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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said that people living with learning disabilities and their families have been let down over many years by the Western Trust.

Speaking during an Assembly debate on the issue the East Derry MLA said:

“Those living with learning disabilities and their families have been let down over many years.

"This underspend has resulted in a lack of services to support for those with learning disabilities and their carers.

“We now need to listen to what advocacy and support groups and others are telling us about the type of care and support services that are needed, and to work to deliver on those.

“This underspend must be redressed with investment.

“Families need to know that support is there for them and their loved ones as they get older, and young people who are currently struggling to cope with learning disabilities need to have hope they will have support into the future." ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Carol Nolan TD has today called for clarity for cross-border students in light of the recent Brexit vote.

Deputy Nolan said:

“A recent joint report on student mobility by the relevant Departments both North and South show clearly that there is significant student cross border mobility at present.

“1,745 full-time undergraduate applicants in 2013/14 to Higher Education Institutions in the North were from the south, while 1,375 of the student applicants to Higher Education Institutions in the South were from the North.

“Brexit could have a serious impact for students from the north and Britain, who could be charged higher fees to attend third level in this jurisdiction.

“The treatment of students from the north as ‘international students’ for the purposes of third level fees would be unacceptable and is yet another clear reason for a border poll to be carried out as soon as is practicable.

“It is clear that Brexit has the potential to have a huge impact on the higher education sector in Ireland, north and south.

“For example, under the Horizon 2020 Strategy, a total of €89.2 million was raised by north-south research collaborations across 89 separate projects.

“Around 40% of the 1,100 Irish students who take up traineeships during their degree go to either the north or Britain for their traineeships and placements.

 “While I am aware that any changes may be a number of years down the line, it is clear that the ongoing uncertainty will cause significant anxiety for parents, students and staff alike.

“I am calling on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to outline the steps he intends to take to ensure that students north and south are protected in so far as possible.” 

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Speaking at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald asked Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald to outline the steps the government will take to defend the democratic wishes of the people of the North in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

Deputy McDonald said;

“I put it to the Tánaiste that it is not sufficient for her blithely to say she respects the vote of the UK.

“I have asked her to recognise and respect the vote of the people of the North of Ireland who, by a majority, voted to remain within the EU. I ask the Government what it proposes to do to honour and vindicate that democratic decision.

“The people of the North do not consent to Brexit. By democratic ballot, they have decided that they wish to remain.

“The Tánaiste should know that notwithstanding comments by the First Minister, the joint First Minister speaks for the majority when he says that he and his colleagues will defend and honour that democratic decision.

“I am asking the Tánaiste for more than a box-ticking or paper shuffling exercise. I want to know that concrete proposals will be brought forward at the meeting on Monday and that the Irish State and the Dublin Government will start from the position of respect for the democratic wishes of the people of the North.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed alarm as EU leaders endorse closer ties with NATO.

He was speaking today as an EU summit was expected to endorse “accelerated and practical” ties with the military bloc despite Irish neutrality.

Matt Carthy said:

“I find it alarming that today’s summit  is expected to endorse ever further EU entanglement with NATO.

“Taoiseach Enda Kenny is attending this summit and must vociferously oppose this further drift towards militarisation in the EU.

“It is in blatant contradiction of the principle of Irish neutrality and the wishes of the Irish people who wish Ireland pursue a foreign policy based on peace making and human values.

“NATO has expanded globally and there are efforts through the Lisbon Treaty to rope in the EU. Irish neutrality continues to be weakened.

“This has included Fianna Fáil's decisions to join NATO lead Partnership for Peace (PfP), and the utilisation of Shannon Airport to transport troops to join the illegal invasion of Iraq.

“Despite plans for the creation of a Common European Army, Irish citizens deeply value our neutrality and oppose any Irish role in the growing militarisation of Europe.

“The Irish Government and the Taoiseach must reflect this view and move to defend and promote Irish neutrality.”

ENDSSent from my iPhone

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Speaking after Questions to the Minister for Education and Skills in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan TD has said that the Minister of State’s fudging of the issue has highlighted the problems with the criteria for the School Transport Scheme.

