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Sinn Féin launches alternative to JobBridge

Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD this morning launched his party’s alternative internship scheme which he says will replace the current government’s JobBridge Scheme if his party is in power after the next election.

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Sinn Féin candidate for the upcoming by election in Carlow & Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has stated that a victory for Sinn Féin in the constituency will signal the end for the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government.

Councillor Funchion was speaking to a crowd of over three hundred activists and supporters at the launch of her campaign in the Newpark Hotel tonight.

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD, Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD were all on hand to rally support for the party’s effort to win another seat in the Dáil.

Councillor Funchion said;

“Let’s make no mistake about it; a victory for Sinn Féin in Carlow and Kilkenny will signal the end of this failed and detached government.

“This is because Sinn Féin is the real opposition to this government.

“A victory for Fine Gael will prolong the term of this government and prolong the suffering of lower and middle income families in this constituency and across the country.

“A victory for Fianna Fáil will have little impact on this government because they are only implementing the same policies that Fianna Fáil were advocating when they were booted out of office four years ago.

“I believe that the people of Carlow & Kilkenny will seize this opportunity and deliver a knockout blow to a government that has lost its mandate through a litany of broken promises, devastating cuts and a failure to deliver the type of “democratic revolution” that Enda Kenny talked about in 2011.

“I know that everyone here wants a brighter future for themselves, their children, their grandchildren. That is what I want to see - a brighter future for Carlow & Kilkenny and a brighter future for our country.

ENDS

Full text of Kathleen Funchion’s speech follows:

Just over 5 years ago a person sitting in this very room took a step that helped bring to an end one of the most disastrous governments this state has ever seen.  

Pearse Doherty’s successful high court challenge against the then Fianna Fáil government for delaying the holding of a By Election in Donegal South West and his subsequent victory was the final nail in the coffin to the Fianna Fáil government that wrecked the economy.

Thanks to Pearse Doherty’s efforts no longer will unpopular governments be able to deny people their democratic right to full representation in the Dáil. We owe Pearse a debt of gratitude for the stance he took.

Thanks to his efforts, in just 3 months’ time, the people of Carlow and Kilkenny will have the same opportunity as the people of Donegal had in 2010.

The opportunity to signal the end for this government.

Let’s make no mistake about it; a victory for Sinn Féin here is the only result that will do this because Sinn Féin is the real opposition to this government.

A victory for Fine Gael will prolong the term of this government and prolong the suffering of lower and middle income families in this constituency and across the country.

a victory for Fianna Fáil will have little impact on this government because this government is only implementing the same policies that Fianna Fáil were advocating when they were booted out of office 4 years ago.

I believe that the people of Carlow & Kilkenny will seize this opportunity and deliver a knockout blow to a government that has lost its mandate through a litany of broken promises, devastating cuts and a failure to deliver the type of “democratic revolution” that Enda Kenny talked about 4 years ago.

But like in all elections people will be given a clear choice.

A choice, between more of the same, the FF, FG and Labour cohort, the nodding dogs for the government, who have all been a part of implementing devastating cuts and unfair taxes on families and communities here in Carlow and Kilkenny: The alternative Choice a party and a representative who will not be afraid to stand up for this constituency and send a powerful message to the establishment.

That message is simple. People have had enough. Enough of broken promises, enough of cronyism, enough of the nod and wink, enough of austerity.

I know that people have lost trust in our political system and in politicians, there are many people who think, what’s the point in voting at all, ye are all the same anyway? And who can blame people for thinking this way?

When you look at who has represented us in government over the past number of years I can understand why people feel like this but Sinn Féin IS different and we are NOT in the business of making empty election promises that we cannot keep.

We are in the business of change. We are in the business of progressive and fair policies. We will build a fair recovery, not a recovery for the wealthy elites.

We will ensure that the voices of ordinary working people are represented.

We have a dynamic team of SF TDs in the Dáil, who are not afraid to ask the difficult questions or hold the government to account.

I want to be part of that team; I want to bring the issues in this constituency to the floor of the Dáil and to make sure that the voices of all the people of Carlow and Kilkenny are heard, not just the voices of those who are well con-nected or those who are well protected.

