Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion TD expresses disappointment that there has been no leadership from the Minister for Education Richard Bruton around the use of smartphones and tablets in schools.
Teachta Funchion said:
“The Minister had an opportunity to take a leadership role in the use of smartphones and tablets by students in schools.
“Of course, consultation with parents, teachers, schools and students is vital when it comes to developing individual school policy. However, the overarching policy governing the use of tablets and smartphones should be coming from the Department.
“There already exists huge chasms of difference between schools in this country where children experience huge disadvantage in particular schools or areas when compared to other schools.
“There are children who will have the best of ICT products at their disposal, while other families cannot afford to purchase full school uniforms and books for their children let alone buy new tablets which will obviously place these children at a distinct disadvantage immediately.
“Schools most certainly should have the autonomy to develop a policy on this in conjunction with the parents, teachers and students to best meet the needs of that school, however this should be done with the leadership of the Department of Education and Skills as a starting point to ensure that equality and the best interest of all children accessing education are met.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has written to Chair of the Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), Danièle Nouy, urging her or another senior representative of the Single Supervisor to visit Ireland to engage directly with members of the Oireachtas.
Carthy, a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, was speaking following a letter from Ms Nouy to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, declining the Committee’s invitation to participate in a hearing on the treatment of non-performing loans.
The Sinn Féin MEP said: “Last month I participated in a hearing of Finance Committee on EU matters including the Commission and ECB’s views on the treatment of non-performing loans, where several Committee members expressed frustration that Ms Nouy had declined the invitation for direct engagement with the Committee.
“The recent moves by several Irish banks to sell portfolios of thousands of distressed loans, including split mortgages, to vulture funds has sparked a significant political debate, which has focused on the real-world impact of such sales on mortgage-holders and their families.
“For several months this debate has been marked by a lack of transparency from the banks involved and a lack of firm clarity from the EU and Irish supervisory authorities. There is obviously a value in direct interaction between Irish policymakers and the ECB’s central leadership representatives in discussing the ECB’s euro area guidance and supervision on the prudential treatment of non-performing loans.
“More generally, there is a need for further direct engagement by the ECB with the parliamentary representatives of Member States, in addition to members of the European Parliament, on broader issues of monetary policy and banking supervision. The ECB’s direct engagement with the national representatives of some Member States but not others has been disappointing.
“I welcome the public committee of the ECB President to address the Oireachtas at an unspecified time this year.“I also urge the Chair of the ECB’s Supervisory Board to consider participating in future hearings of the Joint Committee dedicated to discussing the prudential treatment of non-performing loans by Irish banks.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said he is deeply concerned that AIB’s interpretation of the Mortgage Credit Directive on break fees is not in line with the approach taken by other banks and indeed not in line with the spirit of the Directive itself. He has written to the Central Bank seeking urgent clarification.
The Donegal TD said:
“It has been brought to my attention that AIB seems to be interpreting new rules under the Mortgage Credit Directive in a way that means consumers are losing out relative to customers at other banks. The Directive allows a borrower to ‘break’ out of a higher fixed rate and move to a lower one on offer with the banks only allowed charge the cost of the move.
“Most banks interpret this cost as meaning the cost of funds which in the era of zero percent interest rates can be nominal. AIB, however, have interpreted the directive as allowing them to charge the full lost income to them of the move.
“When I questioned the Minister for Finance on AIB’s interpretation, I was simply sent back a defence of AIB’s policy by AIB. That is not acceptable. I have today written to the Central Bank outlining my concerns.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said REITS and pension funds buying up Dublin apartment complexes should face removal of their preferential tax status. He was commenting after reports that IRES REIT is charging hundreds of euro above the market norm for apartments it has bought in Finglas. He called the behaviour “tax-funded exploitation”.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I am disgusted at the behaviour of these funds in charging excessive rents having been facilitated to buy in bulk by huge tax advantages. Their size allows them to buy apartments and then rent them out at prices above what a mortgage would cost.
