Mary Fee MSP calls for an end to LGBT discrimination in Scottish sport
22nd September 2017

Mary Fee MSP leading the debate on ending LGBT discrimination in Scottish sport.Mary Fee, West of Scotland MSP, received cross-party support to hold a members’ business debate on ‘Tackling Homophobia in Scottish Sport’ in the Scottish Parliament. The debate follows recent research from Stonewall Scotland which highlighted the particular issue of LGBT discrimination in Scottish sport.

The issue of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Scottish sport has been increasingly highlighted by leading equality organisations, with reported incidents of homophobic behaviour at sporting events being 9 per cent higher in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK.

Members of the Scottish Parliament from across the political divide united in the Scottish Parliament to condemn LGBT discrimination in Scottish sport and call for a shift in the culture of Scottish sport to ensure that it was open and accessible to all people, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Recent research by Stonewall Scotland revealed that a staggering 46 per cent of LGBT people do not find sporting events to be welcoming spaces, and more than one in ten LGBT people avoid going to the gym or participating in sports groups because of fear of discrimination and harassment.

During the debate, the Scottish Labour MSP highlighted research by Stonewall Scotland which revealed that a shocking 70 per cent of fans had heard homophobic abuse in the stands at a football game.

The statistics have prompted the Equality Network to launch the LGBT Sports Charter and Stonewall Scotland to establish their Rainbow Laces campaign to make football a more inclusive and welcoming sport for all.

The Equality Network’s LGBT Sports Charter currently has thirteen professional football clubs as signatories, including West of Scotland based Dumbarton FC, Celtic and Rangers, and Scottish football’s governing body, the SFA.

Speaking after the debate, Mary Fee MSP said “I would like to thank the Equality Network and Stonewall Scotland for all their work on eradicating LGBT discrimination and promoting inclusivity in Scottish sport.  I was delighted to take my motion ‘Tackling Homophobia in Sport’ to debate with thanks to MSP’s from all parties.  Despite the advances in LGBT rights over the last two decades, discrimination sadly still persists in all walks of Scottish society. Furthermore, it is clear that there is a particular issue with LGBT discrimination in Scottish sport.  I am pleased that thirteen professional Scottish football clubs and the sport’s governing body have signed up to the Equality Network’s LGBT Sports Charter, which aims to prioritise LGBT inclusivity in Scottish football.  I would strongly urge other professional football clubs and governing bodies to reach out to the Equality Network and to sign up.  It is vitally important that sports organisations take the lead in changing the culture in Scottish sports by tackling and eradicating LGBT discrimination, ensuring that all sports clubs, gyms and stadiums are modern, inclusive and welcoming to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Why SNP plans for Ferguslie development are wrong
19th September 2017

Labour Councillor Jim Sheridan has today criticised Renfrewshire’s SNP administration for watering down plans for a new sports facility in Ferguslie.
Councillor Jim Sheridan
Speaking today Councillor Sheridan said, “Today the SNP administration endorsed their proposals to dilute the previous labour administrations ambitious development plans for Ferguslie and the wider Renfrewshire community which in my view are short sighted.

Labours plans to develop the land surrounding Ferguslie would have generated a multi-use sports facility that would have benefited Renfrewshire’s residents and those beyond. Together with the public funding, private investment was secured for small businesses and other retail outlets that support local employment. What is even more disturbing is the Scottish Governments decision to invest £37 million in the leafy suburbs of Stirling, to support the elite sport of tennis, whilst the SNP administration denies, what where costed and progressive plans for one of the poorest communities in Scotland.

Affordable housing is crucial to our upcoming generation that is why I firmly believe that people will move to areas where quality services and facilities are available. Therefore labours approach would have encouraged private as well as public interest into providing affordable housing for those who need it. The Separatists portray an image of progressive politics, their actions prove the opposite.”

Labour accuse SNP of ditching its pre-election promise to voters to clean up Renfrewshire
12th September 2017

Councillor John HoodRenfrewshire Labour has accused the SNP administration of reneging on its election promise to clean up Renfrewshire by using its new "Team up to Clean up" programme which is asking communities across Renfrewshire to take the major lead and ownership in dealing with issues such as dog fouling, litter and fly tipping.

