Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Fra McCann MLA and south Belfast MLA Alex Maskey have both welcomed today’s announcement that the Department for Social Development will introduce a register of private landlords in the north for the first time.
Speaking today Mr McCann said;
“This is something which Sinn Féin has been lobbying for, for some considerable time now; on the floor of the Assembly we have tabled several motions calling for the introduction of this register. While it has taken the Minister an unfortunately long period to implement one nevertheless I am glad it has now been announced that one will be implemented.
This scheme will allow for greater insight into the private rented sector, it will ensure that landlords are clearly registered and that both they and their tenants are aware of all their rights and entitlements.
I am glad that the Minister has finally heeded the calls from Sinn Féin and those many residents in the private sector who have been lobbying so hard for this register for such a long time.”
Mr Maskey added;
“I tabled a motion on the 19th of January calling once again for the introduction of this register, not least as part of Sinn Féin’s strategic plans for improving conditions in the Holyland area of my own constituency.
I welcome today’s announcement and while acknowledging fully that this alone will not solve the issues faced by the Holyland, it is something which we in Sinn Féin and residents in the area have been lobbying on up until now, without much interest from the Minister.
I am glad that she has now come to the position where she acknowledges she has an important role to play and I once again call for her to act as the lead Minister in a cross-departmental Executive sub-committee to tackle the outstanding issues faced by the Holyland community.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Chair Person of the Public Accounts Committee Paul Maskey MLA has welcomed the Audit Office reports on the Campsie Office Accommodation and Synergy e-Business Incubator (SeBL).
Paul Maskey stated “the report on Campsie together with Synergy will form the basis of a PAC Session on 20th May. I look forward to hearing from the Department how this came about and what it has done to ensure that such a situation will not occur again”.
“With regard to the Synergy Report I want to clarify that PAC recognises that in an area such as INI, risks will be taken with projects that will not always lead to a successful outcome – that is the nature of business. However, we are willing to accept such outcomes as long as INI, or indeed any other part of the public sector, can demonstrate that it has applied the appropriate risk management guidance in a professional and proportional manner.
However, in this particular case project risks had been flagged up at early stages and should have been more fully acted on – Despite consultants highlighting serious problems with the project at an early stage, which subsequently had a damaging impact on the success of SeBI, IRTU took the overall view that the project was valid in principle, and recommended that DETI should proceed to fund it.
Furthermore, the project was not re-appraised following a number of key events which impacted significantly on SCL’s commercial viability. Such re-appraisal could have enabled an assessment of the ongoing viability of the project, and the merits of continuing to fund it.
Some of the key findings from the Campsie report are below.
Risks in the project risks had been flagged up at early stages and should have been more fully acted on - Valuation and Lands Office (VLO) had expressed concerns to IDB on a number of occasions before the leases were signed about the scale, location and demand for the project. VLO specifically suggested that the project should be restricted to a single 10,000 square feet unit to minimise cost and assess demand, but IDB opted to proceed with the full 20,000 square feet project.
Ongoing project monitoring and management should have been more robust - Whilst the failure of IDB in 1996 to break from the leases appears to have been attributable to an oversight which proved very costly, the Audit Office found no evidence of an enquiry by IDB to determine the circumstances surrounding the events at the time, or establish whether any individuals within the organisation were culpable.
Significant issues arose over the condition of the units. Although IDB was initially aware in 1998 that the units had been in a poor state of repair, decisive action to ensure that the developers maintained the units properly was not commenced by Invest NI until mid-2005.
Paul Maskey concluded saying that he “commends the work from the Audit Office on the two reports and I look forward to the PAC session on the 20th May when we will have the department in front of our committee.
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights, Martin Ferris TD, rejected any attempt that might be made to further reduce wage levels for people working in the tourist sector.
The Kerry North TD was speaking during a debate on a Private Members motion on tourism. Part of the Fine Gael motion referred to ‘the archaic nature of the Joint Labour Committee wage setting system.’
Deputy Ferris said: “I would be concerned that there might be an attempt to further undermine wage levels in what is already a low paying sector of the economy. There has been intensive lobbying by businesses, including from within the hotel and catering sector, against the minimum wage and against the rates set by regulatory orders.
“That has been successful to the extent that the Government is now proposing to allow businesses to opt out of wage agreements by claiming that they cannot afford to pay people what are already fairly basic levels of pay. That needs to be resisted as does the argument that sectors like tourism are dependent on paying people low wages.
