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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Nuacht

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said proposed reductions in public transport would have a huge impact on rural areas. 

The East Antrim MLA said; 

"Public transport provides a real lifeline to rural communities across the North. 

"For many people it is the only form of transport available and they really depend on it. 

"Reports that Translink could cut between 80 to 100 bus routes in 13 areas across the North is very concerning, particular for people in rural areas. 

"Removing the vital service from rural communities would increase isolation and result in people not being able to access a whole range of services. 

"I am calling on Translink and the Regional Development minister to ensure that services continue in rural areas and that any decision taken are rural proofed so that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to public services."

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the presentation of a business case for the expansion of Magee to the Minister of Employment and Learning Stephen Farry.

 Ms. McLaughlin said,

 “The expansion of Magee is central to the economic regeneration of the entire North West region so I welcome the fact that a business case for the expansion of the university his now with the minister.

 “This is the latest stage of the campaign to increase the number of students at the university and I hope the minister will now join with us in making this a reality.

 “The report commissioned by Derry City Council, University of Ulster, ILEX and campaigning group U4D highlights the benefits of increasing student numbers to the university over a ten-year period.

 “The transformation of the economic development of the region can be based upon the expansion of Magee and Minister Farry promised to scrutinise any business case brought forward.

 “The minister must now work with his executive colleagues to deliver a new beginning for the people in the North West by approving this business case and implementing its recommendations.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Leagan Béarla Thíos/English Version Follows.

Tá urlabhraí Shinn Féin ar Ghnóthaí Tuaithe agus Cúrsaí Gaeilge, an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh tar éis iarradh ar an Aire Oideachais athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar threoirlínte atá dhá bhrú ag an Roinn Oideachais ar na Boird Oideachais & Oiliúna (BOO) i dtaca le h-ionadaithe a cheapadh ar bhoird bainistíochta na scoileanna ina gceantar feidhme.  

Ag labhairt dó sa Seanad, deir an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh:

"Tá diongbháilteacht an rialtais nach féidir ach baill ó an BOO a chónaíonn i bhfoisceacht 20 ciliméadar do scoil a cheapadh ar an mbord bainistíochta ann go h-iomlán dodhéanta i gceantair tuaithe. In áiteanna cosúil le Conamara, áit a dtagaim féin as, tá formhór na scoileanna faoi scáth an BOO ós cionn scór ciliméadar óna chéile agus ciallaíonn sin go bhfuil formhór baill na h-eagraíochta dícháilithe ó bheith ar na boird bainistíochta ina gceantar BOO féin.

"Tá casadh eile ar an scéal nuair a thógtar scoileanna Gaeltachta agus Gaelscoileanna san áireamh. Tá fadhb ag formhór na BOOanna, a bhfuil scoileanna a mhúineann tré mheán na Gaeilge faoina scáth acu, maidir le baill boird a cheapadh a bhfuil Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu agus ansin iad siúd a roghnú do bhoird bainistíochta na scoileanna féin a fheidhmíonn tré Ghaeilge. Níl ag eirí leo dá bhrí sin, baill den BOO a chuir ar na boird seo ata ábalta a gcuid gnóthaí a dhéanamh i nGaeilge agus tá sé sin iomlán mícheart. 

"Ní bhaineann seo le costaisí ach an oiread de réir mar a thuigim. Tá comhleacaithe de mo chuid féin gur baill de BOO iad atá sásta ionadaíocht a dhéanamh ar scoil lasmuigh den limistéir ceadaithe gan aon chostas breise don BOO, mar tá spéis agus scil faoi leith acu a bheadh tairbheach sa gcomhthéacs sin, nó nuair atá Gaeilge ag teastáil, ach tá cosc orthu sin a dhéanamh mar gheall ar rialacha míphraiticiúla na Roinne. 

"Caithfidh an tAire tuiscint nach féidir an réiteach céanna a bhrú anuas ar phobail tuaithe, mar aon le ceantair uirbeacha agus gur gá athmhachnamh a dhéanamh ar sheasamh na Roinne ina leith seo. 

