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Sinn Féin in government will axe the water tax – Mary Lou McDonald TD

"Sinn Féin in government will reverse water charges. These charges will only cause further hardship for families already struggling to make ends meet."

Today, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD launched the party's vision for water services accompanied by both Brian Stanley TD and Cllr. Cathal King who is the Sinn Fein candidate for the upcoming by election in Dublin South-West.

Download the document here


“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Nuacht

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as 'punitive' the change to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme revealed in the media today (Friday).

The change means that older people who have to enter nursing homes while their applications for payments under the scheme are being considered will have to pay the full cost of care. Up to this approval was backdated to the time they entered the home, covering their costs in the interim.

Deputy Ó Caoláin accused Health Minister James Reilly of hiding behind the HSE.

He said:

“This is a very significant and punitive change to the Nursing Home Support Scheme, the so-called 'Fair Deal', and it is a change that will impose very significant costs on many older people and their families.

“This far-reaching change was not signalled by Health Minister James Reilly but is being brought in as an administrative change by the HSE, despite Minister Reilly's claim that he would be taking a hands-on approach. In fact Minister Reilly is now hiding behind the HSE in the same way as his predecessor Mary Harney who brought in the so-called 'Fair Deal' scheme. This change should not go ahead.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín has welcomed the government's support for the party’s Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011.

Speaking after today's Dail debate, Deputy Tóibín said:

"This Bill aims to give legislative structure to the Joint Labour Committees and to offer protection to some of society’s most vulnerable workers.

“The workers protected by these JLCs have been left exposed to exploitation since July when the High Court ruled that they were unconstitutional. In the absence of government action Sinn Féin tabled today's bill. This was the result of months of work with trade unions and campaign groups bringing maximum pressure to bear on Labour and Fine Gael.

“We welcome the government rowing in behind the Sinn Féin bill. This is a positive step.

“It is as the Minister said, an imperfect bill. It is not yet water-tight. We need to legislate to deal with excessive delegation of power. We need to look at setting principals out in legislation to guide JLCs. We need to look at the issue of criminal sanction and the inability to pay clause. There is nothing in what the Minister said that cannot be solved and amended at committee stage.

“Up until now we have had bucket loads of sympathy for the people affected. We have had promises that legislation would be brought about. But we have had no positive action by the government that will make a shred of difference to a family on low wages.

“Political inertia won’t feed or cloth young children. Now is the time to act. The government must facilitate the Bill passing through the final stages as a matter of urgency. The 200,000 workers at risk since the court ruling can no longer wait to have their rights upheld.”

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Sinn Féin will use Private Members Business in the Dáil next week to introduce a motion calling on the Government to end the cutbacks to the community and voluntary sector.

The motion says it is unacceptable for the State to abdicate its own responsibility for the delivery of vital services to the community and voluntary sector without providing adequate support and long-term security of funding.

Speaking today as the motion was published, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Community, Deputy Brian Stanley said;

“We have seen over the past number of years a sustained attack on the community and voluntary sector. Reductions in funding and the hollowing out of genuine community development by abolishing voluntary boards of management and placing control under partnership programmes undermines local democracy and the bottom up approach upon which community development is based.

“We believe in the importance of this sector which provides the equivalent of 50,000 full-time jobs, with large numbers of part-time workers greatly increasing the total number employed. There are over 7,500 charitable, community and voluntary groups providing essential services to children, older people, people with disabilities or ill-health, vulnerable people, drug users, women, immigrants, Travellers and other ethnic minority groups, that the State is either unwilling or unable to provide.

“We completely reject disproportionate government cutbacks inflicted on community and voluntary groups, particularly those which are as a direct result of speaking out against government policies. It is for this reason that we are tabling this motion calling on the Government to give this sector the support it needs. We are also holding a protest against the cutbacks on Wednesday 12th October at 17.30 at Leinster House to show the Government that we do not accept these cuts and are asking all community and voluntary sector groups to mobilise to show these cuts are unacceptable.” ENDS


Community Sector PMB Motion:

