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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD today said it was scandalous that insurance companies are making hundreds of millions of euro in profit on sky high insurance premiums that are forcing some SMEs to close.

Speaking this afternoon on a motion on business insurance in the Dáil, Teachta Quinlivan said;

“The insurance system in Ireland is broken. Insurance companies are bleeding ordinary motorists dry with ridiculous motor insurance premiums while some businesses are closing down due to their premiums rising by 300% and 400% in some cases.

“Sinn Féin recently met again with the Alliance for Insurance Reform, who are working hard to lobby for action on insurance premiums that are crippling some businesses.

“They informed us that some insurers are now refusing to insure entire sectors of industry, such as play centres for example, leaving businesses with no option but to either go down the very high risk route of self-insurance or close their doors.

“This particular problem is spreading like wildfire to other sectors including charities, sports clubs, festivals, voluntary groups, playgrounds and local authorities.

“One could be mistaken for thinking insurance companies are struggling to operate in the Irish market due to the much cited excuses of fraud and high cost of claims.

“However the reality is very, very different. The laissez-faire approach of the government to the regulation of the insurance market in this state is a jackpot for insurance companies, and it shows. 

“In the past few weeks alone, Aviva Ireland posted profits of €113 million, up €14 million on 2017. RSA insurance announced profits of €35m for the past last year, while FBD insurance reported profits of €50m.

“So at the same time as we have businesses closing down due to ridiculously high premiums and young people practically banned off the road because they cannot pay four or five thousand for one year’s car insurance, insurance companies are posting hundreds of millions in profits. It’s a scandalous situation.

“The government’s approach has been described as 'death by a thousand consultations' and that is an accurate portrayal. 

"It’s ridiculous that all this government can cite when they are asked about insurance is the Cost of Insurance Working Group.

“We need action, we need new laws, the industry needs to be challenged on their behaviour, but what we don’t need is report after report after report. 

"The government must do much more to protect businesses from these unfair and unjustified high insurance costs.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster has questioned in the Dáil why Louth County Council has been instructed to cease issuing loans under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme, despite the popularity of the programme, which assists middle to low income families who are first time buyers and have been refused mortgages by banks.

Deputy Munster questioned Tánaiste Simon Coveney on why the government has instructed the council to cease issuing loans, given the ongoing housing emergency, and the fact that this is one of the very few schemes aimed at assisting people in lower wage brackets to buy their own homes.

Deputy Munster said:

“Louth County Council confirmed that they have received instructions to cease issuing loans under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme.

“These are the very same loans that Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said would assist middle to low income families and first time buyers who have been turned down by banks.

“Over half of the €200million fund has already been drawn down, just one year into the three year scheme, which is an indication of the dire need for this fund.

“Minister Coveney dodged the question, refusing to give me a straight answer. Is he suggesting that Louth County Council is making this up? The fact is that it’s true. They have been told to cease issuing loans at a time when for many low to middle income first time buyers this is their only option for buying a home. The government needs to explain this.

“There’s been enough ducking and diving by the Minister for Housing and his colleagues.

“It’s time we got a straight answer on this.”

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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Declan Mc Aleer has said the decision to axe ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments is a direct attack on hill farmers and a legacy of the DUP's time in office. 

He commented: “The purpose of the ANC payment was to help redress the challenging environmental, topographical and soil conditions that farmers experience in the hills compared to their counterparts in lowland areas. 

“It was an important supplement that helped pay for bills such as fertiliser or animal feed. As a result of decisions made by the DUP Minister in 2016, hill farmers will not receive the ANC payment from this year. 

“This has caused a lot of anger in the farming community and during the past yearSinn Féin has been engaging with the Equality Commission regarding the impact of this decision.

“We believe the decision to axe the ANC may be a breach of the department’s Equality Scheme and should be overturned.