A series of local meetings are currently taking place to promote the strategy.

The Labour Group on Renfrewshire Council has been scathing in its response. Councillor John Hood, Labours Environmental spokesperson, said, "The cheek of the SNP really does take the breath away. Prior to the council elections in May they bombarded households across the county with leaflets that promised they would clean up Renfrewshire for the next 5 years, and that this would be their flagship policy ,yet barely 4 months on they are telling communities it is up to them to do the job."

Councillor Hood added, "Their pittance of an investment of £250,000 gives the game away ,as this hardly scratches the service. The SNP has changed the Do Your Bit Council policy to Do it Yourself.  This is not going down well, and if the SNP administration believes that hard working council tax payers are going to assume the responsibility for cleaning up Renfrewshire as opposed to the council, it has another think coming.  I and my colleagues ,fully appreciate the sterling work undertaken by various community groups in maintaining a good and clean environment, and others should be encouraged to do likewise. However, it needs to be a case of the council leading on these issues with the support of the community not the other way around.  The SNP needs to get on with the job which they promised before the election ,that is to provide the resources funding and manpower to clean up Renfrewshire and not abuse the goodwill of volunteers in the community. "

Renfrewshire Labour Councillors demand Full Council meeting over Day Centre Closures
22nd August 2017

Amid growing public outrage at the proposed closure of the day centres at West Lane Gardens in Johnstone and Whitehaugh in Paisley the Labour Group on Renfrewshire Council has called for the matter to be brought to a special meeting of the full council.

Renfrewshire Councillors have been bombarded with angry e-mails not only from service users and their Carers but also from members of the public. There has been both shock and dismay at the decision by Capability Scotland to cease providing the service.
Councillor Derek Bibby
Labour will demand that the Council take action ensure that this much service will continue. Councillor Derek Bibby Depute Labour Leader explained why Labour have called the special meeting.  "People who attend the centres who are the most vulnerable of our citizens were told of the closures on the 24th July. Over the last 4 weeks, which must have seen like an eternity to them, they have sought answers and reassurance from the SNP led council that their wishes to continue to attend these centres and receive the current service would be respected. They have received nothing of the sort and this uncertainty cannot continue.”

Councillor Bibby added, “I also suspect that plan was for the decision to be quietly ratified at the next meeting of the Integrated Joint Board for Health and Social Care as though it had nothing to do with the council. This would have meant that the fate of the service would have been confirmed by the voting members the 3 SNP and 1 Tory councillors and 4 non-elected health board representatives. This matter is far too important for that as there is no greater responsibility for a council than the best interests of its vulnerable people. All 43 councillors need to be the ones that their future Renfrewshire has a proud record of caring for people with a learning disability and there is no doubt in my mind that this should continue."

SNP silence over Day Centre closures is deafening say Renfrewshire Labour Councillors
17th August 2017

Councillor Derek BibbyAhead of the closures of the West Lane Gardens and Whitehaugh Day Centres by Capability Scotland the leader of the Labour Group on Renfrewshire Council Councillor Eddie Devine and Councillor Derek Bibby recently met with thirty Carers and Services users of these facilities to hear from them about their views on the decision to close the centres.

Labour Group Leader Eddie Devine said, “Shock and anger was prevalent amongst the feelings of the users of the day centres and this is understandable. I have written to the Council Leader Iain Nicolson to ask if his administration supports the closures and calling for clarification on what action will be taken to support those affected. So far the SNP groups silence in answering the concerns of the Carers and service users has been deafening.”

Councillor Derek Bibby said, “I have been informed that Councillor Jacqueline Cameron who is Convenor of Health and Social Care Policy Board was on holiday but has since returned and the Labour Group will be pressing for action to help ease the worry being felt by users of both these centres. The SNP administration cannot continue to allow some of Renfrewshire’s most vulnerable citizens to worry themselves sick over the uncertainty that currently persists. Elected members constantly talk about listening to and giving people choice. The choice of those people who attend these centres is to continue to do so. That choice should be respected.”

Mary Fee MSP hears of Housing horrors of Asylum-seeking women
16th August 2017

Mary Fee MSP meeting members of the W-ASH project in Glasgow.On a visit to the W-ASH project in Glasgow, Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP met with project volunteers and asylum-seeking women to hear about the challenges facing asylum-seekers in Scotland and in particular the problems of housing asylum seekers.

