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Speaking today Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh has reiterated his party’s commitment to reversing Fianna Fáil’s budget cuts and to standing up for the unemployed and lowest paid.

Speaking from the Social Welfare office on Tara Street Ó Snodaigh said:

“Fianna Fáil’s austerity measures have attacked the lowest paid, those on social welfare and the working poor. They have been at the helm of an unemployment crisis and have placed more of a priority on bailing out toxic banks and bondholders than protecting the most vulnerable and creating employment.

“Social welfare payments have been drastically cut and people are struggling to cope. The poorest of the poor are being punished because of a lack of an affective job creation plan.

“The Universal Social Charge is an unfair and regressive flat tax and should be scrapped. It should be replaced with a progressive taxation system which makes those who have more, pay more.

“The cut to the minimum wage is an affront to workers rights and is yet another targeted attack at the least well off in society.

“Unlike Fine Gael and Labour we in Sinn Féin have stated unequivocally that if elected to government we would reverse these draconian measures. We would implement our alternative budget based on burning the bondholders, making the wealthy pay their fair share and creating employment. I am reiterating that statement today.

“We in Sinn Féin are committed to:

- Reversing the social welfare cuts
- Abolishing the Universal Social Charge
- Reversing the cut to the minimum wage
- Introducing refundable tax credits
- Changing PRSI rules to protect the self-employed if their businesses fail

“It is not good enough to claim to oppose these measures while refusing to commit to overturn them. All parties must outline where they stand on these issues. Any new government must, as a priority implement a new budget and consign these despicable cuts and to the dustbin of history.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Cavan-Monaghan candidate and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on voters to support Sinn Féin candidates to ensure that Fianna Fail wins the minimum number of Dail seats.

He said:

“In key constituencies across the State the final seat will be a battle between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil candidates. Maximising the number one votes for Sinn Féin in those constituencies can ensure that Fianna Fáil candidates do not succeed and that people have the effective and principled leadership of Sinn Féin TDs.

“Supporting Sinn Féin candidates can also help ensure that in the 31st Dáil both Government and Opposition are not dominated by the two IMF parties, the parties of savage cuts – Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

“If Fianna Fáil do not receive the electoral drubbing that they so richly deserve they will provide further backing for the draconian regime of cutbacks and the IMF-driven economic policies of Fine Gael. Those policies are a continuation of the Fianna Fáil/Green policies that have brought the economy to the edge of total melt-down.

“For generations, hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens supported Fianna Fáil in the belief that they served the nation. They were seen as a party representing ordinary working people and in cities, towns and rural areas across Ireland voters supported them on that basis. But instead of serving the nation they served privileged vested interests and abandoned those who had loyally supported them.

“Now people have an opportunity to vote for Sinn Féin, a genuinely republican party that puts people before banks and the nation before the privileged elite.

“I urge the electorate to maximise the vote for Sinn Féin candidates in all constituencies. This is a chance to support real change in Irish politics and to build a real republican alternative to the politics of the golden circle.” ENDS

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Gerry Adams Sinn Féin President and General Election candidate for the Louth constituency is in Cork today to join the five Sinn Fein Cork candidates, Paul Hayes; Sandra McLellan; Des O Grady; Jonathan O Brien and Chris O Leary.

Speaking at a press conference this morning Mr Adams repeated his call for a referendum on the EU/IMF bailout so that the Irish people can have a say in the handing over of taxpayers money to failed banks.

Mr. Adams said: “The banking system is bust. The government and Fine Gael and Labour plan to pour tens of billions of taxpayers money into a broken banking system.
This approach will push the state further along the path of sovereign default.

“It is the wrong approach. It will not work and it will impose a huge burden of debt that will cause increasing distress for the vulnerable and low and middle income earners in the years ahead.

“The people have the right to be heard in a referendum on this vital issue for our future.”

The Sinn Féin leader also spelt out Sinn Fein’s alternative strategy.

Mr. Adams said:

“In January in Cork I set out Sinn Féin’s programme for future economic stability and growth.

• The Regeneration of the economy
• The protection and creation of jobs
• Ending the two-tier health system
• Root and branch political reform to produce a genuine republican form of Government which empowers citizens
• The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources for the common good
• Continued support for the Peace Process, Good Friday Agreement and further outreach to the unionist community

“The need for this strategy, and in particular for a job stimulus to create employment, is very apparent here in Cork and in Munster which have been devastated by the bad decisions of the Fianna Fáil /Green Party government.

