Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast and member of the Justice Committee, Jennifer McCann has, following a meeting with the Justice Minister David Ford today, stated that Marian Price should be released immediately.
Speaking today Ms McCann said:
“We asked to meet with the Justice Minister over a number of issues however the continued detention of Marian Price was paramount on the agenda.
“We stated very clearly to David Ford our concerns surrounding Marian Price's physical and mental health.
“Marian has spent 300 days in singular confinement in Maghaberry, the current regime that she is being held under in Hydebank is wholly insufficient to deal with her health needs. She should be released immediately to receive the necessary care that she requires.
“Marian Price has been bailed on the charges she faces. The continuing pretext of her detention under the revoking of her license is unacceptable and we are calling on the Parole Commissioners to review this case as a priority so that Marian Price can be released.”
Sinn Féin MLA, Sue Ramsey, who is also the chair of the Health Committee, has stated that there needs to be particular attention paid to the call out times for ambulance service in rural areas.
Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:
“The recent report highlighting the longer call out times for Ambulance cover in rural areas is concerning.
“I do have to however commend the Ambulance service for the high percentage of call out targets being met across the north.
“This call out time for some rural area, but in particular North Antrim, Fermanagh and Tyrone is an issue that we have been aware of for some time and we will be examining ways in which this can be redressed this such as rural ambulance stations, improved road infrastructure, something the Executive is already delivering on, and protection of vital frontline services.
“What we need is an approach bringing targeted investment to get these arrival times up to speed. Many are too close to the "golden hour" of emergency services delivery.“As such the Health Committee will be meeting with the Ambulance Service Control Room in a number of weeks as part of the process examining what can be done to improve these times.”
Newry & Armagh MP Conor Murphy said he was hoping for a positive response from the Parades Commission in their review tomorrow of the decision to allow 40 loyalist bands to march through Armagh City on the evening of St Patrick’s Day.
Conor Murphy said:
“When the decision was revealed to allow 40 loyalist bands to march through Armagh City on the evening of St Patrick’s Day, Sinn Féin immediately asked for a review of what has to be the one of the most ridiculous determinations ever made in relation to marching in the North.
“The input from the PSNI on this occasion has been totally disastrous. They have actually influenced the determination by unbelievably claiming there are ‘no local concerns or sensitivities’ around this march.
“Don’t they know it is going to be St Patrick’s Day on Saturday? Either the PSNI in Armagh have a total lack of understanding of the nationalist feelings in the area or there are other agendas at work.
“At the same time the Parades Commission cannot wash their hands of this and ultimately the buck stops with them – they made this flawed determination.
“Hopefully common sense will prevail tomorrow at the review and we can put this ridiculous decision behind us and enjoy the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Armagh on Saturday.”
Speaking today Sinn Fein spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn called on the government to stop trying to bully people with claims that rejection of the Austerity Treaty will prevent access to emergency funding in the future and to “come clean on the link between bailout funds and the Austerity Treaty”.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“In recent days the government has said that failure to ratify the Austerity Treaty would leave Ireland unable to access emergency funding if the state needed a second bailout.
“However what the government isn’t telling people is that they have a veto on the Treaty change upon which the bailout funds link is based.
“The European Stability Mechanism is to be the EU’s emergency funding mechanism from the middle of 2012. It is based on a European Stability Mechanism Treaty which has not yet been ratified. Its ratification is dependent on the ratification of an Amendment to Article 136 of the EU Treaties.
“While the Government cannot block the ratification of the ESM Treaty, it does have a veto over the ratification of the amendment to Article 136 of the European Treaties. The ratification of this amendment will come before the Dáil shortly in the form of a European Communities (Amendment) Bill.
“The link between ratification of the Austerity Treaty and future access to ESM funds was supported by the government in February this year. They could have blocked it but chose not to.
“Sinn Fein is now calling on the Government to do the right thing and insist that this clause is removed from the ESM Treaty and the Austerity Treaty. It has a veto on this matter and must use it.” ENDS
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has given a qualified welcome to the announcement by Minister Ruairí Quinn of 275 major school projects to be completed over the next five years.
Deputy Crowe said: “In Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission we put forward proposals for a comprehensive school capital build programme that if implemented, would provide a much needed boost to our education system and the hard pressed construction industry. Our fully costed plans included, over a three year period, the building of an additional 100 schools at a cost of €300 million and the refurbishment of 75 more at a cost of €50 million.