The W-ASH project, part of the wider Asylum Seeker Housing (ASH) project, supported by the not-for-profit organisation Community InfoSource, is a valuable support to many asylum-seekers in and around Glasgow.

During the visit Mary met with key staff and volunteers who told of the problems facing asylum-seekers in relation to housing. Currently the Home Office contracts the accommodation services for asylum-seekers to Serco, a private company run for profit.

Mary heard numerous examples of overcrowding, poor housing conditions and a culture of fear that results in tenants not reporting issues to Serco as they fear being evicted from their accommodation and being left on the street.

In Glasgow it is estimated that there are around 4,500 asylum-seekers; men, women and children, living in 1,500 properties. The majority of these properties are in the ten poorest areas of Glasgow and Mary heard how most people would refuse to live in the worst housing available.

As a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, Mary has previously worked on issues surrounding asylum-seekers and destitution and recognises that for many women who flee war, poverty and domestic violence, the appropriate support must be guaranteed and rights must be honoured while asylum-seekers go through the process to live in the United Kingdom.

The Scottish Labour MSP believes the evidence suggests that asylum-seekers are mistreated and disrespected too often for any progress to be made in creating a more tolerant and welcoming society for those who flee horrific ordeals we could only imagine.

Speaking after her visit to the W-ASH project in Glasgow, Mary Fee MSP said “The W-ASH project is a vital resource for asylum-seeking women in Glasgow and I am delighted they help some of the most vulnerable people living in our society receive the support the need.  I know from sitting on the Equalities and Human Rights Committee that too many asylum-seekers are mistreated and disrespected even though they have faced obstacle after obstacle in fleeing from their homeland. It was saddening to hear of the experiences faced by the women I met. One woman was locked out her home without any notice, meaning she could not access her medication. Others told me that when their boiler required a repair, they were given a kettle. This is simply unacceptable from a company like Serco, who profit from the misery of asylum-seekers.  “To create a more tolerant and welcoming society, we must do better and treat asylum-seekers with respect in a welcoming manner.”

Councillor Jim SheridanLabour Councillor slams SNP ‘Double Standards’ on public sector pay
29th June 2017

A Labour Councillor has attacked the SNP administration on Renfrewshire Council for their parties damaging double standards on public sector pay.

Speaking after the most recent Council meeting Councillor Jim Sheridan said, “At today’s meeting I raised the double standards of the separatists, with their colleagues at Westminster voting to lift the pay freeze for emergency and public service workers whilst their colleagues in the Scottish Parliament do nothing. Whilst the separatists have no control for the decisions taken in the UK Parliament, they do have total responsibility at Holyrood. My call at today’s meeting was for the separatist’s administration on Renfrewshire Council to seek urgent clarification from the Scottish Government as to whether they will pursue the same policy in Scotland as they have at Westminster. After all what is good for the rest of the UK’s emergency and public sector geese is good for the Scottish gander.”


Council Labour Group slams SNP decision to install a luxury lounge for Councillors
26th June 2017

Councillor Eddie DevinePlans to spend more than £50,000 on new accommodation for Renfrewshire's Councillors including a luxury lounge have been slammed by the Labour opposition.

The move approved by council officials and the SNP minority follows on from the council election result in May. The work is designed to reflect the new make up of the council particularly the need to house the Conservative group and will cause major disruption to councillors and clerical staff over the coming weeks.

The move was condemned by Councillor Eddie Devine Leader of the Labour Group who said, "Previous changes to councillors accommodation in order to create a bigger customer service area arising from an increase in customer welfare referrals as a result of Tory and SNP austerity cuts were misleadingly portrayed by the then SNP opposition as "luxury accommodation " for councillors.  It is completely hypocritical for the SNP to support work that is absolutely unnecessary and is all about the comfort of councillors rather than the needs of the public The work over the next 6 weeks will cause major disruption. The present office arrangements have worked satisfactorily over the last 2 months This is a waste of money and at a time when many people are living hand to mouth this move particularly the provision of a luxury lounge will  not be appreciated by the wider public"

MSPs back campaign to raise awareness of Child Bereavement
23rd June 2017

This week in the Scottish Parliament, over 35 MSPs backed a motion to raise awareness of child bereavement which was lodged by Mary Fee MSP, Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland. The motion congratulated Renfrewshire based Brightest Star, and the ‘Our Missing Peace’ campaign.

