Commenting on the latest increase in the amount of people unemployed, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Peadar Tóibín TD has stated that the economy is in need of major surgery but all this government seem able to provide is one or two paltry sticking plasters.
According to the CSO the increase in the monthly unemployment rate was 2,900 last month and the standardised unemployment rate in June 2011 was 14.2%, up slightly from 14.1% in May. Figures also released this week showed a fall in the level of retail sales year on year in May by 2.1%. Last week the CSO released figures which indicated that GNP fell by 4.3% in the last quarter.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“The domestic economy is in a debt trap. The policy of austerity is pushing down expenditure which is shrinking the economy and causing major unemployment. This in turn is reducing the states capacity to repay debt which means that subsequent austerity has to be more severe. This government is perpetuating the downward spiral started by Fianna Fáil.
Referring to Minister Burton's announcement of the JobBridge initiative, Deputy Tóibín claimed it was, "a cynical attempt to make a good news story. Based on today's increased unemployment figures, the 5,000 intern places will be gone by August. It is a pathetic sticking plaster to a problem that demands a real jobs strategy along with major surgery of a targeted fiscal stimulus."
Deputy Tóibín called on the government to ensure that the new internships would not be abused by some employers who may seek to use the increase in unemployment as cheap labour.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil today during statements on the European Council warned that “if the Government continues to follow the failed EU/IMF/ECB policy of austerity, including public sector cuts and increased taxes to pay a debt mountain no one believes is tenable, then this country will be where Greece is now in a very short time.”
Mr Adams accused the government of burying its “head in the sand, refusing to recognise the fact that you cannot borrow your way out a debt crisis, particularly one of this magnitude. It is irresponsible to insist on taking on more debt, at extortionate interest rates, while imposing ever more austerity policies on the Irish people.
“This failure of policy is compounded by the Minister for Finance’s flippant response that all of these problems can be sorted if only people would go out and shop! This from the same Minister for Finance who recently defended the oppressive Universal Social Charge!”
The TD for Louth and East Meath pointed out in respect of the bailout interest rate that: “At the conclusion of last week’s summit you have nothing to show for months of negotiations on this issue.”
Summary of Mr. Adams remarks:
“Taoiseach this government was elected on a promise to reduce the interest on the total bailout of the EU/IMF/ECB loan by 1%. This, it was claimed, would save the Irish taxpayer some €400 million.
“However the Minister for Finance this month told Pearse Doherty a different story. According to Minister Noonan this is not the government’s goal.
“The government now wants a 0.6% reduction on any further drawdown of EU money. This would save the state less than €200 million.
“The real issue in all of this is not a small reduction of 0.6% - it is the fact that our partners in Europe have imposed a 3% handling charge on the €45 billion in loans they are providing.
“This means that those who claim to be our friends and who say they want us to see our way through this current crisis, are actually profiting from this calamity to the tune of some €10 billion!
“Taoiseach if you want to negotiate – negotiate this!
“There can be no shying away from the reality that this state cannot afford the bailout and its punitive interest terms.
“The evidence of this is clear in the news headlines each day which reveal more cuts to our health and education system, more closures of hospital A&Es, reductions in wages being paid to low and middle income earners, and the introduction of stealth taxes.
“Moreover, Taoiseach, you agreed with the EU/IMF/ECB that you will bring in another €3.6 billion of cuts in the next budget.
“As part of this you are committed to a lowering of tax bands and credits as part of general tax increases amounting to €1.5 billion, and reductions in spending, which includes social expenditure reductions.
“Yet you and the Tánaiste keep telling citizens that you are not going to raise taxes or cut social welfare? It can’t be both.
“And what other cuts to public services will you introduce? How many more A&Es will have to be closed? How many Special Needs Assistants will lose their jobs and special needs children lose their lifeline to education? How many children next winter will be walking long roads and laneways to school?
“How many workers will have their wages slashed while having to pay the Universal Social Charge, a property tax and water charges and any other mean stealth tax you can concoct?
