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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Nuacht

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Speaking today the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “with less than three weeks to go before polling day it is all to play for.”

Deputy McDonald said:

“There is just under three weeks to go until polling day. The electorate is only beginning to engage with this very important issue. We are getting very positive feedback on the doors. This weekend’s opinion poll tells us that there is all to play for in the coming weeks.

“Sinn Féin will continue to put forward the case for an alternative to austerity and an alternative to the Austerity Treaty. We will make the case on the airwaves and on the doors that we need a change of direction.

“Four years of austerity has demonstrated one thing, that you cannot cut your way out of a recession. We need investment in jobs and growth.

“While the consensus for cuts parties believe that even more austerity is the way forward Sinn Féin believes that people deserve better. On May 31st we have an opportunity to say no to austerity and yes to investment in jobs and growth.” 

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Speaking today during a canvass in Co Louth Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said that, “today’s jobs fair at the RDS in Dublin  is another stark reminder that austerity is not working”. The Louth TD said that the Austerity Treaty, if implemented, would deepen the recession and make it more difficult to tackle the unemployment crisis.

Deputy Adams said:

“Today’s jobs fair in Dublin is yet another reminder that austerity isn’t working. With 1,500 people emigrating every week the queues of young people seeking employment opportunities abroad is a damning indictment of Fine Gael and Labour’s failed economic strategy.

“Here in my own constituency more than 17,500 people are on the live register.  This has more than doubled since 2008 when there were 8104 on the live register. This reflects the situation across the rest of the state, where numbers on the live register have more than doubled since 2008 to 430,000. There has been absolutely no improvement since Fine Gael and Labour took office and last year over 76,000 people emigrated

“The Austerity Treaty is based on the same failed policies as the current Government strategy. In fact if implemented it will deepen the recession and make it more difficult to tackle the unemployment crisis.

“We need a change of direction. We need to replace the austerity led approach of Fine Gael and Labour with one based on investment in jobs and growth.

“A comprehensive rejection of the Austerity Treaty on May 31st would send a powerful signal to the Government that a change of direction is needed.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has condemned the government for slow progress on delivering social housing from NAMA and the lack of clarity about the process.

He made his comments following a response to a parliamentary question revealing that just under 1,000 of the 2,000 units are suitable and that so far, negotiations are only in progress on 700.

Deputy Ellis continued;
"This is shocking given the absolutely disastrous situation we are looking at in housing in this state.

We have over 100,000 on the waiting list for social housing and a half a billion euro being given to private landlords each year in rent supplement but the government and NAMA seem to be dragging their heels in a scheme that is rapidly looking less and less impressive. These units were heralded as the long sought social dividend by this government back in December but six months on no one has been housed.

Out of the 2,000 units, 697 are now deemed unsuitable and 344 have been taken out of the scheme by the developers NAMA is bailing out. This is not good enough. We need housing now and we need to provide it in a transparent and cost effective way. The government is refusing to give an estimate of cost but it is clear it will be a good pay day for developers.

Another worrying claim is that the government may try to house people in developments deemed unsuitable. They need to be clear on this. Planning for housing has been an utter failure of this state and we must ensure we will not be putting people in isolated or unsuitable conditions despite the immediate need to house people.

I call on the minister to outline clearly to the Dáil how this process is being carried out and to regularly update the public on the delivery of these units and further more genuine social dividends.

The people paid dearly for NAMA and this is not good enough."
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Commenting on the publication of the HIQA report on Nazareth House in Buncrana, Co Donegal, where seven people died of flu-related illness, Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said it is essential that lessons are learned and implemented by all care homes, the HSE and the health minister.

He said: “I wish to extend sympathy to all the bereaved who lost relatives in Nazareth House during the influenza outbreak in March and April.

“The HIQA Report, while commending the care provided in Nazareth House, identifies a number of issues that arose during the outbreak. Chief among these is inadequate levels of staffing to deal with the situation. The report also identifies the need for more rigorous procedures to ensure early detection of such outbreaks.

“All care homes as well as the HSE and Health Minister James Reilly need to learn the lessons of this tragedy and to ensure that best practice is implemented. They must ensure that staff numbers are adequate to provide care both in public and private nursing homes. Nothing less is acceptable.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has accused the Government of “distributing deliberately misleading information in their referendum booklet”. 

The Government booklet, paid for by the taxpayer, is silent on the implications of the Treaty’s new enforcement and punishment mechanisms. With less than three weeks to polling day it is not good enough for the government to be hiding on this issue. They need to come out and explain the long term consequences of giving new wide ranging powers to the European Commission and European Court of Justice to dictate what is in future budgets and to impose fines of up to €160million if they decide we are in breach of their rules.”

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This week the Government has distributed their information booklet which claims to provide balanced and objective information on the Treaty. While the booklet does not advocate a Yes vote it fails to explain the full consequences of key elements of the Treaty.

“In particular it deliberately fails to mention the consequences for our economic sovereignty arising from the enforcement and punishment mechanisms contained in Articles 5 and 8.

“This is clearly a deliberate omission aimed at misleading the public.

“Article 5 cedes significant new powers to the European Commission to force states deemed to be in breach of the Treaty’s harsh rules into an ‘economic partnership programme’.  This will allow the European Commission to dictate what happens in future Irish budgets.

“Article 8 cedes significant new legal jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice and gives them the power to impose fines on member states for not complying with the rules of the Treaty.  These fines can be up to €160million.

“All of this undermined the ability of the Dáil to control our economic affairs and is a significant transfer of powers to the EU.  And this is happening without any proper debate or scrutiny.

