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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the Taoiseach to immediately establish a Commission of Investigation into the sale of NAMA’s Northern loan book, Project Eagle.

Teachta Adams said:

“For years now, Sinn Féin have raised concerns about the sale of NAMA's loan books, especially the sale and purchase process of Project Eagle. Both the Taoiseach and the former Tánaiste Joan Burton accused the Opposition of ‘conflating’ the matter. Deputy Burton actually described it as just a ‘Northern tale’. It is actually a national debacle.

“The sale and purchase process of NAMA’s Northern loan book has been the subject of serious allegations of a cosy cartel of insider trading, payments for the golden circle, and the payment of illegal fixer fees.

“NAMA previously claimed that its Northern Advisory Committee was not privy to confidential information regarding the sale. It has since been disclosed that the Committee discussed potential purchasers on at least two occasions before the loan book was sold at a huge loss to Irish taxpayers.

“NAMA’s Chairman, Mr. Frank Daly said he briefed Minister Noonan in full, including on the scandal of the £15 million fixer fee, which is totally irregular, and illegal.

“The Minister accepts this, but he failed to suspend the Project Eagle sale process or inform the Office of First and deputy First Ministers.  Again, the Assembly enquiry noted with regret this failure.

“In the public interest, the whole matter must be fully investigated to get to the bottom of allegations of wrongdoing and cosy cartels which has cost the Irish State hundreds of millions of euro. The Government should commit to the immediate establishment of a Commission of Investigation into the sale of Project Eagle.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has today reacted to RTE’s coverage of her question to the question on water charges and the EU derogation available for all Member States in the Water Framework Directive.

‘RTE are being utterly misleading in its coverage on this issue. The Commission have not in fact confirmed that Ireland cannot use the derogation and furthermore, it is also patently incorrect to insinuate that Ireland is the only country not to price water. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and France are all countries to have made use of the derogation.

‘Either their informant is leading them up the garden path or our state broadcaster is attempting to influence the debate with deliberately ambiguous information which could have come straight from the press office of Irish Water.

‘On the 7th of April I submitted a very straightforward question to the Commission to get confirmation that the derogation to not bring in water charging policies cannot be removed unless there is a change in EU legislation.

‘After exceeding the deadline by over three weeks and blocking the response due to pressure from the highest levels within the institution, the Commission has now been embarrassed into publishing a vague response after I published a press release on this political intervention yesterday.

‘It is clearly regretting its previous statements on this issue which has confirmed that Member States can still use the derogation and even that there is no specific requirement for cost recovery to rely on individual consumption. It is now grasping at straws and create confusion regarding so-called ‘established practices’.

‘It is crystal clear that Ireland’s established practice is to recover costs through general income tax. Irish Water and its water charges on the other hand have been in place for little over a year and moreover, entirely fail to cover any costs apart from billing! RTE’s claims that Irish Water is now our country’s ‘established practice’ are laughable.

‘Ireland still has the possibility to use the derogation from water pricing as many other regions and countries have done across the European Union. It is clear that cost recovery does not require water pricing, as is the case in Scotland.

‘If the Department of Public Expenditure and reform or the Department of Housing have even a single shred of legal evidence between them which proves the contrary, I urge them to publish it immediately.

‘I am more than happy to debate this issue with anyone from RTE, Irish Water, the European Commission or the Irish government.’

ENDS

NOTES: Full text of the question/answer:

Question for written answer P-002793/2016 to the Commission

Rule 130

Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL)

Subject:      Flexibility provisions in Article 9(4) of the WFD

Can the Commission confirm that unless the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is amended accordingly by legislative review, the flexibility provisions as set out in Article 9, paragraph 4, of said Directive remain available to Member States?

P-002793/2016

Answer given on behalf of the Commission

(31.5.2016)

Article 9(4) of the Water Framework Directive[1][1] provides that Member States shall not be in breach of the Directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of Article 9(1), second sentence, and for that purpose the relevant provisions of paragraph (2), for a given water-use activity, where this does not compromise the purposes and the achievement of the objectives of this Directive. If the established practice is to have a system in place implementing the recovery of the costs of water services, in accordance with the polluter pays principle, the Commission considers that the flexibility afforded to Member States as outlined in Article 9 paragraph 4 would not  apply.