“Today’s announcement by Minister Quinn that 106 new schools at primary level and 43 at second level are to be built over the next five years, along with 114 large-scale extensions goes some way to addressing the projected rise in school enrolment numbers. The capital expenditure to be made on primary and post primary schools is also a vindication of Sinn Féin’s pre-budget proposals and therefore welcome.
“I am particularly concerned however, that as recently as recently December 2011, Minister Quinn stated that €2 billion was to be spent on refurbishing and building new schools to supposedly meet a projected increase in enrolment numbers of 80,000 new pupils. Today’s announcement, less than four months later has seen it reduced to €1.5 billion to meet an estimated increase of 70,000 in the number of new pupils starting school.
“When challenged on the Morning Ireland programme on RTÉ radio to explain why the government’s own estimates have been revised significantly downwards, the answers given by Minister Quinn were, to say the least, vague and unconvincing. What has changed in four months? It is a case of the minister getting his sums wrong or have an estimated 10,000 pupils been lost on the way to RTE?
“At the same time that the government is announcing the building and upgrade of schools it has postponed the summer work’s programme which is essential in ensuring the upkeep of existing schools. This short-sighted policy decision will result in schools becoming increasingly run down as a result of poor maintenance and will end up costing schools and Irish taxpayers more in the long run.
“The government has also introduced cuts in school staffing schedules that will increase pupil-teacher ratios (PTR) without considering how this will affect classroom sizes. This is reflected in confusion surrounding changes to the PTR of DEIS schools that the Minister claimed were increasing from 15:1 – 18:1 only for the Department's own website to publish a 20:1 figure.
“It is important that priority is given to schools that are currently struggling to cope with a rising pupil intake and demographic changes that have resulted in increasing numbers of families having to cope with rising levels of poverty that have been precipitated by the economic downturn.
“We need to have in place modern, high quality accommodation for pupils as this can make a significant difference when teaching in the classroom.
“The new school builds will likely provide a much needed and welcome boost to the construction industry with an estimated 15,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs expected to be created over the period of the programme.”
Sinn Féin Paul Maskey MP said the murder of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns five years ago raised a lot of questions around the investigation and the involvement of British Intelligence agents.
The west Belfast representative was speaking after himself and Carál Ní Chuilín MLA attended a press conference organised by the families of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns who were murdered in Belfast five years ago. The family are seeking justice and have many questions around the police investigation after the murders.
Paul Maskey said:
“We were at the press conference first and foremost to give our support to the families who are seeking justice and who have decided to speak out for the first time five years after the murderers.
“We will be raising their concerns around the investigation at the Policing Board and with the Justice Minister. It appears that the hands of British Intelligence are all over these murders and there were serious flaws in the investigation, with a repeated failure to arrest chief suspects.
“The question has to be asked, is any of the suspects being protected by British Intelligence agencies?”
North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, in whose constituency one of the men was brutally murdered said the killing was reminiscent of something done by the Shankill Butchers.
Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“This was a Shankill Butchers style killing and shocked the whole community at the time. The families want justice and we are fully behind them.
“Obviously people who carry out such a killing need to be brought to account but that process appears to have been ignored in order to protect one or more of the suspects.”
Martin McGuinness has today called on vigilante group RAAD to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all threats to young people in Derry and disbanding the group.
Mr McGuinness said:
“RAAD have nothing at all to do with Irish Republicanism. As oppressors of the community in Derry they are anti-Republican. There is a groundswell of support in the city for RAAD to get off the backs of our community. That is now what needs to happen.
“RAAD are a tiny group of people. They are not representative and are not accountable to anyone but themselves. They are driven entirely by ego not by any desire to tackle drug abuse in Derry or anywhere else.
“There is also a very strong perception that some individuals associated with RAAD have profited financially from those involved in the drugs trade. Shooting young people who have become addicted to drugs or threatening them from their homes does nothing to tackle this very serious issue. Indeed it makes the situation worse. In the most recent incident in Derry, RAAD shot two young people from a prominent Republican family who had no involvement at all in drugs.
“Drug dealing can only be tackled through on one hand the PSNI taking decisive action against drug dealers and on the other through proper support for our young people who have become addicted to drugs.