"Freisin, tacaím le prionsabal na gcuótaí inscne chun ionadaíocht na mban ag gach leibhéal de ghníomhaíocht an stáit a leathnú. Ach, tuigtear dom chomh maith go bhfuil seo ag cothú deacracht eile ar roinnt Boird Oideachais & Oiliúna, mar de thoradh na rialacha go bhfuil na húdaráis áitiúla ag cur brú ollmhór ar ionadaithe ban dul ar bhoird na BOOanna, in aghaidh a dtola, leis an gcuóta a chomhlíonadh

"Is léir domsa de bharr na ndeacrachtaí seo go gcaithfidh an tAire idirghabháil a dhéanamh láithreach le réiteach a fháil atá infheidhmithe agus praiticiúil chun cinntiú go ndéantar seirbhísiú mar is ceart ar scoileanna tuaithe, Gaeltachta agus gaelscoileanna agus go bhfuil na cuótaí inscne dhá chur i bhfeidhm ar bhealach indéanta agus cothrom'.

Department of Education guidelines on Boards of Management unworkable in Rural Areas - Ó Clochartaigh

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Affairs & the Irish Language, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called on the Minister for Education to review guidelines being imposed by the Department of Education on the Education and Training Boards in relation to appointments to the Boards of Management of schools in their catchment area. 

Speaking in the Seanad Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

"The government’s insistence that ETB members can only be appointed to the Boards of Management of schools within a 20km radius of their homes is totally unworkable in rural areas. In areas like Connemara where I come from most ETB schools are well over 20km apart and this would exclude members being on most school boards in their ETB areas.

"This issue becomes more complicated for Gaeltacht and Irish medium schools. Many ETB's have issues over the number of Irish speakers they have as board members, who can then be appointed to the Board of Management of Irish medium & Gaeltacht schools in their areas. Therefore, they are finding it impossible to ensure that there is ETB representation on these boards that can fulfil their duties through the medium of Irish and this is totally unacceptable.

"I understand that this is not an issue of expenses either. Colleagues of mine who are members of ETB's have indicated that they are willing to represent the organisation outside the allowable area at no extra cost to the ETB, if they have a particular skills set which would be of use to other schools and where the Irish language is essential, but they are precluded from doing so by impractical departmental regulations.

"The Minister needs to realise that the one size fits all approach is failing rural areas yet again and she needs to revise the department’s stance on these issues.

"I support the principle of gender quotas to increase female representation at all levels of state activity. But I understand also, that the gender quota on some ETB's is causing a difficulty, which is resulting in female local authority representatives being pressurised to go onto ETB boards against their wishes, to cover the gender quota necessity.

"These issues make it clear to me that the Minister needs to intervene immediately to find solutions that are practical to ensure that rural and Irish medium schools are properly serviced by their boards of management and that gender quotas are fulfilled in a practical and workable manner".

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Affairs & the Irish Language, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called on the Minister for Education to review guidelines being imposed by the Department of Education on the Education and Training Boards in relation to appointments to the Boards of Management of schools in their catchment area. 

Speaking in the Seanad Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

"The government’s insistence that ETB members can only be appointed to the Boards of Management of schools within a 20km radius of their homes is totally unworkable in rural areas. In areas like Connemara where I come from most ETB schools are well over 20km apart and this would exclude members being on most school boards in their ETB areas.

"This issue becomes more complicated for Gaeltacht and Irish medium schools. Many ETB's have issues over the number of Irish speakers they have as board members, who can then be appointed to the Board of Management of Irish medium & Gaeltacht schools in their areas. Therefore, they are finding it impossible to ensure that there is ETB representation on these boards that can fulfil their duties through the medium of Irish and this is totally unacceptable.

"I understand that this is not an issue of expenses either. Colleagues of mine who are members of ETB's have indicated that they are willing to represent the organisation outside the allowable area at no extra cost to the ETB, if they have a particular skills set which would be of use to other schools and where the Irish language is essential, but they are precluded from doing so by impractical departmental regulations.

"The Minister needs to realise that the one size fits all approach is failing rural areas yet again and she needs to revise the department’s stance on these issues.

"I support the principle of gender quotas to increase female representation at all levels of state activity. But I understand also, that the gender quota on some ETB's is causing a difficulty, which is resulting in female local authority representatives being pressurised to go onto ETB boards against their wishes, to cover the gender quota necessity.

"These issues make it clear to me that the Minister needs to intervene immediately to find solutions that are practical to ensure that rural and Irish medium schools are properly serviced by their boards of management and that gender quotas are fulfilled in a practical and workable manner".

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley has accused Irish Water of presiding over the effective destruction of the water service. He was responding to the latest revelations regarding the enormous capital budget available to the company.

