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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Nuacht

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Sinn Féin Enterprise Spokesperson Phil Flanagan has called for the introduction of a code of ethics for government spending here. He was speaking after Aerospace, Defence & Security Industry Survey, the umbrella group for companies located here in that industry appeared at the Enterprise Committee to give evidence on an inquiry into Research & Development.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:

“Following this morning’s Enterprise Committee meeting, I am very concerned about the levels of funding that Invest NI may be providing to companies operating in the field of weapons development without assessment of where these technologies are used.

“Certainly there is the concern that local funding helps sustain an arms industry which sees weapons deployed in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The delivery of this government funding, by the admission of an ADS spokesperson, is essential to shoring up this industry.

“I believe that all government funding including investment monies should be subject to a moral code of ethics."

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In the run-up to International Women’s Day this year, Sinn Féin will hold an event to remember the women of the Magdalene Laundries.

The event ‘Flowers for Magdalenes’ is being run by Sinn Féin in conjunction with the Justice for Magdalenes group and will take place this Sunday 4 March at 2pm at Glasnevin Cemetary.

Speaking in advance of the event the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said:

“We have chosen to mark this year’s International Women’s Day by remembering the women of the Magdalene Laundries at the place where many of them are buried, Glasnevin Cemetary.

“Sometimes we think of these women as a single unit, but they were sisters, daughters, mothers and friends. They were real women with individual, personal and sometimes very tragic stories.

“Flowers for Magdalenes aims to remember each and every woman who passed through the Magdalene Laundries in this sad and shameful period of our recent history.

“The group will gather outside the cemetery gates at 2pm where a representative from Justice for Magdalenes will speak. We will then go into the graveyard and lay flowers at each grave and memorial to the Magdalene women.

“We are asking everyone to bring flowers to the event – each flower represents one woman – Flowers for Magdalenes.”

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Welcoming the launch of the Ulster University's York Street campus plans Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said,

"I have met with University management throughout this process and made the case for the full inclusion of the North Belfast community in their plans.

"This is a positive and very welcome development which has the potential to regenerate this part of the city and bring jobs, educational opportunities and  new businesses to the surrounding areas.

"We have also raised some concerns about housing the university's expanding student population in this area which has a chronic housing need and I'm convinced those issues can be resolved by working together.

"The plans are imaginative and ambitious and demonstrate a vision  of a campus fully integrated with the local community and indeed the whole city.

"We are pressing for jobs in the initial construction stages and subsequent well paid jobs on site, along with access courses for the community and use of these modern facilities as seen in other inner city universities which succeed.

"The key is to learn from the best examples of how universities involve the community and avoid any potential pitfalls from this early planning stage." said the North Belfast MLA

 

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has launched two reports highlighting mental health in rural areas.

Commissioned by the Niamh Louise foundation, a charity which provides suicide awareness, prevention and intervention services, the reports look at rural mental health, the stigma associated with mental health issues and services which are available to support people in rural areas.

Minister O’Neill said: “These reports recognise that the stigma associated with mental health in rural areas is a real problem and that those suffering from mental health problems often do so in silence, compounding their feelings of isolation. However, they also make practical recommendations to addressing and overcoming this stigma and ensuring that the appropriate services and support is in place to help our rural communities.

“I am keen that my Department takes whatever action it can to highlight this issue and commend our Local Action Groups, SWARD and SOAR, for supporting this work. I intend to work closely with the Niamh Louise Foundation in the coming months to look at how we raise the profile of addressing mental health in rural communities and ensure that people do not have to suffer in silence anymore.”