Brightest Star was founded by Arlene Clark in early 2013, after her son Jack Kennedy suddenly passed away aged six in December 2012. Since its foundation, Brightest Star, which is based in Renfrew, has support over 500 families who have experienced child bereavement. The charity has only been able to support so many families’ due to its incredible fundraising efforts, which has resulted in Brightest Star raising over £700,000 since it formed in 2013.

The Our Missing Peace campaign has been working with the Brightest Star, and aims to break the silence around child bereavement. The campaign was established by Nicole Bowles, after her four-month-old son, Ben Bowles, suddenly passed away in November 2012.

Our Missing Peace have created a love-heart-shaped badge, with a missing jigsaw piece, as a symbol that an individual is dealing with the loss of a child, whether miscarriage, still birth, neonatal, accidental, teenager, or an adult. The campaign also promotes the use of the term ‘Vilomah’ which means “against the natural order”, as a title for parents who have suffered child bereavement.

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday afternoon, many MSPs wore the ‘Our Missing Peace’ campaign badge to show their support for the campaign.

Our Missing Peace founder Nicole Bowles with Mary Fee MSPFounder of the Our Missing Peace campaign, Nicole Bowles, was invited to the Scottish Parliament by Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee. Nicole attended Thursday’s session of First Minister’s Questions, during which, many MSPs, from all political parties wore the Our Missing Peace badge, to show their support for the campaign and raising awareness of child bereavement.

The Our Missing Peace campaign was endorsed by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Ken Macintosh; First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson; Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who all posed for a photo-call with Our Missing Peace campaign founder Nicole Bowles.

Speaking in Scottish Parliament, after First Minister’s Questions, Mary Fee said  “I would like to commend both Arlene Clark of Brightest Star and Nicole Bowles of Our Missing Peace for their incredible work to offer support to families affected by the bereavement of a child and their efforts to break the silence around child bereavement. Their bravery, courage and dedication is truly remarkable.  I am very pleased to have been able to welcome Nicole Bowles, founder of the Our Missing Peace campaign to the Scottish Parliament to help raise awareness of the campaign.  The loss of a child is the most challenging, upsetting and unjust experience that any person can ever face. It has a profound and long-lasting impact on all members of the family, particularly the child’s parents.   It is vitally important that the appropriate support is available to all family members, especially parents, in the days, weeks and months immediately after the death of a child.   The work of Our Missing Peace to break the silence around child bereavement is vitally important and I am delighted that all the main parties in the Scottish Parliament and the Presiding Officer, have chosen to endorse the campaign.  I would like to thank my fellow MSPs who have endorsed the Our Missing Peace campaign by supporting my motion, as well as wearing the Our Missing Peace badges during First Minister’s Questions.”

The Our Missing Peace badges can be acquired at for a small donation.

Mary Fee MSP Welcomes Bill for Survivors of Childhood Abuse
22nd June 2017

Mary Fee MSPWest Scotland MSP Mary Fee has welcomed the passing of the Limitations (Childhood Abuse) Scotland Bill which removes the time bar that prevents survivors of childhood abuse from raising civil actions if they were abused more than 3 years prior.

Speaking after the unanimous passing of the Bill, Mary Fee, Scottish Labour’s Deputy Justice Spokesperson and member of the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, welcomed the legislation and repeated her admiration for the survivors of childhood abuse who provided evidence to the Justice Committee.

The passing of the Bill is a significant step for survivors of childhood abuse in accessing justice for historical acts. During evidence sessions, the Committee heard from a range of stakeholders of the potential positive and negative consequences of the Limitations Bill, however the Parliament voted in favour of the Bill by 115 votes in favour and zero against, with no abstentions.

Mary Fee MSP said “The Limitations (Childhood Abuse) Bill is a welcome piece of legislation for survivors of childhood abuse who were previously denied access to justice with the time bar of three years. By removing the 3-year period we widen the options for survivors to access justice, access that many have been denied.  While it may not be the best option for every survivor to take civil action, the passing of this Bill is a significant step and one that is welcomed by groups representing survivors.  Throughout the evidence sessions I was stunned by the bravery of survivors who told us openly and in private, why we need to remove the time bar in recalling the abuse they suffered. The bravery was admirable and shows the Scottish Parliament has made the right decision to support this Bill.”