Everyone in this room knows what the issues are that face this constituency. They are largely the same throughout the length and breadth of our country. Housing and homelessness have reached crisis point here in Kilkenny city, in the Aspect hotel, not far from here there are currently over 20 families, all with children, that are calling that hotel home.

How can this be right or fair or just?

Unemployment is a massive issue in both our counties, Braun, L’apple, the sugar factory, all closed their doors in Carlow in the last 10 years and we have had nothing to replace them. Instead of tackling the unemployment problem by creating real and sustainable jobs, the government has opted for schemes such as gateway and job-bridge.

Schemes that are little more than slave labour, where there is very little if any chance of full time work afterwards.

But Sinn Féin isn’t in the business of just opposing unjust policies. We offer real, practical and fully costed alternatives. Just last week we launched an internship scheme that supports jobseekers to attain real quality jobs. Also last week our proposed legislation Jakes Law will make our estates a safer place for our children to play in. These are the proposals that Sinn Féin would seek to introduce in government.

Our proposals will ensure a living wage for all workers.

Our proposals will support Rural communities which have been devastated by continuous cuts, garda stations have closed under the watch of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, our post offices and bus services have all been under attack over the past number of years with many small villages and towns being left like ghost towns, without public transport despite what our Taoiseach tried to tell us last weekend!

Our proposals will show Farmers that Sinn Féin is a party that will really fight their corner and puts more emphasis on the indigenous rural economy.

By electing me to Leinster House for Carlow Kilkenny in May; you are electing someone who knows what it is to struggle to make life work.

Someone who will be a voice for working people who are struggling with the burden of new taxes that this government has forced on them.

Because I will be a voice for people who go out to work every day, rushing around in the morning, trying to get kids out the door while worrying about bills, and thinking will I try pay the gas or electricity this week?

A voice for mothers who struggle with the cost of childcare.

A voice for families that are burdened by mortgages.

I want to be a voice for the people of rural Ireland who are discriminated against because of where they live.

These are all ordinary people, people like you in this room, people like myself.

So on the 22nd May, the people of Carlow and Kilkenny have a chance to make history. However History is not made by chance but by choice, your choice; that’s a choice between the stale and failed politics of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour or the politics of change and equality.

I know that everyone here wants a brighter future for themselves, their children, their grandchildren. That is what I want to see. A brighter future for Carlow & Kilkenny. A brighter future for our country. History is made by the actions of people, People like you in this room. It is you that has to be a part of creating a brighter future for all our people.  It is you that will elect a Sinn Féin TD for Carlow – Kilkenny and therefore signal the end for this government. It is you that will make history by voting for Sinn Fein. The ability, the will, and the drive is here in this room all we have to do now is to go out and do it.

Ar Aghaidh Linn!

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Speaking this evening in Kilkenny where he launched the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election campaign of Sinn Féin candidate Kathleen Funchion, Party Leader Gerry Adams TD said:

“Sinn Féin is in this by-election to win. In Kathleen Funchion we have an excellent candidate who would be a strong advocate for fairness and equality in the Dáil.”

“In this by-election the voters in Carlow/Kilkenny can speak on behalf of citizens across the State. At this crucial time in our history you can make judgement on this bad Government.”

“Our society has become increasingly polarised under Enda Kenny’s Government. The Government clearly does not care about the crippling effect on families of the Property Tax, Water Tax and a range of other stealth charges.”

“A third of our children are now living in consistent poverty. We see anti-Water Charge protestors jailed but not one of the bankers who caused the financial crash, which destroyed the economy, has been sent to prison.”

“This Government is ideologically wedded to austerity and the price that citizens are paying is evident everywhere. It is to be seen, for example, in the record number of citizens languishing on trolleys in our hospital corridors.”

“We need to ask ourselves what kind of a society we will be left with after more years of Fine Gael/Labour austerity. Social cohesion is being destroyed. Our public services are being battered. Rural Ireland is under sustained attack. Over the last 8 years almost half a million, of mostly young Irish people, have been scattered throughout the world.”