“The claim that Fine Gael is the party that will not raise taxes or Labour is the party that will defend workers, all ring hollow when set against the reality of the decisions that this government is taking.” ENDS
The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil during ‘Statements on European Council, Brussels’ expressed his support for the crew of the MV Saoirse, the Irish ship to Gaza, which will travel in the coming days to Gaza with the International Freedom Flotilla.
Mr Adams called on the Irish government to speak to the Israeli government and seek safe passage for the MV Saoirse, and to do all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Adams said: “Direct negotiations in the Middle East provide the only realistic chance of improving the situation on the ground and leading to a lasting and comprehensive solution in that part of the world. I have been there a number of times myself, including several days in Gaza – and I warmly welcome the unity pact between the Palestinian groups.”
The Sinn Fein leader also said: “I also want to support the crew of the MV Saoirse, the Irish Ship to Gaza which will travel with the International Freedom Flotilla.
“I know some of those on board the MV Saoirse, including Sinn Féin members, and I want to commend them and their colleagues for their courage in standing up for the rights of the people of Gaza to live free of oppression.
“This second flotilla should be allowed safe travel and the Irish Government should be speaking to the Israeli authorities to ensure that they get it.
“I would further urge the Government to do all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people.
“In particular the government should support the unity efforts of all the Palestinian groups and their demand for recognition for statehood when it comes up in the UN later this year.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MP and MLA, Conor Murphy, who is also the chair of the Finance Committee at Stormont, has stated that measures need to be implemented to ensure that sub contractors carrying out capital build programmes are protected and safeguarded.
Speaking today Mr Murphy said:
“The economic crisis has placed many within the construction industry under immense financial pressure.
“When it comes to capital build projects concerns have been raised that some larger companies being paid to deliver these projects are delaying payment to subcontractors placing many of these smaller business under increased pressure.
“On many occasions Sub Contractors are the last to be paidand some have gone out of business as a result.
“The Irish Government have already provided reassurances that a Construction Contracts Bill will be fast tracked through the Dail which will provide levels of protection for sub contractors and we should be bringing forward similar measures.
“There is a need to arrive at measures and safeguards to ensure thatall those who take part in capital build projects receive their share from the capital budget and that it is not swallowed by the big players with sub contractors left to pick up the pieces or being left high and dry.
“The Finance Committee are pressing the Department of Finance and Personnel to make sure that this issue is addressed as a matter of urgency.” Crioch
“This is the real comprehensive, cross cutting approach that is needed and I am urging the Executive to table this issue with urgency and reach consensus on a multi-departmental approach." crioch
Speaking in the Seanad today Waterford based Senator David Cullinane congratulated all those involved in the organisation of the return of the Tall Ships event to Waterford. The event will be officially launched tomorrow by An Taoisaech Enda Kenny TD. It will run from 30th June to the 3rd July.
Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Cullinane said:
“I warmly welcome the return of the Tall Ships to Waterford. I congratulate all those involved in the planning, organisation and involvement in the event. It is expected that up to 500,000 people will travel to Waterford and enjoy the many festivities and entertainment on offer. Over 500 volunteers from Waterford and the Southeast are working to ensure that the event is a major success. I have no doubt that it will.
“The City Manager, the outgoing Mayor Cllr Mary Roche and current Mayor Cllr Pat Hayes as well as all staff at Waterford City Council should be immensely proud at how fantastic the city looks. The event is an excellent opportunity to show case Waterford City nationally and internationally. It dovetails nicely with the opening of the Viking Triangle on the Mall and the restoration of the beautiful Bishop’s Palace Building.
“It is fitting that each visiting captain is being presented with specially commissioned pieces of Waterford Crystal. All Waterford people are immensely proud of our maritime and manufacturing history. Here is an example of the two going hand in hand.
“I am very proud of everyone who contributed to the event and I have no doubt it will be a success. I am appealing to people from outside Waterford to attend and enjoy the many musical and entertainment acts on show as well as witnessing the spectacular Tall Ships from the vantage point of the Waterford Quays.” ENDS
Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has pledged to do all she can to support the sustainability and viability of the local fishing industry and the processors and communities dependant on it.