“How can a family compete? What is worse is that these funds are aided and abetted by government tax policy enjoying, as they do, an exemption from Capital Gains Tax and a very low Dividend Withholding Tax. Last week, Irish Life bought up prime apartments, leaving many families disappointed. As a pension fund, they also enjoy tax benefits from these purchases. This amounts to tax funded exploitation of the market, while families and individuals trying to put a roof over their heads in Dublin.
“Tax policy must change to send these funds a message. As things stand, they are pricing families out of the market and then renting them back the apartments at a higher price. It is an unacceptable situation.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill led a party delegation, including Sinead Ennis MLA and Paul Maskey MP to meet with the GAA’s Ulster Council today.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“Today’s engagement with the GAA’s Ulster Council was extremely positive and encouraging.
“We discussed the issue of Casement Park. I assured the Ulster Council of Sinn Féin’s support for the development of Casement Park and welcomed the continued good work that the Ulster Council have been undertaking.
“Sinn Féin will be seeking urgent meetings with both the Department for Infrastructure and the Department of Communities about the ongoing delay of Casement Park.
“We also discussed the lack of GAA coverage in the north from the BBC.
"Sinn Féin believes that the BBC must do more for northern Gaels.
“We put a number of suggestions to the Ulster Council to attempt to move this forward.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD today raised the matter of the current unregulated status of rickshaws with the Taoiseach in the Dáil.
Deputy Munster raised concerns about safety for all road users and pedestrians and also the matter of drug dealing on the streets of Dublin by some rickshaw operators.
Deputy Munster said:
“I had laws passed in this house in late 2016 allowing for the regulation of rickshaws. I put forward those amendments, because the government had long been ignoring the issue.
“Despite the fact that these amendments were passed, they have not been enacted by the Minister, and, a year and a half later, we are still no closer to having rickshaw regulations enacted than we were then.
“We need regulation to ensure that passengers, operators and pedestrians are safe. Regulation would also allow for decent work practices, the payment of tax and insurance cover for rickshaws.
“I have no idea why the Minister is stalling on this, especially now that we are all aware that drugs are being sold from some rickshaws every night of the week in Dublin.
“In March, the National Transport Authority sent a report arising from a public consultation to Minister Ross’s office. We have heard nothing since.
“If the open sale of hard drugs on our streets does not motivate Shane Ross to act on this, I fear nothing will. I hope he gets a move on and finally addresses this issue.”
Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan has hosted an exhibition from Coastwatch at the European Parliament entitled ‘Marine Life and Litter’.
The purpose of the exhibition was to demonstrate the impact of plastic waste on our oceans and highlight fresh solutions to deal with the issue.
One of the organisers of the event was Campaigner Karin Dubsky of Trinity College, Dublin who is the founder of Coastwatch Europe and a marine ecologist. The exhibition provided marine data from Ireland gathered by citizens over a thirty-year period. Further data will be released from Coastwatch in the near future.
Ms Boylan opened the exhibition and called on both the Irish Government and European Commission to be more rigorous in addressing the plastic pollution crisis:
“I would like to congratulate Coastwatch for putting on such a creative exhibition for us this evening which has demonstrated the massive scale of plastic pollution in our oceans. Up to 500,000 tonnes of plastics coming from the EU ends up in the sea. If this continues we will have more plastics in our oceans than fish. The Irish Government and EU need to be more ambitious about tackling this problem.
“The European Strategy on Plastics must not be a missed opportunity to set binding rules and targets for industry. We are witnessing a plastic crisis and one which will not be solved by more self-regulation. There must also be real incentives for industry to make changes. Instead of seeing plastic as a disposable product, it must be seen as a valuable one. Single-use plastics must be phased-out which will require looking at alternatives.”
Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch stated:
“We need to rethink our use of plastic as there is currently no seashore in the world where you do not come across some. Coastwatch has been advocating measures to tackle the problem for 20 years.”
