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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here




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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Colrevay has welcomed the visit to the Agriculture committee by EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos.

Speaking today after the visit Deputy Colreavy said:

“I welcome the visit this morning by Commissioner Ciolos particularly during this crucial time for CAP negotiations.

“Sinn Féin appreciates the key role of the EU in supporting food security, food quality, environmental sustainability and vitality of rural areas.

“The commissioner must ensure that the overall CAP budget is maintained as any reduction would have serious consequences for agriculture and food prospects both in Ireland and through-out Europe.

“The commissioner should bear in mind that whilst agriculture is indeed progressing well in Ireland the average wage for farmers is still well under the average industrial wage and in the more disadvantaged parts of Ireland the average farm income is less than half the average industrial wage.

“The rules and procedures associated with CAP should be streamlined and simplified, something that has often been promised but has yet to be delivered.

“I would like the Commissioner to take on board specific points in relation to the transition period to flat rate payments; the greening proposals; the definition of active farmers and use of 2014 as a reference year will have to be reviewed. The reference year of 2014 could, in practice, work directly against the intended objective of that clause.

“Sinn Féin will support all efforts to achieve the targets set out in Harvest 2020 and will continue to insist that the interests, particularly of smaller farmers in marginal areas are protected.” ENDS

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Speaking after a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Assembly Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine Deputy Michael Colreavy said there is a lot to be gained from increased North South cooperation.

“We have had an excellent discussion with Minister O’Neill regarding many aspects of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Sinn Féin is committed to working on an All – Ireland basis and this meeting has further reinforced this.

“We are actively seeking areas of common interest within Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Rural development which would be beneficial to all participants and which might attract greater support from European and other funding institutions. This work is on-going and will be accelerated in the months ahead.

“I welcome the increased cooperation between Minister Michelle O’Neill and Minister Simon Coveney. The value of this increased contact can clearly be seen following the recent Common Fisheries Policy negotiations where both Ministers and their teams co-operated in presenting their respective proposals.

“Clearly there is much to be done and much to be gained from intensifying these areas of mutual cooperation.”

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Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government Brian Stanley TD today challenged the government to provide assistance for 9,000 families in arrears with their local authority mortgages.

Deputy Stanley was speaking today after a he received information in a reply to a Dáil Parliamentary Question which showed that almost four in every ten affordable and shared ownership loans are in arrears.

Deputy Stanley said:

“Almost four out of ten loans received through local authorities to purchase houses are now in arrears for more than 90 days. This compares with one in twelve in the private market. This was confirmed in a response to a Dáil question which confirmed that 38.9% of all affordable and shared ownership loans are in arrears. This is causing huge distress to families who fear they will be losing their home and in turn causing financial problems for the local authorities in question.

“The government gave a commitment in the Programme for Government to tackle mortgage distress. Yet today the Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore failed again to give any commitment to introduce legislation to provide support for those in arrears with local authority mortgages.

“The Tánaiste claimed legislation will be introduced but only for those with mortgages from private financial institutions. Initially, on October 6th, former Housing Minister Willie Penrose stated that ‘there is no evidence to suggest wider economic circumstances are creating problems specifically for local authority borrowers.’

“I think todays facts clearly indicate that there is very much a crisis within local authority mortgages and it needs to be dealt with immediately.

“I intend to raise this issue directly with Minister for Environment & Local Government Phil Hogan until a just and fair resolution is introduced to provide financial support for these thousands of distressed families.” ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has welcomed the proposal from the Minister for Justice to reduce the number of armed Gardaí.
Deputy O’Brien did however caution about giving the go-ahead to policy recommendations based purely on saving money.

The Cork North Central TD said:

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that we should have a routinely unarmed policing service across the island, and furthermore that any use of force by Gardaí is guided by the principle and practice of minimum force. This was one of the recommendations by Patten for the PSNI, and should equally apply in this state, not only with regard to firearms but also so-called ‘less-lethal’ weapons such as tasers and pepper sprays.

“Sinn Féin is opposed to the routine arming and militarisation of policing throughout Ireland. However, we recognise that there are occasions where an armed response may be appropriate as a last resort, and that the priority in these circumstances must relate to the right to life of all individuals. We also recognise the need for proper training of the personnel involved. We never again want to see situations where the PSNI or Gardaí are involved in killings that could have been avoided – such as that which occurred in Abbeylara. Respect for human rights should be the basis all policing reforms.

“This Department of Justice proposal is to be welcomed but the Minister should steer away from endorsing such recommendations purely on the basis of their cost-saving potential. Within the context of a generally unarmed service, where strictly necessary armed response should be handled by specially trained units such as the Garda Emergency Response Unit, the Minister must ensure that they are adequately trained in the principle of minimum force. Also An Garda Siochana should be compelled to monitor international best practice developments and practices including unarmed techniques.”

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today launched a new guide which highlights the range of activities which are taking place across the north with help from the NI Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP).

Worth over £500million to the region the NIRDP is designed to protect and enhance the rural environment and contribute to the development of rural businesses and thriving rural communities.