“Sinn Féin is making job creation a priority. We have launched a ten-point plan which lays out clearly how our policies and our proposals would make huge inroads into addressing the current unemployment crisis.

“Sinn Féin is the only party proposing to invest in a jobs stimulus fund.

“Our stimulus is about providing immediate and direct employment in key sectors such as infrastructure in the immediate term.

“It’s about creating jobs and giving people hope for the future.

“Here in Cork that means:

• Investing in key infrastructure such as the Eastern Gateway Bridge to open up docklands and an Outer Ring Road on the city’s Northside
• Building and staffing a network of 21 primary care centres across the city
• Developing the potential of agribusiness and food products in Cork
• Investing in publicly-run childcare facilities in the city
• Helping indigenous businesses in Cork access export markets outside Britain and the US

“This economic strategy will ensure that working families are better off.

“Next Friday voters have the opportunity to change the face of politics.

“A Fine Gael Government, with or without Labour, will continue to target the low paid, those relying on welfare and public sector workers.

“Sinn Féin is the only party that can and will offer robust opposition to this agenda.
Strong opposition will be needed to curb the worst excesses of Fine Gael in government. Sinn Féin will stand up for ordinary working families.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has challenged the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to support Sinn Féin’s proposals to cut Ministers’ wages by 40% and TDs wages by 20% if they are really committed to ending the gravy train culture.

Mr. Adams said:

“The fact is that former ministers from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour have all personally benefited from the gravy train culture in Leinster House. They all drew down massive salaries and severance payments, and received massive pensions while they were still working.

“They should be hanging their heads in shame about what went on and not trying to score dubious points off of each other.

“If the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are really committed to ending the gravy train culture they should support Sinn Féin’s proposals to cut Ministers’ wages by 40% and TDs wages by 20%. To date they have all declined to do so.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said “Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has a brass neck saying that the consensus that the economic fundamentals were sound should have been challenged. Does he seriously think that the entire country has been asleep and we have all forgotten that it was Fianna Fáil Ministers in his government who were repeating this mantra up until very recently.”

Ms. McDonald said:

"Micheál Martin has a brass neck saying that the consensus that the economic fundamentals were sound should have been challenged. Does he seriously think that the entire country has been asleep and we have all forgotten that it was Fianna Fáil Ministers in his government who were repeating this mantra up until very recently.

“There is no point in Micheál Martin acknowledging Fianna Fáil’s mistakes when it is the exact same policies he is putting before the people in this General Election. It is Fianna Fáil’s disastrous policies that have brought the economy to the brink of economic ruin and it is their policies which would risk sovereign default if they are now implemented.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called for a referendum on the bank bailout.

Speaking in Dublin this morning Mr Adams said:

“The banking system is busted. Irish people cannot afford to pay the billions that the Fianna Fáil/Green Government and Labour and Fine Gael have agreed to. In four weeks time Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide will be gifted another €30.6billion. That is €3billion each year for 10 years. Sinn Féin will not proceed with this bailout to the banks.

“But it is not too late. The banking system can be fixed. The economy can be regenerated. This requires jobs and not dig outs to toxic banks. Sinn Féin is calling for a consultative referendum on this issue. It burdens every citizen, our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

“The people should have their say. There should be a referendum.” ENDS

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Speaking from his Cavan/Monaghan constituency on the final Sunday of the General Election Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that a Fine Gael-led Government would devastate public services and he challenged Enda Kenny to spell out exactly how many front-line posts he would abolish.

Ó Caoláin said:

“Fine Gael has pledged to get rid of 30,000 jobs in the public services while campaigning on the slogan 'Let's Get Ireland Working'. Just as farcical as this slogan is their claim that such a number of jobs can be axed without adversely affecting vital services to the public.

“I challenge Enda Kenny to spell out exactly how many fewer nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, gardaí and local authority workers will be let go.

“We all agree that inefficiencies in the public services must be addressed but abolishing 30,000 posts goes far beyond dispensing with excessive bureaucracy. It would devastate public services, plunging our health system into deeper crisis, increasing class sizes in our schools and preventing local authorities from providing their services to communities, including the maintenance of roads and protection of the environment.

“Fine Gael says these posts will go as a result of 'natural wastage' and voluntary redundancies, but the fact remains that after this process there will be 30,000 fewer jobs and 30,000 fewer people to provide services which the public need and for which they are paying with their taxes.