Funding for the reports was provided by the EU Rural Development Programme through the South West Action for Rural Development (SWARD) and Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR) Local Action Groups.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking tonight during the party’s Private Members Motion on the sell-off of state assets attacked the government’s proposals.
He was especially critical of Labour which in the past had ‘championed public services and state ownership of key state assets.
“But no more it seems...Now a Labour Minister is pushing through a conservative economic strategy and is planning to do what Labour said it would never do – sell-off our state assets.
“These include Bord Gais’s energy business and some elements of the ESB’s power generation capacity, as well as the possible sale of some assets of Coillte and the state’s remaining shares in Aer Lingus.
“These are successful state companies that should be part of a job creation strategy that is part and parcel of the solution to creating jobs and delivering growth. They shouldn’t be sold off to private interests whose sole interest is profit.
“There is no commitment in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika for the sell-off of state assets. Sinn Féin has met with the Troika and they told us that while they believe in privatisation, that the Memorandum of Understanding does not bind Fine Gael and Labour to this sell-off of state assets.
“This is a decision taken by the government. And claims that this sell-off will raise one billion, at some undetermined time in the future for job creation, have to be set against the government’s decision to give away taxpayers money to unguaranteed bondholders and bad banks. €20 billion to the banks last year and €3.1 billion to Anglo-Irish bank at the end of next month.
“This money could be put to productive use in the economy; it could be used to create jobs. Instead is being paid into a zombie bank.”
The Louth TD warned Labour backbenchers and supporters that part of the privatisation agenda experience internationally has been to attack the trade union movement. He called on the trade union leadership to demand ‘that the Labour Party come clean on how many other public companies or state assets will be privatised and at what cost to workers, their families and communities and consumers?’
The Sinn Féin leader added that the “selling-off of state assets will have a social cost. Privatisation negatively impacts on the most vulnerable in society, and especially on women. The international experience is that the disadvantaged status of women relative to men in the workplace is worsened.
“Did any of the Labour TDs, especially those who champion the rights of women, even consider this before signing up to privatisation? These are the very real social consequences of these decisions. What type of society will be left when we have sold off our natural resources, which Pat Rabbitte has already expedited? What kind of society will we have if there is no public airline, no public energy body, no post services, and no forestry body?
“What kind of society will be left when they have sold off our performing, essential state assets? It isn’t good enough for Labour to try to blame others for the decisions it is taking. Surely if there is any purpose in Labour being in government with Fine Gael it is to prevent this type of approach. It’s not too late. The Labour leadership should reverse course.”
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Following the publication of a second HIQA report in to the Gleann Alainn Special Care Unit, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Jonathan O’Brien called on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to clarify a number of important matters contained in the report.

Deputy O’Brien said;

“While I welcome the publication of this HIQA report, and the fact that improvements have been made in some areas, it is quite clear that the Unit still falls short of the required standards for accommodating the children concerned.

Only one of the eight main recommendations from the original HIQA report has been met in full. The rest have either been partially met or not met at all.

“The original report required that a review of care files for each child living in the unit take place. This has not happened.

Furthermore, the recommendation that all staff are appropriately vetted, trained and supervised has not been met. There are outstanding reference checks for staff members which have not been completed.

This is a unit for children and such an approach to the hiring of staff should not be tolerated. I am calling on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Minister for Health to ensure that the HSE takes immediate action to rectify this situation.

“Furthermore, I have asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to clarify the number of children and the number of times that restraints have been used. On the 14th February, the Minister informed me in response to a parliamentary question that since the publication of the first HIQA report, no child had been confined to their bedroom and one child was restrained for a period of one minute. However, this report which concluded its fieldwork on 12th January, states that “since the last inspection….The information provided by the SCU showed that there had been three physical restraints in relation to three children and two further incidents where staff intervened with children in order to prevent a situation escalating.”

“We are dealing with children in the care system here and the HSE has a responsibility to ensure the highest standards of care are provided, but also that those who are providing the care to these children are accountable. Either the HIQA report is incorrect, or the information provided to HIQA was incorrect, and I hope the Minister will clarify this as a matter of urgency as well as commit to ensuring the HSE implements the outstanding recommendations.”