“The argument for cutting wages and indeed abolishing the Minimum Wage is also dishonest. As we all know people who have children and who are earning low wages are in many cases entitled to claim Family Income Supplement. In effect what that means is that low wage employers expect that the state will subsidise them by making up the difference.
“The state, of course, by paying Family Income Supplement is recognising that the Minimum wage is not sufficient to maintain a family in any reasonable way. This Government then is dishonest in proposing to allow employers to drive down wages when it knows that it will have to pay their employees from state funds.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor Dessie Ellis has called on Gardaí in Blanchardstown and Finglas to step up the search for Daniel McAnaspie, the 17 year old youth who has been missing now for over a month.
Speaking today Councillor Ellis said:
“Daniel McAnaspie has now been missing for over a month. While the Gardaí are continuing their search I feel it must be stepped up a notch or two with more resources provided. The Garda Press Office should also be used to attract much needed media attention on this case.
“The local community is also heavily involved in the search for Daniel and I commend them for that. However, it would be much more beneficial if the Gardaí used the extra human resources provided by community volunteers and channelled them into their search.
“I am calling on the Gardaí and the community to step up the search for this young man. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Belfast City Councillor Conor Maskey has criticised the decision to remove the ‘Belfast Wheel’ from its current location adjacent to City Hall.
Speaking today Mr Maskey said;
“I am dismayed at the delay within planning that seemingly has caused the decision to remove or relocate the Belfast Wheel.
The reality is that this attraction has drawn thousands of visitors, tourists and Belfast citizens into the heart of our City Centre and has become immediately identifiable within our city’s landscape.
For those employed at the Belfast Wheel, today’s announcement will leave them in a deeply uncertain situation and it seems their rights have been overlooked in all of this; Sinn Féin will stand by them. Our record in support of the Belfast Wheel initiative within Council has been one hundred percent and we will continue to play our role in ensuring that what has become a much valued city asset is retained for all the benefits is clearly brings.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights spokesperson Martin Ferris has called on the government to engage constructively with unions representing workers in the passport office. Ferris said the situation is being ignored by a government content to let the public lay the blame for this crisis at the door of low-paid workers in the passport office rather than with the economic policies this government is pursuing and which pre-empted the work-to-rule. He said the public could not be denied their right to essential services because of the government's failure to fix the economy fairly.
“Undoubtedly the public are suffering as a result of work stoppages in the passport office and they should not be denied this essential service. However, the low and average paid-workers in that office are protesting at the attacks on their pay and livelihoods. There are people in the public service that, following the latest pay cuts are almost eligible for Family Income Support. This situation has been exacerbated by the decision of the government to reverse the cuts to the highest paid civil servants.
“This government has followed a strategy of pitting private worker against public, and now the public against state workers, because it serves as a distraction to its failure to address a deepening economic crisis. They have failed to listen to proposals for a new and fair approach to fixing the economy. They have failed to engage constructively with those who are interested in seeing us emerge from the crisis with our society intact. Instead of engaging with the workers in these offices, they are stirring the pot of discontent.
“The government has and continues to act shamefully towards lower-paid workers across all sectors. Their inaction on this issue is further evidence of their distaste for the rights of ordinary workers. The government is not concerned about what the public is being forced to endure now because it is the least of what this government is trying to deny them. Meanwhile Irish citizens are bereft of access to an essential service. This situation cannot continue.” ENDS
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the cabinet re-shuffle announced by An Taoiseach will not create one job for the unemployed. Deputy Ó Caoláin said described the re-shuffle as a sham and said the Government should “be shuffling out of office with their heads held down in shame.”
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“We are being asked to vote for a sham today when An Taoiseach Brian Cowen asks us to endorse this reshuffled Cabinet. We will not endorse this charade of a Government which instead should be shuffling out of office with their heads held down in shame.
“The focus today is on jobs for the boys and girls in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party as Cabinet ministers and junior ministers. But looking on at this game of musical chairs are over 432,000 unemployed people in this State. And there are further thousands of others looking on from overseas where they have been forced to emigrate by the policies of this Government.
“One in four young people in Ireland is now unemployed. Unemployment among young people in the 26 Counties increased by 150% in a year to 85,000 at the start of 2010. Nationally the toll continues to rise towards half a million. If the figures for those who have emigrated as a result of the recession were taken into account, the half million figure would likely be exceeded.
