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Responding to comments made by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny today, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said "the electorate will decide who is fit for government, not Enda Kenny’.

Teachta Adams said:

“Sinn Féin are not alone in its opposition to the use of non-jury courts. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have also criticised the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court. The former President, Mary Robinson, has also voiced her concerns, as well as prominent members of other political parties. 

“There is also an onus on the Irish and British Governments under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which was endorsed by the vast majority of people on this Island, to work towards the normalisation of policing and security matters, both North and South.

“Sinn Féin are of the view that the right of citizens to trial by their peers is a cornerstone of Republicanism. It was a core demand and outcome of the 1789 French Revolution and has been the hallmark of just legal systems for centuries. There is no place for special courts in a modern, democratic Republic. The Taoiseach clearly does not share that view.

“We recognise the potential threat to jurors, but it is the State's duty to introduce mechanisms to protect citizens doing their duty within the criminal justice system. It should do that, instead of denying citizens their human rights.

“The Taoiseach supposedly leads a Republic, he would do well to understand what that actually means. The electoral will decide who will lead a government not Enda Kenny.”

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said “Sinn Féin is the only party with a costed, credible plan for health.  We will increase investment in the health system and use €3.3billion of the money available to end the two-tier public private system and deliver a new universal public health system for Ireland.”

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Inequality is rife throughout the health system.  Some pay more than others for the same care.  Families in one part of the country get access to necessary services denied to those in a different region.  The less well-off die younger and live less healthy lives.  The diminishing minority who can afford private health insurance get to jump the queue.

“This is not acceptable.

“Sinn Féin is the only party with a costed, credible plan for health.  We will increase investment in the health system and use €3.3billion of the money available to end the two-tier public private system and deliver a new universal public health system for Ireland.  Such a comprehensive system will not be achieved overnight but a beginning must be made and that requires political will and a fundamental change in the direction of policy, away from the current two tier, increasingly privatised system.

“The immediate priority must be to improve access to care for all.  We need to build greater capacity into the system including recruiting 6,600 additional frontline health workers increasing the number of beds, more services in the community and 3,800 additional nursing home places to tackle the recurring trolley crisis.

“We will increase the mental health budget and complete the rollout of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses.

“We will eliminate private activity in public hospitals while replacing this revenue stream.  We propose to incrementally reduce and ultimately eliminate health user charges, from GP fees to charges for prescription drugs, all in a strategic way and as resources allow.

“Ireland is the only EU health system that does not provide universal access to primary care and Fine Gael have now abandoned their promise to extend free GP care to the entire population.

“Sinn Féin has a plan to roll out free GP care for all.  This will begin with the extension of automatic medical cards to every child with a serious illness or disability, secure medical cards for adults with disabilities and extending free GP care to the remainder of the population by approximately 230,000 additional people a year. We will also abolish prescription charges.

“We will maximise the potential of all-Ireland cooperation in the field of healthcare. As the only all-Ireland political party, Sinn Féin in government would be uniquely placed to maximise this potential.” 

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams, has said Enda Kenny’s legacy on Health is a litany of broken promises. He was speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's plan to deliver Universal Healthcare. 

Gerry Adams said:

“On the first day of the election campaign, Sinn Féin exposed the fact that Fine Gael was trying to cook the books and present the electorate with a manifesto that could not be delivered.

Yesterday, Fine Gael was exposed for trying to hoodwink the electorate on Health.

“Senior Government officials removed warnings by the HSE Director General in the 2016 Plan that the Health Service is facing its most difficult year in a decade due to lack of investment.

“In extraordinary comments in the media this morning, Health Minister Leo Varadkar claims that:

“‘What can happen in some hospitals is sometimes, when they have more beds and more resources, that kind of slows things down.””

“He said it means hospital staff "don't feel as much under pressure".

“So, the Minister is advocating hospital overcrowding. This again exposes Fine Gael's disgraceful attitude to healthcare.

“Enda Kenny’s legacy in health is chaos in emergency departments, elderly patients languishing on hospital trolleys for days on end, or waiting years for badly needed procedures, and children denied essential treatments.

“Under the Taoiseach’s watch Health has gone from bad to worse.

"Fine Gael's pledge to deliver universal health insurance has been scrapped. 

"Their pledge to reduce hospital waiting lists and A&E trolley has been broken.

"Their promises to deliver free GP care is gone. So is their promise to end prescription charges. It’s one broken promise after another.

“The health system is failing citizens because it is an inequitable two-tier, system as a consequence of the Government's clear objective of privatising it.