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Speaking in the Dáil today the Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pádraig MacLochlainn TD accused the Tánaiste of defending the austerity treaty in the Dáil while grass roots Labour party members and trade unionists protest against it outside.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“I welcome the announcement of a referendum and the opportunity for the Irish people to voice their opinion on the deal before us. This proposal will undermine the European Union further in the eyes of our people. It is a Treaty that will remove economic decision making from democratic control and will stifle growth and increase unemployment.

“Today on the eve of this month’s European Council meeting, trade unions are mobilising across Europe in the face of a worsening economic and social situation. While many of Labour's grassroot supporters were on the streets of Dublin protesting with ICTU and ETUC against this Treaty on ‘European Day of Action Against Austerity’, Labour's party leader was in the Dáil chamber trying to sell it.

“Eamon Gilmore needs to listen to his grassroots. He knows that the draft treaty on the agenda of this week’s summit does nothing but reinforce austerity and outlaw any alternative economic policy.

“Both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are wrong to state that this Treaty will restore growth and resolve the sovereign debt crisis. It is also absolutely disingenuous to try and sell the rules of this Treaty on economic governance as a technical matter.

“The whole thing smacks of ‘making it up as they go along’ politics and will be seen by ordinary people for what it is. It's simply Frankfurt’s way. It is about protecting international capital and its backers.

“The new Treaty is only stipulating more of the same: austerity and budgetary discipline. We know that it will force member states to pursue damaging pro-cyclical fiscal policies, giving absolute priority to rigid economic rules. We know the effects that this will have on our economy and what this will do to our already intolerably high unemployment figures. We are certain that it will bring even more pressure on wages, working conditions, surveillance and sanctions. And ultimately, we know that under this Treaty, Governments failing to comply with the fiscal compact will be brought to the European Court of Justice, which may impose sanctions.

“Such are the implications of what we are being asked to sign up to. I look forward opening the debate up on all these issues and I have total confidence that the Irish people will see this Treaty for what it is.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Brian Stanley TD has called on Minister Hogan to publish the new standards for septic tanks as soon as possible.

Deputy Stanley was speaking today after a rally against septic tank charges outside the Dáil.

Stanley said:

“Families have a right to know what the new septic tank standards will be. Minister Hogan promised that the standards would be published and a period of consultation would take place.

“It is weeks since the legislation was introduced, yet we are still waiting for the standards to see the light of day. Sinn Féin wants these standards published so that we can study them. We agree that septic tanks need standards, but they must be workable and fair.

“We will be campaigning strongly to ensure these standards are directly linked to a fund to meet the needs of households upgrading septic tanks. We must also ensure that rural households are not criminalised for being in breach of legislation that is unworkable.

“I pay tribute to the communities who have organised themselves to resist this unjust charge. The minster must listen to the public and publish the standards immediately and let us get on with the consultation period.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has described as “deeply troubling” today’s news that the German Parliament’s Finance Committee was discussing the as yet unpublished European Commission review of the Irish bailout programme and that these discussions included talk of a possible mini budget for Ireland in 2012.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Today we have learned that once again the German Parliament is discussing sensitive documents relating to the Irish Troika austerity programme before the Irish public, members of the Dáil or Finance Committee have even seen them.

“An as yet unpublished European Commission review of the Troika programme was discussed by the German Parliamentary committee. Among the items discussed was a commission view that the Irish state may require a mini budget for 2012.

“It is deeply troubling that yet again German Parliamentarians know more about the details of the Troika’s austerity programme in Ireland that elected Irish politicians.

“It is also worrying that the European Commission appears to be recommending greater cuts and tax hikes. Sinn Féin has been warning of this for some time. We have repeatedly said that unless there is a change of direction Ireland may not meet its Troika targets and a mini budget may be necessary. If today’s reports are true our fears will have been confirmed.

“I am calling on the Taoiseach to explain what is going on, why the German Parliament is discussing this document before we have been given the chance to discuss it, and to state what he knows about the commission’s views on a mini budget.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media