“The withdrawal of ANC is having a devastating impact on farmers.  We have seen in recent days, the department’s own figures on the number of suckler cows recorded at its lowest number in the north since 1998. The withdrawal of ANC payment is contributing to this situation, resulting in a loss of income for farmers.

 “The withdrawal of the ANC payment is another attack on hill farmers and something they did not need while dealing with the chaos of Brexit.  Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the Equality Commission and the to restore this funding.”

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion  has urged the British government to confirm a budget for the North West City Deal.

“I have been pushing for firm commitments from the British government to the City Deal for the North West.

"Last Autumn the British Chancellor announced £350m for the Belfast deal and we have been lobbying intensely for a firm financial commitment in today’s Spring Statement to support our Strategic Growth Plan and help realise the huge economic potential of the region.

“The British Chancellor could have announced funding for a city deal for Derry today as there is no good reason why the two cannot progress in tandem. 

“There will be disappointment across the north west that the British government has not announced a city deal today. 

“The collective efforts of stakeholders, civic society and political leaders have  intensified to deliver meaningful investment in the North West and that will continue until it is secured."

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There is a mounting sense of alarm within the business and farming sectors that the DUP are dragging the North towards an economic disaster caused by a No-Deal Brexit, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.

Speaking at Stormont today, the Sinn Féin Vice-President commented:

“I’ve just been speaking to business and farming leaders and it is clear that there is a growing sense of alarm at where this process is heading.

“We are in very real danger of being dragged into a no-deal crash and no-one should underestimate the seriousness of that situation.

“Whatever No-Deal proposals the British Government come up with, the fact is that it will be an economic disaster. Their own evidence tells us that. The Civil Service analysis tells us that. The experience of our business, farming industry and SME’s tells us that.

“That is where the DUP have taken us. They have consistently shown a callous disregard for the people who live here. Later today, they have said they will vote to increase the likelihood of a No-deal crash. In so doing they are threatening the economic future of us all.

“At this critical time the DUP have a choice to make. They should pull back from the brink.

“It is time to put people’s jobs, livelihoods and peace before selfish party political interest.”

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Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has described this morning’s British proposal on a tariff regime in a no-deal Brexit scenario as the latest example of ‘game-playing’ on the part of Theresa May’s government.

He said:

“This tariff announcement is just the latest example of ‘game-playing’ on the part of the British government. Having spent the last two years claiming that there can be no difference in approach for the north of Ireland versus Britain, the British government have now proposed a tariff regime that does just that and acknowledges that there will be a need for special arrangements for the island of Ireland.

“The proposal that there would be no tariffs on goods moving from south to north is welcome but the devil will be in the detail. The Irish government must also maintain its stance that it will not impose new checks on the border.

“The British proposals will be of little comfort to many businesses, farmers & communities though.

“The suggestion of tariffs on Irish goods entering the British market is clearly a nightmare scenario, especially for vulnerable sectors such as the beef industry.

“It is now imperative the Irish Government, with the support of the EU, outline proposals for a comprehensive financial compensation scheme for those sectors impacted by such a scenario.

“This is yet another stark reminder that there is no good Brexit for any part of Ireland. We must collectively work on this island to prepare for the impact of a no deal Brexit; all options must be open for consideration, including the obvious mechanism to avoid a hard-border - allowing people to vote in a referendum on Irish unity.

“Sinn Féin’s focus is about protecting the all-island economy, citizens’ rights and the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin was the only party to launch a Brexit contingency plan.

“We called for a €2billion Brexit stabilization’s Fund to support farmers, exporters SMEs and investment in infrastructure. Irrespective of whatever Brexit comes we need the government to provide that fund.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the publication of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities consultation paper on Irish Water’s charging regime for domestic water users for so-called excessive use.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The CRU has launched a public consultation on Irish Water’s proposals for charging domestic water users for so-called excessive use.

“The excessive use charging regime is of a result of a backroom deal made between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in 2017 as an attempt to kick the water charges issue down the road.

