Speaking in the Dáil today regarding Thursday’s Eurozone meeting in Brussels, Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams called on the Taoiseach to take the opportunity to ‘make a stand’ against the huge profits our EU partners are making from the exorbitant interest rate they have imposed on the loans made to this State.
Mr. Adams said the priority for the government at the summit must be to “ensure that Irish debt is brought to a sustainable level” and called for payments to unguaranteed senior bondholders to be stopped.
Addressing the Taoiseach Mr Adams said:
“Payments to unguaranteed senior bondholders must be stopped. If not, by the end of September you will have given them €4.3 billion. At the beginning of November the Government will pay €703 million to these bondholders. This is almost the exact same amount that has been taken out of the health budget.
“The social consequences of government policy is to be found in closed A&E units; in the almost half a million unemployed; in the decisions our
elderly citizens are being forced to take between paying bills and buying food.
“Taoiseach it is not enough to say that you have no choice, the truth is you do and you can start by making a stand for Ireland’s interests at the EU summit tomorrow.”
Gerry Adams TD Speech on EU Emergency Summit:
Taoiseach I welcome the fact that there is a Special Summit on the
European Debt crisis to be held this week.
However I have to say that I think the handling by your Government of this crisis since you took office has been appalling.
We heard a lot of guff during the election about not one penny more into the banks – Fine Gael will do things differently.
Yet in the next 10 days the government will pay €19 billion into Irish
Your Tánaiste - in those days he was presented by Labour as the Taoiseach in waiting – declared it would be Labour’s way not Frankfurt’s way.
You seem to have made no effort to build alliances with other EU
Governments such as those who are also in receipt of the so-called
assistance of the EU and the IMF.
And then you set aside all of your commitments on these issues; shredded your manifesto and proceeded to implement Fianna Fáil policy.
You also blame Fianna Fáil on every decision you have taken.
Of course, Fianna Fáil stand condemned for the mess they created but Fianna Fáil are no longer in government.
Fianna Fáil are not going to the European Summit. You are. You are the Taoiseach. You have choices to make.
Sinn Féin wishes you well. We want you to stand up for the citizens of this state and for Irish interests.
The difference between us is that we represent different interests.
The reality is that our so – called partners in the EU are set to benefit to the tune of nearly €10 Billion due to the penal rate of lending.
That is scandalous, that is what you need to re negotiate this week
The leaders of France, Germany and other EU states have made decisions not in the interest of the EU as a whole but in their own national interests.
You should follow their example.
You should not see yourself as an observer at this summit.
You need to make it clear that the EU Plan for Greece, Ireland and Portugal has failed.
Taoiseach the medicine is killing the patient.
Ireland is unlikely to be in a position to return to International Bond
markets in 2013; Irish Debt has been rated as Junk by one of the leading rating Agencies.
Taoiseach this EU/IMF plan is junk and it needs to be dumped.
And you should say so. Clearly and directly.
Taoiseach, the priority for the Government and for you at this summit needs to be to ensure that Irish debt is brought to a sustainable level.
You can’t tackle this debt crisis by taking on more debt.
Payments to Unguaranteed Senior Bond holders should be stopped. In November €703 million will be paid over to these bondholders.
Taoiseach, that amount mirrors almost exactly the amount of money taken out of the Health budget.
The social consequences of government policy is to be found in closed A&E units; in the almost half a million unemployed; in the decisions our elderly citizens are being forced to take between paying bills and buying food.
Moreover, your Government has spent 5 months negotiating an interest rate
reduction which you have as yet failed to achieve.
This reduction will save the exchequer only €150 million per year as it will not apply retrospectively to money already drawn down under the bailout.
In 2011 the Government pumped €3.1 Billion of Taxpayers money into zombie banks like Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide.
In addition our EU partners will benefit to the tune of nearly €10 billion from the exorbitant interest they are charging on the loans.
While an interest rate reduction will be welcome it amounts to very little when set against the profits our partners are making; the tens of billions being pumped into banks to pay for their mistakes; and the hardship our citizens are enduring.
Taoiseach, this is a policy which makes no economic sense.
It is madness.
The ECB policy of protecting Bank Bondholders whatever the cost is reckless
and dangerous and you need to call time on it.
It is reckless in terms of the social consequences that policy, as
implemented by you, is having on our citizens.
This is reflected in the downgrading of services in Hospitals, in the loss
of SNA’s in schools and in the forthcoming Household charge.
It is reflected in the Universal Social charge and the new taxes on
property and water that you are bringing in at the behest of the Troika.
