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Sinn Féin launch a 'PEOPLE'S PACT'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to 80,000 people from all across Ireland traveled to attend.



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Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has questioned the existence of the government’s National Integration Strategy.  Speaking during debate on the issue Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:  

“After a series of calls to the Minister’s office I eventually established that a National Integration Strategy, as in a formal policy document does not exist.

“In light of this, I think it’s fair to conclude the government’s integration policy amounts to an event here and there, and a lot of empty rhetoric.

“The reality is that nothing has changed for the almost five thousand people doomed to the ongoing nightmare of Direct Provision.

“And nothing has changed for the estimated thirty thousand undocumented people living and working in Ireland.

“The entire Direct Provision project is a costly and inhumane disaster and should be immediately phased out.

“Sinn Féin would begin the immediate phasing out of the system over a twelve month period.

“In the interim, oversight of the system should be given to the Ombudsman for Children and to the Office of the Ombudsman, with immediate effect.

“The Public Accounts Committee should be given responsibility for oversight of all financial transactions relating to the system.

 “There should be an immediate move to self-catering as this would give some degree of dignity and autonomy to residents.

“Let us at least have the basic decency not to pretend that some fancy integration policy with all the right buzz words is a sign of our commitment to justice and fairness when it comes to asylum seekers and non EU immigrants. 

“If we are to take ourselves seriously as legislators then there is an obligation on us to deal with the structural and institutional underbelly of immigration. 

“It is disingenuous of us to pretend we care about abuses of human rights while at the same time we utilize the full rigours of the state to introduce draconian immigration legislation.”

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Following on from his Leaders Questions on Tuesday in which he raised concerns about the care of citizens with intellectual disability in the Redwood Care facility Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has repeated his call on the Taoiseach “to establish as a matter of urgency a fully Independent, root-and-branch inquiry into all care facilities for citizens with intellectual disabilities in the State”.

The Sinn Féin leader made his call in a letter to the Taoiseach today and following the publication of two further highly critical HIQA reports into care centres.

Teachta Adams said:

“This morning HIQA published a report into Áras Attracta in County Mayo highlighting major non-compliance issues. This is despite this centre being the focus of an RTE Prime Time programme last December.”

“This afternoon HIQA published a report into the Health Service Executive-run St Peter’s Care Home in Castlepollard which found thirty-six breaches in the care  of residents with intellectual disabilities, major non-compliance with regulations and significant deficits in safety and the quality of the service provided. One resident had four incidences of unexplained bruising.”

“Yesterday at Leaders Questions, I raised the case of the Redwood Care Centre in Stamullen.”

“The December report by HIQA into Redwood, and the additional information I received from families of former residents of the care home, reflects many of the concerns reported in today’s two HIQA reports. This includes worries about allegations of ill-treatment of residents, unacceptable gaps in care and facilities.”

“In its December report, HIQA said that there had been ‘a significant denial of the civil, legal and human rights of citizens’ at Redwood and that ‘residents at Redwood have also been subject to a severe deprivation of liberty and freedom of movement’ including a ‘locked-door policy’.”

“I believe immediate action is required. The Taoiseach should immediately move to establishing a fully Independent, root-and-branch inquiry into all care facilities for citizens with intellectual disabilities in the State.”

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Commenting on Minister Alan Kelly's announcement of housing measures, Sinn Féin Cllr. Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Chairperson of the City Council Housing Committee stated:

“Minister Alan Kelly's measures are too little too late. The targets set for reducing Council waiting lists, such as the 21 per cent for Dublin City Council, should have been set and funded as a starting point when this Government took office in 2011.”

 “Instead the Fine Gael/Labour Government has allowed the crisis to grow to massive proportions and now, in their last months in office, they are trying to scramble to catch up. They are still relying too much on the private sector to deliver.”

 “At the same time they are doing nothing to provide rent certainty and address the spiralling rate of rents which is forcing people into homelessness, especially in Dublin. We will continue to press for real delivery on the primary means to solve the housing crisis which is the funding of Councils to provide housing.” 

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Sinn Féin Francie Molloy has said the advent of new super councils brings powers more directly to the people.

 Speaking as the new councils officially came into operation Mr Molloy said:

 “Sinn Féin’s approach to RPA has been underpinned by the Republican principles of democracy and equality.  

 “We demanded the Review of Public Administration (RPA) delivered a system which would bring decision making powers closer to the people and make administration more efficient, effective and responsive.

 “Given the extra powers devolved local government needs to deliver a wider range of quality services in a timely and equitable manner for the ratepayers from which it serves.

 “Powers were stripped 40 years ago from unionist-dominated gerrymandered councils which had abused their powers and discriminated against the nationalist community.

 “As republicans we must ensure that the new councils become models of equality, inclusivity and partnership.

 “We also must ensure they deliver to the people on the ground and we empower every household to have the confidence to bring forward their ideas so that local government doesn’t become a one-way street.

 “The new councillors have their work cut out. However each and every one of Sinn Féin councillors are relishing the challenge of helping to improve the lives of local people by working hard on the ground for their constituents.” 

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Speaking today, Sinn Féin TD and Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley has described the water conservation grant as little more than a carrot compared to the stick of fears of cut off to supply, increase charges and other idle threats that this government has made since the introduction of water charges.

 He also criticised the double registration for the water conservation grant, saying that the government is forcing households to jump through hoops to regain money from taxes they have already paid.

 Deputy Stanley said:

 “People are not going to be fooled by the governments bluster when it comes to trying to convince the people that signing up for water charges is in their best interest. This government has continually made idle threats as to what will happen if you don’t sign up for water charges, first to cut off your water and, most recently, to deny you the water conservation grant. Considering that we are now facing your fifth deadline for registration, it is clear this government is scrambling for a hold on the situation.”