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Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty will spell out the party’s opposition to austerity and Brexit from Europe at a peace conference in Paris tomorrow.

The West Tyrone MP will deliver a presentation on the current situation in Ireland at the 'World Conference for Peace and Progress' event organised by the French Communist Party (PCF).

Marisa Matias, MEP, GUE/NGL Vice President, Bloco Portugal, Sia Anagnowstopoulour, Greek Minister of Education and Stefan Bekier, Poland will be in attendance. 

Speaking before the event Pat Doherty Doherty said:

"Sinn Féin is committed to a democratic, just and equal Ireland in a democratic, just and equal Europe.

“This conference offers us the opportunity to promote our view of national independence and reconciliation on the island of Ireland and to work together with other progressive forces across Europe.

“I will be spelling out our opposition to austerity and Brexit and promoting social justice, human rights and freedom for all our peoples." ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will this week launch a specifically commissioned legal opinion on the repeal of the 1998 Human Rights Act in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Speaking ahead of the event on Wednesday, Ms Anderson said,

"Although we have been working on this for months, with the confirmation in the English Queen's speech earlier this month that "proposals will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights", this issue has become even more relevant.

"The Human Rights Act is a central piece of legislation for the Good Friday Agreement and the Tory threat to this has caused deep concerns among human rights activists and indeed Sinn Féin.

"Any repeal of the Human Rights Act would be detrimental to the Good Friday Agreement which is underpinned by the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The legal opinion that we obtained in conjunction with GUE/NGL will be launched this week in the European Parliament in Brussels and the lawyers from Kevin Winters Law and Doughty Street Chambers who worked on the opinion, will present their findings.

"We have launched and distributed this opinion in Belfast, in Westminster and now in Brussels and we will continue to discuss this at every possible avenue in an attempt to protect the human rights of all." ENDS

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Speaking this afternoon Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire called on Minister Katherine Zappone to ensure that the concerns of staff at the Oberstown child detention facility are heard, and that this issue is brought to a resolution as soon as possible.

The Cork South Central TD said:

“No one takes the decision to strike in the heat of the moment. It is evident that the staff feel very strongly about the current situation in Oberstown, and their concerns should be heard. I once again call on the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs to see to it that the issue of safety concerns, for both staff and residents of the Oberstown facility, is dealt with as a matter of priority, and in a timely fashion. This is in the interest of all involved in this dispute.

“I note the Minister is meeting representatives tomorrow in the WRC. She must realise that the staff in these centres are very committed and dedicated to assisting young people in need of high support.  This is evident from SIPTU’s statement this morning which said its members emphasised their desire to maintain high standards of care while the industrial action is taking place.

“Staff who are members of SIPTU and IMPACT have raised issues, both personally, and through their respective unions, for over 15 months now. These included issues of health and safety, for both the staff, and the young people, who are housed in this facility. The safety of all persons should be of paramount importance to the management structures of Oberstown. A safe environment should be a given when working in any sector. The management must engage with the staff in an attempt to resolve their grievances.” 

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Sinn Féin T.D. for Cavan Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has expressed his sympathies to the parents and families of two new born babies who tragically passed away in Cavan General Hospital in the past week.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“Some very unfortunate outcomes have come to light in terms of expectant mothers in the past week at Cavan General Hospital. There is nothing yet to suggest anything remiss took place in relation to the service provided at the hospital and we cannot therefore assume the same domain as earlier cases going back this number of years.

“All facts need to be established before any conclusions are reached.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the parents at this most upsetting time and also with those other families who experienced such personal tragedies.

“The issue of confidence needs to be addressed and this can only be done by the conclusion and publication of all previous investigations regarding the maternity services at Cavan General Hospital.