Deputy Nolan said:

“Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted the impact of the new scheme for school transport that requires a child to attend their nearest school irrespective of family tradition, traditional catchment area or community bonds.

“You would be forgiven for forgetting the fact that it was a Fianna Fáil Government that introduced these changes through the 2011 Budget on foot of recommendations after listening to the faux outrage today.

“The fact that the Minister of State as unable to provide a cast iron guarantee that no concessionary school transport holder will lose their seat this year.

“The fact that concessionary school transport holders may lose their seat if there is increased demand by eligible children under the scheme highlights the fact that the current school transport scheme does not deliver for parents and children.

“The fact is that the Department of Education has created huge confusion and anxiety in relation to the school transport scheme with a number of different reports in relation to downsizing of buses and the proposed review of the concessionary criteria.

“The only thing that is clear at present is that the Minister of States’ fudging of this issue has highlighted the problems with the current scheme.

“Sinn Féin is calling for a comprehensive review of the school transport scheme, with full public consultation with parents, pupils, schools and other stakeholders, before any decision is taken in respect of the scheme.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for workers’ rights David Cullinane TD said today that Sinn Féin will use its private members time next Tuesday to introduce the Banded Hours Contract Bill 2016 that will strengthen the rights of employees in this State to a more stable working environment, one that will benefit both employee and employer alike.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“The exploitation of people on low hour contracts, especially in the retail sector but across many other sectors, is an important issue. This Bill will allow workers to apply for a contract that is reflective of their actual working week. Unfortunately, we have far too many instances of workers who were on 15-hour contracts for perhaps ten years working 30 hours and 40 hours week in, week out. This is a way for companies to exploit their workers.

“This Bill offers a solution. It seeks to provide that a worker or his or her trade union representative, or a representative acting on his or her behalf, is entitled, after six months of continuous employment with his or her employer, to make a request in writing of the employer to be moved to an increased weekly band of hours, as set out in the legislation. Under the existing legislation, Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, there is no obligation on an employer to consider such a request.

“The Bill provides that the employer must comply or set out that it is not economically feasible. The employer must demonstrate that the business is experiencing severe financial difficulties such that there would be a substantial risk that the workers would be made redundant if the hours were granted, the sustainability of the business would be adversely affected or the business could not sustain the increased level of hours. In the event that a worker disagrees with the employer's refusal on the grounds set out in the legislation, the complaints procedure would be through the Workplace Relations Commission.

“The Bill also includes an obligation on the employer to inform all employees on the overall availability of working hours by displaying this information in a prominent position in the place of employment.

“A survey published by the Mandate trade union earlier this year found that three quarters of Dunnes Stores staff were on part-time contracts and yet 98% wanted increased hours. This is not about flexibility around the edges of a functioning business. This is a business built on a system of low-hours contracts. It is simply unjustifiable for employers to keep the bulk of their staff on part-time flexible contracts as it pushes these people into poverty and into a position where they cannot plan for their families. It creates undue hardship as mothers struggle to deal with child care arrangements and families cannot be sure of what they will earn from one end of the month to the other.

“This Bill is earnest in its intent and has the support of many trades unions and would fix a problem which affects many low paid workers and workers who are on low hour contracts in this State.

“We know from Labour’s motion on workers’ rights that there is already broad support for this issue, and we are ready to work with Labour, Fianna Fáil, AAA-PBP, the Green Party, Social Democrats, the government and independents to ensure that this Bill reaches committee stage and, eventually, onto the statute books.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin has said ‘reports that scrapping water charges increases the possibility of fines that would cost the state millions of euro per day are grossly misleading’. Deputy Ó Broin went on to say that ‘Those making these claims clearly do not understand either the Water Framework Directive or the way in which the European Commission enforces environmental directives’.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“In the wake of European Commissioner Vella's comments on Ireland's access to the Water Framework Directive's derogation on water charges, some commentators have made quite outlandish claims.

“They have said that scrapping water charges could result in daily fines being imposed on Ireland costing the state millions of euros per day.