“Those people who lead RAAD and who are well known in Derry need to understand that their activities make no positive contribution whatsoever to improving the lives of the people of Derry. In reality the opposite is the case.
“The necessity for a civilised and progressive approach to drugs and those affected by them is being undermined by the brutal, thuggish and bullying actions of those who use patriotic labels for their criminality. They need to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all of the threats they have issued and disband their group once and for all.” ENDS
Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has made a decision on the future of assessment at GCSE level in the north of Ireland.
Following a 12-week consultation the Minister has decided not to follow England where, following a decision by Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, assessment of GCSEs will be taken at the end of the two-year period (known as the linear route). Instead, schools here will be free to choose between unitised GCSEs (where assessment can be taken throughout the two years) or linear GCSEs.
The Minister said: “I believe that schools are best placed to make decisions in light of what they believe is in the best interests of their pupils. For some schools, the unitised option may be the most suitable, while others may feel the linear route is more appropriate.
“Many of the views expressed during the consultation here, and in the workshops held with school leaders, acknowledged that whilst many of the issues identified in England might well exist, unitised GCSEs have only been in place here for two years in some subjects. It was therefore felt that change of this nature was too early and the decision to change by Michael Gove did not appear to have been taken on the basis of clear evidence or educational justification.”
Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness this evening said: "There is no doubt that RTÉ should not have broadcast a tweet during the Frontline presidential debate which incorrectly claimed that Hugh Morgan would appear at a press conference the following day.
“None of this however takes way from the fact that Seán Gallagher had legitimate questions to answer. The facts are that Seán Gallagher did solicit money on behalf of Fianna Fáil and was deeply involved in the culture of money buying access to politicians. It was Seán Gallagher’s lack of clarity and credibility in relation to straight questions on these issues from myself in the course of the Frontline debate which was his undoing."
Mr. McGuinness said:
"There is no doubt that RTÉ should not have broadcast a tweet during the Frontline presidential debate which incorrectly claimed that Hugh Morgan would appear at a press conference the following day. The tweet had nothing to do with the Martin McGuinness presidential campaign and RTÉ could have checked this with any of a number of representatives of my campaign team who were present in RTÉ on the night. They didn’t do this.
“It is also clear that RTÉ was negligent in failing to broadcast a corrective tweet from the official campaign twitter account which made it clear that the Martin McGuinness campaign had made no statement on the night in relation to the Seán Gallagher and Fianna Fáil donations issue.
"None of this however takes way from the fact that Seán Gallagher had legitimate questions to answer in relation to the issue of his involvement in Fianna Fáil and fundraising for that party, questions which he had refused to fully answer in the presidential election campaign up to that point.
"It was Seán Gallagher’s lack of clarity and credibility in relation to straight questions on these issues from myself in the course of the Frontline debate which was his undoing. The facts are that Seán Gallagher did solicit money on behalf of Fianna Fáil and that in particular he was involved in soliciting money for the fundraising event at the Crowne Plaza in Dundalk. Sean Gallagher was, as I correctly pointed out, deeply involved in the culture of money buying access to politicians — a culture which the electorate had rejected at the previous general election.
"I had a duty to the electorate to put these questions to Seán Gallagher during the Frontline debate which I did. I am proud to have run in the presidential election and of the part I played in it. The electorate made up their own minds about who they wanted for president and I fully respect their democratic decision. I think all candidates and commentators should now do the same."
Sinn Fein's spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, says that "the government is losing the argument for its household charge."
Deputy Stanley was responding to today’s revelations that the government will use utility companies’ records to track down people who have not paid the household charge.
He said: "Using people's utility bills shows how panicked the government has become. This is the clearest evidence yet that Minister Hogan is losing the household charge battle. It is time he binned this unfair charge."
Stanley explained, "Sinn Fein oppose this charge. The minister’s claim that local authorities will have to cut back on services if the household charge fails is a denial of responsibility. It is his charge has failed ."
Stanley said: "I intend to raise the issue of using utility companies’ records for this purpose in the Dáil on Tuesday."
Speaking in advance of tomorrow's meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said the Taoiseach needs to make it clear to the British that all outstanding commitments from the Good Friday, Weston Park and St Andrews Agreements need to be honoured.