“And what have unemployed young people got from the Government in response to their plight, from the Government that seeks our endorsement today? They have got a two-fingered Fianna Fáil/Green salute from a Coalition that cut dole payments for the young in Budget 2010.” ENDS
Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin’s contribution follows:
Fianna Fáil/Green Cabinet Reshuffle 23/3/10
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader.
We are being asked to vote for a sham today when An Taoiseach Brian Cowen asks us to endorse this reshuffled Cabinet. We will not endorse this charade of a Government which instead should be shuffling out of office with their heads held down in shame.
The focus today is on jobs for the boys and girls in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party as Cabinet ministers and junior ministers. But looking on at this game of musical chairs are over 432,000 unemployed people in this State. And there are further thousands of others looking on from overseas where they have been forced to emigrate by the policies of this Government.
One in four young people in Ireland is now unemployed. Unemployment among young people in the 26 Counties increased by 150% in a year to 85,000 at the start of 2010. Nationally the toll continues to rise towards half a million. If the figures for those who have emigrated as a result of the recession were taken into account, the half million figure would likely be exceeded.
And what have unemployed young people got from the Government in response to their plight, from the Government that seeks our endorsement today? They have got a two-fingered Fianna Fáil/Green salute from a Coalition that cut dole payments for the young in Budget 2010.
The Taoiseach should ask those young people whether they care a damn what faces sit around the Cabinet table or who was elevated and who was disappointed in the divvying out of the junior ministries.
If this Cabinet reshuffle were accompanied by fundamental changes in Government policies I would welcome it. But there is no such change and the reshuffled Fianna Fáil/Green Cabinet is set on the same course to further disaster that they have steered since June 2007.
There will clearly be no change in health policy. Minister Harney is staying on, prolonging her tenure in that office where she has made an inequitable health service even more inequitable and where she has promoted for-profit privatisation and ruthless centralisation.
We know only too well the results of the disastrous health policies pursued by Fianna Fáil-led Government since 1997. The debacle in Tallaght Hospital that was addressed here before the St. Patrick’s Day recess was not simply the result of some glitch in that one hospital. It was an extreme example of the systemic failures in our health services. At the root of those failures is the two-tier, public-private, apartheid nature of the health system. That inequity breeds inefficiency. It leads to waste, which is compounded by under-resourcing. On top of all this, in Budget 2010 and Budget 2009, the Fianna Fáil/Green Government has imposed cuts that affect public patients worst of all.
The Tallaght Hospital debacle perfectly illustrates the Pontius Pilate attitude of this Government. The Minister for Health & Children was told about the unread x-rays last December but apparently did not trouble herself to ask how many were involved or to keep on top of the situation to ensure that it was being addressed. We only have an inquiry now because a whistle-blower went to the media and the whole affair was exposed to public view. How long otherwise would it have taken the affected patients to be informed? Why was it not the Minister that made the situation public, in order to ensure openness, transparecny and accountability? That is a question for [both the outgoing and the incoming] Minister to answer.
This reshuffle signals no change in the policy of savage cuts to public services – a policy futile in its claimed intent to aid economic recovery and punitive in its effects on the people. To take just one example in education, I could point to a letter I received last week from a school in my constituency where a special class has been suppressed, two teaching posts cut, and children with a multiplicity of special needs put back into mainstream classes from which they had previously been removed as a result of assessment by a Department of Education psychologist.
This reshuffle will preserve the economic approach of the Fianna Fáil/Green Government which is fundamentaly flawed. The slash-and-burn policy will not lead to recovery but to deeper recession. And just as this policy penalises citizens today, NAMA will penalize them in the future. The golden circle of politicians, bankers, property speculators and the corporate elite who profited most from the Celtic Tiger and who caused the recession are now protecting themselves at the cost of billions to future generations of Irish people.
The Fianna Fáil/Green cuts to public services and to public service pay have led to chaos in public administration in this State. This is the result of the Government’s slash and burn strategy and its deliberate scuppering of the negotaitons with the public service unions last December. Whatever may be said about the tactics of some of the public service unions – and the situation at the Passport Office is uppermost in people’s minds today – the truth is that those ultimately responsible are sitting on the Government benches. And that includes the Fianna Fáil backbenchers who staged a sham revolt last December as part of the strategy to colllapse the talks.
Where was the backbench revolt when the Government made across-the-board cuts to social welfare payments? Where were the resignations from the Green Party then?