Speaking during a visit to Kilkeel where she met local fishermen and representatives of the fishing industry, the Minister said: “Fishing has an important role to play in supporting the coastal communities in County Down, not only through direct employment on fishing boats but also in providing hundreds of jobs in fish processing plants and support services. These jobs are underpinned by the fishing opportunities available to our fleet and I will work with the industry and fisheries scientists to develop the fisheries sector in a manner that is sustainable and viable.
“Meeting with our local fishermen today I have heard of the challenges they face and their concerns about issues affecting the industry. I take on board the issues raised and will do my best to ensure that the needs of the local industry are strongly represented in dealings with DEFRA and the European Commission and that Irish Sea issues are given due importance.”
Commenting on the publication of the European Commission’s scientific advice on fish stocks for 2012, the Minister continued: “Today’s publication marks the start of the annual process of setting levels for next years’ Total Allowable Catches (TAC). With the help of our fisheries scientists and the industry, we will study this advice to determine what its likely impact would be for next years’ fishing opportunities. In the coming weeks I will meet with fisheries ministers from the devolved administrations to highlight the needs of our industry and agree our negotiating priorities. I also intend to meet with the EU Fisheries Commissioner and my southern counterpart, Simon Coveney TD, to win support so that by the end of the year we will have secured the best result possible for our local fishing fleet."Looking ahead to her attendance at next month’s Fisheries Council in Brussels and her priorities for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Minister added: “Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is likely to feature highly on the agenda at next month’s meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council and I expect the Commission's latest proposals on CFP reform to focus on fishing at levels that will deliver Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). In my view, this is a desirable position, but given our dependence on mixed fisheries, flexibility is needed in the pace at which we move towards MSY for each stock within such fisheries.
Bairbre de Brun MEP has expressed guarded optimism that the CAP budget will hold its own as the European Commission prepares to publish proposals for EU spending in the seven-year period after 2013.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels , Ms de Brún said:" I am encouraged by reports in advance of the European Commission publishing its budget proposals that the agriculture budget for the next period is to be maintained at the 2013 level. This is something we have been calling for and will be crucial in ensuring the future of our agri-food industry here.
"Farmers who have been concerned about the future of the SFP will be relieved that there appears to be more of a consensus emerging about a way forward for farm support through the Single Farm Payment
"Last year there was speculation that the CAP budget could face anything up to 40% cuts which would have been disastrous for our industry.While we're not out of the woods yet, today's news suggests that the overall figure for agriculture in the time ahead could be more balanced.
"I have some concerns, however, that Pillar 2 payments could be disproportionally cut as this could have a very negative effect for many schemes which have proven successful in combining farming with nature conservation.
"In its recent vote on the Dess report, the European Parliament made it clear that it wishes to see spending on agriculture and rural development at a sustainable level, with a strong CAP that maintains both pillars. It called for a strong CAP budget, rejected calls for cuts in rural development funding and called for adequate funding for Pillar 2 in the next financial period.
"The detailed way ahead will be carefully negotiated by governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament over the next 9 months or so. But the big discussions on how to divide up the cake will come depend crucially on how big the overall spend on agriculture and rural development in the seven-year period after 2013 will be.
"I have stressed to Commissioner Ciolos the need for a strong and sustainable CAP, based around two pillars, maintaining the Single Farm Payment and having a strong and fair Pillar 2. For the sake of our ecosystems as well as for the sake of our farm families, we must work to prevent land abandonment and have policies that ensure that farmers can remain working on the land and providing the services that society needs."
Sinn Féin TDs and Senators have today been presented with the Irish-language symbol An Fáinne at Leinster House.
The presentation was made by Conradh na Gaeilge to mark the efforts being made by the party to promote the Leinster in the Dáil and Seanad.
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Irish-language and
Gaeltacht affairs thanked Conradh na Gaeilge for the presentation and reaffirmed Sinn Féin’s commitment to the language:
"We in Sinn Féin are fully committed to the Irish language and we are determined to encourage more members of the Oireachtas to speak Irish in both the Dáil and in the Seanad in future, and indeed that there will also be an increase in general in media coverage through Irish of the country's affairs.