“I call on the new Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. to arrange for full transparency regarding these previous cases of adverse outcomes and  to ensure that all maternity units and midwife led facilities report monthly on their respective performances, as committed to by his predecessor, the former Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar T.D” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

 

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has today said that any money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau must be ringfenced and invested in communities worst affected by drugs and crime.

Deputy O’Brien said:

“We have always maintained that assets seized by CAB must be ring-fenced and invested in communities worst affected by drugs and crime.  

“We support CAB seizing criminals’ assets, but it must be acknowledged this government has taken money out of the Gardaí and we do not want to see changes or expansions of CAB measures used as a fig leaf to say they are tackling the problem.

“A mini-cab cannot be used to replace funding that has been withdrawn by successive Fianna Fail and Fine Gael governments.

“There must be increased investment into the marginalised communities. Organised crime will never be eradicated unless the root causes of it is addressed; including inequality, drug use, poverty, poor housing, low education standards and so on.

“In addition to increased Garda and CAB resources, youth diversion programmes, employment schemes and initiatives based on ‘what works’ alongside community policing must be implemented using the funds seized by CAB.

“Sinn Féin will be strongly urging the Minister for Justice to ensure that this happens.”

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Teastaíonn i bhfad níos mó tacaíocht do dhaoine le néaltrú, a dteaghlaigh agus na pobail in Iarthar na hÉireann ina gcónaíonn siad, dar le Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

Ag labhairt dó i ndiaidh freastal ar chomhdháil in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh dar teideal ‘Maireachtáil le Néaltrú faoin dTuath in Éirinn’, dúirt Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar – Maigh Eo Theas:

‘Tá néaltrú ag dul d’ós cionn 48,000 duine in Éirinn, 10% acu sin ina gcónaí san Iarthar. Meastar go n-ardóidh an figiúir náisiúnta go 150,000 faoi 2040.

‘I measc na h-ábhair buartha a tugadh aníos ag an gcomhdháil bhí an easpa oiliúna san earnáil sláinte chun an néaltrú a aithint go tráthúil, infreastruchtúr iompar agus cumarsáide lochtach, easpa acmhainní agus tacaíochtaí sóisialta dóibh siúd atá ag fulaingt agus a gclanna agus an iomarca úsáide a bheith dhá bhaint as drugaí frith-síocóiseacha, go h-áirithe i dtithe altranais.

‘Caithfear i bhfad níos béime a chur ar dhul i ngleic leis an stiogma a bhaineann le néaltrú, ar thacú le daoine fanacht ina dtithe féin agus chun pleanáil dá dtodhchaí féin ó thaobh cúrsaí cúram, dlí agus airgeadais di. Ní mhór don Rialtas seasamh lena gcuid dualgais féin ina leith seo tríd forálacha an Achta um Chinnteoireacht Cuidithe 2015, a chur i bhfeidhm ina iomláine.

‘Ní mhór cur leis na tacaíochtaí cúram baile agus athchóirithe tí atá ar fáil, maraon le cuidiú leo siúd a dtagann an néarú orthu go luath agus nach bhfuil incháilithe do thacaíochtaí mar go bhfuil siad faoi 65 bliain d’aois.

‘Caithfear tacaíocht agus oiliúint bhreise a chur ar fáil do dhochtúirí teaghlaigh freisin chun cuidiú  leo an néarú a aithint in am tráth, mar gur ceist casta atá ann agus níl cuid de na tástálacha coigníochta a úsáidtear feiliúnach ná críochnúil go leor ina gcuid torthaí.

‘Tá brú damanta chomh maith ar eagrais a thacaíonn leo siúd a bhfuil Nearú ag dul dóibh, a gcúramóirí agus a gclanna, ó thaobh an ró-éileamh ar sheirbhísí agus caithfidh an Rialtas níos mó a dhéanamh chun cabhrú leo’.  

‘Beidh Sinn Féin ag vótáil sa Dáíl an tseachtain seo chun coiste uile-pháirtí a bhunú le straitéis sláinte 10 mbliana a leagan amach agus caithfear an cheist seo a chur san áireamh ansin. Chuige sin, chas mo chomhleacaí agus urlabhraí Sláinte Shinn Féin, Louise O'Reilly TD le Alzheimer's Ireland chun plé a dhéanamh ar an mbealach is fearr chun comhoibriú leis na ceisteanna seo a bhrú chun cinn.’