“Irish Water propose to charge households a €1.85-unit rate charge per 1,000 litres of water and waste water consumed over the annual allowance.

“This new charge would be capped at €500 for both water and waste-water.

“For homes that do not have a domestic water meter, Irish Water will use district meters to track which homes are using ‘excessive’ amounts of water and will send crews to assess the situation. 

“These homes could then have a meter installed.

“Irish Water estimates that 8% of homes are excessively using water; there is no evidence to support this. It is just as likely that high usage rates in these homes are the result of undetected leaks particularly in older housing stock.

“In the first instance, the focus should be on detecting leaks and assisting homeowner in fixing these through an expanded find and fix service.

“This should be rolled out before any consideration of a charge for excessive use.” 

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Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson David Cullinane TD has accused the British Government of engaging in fantasy politics and presenting unworkable solutions.

Speaking from Leinster House this morning Teachta Cullinane said;

“What we have seen from the British Government this morning is more fantasy politics.  They are presenting unworkable solutions just two weeks out from Brexit day.

“On the one hand, they are seeking to undermine the legal protections for Ireland in the form of the backstop while putting forward impractical and unworkable solutions on the other hand.

“Let’s be very clear, this is more of the blame game by the British government. 

“They are again cynically using the border and Ireland’s unique circumstances to shift responsibility for their Brexit mess to the EU and the Irish government. 

“Sinn Féin’s focus is about protecting the all-island economy, citizens’ rights and the Good Friday Agreement 

“Sinn Féin was the only party to launch a Brexit contingency plan. 

“We called for a €2billion Brexit stabilisation Fund to support farmers, exporters SMEs and investment in infrastructure.

“Irrespective of whatever Brexit comes we need the government to provide that fund.” 

Note: Please see the Brexit document attached

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has criticised Minister Regina Doherty for her Department’s overuse of threats to sanction jobseekers’ payments for lack of compliance, in this case with an event she was holding.

Speaking this morning, Teachta Brady said:

“This is yet another case of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection threatening jobseekers with sanctions for lack of compliance. It now seems sanctions also extend to those who fail to show up at events being held by Minister Doherty.

“Last month, ahead of a strike by Community Employment Supervisors for their right to a pension, letters from the Minister’s Department threatened that funding to CE schemes would be reviewed having regard to industrial action. In this letter, the Department also sought the names of Supervisors who were withdrawing their labour.

“Almost a month to the day, we have another letter issued by the Department threatening jobseekers who fail to attend the Minister’s ‘Community Employment and Tús Information Event’ with sanctions to their jobseekers payment.

“It would appear that the Department are so used to attaching these threats of sanctions when communicating with jobseekers that they are now putting them on all letters, regardless of the subject concerned.

“Research has shown that sanctions are not effective. Britain’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality carried out over five years and published last year described the policy of docking benefits as punishment for failure to engage or follow jobcentre rules as ‘disastrous’. The research concluded that ‘benefit sanctions do little to enhance people’s motivation to prepare for, seek or enter paid work. They routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial, health and behavioural outcomes.’

“I am calling on Minister Doherty to review her Department’s use of sanctions for those who depend on our social protection system. I would also ask that she reviews the way in which her Department communicates with jobseekers.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Eoin Ó Broin has welcomed the news that the Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision Centre will remain open for at least two years and will see much needed improvements in cooking and recreational facilities. The news was received in a Parliamentary Question from Minister of State David Stanton.

Deputy Ó Broin continued to say that the uncertainty surrounding the tendering process highlights why Direct Provision is not the right way to provide those seeking asylum with accommodation

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision Centre was initially due to lose last December. The contract for the centre was then extended for six months pending the outcome of a tendering process.

“The uncertainty about the Centre’s future caused enormous worry and fear for the 250 adults and children. Closure would have resulted in the residents being moved out of Dublin and away from vital educational, medical, social and community supports.