 “Now we learn that there are more hoops to jump through when it comes to receiving the grant, a separate registration process with the Department of Social Protection has now been put forth. No doubt this will add further cost to the already obscene amounts of money wasted on Irish Water and will also draw PPS numbers back into the debate. We must have clear guidelines as to the demarcation between the Department and Irish Water when it comes to processing the grant.”

 “A grant that is little more than the government taking more tax money out of the system and calling it a reward for conservation. This is merely adding to the cost of Irish Water to the state and denying tax revenue to vital public services. It is this kind of financial mismanagement that is consigning sick patients to hospital trolleys and families in mortgage distress to the streets. ”

 “Sinn Féin would abolish Irish Water and domestic water charges. We would not be taking tax revenue from the people with one hand and giving it back with the other while claiming this was some form of conservation initiative. This is nothing but a sweetener to allay protest. Charges are going to rise; that is certain. We cannot allow the government to pull the wool over our eyes on this issue.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD this morning expressed Sinn Féin’s “firm and unequivocal support for the Dunnes Stores workers who will be on strike tomorrow.”

During Leaders Questions, the Sinn Féin leader made clear Sinn Féin support for the Dunnes Stores workers and the party’s support for the introduction of a living wage for workers.

Speaking afterward, Gerry Adams said:

“The application of zero hour contracts, and the imposition of low pay rates are sources of great hardship for working families. They damage any hope of a real recovery.”

“The intransigent attitude of the management at Dunnes Stores is at the root of tomorrows strike. Dunnes workers have been left with no option but to engage in industrial action in an effort to secure fair pay and secure hours.” 

“They, and the 129,000 low-paid workers in this state, deserve certainty about their hours of work and income. They deserve secure jobs and they should get fair pay. And their right to trade union representation should be respected. Four years after Labour and Fine Gael came to power the Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, which will allow for collective bargaining rights, has still not been published.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said accused the Government of attempting to buy votes with a giveaway budget later this year.

Deputy Doherty was speaking today as the Fiscal Advisory Council gave its support to the campaign for more budget flexibility.

Deputy Doherty said;

“It is well documented, by the Fiscal Advisory Council and others, that the real pressures on the economy are in the areas of health, education and pensions.

“However, pumping money into these areas does not win votes as quickly as cutting income tax levels.

“That is why, rather than seeking to address the real areas of concern in our economy, Enda Kenny and his Government are preparing to cut the higher rate of tax later this year in a giveaway budget designed to buy votes ahead of the upcoming general election.

“And he has the cheek to continually describe Sinn Féin as a populist party.

“I fully support the call for more flexibility in our budget but where Sinn Féin differs with the government is on how we use that flexibility.

“The priority should be to address the problems of under investment in our public services and then and only then should we be looking at cutting taxes beginning with the most regressive taxes first.

“That is why Sinn Féin’s commitment is to quality public services and the scrapping of the property tax and water charges.  That is how we would put money back in people’s pockets.

“This government wants to start at the top, cutting the top rate of tax for high earners while leaving in place the flat taxes that impact most on those with low incomes such as the property tax and water charges.

“That is the choice now facing the electorate in the coming election.  It is a choice between a Fine Gael led government that prioritises high earners or a Sinn Féin led government that prioritises on the basis of need.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada received cross-party support on the European Parliament Budgets Committee for her Opinion on Green Growth opportunities for Small and Medium enterprises.

Ní Riada said:

“Green growth is a way of putting economic growth on a sustainable footing, while looking after our environment. Small and medium enterprises drive our economy and employ hundreds of thousands of workers, and we need to ensure they can benefit from green growth opportunities.

“I have secured widespread support for my proposals, which call for increased access to credit and funding for SMEs that wish to ‘green’ their operations or products, greater supports for community-based SMEs and social enterprises involved in renewable energy supply, and increased coordination between agencies, funds and programmes.

“I began a consultation process with the SME, social enterprise and green economy sectors early this year, and having heard from stakeholders, I understand that access to finance, and the absence of social welfare and tax benefit supports are huge worries for many entrepreneurs. We need to move towards a situation where enterprise, especially at a community level, is encouraged, facilitated and adequately supported.

“The Budgets Committee supported my inclusion of social enterprises, cooperatives and micro-enterprises in the document. Micro-enterprise is often a vital first-step for entrepreneurs, and for many families, particularly in rural areas, provides a much needed secondary source of income. It is important that they also be facilitated in benefitting from green growth opportunities.

“Social enterprises, commercial community initiatives and cooperatives are going from strength to strength in Munster and South Leinster, particularly in the areas of energy supply and food production. These enterprises, with their community-based ethos are well placed to not only benefit from, but actually drive green growth. I will continue to work with this growing sector and ensure they are included in future European initiatives.

“Sinn Féin are pro-growth, but we believe that economic growth must benefit the people, not the small elite that have benefitted in the past. Green growth presents an appropriate model for this kind of economic growth, and the EU has a role to ensure that SMEs and social enterprises can lead movements towards a sustainable and ecological recovery."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said that he welcomes the pledge of support from Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to support the dairy farmers through the transition after the lifting of EU quotas.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “Many farmers in the North are already prepared for the change as this has been on the cards since 2003 but will now face more competition from other EU countries.

 “While many farmers have already found a level of production to suit their businesses some others have not and will need help through the initial stages.

 “I welcome the announcement from the minister that she will support the industry as much as possible, especially her dialogue with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan over the intervention price for milk.

 “I also believe that the opportunities presented can make the industry more competitive as new markets open up, particularly in the Far East.

 “The minister has helped open up new markets right across the globe and dairy farmers need to be ready to take advantage of these markets.

 “The agri-food industry here is amongst the world leaders in providing quality food and I believe that we can benefit from this move.”

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