“These claims are grossly misleading. Those making claims clearly do not understand either the Water Framework Directive or the way in which the European Commission enforces environmental directives.

“The Water Framework Directive has five objectives including protecting water sources, promote sustainable use of water and reducing water pollution. Member States outline how they intend to meet these objectives through their River Basin Management Plans.

“Article 9.4 of the Directive provides Member States with a derogation from water charges so long their River Basin Management Plan demonstrates how the will meet the broad objectives of the Directive. This derogation applies to Member States where water charges were not established practice at the time of transposition of the Directive into domestic law, which in Ireland’s case was 2003.

“For some time, Environment Commissioner Vella had said that the issue of Ireland’s use of the derogation from water charges could only be assessed in the context of the forthcoming River Basin Management Plan due for submission in 2017. For reasons that are not yet clear, he has now moved the goalposts.

“However, for some commentators to make the leap from his comments to the suggestion that scrapping water charges increases the possibility of daily fines that would cost the state millions of euro per day is extremely misleading.

“By uncritically repeating information provided by sources, these commentators are allowing themselves to be used in the ongoing political controversy over the future of the domestic water charges.

“Rather than engaging in such reckless scare mongering, these commentators would be better placed to spend some time researching the detail of the Water Framework Directive and the operation of the European Commission’s infringement proceedings. If they did, they would probably be a little more circumspect in the claims they are making in their commentary.

“Notwithstanding Commissioner Vella’s recent comments, Sinn Féin remains firmly of the view that the Government can still invoke the derogation on water charges so long as they demonstrate in the forthcoming River Basin Management Plan how they will meet the broad objectives of the Water Framework Directive. It is unfortunate that the Commissioner has decided to intervene in the water charge controversy in such a partisan way as this will only serve to further undermine the Commissions standing in the eyes of a majority of Irish voters.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD this morning attended the launch of this years programme for Féile an Phobail in Conway Mill.

Speaking to the media on the issue of Brexit Gerry Adams said:

"During the Brexit referendum campaign Sinn Féin warned that a vote to leave would be bad for people in the north, and bad for business. This effects the whole island.

"There is a need therefore for maximum cooperation between the Executive at Stormont and the Irish government to minimise the consequences of the Brexit vote.

"As I said on Monday in the Dáil the Taoiseach must work to promote the interests of the whole island and of the north in particular.

"There is also an onus on Executive Ministers to ensure, in this new scenario, that all matters of mutual benefit to people in the north and especially the border counties, the agriculture and business sectors, are actively defended and promoted.

"Next Monday’s North South Ministerial Council meeting comes at an important point in this process and people will look to all our leaders to rise above differences to meet the challenge of the time.”

Commenting on the launch of this years Féile an Phobail programme Gerry Adams said:

“Féile an Phobail is a marvellous festival that embraces all the people of west Belfast and beyond. It attracts tourism and showcases the talents of Belfast people. This year’s programme is one of the best ever. It is full of great acts, community events, debate, arts, music, sport and culture. I want to commend all of those who have worked hard to put this programme together and like thousands of others I am looking forward to August.”

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Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced a £10million investment to improve the condition of rural roads.

The Minister has earmarked additional funding announced by the Finance Minister earlier this month for resurfacing work on 1,000 rural roads across the north.

The Minister said: “I am delighted to announce today that rural communities across the region will benefit from a £10million road improvement package to stop deterioration and repair severe defects on their local road network. 

“The improvements will target around 1,000 rural roads, repairing many short lengths of road (20-50m) in particularly poor condition, together with a number of  longer resurfacing schemes of around one kilometre.

 “In this difficult financial period, it is of course necessary to prioritise resources, but for too long rural communities have dropped down the priority list. Today will go some way to addressing that imbalance and giving rural communities across the region roads that are fit for purpose and that will stand the test of time and weather.”

The Department is currently considering areas in greatest need and will draw up programmes to enable work to start as soon as possible.

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Speaking in the Dáil last night, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Agriculture Martin Kenny TD called on the Taoiseach to seek the establishment of a special EU fund to be used to support agriculture and small exporting businesses, badly affected by the currency changes triggered by the Brexit.