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform David Cullinane has said that the Government spin before and since the election on keeping the recovery going is becoming ever more insulting as they prepare to implement more austerity measures on households already bearing the brunt of the past five years.

Deputy Cullinane said Fianna Fáil were as culpable as Fine Gael due to their decision to prop up the minority government, regardless of the cost to the Irish people.

The Waterford TD said:

“Fine Gael lost their mandate in the election, but Fianna Fáil saw fit to prop up the minority government in an effort to control both government and opposition. In my eyes, they are as culpable for all of the new austerity measures that the government are preparing as Fine Gael themselves. They are pursuing their own agenda, regardless of the cost to the Irish people.

“It is clear from the Ministerial briefings of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that there is no intention of deviating from the austerity policies of the previous government, despite the rejection of those policies by the majority of the electorate.

“The new playbook reads very much the same as the last. The proposed measures, which include; scrapping the Half-Rate Carer’s Allowance for new entrants, introducing a type of pathway to work scheme on a par with the discredited one in Britain, raising the student contribution fees to €4,000, and talk of phasing out the Back to Education Allowance and Community Employment, all smacks of the previous government’s slash and burn tactics in public services and social welfare that caused so much harm and hurt in the past.

“We are faced with more of the same, despite Fine Gael being punished by the people. They may smile and say the recovery is well on track, but there is no difference in their approach to reckless cuts and callous withdrawal of services.  Fianna Fáil should look hard at the price of their agenda.” 

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David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights, has called on the government to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee report on low pay as a way of tacking the substantial pay inequalities that exist in terms of women.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“Women make up the majority of those who are low paid and in casual/precarious employment. This includes analogous workers who are technically private sector but who provide comparable public service work as childcare workers, carers and home help.

“We need a real strategy to tackle low pay. There is a need now more than ever to deliver the recommendations of the Joint Committee report on low pay, decent work, and a living wage.

“It is telling that there is no initiative to tackle low pay or a living wage in the Fine Gael / Independent Programme for Government – nor is there any mention of these issues in the Fine Gael- Fianna Fáil ‘Supply and Confidence’ document.

“This is despite the fact that a key finding of the Joint Committee was for the next government to set a target to halve the number of workers affected by in-work poverty within their term of government.

“There is nothing in the present arrangement to suggest that a ‘new politics’ is upon us. What we have are slogans and marketing

“I call on this government to fully implement the findings of the 2015 Joint Committee report into low pay, decent work, and a living wage.

“This would be a real marker as to whether we are in a world of new politics or just old spin.”

 

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Sinn Féin TD and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald will accompany the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Declan Kearney, Sinn Féin MLA and party chairperson, as part of a Sinn Féin delegation visiting Flanders at the invitation of the Flemish government.  They will also visit the Somme Battlefield.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The battles of the First World War and the battle of the Somme in particular hold a special significance for the unionist community. 

“Tens of thousands from the unionist community fought in these battles, as did tens of thousands from the nationalist community. 

“Great numbers from both traditions lost their lives in this imperialist war.

“We are sensitive to and recognise the importance the commemorations of the Battle of the Somme have for unionism.

“Such commemorations represent a part of the complexity of our shared histories.

“We are undertaking this visit as part of a process of building understanding and reconciliation amongst all of our people on this island and in a spirit of reconciliation between the differing traditions in the North.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney is seeking an urgent meeting with Seagate to discuss job losses at its Derry plant. 

Mr McCartney said; 

"News that Seagate are planning to make up to 70 workers redundant came as a blow to the economy in Derry. 

"Seagate is one of the largest employers in Derry and has been in the city for more than 20 years but unfortunately, due to global pressures on the technology industry, it is experiencing financial difficulties. 