Ms Boylan added:
“Minister Denis Naughten needs to take a robust approach with industry in order to reduce the scourge of plastic coming from the island of Ireland. Self-regulation is not good enough.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said the contradiction of Brexit is being clearly exposed as Theresa May said the British government would pay to have 'full association' with European Research programmes.
The Party's Further and Higher Education Spokesperson said:
"For over two years universities and other research organisations have been highlighting the disastrous impact of Brexit on their research activities.
"Of course it is not just the potential loss of funding which would have a negative impact but there is also the vitally important role of collaborations in driving forward innovation and research.
"So while there may be comfort for institutions in the news that Theresa May intends to pay into the research programmes, for some it has already come too late. Institutions have been reporting since the referendum result that Brexit has had a chilling effect on their inclusion in EU projects.
"Institutions have also highlighted that researchers are evaluating if they may have greater career stability and opportunities in other EU states.
"In the past few weeks the European Commission has put forward its budget proposals for the next financial period which included a 30 percent increase in its research budget and a doubling of the Erasmus+ budget for the forthcoming budget period. Horizon Europe, the successor to Horizon 2020 would therefore have a budget of €100 billion.
“However, the very fact that the British government has had to concede to continuing to pay into the programme highlights the utter absurdity of Brexit itself.
"At a time when we are seeking to develop the knowledge-based economy and invest in research and innovation, the British government has been pursuing an inward-looking Brexit agenda.
"Institutions here in the north will encounter direct competition from institutions in the south which will be within the EU, therefore the best way to ensure their continued success is with access to all EU programmes secured through designated special status for the north."
Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has congratulated leading republican Mitchel McLaughlin on the news that he is to be appointed as an honorary professor in Peace Studies at Queen's University.
The former Sinn Féin National Chairperson will be receiving a professorship attached to the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.
Elisha McCallion said:
“Over the last 50 years, Mitchel McLaughlin has made a massive contribution to the struggle for unity, peace and justice for all.
“As a Sinn Féin leader and negotiator, Mitchel played an an integral role in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he demonstrated how the real power of leadership is pivotal in building a better future for all our people.
“He remains a dedicated, selfless and determined republican and his guiding principles of respect and parity of esteem are always applied equally to political opponents. Therefore, it is no surprise that he has been selected for this professorship in Peace Studies.
“In his term as Assembly speaker, he was regarded by all as a man of integrity by people from all backgrounds and political persuasion. Mitchel was recognised as one of the most fair, reasonable and respectful in the history of the Assembly.
“I would like to congratulate Mitchel on his recognition by Queen’s University and wish him and his family all the best in the future.”
South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said that special status for the North opens up the potential to transform the North’s declining economy.
Speaking at a ‘Brexit and the island of Ireland event’ in London he said:
“The Brexit at any cost being championed by the Tories and the DUP will only consign the North’s economy to a Brexit backwater.
“With economic growth anaemic at present and the gap in average wages with the south of Ireland widening, we need a game changing proposition which would give the North the best of both worlds.
“Special status for the North including membership of the Customs Union, full alignment with the Single Market in all areas of cross-border co-operation, no hardening of the border, protection of the Good Friday Agreement and all its parts plus access to the rights, benefits and opportunities of EU citizenship would attract investment and boost job creation.
“The North would be the only region of Europe with unfettered access to the EU and to Britain. That would be a potent proposition to put before US and, indeed, British companies.
“That vision of a bright future contrasts sharply with the bleak, isolationist vista outside the EU envisaged by Tory and DUP Brexiteers whose views are now opposed the vast majority of people in the North.”
Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that the continuing decline in nursing numbers in Community Health Organisations in Mayo is deeply worrying.
Community nurses are vital to areas such as Mayo where lack of public transport make it difficult for patients to attend regular appointments at the larger hospitals in the region.
Speaking after Sinn Féin received figures from the HSE showing a reduction of 242 in community nurses in Mayo in the last 10 years, Senator Conway-Walsh said;
“This is on top of a reduction in the nursing staff at Mayo University Hospital by 30 nurses.