It seems that even the IMF has lost patience with EU dithering and ECB
obstructionism on the issue of Burden sharing.
Taoiseach you need to impress on other leaders this week that the Irish
people are no longer prepared to carry the can for these gamblers and speculators.
Finally, Taoiseach thus far you have refused to listen to Sinn Féin’s
advice on these matters.
That is your entitlement. That is your choice.
But all of us have to learn to listen to opposing voices.
You represent us at this summit. You are not there as a spectator.
Ireland is a good place. The Irish people don’t deserve to be walked over.
You need to make a stand.
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed today's launch of the consultation into a Carrier Bag Levy. Mr McKay, whose Single Use Carrier Bag Act was passed into law earlier this year said:
"I will be meeting the Minister next week to discuss the introduction of this levy and will be pushing for him to do his utmost to introduce a levy as soon as possible. In the meantime it will be important that local stakeholders and members of the public take the opportunity to respond to this consultation."
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA has met the EU Commission to discuss CAP Reform.
Speaking after a meeting today in Brussels with Georg Haeusler, Head of Cabinet of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, the Minister said: “The meeting with Mr Haeusler took place at a very opportune time with the publication of the EU Budget proposals at the end of June and the upcoming CAP reform legislative proposals which are expected on 12 October. I took the opportunity to put our views on CAP reform directly to the Commission, with a particular focus on the importance of a sufficient CAP budget and the potential changes in relation to direct payments.”
The Minister continued: “In relation to the CAP budget, I made the point that while the recent budget proposals would see a freeze in the CAP budget at the 2013 level, this represents a significant reduction in real terms. I stressed that it is very important that future budget negotiations do not result in any further reductions.
“I explored the issue of the future shape of the Single Farm Payment Scheme and emphasised the importance of regional flexibility so that we are able to design a payment structure that best suits our industry. Our discussions also covered the issues of payments going to active farmers, a small farmer scheme, capping of direct payments and greening of the Single Farm Payment.
“I was pleased to learn from Mr Haeusler that the proposals will contain a specific targeted scheme for small farmers. Indications are that this would be a lump sum payment for five years and that it would not require cross compliance or other controls. If this can be properly targeted at small active farmers, this would be a very welcome development.
“In relation to the matter of greening of Pillar 1, I outlined a number of concerns and emphasised the need to avoid excessive bureaucracy, and was comforted that Mr Haeusler accepted that the greening aspect will need to be feasible, measurable and have a positive impact.”
The Minister concluded by saying: “We are at the beginning of the CAP reform progress and when the legislative proposals emerge, I intend to seek further meetings with the Commission. I wish to build on the work of the previous Minister in developing relationships with the Commission as I believe this is essential in order to influence the CAP reform debate.”
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said that new figures released by the British Treasury regarding the devolution of corporation tax to the North are untested.
“These are untested figures from the British Treasury and are figures that the Executive would dispute, as such they need to be treated with caution,” said the chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee.
“The British Treasury is obviously not comfortable with handing over control of corporation tax to the Assembly and these figures can be seen as a scare tactic.“The bottom line is that the devolution of corporation tax is a very complex area that needs looked at carefully and no decision will be made until it is seen that the outcome will benefit all the people in the North.”
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed today’s announcement by OFCOM to reduce significantly the prices that BT Wholesale can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in primarily rural, less densely populated areas.
Minister O’Neill said: “In today’s digital society, broadband communication is increasingly important for business development and growth, delivery of government services and to our everyday lives. But some rural areas of the north are being left behind. Without access, or a decent level of access to broadband, these communities and businesses are being denied the opportunity to join the digital age.
“OFCOM’s decision has the potential to redress this imbalance and narrow the digital divide between urban areas and more rural parts of the north. Reducing the prices that BT Wholesale can charge other providers is expected to generate more competition between retail ISPs and lead to cheaper retail prices and better quality services for consumers.
“This is good news and has the potential to bring economic and social benefits to rural areas. From an economic perspective, it will no doubt bring some relief to many rural businesses who may be suffering as a result of having poor access to broadband or inadequate speeds with their broadband service. It will also benefit some of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in our rural areas, and address feelings of exclusion and isolation, by helping younger and older people to access these new technologies and the opportunities provided by them.”
Sinn Féin Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA Michelle Gildernew said she is extremely concerned that a number of cases of a virulent strain of the clostridum difficile bacterium have been identified in the South Eastern Trust area.
“This is indeed worrying considering that an inquiry revealed earlier this year that a c. difficile outbreak in the Northern Trust area was linked to the deaths of 31 people in 2007/08,” said the Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP who is also Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee.
