joined a Parliamentary drop-in to champion reading for pleasure in Gower.
They are calling on teachers, carers, and parents to ensure that reading for pleasure is encouraged as much as reading attainment.
While reading was the only core subject which saw attainment levels improve in 20224, the number of children who say they enjoy it is in serious decline.
Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success–more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.
However, reading for pleasure is at its lowest levels in 18 years and many children have limited access to books.
500,000 (one in 15) children in England aged 8–18 say they don’t own a single book, which rises to one in 10 for those eligible for Free School Meals.
One in five pupils receiving Free School Meals said that the book they ‘bought’ with their World Book Day book token was the first book of their own.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said, “It is a pleasure to support World Book Day. It is so important that every child and young adult in Gower has the opportunity to have a book of their own that they have chosen for themselves–and I am delighted to celebrate my own love of reading through the World Book Day campaign."