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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.

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“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 TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has been joined by his party leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams and Drogheda General Practitioner Dr Ruairí Hanely in submitting a request to HIQA to carry out an investigation into ongoing and serious overcrowding in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Speaking today Deputy Tóibín said, “Figures from the Irish Nurses Organisation, which are not disputed by the Department of Health, reveal that on Wednesday September 28th there were 48 patients on trolleys and chairs in Our Lady of Lourdes. This was the highest number of inpatients without beds in any hospital in this state. In fact, Our Lady of Lourdes has had the highest number of patients on trolleys in the state for the past five days.

“This level of overcrowding is not an anomaly. Throughout the past month, the numbers of patients on trolleys in Drogheda has consistently exceeded 30. This has resulted in enormous pressure on the Emergency Department and represents a clear threat to patient safety and welfare.

“Earlier this year, the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, representing consultants in this area, stated, ‘It is now well-established that boarding hospital inpatients in emergency departments results in increased numbers of deaths among this group of ill patients, compared to similar patients who are admitted to a hospital ward in a timely fashion.’

“Given this statement, and the fact that Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the worst affected hospitals in the state, we find it hard to believe that HIQA has not felt it necessary to launch a full safety assessment of this hospital and the potential safety risk it represents to patients.

“This situation becomes even more incredible when we consider that the HSE regularly cites the HIQA ‘Mallow’ report as grounds for the potential closure of the Emergency Department of Our Lady’s Hospital Navan, with the intention of diverting yet more patients to Drogheda.” ENDS

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Having secured a special debate with Minister for Health James Reilly in the Dáil today on the issue of Portlaoise Hospital, Sinn Féin TD for Laois Offaly Brian Stanley secured commitments that the status of the Hospital will not change and called for guaranteed funding for a new maternity unit.

The Laois Offaly TD said;

“I called for this debate with Minister Reilly on Portlaoise Hospital to address the discrepancy between the HSE’s statement of the 22nd September and the Minister’s own statement on the 23rd, as well as the issues regarding the future of the Maternity Unit, the Intensive Care Unit and the A&E Department at the Hospital.

“There is a huge concern among staff, patients and the community in general due to the confusion caused by the Minister for Health and the HSE within 24 hours of each other.

“On the 22nd September, the HSE stated that recent HIQA reports “will ultimately give rise to change in the role of smaller hospitals, which includes the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise and Loughlinstown Hospital.” Only a day later Minister Reilly stated that “Portlaoise is a Model 3 hospital and will remain a Model 3 Hospital…that this is Government policy and will not change.” These contradicting statements have led to serious confusion.

“Portlaoise Hospital is the second busiest hospital outside of Dublin and has demonstrated its efficiency by keeping the cost per attendance at €149 per person. During this debate I also raised the issue of the need for a new maternity unit which was promised by the HSE three years ago at a cost of €8million. In response to my question Minister Reilly said there is no provision at present for this. Whatever the status of hospital, due to the volume of patients the budget of €42million is wholly inadequate for a busy regional hospital and this must be increased. I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the status of the hospital will not change. It is now up to him to go back to the HSE and explain this position to them.

“Further to this I also welcome the Minister’s statement that there are “no plans to reduce services at this hospital” in relation to the ICU, and the proposition to appoint a Clinical Director at the Hospital. I also pressed the Minister on potential plans by the HSE to move the Maternity Unit and the Minister replied that there are no plans to remove maternity services in Portlaoise to hospitals in the Dublin region. This is to be welcomed but I am calling on the Minister for make available the requisite €8million capital funding for the new maternity unit.

“While I welcome the assurances from the Minister regarding the current services, real challenges face the services due to the inadequate budget and the lack of funding for a proper maternity unit and we must continue to press these matters.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Peadar Tóibín has welcomed the government’s proposed strategic investment fund but has called for more detail to be made available.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I welcome the fact that the Government seem to be finally adopting Sinn Féin's long argued position of using money from the NPRF top invest in job creation.

“It’s shocking however that this Government took €16.4bn from the NPRF in July and gave it to the banks and now there is only €5bn left for investment in jobs.

“Sinn Féin wants to know how this money will be used. Projects such as the installation of water meters will not lead to long term competitiveness and will drain the economy of money. We need investment in labour intensive infrastructure projects that will produce social and economic dividends i.e. public transport, broadband, schools etc. We need targeted investment for small and medium sized enterprises to help retain and create jobs. Government should also be actively pursuing matching funding from the European Investment Bank for these projects.