During the special debate on the British vote to leave the EU, Deputy Kenny said:

“The Brexit vote in Britain signifies great negativity toward the EU among people all across Europe and this should send a message to all governments about how they operate and conduct EU affairs.  Economically, Brexit has the potential to be a disaster, but we are where are and now our responsibility is to ensure that this decision by the British electorate does not adversely affect Ireland, North or South.

“I would suggest that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed call together the Beef Forum urgently to access the uncertainly this development will have on our beef trade, of which huge quantities go across the Irish Sea.  Farmers and our food industry are very concerned about the immediate impact of Sterling fluctuations and in the longer term, tariffs, animal health issues and competition from other food producers outside the EU, all negatively affecting our industry.

“Our small exporting businesses are also in turmoil with the prospect of border controls and tariffs on trade coming down the line.  Currency fluctuations may move profitable export businesses scattered across Ireland into the loss-making bracket. Many may require temporary financial support to survive and continue to employ staff and export product. 

“In his meeting this with the EU, the Taoiseach should seek the establishment of a special EU fund to be used to support our agriculture and small exporting businesses, as Ireland is in a uniquely difficult place due to this British exit.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed news that Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced £10 million to improve rural roads.

Speaking after the announcement the Infrastructure Spokesperson said:

"I welcome the news that the Infrastructure Minister is to invest £10 million to improve 1000 rural roads.

“Many roads in rural areas are in urgent need of repair and resurfacing and this money will go along way to improving the condition and will also help to make a number of roads safer for motorists, pedestrians and road users.

"I am particularly pleased with the news there is to be nearly £4 million invested into the Western area.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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During the extraordinary sitting of the European Parliament, the Sinn Féin MEPs, with the backing of GUE/NGL, submitted amendments in an attempt to raise the case of Ireland after the fallout from the Brexit vote.

Speaking after the vote, Martina Anderson MEP, said,

“Along with our parliamentary grouping GUE/NGL, we submitted motions, with several references to Ireland, to ensure the official position of the European Parliament recognised the nuance position our country is in now.

“Our amendments urged that the Parliament take note of, and respect, the result of the referendum and respects the fact that the north of Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

“In saying this, we also emphasised how the British government have forfeited any mandate to represent the interests of people in the north of Ireland and in Scotland with regard to the EU.

“The BREXIT result threatens to jeopardise the peace process and therefore our motions called on the EU to continue to proactively support the peace process and to provide for its continuation in any negotiations on British withdrawal. Over 200 MEPs also voted in favour of this amendment, highlighting the regard at which the Peace Process is held, right across Europe.

“The result of the referendum also dislocates the northern and southern economies, which currently have 200,000 jobs depending on €1.2 billion of trade between them each week. This proves that Irish unity is not only practically viable, it is also economically viable and there is a democratic imperative for a referendum on Irish unity as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, which we also highlighted today." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has written to the heads of the European institutions requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the result of last week's EU referendum. 

Ms Anderson said; 

"The result of last week's referendum will have huge implications for the future of the peace process, the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and the ongoing stability and welfare of communities across the north of Ireland. 

"The people of the north of Ireland voted clearly and definitively to remain within the European Union. 

"The British government does not have any mandate to represent the interests of the people of the north in regard of the European Union. 

"There is now a democratic imperative to respect the vote to remain in the European Union from the north of Ireland. 

"I have written to the heads of the European Institutions seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the options available to ensure the democratically expressed will of people in the north of Ireland is respected in coming negotiations.

“The north of Ireland should be enabled to maintain its membership of the European Union either in the context of a united Ireland or by special arrangement."

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Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said she will engage in high level lobbying in Brussels and Strasbourg in support of the Three Sisters 2020 bid for European Capital of Culture designation. Speaking in Kilkenny where she met with Mr. Michael Quinn, who heads up the bid team, Liadh explained that she will meet with the European Commissioner with overall responsibility for the scheme. 

Liadh Ní Riada said:

“The South East has so much to offer to visitors, to investors and most crucially to the people who live there. The Three Sisters bid sums up the potential of the region, as well as the creativity and human wealth that can be found in Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford.