In contrast we in Sinn Féin have highlighted the heartlessness of a Government that could take €8.50 per week out of the pockets of people who are caring for elderly or disabled relatives in their homes. We have opposed the plans of a Government that wants to fatally damage our health services by taking a further 1,100 acute hospital beds out of the system in 2010. We have stood against a Government that trumpets its commitment to education but that condemns children to learn in pre-fabs and takes support away from children with special needs.
This Government has left behind it a trail of destruction of Irish jobs, including flagship Irish companies. They have allowed valuable employment to die and skills to be squandered in SR Technics, Aer Lingus, Waterford Glass, the sugar industry and a myriad of small and medium sized enterprises throughout the length and breadth of the country. The lights are going out for the last time every evening on once thriving businesses and the ‘for sale’ and ‘to let’ signs are going up but gathering dust on premises in every town and village.
The Government has no strategy to keep young people in Ireland and use their skills to rebuild the economy. It hopes that emigration will hide the true extent of unemployment. The Government’s decision to cut youth dole payments was made in order to encourage young people to leave.
I could use all my time condemning the policies of this reshufled Cabinet and they richly deserve it. But it is just as important to say that there are real alternatives, there is another way forward.
The fact is that there are many measures that the Government could be implementing to tackle youth unemployment. Sinn Féin presented such solutions last week and we are determined to campaign for their implementation.
The young unemployed must be given the opportunity to work and to use their skills and education. Investing in tackling youth unemployment now will pay dividends well into the future. Sinn Féin advocates taking revenue from the pension reserve fund on a once off basis and implementing the revenue raising proposals set out in our Budget 2010 pre budget submission in order to fund our job creation proposals.
Our proposals include:
· A youth jobs fund to create 20,000 new jobs at a cost of €500 million;
· An individual plan for the long term prospects of every person under 25 who is on the live register;
· 2,000 places on a ‘One More Language Scheme’ to give the young unemployed a chance to learn an extra foreign language at a cost of €20million;
· 5,000 free ECDL advanced places at a cost of €25 million;
· 10,000 new CE places at a cost of €168 million;
· 1,000 places on conversion courses at third level to help graduates convert their skills to potential growth sectors at a cost of €15 million;
· 8 measures to treble the number of under 25’s who are self employed including a national entrepreneurship programme, access to credit and greater support for high potential start ups;
· Create a publicly owned green tech firm for Ireland and initiate a major drive to attract FDI in renewable energy at a cost of €100 million;
· Make Ireland a digital media leader through support for skills, infrastructure and entrepreneurship;
· A ‘National Development Scheme’ to employ people directly on public works projects employing 2,000 workers at a cost of approx €100 million;
· Lift the suspension on the early farm retirement scheme to make farming an option for younger people.
It is possible to beat youth unemployment with imaginative thinking and a political commitment. This has been completely absent from the Government’s approach to the jobs crisis and we are most assuredly not going to get such an approach from this clapped-out administration.
This sham reshuffle comes at a time when there is intense debate on the future of Ireland. Much of that debate has been partitionist in nature. Commentators speak of ‘renewing the republic’ or ‘re-imagining Ireland’ but it is an Ireland that stops at Dundalk and Monaghan and Letterkenny and a republic that encompasses only 26 Counties.
Republicans have a vital and unique contribution to make to the debate by pointing out that for real transformation in Irish politics, in the Irish economy and in Irish society national reunification is essential.
We re-imagine Ireland as it ought to be – an island Republic with a place for all who live here, a democracy based on human rights and citizenship, an economy based on shared wealth. For that vision to become a reality we need a complete political clearout in this State. Neither of the two conservative parties – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – can provide the new politics that we need. And this rehashed Cabinet certainly cannot provide it. The first step is to get them out. We oppose the motion.
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today signed a £3.2million contract with Bovis Lend Lease to begin the design of the proposed Shared Education Campus in Omagh.
The Minister said: "The Department, supported by Strategic Investment Board Ltd, has reached a significant milestone in the development of a shared educational campus in Omagh. The Exemplar Design Team will shortly begin to work with the schools and the local community to begin the process of working up design proposals for the Lisanelly site. This is an extremely important milestone for the Department, the Omagh schools and the wider community.
"Many of the post-primary schools in Omagh are in need of major capital development. Through co-location of the existing schools on the Lisanelly site, this landmark project offers a unique opportunity to provide state-of-the-art facilities for every school – buildings, grounds and playing facilities of the highest quality. Each school will retain its own identity, distinctiveness and ethos, while benefiting from enhanced shared facilities and operating within an environment of collaboration, sharing, tolerance, inclusion and promotion of mutual respect and regard.