“The Labour Party is pledging to dispense with 18,000 public service posts. Are Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore going to sit down and haggle about a figure somewhere between the two? This is no way to plan for the public service needs of the people.

“Sinn Fein's alternative involves capping public service and semi-state salaries at 100,000 euros, implementing efficiency measures and planning public services on the basis of need, protecting front-line jobs and enhancing services where necessary.” ENDS

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Speaking at the the launch of Sinn Fein's election proposals on natural resources, Dublin Mid West candidate Eoin Ó Broin said that strong measures are required to ensure that Irish natural resources are used for the benefit of the people. Among the proposals announced today is a commitment to renegotiate existing oil and gas contracts including that held by Shell for the Corrib Gas field, to give the State a 51% shareholding while increasing the levies to 48% and royalties to 7.5%.

Ó Broin also pledged Sinn Féin's opposition to any attempt to sell off more public assets as part of the EU/IMF bailout for the banks.

Ó Broin said:

"Contrary to popular belief Ireland is rich in natural resources. Decades of government mismanagement has resulted in a massive hand over of these resources such as our natural gas and fisheries. In addition a failure to invest in developing sustainable energies and forestry has denied the state valuable sources of employment and much needed revenue.

“Sinn Féin’s proposals would change this.

“We would reform the current exploration licensing and taxation regime to increase the public benefit from what are public resources. We would also renegotiate oil and gas contracts to ensure that the State has a 51% stake in all of these resources including the Shell gas field in Corrib and increase the levies to 48% and royalties to 7.5%. We would also establish a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company which would actively participate and invest in further exploration.

“Sinn Féin would also plan for a strategic public investment in developing the renewable energy sector through the establishment of a publically owned national green technology firm. Our key target in this area would be for Ireland to become a net exporter of electricity from renewable sources.

“We would also increase investment in the development of our forestry and seek to renegotiate the Common Fisheries Policy. We need to radically improve the quota allocation for Irish fishermen and we need to ensure that Coillte forestry and other productive state assets are not sold off to service the bank debt but developed to realise their full jobs potential.

“Sinn Féin is also firmly opposed to the sale of valuable State assets such as the ESB. Advocates of privatisation argue that a fire sale of the family silver would boost the State's revenues. That is a mistake. You need only look at the example of Eircom and the destruction of the sugar industry to see the effects of such short-sighted policies. 

“Ireland’s natural resources are a public resource. They need to be developed in way that maximises the benefit to the public. They also need to be developed in a manner that is economically and environmentally sustainable. Sinn Féin’s proposals, as set out today, would achieve both of these aims while generating significant extra revenue to assist in reducing the deficit and investing jobs and public services.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will be in Dublin tomorrow to launch a new billboard which calls on people to vote for Sinn Féin to oppose the plans of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens to put a further €30.6billion into toxic Irish banks like Anglo Irish Bank.

The billboard will be launched at Anglo Irish Bank on St Stephen’s Green tomorrow at 12.30pm.

Gerry Adams will be joined by Party Vice President Mary Lou McDonald and Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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SINN FÉIN President Gerry Adams has described a statement by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore that in government he has no plans to cut TDs’ salaries as “unbelievable” when TDs have more security than most and are better paid than most.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“This is an amazing admission from the leader of the Labour Party which claims the mantle of James Connolly. It seems that Eamon Gilmore wants other people to lead by example but not Fine Gael/Labour TDs.

“Labour talks tough about political reform but fails to lead when it comes to their own TDs' pay. They expect families to live on less than €200 a week but aren’t prepared to lead by example and take a cut themselves.

“TDs have more security than most, are better paid than most and they should lead by example.

“Sinn Féin says TDs’ salaries should be cut by 20% Ministers’ by 40% and top civil servants’ salaries should be capped at €100,000.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin South West Candidate Seán Crowe has confirmed that his party is making a formal complaint to the Press Ombudsman, to the Fine Gael Party and to RTÉ over comments made by Brian Hayes’ on Wednesday night’s Late Debate programme in which he tried to introduce racism as an issue in the election campaign.

Speaking today Councillor Crowe said:

“The outrageous comments by Brian Hayes on RTÉ Radio on Wednesday night were an attempt to bring racism to this election campaign.

“These comments by Deputy Hayes are a new low in electoral attacks and Sinn Féin is currently in the process of making an official complaint to the Press Ombudsman, to the Fine Gael Party and to RTÉ.