"As each year passes, people are paying more and getting less.

"Enough is enough. It's time Fine Gael were stopped in their tracks before they achieve their goal of privatising our health service. They simply cannot be trusted with our health service.

“Sinn Féin has a fully costed, deliverable plan for health based on the fundamental belief that citizens should be able to access healthcare as a right, on the basis of need.

"Patients deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That will be a key priority for Sinn Féin in Government.”

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Responding to comments Minister for Finance Michael Noonan made today on the USC, Pearse Doherty said:

“Fine Gael are living in denial that their figures still add up.

“Fine Gael proposals, represents a real tax break for the wealthy at the cost of ordinary workers and health and housing. Their proposals to include low paid workers in PRSI earning from €13,000 is unjust and unfair.  

“Sinn Féin have costed proposals to end the water charges, the family home tax and end USC for 277,000 workers. This would give a real break to the vast majority of workers. This is fair taxation and this will be the foundation of a fair recovery.

“Sinn Féin proposals on public services will deliver 100,000 homes, 3000 gardaí, free GP care and universal health care for working families.

“Today Michael Noonan said that people are wrong and not listening to him. The people have it right, they live with the effects of Fine Gael policies.

“Fine Gael need to come clean - will they continue with their plan for tax breaks for the wealthy at the cost of our public services?”

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In response to Fine Gael proposals on USC today, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:

“Fine Gael are in denial, their intention is clearly to deceive the electorate, just as they did with their bogus five plan in the last election.

“It appears that Mr Noonan will try and bluff his way through this campaign, however he has now been caught out and the people will not be fooled.”

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Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has said that the Labour Party is five years too late with its plan for rural development. Deputy Ferris also criticised the policy document, launched in Athy today, as “being completely election oriented.”

He said;

“The rural development plan, launched by the Labour Party today, is five years too late and completely election oriented.

“They are in Athy talking about recovery when everyone living in rural areas can see that emigration, unemployment and the withdrawal of services have caused great hardship.”

“The Labour Party has been part of a government that cut LEADER projects, cut rural transport, closed Garda stations, reduced GP care and ambulance service and failed to deliver rural broadband. Promises made by the Labour Party, in the mouth of the election, ring very hollow.

“Michelle O'Neill, the Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister in the North, has delivered for rural communities. A Sinn Féin Minister, in a progressive government in Dublin, would do the same.

“Sinn Féin has proposed a plan for rural Ireland and the west which includes the enactment of our Rural Equality Bill. We would ensure an end to policies which disadvantage rural areas, implement a micro-finance scheme for small rural enterprises and measures to encourage e-commerce."

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Our communities deserve better protection, more Gardaí – Dessie Ellis TD

Speaking after the horrific gun attack in Drumcondra yesterday, Sinn Féin TD for Finglas Dessie Ellis has criticised Fine Gael and Labour for allowing Garda numbers to fall so far under their watch.

Whitehall Garda station, across the road from where the shooting occurred, was recently closed due to government cut backs.

Sinn Féin has costed proposals to increase the number of Gardaí by 3,000 and to reverse the closure of Garda stations that have left hundreds of communities around Ireland at risk.

Deputy Ellis said:

“My thoughts are with family that has been bereaved, those injured and those who witnessed this appalling attack.

“This has been described as a gangland feud.  There can be no place in our society for these criminal gangs that terrorise our communities. The immediate need is to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. An Garda Síochána not only needs the support of the community in this, but also the resources from government to investigate.

“Garda numbers are still falling despite Government spin around recruitment reopening. Sinn Féin has costed proposals to increase the number of Gardaí protecting our communities by 3,000 in order to restore the force to 14,250.

“We would reverse the closure of Garda stations in our towns and villages. A Sentencing Council would be introduced to provide sentencing guidelines to the judiciary in order to maintain accountability and consistency in the sentencing of convicted criminals.

“It is crass electioneering from the Taoiseach to use this murder for a soundbite and attack on Sinn Féin.

It is clear that the continued operation of the special criminal court does not act as deterrent to these criminal gangs. We need to be proactive in preventing such criminal acts. 

This government has consistently starved the Gardaí of resources and closed Gardaí station and the justice system should not be further undermined by a government that has consistently under-resourced the Gardaí.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has today addressed anti-racism rally on O’Connell Street, Dublin.

Speaking at the rally Ms Boylan said:

One hundred years ago on this very location the Irish Republic was declared. 