“I will meet next week with the European Commissioner for Culture Mr. Tibor Navracsics in Strasbourg to put forward the case for the South East to be awarded the European Capital of Culture designation in 2020. 


“A decision will be made in mid-July and between now and then I will lobby at European level to raise awareness of the huge potential of the South East. 


“This bid is novel in its approach and impressive in its breadth. It factors in the cultural wealth of the South East, and weaves a tapestry that includes opera in Wexford, the craft tradition in Kilkenny and the high-energy street performance that marks summer in Waterford. 


“The team behind the bid have put together an ambitious programme that will use the Capital of Culture as a foundation for the development of a sustainable and vibrant cultural sector for the South East, ensuring that there is long-term benefit to any investment. 


“Success will not just mean an increase in visitor numbers, or greater access to the arts for locals, but it will bring strong investment in the South-East and lead to job creation and economic growth. Following years of neglect from successive Governments it is now time for the South East to be given a chance.”

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD is in Brussels today as part of a delegation of health professionals, educationalists, innovators and stakeholders from the Northwest Health Innovation Corridor (NWHIC).

Deputy O'Reilly is in Brussels as the European Council meet to discuss Brexit, and is meeting with officials to discuss how cross border health cooperation will be affected by Brexit.

Deputy O'Reilly said:

“NWHIC spans the arc of the Northwest and was launched in May 2013 by MEP Martina Anderson.  It is an example of how well cross border cooperation can work and it is a positive step towards creating an island wide health care system. The result of the Brexit referendum would prevent this kind of collaboration and therefore this delegation is timely, as European heads of state meet to discuss Brexit.

“During the delegation, we are meeting with European Commission representatives from the Directorate for Health and Food Safety, the Directorate for Research and Innovation, and the Directorate for Communications Networks, Content & Technology. We are also meeting with representatives from Invest NI, the Department of Health in the six counties and the Permanent Representative of the 26 counties. 

“Sinn Féin believes healthcare must be developed on an all-Ireland basis. Ideally, we should be moving from increased cooperation to ultimately full integration of services on the island, maximising the healthcare benefits for all and achieving greater economies of scale. In all our meetings today, we are pressing this and highlighting how Brexit could affect projects like NWHIC and other cross border projects.

“We are serious about ensuring the best interests of all citizens on the island are looked after. Health is paramount to this and we cannot take our eye off the ball on this. These meetings are part of our initial engagements on the issue and we are pushing to ensure that Minister Harris engages closely with Minister for health Michelle O'Neill in the north.

“It is now up to Minister Harris to clarify when engagement will begin to assess and identify how to minimise any adverse impacts on the provision of all-island health services and collaboration, and when measures to ensure no adverse impact or logistical challenges on accessibility issues will be identified.” 

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD and Social Protection spokesperson John Brady TD have welcomed a proposed increase in rent supplement and the housing assistance payment but warned that it must be done in parallel with rent certainty to ensure that it has the desired effect of easing the burden on families at risk of homelessness.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Broin said;

“Just two weeks ago the government, assisted by Fianna Fáil, voted down Sinn Féin’s rent certainty bill which would have linked rents to the consumer price index.

“This was designed to ensure that landlords cannot increase rents by unscrupulous amounts, pushing families further into poverty and increasing the risk of homelessness.

“We welcome today’s proposal to increase rent supplement and the housing assistance payment as it could have the effect of easing the burden on struggling families.

“But unless it is done in parallel with rent certainty there is a risk that landlords will absorb this increase by simply increasing rents further.”

Deputy John Brady said;

“On the face of it this is a welcome move by the government but the worry for most families in receipt of rent supplement is that they will now be met with demands from their landlords for increased rents.

“So the government must look again at its position on rent certainty otherwise a lot of the cost of this increase will end up in the back pockets of landlords across the state while the struggling families that this move is designed to help will continue to struggle to keep a roof over their heads.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly today commended the efforts of all those involved in efforts to reach a resolution to issues around parades and protests on the Crumlin Road.