"An intensive period of work lies ahead of us as the parents, pupils and teachers engage with the design team to begin to create and shape their educational campus. This phase of work will bring this project to life and show to the people of Omagh what a shared campus could look like. This is their opportunity to become involved in a unique project that can change the way in which education is delivered for the children of Omagh in the future."
The Minister went on to say: "Lisanelly and the shared education campus, is a major prize for the community of Omagh and the surrounding areas and will have a positive impact on every aspect of life. It is a unique opportunity for Omagh and one I would urge it to grasp with both hands.
"I would like to thank everyone involved with the project, in particular Monsignor Joseph Donnelly and Reverend Robert Herron, for their hard work and commitment."
Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Assembly’s Education committee, Michelle O’Neill has welcomed the decision by Education Minister Caitriona Ruane to fund four Irish Language schools with an investment of £2million in the sector.
Ms O’Neill said,
“More and more parents are deciding to teach their children through the medium of Irish and it is important that these children are afforded equality of opportunity in terms of having proper school facilities in order to be educated to the highest standard.
“The decision today by Education Minister Caitriona Ruane to invest £2 million in schools in Belfast, Crumlin, Castlewellan and Newtownabbey through Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta will ensure that the children at these schools will have proper classrooms in order to learn. The work of the Iontaobhas is firmly securing the Irish Medium Sector well into the future and they are entitled to continued support in securing equality for this sector.
“The Irish language is in a period of revival with the number of people using it as their first language growing day by day. Central to this is the use of the language by children and young people and it is therefore crucial that these young people have the choice of an education through the medium of Irish.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin TD for Louth Arthur Morgan has strongly condemned the murder of a man in Dundalk last night.
Speaking today Deputy Morgan said:
“The community in Saltown and the wider Dundalk area are in shock at last night’s events. I strongly condemn this murder. The perpetrators of this crime must be brought to justice.
“Anyone with any information should bring it to the Gardaí immediately.” ENDS
Sinn Féin’s east Belfast election candidate Niall Ó Donnghaile has commended all those involved in the new mural unveiled on the lower Newtonards Road this morning entitled ‘No More’.
Speaking after attending the unveiling of the mural in Wolfe Close today Mr Ó Donnghaile;
“I want to commend all those involved with the unveiling of the new mural this morning; not least Dylan and Dearbhla, who are the two young people depicted.
The mural is part of the on-going body of work in this part of the city, to ensure greater cross community cooperation, engagement and understanding.
In the past we have seen problems of anti social and sectarian tension at this interface and I am grateful, that due to ongoing engagement and the commitment of many within our community, we are now seeing a reduction in that tension and an improvement in the daily lives of the residents who live there.
Again I commend all those involved and look forward to the further rolling out of the project in the coming weeks and months.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin MP and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd) join with the Belfast National Graves Association and the Sinn Féin Assembly Team in launching this years Easter Lily campaign.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s event Mr McGuinness said;
“Easter is the most important date in the Republican calendar, a time when we gather right across Ireland and beyond, to remember and commemorate those men and women, throughout the generations, who gave their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom and independence.
It is also a time when we recommit ourselves to the achievement of our Republican objectives.
The Easter Lily symbolises the respect and admiration we hold for our Patriot Dead and I am delighted that committee members from the Belfast National Graves Association will be joining us for tomorrows launch; their work in maintaining the graves and memorials to our Patriot Dead is vital to ensuring further generations know the history of the Republican struggle and are inspired to join with us today in working towards a united and free Ireland.
I would call on people to honour Ireland’s dead this Easter season by wearing their Lily with pride.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has stated that the support from the Ulster Teachers Union for the abolition of the Eleven Plus highlights an increasing demand from teachers for the ending of any type of academic selection
Mr O’Dowd said,
“I welcome the fact that the Ulster Teachers Unions has passed a motion at their annual conference calling for the end to the process of selection/rejection. The Ulster Teachers Union is the latest in a line of educationalists that have called for the ending of academic selection.
“In the past few weeks we have seen the Irish National Teachers Organisation, The Catholic Principals Association and the Catholic Bishops calling for the end of this unjust and educationally unsound practice..