A Republic that guaranteed religious and civil liberties, equal rights and equal opportunities.

Today just like then we are taking a stand against oppression, a stand against inequality. 

We are standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity to show that there is NO place in Ireland for racism and Islamophobia.

There is no place in Ireland for HATE.

We are a welcoming nation because we are no strangers to migration. 

We too have had our coffin ships, we too have been discriminated as immigrants, just like those who board boats today with no guarantee of survival so too did our ancestors. 

And just like those who flee for safety from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are victims of a situation not of their making so too were those who left Irish shores.

The rise of the extreme right across Europe is deeply disturbing but it cannot be separated out from the economic and foreign policies of the last two decades.  Facism and poverty go hand in hand. Just like Imperialism and refugees.

When resources are scarce, we have vulnerable communities pitted against each other.  Vile organisations like Pegida exploit this to whip up fear and anger just as their counterparts did in the 1930’s.

But while it is easy to point the finger at Pegida and Front National we must be extra vigilant for those far right parties that are slipping under the radar.

Pegida and Front National should be rightly condemned for their hateful doctrine but it was not them who set dogs and tear gas on refugee women and children in Hungary.  

That was Fidesz, a party that sits in the same centre right group in the European Parliament as Fine Gael.  It was not Pegida that painted refugee doors red and made them wear armbands. 

That was under David Cameron’s Conservative Party.

It was not Pegida that passed laws to seize belongings of refugees, that was Danish Social Democrats.

So as we rightly rally here today to protest against an Irish branch of Pegida, we must also be extremely vigilant to the insidious creeping of racist policy into the mainstream.

It is each and everyone of our responsibility to call out racism where and when we see it.  That includes discriminatory policies against travellers.

It is each and everyone of our responsibility to stand up and speak out wherever it raises its ugly head.  That includes on social media, public transport, our workplace and our schools.

It is our obligation to challenge the policies of austerity, to direct the anger in the direction of those who make the policy not those who are the victims of it.  It is our duty to oppose increasing militarisation and to stop the destabilisation of the Middle East in pursuit of oil and gas.

We cannot allow fascism and extreme right ideology to take hold in Ireland.   We must pull it out by its bitter, twisted roots.

And Just like in 1933 when the Blueshirts were sent packing with their planned rally, we too must send Pegida packing today.”

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Speaking in Dundalk this afternoon, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described Joan Burton's latest bout of policy doublespeak as “embarrassing” and has said Labour have abandoned working families.

Deputy Adams said:

“In Labour’s pre-budget submission before the last election, Joan Burton, as Labour Finance Spokesperson, favoured exactly the same income tax reforms for the top six percent of earners which Sinn Féin are proposing. Not content with being caught out with dodgy fiscal space calculations, the fact she is now an advocate for the highest paid earners to the detriment of ordinary working families is quite frankly embarrassing for a party that purports to stand for a fairer society.

“Today, Sinn Féin have set out our proposals to deliver affordable childcare that will ensure the cost of childcare does not exceed €180 per week in year one of a Sinn Féin led government, and will be reduced progressively to €150 per week by the end of a five-year term. Under Fine Gael and Labour, the cost of childcare is currently costing upwards of €275 per week.

“Labour want to perpetuate that unfairness. They want to ensure the tax system remains unfair and regressive, and as a consequence maintain the chaos they have created in health and refuse to address the housing crisis. We know their record when it comes to standing up for families. They promised before the last election not to introduce water charges and cut child benefit. In practice, they did both.

“Sinn Féin have a different vision. Tomorrow, we will set out our plan for universal healthcare, including delivering free GP care for all citizens at a rate of quarter of a million people a year, guarantee free prescriptions and end the two-tier access to healthcare.

“We are only party with a plan for fair recovery that will give working families a break by scrapping water charges and the property tax and take 277,000 workers out of the USC net, and the only party with credible costed policies to deal with the housing crises, to deliver affordable childcare and to deliver quality public services.” 

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Cllr Sarah Holland has welcomed the support for her motion in the South County Dublin Development Plan on increasing minimum build sizes by 15 sq metres.

She said:

“The minimum build sizes laid down by the Minister of Environment have been deemed unworkable by some professional bodies.  Further to this, they would represent a coup for developers, who would have free rein is squeezing high density units into our county.

Having rented myself for years, living in a shoebox size apartment is no walk in the park.

Do we really want to live in a society where we force people to live in tiny spaces?

We here in South County Dublin had to move families out of tiny two bed units in some parts of the county because they proved to be unliveable.