The new ‘RDP in Action’ guide, published by the Rural Network NI includes a range of projects and initiatives which have been implemented under the themes of Farming & Food, Environment & Countryside and Rural Life.

Comprising 50 projects which have been implemented under the current programme it also includes examples of how rural development funding is supporting rural life in the south of Ireland, Britain and Europe.

Speaking at the launch of the publication Minister O’Neill commented: “RDP in Action showcases how rural development funding is making a difference across the north. The region is brimming with life, activity, fresh ideas, new ventures and entrepreneurs of all ages and genders. The projects presented range from specialist woodcraft and baby food to recycling, planting native woodland and allotments to picture framing and organic pig production. The guide is a testament to the success of the programme so far.”

It is available to download from the Rural Network website http://www.ruralnetworkni.org.uk or from Rural Network on email: info@ruralnetworkni.org.uk or Tel 028 867 66980.

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that Invest NI and the Enterprise Minister must ensure that money is available for hotel provision in Ballycastle if any projects are forthcoming in the period ahead. Mr McKay was speaking after questioning the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster at Question Time in the Assembly.

He said:

“The business community as well as the public in general are not happy that Invest NI are regularly in a position of not being able to spend their money and are now regularly putting money back to the Department of Finance and Personnel.“I have held a meeting with the Enterprise Minister, I have sent her numerous written questions and have again questioned her on the floor of the house on the fact that I do have a proposal for what she and Invest NI should spend their money on instead of handing it back – a hotel in Ballycastle.

“I think that Ballycastle needs to be part of the project when it comes to Golf tourism and events in Portrush. We are just a stones throw away and the Department must ensure that the town is not treated as being beyond the periphery in this regard. Ballycastle is at the heart of the Causeway Coast & Glens and is the gateway to Rathlin, it is a perfect site for a four star or five star hotel as envisaged in the the ‘Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Masterplan’ for 2004-2013.

“The Minister has responded to me by saying that she is supportive of a hotel in Ballycastle and that if the private sector takes the lead then financial support can be sought from Invest NI. If a viable proposal is brought forward in the time ahead for Ballycastle which is of a high standard and meets the funding criteria of Invest NI then I and the wider community has an expectation that Invest NI and the Minister will work constructively with us to deliver that hotel. There is no excuse in my opinion for dashing those expectations – especially when Invest NI cannot find significant projects to spend millions of pounds on.”

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Sinn Féin Junior Minister, Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) has welcomed the resolution passed at a meeting of Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Éireann in Derry tonight which clears the final hurdle allowing the Derry bid for hosting the all-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil to to proceed unhindered through the Comhaltas procedures.

Martina Anderson said:

"I am delighted with the outcome of the Comhaltas meeting in Derry tonight where the proposal to proceed with the bid to host the 2013 all-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na h-Éireann in Derry was ratified by those attending the meeting.

"I hope that the bid now successfully proceeds through the remaining stages of the ratification procedures and we can look forward to staging what will be a spectacular display of Irish culture in our City in 2013.

"I want to congratulate all of those who worked so hard to bring the bid to this juncture and wish them success in the final stages. I know that Derry will do them proud when we stage the Fleadh in 2013."

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Sinn Féin MLA, Michelle Gildernew, who is also the chair of the Health Committee has expressed serious concerns over the outbreak of Pseudomonas at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Neonatal Unit which is being linked to the tragic deaths of two babies.

Speaking today Ms Gildernew said:

“First and foremost I wish to send my sympathies to the families who have tragically lost their babies. There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing a baby and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

“This outbreak is extremely concerning. It has obviously seen the tightening of access to the maternity ward and I will be seeking reassurances that all is being done to protect those in the ward, especially any infirm babies who are more susceptible to this virus.

“We must now as a matter of urgency, investigate how this particular outbreak occurred, isolate the cause, and ensure that all measures are taken to stop any further spread of this disease or any further re-occurrence.

“In a new modern maternity unit there would not have be the level of exposure and this must be taken into consideration when looking at the maternity ward at the Royal Victoria Hospital and assessing this outbreak.”

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Sinn Féin’s Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has reiterated his call for the government to underground the Meath/Tyrone 400KV Interconnector.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I am calling on the Fine Gael/Labour government to live up to their commitments. First of all they must compensate NEPP and the other campaigns that have lost funds due to Eirgrid’s planning inconsistencies. There was a definitive commitment by Fine Gael that this would happen within 3 months of the election and as of yet it has not been achieved.

“Secondly the government must live up to their commitment with regards to the undergrounding of these power lines. The report commissioned by the government failed to take into consideration the resulting fall in the value of property and land in the area. It failed to take into consideration health costs and costs to tourism and agriculture in Meath and the other counties.

“The report also failed to take into consideration the costs consequent to future delays and litigation if Eirgrid persists with seeking to foist their project on the communities along the route.

“Despite the fact the Expert Report did not take into consideration these costs it did state that the undergrounding of the Meath – Tyrone interconnector is a ‘realistic solution’. The report estimated that €286 million would be the cost of undergrounding. Given that this figure compares well with EirGrid’s stated costs of €280m for their over ground option the government must proceed with the undergrounding alternative.”

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