"Management in Derry need to work with the employees and make sure their rights and entitlements are protected and that they are kept updated during the process. 

"I have been in contact with Seagate, both in Derry and internationally, to discuss the job losses in Derry to see what can be done to support the workers and jobs in the city."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of a report she wrote, encouraging the European Union to ratify the World Health Organisation’s Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

MEP Anderson’s report was passed with huge support in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and will now go to plenary for final ratification.

Speaking after the vote, Ms Anderson said,

“The passing of my report this afternoon marks the next step taken in the fight against the illicit trade of tobacco products.

“Tobacco products, both illicit and legal, cause unfathomable harm to the health and well-being of citizens. Smoking has recently been identified as the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the north of Ireland.

“On top of this, the illicit market in tobacco products costs the north £450 million each year. The Irish border is cynically exploited by criminals for the smuggling of tobacco products and several other goods. 

“My report calls on the European Union to ratify and enforce the World Health Organisation’s protocol on the illicit trade in tobacco products. When ratified this protocol would see countries collaborate in the fight against the illegal trade in tobacco products.

“Currently, as the result of a dubious legal settlement, the tobacco industry is responsible for regulating itself. It is up to big tobacco to track and trace their own products. This is obscene as the tobacco industry has been found complicit, on a number of occasions, of actually promoting the illicit trade in their products, presumably to get people hooked on them.”

Speaking after the vote, MEP Anderson concluded;

“When this protocol comes into force, the tobacco industry will have to relinquish control of the tracking and tracing of their products.  In fact, no aspect of the fight to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco would be delegated to the tobacco industry.

“It is vitally important that the EU takes the lead in fighting the illicit trade in tobacco products. Ratification of this protocol would amount to a first step in the right direction.

“It would massively reduce the control the tobacco industry has over its own affairs and establish a viable tracking and tracing mechanism in the spirit of collaboration and information sharing.

“On this, the World Health Organisations “World No Tobacco Day”,I welcome passing of this report and I look forward to bringing this report to a plenary session in Strasbourg where it will hopefully be approved and ratified as soon as possible.” ENDS

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan will lead a Housing delegation to the European Parliament in Brussels tomorrow, Wednesday.

Speaking before the delegation departed from Dublin Airport, Lynn Boylan said:

“Tomorrow I am leading a delegation to the European Parliament where we will discuss the Housing Crisis in Ireland and hear about the experiences of others throughout the EU.

​"The EU Commission has previously confirmed that the Irish Government has never raised the housing crisis in Ireland in the European Institutions and while our delegation will listen to other European speakers, it will be important to make very clear that the austerity policies demanded by the EU and implemented by Fine Gael ​​are having a huge human cost in Ireland​

“The delegation travelling to the European Parliament​ will include representatives of a number of agencies and interested groups working in and around the housing sector in Ireland. Those joining us will include representatives from Focus, Simon, Mercy Law, FLAC, the Inner City Helping the Homeless group, Community Law, Traveller Groups as well as a number of public representatives including Kathleen Funchion TD.

“We are also delighted that Erica Fleming, a prominent campaigner on the issue of homelessness, will be joining us for this visit to Brussels.

“The delegation will hear speakers from Europe discuss Housing as Human Right and the effects of Housing Crises with the resultant evictions and suicides. A representative of the European Commission will address the delegation. 

“Our discussions will also include topics such as the Housing Crisis and Rent Certainty as well the availability of EU Funding for Housing.

“I am hopeful our visit to Brussels will bring a new angle to the Housing and Homelessness discussions taking place in Ireland and that we might learn from the experiences of others in Europe.” 

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney, MLA, has said it is now clear the Brexit campaign is completely bound up with divisions in the British Conservative Party and has nothing to do with concerns about economics or democratic reform.

He said:  
"In recent days over 600 economists have repeated the widely held view that a Brexit would have catastrophic economic consequences for GDP, investment, trade, and household incomes.