We need to look to the future of this county, and make sure it is the best place in Ireland to live & work.

Squeezing people into homes like sardines will not facilitate that.”

The motion was passed successfully.

Cllr Holland went on to say:

“Minister Kelly’s directive will override our Development Plan, but I wanted it to be on record that his minimum size requirements are not satisfactory.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said this morning that revelations in this morning’s Irish Examiner that senior government officials removed warnings made by the HSE Director General in the HSE’s 2016 plan that the health service is facing its most difficult year in a decade due to a chronic lack of money are “utterly shocking” and that Fine Gael has been caught once again trying to hoodwink the electorate.

Deputy Adams said:

“It is utterly shocking that senior government officials removed warnings from the HSE Director General that the health service is facing its most difficult year in a decade due to a chronic lack of funding.  

“On the first day of the campaign, Fine Gael were exposed as having cooked the books in relation to the fiscal space and today they have been caught out once again trying to hoodwink the electorate. It is clear that Fine Gael’s 2016 health plan is not worth the paper it’s written on.

“Fine Gael have failed to deliver on their election promise to deliver a completely new health service. We have had the highest numbers on trolleys since records began, the longest A&E waiting times in Europe, their universal health insurance plan ended in disaster and they failed to deliver free GP care.

“Tomorrow, Sinn Féin will set out a fully costed, detailed plan to end the chaos in our hospitals and deliver universal health care.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking in Cabra this morning said “Sinn Féin’s priority in government is to give working families a break. Childcare costs have gone through the roof over the last five years and Sinn Féin has a fully costed plan to deliver affordable, accessible and quality childcare.”  She went on to say “It is clear from recent days that the manifestos of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour need to be put in the bin as they have cooked the books and they do not have the money to deliver what they are promising.  We need an honest debate in this election.”

 Deputy McDonald said;

 “Sinn Féin’s priority in government is to give working families a break and our fully costed policies have been designed with that in mind.

 “Childcare costs have gone through the roof over the last five years and Sinn Féin has a fully costed plan to deliver affordable, accessible and quality childcare.

 “Unlike Labour’s childcare plan, ours is fully costed and workable. For too long governments have paid lip service to the notion of affordable childcare. After five years of Fine Gael and Labour in government we have yet to see them produce a plan which is realistic, affordable and accessible to all.

 “Sinn Féin will improve the childcare system in a number of different ways. We will make childcare more affordable by introducing a cap on fees at €180 a week, dropping down in time to €150.  As the current average cost of childcare per month is €1,100 this means that families will save up to €4,560 a year per child.

 “We would also introduce a six week extension to maternity leave, eventually increasing parental leave to 52 weeks over the government term.  We would also increase the rate of maternity benefit to paid mothers beginning with a use to €260 a week.

 “We wish to improve the quality of care also, to enable the progression of current childcare workers to level seven and eight qualifications.  This would be achieved by extending the learner fund by €80million over five years with the aim of having a 60% degree led workforce by 2025.

 “We will increase the capitation grants of the free pre-school year by €5 a week and we will provide an additional 1,000 Special Needs Assistants in Early Childhood Care and Education.  We will also extend the ECCE scheme to 48 weeks which means a further reduction the childcare bill as well as greater security to childcare workers on short contracts.

“We are serious about our commitments and we will deliver on them if we are given a mandate to do so.

“It is clear from recent days that the manifestos of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour need to be put in the bin as they have cooked the books and they do not have the money to deliver what they are promising.  We need an honest debate in this election.” 

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that “Fine Gael has been caught out cooking the books to inflate their spending plans”. The Donegal candidate went on to say that it is not good enough for Fine Gael to force our public services to rely upon a gamble that the EU will grant Ireland additional funding.

Pearse Doherty said:

“It is clear that Fine Gael has been caught out cooking the books to inflate their spending plans.

“Fine Gael are clinging to the hope that the EU will change their rules and provide an additional €1.5 billion spending power.  

“This from a government that was confident that EU would agree their plans to have Irish Water off balance sheet. Fine Gael and Labour were wrong then.

“Our public finances cannot be reliant on a bet on the EU. This is not good enough for our economy and our public services.

“There is a hole in the Fine Gael manifesto they need to make clear will they continue with tax breaks for the wealthy or cut funding for health and housing.

“Sinn Fein plans for a fair recovery are fully costed and not reliant on additional funding arising from the EU. That is the only financially prudent and responsible position to take.” 

