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Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has called on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, to meet with the Board of City of Derry Airport and to play an active role in supporting the airport.

Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile;

"Last week I met with representatives of the Board of the airport who are enthused and focused in their efforts to see it develop and grow. Recent investment by the Executive and ongoing financial support from Derry and Strabane District Council has seen major opportunities open up for route development and overall growth for the airport.

"I put it to Minister Patrick O’Donovan, who represented Shane Ross today, on the floor of the Seanad today that Derry’s airport is a fundamental national economic asset and must be afforded the modest support it requires in order to help bolster the economic outcomes for the Northwest Region and the rest of Ireland.

"The airport itself is ideally located between both the Wild Atlantic Way and the Northern Coastal Route and over 40% of the Airport’s passengers already come from Donegal. It makes economic and social sense that the Irish government would assist in efforts to see the airport flourish and grow. The net benefactor will of course be the Irish economy and people both north and south especially those living in the north-west.

"I welcome the commitment to meet with myself and my colleague Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn on this matter where we will raise the need for support for Derry airport and its many benefactors in Ireland’s tourism sector.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA and Economy Committee member, Caoimhe Archibald, has expressed concern at the devastating impact the loss of funding as a result of an exit from the EU will have on the community and voluntary sector.

The East Derry MLA said:

"Today the Economy Committee heard from the Clanrye Group which is primarily a training organisation for people with disabilities and other 'hard to reach' groups.

“They presented to the committee on the range of projects they are involved in, and the important outcomes these projects have for those with disabilities and their families.

"They outlined how their projects are primarily funded by the European Social Fund and expressed deep concern at the future prospects for funding and how the current uncertainty is affecting the sector.

"The Clanrye Group and organisations like them right across the community and voluntary sector, provide an invaluable service to our society which is hard to quantify financially.

“The current inability to plan for future projects is having a very negative impact on these organisations and the loss of funding if an exit from the EU materialises will be devastating.

"These concerns need to be heard by everyone across the political spectrum, and some clarity provided around the future of all funding streams.

“The vote of the majority who opted to remain in the EU needs to be respected in order to protect these vital funding streams."

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said a proposed parade on Friday night in the Crumlin Road area was aimed at raising tensions, damaging community relations and provoking confrontation.

Gerry Kelly said:

“The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) is planning to hold a march this Friday night in opposition to the agreement between the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) and the three local Orange lodges.

“There are many genuine people who are exercised about the issue of Orange parades. But there are also people associated with GARC who don’t want a resolution to parading and who are associated with anti-peace process political parties.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view we need less evening parades, not more. 

“The proposed GARC parade is clearly aimed at raising tensions, damaging community relations and provoking confrontation.

“Our community does not need any more of our young people ending up in prison as happened following a similar parade some years ago.

“Sinn Féin believes the agreement is a huge step forward.

“It represents the best opportunity to resolve an issue once and for all, which has plagued this community over many, many years.

“I am calling on all political parties to support this agreement.

“If GARC genuinely had the interests of this community at heart they would withdraw the parade immediately.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary, Teachta Carol Nolan, has raised the issue of new legislation for victims of Domestic Violence with the Taoiseach in the Dáil this morning. Teachta Nolan has called for both the Domestic Violence Bill and the Victims of Crime Bill to be published as soon as possible.

Teachta Nolan said:

“I welcome the confirmation by An Taoiseach that the Domestic Violence Bill will be published this term.

“Having met personally with members of Offaly Domestic Violence Support Services, I know that this issue is of huge importance to those working in the sector.

“This legislation is long overdue and aims to improve the protections available to victims of domestic violence as well as helping victims through the court process.

“Figures from Safe Ireland state that I in every 3 women experience severe psychological violence while 1 in 4 experience sexual or physical violence at the hands of their partner.

“Figures from the same organisation state that over 12,500 women and children have received aid and support from a domestic violence organisation.

“While women are most commonly affected by domestic violence, I am aware that growing numbers of men experience domestic abuse.