“During the election Fine Gael and Labour promised to get Ireland back to work. Seven months on and we still have almost half a million people on the dole queues. Almost 30,000 people have emigrated. We are in the midst of a jobs crisis. Announcements like this are all well and good but we need more than announcements – we need action.”

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD today welcomed the publication of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill. However the Deputy described the Government’s refusal to grab the bulls by the horns and address high pension payments retrospectively as deeply disappointing.

Ms McDonald said:

“Ending the culture of high pay and pensions across the civil and public sector is a priority. For far too long failure at the top has been rewarded with big bucks, bonanza pension pay-outs and early retirement. Currently 646 civil servants earn between €100,000 and €250,000 yet the Government refuses to lift the recruitment embargo on frontline workers many of whom would be in receipt of the average wage.

“Calculating civil and public sector pensions on a career average basis as oppose to the current practice of final pay is a positive step. Linking pensions to the Consumer Price Index is a real world solution to ensure retired workers can live comfortably in their later years. This is something Sinn Féin would like to see applied to the State pension.

“Of course the devil will be in the detail. Ending the practice of added years and special severance gratuity payments for senior civil servants has been promised by the Government, and it must end absolutely. Excessive lump sum payments on retirement are not acceptable. There also needs to be a real world cap on pay and pension payments.

“There is a bottom line on top level pay and pension – the State simple cannot afford to pay it. Ministers appear not to understand that a Government in hock to the IMF simply cannot justify shelling out €249,014 to the President, €180,000 to Department Secretary General’s or indeed a whopping €200,000 to the Taoiseach.

“Labour and Fine Gaels refusal to grab the bulls by the horn and address high pension payments retrospectively is deeply disappointing. If such payments are not dealt with via the current pension reform proposals then Government must do so through taxation.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said today that the Anglo promissory note of €31 billion must be written off immediately, following new figures provided to him by the government which show that the total costs of the Promissory note will mount to almost €75 billion.

Doherty said:

“While EU leaders discuss the probability of a default on Greek debt, the Irish government looks set to proceed with the repayments on the €31 billion promissory note to Anglo Irish bank. New figures provided to me from the Minister for Finance show that the cost of the promissory note will ultimately be €74.63 billion by the time it is paid off in 2031. This includes the capital repayments, the interest payments to Anglo and the cost of servicing the state’s debt in borrowing this sum.

“This is a staggering amount of money, equating to almost half the total government debt this year and over a third of government debt when we reach our peak debt to GDP ratio over the next number of years.

“It is beyond comprehension that while talks are afoot in Europe about what a Greek default would look like, how European banks can be protected, and how Greece can be kept in the Euro and helped to recover, that our government would consider paying out on these Anglo Promissory notes.

“This state cannot afford these sums. It throws into question our ability to manage the rest of our debt. It’s time for the government to get off their hands and announce categorically that it is neither willing nor able to pay out on the Anglo-Promissory note. The government must begin immediate negotiations with the ECB to achieve this end.” ENDS

Note to editors
The table below is based on the data provided by the minister in PQ No 120 which outlines the cost of the capital repayments and the interest. The table also includes a cost of borrowing column which was not included as a column in the PQ response however the cost was provided in the text. The original Note from the Department “Technical Note on Accounting Treatment of Promissory Note 4th November 2010” included a cost of borrowing column.

For years 2011 – 2013 the interest on borrowing is 115 million as per the minister’s response.

For years 2014 – 2031 the assumed interest rate is 4.7%. This was the average cost of funds raised by the NTMA in the bond market in 2009 and 2010, and is a conservative assumption for the early post EU/ IMF programme years.