“The killing of Toyosi Shitabbey in Dublin last year highlights the very real and growing threat posed by racism in Ireland. Brian Hayes should know better than playing politics with this issue.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Communities Aengus Ó Snodaigh has today launched the party’s proposals for the development of the community and voluntary sector.

Speaking from the F2 Centre in Fatima Ó Snodaigh said that Sinn Féin has a vision for a securely resourced community and voluntary sector that both responds to, and advocates for the needs and wishes of communities.

Ó Snodaigh said:

“The community and voluntary sector provides services and advocates for Ireland’s most vulnerable communities. It provides vital services that the state does not and it does so in a cost effective manner. Demand on the sector is rising in line with the recession.

“Since the economic crisis commenced, the community and voluntary sector have been a target for disproportionate cuts by government. Even as total public spending rose in 2009 this sector was cut. And it continued to be disproportionately cut in 2010 and 2011.

“The document we are launching here today maps out what we see as the way forward for the community and voluntary sector.

“Our key proposals include:

• A shift towards multi-annual funding to allow groups and projects to plan ahead and eliminate the current practice whereby significant efforts are unnecessarily diverted into chasing funding.
• Ring-fencing certain funding i.e. from the dormant accounts fund and the criminal assets bureau
• Job creation through support for social enterprise and the expansion of CE
• Establishing the All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum promised by the Good Friday Agreement
• Full recognition and protection of the right to advocate
• A shift from ‘partnership’ to ‘participative democracy’ using the sector to facilitate direct public input into the design and delivery of public services

“Sinn Féin’s vision is of a securely resourced community and voluntary sector that both responds to, and advocates for the needs and wishes of communities.

“We can make that vision a reality. We are making a commitment to communities.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Marine and Natural resources, Martin Ferris has said that the order by IMF/EU officials to the Greek Government to sell off €50 billion in state assets provides a forewarning of what is to come down the road if the bailout is adhered to. The Greek PASOK government, one of Labour’s sister parties in the European parliament, has already promised to sell off €7 billion in state assets, and has introduced a savage series of cuts. They are now under pressure to sell off airports and public amenities to multi national corporations.

The North Kerry North/ West Limerick TD said:

“What is happening in Greece is what will happen here unless the IMF/EU bailout is rejected. Wages and public services have been slashed and now the social democratic government is being told to sell off the state to privateers.

“The Memorandum of Understanding, which Olli Rehn has said is binding on the Irish state, outlines a timetable to examine the sell of off state companies. Fianna Fáil, Labour and Fine Gael are all committed to adhering to the IMF/EU bailout.

“The only choice here is to reject the bank bailout and reclaim our sovereignty from the clutches of the EU and the IMF and to throw off the massive and unsustainable bank debt.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking on the campaign trail in Louth this morning said, “If Eamon Gilmore has so many problems with Fine Gael’s austerity measures and thinks their economic plan doesn’t add up then why on earth does he want to go into a Coalition Government with Fine Gael to help them inflict such misery.”

Mr. Adams said:

“For the last two weeks the Labour Party has been in panic mode. They have spent a small fortune attacking Fine Gael about their austerity measures and saying their economic plan doesn’t add up.

“Fine Gael have been perfectly clear about what they intend to do in government. They will pump €30 billion into insolvent banks. They will keep the Universal Social Charge, they will cut social welfare payments by €18 over the next three budgets and they will sack 30,000 public sector workers.

“Their policies will be a disaster. If Eamon Gilmore’s problems with Fine Gael’s policies are genuine then instead of trying to get into government with them he should be about building an alternative.

“No one will be fooled by any Labour spin about keeping a check on Fine Gael. That is what the PDs and the Greens said.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh will tomorrow launch his party’s proposals for developing the community and voluntary sector at a press conference in the F2 centre at Fatima Mansions at 2pm.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh will be joined by fellow Sinn Féin candidate Paul Donnelly (Dublin West) and Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality Aengus Ó Snodaigh today confirmed the party's commitment of support to people with disabilities and their families.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said “Sinn Féin are committed to prioritising support for people with disabilities and their families. This includes support in terms of income, services and advocacy.

“In our pre-budget submission we demonstrated that if a political choice to target the wealthy were made then cuts to disability related payments would not be necessary.