That Dáil Éireann
- Recognises that the community sector is estimated to be worth €6.5 billion to the Irish economy, three times the size of the State’s investment, proving that the community and voluntary sector is a cost effective medium for the provision of many vital services
- Notes that the delivery costs of many of the services currently provided by this sector would be substantially greater if Government departments, the HSE, or private companies were to deliver the same level of service directly
- Notes that the Community & Voluntary Sector provides essential services which the state and private sectors are unwilling or unable to provide.
- Acknowledges that it is unacceptable for the State to abdicate its own responsibility for the delivery of vital services to the community and voluntary sector without providing adequate support and long-term security of funding
- Condemns the hollowing out of genuine community development by abolishing voluntary boards of management and placing control under partnership programmes which undermines local democracy and the bottom up approach upon which community development is based
- Notes that the sector provides the equivalent of 50,000 full-time jobs, with large numbers of part-time workers greatly increasing the total number employed
- Recognises and supports the community and voluntary sector’s right to engage in advocacy as a valuable contribution to policymaking
- Notes that there are 7,500 charitable, community and voluntary groups providing essential services to children, older people, people with disabilities or ill-health, vulnerable people, drug users, women, immigrants, Travellers and other ethnic minority groups
- Commends the sector for being a tireless advocate for communities dealing with some of Ireland’s most serious social and economic problems, and for working to empower marginalised communities to apply their own solutions to their own problems
- Recognises the potential of the community and voluntary sector, as both a service provider and an advocate, and further recognises that as unemployment rises and struggling public services are overwhelmed, community organisations are being pushed to fill the gap
- Rejects the disproportionate government cutbacks inflicted on community and voluntary groups, particularly those which are as a direct result of speaking out against government policies
- Notes that these cuts are targeting programmes that serve the most vulnerable in our society and deepen existing inequalities despite the acknowledgment in the Programme for Government that the community and voluntary sector has a ‘vital role’ in tackling poverty and protecting the most vulnerable
- Affirms that the community and voluntary sector need to participate in decision making and must be able to monitor and challenge Government without fear of repercussions so as to fulfil a watchdog function on the political class
- Calls upon the Government to reverse the cuts in funding to the community and voluntary sector and move towards multi-annual funding in order to allow organisations to plan ahead and end the practice of funding bodies requiring the production of detailed business plans before giving any indication of the size of the budget available for the year in question
- Calls upon the Government to ringfence €50 million per year from the dormant accounts fund for the community and voluntary sector, ringfence monies seized by CAB for community development and community based drug projects and introduce a VAT refund scheme for charities
- Calls upon the Government to re-conceptualise and extend the CE scheme. by increasing the number of CE places available, including Special CE.
- Acknowledges that social enterprise has the potential to create 5,000 jobs a year, and that community and voluntary organisations could benefit from the potential posed by social enterprise and calls upon the Government to support social enterprises trade in pursuit of social objectives, including job creation, which is a valued end in itself
- Calls upon the Government to implement the Labour Court recommendations and furthermore, to allow community and voluntary sector workers to negotiate their pay and conditions on a collective basis by introducing a mechanism involving Departments, employers and workers which establishes the right to collective bargaining
- Calls upon the Government to establish an All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum promised by the Good Friday Agreement, which would enable communities to engage with others across civic society and across the country and share information, learning and best practice on an All-Ireland basis.
Brian Stanley, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Peadar Tóibín.

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Speaking today Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has said the final closure of Talk Talk in Waterford represents a sad day for the workers, their families and the wider community. He said the disgraceful way the workers were treated by the company will leave a sour taste in people’s mouths for many years to come.

Speaking from Dublin as Sinn Féin moved a bill to strengthen worker’s rights in the Dáil Senator Cullinane said;

“The final closure of the Talk Talk centre in Waterford is a very sad day for the workers and families. I am gutted at the way the workers were disgracefully treated. The management of the company should hang their heads in shame. However this situation has shown up the urgent need to enhance employment rights protections for workers.

“Last week I tabled an amendment to a Seanad motion to lengthen the notice time companies must give to employees from 30 days to 90 days. I also proposed that the government deliver on its promise to legislate for collective bargaining and trade union recognition. The amendments were defeated and again call into question the government’s commitment to employment rights.

“The focus now must be to assist those who lost their jobs in the time ahead. The government must deliver on their election promises to save and create jobs. Fine Gael and Labour must stop the madness of pouring money into banks while devastating families with cuts and charges. They must use taxpayers’ money to invest in jobs, infrastructure and the domestic economy. We need to do more to support those 575 people in Talk Talk who lost their jobs and the 460,000 people across the state out of work.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government Brian Stanley has called on the government to address the issue of distressed mortgages and loans taken out through local authorities.

His call came following a debate in the Dáil this week which he initiated.

The Laois Offaly TD said;

“The issue of distressed mortgages and loans taken out through local authorities is not being talked about. These loans were for affordable housing, shared ownership and annuity local authority loans. Many of the people who took out these loans are now unemployed and caught in a trap of huge negative equity. This problem is now escalating.

“In Co. Laois for example, out of a total of 514 loans, there are 136 loans in arrears of three months or more. Figures provided to me by Offaly County Council show that out of 253 local authority loans, 89 have arrears of over 6 months. If these houses are repossessed and people are evicted, it would cause a range of problems. The houses are boarded up for months and then sold for less than half the original price leaving both the householder and the local authority hit with a negative equity loan debt. The families that are affected then have to be given rent allowance and join the local authority social housing waiting list, which in turn is putting huge pressure on the local authorities.

“Similar to the situation with private sector loans, measures need to be put in place to address this situation, such as burden sharing, local authorities taking ownership and renting back to the lender, and interest repayments only or deferral of repayments.

“In the case of shared ownership loans, immediate relief can be sought through reducing the rent on the portion of the home that the local authority owns on the 50% of the house that’s being rented. Instead, rent on this portion is increasing at 4% per year. This is under the direct control of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and I’m asking the Minister to deal with this as a matter of urgency.