“It is vitally important that we have robust legislative provisions in place to provide supports to all victims of Domestic Violence and I am calling on the Government to publish both the Domestic Violence Bill and the Victims of Crime Bill as soon as possible.” 

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Sinn Fein TD for Limerick and party spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan has said he is alarmed at the ongoing crisis at Limerick University Hospital and at the delay in opening the new emergency department.

The Limerick City TD said:

“We need to know what the Minister is going to do about this and when the new Emergency Department (ED) will open.

 “The people of Limerick and the surrounding regions are entitled to a decent health service, but they have been repeatedly let down by successive governments. 

“The onus is on the Minister to explain the factors behind this latest delay and to provide an update on the progress or otherwise of the ED recruitment drive.

“The operational framework in the UL Hospitals Group Plan 2016 states that UL Hospitals will need to reduce total staff numbers in 2016 to achieve the financial targets contained within the Acute Hospital Division Operational Plan.

“As it stands, there are not sufficient skilled staff available to operate the existing equipment and the service is running at half capacity. This delay results in bed blocking.

“This shambolic situation cannot be allowed to continue and delay the opening of the new Emergency Department.  

“My intend to hold the Minister to account on these issues and ensure the new Emergency Department is opened without further delay and that it is fit for purpose.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has expressed concern about Government plans to lower the corporation tax rate for small companies to 6.25%. Speaking during debate at the Oireachtas Jobs Committee on the Knowledge Development Box Bill 2016, Deputy Quinlivan said:

“This Bill which is aimed at small companies will reduce corporation tax to a rate of 6.5% on profits from intellectual property resulting from research and development.

“I am perplexed by legislation which seeks to reduce corporation tax at a time when this issue is under increased scrutiny both at home and abroad. 

“Internationally and particularly at  European level there is growing consensus that corporations must pay their fair share of taxation – and that to date they have not done so.

“I find this bill very odd and, quite frankly, I suspect it is merely a mechanism to open another loophole whereby corporations can avoid paying a just rate of tax.

“It is unclear what the point of this legislation is and why SME were not included in the Finance Bill 2015.

“I am also worried about the confidentiality provisions in the legislation as their inclusion poses serious obstacles to accountability and transparency.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed a £80,000 resurfacing scheme for the Foreglen Road.

The East Derry MLA said:

“I welcome the announcement of this resurfacing scheme by my party colleague and Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard.

“The Foreglen Road serves as a main route between the North West and Belfast, carrying up to 11,000 vehicles on a daily basis.

“The scheme will be of great benefit to the local community and will help improve transport connections for people, goods and services.

“Work is due to start on Monday 3rd October, with completion planned for Saturday 29th October.

“Motorists should be aware that delays may occur and that additional time should be allowed when planning any journeys.”

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Sinn Féin’s Defence Spokesperson Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh has paid tribute to Irish navy personnel whose deployment in the Mediterranean has saved the lives of countless refugees fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking during parliamentary questions this week in the Dáil when he asked Defence Minister Paul Keogh to confirm the LÉ James Joyce’s replacement now that its mission in the Mediterranean was coming to an end.

The Dublin South Central TD said:

“The humanitarian mission being undertaken by our navy in the Mediterranean has resulted in the recovery of more than 12,500 migrants whose desperate plight in war torn countries has forced them to make the hazardous journey to Europe.

“I welcome the Minister’s statement that the LE Samuel Beckett been deployed to the Mediterranean to replace the LE James Joyce’s and I wish the crew all very best as they embark on what is a very challenging deployment.

“Our navy’s role is even more important in the wake of the deal signed between the EU and Turkey that is forcing increasing numbers of people to take the more dangerous Libya to Italy route. 

“In light of the increased militarisation of the EU Frontex mission and escalating NATO operations in the region, it is important that we steadfastly refuse to participate in these military missions now or at any time in the future and that instead we must remain fully committed to search and rescue missions.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will speak at a public meeting in Omagh on Friday evening to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on agriculture. 