Deputy Stanley said:

“While it is now admitted that the level of water wastage is approaching 50%, the amount being spent in Irish Water on addressing leaks and mains rehabilitation is actually lower than that spent annually prior to the decision to establish the new entity.

“Prior to the decision to establish Irish Water the state was spending on average €430 million a year on water infrastructure, including mains rehabilitation and leaks. Irish Water spent just under €300 million in the last year on capital works, despite wasting hundreds of millions of euro of public funds on meters and consultants and yet it has an enormous budget, which will amount to almost €1.8 billion between 2014 and 2016.

“When one adds to that, the fact that people will now be charged for water, there are serious questions to be asked. Irish Water has already accounted for nearly €600 million for a water meter programme they were advised by Bord Gáis was not needed, and on top of that have spent tens of millions more on bonuses for executives, legal fees and over €85 million in consultancy fees.”

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Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has called on Minister Alan Kelly to explain why his government ignored the advice of Bord Gais on the issue of water meters.

Deputy Stanley was speaking today after the This Week Programme on RTÉ Radio One revealed that Bord Gais questioned the need for Irish Water’s €540 million metering programme back in 2012.

He said;

“The latest lot of leaked documents reveal the shambolic process that took place in establishing Irish Water. The revelation that there are no minutes or even notes of  the majority of 23 meetings between senior Government officials and Bord Gais in mid 2012 is extraordinary.

“Major decisions would have been taken at those meetings as the establishment of Irish Water and how it would operate were discussed. The civil servants present and on occasions former Minister Phil Hogan was there supposedly to represent the citizens yet no records were kept of these.

“One meeting that there is a record of took place on 11 of May 2012. It is reported that at this meeting the government officials were stating and pressing the case for water meters and outlined that this was Government policy.

“Bord Gais questioned this and were in favour of flat charges or assessed ones. The fact that Labour and Fine Gael have now reversed back into the Bord Gais position after wasting most of the €539 million of public money on installing meters that are now redundant for at least four years is outrageous.

“Minister Kelly now needs to explain why his Government ignored the advice of Bord Gais particularly in view of the regular statements from government that Bord Gais was given the role of  establishing Irish Water due to its level of expertise. We also need an explanation as to why no records were kept of these important meetings.”

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Responding to the ‘Hidden Waiting Lists’ report in the Sunday Business Post this weekend, Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy and Party spokesperson on Health Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has stated;

“That citizens are being left for more than two years for an MRI scan is inexcusable.

“That the HSE has been withholding the facts regarding the reality of waiting times for outpatient services, that could inform life or death decisions, is intolerable.

“The HSE Director General needs to immediately come clean on these revelations.”

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has announced that his party will be seeking to petition the President not to sign the Water Services Bill into law if it is passed in both the Dáil and Seanad.

The President would be required to convene the Council of State to consider the bill under Article 27 of the Constitution if one third of the Dáil and a Majority of Senators sign a petition of concern after the bill has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Speaking today Senator Cullinane said;

“We in Sinn Féin, unlike the government, have genuinely listened to the people on this issue. We have been opposed to domestic water charges from day one and we are glad that the people have risen up so strongly against them.

“We have promised to do all in our power to oppose the introduction of these charges. Therefore, if both Houses of the Oireachtas pass the Water Services Bill this week we will then seek to petition the President under Article 27 of the Constitution.

“We have the petition ready to go and we will be inviting all Oireachtas members who are genuinely opposed to domestic water charges to support this action.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness told British minister David Cameron today the two governments must become fully engaged if a comprehensive agreement is to be achieved in the all-party talks.

Martin McGuinness said:

“I talked to the British prime minister today along with DUP leader Peter Robinson about the set of proposals agreed by the five party leaders on public finances and the potential for an agreement.

“These proposals require additional financial support and a commitment from the British government to deal with outstanding issues from the Good Friday and other agreements.

“A comprehensive agreement between the governments and the parties is what is required.

“Work is continuing between the parties on the outstanding issues of identity, parades and the legacy of the past but agreement has yet to be reached.

“There will be further talks on Monday and it’s important the two governments engage in this process if the talks are to reach a successful conclusion.

“Any agreement reached has to protect the most vulnerable in society, invest in building peace and reconciliation and welfare safeguards, deliver on outstanding agreements, grow the economy and enhance the working of the institutions.” 

Videos

Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


Photos

Senator David Cullinane speaks to media