22 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged the continued assistance of the United Nations to Liberia, which he said has made great strides in recovering from a brutal decade-long civil war, but still faces daunting challenges in areas such as security, rule of law and development, as he wrapped up a visit to the West African nation. “I have come to Liberia to see at first hand the remarkable achievements your country has made in recovering from a devastating conflict. And I have come to reassure the Liberian people of my steadfast commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in your nation,” Mr. Ban said in an address to a joint session of the Liberian legislature in the capital, Monrovia.“As the most representative legislature in the history of this country, you have a unique chance to build a national vision for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Liberia – one that provides opportunities for all its citizens,” he said.Mr. Ban outlined several areas where further progress is needed, including reforming the legal and judicial system and extending the rule of law throughout the country. He said more also needs to be done to reintegrate populations affected by war and promote reconciliation and national unity, as well as ensure economic development. “Delivering the peace dividend in these areas is necessary to underpin the stability that Liberia currently enjoys,” he noted. “In this and other challenges confronting Liberia, the entire United Nations family will work with you,” the Secretary-General pledged.The UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has begun the first phase of its drawdown process, and the Security Council will decide on the next phase after reviewing the progress made by the Government in meeting certain key benchmarks. Mr. Ban said his recommendations to the Council on the drawdown will be linked to the Government’s ability to assume full responsibility for its national security. “Our common strategic goal is to ensure that Liberia has a solid security sector – one that can stand on its own feet before UNMIL completes its withdrawal.”The Secretary-General also drew attention to surge in food prices, a major concern not only for Liberia, but also for the region and the world as a whole. Speaking to reporters later in the day, he said that “the recent worldwide protests over soaring global food prices have demonstrated the need for Liberia to meet the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] in order to be safe from the weaknesses of globalization while taking advantage from its myriad opportunities for growth and prosperity.” He added that it is regrettable that rape continues to be the most commonly committed crime in Liberia, and he called on community leaders, Government leaders, traditional chiefs, elders and prominent Liberians to take the lead in combating the scourge of rape and other acts of sexual and gender-based violence. Recently the UN joined forces with the Liberian Government and civil society groups in a nationwide anti-rape campaign.Upon arrival in Monrovia yesterday the Secretary-General was greeted by an honour guard and received the traditional Liberian gift of a live chicken and an egg, as well as a key to the city, making him an honorary citizen of the Liberian capital. He met this morning with Vice President Joseph Boakai, and with members of the cabinet, with whom he discussed the recovery efforts since the war and the challenges ahead for Liberia as well as the peacebuilding projects under way.Mr. Ban is now in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where this evening he will meet with President Blaise Compaoré and Prime Minister Tertius Zongo. Burkina Faso is the third leg of a four-nation West Africa tour that began in Ghana and will conclude in Côte d’Ivoire.
Sonic Drill Corp (SDC) is partnering with two companies already serving the Australian and New Zealand markets to bring its award-winning sonic drilling technology to customers ‘down under’. At the beginning of 2013, SDC was contracted by Drilltechniques, a Comacchio dealer based in Queensland, to convert a Comacchio MC900P into a sonic drill. Working closely with Drilltechniques and Comacchio engineering, the MC900P was fitted with a full-capacity Sonicor 50K drill head, high speed coring head and upgraded hydraulic system/controls. The rig went to work at the end of February 2013 at a geotechnical project in Christchurch, New Zealand, but also has potential markets in mineral exploration.An SDC trainer and technician was on site to commission the rig and provide training in correct sonic drilling techniques. The company said that the commissioning was a great success and the client was extremely pleased with the performance of their new rig and the high quality core samples it generated. “This project is an example of what three great companies can achieve by working together,” says Kevin Reimer, sales and operations manager at SDC. “High quality Comacchio rig, advanced SDC sonic technology and Drilltechniques worldclass service and support.” Reimer adds that SDC is looking forward to building more machines with Drilltechniques and Comacchio for the Australia and New Zealand markets.
Updated 11.25amTHE MINISTER FOR Health will be asked this morning by Senator John Crown about a meeting between the Taoiseach, two ministers and the tobacco industry.The meeting between the industry members and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Ministers Alan Shatter and Michael Noonan, took place in government buildings a fortnight ago, Arthur Beesley reported in the Irish Times today.CriticisedSince the meeting came to light, the Taoiseach has been heavily criticised by both Senator Crown and MEP Nessa Childers. Senator Crown said that he wants to know who arranged the meeting, and told TheJournal.ie that he plans to use his time at the Committee on Health and Children meeting today, at which Minister for Health James Reilly is present, to ask him about the issue today.He said he does not believe that government should be meeting with the tobacco industry, and that it is “simply unconscionable” that such a meeting occurred. “They are not our partners,” he pointed out.“This is entirely inappropriate,” said Senator Crown, adding he believes Ireland should be a tobacco-free country by 2030 and that the tobacco industry should be informed about this.CondemnedNessa Childers MEP has condemned Kenny and senior Ministers for not disclosing their meetings with the tobacco industry, which she says breaks terms of a World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty of which Ireland is a signatory.This is absolutely shocking and shows complete disregard for all in Ireland who campaign for public health issues and against cancer in Ireland. It will be especially embarrassing for the Irish Presidency, which is overseeing the negotiations on the EU Tobacco Products Directive. The Taoiseach and senior Ministers have met with the industry lobby for John Player, British American Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco International. These meetings happened despite a warning from fellow Health Minister James Reilly last year to his cabinet colleagues of their obligations under the WHO treaty.Under the WHO framework convention on tobacco control (Article 5.3): “2.2 Where interactions with the tobacco industry are necessary, Parties should ensure that such interactions are conducted transparently. Whenever possible, interactions should be conducted in public, for example through public hearings, public notice of interactions, disclosure of records of such interactions to the public”.Childers said that “we need to know how and when this terrible industry is lobbying the government, and why”.The Tobacco Control Directive is now before her Public Health Committee in the parliament, and Childers said they “will be fighting for a strong EU tobacco law”.ShockThe chief executives of Ireland’s largest health charities have written to the Taoiseach to communicate their shock about the meeting.The Irish Cancer Society and Irish Health Foundation say the meeting “shouldn’t have happened” and that they are “very concerned” about it. They say that the tobacco industry is “not a normal industry and cannot be allowed a seat at the decision-making table”.The two charities have requested to meet the Taoiseach, Minister Noonan and Minister Shatter as soon as possible.Read: Cigarettes, tobacco and counterfeit vodka seized in €1.5 million sting operation>Read: ‘Nearly 30 per cent’ of cigarettes sold in Ireland last year were illegal>