“I wish to thank Conradh nas Gaeilhe for this unique presentation and commend them in their work on behalf of the language.
Bronnadh siombail na Gaeilge – An Fáinne – ar Theachtaí Dála agus ar Sheanadóirí Shinn Féin i dTeach Laighean inniu.
Ba Conradh na Gaeilge a rinne an bronnadh chun aitheantas a thabhairt d’iarrachtaí an pháirtí an teanga a chuir chun cinn sa Dáil agus sa tSeanad.
Ghabh an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, urlabhraí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta Shinn Féin buíochas le Conradh na Gaeilge as an aitheantas agus d’athdhearbhaigh sé tiomantas Shinn Féin don teanga.
“Tá muidne i Sinn Féin go hiomlán tiomanta don Ghaeilge agus tá rún daingean againn baill an Oireachtais a spreagadh chun an teanga a labhairt sa Dáil agus sa tSeanad. Tá muid tiomanta freisin go mbeadh méadú ar an Ghaeilge sna meáin go ginearálta agus iad ag clúdach gnóthaí na tíre.
“Gabhaim buíochas le Conradh na Gaeilge as an bhronnadh speisialta seo agus treaslaím leo as a gcuid oibre ar son na Teanga.”
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún today welcomed a delegation of former prisoners to Brussels.They visited the European Parliament and attended an event hosted by Ms de Brún to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Hunger Strikes.
The event "Ireland: 30 years After the Hunger Strike, peace building and the EU" was attended by people from different countries and from different political backgrounds, people from both inside and outside the Parliament.
Ms de Brún said: "I am pleased to host this event which marks the hunger strikes in Ireland 30 years ago and to present to our European friends the progress towards peace which has been made over the past 30 years.The event will hear from people who were in prison at the time of the hunger strikes and bring stories of peace building together on the anniversary of this historic moment. I also want to thank the EU for the support they have given to this peace building and reconciliation."
Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell, himself a former prisoner analysed the historical importance of the hunger strike, saying "Following the hunger strikes, and the world-wide campaign of support, Irish republicans could no longer be portrayed as isolated criminal elements. This opened the way for Irish republicans to pursue their objectives by political means."
Former Sinn Féin Councillor and former prisoner Briege Brownlee stressed the role that former prisoners play in the ongoing peace process saying:"Many of the activists who were directly engaged in the conflict, including former prisoners, have been at the heart of efforts to bring about dialogue and reconciliation between communities in the north of Ireland. They are among the first to calm down tensions between and within the communities and to encourage people, particularly young people, to understand and use the potential of the peace process."
Culture Minister Carál Ni Chuilin, is encouraging people to trace their ancestors and family history.
Sinn Féin MLA Paul Maskey who is also the chair of the Public Accounts Committee at the Assembly has welcomed the Audit Office's report into Managing Criminal Legal Aid (CLA).
“This is a comprehensive report that looks into the rapid growth in expenditure into CLA, since 2003 some £340m has been spent. In 2000-01 it cost £22m and in 2009-10 cost's almost trebled to £60m.”
Mr Maskey added that the rapid growth did not mirror a similar increase in the number of CLA cases.
“I have no doubt that the PAC will take evidence on this report in the autumn time as the Audit Office estimate that up to £23m may have been spent since 2005 in respect of cases which failed to go to trial lasting more than 25 days among other issues.”
Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has visited St Mary’s Primary School, Newtownbutler, to see the completion of an upgrade to their facilities.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has announced that the new Welfare of Animals Act will come into operation on 11 July 2011.
Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has highlighted the important role played by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in schools and the wider community.
