SF to call on authorities to introduce metric traffic signage #sfaf16

Martin McGuinness addresses 2016 Sinn Fein ard fheis (Friday night) in Convention Centre DublinMotion 38 was passed at this morning Environment and Transport section of the ard fheis.

This Ard Fheis call on the authorities in the North to introduce the metric system for all traffic and related road signage to bring it in line with the rest of the island and also look to create an all-Ireland body to standardise speed limits and road traffic signs. [Clarke/Smith/Doherty Cumann, Finglas]

If Sinn Féin take the Ministry for Infrastructure after May’s Assembly election will they race at 70 mph 120mph towards this change? I can only imagine the carnaptious debate that would ensue.

Or would other parties in the NI Executive slam their foot on the brake and view it as a cross-cutting issue?

Other motions agreed highlighted Sellafield nuclear power plant and Air Passenger Duty.


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  • Kev Hughes

    Why no Gaelic? This should be interesting, I’ll grab my pop-corn…

  • John Collins

    That is why we in the ROI are glad we left the UK. When we were in it we were not even getting ‘proper’ crumbs from the GB table. Whatever problems we have now we would be a lot worse off if we had remained tied to that entity.

  • John Collins

    Yes and £60 less per week for Every OAP in NI, with commiserate miserable unemployment benefits north of the border. As regards water charges I saw Pearse Doherty trying to defend the household charges in NI compared to those in the South and he was absolutely destroyed by a FF spokesman, who revealed that that each household in NI paid about £1,000 per year, wmicch iis considerably more than here

  • barnshee

    what pesion credits ( addition to old age pension) are available in the ROI ?

    What housing benefit is paid in addition to unemployment benefits in the ROI ?

  • Sharpie

    What percentage of the economy of the ROI relies on the state?

  • Sharpie

    I don’t pay £1000 or anything like it for water.

  • Sharpie

    You can’t do British GCSE’s here anymore – they moved to a crazy system over there to muck up the exams bodies and we kept to our old traditional ways and now we can only do CCEA exams or some very specialist ones from over the water.

  • Sharpie

    To be fair road signs weren’t in his speech – you heard the dog whistle distraction. A party passes lots of motions – of which this is one. Unionists can be involved in a debate about UI although not by Gerry. One day it will seem common sense and people will ask – “Jeepers what was all that hullaballoo about? Shouda done this decades ago.”

  • Reader

    Your cynicism might work for a yard (king’s nose to kings elbow), but not foot (average length of 12 random worshipers’ footsies outside Westminster cathedral, I think). But of course, who would doubt that a metre (distance travelled by light in 1/299 792 458 seconds), is a more practical unit of measure than a yard, as well as being about 10% longer.
    But you can use precise, reproducible standards on any measurement system. And surely you don’t imagine that the length of a metre has remained utterly fixed over the last two centuries?
    I do ‘get’ the merits of a decimal system, though we’re not there yet. I suppose when we’re finally ready to move to decimal time maybe the human race will be ready for the leap to binary instead – a much more sensible basis.

  • John Collins

    (1) every person over 80 and living alone gets about €250 a week, plus free travel,(instituted here long before it was available in NI), fuel allowance, ‘phone allowance and free TV license
    Flat rate €215
    Living alone allowance about €15
    Over 80 Allowance €20
    (2) In the RAS Scheme, in the ROI, a person on benefits will contribute about €20 a week to pay to a rent of about €580 a month and that is for a rural letting. I know rents are subsidised to much higher level in Dublin.
    I think in all fairness Barnshee it compares much better than you always seem to think with benefits in NI.
    I however agree with your comment that our trolley situation is poor but some people here want A+E Services at every crossroads and the sooner politicians boldly confront this attitude the sooner this problem will at least be eased.
    P.S. I have just ascertained that the fuel allowance in ROI is €22.50 a week for the winter months.

  • John Collins

    That is a good question. I will do some research and try and get back to you.

  • John Collins

    Well what do you pay for and how much? Do you pay a set rate for water, bin collection, household charge and school books etc which comes near a £1,000, because I pay €250 a year for bin collection, €250 household charge and will expect to pay about €150 net at max for water, when the charge is instituted, which it definitely should be. When Doherty was challenged, it was in relation to an overall household charge and not solely water charges

  • Oggins

    Fair point on the raised motions, but when you propose to build a house, you don’t start on deciding the colour of the curtains. I would like to see more honest discussions from all nationalist parties on what a UI would look like. Unfortunately with in Unionism, a UI on SF terms won’t happen. The UI discussion needs to be taken away from the political parties and all nationalist parties should have a working group, in which none of them own the agenda.

  • cu chulainn

    This is not a weights and measures issue, the NI assembly has the
    authority to amend road signs. Some road signs are not the same as GB,
    for instance the no entry signs on motorways.