“ A number of grammar schools have recently indicated their intention to end the practice of picking and choosing the children they want to teach..It is time that those remaining schools who still insist on erecting entrance barriers started to listen to their peers who are totally opposed to this outdated practice.
“The Unions have also endorsed the new curriculum and teachers need to be given the space and flexibility to implement and teach that curriculum. I would also call on those politicians who are sitting in trenches or on the fence to accept that the landscape has changed and to work with the Minister in her efforts to bring equality and academic excellence to all of our children. CRÍOCH
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has condemned the petrol bomb attack on a house on the Galgorm Road in Ballymena last night.
Mr McKay said:
“As the damage to the house shows this was an extremely serious attack and we are extremely lucky that no-one was killed or seriously injured.
“This appears to be a racially motivated attack and it is to be deplored. The Polish community are a valued part of the community in North Antrim and make a huge economic and social contribution to the community overall.
“The people who carried out this attack are those who are not welcome here. I would urge anyone with information pertaining to this incident to bring it forward and ensure that those who carried out the attack are brought to book.” ENDS
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Claire Mc Gill believes that concerns surrounding increasing cuts to home help provision will feature prominently at a public meeting she has arranged for Strabane next week at which representatives of Patient and Client Council (PCC) will be present to listen to, and to take on board, the views of the local community about the delivery of health and social care services.
The public meeting will take place in the Fir Trees Hotel next Wednesday (24th March) at 7pm.
Claire Mc Gill, who is also a member of the Assembly’s Health Committee, said,
"The Patient and Client Council was established on the 1st April 2009 as part of the modernisation and reform of health and social care under the Review of Public Administration.
"It gives patients, their families and everyone who uses health and social care services an independent voice for their views and concerns.’
"Its role is to ensure a strong patient and client voice at both regional at local level and aims at improving the way that people are involved in decisions about health and social care services.
“I receive representations from constituents on a wide range of health and social care issues on an almost daily basis and I do my best to secure successful outcomes with the relevant health and social care bodies.
“However, it is clear that many of these individual issues are arising as a direct result of Departmental cut backs to service provision and I want to make sure that the PCC are fully aware of the impact of these cutbacks on the local community and to press for the PCC to have these concerns addressed at a Departmental and Trust level.
“In terms of major issues of local concern, I believe that increasing cuts to home help provision will feature prominently at this public meeting as will deep concern about plans to reduce Out of Hours provision in Strabane from the first of July.
"Other issues of concern relating to the A&E at Altnagelvin such as: the extensive waiting times local people have to frequently endure as well as patients having to endure disruptive and abusive behaviour from heavily intoxicated patients, particularly weekends will also be raised.
"I would extend an open invitation to anyone who has concerns about these, or any other, issues to come along and make sure your voice is heard at this meeting." ENDS
Tallaght Central Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe today attended a protest at Tallaght Hospital where protesters called for Mary Harney to resign over the x-rays scandal at Tallaght Hospital.
Councillor Crowe said the Minister has presided over crisis after crisis in the Health services and should resign. He went on the call on the Fianna Fáil TDs in the constituency to publicly state whether or not they have confidence in Mary Harney as Health Minister.
Councillor Crowe said:
“We are here today to say loudly and publicly that Mary Harney must resign her position as Health Minister after this latest scandal involving 58,000 x-rays at Tallaght Hospital.
“Mary Harney has spectacularly failed as a Minister for Health. In her determination to develop a private, for profit, healthcare system she has destroyed the public infrastructure on which people depend. This has led to numerous unnecessary deaths and much hardship, pain, stress and extra financial burdens for patients throughout the state and their families.
“Her response to this particular scandal is an insult to patients and their families who continue to suffer the consequences of her disastrous policies. She should have immediately flown home from New Zealand when this story broke but instead she stayed on in a blatant snub to Tallaght Hospital patients.
“The two Fianna Fáil TDs in this constituency should publicly state whether or not they have confidence in Minister Harney. And, if they do not have confidence in the Minister then they should make this clear to the Taoiseach and support a motion of no confidence in the Dáil to have her removed from office immediately.
“Conor Lenihan and Charlie O’Connor have the power to do what the people of this constituency know is the right thing to do - to put enormous pressure on Minister Harney to resign. Only party loyalty is stopping them from doing so. However, loyalty to their constituents should take precedence over party loyalty.” ENDS
Sinn Féin members and supporters will hold a lunchtime protest at Tallaght Hospital this Saturday 20th March at 1pm. The protestors will be calling on Minister for Health Mary Harney to resign over the x-rays scandal at Tallaght Hospital.