“While there is an Inter Departmental Review group in place nothing is happening. There are no outcomes and no solutions. No local authority should evict anyone with a local authority loan. Making these people homeless means that the local authority will have to rehouse them anyway. This issue will not resolve itself and the government must act immediately.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD is this morning attending the second Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle. Mr Adams commended the government for reconvening the Global Irish Economic Forum.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Those who have travelled to Ireland at this time from the Irish diaspora are demonstrating a great love of our country and our people.

“We Irish are very resilient and it is possible to beat this recession but that can only be done through growth and by generating jobs.

“So, the success of this weekend’s gathering will be measured in the new jobs that are created.

“Unlike the government a multitude of economic policy makers across the globe are now arguing that austerity policies which cut public services, reduce consumer spending and increase unemployment, are not working and that the rising number of jobless people is impeding recovery. It is clear a stimulus is needed.

“One way of growing is to explore the potential of the all-island economy.

“On a landmass this size, and with only six million people, it does not make sense to have a duplication of services, taxation, and other costs.

“Successful businesses are already trading north and south and availing of the six million consumers island wide, rather than the 1.5 in the North or 4.5 in the South.

“The all-island economy applied to the arts and culture makes sense and can generate new income, more tourists and jobs. Ireland has a thriving agricultural and agri-food industry.

“It is growing year on year and has a deserved international reputation, particularly in the niche green food sector. Greater co-operation would be of enormous benefit in creating jobs and expanding this industry.

“There is also a world food shortage. The island of Ireland is well placed to contribute to tackling this problem.” ENDS

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Commenting on an Irish Times opinion poll which shows a large increase in support for Sinn Féin, the party’s Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said that many people who voted in the General Election for the government parties — the Labour Party in particular — feel utterly betrayed.

Deputy McDonald said the poll is further evidence that Sinn Féin’s message of the need for real change is resonating with ever greater numbers of citizens.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“Citizens the length and breadth of this state reject the austerity approach of this government. They reject the notion that ordinary working families should pick up the tab for the reckless actions of bankers and the mismanagement of the economy by government. They reject the hand-over of sovereignty to the IMF and the EU.

“Many citizens who voted in the General Election for the government parties — the Labour Party in particular — feel utterly betrayed. People voted in large numbers in the hope of real political change, not a continuation of the failed policies of the previous Fianna Fáil-led adminstration. Unfortunately that is what they are getting.

“Every day we see evidence of the pain and distress caused by the government’s failed approach — unemployment at an historic high, increased emigration, stealth taxes and attacks on welfare.

“The evidence is that given the chance, increasing numbers of people will not vote for parties, or candidates representing parties, who are implementing policies which are causing so much hardship and distress.

“Sinn Féin has said consistently that there is a political alternative. We have said austerity is not working, that the economy needs stimulus and that job creation should be the top priority for government.

“We have promoted core republican values — citizenship, sovereignty and independence. We are standing up for people’s rights and in Ireland's interests.

“We are saying there is a better way and have produced costed proposals to get the economy back on track.

“Sinn Féin is offering more than just hope - we offer a real alternative and the people are responding.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, will today introduce the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011 to the Dáil.

This is the first Bill to be taken under the new Friday sitting procedures and aims to protect the lowest paid workers in society.

Speaking during a solidarity protest outside Leinster House, Deputy Tóibín said, “this bill is an attempt to protect some of the most vulnerable workers in this economy.”

Deputy Tóibín explained,

“I am delighted that the bill is being introduced to the Dáil today. This is the first Bill to be taken under the new Friday sitting procedures and we have taken this opportunity to put forward legislation that would protect the lowest paid workers in the economy.

“The High Court ruling on Joint Labour Committees last July has left 200,000 workers on wages averaging €18,000 exposed to exploitation and poverty. It has allowed unscrupulous employers to further drive down the wages and conditions of their employees.

“Since July this government has made no attempt to introduce legislation to meet the demands of the High Court and to protect these workers and their families. Sinn Féin has continued to work with SIPTU, UNITE, MANDATE and The Coalition for the Low Paid to ensure this issue receives the attention it deserves. That is why we have worked to ensure the bill is heard today.

“We have organised for trade unions and campaign groups to come into the Dáil and lobby TDs and to explain why they should support the bill. Many working families voted Labour in an attempt to protect their rights at this difficult time. Many now feel let down and betrayed by Labour's inaction on this important issue.”

“By supporting this bill today the government can try to redeem themselves and undo some of the damage they have done to working families.”

Deputy Tóibín was joined by party colleagues and representatives of Trade Unions SIPTU, UNITE, IMPACT and the Coalition of the Low Paid at a solidarity protest this morning.

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The Sinn Féin Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill will be debated in the Dáil today, Friday.

This is the first Bill to be taken under the new Friday sitting procedures.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Peadar Tóibín will be joined by party colleagues at a protest outside Leinster House today at 10am.

Trade Unions UNITE, SIPTU, IMPACT and the Coalition for the Low Paid will also take part in this solidarity protest.

Deputy Tóibín will be available to speak to the media at 10:15am from the protest.

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Mary Lou McDonald TD