“I call on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to take every precaution necessary to ensure that this recent spread of the bug does not have the same consequences as the previous outbreak and that anyone suffering from the ‘superbug’ gets the best treatment available.
“It could be said that the previous Health Minister did not take a hands on approach to the outbreak a few years ago and hopefully Minister Poots will not repeat this approach.
“It is unacceptable that people entering hospital in order to have illnesses and other ailments treated run the risk of contracting life threatening viruses so the minister must take the necessary steps to ensure that there is no spread of this problem." Críoch
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has commended the three students who have issued a High Court challenge to Government's decision to change the Maintenance Grant Scheme.
Speaking today Deputy Crowe said: “As part of Budget 2011, only students living a minimum of 45 kilometres from their college will be eligible for the ‘non-adjacent’ grant. This means that thousands of students who live between 24km and 45km from their place of education will have their grants slashed by 62%.
“The challenge brought before the High Court has been made on behalf of students attending various third-level colleges around the country and is supported by the Union of Students in Ireland.
“I understand they are attempting to quash the Minister’s decision to change the rules governing how far a student must live from college in order to receive a higher (non-adjacent) rate of grant payment. Sinn Féin supports their efforts to stop the Government implementing changes that would raise the current 24 kilometres threshold to 45 kilometres or more.
“This policy change is very unfair, particularly on students who have committed themselves and budgeted for courses over a number of years only to find that their grant has been cut by over 60%. I have had people ring me who are being forced to end their third level course because they can no longer afford their college fees. To make matters worse, there seems to be no way of appealing this rule or making a case for exemption.
“This change in policy is a direct attack on the rights’ of thousands of disadvantaged students around the country to access third level education.” ENDS
Sinn Féin TD for Cork East, Sandra McLellan has criticised the Minister for Health's decision not to proceed with a full investigation into the health risk posed by the Haulbowline dump.
Deputy McLellan said:
“The decision by the Minister for Health not to carry out a baseline health study in the Cork Harbour area appears to be one based primarily on financial considerations. The fears of the local community concerning the potential long-term affects of the toxic waste have not been addressed, and can not be addressed by a simple statistical analysis of the National Cancer Registry.
“The Chief Medical Officer's response does not go far enough. We want assurances that the affect of this toxic dump will not have negative health implications for the local community in years to come. The only way to give those assurances is by completing a full investigation. I will continue to press the Government for funding to be made available to carry out this investigation.”
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD will this morning in the Dáil raise serious concern over the closure of both the male and female acute units at St. Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, from 31 August and the implications for mental healthcare.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“In reply to my Dáil Question, Minister of State for Health, Kathleen Lynch, has confirmed that the male and female acute units at St. Ita’s, Portrane are to close from 31 August. This is required by the Mental Health Commission due to the condition of the building and the hospital cannot be registered until refurbishment works are completed.
“The condition of St. Ita’s has for long been of concern but successive Governments have failed to put in place alternatives. Now we are told by the Minister and the HSE that the St. Ita’s units will close from 31 August and there is only a vague assurance that unspecified acute mental health services will be provided for the heavily populated North Dublin area served by the hospital.
“The psychiatric unit at Beaumont Hospital - promised since 1987 - was delayed because of former Health Minister Mary Harney’s now ditched ‘co-location’ plan. Minister of State Lynch tells us that the contract for the construction of the psychiatric unit at Beaumont has been awarded and it is hoped construction will begin in the last quarter of 2011. But what happens to people who need to be admitted for acute psychiatric care between 31 August 2011 and the completion of the Beaumont Unit? The concerns and questions raised further highlight the lack of proper planning and provision for mental healthcare by successive Governments in this State.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended his sympathy to the family and friends of prominent Mayo republican Cathal Quinn who died at the weekend.
Gerry Adams said:
“Cathal Quinn from Killala was a lifelong republican activist who served the cause of a united and independent Ireland with dedication and commitment.
“I want to extend to Cathal’s daughters Maebh, Dearbhla, Fionnuala and Orlaith, his sons Feargal and Gearóid and to the wider Quinn family circle my deepest sympathy and condolences at this sad time.
“I measc laocra na nGael go raibh sé.”
Speaking on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill this evening, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government Brian Stanley TD criticised the decision by the Government to reduce the number of TDs in the Dáil in the absence of any meaningful political reform in the State.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“While Sinn Féin welcomes the provision of the six month rule for the holding of by-elections to the Dáil we take serious issue with the provision in the Bill to reduce the number of TDs to as little as 153 in the absence of any meaningful political reform. There is no corresponding enhancement of local authority powers either. It is unacceptable. There is a still a question regarding the constitutionality of this Bill.