The problems at Tallaght Hospital were highlighted more than two years ago by Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe but no action was taken by either the HSE or the Minister for Health Mary Harney.
Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has advised those who are planning to travel abroad on summer holidays to ensure now that their passports are in order. This warning comes at a time of growing industrial action in the public service, including the Passport Office.
The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy said, “Because of the work-to-rule in the public service, passports are taking longer than usual to be processed and consequently a significant backlog is developing. The Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government’s intransigence in refusing to reverse the cuts to low-paid public sector wages means that the industrial action is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
“I have already been contacted by constituents who have had to cancel travel plans because their passports were not ready in time. However, staff in the Passport Office are currently refusing to deal with elected representatives, regardless of their politics and where they stand on the issues involved. With the summer holidays approaching there are likely to be many more people affected.
“The ten-day turnaround offered under the Passport Express service is no longer guaranteed. Therefore, anyone planning to travel abroad this summer should check now to make sure their passports are in order. If a passport needs renewing this should be done at the earliest opportunity possible.”
Deputy Ó Caoláin concluded by reminding travellers that some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure and that this should be taken into account when considering whether a passport needs to be renewed. ENDS
Tallaght Central Councillor, Sean Crowe has called for additional Garda resources to be deployed in the Jobstown area in Tallaght following three consecutive days of knife attacks near the Mary Mercier Health Centre.
Councillor Crowe said the first attack occurred at 9.30am on Monday, 15th March and involved two youths attacking another and slashing his throat. Later that day there was a separate hammer attack in the locality. On Tuesday night there was a knife attack outside the shops in the area and on Wednesday, 17th March, St. Patrick’s Day, another attack occurred.
Councillor Crowe said, “The scale and intensity of these daily attacks have shocked and frightened local residents. All of these attacks happened in the sight of Mary Marcier Health Clinic and in full view of the Community CCTV cameras. The Community CCTV cameras are due to become operational in a matter of weeks after a long delay over funding, Garda protection and protocol procedures.
“Many of these knife attacks have not been reported to the Garda Authorities. There is speculation that this would likely involve retaliating attacks in the near future. Some of those involved in the attacks are active members of drug gangs in the immediate locality.
“In my opinion the scale of these assaults merits immediate resources to be deployed in the area. I would appeal to the Garda Authorities to adapt a proactive response in the area of Jobstown before a fatality occurs.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh today accused the new EU Foreign Policy Chief of excluding Ireland from policy formulation. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said a meeting of seven EU Foreign Ministers took place in Finland to develop the EU’s approach to Palestine and other Foreign policy issues to which Ireland was not invited.
Speaking at a Peace and Neutrality Alliance press conference in Dublin today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “Developments that are happening right now at a European level risk scuppering our neutrality forever.
“The government said vote Yes to Lisbon and we will be at the heart of Europe, influencing policy. Sinn Féin disagreed and unfortunately recent developments are proving us right. In the post-Lisbon context a new foreign policy chief has been put in place – Baroness Catherine Ashton and the mammoth External Action Service is also in the process of being established.
“This is the woman who publicly dismissed our Foreign Affairs Minister Mícheál Martin’s report and recommendations on Gaza. In what was classed as a major snub by observers it was clear she has concluded that Irish opinions are worthless when it comes to EU foreign policy.
“Only last weekend the Baroness had an exclusive meeting in Finland with seven other Foreign Ministers to discuss the EU’s approach to Palestine and other foreign policy issues. The views of France, Spain and Italy are worth listening to it seems but Ireland’s opinion not so. Far from being at the heart of Europe, we are sitting out in the cold.
“I’ve checked with our Minister’s office and though they were aware of the meeting. We were not invited. Our government may well attempt to downplay the significance of that meeting but the Finnish government’s press release issued on Monday speaks for itself. ‘A new approach to building the EU common foreign policy was taken over the weekend’ it reads. ‘We have progressed to the stage where discussions are already focusing on content and policy making’, Ashton is quoted as saying. And ‘a continuation to the informal small group meetings was planned straight away’. So be in no doubt there will be more of the same.
“I am calling on our government to spell it out to the Baroness, and to the rest of them who are currently vying for the highly lucrative External Action Service posts, that we are a neutral and independent nation. That we will not be bound by foreign policies formulated behind our backs or indeed by policies with which the Irish people disagree.” ENDS