"The knock on effect for the North will result in a loss of billions of Euros in farm subsidies, inward investment, and Peace, Intereg and Social Fund programmes. In recent years 10% of the 6 counties' GDP has been linked to European transfers.
"However, with more evidence emerging that those supporting a Brexit within the Tory party are now challenging David Cameron's leadership, by focusing in on the immigration issue two things are clear:  Brexit has become a proxy for fighting out deep seated divisions in that party; and, the debate on immigration itself is actually about a narrow right wing agenda which is about 'keeping foreigners out'.

"The Tory party's infighting has nothing to do with citizens in the North.  The economic and political future of this region, and Ireland as a whole, should not be made hostage to these negative agendas.

"The fallout caused from a Brexit will leave the North exposed to greater levels of austerity, economic uncertainty, and potential political instability.

"Ireland's place, North and South is in Europe.  The interests of local businesses, farmers, workers, and wider society must not be subordinated to divisions among right wing Conservatives and narrow English nationalists."

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan is dealing with the ongoing dairy crisis on an ad hoc basis and is failing to recognise the deteriorating nature of a sector in trouble.

A member of the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament, Carthy said,

“Last week the Commission announced that it was looking at increasing the ceiling for buying-in of skimmed milk powder to 350,000 tonnes, which is more than triple the initial offering, just five months into this year. The Commission had not envisaged reaching this ceiling until 20th September 2016.

“This figure stands in stark contrast to the mere 40,000tn that was offered into EU intervention for the entire year of 2015. We are a million miles away from the pronouncements in advance of the abolition of quotas when the commission, the Irish government, banks and processors were predicting sustained growth for the sector and encouraging farmers to invest heavily on that basis. It is those farmers who took that advice who are now in the deepest trouble.

“The Commission continuously refers to a number of ‘temporary’ measures being used to alleviate this crisis, however, when I asked what indicators were being used to determine when those measures would lapse, or what conditions would have to be present for them to be extended, the Commission has completely failed to answer.

“This shows a Commissioner attempting to deal with the crisis on an ad hoc basis, effectively hoping that the situation will resolve itself with the passing of the summer season.

The Midlands North West MEP added,

“In addition, the Commissioner is refusing to cooperate to find a solution to the postponement of the superlevy fine for 2016. The payment of these fines is causing serious cash flow issues for dairy farmers already struggling to make ends meet.

“Despite Ireland recently calling for the postponement of the superlevy fine for 2016 and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reporting that the average superlevy fine still outstanding is in the range of €10,000 per dairy farm, Commissioner Hogan provides a pitiful excuse that as the legal basis for the regulations underpinning the scheme are no longer in existence, it is not possible to implement this suspension.

“Both of these scenarios show the complete inadequacy of the Commissioner's response thus far to a crisis that shows no signs of improvement, as well as unwillingness to acknowledge the depth of the problem.”

ENDS 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and serving Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’ Sullivan to outline their knowledge of the clandestine meeting between John McGuinness TD and Callinan, prior to Maurice McCabe giving evidence in the PAC.

 Deputy McDonald said:

“This meeting happened in a carpark, in secret, according to John McGuinness, with the specific and clear intention of undermining or perhaps even defaming or slandering Maurice McCabe. We need an immediate response from the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on this issue.

“We also need to know from John McGuinness what was it that the former Commissioner wished to say to him, as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, in respect of this man. We need to know did Nóirín O’ Sullivan have any knowledge of these matters – she was after all within the senior ranks and appeared beside the former Commissioner when he came forward to give evidence to our committee.

“As member of the PAC, I am conscious that there was no appetite within the system to have Sgt Maurice McCabe appear before us as a committee. So when John McGuinness says that he was fearful of derailing that process I think there was merit in that concern.

“However given the nature of the information given to John McGuinness, it should have been brought to the attention of O’Higgins. Serious questions remain and I’m calling on all the people concerned to issue statements on the matter. I would also advise that they would called before an Oireachtas Committee to answer questions on what is a very serious issue which desperately needs clarity.”

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Beidh FPE Liadh Ní Riada ag reachtáil comhdháil sa Bhruiséil ar idirdhealú agus éagsúlacht teangacha san Aontas Eorpach amárach.