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Sinn Féin Councillor and candidate for Dublin West Paul Donnelly has accused Tánaiste Joan Burton of making bizarre attacks on Sinn Féin as she becomes increasingly desperate to save her seat.

Speaking in response to Joan Burton’s comments today, Cllr. Donnelly said:

“Yesterday, Labour was exposed as getting their figures wrong on the economy and making promises that they could not deliver. While this approach may have worked in the last election, it is clear that electorate now see through labour.

“In a bizarre attack, the leader of the Labour criticised Sinn Féin proposals for greater tax fairness and stood up for high earners. This is the same party that supported the introduction of water charges and the family home tax.

“It is clear that the Labour leader is becoming increasingly desperate to save her seat.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs and Enterprise, Peadar Tóibín TD has criticised Fine Gael’s Job Document for failing to present the true extent of joblessness, which is 18% when those who are underemployed and on job activation schemes are taken into account. 

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Fine Gael's job document is high on verbiage and low on action. Once we get behind the melee of management speak we see that it is little more than a strategy of bargain basement Corporation Taxes. When the positive tide of the external economic factors recedes the Irish economy will again be left exposed.

“The Fine Gael document is not honest about the figures and does not address the underlying issues. The broad jobless rate which includes those underemployed and those on activation programmes is 18%, compared with the narrow rate of 8.6% based on the definition of employment as paid work of at least one hour per week. 

“Add to this the 140,000 people net who have left Ireland due to lack of work opportunities and we see that Fine Gael’s legacy is almost 500,000 people, or nearly 25% of the workforce who are the collateral damage of FG policies.

“Ireland has a significant imbalance in terms of jobs policy. 90% of exports are from FDI and Ireland’s indigenous enterprise sector is significantly smaller and less export able than comparable EU nations. This leaves Ireland dangerously exposed to external shocks.  

“In EU terms, the government is divesting from communications, transport and educational infrastructure. Key success factors in any competitive economy.  

“There needs to be a greater emphasis on indigenous SMEs by opening up procurement to small businesses, and maximising this annual €12 billion stimulus for domestic businesses. This should be part of a long-term commitment to building up Ireland's business environment through broadening Ireland’s narrow credit sector and reforming sheltered sectors such as legal services and upward only rent.”

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Deputy Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Catherine Seeley has commented after a shooting incident in Dill Ave, in Lurgan. 

Cllr Seeley said,

"Whatever the motivation behind this incident the is no justification for taking guns onto our streets. I condemn this outright.  

“This no doubt echoes the voice of the local community. Those responsible have endangered life in a built up residential area.

"I would call on anyone with any information or who saw anything suspicious to bring it to the PSNI. Those behind this attack need to be taken off our streets."

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Cllr Sarah Holland has pointed out that Fine Gael and Labour have been responsible for widening the gap between rich and poor in Ireland, and entrenching inequality into our health, housing and education systems.

She said:

“Fine Gael and Labour have effectively divorced social recovery from economic recovery.

The reason no one feels this recovery is directly because of the lack of investment into our public services.

The health service is in chaos, with people waiting months and years on surgeries, diabetes clinic appointments, occupational therapies.

Homelessness is now well beyond crisis point and the Minister for Environment has spectacularly failed to even stem the tide of families being shunted into emergency accommodation.”

Referring to the quarterly Dublin Economic Monitor report, Cllr Holland said:

“We can see a decrease in unemployment levels and correspondingly, more public transport journeys.

What we are not seeing is a reduction in rents or completion of new homes for employees to live in.

Many working families are faced with a huge cost of living in rent, childcare and bills and none of the effective public services which should be freely available in a rich country such as Ireland.

We are experiencing a two tier recovery, and we need to end Fine Gael and Labour misrule.”

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Speaking during a television interview for Near FM today, Sinn Féin candidate for Dublin Bay North, said that his priority for this election is the scrapping of water charges.

Cllr MacDonncha said:

“It is my priority and Sinn Féin’s priority to see the end to water charges. They simply are an unfair tax on people and should be abolished. That is what a Sinn Féin government would do and that is what I and my running mate Cllr Denise Mitchell stand for.

 “After that, my priority is to tackle the housing crisis. Sinn Fein’s housing policy envisages the provision of 100,000 social houses over the next 15 years. The answer to the housing crisis is to provide housing. It is very simple.

 “As a councillor I am dealing with people every day who are living in hotels or packed into small houses with family or friends. I find it hard to make representation on behalf of people and then go back to them and tell them that there are over 1,000 people ahead of them on the housing list.