"This trend began with the Fianna Fáil government imposing a moratorium on recruitment to the health service.
"The result of this was reduced numbers in community and acute nursing across the county.
"The extra demands in healthcare over the past ten years should see a reversal in that trend however the figures received today show that the reduction is continuing.
"Community and acute nurses are essential to the delivery of proactive frontline health care and unless immediate action is taken to reverse the decline in their numbers then it will be impossible to deliver health care, primary care and other services such as mental health services in a manner which people need.
"If Fine Gael is serious about implementing Sláintecare then they should be seeking to increase community nurse numbers, not standing over their decline.
"The figures released today should serve as a wake-up call to Fine Gael to target recruitment of nurses before the cumulative effect of a decade of cuts impacts even more on those most vulnerable in our community and those working inside a system which is bursting at the seams.
"Exporting our trained nurses while we have a nursing crisis in this country is regressive and irresponsible."
Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said “false assertions from the No campaign are designed to whip up fear and distract from the facts relating to the Eighth Amendment.”
Speaking after raising the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Leaders Questions today, Deputy McDonald said;
“I have heard assertions from the NO campaign and its spokespeople that what they call “hard cases” – pregnancies as a result of rape or a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly – can be dealt with under the current constitutional framework. This is patently untrue.
“Now there are claims being made that there will be access to abortion without reason and even access to abortion up to birth. We have also heard people discredit and dismiss mental health concerns for women in crisis.
“These false assertions are very callous in that they are being used to distract from the reality of the impact of the Eighth Amendment of the lives and health of Irish women. They are being used to confuse the debate.
“I was happy for the Taoiseach to set the record straight and assure people that these claims are wholly disingenuous.
“On Friday, we have a once in a generation opportunity to right a historic wrong.
“This is a chance to show that we have learned the lessons taught to us by the awful treatment of Savita Halappanavar, the X Case, Miss P and the whole litany of tragedy visited on Irish women.
“A chance to say that we, as a society, will no longer tolerate a provision that make exiles of women and girls in crisis.
“It is a chance for us to show compassion. Trust and respect for women must now prevail.”
Sinn Féin has welcomed the confirmation that the Government has agreed to the demand for Sentencing Guidelines, as ‘a huge breakthrough.
The Party had been in negotiation with the Government in relation to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, and had sentencing Guidelines as the key ask.
Speaking today Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said;
“This is a very significant breakthrough particularly for victims of crimes. Far too often we have seen victims feeling severely wronged as the perpetrators of the crime have been faced with inadequate, and inappropriate sentencing.
“No one would envy the judiciary the job of devising sentences, whether for minor crimes, or serious crimes. The majority of Judges balance these considerations well.
“However it is important that there is public confidence in and understanding of, the approach taken to sentencing.
“Indeed recently, a High Court Judge has described the lack of sentencing guidelines in rape cases as ‘somewhat bizarre’.
“According to Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, ‘One judge’s substantial could be four years and another’s could be 14 years. It’s somewhat bizarre that an area that is so sensitive has so little in the way of guidance for a trial judge.’
“Even though sentencing guidelines are common in many countries, and have been supported by organisations such as the Rape Crisis Network, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, there is currently no statutory provision for this in Ireland.
“The current Judicial Council Bill does not make any provision for the drafting of Guidelines, however, commitment has now been given that this will take place.
“So this is a very significant development and I hope it will deliver greater structure, information, and consistency, in relation to how sentences are calculated and what sentences are handed down.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has encouraged students eligible to vote in Friday's referendum on the 8th amendment to make contact with their Students’ Union if they require assistance to travel home to vote.
The party's Further and Higher Education Spokesperson said:
"NUS-USI which represents students in the north is offering assistance for students to travel #hometovote in the referendum. Students who require assistance should make contact with their Students’ Union as soon as possible to avail of this.