Ag labhairt di roimh an chomhdháil dúirt Liadh Ní Riada:

"Tá éagsúlacht iontach de theangacha san Aontas Eorpach. Tá imeallú á dhéanamh ar chuid acu, áfach. Tá ról mór ag an Aontas Eorpach chun cearta na dteangacha ar fad san Aontas Eorpach a chosaint agus chun a chinntiú go dtugtar cothrom na féinne dá lucht labhartha laistigh de chreatlach an AE.

“Leis an gcomhdháil seo atá ag teacht beidh deis ann plé a dhéanamh ar chearta agus ar a bhfuil le déanamh le cinntiú go gcosnófar cearta teanga san Aontas Eorpach. Tugadh cuireadh do mheascán cainteoirí Gaeilge, Catalóinise, Breatnaise, Baiscise, Briotáinise chomh maith leis an Ungáiris sa tSlóvaic agus sa Rómáin.

 “Ó lucht na Gaeilge beidh:  Coimisinéir Teanga Ronán Ó Domhnaill, stiúrthóir abhcóideachta Conradh na Gaeilge  Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Liam Ó Maolaodha ó Oireachtas na Gaeilge, Maitiú Ó Coimín ó Tuairisc agus an craoltóir Páidí Ó Lionáird.

“Ciorrófar forbairt cearta lucht labhartha na dteangacha éagsúla mar aon le hidirdhealú teanga, le roinnt samplaí ó na tíortha ar fad a mbeidh ionadaithe ag freastal chun léargas a thabhairt ar na deacrachtaí atá ann agus ar na cearta atá bainte amach ag lucht labhartha teangacha neamhfhorleathana. Beidh muid ag cíorú an leor na cearta atá againn faoi láthair agus an bealach is fearr chun cur leo.

“Cuirfear deireadh leis an chomhdháil le moltaí le haghaidh éisteacht de chuid an Choiste Cultúir ar dhul i ngleic le hidirdhealú teanga san Aontas Eorpach. Tá mé ag súil le plé oscailte macánta agus le bearta a thiocfaidh as éisteacht a bheidh beomhar eolasach.”

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has called on Minister Coveney to respond to concerns raised by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on housing and water provision for homeless people in Cork.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The UN rapporteurs wrote to the government last September expressing concern that about the homeless situation in Cork.

“They also expressed a concern that there did not appear to be any free access to water and sanitation services.

“This is what happens when access to water is based on affordability.

“Access to clean water is a human right and the water charges seek to commodify this essential right.

“The rapporteurs also asked the government to state if the state’s National Housing Strategy complies with the obligation to take steps to the maximum of its available resources to realise the right to housing.

“Unfortunately in this state, there is no constitutional or legally established right to housing.

“Sinn Féin and the Mercy Law Centre, amongst others, have recently called for a Right to Housing to be enshrined in the Irish Constitution.

“This right would provide those experiencing homelessness with a basic floor of protection and would ensure that state policies would reflect and respect this right.

“Minister Coveney should take the time to respond to the concerns raised by the UN rapporteurs and provide them with the information sought.

“He must outline his government’s approach to both the provision of water and sanitation services for the homeless population and the timeline for realising a Right to Housing.” 

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Sinn Féin councillor Mary Ellen Campbell is set to become Belfast's first ever openly gay deputy mayor. 

Speaking ahead of her election, the Castle Sinn Féin councillor said; 

 "My election as deputy mayor of Belfast in a few days’ time will be a significant step forward for equality.

"Visibility will be my theme for the year and visibility in elected office is vital to promote positive messages and demonstrate public commitment to equality.

"I am a woman. I am openly gay. I am a republican ex-political prisoner and I am from a working class community. I experience the challenges that many marginalised citizens face in Belfast.

"I intend in my year in office to highlight and put a focus on the rights and needs of the gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"In this centenary year of the 1916 Rising it is important that we affirm its democratic, equal and inclusive commitments. My election as an openly gay deputy mayor is a very good modern example of these commitments."

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