“A strong campaign led by the residents and supported by the local community called for the Centre to remain in Clondalkin. The men, women and children living in Clondalkin Towers are part of our community.

“Thankfully, the contract has been extended and much needed improvements in cooking and recreational facilities are included in the new contract.

“Ultimately however, the uncertainty surrounding the tendering process highlights why Direct Provision is not the right way to provide those seeking asylum with accommodation.

“The Government should now use the time ahead to engage with others to design a more humane accommodation system. They should work with NGOs and the Approved Housing Body sector to put in place publicly funded, own door accommodation that would allow single people and families to live with privacy and dignity while their applications are being processed.” 

Note: Please see the PQ response below

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 12/03/2019
Question Number(s): 219 Question Reference(s): 12330/19
Department: Justice and Equality
Asked by: Eoin Ó Broin T.D.
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if the tendering process for direct provision services within 40km of Newbridge, County Kildare has concluded; if so, the details of the successful bidders; if not, when it will conclude; when the successful bidders will be announced; and the effect the outcome of the process will have for the future of a direct provision centre (details supplied) after June 2019. (Details Supplied) Clondalkin Towers

REPLY

Following the completion of the assessment of tenders received following a public procurement process, the Department of Justice & Equality has formed a framework for centres within a 40km radius of Newbridge to provide accommodation and ancillary services for persons seeking protection through the international protection process.

Four bids were submitted and placed on the framework for 40 km of Newbridge.  These bids are as follows:

DP PQ table

The Department has commenced the drawdown process in respect of those placed on the frameworks. Bidders must commence a mobilisation period to carry out all works required to deliver on their proposals. It is a condition of the tender that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms.

Contracts will be commenced on completion of the mobilisation works. Contracts are for an initial 2 year period with two potential extensions of one year each.

I am pleased that the Towers Accommodation Centre has been successful in being placed on the framework and following the completion of the mobilisation works, residents will enjoy greater autonomy and independence in the centre.  The contract with the Towers Accommodation Centre, as with other centres placed on this framework, will be for a minimum of two years.  

The Department is continuing to roll out its public procurement process on a regional basis throughout the state in 2019. As with the competitions for Sligo and Newbridge, it will be a condition of the tender that that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms.

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Commenting following the landslide rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement the Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said:

"The British Parliament voted by a landslide to reject the Withdrawal Agreement and Theresa May's latest proposals. 

"The scenes tonight show the absolute disregard for the people of Ireland, for our rights, our economy and the Good Friday Agreement that is at the heart of the Tory Brexit agenda.

"Sinn Féin and the majority of parties across this island, know there is no good or sensible Brexit.

"The Withdrawal Agreement is imperfect but it is the only deal on offer. 

"The ‘backstop’ contained is a guarantee that no hard border will be imposed on this island and protects the Good Friday Agreement.

"We are seventeen days away from Brexit and the uncertainty and confusion continues.

"A crash out Brexit would be unthinkable for the peace process, jobs, trade and to the loss of people’s rights and quality of life, particularly in border communities.

"Despite giving assurances to Theresa May the EU has made clear that the Withdrawal Agreement is not going to be reopened for negotiation.

“There is now a need to intensify planning for a no-deal crash with an imperative to ensure no return to a hard border, protections of our agreements and safeguarding the rights of citizens.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said today’s ruling in the High Court on the Seamus Ludlow case is a welcome step in the fight for truth and justice. 

The Newry/Armagh MLA said:“I welcome today’s ruling by the High Court to grant leave to the family of Seamus Ludlow to challenge a PPS decision not to prosecute, failure to provide reasons and to hold a review into the decision. “The Ludlow family have been campaigning for over 40 years for truth about Seamus’ murder in 1976 by Loyalist paramilitaries, some believed to be serving members of the UDR. “This decision will allow the family to move forward in their fight for truth and justice through the courts. “The Irish government must also end the delay in implementing the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice which concluded in 2006 that Commissions of Investigation were needed into important aspects of the Seamus Ludlow case.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Ludlow family in their quest for truth and justice.”