“Sinn Féin have shown that it doesn’t need to be this way. There are fairer alternatives. We seek a mandate to take our society and economy in an entirely different direction based on fairness, equality and decency. Our budget proposals have demonstrated how we can achieve a fair and equitable recovery which protects the most vulnerable and defends low and middle-income earners.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights has said the Low Pay Commission may be used to shift the debate about in-work poverty and low pay away from the political arena.   Speaking in response to the announcement that the Commission is about to begin its work, Senator Cullinane said:

“According to Eurostat Ireland has one of the highest percentage of low paid workers in the EU. The government has been in power for four years and has introduced some of the most draconian and harsh budgets since the foundation of the state.”

“The net result has been the decimation of public services and the impoverishment of thousands of workers. The failure of Labour and Fine Gael to join up the dots and make the connection between the politics of austerity, in work poverty, and the denial of workers’ rights is staggering.”

“Low pay is but one aspect of bad working conditions; control, fear, and a lack of respect are others. Women, young people and those with limited formal education or skills should not be subjected to Victorian era working conditions.”

“If the government was serious about dealing with low pay, a situation they themselves created, then why has it taken four years to do so. We have mountains of data on low pay from the CSO, the ESRI, and the OECD.”

“What workers need is an increase in the minimum wage, security of hours, and the government to sign up to the European Part-time- Working  Directive. They need the restoration of the JLC’s, trade union recognition, and employers to be legally obliged to engage with unions on pay and conditions.”  

“The Low Pay Commission allows the government to control the debate around in-work poverty, while at the same time distancing itself from the issue by way of the Commission.”

“The value of labour and the regulation of the labour market is a political issue that belongs in the political arena and requires a political solution. Ultimately this is about whether we want a society based on fairness, equality and decent work, or one built on exploitation, fear and low pay.” 

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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has called the reports of the loss of more than 60 jobs at Cadbury’s Tallaght factory as a shock to the community and said it will have wide ranging repercussions for the families of those losing the jobs and the local economy.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Cadbury-owner Mondelez has announced plans to close its gum production plant in Tallaght with the reported loss of over 60 jobs and that the plant will fully close next year.  It was only opened a short while ago, in 2006.”

“I am gutted with these job losses particularly as they are currently located in a community which really can’t take any more negative hits and job losses.”

“The continued departure of traditional industries and the manufacturing jobs they brought has had a devastating effect on Tallaght and its hinterland as they are not easily replaced.”

“SIPTU have announced that its members who worked in the plant were shocked to hear of the news and angry that their jobs are now being located to Poland.”

“Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, needs to explain if the Government had any advanced warning of these job losses and if they tried to do anything to stop them, or indeed if there is anything they can do at this late hour to stop them.”

“A fair deal for these employees must follow this announcement and the Government need to provide them with adequate supports and most importantly explain how they will replace these jobs.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill said today she raised the rise in rural crime in border areas with her counterpart agriculture minister Simon Coveney just hours before yesterday's bomb attack in South Armagh which left a young man seriously injured. 

Ms O'Neill said; 

“I spoke to Simon Coveney at a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council on the issue of rural crime in border areas only hours before the dreadful bomb attack on a South Armagh man by an organised criminal gang.

“There has been an upsurge in rural crime, particularly livestock and machinery theft, along border areas.

"I am also worried about the environmental impact which fuel laundering is having on rural communities. 

“I agreed with Simon Coveney to jointly explore further measures and means of co-operation to tackle these crimes in the time ahead. 

“Clearly the seriousness of yesterday’s attempted murder by a criminal gang reinforces the need for all of us in positions of responsibility to act to close down criminal operations in rural areas."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty has criticised comments made today by the Taoiseach justifying his salary of €185,000.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It is almost laughable the Taoiseach made these outrageous comments on the same day as the Low Pay Commission was set up.

“The Taoiseach, on a salary of €185,000 plus expenses is getting over ten times that of the minimum wage earner. He believes he is 'very much' entitled to his pay and that his salary has been ‘cut to the bone’. 