“Reducing the number of TDs is not going to make it any more representative or enable people to participate any more effectively in democracy on this island. It won’t mean there will be any more people from low-income backgrounds who are voiceless in political debates. This is all about being seen to be doing something even if it will have no actual effect on reforming politics whatsoever.
“The hands of the Constituency Commission are still tied in that they cannot recommend anything more than three, four, or five seat constituencies. We are calling for proportional representation to be strengthened through the introduction of larger multi-seat constituencies. It is absolutely essential that more than just token gestures are made when it comes to democracy and political reform so we have tabled an amendment to this effect.
“We also proposed that political parties should be obliged to furnish their accounts to the Standards in Public Offices Commission so that all political funding is out in the open. Members of organisations the length and breadth of the country get to see their accounts every year, whether it’s a community development project in Tullamore or a GAA club in Lifford or a women’s centre in Middleton.
“Sinn Féin, as an exercise in financial transparency, has published our full accounts and handed them to the media for a number of years. Publication of these accounts should be a prerequisite before a single cent of public money is allocated to a political party in that calendar year.
“We are right to demand the highest financial standards from those in receipt of state money, or those in the employment of the State, so the government should be willing to do this. It is disappointing that the Government parties chose to vote against our amendments which would have made meaningful change to the political process in this state.”
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has described Joan Burton’s comments about unemployed people making lifestyle choices to stay on the dole as a spineless attack on the most vulnerable people in the state.
Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Cullinane said the only choice for many people out of work is the dole, or the plane out of the country.
Senator Cullinane said:
“The Minister is misleading and attempting to distract the public by claiming that people are deciding not to work, as a lifestyle choice.
“The fact is, there simply isn't employment just waiting for the long term unemployed to take up. Some 100,000 young people have emigrated, and there are in excess of 460,000 people unemployed, 14,500 of which in my own county. These people are the victims of bad policies on the part of politicians.
“It is not their fault and it is wrong to blame them and to stigmatise them. For many of these, the only choice they can make is whether to take the plane or the dole.
“In my view it's an attempt by the labour party and the government to divert attention from their failure to create jobs, and their betrayal of their promises to get people back to work, and to protect the vulnerable.
“These comments are a slap in the face for those people who get up every day of the week, submitting CVs to countless employers and filling out countless application forms, only to hear nothing back.
“Unemployment, and particularly long term unemployment are often accompanied by low self esteem. These disgraceful comments will certainly not help. When the unemployed hear such comments from well paid politicians, many of whom, frankly, live in ivory towers, it simply adds insult to injury.
“This was a spineless attack on the most vulnerable people in the state; issue of long term unemployment is very serious and complex, and should not be trivialised.
“We should be having a debate on how we get people back to work, and the government should deliver on its promises to create employment, rather than insulting the vulnerable.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Conor Murphy MP, MLA (Newry/Armagh) while welcoming the movement on retention of some of the money in End Year Flexibility (EYF) said it does not go far enough.
Conor Murphy said:
“Sammy Wilson’s announcement that the British Treasury has decided to ‘allow’ him to retain some unspent monies in the EYF calculations, although welcome does not go far enough.
“The fact is that the British Treasury unilaterally cut over £4billion from our entitlement in the Block Grant which decimated our ability to deliver the programme of public expenditure required if we are to combat the worst effects of the recession. Not satisfied with slashing our budget without any consultation the British Chancellor then further raided our finances by changing the rules on EYF.
“Sammy Wilson’s comments that this is a ‘vast improvement’ and ‘would ensure ‘that we retain our resources where they can be of most benefit’ is yet another example of his subservient attitude to the British Exchequer. The British Treasury has also said that the amount ‘allowed’ to be retained would be capped at £59million for day-to-day running costs or £15million for capital projects. Sammy Wilson should be fighting to have all funding that while not yet spent has been earmarked for particular projects retained here.“The clawing back by the British Treasury of any monies that has been allocated to Departments is unacceptable and should be resisted as a further attack on our ability to deliver our Programme for Government.
Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Fra McCann, has called for the immediate release of Brendan Lillis, currently being held in Maghaberry Prison.
Speaking today Mr McCann said:
“Brendan Lillis health condition is deteriorating on a weekly basis and he is now critically ill. Despite this and the fact that there are no charges being brought against Brendan Lillis he continues to be held in Maghaberry.
“This is totally unacceptable and he needs to be released to his family immediately.A Sinn Féin delegation met with Brendan in the prison hospital last week.