€bn Total Interest Repayments Total Capital Reduction Incremental Annual Debt interest cost on Payments (Cash borrowing) Cumulative Debt interest cost on Payments (Cash borrowing)
31/03/2011 0.6 3.1 2.5 0.115
31/03/2012 - 3.1 3.1 0.115 0.23
31/03/2013 0.5 3.1 2.6 0.115 0.345
31/03/2014 1.8 3.1 1.2 0.15 0.495
31/03/2015 1.7 3.1 1.3 0.15 0.645
31/03/2016 1.7 3.1 1.4 0.15 0.795
31/03/2017 1.5 3.1 1.5 0.15 0.945
31/03/2018 1.4 3.1 1.6 0.15 1.095
31/03/2019 1.3 3.1 1.7 0.15 1.245
31/03/2020 1.2 3.1 1.9 0.15 1.395
31/03/2021 1.1 3.1 2 0.15 1.545
31/03/2022 0.9 3.1 2.2 0.15 1.695
31/03/2023 0.7 3.1 2.3 0.15 1.845
31/03/2024 0.6 2.1 1.5 0.1 1.945
31/03/2025 0.4 0.9 0.5 0.04 1.985
31/03/2026 0.4 0.9 0.5 0.04 2.025
31/03/2027 0.3 0.9 0.6 0.04 2.065
31/03/2028 0.3 0.9 0.6 0.04 2.105
31/03/2029 0.2 0.9 0.7 0.04 2.145
31/03/2030 0.1 0.9 0.8 0.04 2.185
31/03/2031 0 0.1 0

Total 16.8 47.9 30.6 26.73

Total Cost €74.63bn

Cost of Borrowing assuming a 4.7% rate from 2014 onwards (post EU/IMF Programme)
4.7% was the average cost of funds raised by the NTMA in the bond market in 2009 and 2010.

DÁIL QUESTION

NO 120

To ask the Minister for Finance the total cost to the State of the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society promissory notes including broken down by the interest payable on the promissory notes, the interest on borrowing to service the note and the capital payments; if he will detail the payment schedule and the date when the full debt including interest will be paid in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 27th September, 2011.
Ref No: 26029/11

REPLY

Minister for Finance ( Mr Noonan ):
The promissory notes were issued in various tranches with different interest rates (four tranches for Anglo and 2 tranches for INBS. The total interest cost for the State for all tranches of the Anglo and Irish Nationwide promissory notes is circa €17 billion with annual repayments of €3.1 billion per annum. These annual repayments reduce over time as the various tranches of the promissory note are repaid. The final payment on the promissory note of circa €0.1billion will be made on 31 March 2031. Set out below is a detailed aggregated schedule of capital repayments and interest on the promissory notes.


€bn Total Interest Repayments Total Capital Reduction
31/3/2011 0.6 3.1 2.5
31/3/2012 - 3.1 3.1
31/3/2013 0.5 3.1 2.6
31/3/2014 1.8 3.1 1.2
31/3/2015 1.7 3.1 1.3
31/3/2016 1.7 3.1 1.4
31/3/2017 1.5 3.1 1.5
31/3/2018 1.4 3.1 1.6
31/3/2019 1.3 3.1 1.7
31/3/2020 1.2 3.1 1.9
31/3/2021 1.1 3.1 2.0
31/3/2022 0.9 3.1 2.2
31/3/2023 0.7 3.1 2.3
31/3/2024 0.6 2.1 1.5
31/3/2025 0.4 0.9 0.5
31/3/2026 0.4 0.9 0.5
31/3/2027 0.3 0.9 0.6
31/3/2028 0.3 0.9 0.6
31/3/2029 0.2 0.9 0.7
31/3/2030 0.1 0.9 0.8
31/3/2031 0.0 0.1 0.0

16.8 47.9 30.6

The Deputy should be aware that the funds which become available to the State as a result of borrowing undertaken by the Exchequer are not generally assigned to one particular area of expenditure. Rather they are available, along with the funds sourced from revenues such as tax revenue, non-tax revenue and capital receipts, to fund overall expenditure. Accordingly, there was no one tranche of borrowing that was undertaken solely for the purpose of funding the Promissory Note payments to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. The draw downs of funds so far under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support have been used for a range of different purposes including of course the general running of the day-to-day operations of the State. It is difficult therefore to isolate precisely the exact cost of the interest payments on the borrowing undertaken to fund the Promissory Note payments. However, for illustrative purposes, on the basis of the original 5.8% blended average interest rate which applied to borrowing under the Programme, the interest costs on borrowing of €3,060 million would be just under €180 million per annum. In light of the recently agreed reduction in interest rates on funding available under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support however, the estimated interest cost on such borrowing reduces to approximately €115 million per annum.

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD called on the Tánaiste to urgently tackle the increasing number of women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence.

Responding to the annual statistics on domestic violence published yesterday by Safe Ireland Deputy McDonald said:

“The figures published yesterday are alarming. Women and children in situations of domestic violence could not access refuges on 3,236 occasions last year, that’s a 38% increase on equivalent figures for 2009.

“In real terms, that means supports for women experiencing abuse in the home is at an all-time low. Community facilities are adequately resourced and getting women to safety where situations of abuse arise is extremely difficult.