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Sinn Féin TDs Martin Ferris, Gerry Adams, Martin Kenny TD and Seanadóir Padraig MacLochlainn were part of an Oireachtas delegation which today met the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Michael Creed.

Speaking after the meeting, which dealt with the recent arrests of Fishing vessels from the North and serious concerns around current fishing laws, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Fisheries Martin Ferris TD said;

"I called on the Minister to “delay bringing forward legislation – the Sea Fisheries Amendment Bill 2017   - to Committee stage until the Minister has consulted with the fishing industry – North and South.

“The recent arrest of the two Northern fishing vessels has highlighted serious issues with current laws, which must be corrected, and there are also widespread concerns within the fishing industry which must be addressed.”

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Almost 60 young people who are climate striking across Europe, including from Ireland, will be addressing the left groups of the European Parliament today.

This action was taken in light of the decision from the centre and right-wing political groups to veto a proposal for Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to address the Parliament.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Lynn Boylan MEP said:
 
"I'm delighted to welcome the youth activists this evening in Strasbourg, to give them a space to be heard and show that not all of us in the Parliament want to shut them down.

"None of the Fine Gael MEPs objected to their political group's decision to veto.
 
"The Taoiseach has been completely disingenuous in his remarks on the massive global climate strike this Friday.

"As rightly put by one of the young strikers who is here with us today, his words mean absolutely nothing unless he too calls for immediate and rapid change.

"Instead, the Taoiseach is playing politics with the idea of heightening the carbon tax – a policy that has continuously proven its ineffectiveness.

"Carbon taxes are nothing but a distraction from the rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented climate action that we need and that the UN's scientific body has called for.
 
"Tomorrow we will debate what the direction of the EU's climate change policy should be, followed by a vote on Thursday on a resolution on the EU's new 2050 climate strategy.

"This resolution needs to call on EU leaders to significantly raise climate ambition in light of the latest scientific data.

"However, the responses to parliamentary questions from Minister Bruton prove that he will not be advocating for higher climate targets for the EU.

"I have written to the Taoiseach to insist that he faithfully represent the people of Ireland who want serious climate action, and advocate an increase of the EU's climate targets in next week's European Council.
  
"The climate hypocrisy of Fine Gael is breath-taking.

"They refuse to support the Climate Emergency Bill which would keep fossil fuels in the ground; they support building new fossil fuel infrastructure in Ireland; they have not committed to a phase out date for fossil fuels; and they are playing a negative role in the EU's climate negotiations.

"I'm with the striking youth on this one – they are striking because the government will not listen. That's why we have invited them, that's why we want to give them a platform."

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said that the DUP is “hell bent” on pursuing a reckless and blinkered Brexit strategy that is “driving us all towards a no deal catastrophe”.

The Sinn Fein Vice President was commenting after the DUP confirmed it would not support the Brexit withdrawal agreement, despite the latest assurances from the EU.

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“The EU has shown considerable patience and a willingness to facilitate a Brexit agreement that enables Britain to leave the EU without creating a hard border in Ireland, or undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

“The way to achieve that is through the Withdrawal Agreement and the ‘backstop’ contained within it. There can be no deviation or diminution from that position.

“The business community, the farming community, the Civil Service, educationalists and trade unionists have all warned in recent weeks about the dire consequences of a No Deal crash on our economy.

“The DUP continues to ignore these warnings, just as they ignore the fact that the majority of people in the north voted against Brexit in the first place.

“This blinkered strategy is reckless in the extreme. It is driving us all towards a no-deal crash that would be catastrophic.

“At this critical time the DUP have a choice to make. It is time to put people’s jobs, livelihoods and peace first before selfish party political interests.”