“The Taoiseach needs a reality check. A hospital system where people are lying on trolleys is ‘cut to the bone.’ People struggling to pay their mortgage are ‘cut to the bone’. Young people who cannot get a job in this country are ‘cut to the bone’. Those who are finding it hard to live on the minimum wage are ‘cut to the bone’.  

“A salary of €185,000 is not ‘cut to the bone’.

“Not only does this show the Taoiseach's failing grasp on reality, it also highlights a near contempt for those who are struggling to earn a living on wages which hardly pay the bills. 

“Our first Bill immediately after the election was a proposal to reduce the salaries of TDs, Ministers and the Taoiseach. In our alternative Budget we showed how we could save almost €4m a year by cutting salaries and perks in the Dáil. We proposed to reduce TDs pay to €75,000 and Senators pay to €60,000. 

“It was rejected by the Government. 

“The Taoiseach's comments betray an underlying attitude of entitlement and arrogance, exposing a gross ignorance as to the day to day struggles of ordinary Irish people, an attitude that is shared by both Labour and Fine Gael.”

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Senior Doctors in Letterkenny Hospital have expressed major concerns about the hospital's ability to allow them to do their jobs.  Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is deeply concerned as one consultant urologist has resigned and another consultant has said that he feels his resignation will be forced.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: 

“This gives the lie to Minister Varadkar's assertions that all is well and that we are doing more with less in our health service.  Due to continual cutbacks it appears that Letterkenny Hospital is dysfunctional at present. This is likely to become more so if senior staff are leaving.”

“On the one hand we have reports that there are attempts to shut down breast cancer services in Co Donegal and on the other we have Mr Kevin Moran resigning because he feels he is no longer being provided with the proper resources to treat patients.  He cited problems with a lack of beds, lack of access to operating theatres and the fact that his urgent appointment waiting list stretches to one year and four months.”

“The Minister needs to understand that cutbacks across the health system have fed into a vicious cycle causing the loss of valuable staff.  These cuts will prove much more costly in the long run.”

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Commenting today during the Oireachtas Health committee meeting on Rare Diseases with representatives from the HSE and the Department of Health and Children and the Genetics and Rare Disorders Organisation (GRDO), Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Children’s Affairs Sandra McLellan stated that the current waiting times for assessment by an appropriate special disease specialist were unacceptable.

Deputy McLellan said:

“The National Rare Disease Plan for Ireland 2014 - 2018 states that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 of rare disease patients wait over a year for assessment by an appropriate rare disease specialist.  Given that rare diseases require significant medical investigations with patients, and early diagnosis especially for children, I find this unacceptable.”

 “An appointment with a specialist should follow within 3 months of referral by a GP. And assessment should occur within 3 months, including genetic counselling for potentially affected family members in families where a genetic disease has been detected.”

“Dr. John Devlin, Chair of the National Steering Group on Rare Diseases correctly pointed out today during our meeting that 'Rare diseases in Ireland are not rare, they're common'. Indeed, Ireland has the highest incidence of Cystic Fibrosis in the world.”

“Early diagnosis and assessment is essential for the best possible chance in fighting any disease. I am calling on the Minister for Health and Minister for Children to urgently address the issue of excessive waiting times for children and adults with rare diseases.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has praised the Glasgowbury project in Draperstown for its innovative use of creative technologies in rural areas. 

Speaking after visiting the project Ms Anderson said; 

"The Glasgowbury music festival is known far and wide and was rightly recognised as one of the best festivals in Ireland. 

"Alongside the festival, Glasgowbury now offers a range of courses for young people including music, creative entrepreneurship, community arts and outreach. 

"I visited Glasgowbury alongside Francie Molloy and met with Paddy Glasgow, the man behind the project. 

"The centre is open 80 hours a week providing much-needed services in the Draperstown area. Thanks to funding from Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín they have also been able to purchase a van to help young touring bands. 

"What Paddy Glasgow and his team have achieved at Glasgowbury shows that it is possible to deliver first-class community services in rural areas. 

"This innovative approach means young people living in rural areas are able to access state-of-the-art services in their own communities." 

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