    However, it not perhaps the most urgent transport issue. For instance they could regulate the signalling systems on railways, as locomotives on the Enterprise need two cab signalling systems because NI has to adopt GB standards even though its locomotives are incapable of being used there. There are a number of matters of this sort that might usefully be addressed, but it is unlikely that SF will have the intelligence to address them.

  • Annie Breensson

    But … but … but … changing the road signs will provide employment in
    – manufacture of,
    – transportation of
    – replacement of
    road signs, thereby boosting the economy.

    And then do it all again with new dual-lingo signs in a few years time

  • Annie Breensson

    These non-metric signs. Are they in Irish miles or English miles?

  • Brendan Heading

    This is not a weights and measures issue, the NI assembly has the authority to amend road signs.

    This could be the subject of an interesting legal debate.

    The reserved matter relates not just to weights and measures, but also to “United Kingdom primary standards”. The Northern Ireland road traffic regulations (which obviously predate devolution), which grant the Department the power to make road signs and determine what is printed upon them, do not say anything about what units should be used; the only possible reason could be because this is expected to follow the national standard.

    It can’t be the case that Northern Ireland can use whatever units it likes. Imagine if the DUP crew decided they wanted distances measured in biblical cubits.

    However, it not perhaps the most urgent transport issue. For instance they could regulate the signalling systems on railways, as locomotives on the Enterprise need two cab signalling systems because NI has to adopt GB standards even though its locomotives are incapable of being used there.

    I think you have the wrong end of the stick on a number of levels.

    I don’t believe Translink has to adopt British standards, but it voluntarily does so as a matter of best practice.

    For the same reason, the Irish railway network adopts almost all of the British safety standards unchanged. There’s no point in writing another set of regulations just for the sake of being different.

    The second issue is that the Irish Rail requirement for the CAWS system exceeds the regulations that Translink are required to adhere to in NI. There is no in-cab signalling on Translink trains – just AWS (which stops the train if the driver fails to acknowledge that the next signal is not showing a clear aspect) and TPWS (which stops a train which passes a red light). The Irish Rail CAWS system is much more advanced – it gives the driver an in-cab readout of the next signal and requires him to acknowledge signal “downgrades2.

    Practical realities, even with the best will in the world, will prevent cross-border standardization on things like this. If Ireland decides that it can justify a train safety system, and Northern Ireland decides that it can’t, there’s not a lot to be done about it.

    Of course where co-operation makes sense it gets done. NIR have followed CIÉ/IÉ’s lead on locomotive sourcing since 1981, for example, and they co-operate closely with IÉ on engineering matters.

  • Lee

    It was a joke. Lighten up. Enjoy the popcorn

  • Kev Hughes

    I did, you swerved…

  • cu chulainn

    So Translink are adopting British standards, not because they are best practice (as you clami) but which are in fact inferior to that used elsewhere in the island. This makes no sense at all and should be ended forthwith, given the hassle it creates for the locomotives used, driver training etc. I doubt if it saves any money. And as for the decision to make this change, has SF discussed this in the assembly?

    As for Km, making the change in NI is perfectly reasonable, they can keep their English miles in England if they wish.

  • Brendan Heading

    So Translink are adopting British standards, not because they are best practice (as you clami) but which are in fact inferior to that used elsewhere in the island.

    They are adopting British “best practice”. I’d agree that British best practice when it comes to railway standards is sadly lacking. But as I also indicated, Ireland adopts British safety and signalling standards with very little deviation.

    Yes, Translink does save money by not having to install and maintain CAWS equipment.

    SF have not, to my knowledge, discussed this in the assembly – even though Conor Murphy spent an assembly term in charge of the department that oversees the railways. Railways under SF have gone backwards, especially on the cross-border route. This is exactly the kind of problem that the cross-border bodies are supposed to be solving.

    The costs of unifying the standards would probably outweigh the benefits. The issue only applies on the cross border link, and a small subset of each operator’s fleet is fitted with the two standards to allow for this.

    I’m not disputing the logic of your point. The governments would be better off creating a mutually-owned all-island railway undertaking with each of the governments having a proportionate shareholding and board appointees etc, and running services on a connected, all-island basis (such a thing is possible – we’ve got an all-island electricity grid). But that idea would be resisted as much in Dublin as it would be in Belfast. There is no interest in either jurisdiction in a common standard.

  • cu chulainn

    The point is that there are a range of uncontroversial services that relate more the geography of the island than politics that SF could usefully address, but lack the competence to do so. Things like a single Met office, a single Mapping Agency, railways as discussed. You can be fairly certain that if Scotland became independent that they might well ensure that railway operating standards remained harmonised with England and there is no reason why we in Ireland should settle for less.

  • Mglass

    As an Australian I can’t see the sense in having road signs in miles in NI and metric in the Irish Republic. Is the Northern Ireland Assembly interested in changing to metric road signs, or is this another issue that divides the Assembly on sectarian grounds?