Gerry Kelly said: 

"Sinn Féin has been consistent in our support for resolving issues around parading and protests through genuine and inclusive dialogue involving local communities and parade organisers. 

"So I commend the efforts of all those involved in this dialogue and particularly representatives of the residents group CARA who invested a lot of time in this process. 

"The issue of parades and protests along the Crumlin Road past Mountainview and the Dales have brought huge challenges to the communities who live there.

"No resolution has been possible at this time.

"However, all of us in positions of political leadership have a responsibility to continue to do all in our power to support those in local communities involved in seeking resolution to contentious issues through dialogue." 

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Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff has expressed concern at the decision of the education minister to withdraw funding for nurture units at two Irish language schools.

Speaking after meeting representatives of the schools this morning, Mr McElduff said;

"I am very concerned at the decision by Education Minister Peter Weir to withdraw funding for nurture units at Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin and Bunscoil an Droichid.

"The announcement has caused considerable anger and disappointment at both schools and among the wider Irish language community.

"These schools had been told the funding was in place and had made plans on that basis.

"Studies have shown that nurture units make a huge difference to the educational outcomes of children and should be encouraged.

"I met with representatives at schools following their protest at Stormont this morning to offer them Sinn Fein's support and I will be raising this issue with the education minister." 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has welcomed the Taoiseach’s statement that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Employment will be working to ensure certainty on the terms of the future trading relationship between Ireland and Britain.

Noting that the work of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland will take on an even more crucial significance in the months ahead, Deputy Quinlivan said:

“Already, Enterprise Ireland has identified diversification into other international markets; enhanced UK market supports, management and competitiveness supports, and the management of any potential currency exchange impacts, as key priorities.

“The UK’s decision to leave the EU will present significant new challenges for Irish companies exporting to the UK and Irish companies will need additional support to help them maintain their UK presence. 

“It is in this context that I find reports in the media that the government has been engaged in a cost cutting exercise at Enterprise Ireland astonishing.

“Reports suggest that the workforce at the agency has been cut from 797 people at the end of 2011 to a targeted 597 at the end of this year.

“Enterprise Ireland has said that managing a downsized organisation, generating income from investments and rolling out a new engagement model to clients will pose challenges.

“If we add to this set of existing challenges, Brexit, and the fact that companies supported by Enterprise Ireland employed more than 192,000 people last year cuts to staff and to its budget make absolutely no sense.

“There can be little doubt but that Brexit has created huge uncertainty across EU and in Ireland.

“Going forward the emphasis must be on initiatives and policies that foster the best interests of Irish businesses both at home and abroad, and that protect the jobs of workers in Ireland.

“Middle and low-income workers in Ireland will not tolerate further cuts to wages and services under the guise of Brexit paranoia.

“The onus is now very much on the government and on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to step up to the plate. Workers pay and conditions must be protected and a conscious and deliberate policy of balanced regional development vigorously pursued.

“We must also protect Irish businesses and ensure that Enterprise Ireland is adequately staffed and resourced to do its job.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary Deputy Carol Nolan has said that the Irish Government has a duty to stand up for the interests of all Irish citizens on this island in the aftermath of Brexit.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Nolan said:

“There can be no doubt that the impact of last Thursday’s vote will be felt for years to come.

“The Irish Government has a clear duty to immediately assert itself in order to ensure that the interests of citizens, north and south, are protected.

“The Government must do its very best to ensure that the effects of Brexit in terms of trade and travel between Ireland and Britain are minimised and it must work to identify and realise the opportunities that arise as a result of the vote.

“One of those opportunities is to establish a referendum on Irish Unity and end the partition of Ireland.

“The fact that the majority of the citizens of the six counties, many of whom are Irish passport holders, voted to remain in the EU cannot be ignored by this Government.

“A referendum on Irish Unity is actually the only mechanism by which the democratic mandate of the people of the north can be realised.

“It is the only mechanism by which the island of Ireland can remain within the EU; something which is of clear economic and social benefit for all our people.

“It is my clear view that the Irish Government has a duty to stand up for the interests of all citizens on this island and must support a border poll for Irish unity.” 

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