Speaking ahead of Friday night's meeting in Creggan, Ms Anderson said; 

"There is widespread concern among the farming and agricultural community about the potential impact of Brexit. 

"I travelled throughout the North and have spoken to many people involved in the agriculture and agri-food sectors.

"There is a great deal of anxiety about the future of the industry, particularly in terms of funding, if Britain presses ahead with its plans to drag the North out of Europe. 

"I will be speaking at a public meeting organised by Sinn Féin in the Creggan Community, Omagh on Friday at 7pm alongside my party colleague and fellow MEP Matt Carthy. 

"I would encourage as many people as possible to attend to discuss their concerns and make sure their vote to remain is respected."

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has stated that it is important for An Garda Síochána to detail and explain the reasons for conflicting reports from the CSO in relation to the recording of crime and the reporting of crime figures.

Speaking from Leinster this afternoon, Deputy O’Brien said;

“Today, we have been presented with two conflicting reports from the CSO in relation to the reporting of crimes and the reporting of crime figures.

“A significant portion of crime reported last year was not recorded on the Pulse system.

“Furthermore, approximately a third of reclassified serious crimes were downgraded without any justification being recorded on Pulse.

“It important that An Garda Síochána outlines the reasons for these issues so that the public can have confidence in the published crime figures. It is also important because these figures will have an influence when it comes to the allocation of resources.

“We will be calling on the Minister for Justice to request that Garda Síochána address this matter as soon as possible.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has said a panel of redress should be set up to meet the needs of victims and survivors of child abuse. 

Ms McCann said; 

"I have met with victims and survivors of child abuse on a number of occasions to discuss their concerns.

"Sinn Féin has consistently supported the call from victims and survivors, and from experts, to establish a panel to redress the needs of the groups and individual victims. 

"Such a panel would involve emotional support, counselling services, access to records and material support in order to help address the hurt of the abuse they suffered. 

"Victims and survivors should also be involved in shaping the work of a panel of redress in order to make sure it adequately meets their needs."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed EU moves to change FARC's international classification in recognition of the peace deal to end the decades long conflict in Colombia. 

Ms Anderson said; 

"I welcome the historic peace accord between FARC and the Colombian government which brings to an end one of the world's longest running conflicts. 

"Sinn Féin have been involved in assisting and promoting the Colombian peace process for many years. 

"The international community have a responsibility to encourage the peace process in Colombia as it continues to develop. 

"EU moves to remove FARC from what it calls its 'terror' list are a welcome step in building international support for the peace process. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to support efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in Colombia."

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central has criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for "turning his back on a chance to scrap water charges".

Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate on the Sinn Féin motion proposing the abolition of water charges, Deputy O' Laoghaire said;

"By declaring that Fianna Fáil will not vote in favour the Sinn Féin motion, Micheál Martin is turning his back on a chance to scrap water charges once and for all.

"Fianna Fáil and Deputy Martin have tied themselves up in knots by spinning their every- changing position on water charges. The reality is that Fianna Fáil cannot be trusted on this issue.

“A majority of TDs in the Dáil now support the abolition of water charges. There is no need to waste more tax payer’s money on a so called expert commission on the matter and there is no need for a special Oireachtas committee to consider its recommendations.  

“The motion Sinn Féin has put forward this evening, signed by other Right2Water TDs, is simple. ‘Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to abolish household water charges and fund investment in water and sanitation infrastructure through progressive taxation’.”

"No matter what the leader of Fianna Fáil says, there is an opportunity this week to force the government to introduce the necessary legislation to abolish domestic charges once and for all.

"Many voters in Cork voted for Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil candidates on the back of their position on water charges, and they will hold Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin to account should they follow through and vote against the motion on Thursday following today's debate in the Dáil."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed news that a controversial drilling operation at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus has stopped. 

The East Antrim MLA said:

“It is great news that Infrastrata are no longer interested in exploratory drilling in the forest.