"The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is also running a social media carpooling campaign #VoterMotor to assist with lifts to polling stations on Friday.
"It is important that everyone who is eligible to vote has their say in this very important referendum.
"Sinn Féin has been campaigining for the removal of the 8th amendment from the constitution to allow for legislation for termination of pregnancy to be brought forward which provides for access to appropriate healthcare for women in an effective and compassionate way.
"I would encourage everyone to come out on Friday and vote Yes to repeal the 8th amendment."
Today’s joint statement makes clear to the European Union and British Government that the DUP do not speak for the people of the North on Brexit, Sinn Féin Deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
Speaking from Stormont where the leaders of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Alliance and Green parties set out a joint position on Brexit, Michelle O’Neill commented: “The Brexit negotiations are at a crucial point in resolving all outstanding issues relating to Ireland, North and South, and the future relationship.
“The European Council meets next month and time is of the essence.
“The parties represented here today have a strong mandate to represent and defend local interests.
“The joint statement we have agreed has been sent to both governments and the European Commission Brexit negotiators so there can be no doubt that our voice is being heard.
“While we may not agree on everything as regards Brexit, we do share a common position that we cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union;
“That the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, including North/South and East/West co-operation is critical to maintaining relationships within, and between these islands;
“That the backstop agreed by both the British Government and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to safeguard our political and economic stability now and for the future.
“Michele Barnier on his visit here made it very clear that the EU are not mediators, but negotiators, acting on behalf of the whole EU 27 and that they need a resolution from the British government of the outstanding issues not through opinion pieces or keynote speeches, but a legal Withdrawal Agreement.
“The DUP may have a mandate but it is absolutely clear to everyone here today –and to the European negotiators – that they do not speak for the people of the North on Brexit.”
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has accused the European Commission of deception and of deliberately misleading farmers with regard to the proposed €60,000 upper cap limit on farm payments. Carthy, who has consistently been arguing for a mandatory upper payment limit in order to secure increased CAP payments to the majority of farmers, has said that Phil Hogan’s claims that the proposed reform of CAP will benefit small farmers now appear entirely baseless.
Speaking from Brussels, Matt Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“Commissioner Phil Hogan’s claim that the future Common Agricultural Policy will be concentrated and targeted towards small farms appears to be, not only without foundation, but deliberately misleading towards those seeking redress of the inequities with CAP.
“The Commission have repeatedly billed the proposed reform as one which will see an end to the exorbinant sums that some farm enterprises receive and, in turn, lead to greater payments for smaller farmers. Commissioner Hogan has claimed that a €60,000 payment cap will lead to redistribution to smaller farmers as well as leave room for more funds for other schemes.
“It appears now that this is a deception. Proposed loopholes will allow for discounts for the value of salaries paid from the direct payments received before cap, but also the inputted value of all family engaged labour mean that the net direct payments figure to which capping applies will be zero.
“In other words the commission is proposing to allow for large farmers to deduct labour costs, including unpaid labour, from the amount of direct payments before capping is implemented. In effect this would effectively result in no upper cap limit being applied.
“In fact the only holdings where a cap of €60,000 may realistically be applied are the very largest ones in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania, where labour costs are much lower.
“Repeated CAP reforms have failed to deal with the issue of overpayments. In fact the last attempt in the 2013 reform which was supposed to make reductions on payments above €150,000, got nowhere close to that. 15 Member States opted to apply a minimum reduction of 5% above €150,000 and others such as Scotland only made reductions passed €600,000.
“In Ireland, the average direct payment is a mere €17,932. Meanwhile 261 farm enterprises are receiving payments in excess of €100,000.
“Agricultural subsidies have been skewed in favour of larger farmers for years now and these latest loopholes mean that this time will be no different.
“Sinn Féin agrees with policies that contribute to increasing rural employment, however exempting larger farms from the cap through these loopholes mean that in practice there will be no change for farmers who are genuinely struggling to cope with lower prices and earnings. It will force out smaller farmers with no real incentives for larger farmers to employ new people”.