“Should we be elected to government, we are committed to immediately restoring these payments to their 2010 rate levels and to introduce a Cost of Disability Payment on a phased basis, to offset extra costs related to disability and in recognition of disproportionate rates of poverty and unemployment among people with disabilities.

“We are also committing to review the current Disability Act with a view to the introduction of a new rights-based Disability Act alongside robust enforcement mechanisms and to establish a Disability Ombudsman and a National Disability Strategy within the Department of the Taoiseach to set annual targets towards full delivery by 2016. In addition we want to publish a National Carers’ Strategy to secure an adequate income, employment and social opportunities, health and wellbeing supports for all family carers, including young carers specifically.

“People with disabilities have been a target for government cuts both directly and indirectly. Their incomes have been cut, services are under increasing strain and funding to the voluntary organisations that provide services and advocate for people with disabilities have also been cut. Sinn Féin identified €150 million to ease the recruitment embargo on the public service which is have a serious impact on service delivery including disability services. And I will be publishing specific proposals this Friday relating to the community and voluntary sector which aim to ensure these services are protected including their advocacy functions.

“This is our commitment to everyone affected by disability. This will be a priority in any negotiations around a programme for government that we may be involved in. Failing that, if we remain on the opposition benches, we will ensure that these issues are kept at the top of the political agenda.” ENDS

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has reacted angrily to comments made by the Minister for Health Michael McGimpsey on the media this evening.

Speaking tonight Martin said;

“Michael McGimpsey has continually used the Health Service in a cynical attempt to undermine the Executive; he was and remains a semi-detached member of these institutions.

The community are rapidly loosing confidence in his ability to run the department as it lurches from one crisis to another.

The reality is that Michael McGimpsey has sat on numerous Executive papers, including cross-border papers, which would deliver significant efficiencies and savings. Instead he constantly looks to his Executive colleagues to continue and bail him out.

This is all the while ignoring it is his partners in the Tory party, the party whose manifesto of cuts he signed up to and campaigned under at the last election, who are responsible for slashing £4 Billion from the Block Grant.

We will not be lectured on this matter by Michael McGimpsey.” CRÍOCH

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Speaking at the launch of his party’s political reform proposals in Dublin today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said it is disgraceful that Irish people are still paying rents to absentee English landlords almost 100 years after the 1916 Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

He said:

“Sinn Féin would abolish ground rents. It is shameful that almost 100 years after the Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, that citizens are still paying rent to absentee English landlords.

“This includes the government paying rent to English landlords for iconic state buildings, including Government Buildings behind me, and Arbour Hill where the 1916 leaders are buried.

“This is a shameful example of the state we are in.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has this evening warned that, “The vast majority of families will be worse off under a Fine Gael government. They have no new ideas. The reality is Fine Gael are a mirror image of Fianna Fáil at its worst.

Ms. McDonald said:

“Enda Kenny has already said that Fine Gael will implement Fianna Fáil’s budget. Like Fianna Fáil they will pump €30 billion into insolvent banks. They will keep the Universal Social Charge, they will cut social welfare payments by €18 over the next three budgets and they will sack 30,000 public sectors.

“They refuse to tell the taxpayers how they intend to pay back the €8.7 billion in interest from 2014. That is one quarter of the current tax take. What taxes are they going to increase, what cuts are the going to inflict. Their economic plan does not add up.

“Sinn Féin is not part of the consensus for cuts. We are offering policies which are fair, which tax the wealthiest in society and which will create jobs.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin's Dublin South East candidate Ruadhán Mac Aodháin has come out strongly in support of workers in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin, who have been taken off the roster because they have refused to sign a new contract reducing their wages in line with the cut to the National Minimum Wage. The contract is in clear breach of the assurance given by Brian Lenihan that no workers already on the €8.65 rate would be forced to accept a cut of €1 without their consent.  He said: “This unilateral decision by the O’Callaghan Group, who have been regular donors to the coffers of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, is a sign of what workers can expect unless the IMF/EU programme is thrown out. 

“The cut to the NMW is part of the Memorandum of Understanding, as is further provision to undermine the wage rates of other low paid workers. Workers already on the NMW were told that they could not be forced to take the cut. That has been shown to be a lie. 

“Sinn Féin stands fully behind the five locked out workers and calls on Fine Gael and Labour to explain how they intend to implement the austerity plan without further such attacks on the lower paid. Their commitment to reverse the cut will be shown to be an empty promise once they are in power implementing the bail out as they have said they will do.” ENDS

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