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly raised this issue with the British government directly and with the Justice Minister David Ford.
“There needs to be movement on this case as a matter of urgency. Brendan Lillis needs to be released.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Peadar Tóibín, will today present his party’s Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011 to the Dáil.
Speaking this afternoon, Deputy Tóibín said:
“This Bill serves to give legal standing to JLCs and Employment Regulation Orders.
“In presenting this Bill today Sinn Féin will give the Government an opportunity to finally redeem themselves, to stop hiding behind the apron strings of legal argument and to come out and support the most vulnerable employees in the workforce.
“We are faced with a labour crisis, where on one hand we have a government who are not prepared to stand up and take action to protect 180,000 workers. The government have claimed that it is too complicated to legislate to protect those workers affected by the recent High Court judgement to strike down the JLCs. On the other hand we have Fianna Fáil tabling a bill this evening knowing full well the crisis was of their making. The 180,000 families who face an uncertain future do so because Fianna Fáil, just like this government sat on their hands when they could have done the right thing when they were in government.
“Our Bill, supported by UNITE , MANDATE and campaign groups, is the most mature and reasonable response to the crisis. I would hope that the Government see the error of their ways and throw their weight behind the bill. It is totally unacceptable that while Government Ministers are preparing for holidays, workers are preparing for months of uncertainty and further attacks on their wages.”
Speaking in response to news that new tolls are to be introduced to motorways across the 26 counties, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Dessie Ellis described the move as “an unfair revenue-raising measure to pay for the wrong headed approach to infrastructure pursued by the previous governments and supported by Fine Gael.”
Deputy Ellis said;
“Motorists paid for the M50 Motorway many times over through tolls paid to the private company National Toll Roads (NTR) over a period of eighteen years. The ownership of the road is now in the hands of the state but they continue to enforce tolls on taxpayers to subsidise the private company hired to manage the motorway. People are being asked to pay again and again.
“This can do nothing but damage to business and job creation as it makes it more expensive for people to get to work and business to deliver goods.
“It is also a fact that this money raised will not go to funding better roads, or maintaining them but will go into the pocket of the private companies operating these roads who are being subsidised by the state to the tune of hundreds of thousands of euro a month in the case of the M3 and N18 alone. This is due to falling traffic numbers which this measure will only worsen.
“The government must learn the lessons that the failure of PPP should have taught their predecessors. It is vital Minister Varadkar recognises this when he sits down in September to decide on the capital projects currently being considered.”
Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, Cathal Boylan MLA (Newry/Armagh) has called for action on development of an all-Ireland Renewable Energy Strategy.
Cathal Boylan said:
“It is time that the Dublin government and the Executive take seriously the need for renewable energy development. Delivery of renewable energy sources needs to be substantially increased if we are to free ourselves from the burden of greed being displayed by multi-national oil conglomerates and the damage to the environment caused by fossil fuels. Realistic targets need to be set by both administrations for the progressive provision of energy from renewable sources to replace fossil fuels. The targets should send a clear signal about the scale of our renewable energy ambitions and commitment.
“But in setting targets we need to clearly define environmental and planning guidance in advance. And if we are serious about fully exploiting the potential of renewables we need to look at it in an all-Ireland context. I believe that Ireland as an island with access to an abundance of renewable energy sources from wind, wave and tidal power – none of which respects borders - could become a net exporter of energy.
“Previous Irish governments have squandered the economic potential of the gas and oil reserves, handing huge profits to multi-national giants at the expense of the Irish taxpayers. In fact, Stat Oil delivered more benefit to the Norwegian people from Irish gas reserves than successive Irish governments did to the Irish people.
“As part of the planning for environmentally friendly delivery of renewable energy sources, I would urge the establishment of an all-Ireland Energy Commission to bring forward clearly defined development plans to both the Irish government and the Executive for an all-Ireland Sustainable Renewable Energy Strategy. This would ensure that partisan political considerations would play no part in sustainable development of natural sources of energy.
“Government incentives should be made available for the development of prototype designs to harness the power of the Atlantic to supply electricity to Irish homes and business. It is estimated that marine energy could eventually supply up to 10% of the world's electricity needs. Ireland with its wave and wind power resources has massive potential to be a major generator and exporter of renewable energy.
“In order to maintain long-term sustainability of energy supply and a prosperous, healthy and safe environment we must embrace the need to move away from the use of fossil fuels. Always mindful that we have a responsibility to protect our environment for future generations, we must ensure that all of our actions take account of the economic, social and environmental consequences.”