A new loyalist flags protocol will provide no comfort to residents intimidated in their own homes, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said.
Gerry Kelly was speaking after the UVF-linked East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI) announced it had agreed a protocol after several months of engagement with DUP South Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly.
Gerry Kelly commented: "A UVF flag is a UVF flag and its cold comfort to people living on interfaces and in mixed estates that it will be flown with DUP support for four months of a year.
“This is a case of people talking to themselves rather than engaging with those opposed to the flying of flags in areas where they are designed to intimidate.
“We welcome any genuine attempt to see the removal of intimidatory flags but if those who erect these flags are serious about resolving this issue, they should engage with affected communities and the Commission on Flags, Identity and Tradition to that end.”
Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has heavily criticised the government over the collapse in the number of nurses working in Community Healthcare Organisations.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“Community nurses working in Community Healthcare Organisations (CHO) are integral to the overall health system. Along with GPs they make up the frontline of the health service in the community.
“CHOs are community healthcare services which are outside of acute hospitals; they include primary care, social care, mental health, and other health and well-being services.
"The aim of CHOs is to make it easier for people to access local services, to improve management and accountability, and to allow for stronger local decision-making.
“However, because of the slashing of the number of nurses in CHO Areas the services are proving to be more difficult to access, and not easier as was supposed to be the case.
“Over the past decade, since Fianna Fáil introduced the recruitment moratorium for those in the health service, the numbers of nurses in acute and community nursing have decreased.
"Indeed, since December 2007 the number of nurses across the 9 CHO areas decreased by an astonishing 2,235 nurses.
“This is having an extremely damaging effect on the delivery of healthcare in the community.
“For example, in CHO Area 1, which covers Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, and Monaghan, the number of community nurses has decreased by 330 since 2007.
“In CHO Area 2 which encompasses Galway, Roscommon, and Mayo the community nursing numbers are down by 429 and in CHO Area 8 covering the midlands as well as Louth and Meath the numbers are down 474 since 2007.
“Community nurses are essential to the delivery of proactive frontline health care and unless something is done to reverse the decline in their numbers then it will be impossible to deliver primary care and other services such as mental health services in a manner which people need.
“If Fine Gael are serious about implementing Sláintecare then they should be seeking to increase community nurse numbers, not standing over their decline.
“If we are to see nurse numbers increase then we need to see action on the reasonable requests nurses have made for better working conditions, better facilities, more supports, increased training opportunities, and for the issue of pay to be addressed.”
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has welcomed the move towards a seven-day X-ray service in the Southern Trust.
Conor Murphy said:
“I welcome this news and know that many people from Dungannon, to Craigavon and Newry will see the benefits.
“This move couldn’t be done without the help and input from the dedicated staff. It is important we recognise that staff and our health care workforce are our most important asset and without them we couldn’t address a huge range of issues.
“Earlier this year Sinn Féin responded to the Imagining Services consultation, where we highlighted the importance of high standards of timely clinical care to improving health outcomes.
“I think this development by the Southern Trust will help improve timely access to services for all patients.”
Illegal adoption claims in mother and baby homes must be included in the work of the ongoing inter-agency review of Mother and Baby homes, Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said.
The Mid-Ulster MLA was responding to new allegations of illegal adoption at the former Marianvale home in Newry.
“The claims made in the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Lost Children of Marianvale’ come as no surprise.
“In my engagements with many who have been through the Mother and Baby homes it became clear that the rights of mothers and children were routinely ignored by those in authority.
“The issue of multiple birth certificates and children being routinely moved to other countries has been a key feature in what survivors have spoken about.
“I have made it clear to the Department of Health, the sponsor Department for the review of the Mother and Baby Homes, that the whole issue of the removal of children from their mothers without consent must be a part of their work.
“There is a clear onus on everyone who has information about what took place in the Mother and Baby homes to bring it forward to help end the anguish that so many families are still suffering.”