“The reality is that this government does not have people as their priority, they have profit as their priority on behalf of the rich people they represent. I want to get elected to represent the people of this area properly.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said Sinn Féin will put forward amendments to the Employment Bill which ban the use of zero hour contracts. 
Mr Flanagan said; 
"Zero hour contracts have a deeply negative impact on workers’ rights, protections and employment practices. They are bad for the 28,000 workers who have them, bad for their families and bad for society.

 

"They also disproportionately affect women and unskilled workers, negatively impacting on individual human dignity and self-esteem.

"During a recent public consultation, the DEL Minister Stephen Farry acknowledged the negative impact of zero hour contracts for workers, yet his proposals to address this issue were totally inadequate. Sinn Féin believes that zero hour contracts need to be banned".

"The passage of the Employment Bill is an opportunity to address this abuse of workers’ rights and Sinn Féin have tabled amendments, which would prohibit the use of zero hour contracts. Inaction on this issue would be a massive missed opportunity.”

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Speaking at the formal launch of the Sinn Féin election campaign today, party president Gerry Adams TD said:

“Tá mé lán-sásta bheith libh go leir anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath inniú. Tá muid cruinnithe anseo chun tús a chur leis an bhfeachtas seo. Tá mé sásta go bhfuil an toghchán linn ar deireadh agus anois is faoi na daoine rialtas nua a roghnú. Bhí na cúig bliana deireadh an-chrua ar na daoine agus ní dhéanfaidh siad dearmad ar sin.

"Dúirt an Taoiseach nach bhfuil Sinn Féin in ann na figiúirí a chur le chéile ach inné thaispeáin sé nach dtuigeann sé a phlean féin fiú, mar níl plean aige. Tá sé ag cur an dalla mullóg ar dhaoine.

"Agus muid anois i mbliain cuimhneacháin 1916 tá seans ag gach saoránach sa toghchán seo athrú ollmhór a dhéanamh cosúil le céad bliain ó shin. Tá Sinn Féin ag iarraidh níos mó suíochán mar go bhfuil muid ag iarraidh athrú ceart a dhéanamh i saol na ndaoine.

"This in the first opportunity since the foundation of this state to elect a Sinn Féin-led, progressive, republican government, a government that will end inequality and unfairness. A government that will put the rights of citizens above the wants of the elites. A government that will work to unite the country, and deliver the promise of the 1916 Proclamation.

"Sinn Féin is fielding 50 candidates across the 40 constituencies. From Mizen Head to Malin Head, each one is fighting to win. Our candidates are representative of the communities we serve.

"I am proud to see women candidates and hope to see many returned as TDs. It is not enough for political parties to run women candidates. They also need to be contesting for winnable seats.

"Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have tried to dismiss Sinn Féin but they - the parties of broken promises - have been caught out at the very beginning of this campaign.

"They have tried to buy the election with election promises. Their sums don’t add up. They have been caught cooking the books. Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil should withdraw their manifestos. They are based on a lie.

"They are trying to claim credit for an economic recovery for which they were not responsible and the Taoiseach refuses to answer questions on this because, he claims, and I quote, “I am not going to get into economic jargon which the vast majority of people do not understand.”

"So there you have it. According to the Taoiseach the people are stupid.

"The reality is that the economy is benefitting at this time from global factors such as favourable interest rates, low oil prices and a weak euro compared to the Dollar and Sterling. Real economic growth has been driven by Irish SMEs and by Irish workers.

"Unlike Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have no real, long term plan for a sustainable recovery. Their political opportunism is based on boom and bust economics. Their election promise to end the USC wil disproportionately benefit the well off. The Taoiseach himself will be better off by around €12,000.

"They would give away half the money that should go to ending the chaos in health, introducing free GP care and prescriptions and building homes.

"Sinn Féin will secure a sustainable recovery and make it fair and equitable. We will support jobs growth across the regions including rural Ireland, support young people into work, SMEs and FDI and invest in the economy.

"Sinn Féin will deliver a fair recovery by scrapping Water Charges, the Family Home Tax and by taking 277,000 low-paid workers out of USC. We will build a universal health care system for all and invest properly in Housing and Childcare. Our proposals are prudent and responsible.

"We will use the current fiscal space to invest in health, housing and childcare. This will promote and sustain growth. Sinn Féin will secure a sustainable recovery and make it a fair one.

“We will also work with the British Government and with our Unionist partners in the North in a strategic and consistent way to implement the Good Friday and other Agreements, to consolidate the peace and to end divisions on this island.”

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