Lazy Councillor caught out
21st June 2017

Councillor Jim SharkeyConfusion reigned at today's emergency Finance, Resources and Customer Services meeting regarding the rationale and the need for the emergency meeting.

When challenged, SNP convenor John Shaw said he had called the meeting because SNP policy was to no longer let the council's paid officers decide on awarding public contracts and decisions would in the future be taken by elected members only. Having made this commitment to the policy Councillor Shaw proposed that two contracts which fell into the summer period would be delegated to Council Officers for approval.

Labour Councillor Jim Sharkey said, “I asked why Councillor Shaw was contradicting himself and offered the chance of another emergency meeting during the summer break to decide on the two other items. Councillor Shaw's reply was to declare it was his decision and that the suggestion that the committee should reconvene during the recess was dismissed. It is clear the electoral slogan of "Standing up for Scotland" doesn't include the holiday periods! It is surprising that SNP policy is not to trust the experienced and trained workers to make the right decisions for the council, and also that they think they can make the decisions without putting in the proper amount of time and work. I know he is a new and inexperienced councillor but this is a very poor show."

Councillor Jim SheridanCouncillor hits out at Council Leadership’s lack of commitment to their workers.
20th June 2017

At a recent meeting of Renfrewshire Council Leadership Board, Councillor Jim Sheridan challenged the Leader of the SNP to repudiate his predecessor’s statement that his party would be replacing council work by outsourcing services to the private sector.

Councillor Jim Sheridan said, “If you treat your workforce well then you get the best out of them and job security is crucial. Therefore I was concerned by press reports in the run-up to the election that the separatists former leader Kenny MacLaren, was proposing to out-source council jobs. I am left even more concerned by the denials of the current administrations Leader of any knowledge of his predecessors comments and that he was unable to contradict the press report. This is not good enough. The people of Renfrewshire deserve to know how their council workers are to be treated over the lifetime of this administration. That is the day-job that they were elected to do and if they cannot be honest about the future of jobs in Renfrewshire then it is time for them to go.”

Alison Dowling will stand up for working people at Paisley TUC Hustings Event
23rd May 2017

Alison Dowling for Paisley and Renfrewshire SouthPaisley TUC are holding a hustings event Thursday 25th May, 7pm-10pm in Methodist Halls, Smithhills Street, Paisley.

The event will be attended by parliamentary candidate Alison Dowling, standing for Paisley and Renfrewshire South. A key driver for Alison standing for election is her concern that working people have been left behind by a hardening, right wing Tory agenda for the few, and a Scottish nationalist focus on independence at the expense of doing the day job.

Talking about her personal story, Alison said "My family story is one of the reasons I am standing in this election. My late father was a Clyde shipbuilder who suffered from blacklisting. As a younger man he lost his livelihood for a time, simply for speaking up for the rights of his colleagues. With the help of the trade union movement he made it back into employment and was able to support his family for the rest of his working life."

"Modern trade unions are so important for our changing world, and are key to the success of industrial strategy in countries like Germany. Members come from all industries and walks of life, but they have one thing in common. They all want to get on at work, and to do right by their families and the people who depend on them. I recently supported local EIS lecturers striking to protect the quality of education our college students deserve. I am disappointed, but sadly not surprised that absent MP Mhairi Black has showed no interest in supporting our local college lecturers who have fought long and hard to safeguard further education in Renfrewshire. Perhaps if we had wrapped ourselves up in Saltires and belted out a couple of verses of Caledonia, Mhairi might have been more motivated to lend her support."

"If I am elected MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South on June 8th, I will fight for the issues that matter in Westminster. I plan to convene a Renfrewshire jobs summit working with employers and the national governments to attract quality jobs, paying a salary that people can actually live on, and to support businesses to help grow the local economy. One of the first things the SNP/Tory alliance in Renfrewshire Council have done in office is to abolish the all-important Jobs and Economy Board, so my Labour-led jobs summit plan will be a top priority".


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