“I would like to congratulate the Stop the Drill campaign for conducting their campaign with dignity and keeping within the law.

“I have contacted the Economy Minister to ask him to immediately withdraw the drill licence granted to the Woodburn site.

“I have also called on him to change and regulate the criteria for future licence applications. There needs to be better public and community consultation.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, has said that Budget 2017 must show fairness to citizens with disabilities, their families and carers, saying “the people involved are real people, with real potential. A person with a disability should have the same rights as everyone else.”

Teachta Adams said:

“The Programme for Government commits that ‘persons with disabilities should be supported to maximise their potential, by removing barriers which impact on access to services, education, work and healthcare’. That’s the rhetoric. The reality is different.

“In 2011, the Taoiseach said disability services would not be cut, but then savagely cut these supports.

“In my own constituency of Louth and east Meath, the impact of those cuts is evident, particularly for the 5,000 citizens of Louth with an intellectual disability.   

“There is a programme called WALK PEER which I have raised here many times. It enables young people with a disability to access opportunities in mainstream education, training and employment within their communities.

“It was one of the fourteen Disability Activation Schemes jointly funded by the Department of Social Protection and the European Social Fund, until funding was withdrawn in a move that made no sense whatsoever.

“This year’s budget is an opportunity to correct some of these injustices and the government should outline the steps it is going to take in this year’s budget to address the urgent need for real support for citizens with disabilities, their families and carers.” 

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Sinn Féin TD and party spokesperson on water Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on all the TDs that were elected to the 32nd Dáil on an anti-water charges platform to support Sinn Féin’s motion calling for the abolition of the charges this evening.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Now that Fianna Fáil has abandoned its long standing support for the domestic water tax there is an opportunity this week to force the government to introduce the necessary legislation to abolish domestic charges once and for all.

“A majority of TDs in the Dáil now support the abolition of water charges. There is no need to waste more tax payer’s money on a so called expert commission on the matter and there is no need for a special Oireachtas committee to consider its recommendations.  

“The grubby deal struck by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to return Enda Kenny to the office of Taoiseach deferred a decision on water charges for nine months. The tens of thousands of people who took to the streets of the capital two weeks ago didn’t vote for the suspension of water charges. They voted for the abolition of the charges. 

“The motion Sinn Féin has put forward this evening, signed by other Right2Water TDs, is simple. ‘Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to abolish household water charges and fund investment in water and sanitation infrastructure through progressive taxation’.” 

“The lack of domestic water charges is not the reason why there has been historical under investment in our water services. For decades successive governments neglected to invest in our crumbling water infrastructure, even when there was plenty of exchequer funding available. Fianna Fáil’s failure to support our motion will lead to more uncertainty about the future provision of water services in this state and shows that they cannot be trusted on this or any other issue.

“Sinn Féin has a plan that provides for future capital investment in our water infrastructure that will also maintain Ireland’s zero water poverty rates and prevent future privatisation of water services. We need to scrap charges, bring water services fully into public ownership, and commit to a ten year capital investment programme funded through general taxation.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary Carol Nolan has today called on Irish Water to intervene to resolve ongoing issues with the sewerage system in the Ballyclare Road area of Ferbane. The Deputy was speaking after a meeting was held on the issue on Monday night last.

Deputy Nolan said:

“The residents of Ballyclare Road and Ferbane have had to put up with ongoing problems with the sewerage system for over a year.

“Some of the residents have had to move out of their houses due to the strong odour arising from nearby manholes.

“I have raised this issue with Irish Water on numerous occasions and I am aware that it has tried to resolve the issue through a number of methods.

“Unfortunately, to date, none of these have been successful and some residents complain that the issue has got worse.

“Irish Water must immediately intervene with a long term solution that will address this issue once and for all.

“Removing the sewage by road to a treatment plant or the extension of a pipeline to Ferbane must be considered.

“The residents have put up with this issue for too long and it needs to be resolved.” 