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Sinn Féin deputy finance spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has initiated his Regulation of Tenderers Bill before the Dáil this afternoon. This Bill would regulate abnormally low tender bids and badly performing contractors and allow the State to disqualify or exclude them from public works contracts on those grounds.

Speaking this afternoon, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“This Bill I initiated today would ensure that some of the problems arising from the gross mismanagement of the National Children’s Hospital would not happen again. It provides specifically for two important regulations.

“Firstly, it would put in place a system of identifying abnormally low tenders and then disqualifying them from the selection process for a public contract if the contractor cannot provide a credible explanation of their bid and how they would achieve it.

"This is vital, as abnormally low tenders are warning signs of uninformed contractors low-balling bids with the likely consequence of cost escalation further down the line.

“Secondly, it would put in place a system of identifying and disqualifying contractors that have shown significant and persistent deficiencies in prior public contracts.

“Both regulations would have gone some way in protecting the taxpayer and the State from the debacle at the heart of the National Children’s Hospital, and would put in place a robust system to safeguard the public purse and deliver capital projects at cost.

“It is worth noting that this Bill simply enforces regulations that are already in 2016 EU Regulations on the awarding of public contracts.

"This government has abjectly failed to implement these regulations, with no evidence that any circulars or guidance notes have been issued by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform to departments or contracting authorities on their provisions.

“It is this type of policy apathy that has resulted in cost overruns across capital projects since 2011, and this type of apathy that my Bill will address.

“In response to parliamentary questions I posed to departments on 14 February, it was disclosed that cost overruns on capital projects have been a consistent pattern of public project delivery since this Fine Gael government came to power.

“Since 2011, 20 capital projects in the Department of Health have had cost overruns, and that excludes the National Children’s Hospital. One of them, Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, had a 56% cost overrun above the initially agreed cost.

“Since 2011, an average overspend of 6% has taken place in capital projects in the Department of Education. While the Department of Justice has seen overruns in Midlands Prison and Cork Prison capital projects of 40% and 37% respectively, worth a combined €22 million.

“These figures exclude the €450 million overspend at the National Children’s Hospital and the debacle of the National Broadband Plan, but proves this government is reckless and incompetent in its delivery of capital projects.

“My Regulation of Tenderers Bill will go some way to remedy that incompetence”

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Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson David Cullinane TD has said that the ‘backstop’ remains the only way to ensure that that the interests of citizens in the north are upheld and to ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.
 
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Deputy Cullinane said:
 
“It is our firm view that the legal assurances secured by Britain last night do not alter the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, and that the Agreement agreed by the Dáil in November still stands.
 
“The legal standing of the Agreement makes it clear that the north stays inside the Customs Union and Single Market to protect the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement unless and until some alternative arrangements of equal standing are achieved.
 
“The Withdrawal Agreement is not a perfect deal, but the backstop in particular goes some way to ensuring that there is no hard border on our island, that the interests of citizens are upheld and the Good Friday Agreement is protected.
 
“In December, the British government accepted that position and signed up to the Agreement and the ‘backstop’.
 
“Despite the reckless and irresponsible position of some in the Conservative party and the DUP, the fact remains that the Agreement must be honoured and a deal that recognises the unique circumstances that present themselves for our island must be delivered.
 
“The ‘backstop’ in our view remains the only way to ensure that is made a reality.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has called for stricter legislation and regulation to protect young people and the most vulnerable in society from the scourge of gambling addiction.

The party’s Culture, Arts and Sport spokesperson was commenting after launching Sinn Féin’s Problem Gambling Policy document with addiction charities. 

Sinéad Ennis said:

“Sinn Féin launched our party policy on tackling Problem Gambling which outlines proposals to help and protect those in need and not to stop those who gamble responsibly and for leisure. 

“This document explores the issue of problem gambling, specifically online gambling, advertising, children and young people, casinos, and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. 

“The rise in technology has seen online gambling become more accessible for children and young people who can now access gambling online without having to leave their homes.