“It is well documented that in times of recession instances of domestic violence increase dramatically. That is why domestic violence services aimed at protecting vulnerable women and their families should be made an absolute priority.

“The international comparisons in this report are stark with Ireland having just one third of the refuge capacity as recommended by the Council of Europe.

“The Programme for Government commits to the introduction of consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidations in a manner that provides protection to victims.

“In advance of this year’s general election Labour in its manifesto committed to tackling and eradicating domestic violence and to protect funding for frontline services, such as family refuges.

“It is deeply disappointing that the promised legislation is not included in the Governments legislative programme, and in response to my raising this matter in the Dáil this morning the Tánaiste merely promised a review of the current services.

“The facts speak for themselves. We don’t need a review to tell us that literally thousands of vulnerable women and children are being turned away each year from safe shelter when seeking to escape a life of violence and harm.

“It is this Government’s responsibility to ensure adequate funding is made available to refuges in order to ensure the safety of women and their families.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Victims Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, (South Antrim) responding to claims by DUP Minister Arlene Foster MLA, concerning the Enniskillen bombing said:

“I find the timing of Arlene Foster’s public comments about Martin McGuinness in the context of the Enniskillen bombing a little hypocritical considering that Ms. Foster has served in government with Martin McGuinness for the last five years and never once broached the subject with him.

“I would also ask Arlene to explain exactly what objection she has to the concept of an Independent International Truth Commission to which every individual, party, organisation and government who contributed to the causes and prosecution of the conflict would detail their involvement. Sinn Féin would argue that if you only seek evidence from some of the protagonist groups, or if you only ask some of the questions, then you will only establish some of the truth.

“Sinn Féin sincerely regrets that Truth recovery has become yet another contested issue when so many victims and survivors are desperate to establish the facts surrounding the tragedies which afflicted their families and communities. Martin McGuinness has stated publicly the he personally would appear before such a Commission.

“Surely acceptance that grief and pain recognises no boundaries and affects all who were part of the armed conflict and many non-combatants, would be the best means of removing the obstacles preventing progress.“

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has accused the Government of hiding behind false promises of job creation and investment in its effort to progress a programme of wholesale privatisation of the State’s public assets.

Responding to the Tánaiste’s announcement in the Dáil that the Government intends to set up a new unit within the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to manage the semi state shareholdings Deputy McDonald said:

“The Programme for Government’s commitment to sell €2 billion in non-strategic assets appears now to have morphed into a €5 billion fire sale of the state’s family silver. Not only has Labour bent the knee to the troika it has also bent the knee to Fine Gael’s privatisation agenda.

“Semi states have a role to play in the State’s recovery. Jobs can be created, training provided, dividends paid to the public purse and infrastructure developed to meet the needs of an innovative 21st century economy.

“Privatisation in part or in whole of state assets does not make sense, even less so when such measures are used to pay off debt, primarily bad bank debt. Even advocates of partial privatisation have criticised the Government’s plans as the monies raised and the policy implemented will not be done with the intent of improving the performance or quality of semi states products and services.

“Labour and Fine Gael in Government are making bad choices that are not in the public interest. Instead of investing in a widespread job creation programme this Government has instead committed the State to paying off Anglo/INBS bad banking debt until 2025.

“Instead of properly investing in innovation, education, and next generation broadband this Government will borrow over three billion euro each year to pay off the debts of Anglo and INBS. The interest alone on the State’s borrowings for Anglo would clear the budget deficit, and still leave monies to invest in critical infrastructure and job creation measures.” ENDS

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Commenting on the European Court ruling on the regulation of VHI, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on Health Minister James Reilly to set out the Government’s plans for health insurance, as well as the implications of this judgement for VHI policy-holders.

He said:

“Minister Reilly needs to make clear the implications of this European Court judgement for VHI policy-holders and for the overall funding of our health system. In the Dáil this week I asked Minister Reilly when the Government would publish the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance which was promised for early in the term of the new Government. He was unable to give me even a vague indication of when it might be published. He spoke of the Coalition’s promised health reforms taking ‘two terms of Government’.

“Minister Reilly now needs to set out his plans for health insurance and for the funding of healthcare as a matter of priority. The flawed insurance-based model of healthcare funding proposed – but not yet detailed – by this Fine Gael/Labour Coalition raises more questions than answers and there have been very few answers so far.” ENDS

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Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


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Mary Lou McDonald TD