"Sport can have a major and positive impact on children and young people in our schools. An early interest in sport can not only help to tackle and prevent obesity, but it also helps children focus better during class time. In recognition of this, my Department introduced the Curriculum Sports Programme for primary schools in 2007 to help improve the health and wellbeing of our children and encourage them to embrace a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
“This meeting provided me with an opportunity to hear more about the very valuable work the GAA are carrying out in our schools. They, along with the Irish Football Association (IFA), are playing a vital role in delivering the Curriculum Sports Programme. It is currently operating in over 500 schools and is being delivered by 53 coaches to over 33,000 primary school children. That is a fantastic achievement and I commend the great work being done by both the GAA and IFA in our schools.
“I also welcome the fact that as a result of funding announced earlier this year by my predecessor, Caitríona Ruane, the IFA and GAA can continue this excellent work for four more years, ensuring that even more local children can improve their fundamental skills and keep active.”
The Minister concluded: “My Department will continue to work closely with the GAA and IFA over the next four years and I look forward to visiting many of the schools involved in the Curriculum Sports Programme to see for myself the positive impact it is having on many children’s lives.”
Education Minister, John O’Dowd and Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry have met to discuss a number of issues of mutual interest.
Speaking today in a Seanad debate on Primary School Transport, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly challenged Junior Minister Ciarán Cannon on his proposed cuts.
Senator Reilly said:
“Minister Cannon said last week that the changes implemented this year are expected to produce a saving in the order of €3.5 million and still have to find another €13.5 million in savings over the next three years.
“Today he is telling us that savings of €4million are expected in 2011 and €14million up to 2014. Which are the correct figures?
“Where will these “savings” come from?
“With many families struggling from week to week and 1 in 5 only having €70 left at the end of the month after bills this could see families unable to afford to safely send their child to school.
“The minimum number of children to require a route will rise from 7 to 10. How many children will be left without a bus route due to this stroke of a pen?
“But this is only the tip of the iceberg. What is planned next? Where will the further €13.5 million or €14 million come from? Charging schoolchildren road tax on their bicycles?
“The Minister of State has mentioned that Bus Éireann is conducting a study on these services. When will this analysis be completed? How will the findings of the analysis feed into the impending crisis in September of children’s inability to get a bus to school? We are looking into July now, 2 months out from September and we have not yet seen this report and how it will affect families.”
Speaking after the debate, Senator Reilly also criticised the lack of answers from the Minister:
“The ending of the Closed School Rule is the ending of an historical commitment to communities in some rural townlands by the Department of Education following closure of their local school. This is dishonourable.
“The guarantees given then created a sense of trust and commitment but that no longer exists.
“The general view is that these cuts are an attack on rural communities and will put further financial pressure on hard pressed families.
“These cuts will be detrimental unless there is fair and proper adjudication of the system. And the Minister did not address or respond to any of my concerns.
“The inadequate time allocated to the debate today- only one hour fifteen minutes- is completely disproportionate to the scale of the crisis that is facing primary school students and their families in September.
“It makes a mockery of the Government’s commitment to access to education, right of choice of parents to choose schools, free education and the democratic process.”
Speaking during a debate in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty called on the Government “to end the begging bowl approach on the issue of the EU loan interest rate” and “call a halt to EU profiteering from the economic crisis.”
Doherty called on the Minister to “change the terms of debate on the interest rate reduction being sought on the EU portion of the austerity programme.”
Deputy Doherty said:
“The Minister for Finance needs to change the terms of debate on the interest rate reduction being sought on the EU portion of the austerity programme
“Under the terms of the EU/IMF austerity programme the EU will charge 5.8% interest on up to €45 billion of loans over a period of 7.5 years. The 5.8% rate includes a 3% mark up on the cost of the borrowing to the EU.
“The cost of this mark-up to the Irish taxpayer will be in the region of €10 billion if the Government draws down the full €45 billion and repays it over the time period outlined in the programme.
“Put in plain English, this means that the EU will make €10 billion profit on the back of seven and a half years of economic crisis and austerity in Ireland.
“It is not acceptable for the EU to be benefitting financially from a loan extended to a partner state in economic difficulty.
“The Minister for Finance needs to stop politely begging for a 0.6% reduction in the interest rate on future draw down and deal with the real issue. The Government needs to call a halt to EU profiteering from the economic crisis in Ireland.”