“Problem gambling does not only affect the gambler themselves, it has wider implications for society and affects relationships with family and friends. 

“Sinn Féin are committed to tackling problem gambling north and south. The most effective way to do that is through modernised and fit for purpose legislation."

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Matt Carthy MEP: “Unfair Trading Practices legislation is a missed opportunity to improve the position of farmers”

 

Sinn Fein MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has described the new EU Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) legislation as a lost opportunity and has said that he fears that farmers will continue to be exploited by retailers in the market. Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, cited the failure to include a ban on below-cost-selling as the most glaring omission in a failed package. 

 

Speaking from Strasburg after the adoption of the legislation, Carthy commented:

 

“The situation whereby, those who do the most amount of work in producing the food we eat - receive they least share of profits - has been getting worse every single year.

“Retailers and processers have been exploiting their position while our farmers are expected to work on ever tightening profit margins and often, at a loss.

“Many of us hoped that the EU would step up to the mark and deliver Unfair Trading Practises legislation that would rebalance the scales, recognise the importance of our farming communities and stand up to the corporate giants.  This was the opportunity to do so.

“That opportunity has been wasted.

“Sinn Féin MEPs voted against this file because we cannot look farmers in the eye and tell them their situation will improve as a result of its enactment.

“The failure to include a ban on below cost selling of foodstuffs is just the most glaring of the deficiencies in this legislation. One third of the banned UTPs can continue if supermarkets manage to insert them into contracts.

“I hope that I am proved wrong, that the implementation of this legislation will prove a game-changer for our family farmers.

“I fear though that it will not; and that we will either have to return to this work, or watch as more farmers leave the land and our rural communities suffer for want of a bit of ambition and vision at EU level.

 

“I have listened to those Irish MEPs who supported this file and Commissioner Hogan describe it as ‘a good start’ - But, negotiations on this legislation has been going on for 10 years!  If it takes a decade to reach this point then our farmers surely deserve better. 

 

“Sinn Féin’s focus will now move to a national level where we will press for domestic legislation that addresses the gaps left by the EU text. Most importantly, we will continue to demand the reintroduction of an Irish ban on below-cost-selling.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy to hold public meeting in Galway this Friday

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy will host a public meeting in the Connemara Coast Hotel this Friday evening the 15th of March.

The event entitled “After Brexit: Investing in the West” will take place in the Connemara Coast Hotel, Na Forbacha, Co. Galway at 7.30pm.

Speaking beforehand Matt Carthy said:

“Since my election as a MEP I have held dozens of public meetings across this large EU constituency to inform communities of the work that I am doing on their behalf but also to hear at first-hand how EU decisions are impacting on Irish families.

“This Friday’s meeting in Galway will be an important opportunity to discuss how we can work at an EU and national level to address the imbalances in investment that is acutely felt in rural areas.  Many areas still do not even have adequate broadband, an essential utility in modern times.  There is no urgency for the provision of adequate public transport, the Western Rail Corridor hasn’t been prioritised.  Indeed, successive Irish governments have ignored the needs of rural communities.  Despite strong rhetoric, European policy has failed to resolve the domestic failures.  

“With Brexit uncertainty intensifying it is more important than ever that we have an ambitious vision for investment across the regions including, crucially, in the west.  

“Friday’s event will provide an opportunity to highlight some of the major challenges being faced by communities in counties like Galway, it will allow these communities to have their voice heard and it will also present a forum for us to outline Sinn Féin’s proposals to address the issues.  

“Rural Galway is a great place to visit.  We need to strive to also make it a great place to live, work and raise a family.  This can be achieved but only if the correct political choices are made.  Sinn Féin are determined to support a vision that delivers jobs, infrastructure and civic supports for our rural communities, including our farmers, fishers and wider population”.

“I therefore encourage everyone with an interest in delivering an investment programme for rural communities to come along”.

ENDS

Matt Carthy Galway Event March 2019

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