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said it is a disgrace that a law compelling the Courts Service to set up a register of personal injuries actions is still sitting on the shelf twelve years after it was passed because of a lack of IT support.

In a parliamentary reply to Deputy Doherty Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that Section 30 of the Civil Liability Act remained inactive because of IT support issues.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The issue of data and the lack of transparency has been cited by many experts as one of the causes of the massive jumps in the cost of insurance. Yet here we have a provision passed by the Oireachtas to do exactly what is needed in providing greater transparency and data and it is gathering dust. The section was designed to prevent misleading claims and therefore keep prices down.

“The Minister’s response is pathetic. If the Courts Service is not funded sufficiently to meet its legal responsibilities then it should get greater funding. Telling the Courts Service to put a system in place ‘as soon as possible’, is a cop out given it is now twelve years since the law was passed.

“The non-implementation of this section was picked by former head of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board Dorothea Dowling as one of the things that could be done to help drivers get a better deal from insurers.  The lack of transparency only helps the insurance industry spin excuse after excuse for its own failings.”

QUESTION NO:  97

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)

by Deputy Pearse Doherty

for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 27th September, 2016. 

 

 *  To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to commence Section 30 of the Civil Liability Act 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

                                                            - Pearse Doherty

REPLY.

  • Section 30 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that the Courts Service shall set up and maintain a register of personal injuries actions. The Courts Service has advised that to establish and maintain such a register for all court jurisdictions, accessible by members of the public, requires the development of an appropriate IT support system and I am informed that there is no IT support system in place at present. The Courts Service is being requested to examine the requirements, including system development and resource issues, needed to enable the commencement of Section 30 of Civil Liability and Courts 2004 Act as soon as possible. 
  • The Courts Service currently publishes in their Annual Report statistics on incoming personal injury cases, personal injury cases resolved by court and out of court and provides data on the financial categories of awards granted.

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Speaking after the meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture in Leinster House this evening on the subject of the appointment of the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland for a third term, against government guidelines, Deputy Martin Kenny, Sinn Féin spokesman on agriculture said:

“The minister’s response to our questions is to shift all responsibility for this very irregular appointment to the board of Horse Racing Ireland.

“Minister Creed avoided answering the initial question I posed to him about the business case, said to have been put forward for the reappointment of Brian Kavanagh and which he says he was led to believe was approved by the board of HRI.

“It now transpires this business case does not exist and so this begs the question: what was the motivation of the minister for this reappointment? 

“He told the committee this evening that there was a letter referring to a long-term development plan for Horse Racing Ireland, which he is now using to justify his approval of the reappointment.

“The Committee members, including myself, have asked to hear from the board of HRI and I look forward to their assessment of this situation. I believe that the minister has more questions to answer.”

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Today in the Dáil, Deputy Martin Kenny spoke about Sligo County Council’s financial crisis which he raised as a Topical Issue.

Deputy Kenny said that Sligo County Council’s plan is unworkable and that services are being cut, “but the people of Sligo have as much right as those in any other county in Ireland to services such a libraries and roads in good repair.”

Deputy Kenny said: “The people of Sligo pay property taxes and when they go to build a house they pay development charges and they deserve the same services as people in every other county.

“The people of Sligo did not run up this legacy debt,” he said, referring to the so-called “surplus” being taken out of the budget every year to deal with debts. 

“This is money that is not being spent locally, it is being taken out of the shops and local businesses where it would have been spent. Next year this surplus is to go to €3.4 million and the following year to €4 million. It is totally unworkable. It is not as if we have huge economic development or growth West of the Shannon. We have not, we have a crisis in fact following Brexit,” he said.

Deputy Kenny went on to tell the Dáil that when funds were made available to alleviate flooding last year, Sligo County Council had to hire 12 people because it did not even have the staff to deal with that crisis.

“I would implore the Minister to sit down with the elected Sligo county councillors and review this plan to find a workable solution.”

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