“With less than three weeks to polling day it is not good enough for the government to be hiding on this issue. They need to come out and explain the long term consequences of giving new wide ranging powers to the European Commission and European Court of Justice to dictate what is in future budgets and to impose fines of up to €160 million if they decide we are in breach of their rules.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien speaking in the Dáil today called on the government to support the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) 2012 in order to allow public scrutiny of local authority accounts.
Deputy O’Brien said:
“I can see no reason why the government should not support this opposition bill, which if passed would allow the Comptroller and Auditor General to scrutinise the accounts of local authorities and identify exactly where money is being spent.
“I was a representative on Cork City Council for 11 years and up until a few years ago there was no Finance Committee. There was very little opportunity aside from the estimates process to scrutinise where money was going. The Mayor of Cork earns €117,000, with a car and an expense account. This kind of spending should be open to public scrutiny in order to identify spending on this scale which is not giving value for money.
“When this government was formed, they made a big deal of increasing accountability in the political process. If they are serious about that, then I would urge them to support this bill.”
ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD has called on the government to introduce legislation to regulate debt collection.

Deputy Ferris was responding to replies from Ministers Rabbitte and Noonan in relation to questions regarding complaints about Arvato Finance which is contracted to collect debts owed to Bord Gáis.

He said: “I have raised this issue in the light of several complaints I have received regarding domestic and commercial customers who feel that they have been unfairly treated by the company concerned.

“It is also my understanding that Arvato has not signed up to the Irish code of practice but is signed up to the British code. And, contrary to what Minister Rabbitte has said, the Irish code of practice is not based on the British code.

“There is therefore an urgent need for domestic legislation on the whole area of debt collection particularly at the current juncture when so many households and businesses find themselves in debt.

“I would call on the government to legislate in line with the Fine Gael Private Members Bill of March 2009 which pointed out the lack of domestic law in this area, and called for legislation ‘to regulate debt collection and to ensure that debt collectors are registered and vetted.’

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin leader was in Leitrim and Roscommon on Thursday for a series of meetings with community and voluntary groups. The focus of the visit is the impact of the government’s austerity policies and the likely effect of the Austerity Treaty on rural Ireland.

Teachta Adams meetings over the two days are part of a consultation process which Sinn Féin has begun with rural Ireland with the aim of producing a plan for the regeneration and growth of rural communities.

Last night several hundred citizens packed into the Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon to discuss these matters and the referendum on the Austerity Treaty.

The Sinn Féin leader accused Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil of “running a negative referendum campaign which is about confusing and scaring citizens. At the same time the Yes camp is planning to hand Irish fiscal sovereignty over to European bureaucrats while imposing a further €6 billion in austerity cuts and taxes beyond the current Troika bailout cuts of €8.6 billion.”

Teachta Adams said: “Travelling through Leitrim and Roscommon today I met embattled community activists struggling to maintain local services for our elderly, young and disabled whose budgets have been repeatedly cut.

“The policies of austerity are stripping local communities of essential services – of schools, of guidance counsellors, hospitals, post-offices and garda stations. Small villages and towns see businesses closing and their young people emigrating.

“As one community leader told me in Mohill austerity is ‘cutting the heart out of our community’.

“And all of this will worsen if the Austerity treaty is ratified on May 31st.

“I also found a great resilience and a spirit of hope in Leitrim and Roscommon. That spirit is alive across rural Ireland. I met many optimistic citizens who have faith in our communities and our future. They know austerity is not working.

“Irish citizens have the chance to make a stand also against austerity on May 31st.

“The referendum provides us with an opportunity to join the growing European wide movement that is demanding an end to austerity, as well investment in jobs and growth.

“A No vote is also a clear rejection of a Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil agreement to hand over fiscal sovereignty to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in the EU.

“If these parties have their way, key fiscal decisions on taxes – including corporation tax - and welfare payments affecting Irish citizens will be made in future in Brussels and Strasbourg – not the Oireachtas.

“The head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said last week that within ten years of the Austerity Treaty there will be fiscal union which will require national governments delegating fiscal sovereignty to.

“The government claims that the Treaty is about balancing the state’s books but its endorsement of the Fiscal Compact means that in ten years the books will be in the hands of an EU central authority not an Irish government!!

“Enda Kenny cannot claim to want to be the Taoiseach who restores Irish economic sovereignty while at the same time pursuing a course that gives it away.”
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Note to editors: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is in Cavan this morning.

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Sinn Féín Spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said Peadar Tóibín TD has Simon Coveney’s claim that the government’s job strategy is working is ridiculous. Deputy Tóibín said it would take 26 years at the current rate of job creation to return to the 2007 unemployment level.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Simon Coveney has claimed that the government policy is working and that the number of jobs gained out-striped the number of jobs lost last month. This is one of the most ridiculous claims made by the yes camp and the government.

“Before this crisis there were 174,206 people on the live register in August 2007. The response to this crisis by successive Fainna Fail, Fine Geal and Labour governments has now led to the live register standing at 430,001.

“Since the Government came to power unemployment has changed little. Over the past year there are 9,570 fewer people on the live register.

“It should be noted that last year over 76,000 people emigrated. Without this the live register would be substantially higher. It appears that this government is relying on emigration to keep unemployment in check.

“If Simon Coveney is claiming this reduction as a success of government policy, it will mean that it will take 26 years for unemployment to return to the 2007 level and we will have lost generations to emigration.

“That may be acceptable to Fine Gael but it is not acceptable to the Irish people.”

Ends

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