Mr Adams said:
“On Monday the Taoiseach will meet with the British Prime Minister in Downing Street. It comes only days after Judge Smithwick in his interim report states very clearly that elements of the British system are deliberately withholding information from his Tribunal. This, unfortunately, has been typical of the attitude of the British state to legacy issues.
"This British Government has continually failed to honour the commitment from the intergovernmental agreement at Weston Park for an Inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
“It has refused to co-operate with the Irish authorities in the investigation into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.
“Mr Cameron has failed even to agree to a meeting with the families of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971 and his Government refuses their just demand for an Inquiry into that incident.
“Mr Kenny needs to tell David Cameron that this is unacceptable.
“The Taoiseach also needs to impress on the British Prime Minister the need to bring forward a timetable for the implementation of all of the outstanding aspects of the Good Friday, Weston Park and St. Andrews Agreements. This includes a Bill of Rights, an Irish Language Act and a range of other equality issues.
“Since the election of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition the British Prime Minister has detached himself from the continuing promotion and development of the peace and political processes. He has instead chosen to hide behind Owen Patterson who has consistently displayed a lack of the political skills necessary to deal with these outstanding issues. This approach needs also to change.”
Speaking following the Government’s responses to 50 outstanding human rights recommendations made to Ireland last year by UN member states, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice and Equality Deputy Jonathan O’Brien while there were some positives, the bulk of the report was a collection of dodgy claims, outright evasions and deliberate falsehoods.
The Cork North Central TD said;
“Sinn Féin welcomes the Government committing to sign new human rights treaties to help protect persons with disabilities and rights like health and housing in Ireland.
“However, for the most part, the Government’s response is a bit dodgy. For example, they claim they are aiming to deliver a health service based on need not income, but the proposed universal health insurance system will not actually do this.
“They make the frankly ludicrous claim that the Government’s housing policy is to “enable all households to access good quality housing appropriate to household circumstances.” Even a casual glance at the Government’s approach to housing, which prioritises home ownership, would tell you that this is not the case.
“UN member states urged the Government to incorporate children’s rights into Irish law. The Government says it will do this and amend the Constitution accordingly. But this constitutional amendment will only be concerned with children’s rights concerning adoption and guardianship. It will not enshrine broader socio-economic rights in the Constitution as the UN recommended.
It is simply not true to say that Irish law is in conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and fundamentally dishonest of the Government to suggest that they have accepted many of these recommendations in full, when their plans for implementation fall far short of what is actually needed to address them.
“If the Government are genuine in these responses, which will receive official endorsement in Geneva next week, they must demonstrate their commitment by publishing an implementation plan alongside the responses to show how they will deliver on these promises.”
NOTE TO EDITOR:
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process of the UN Human Rights Council (established in 2006), where the domestic human rights records of all 192 UN Member States are reviewed every four years.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking today in Gulladuff in south Derry and at a party conference dismissed Owen Patterson’s recent remarks on a border poll saying that the British Secretary of State “should not presume to arrogantly dictate to people here how we will conduct our affairs. Those days are over.”
The Sinn Féin leader added: “A border poll is inevitable. Mr Patterson knows this. It is only a matter of timing.”
Mr. Adams said:
“British Secretary of State Owen Patterson has dismissed the possibility of a border poll. He has also blocked an enquiry into the killing of Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane despite this being part of an inter-governmental agreement at Weston Park. He is also blocking a Bill of Rights. And he has been less than helpful on other matters like the Irish language. And his imprisonment of Marion Price is entirely stupid and unjust.
But Mr. Patterson would not be one the most adroit or skillful British Secretaries of State to have been imposed on us. His remarks on the border poll have to be seen in this context.
Mr. Patterson is also a supporter of the Union. That is the position of his government at this time. Sinn Féin is not naive about this. The Tory party had to be pulled kicking and squealing into the peace process.But now under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the Tory/lib Dem government has specific obligations. Despite the foot dragging that has characterised its attitude to this agreement and other agreements so far, Sinn Féin has no intention of acquiescing to British Tory game playing.
Owen Patterson is but one of a long line of political overlords that Irish republicans have had to deal with, with great patience in the past.
Obviously there are elements of the Good Friday Agreement that Owen Patterson is unhappy about but he should not presume to arrogantly dictate to people here how we will conduct our affairs. Those days are over.
There will be a united Ireland.
By definition that will come when the people of our island have formed a cordial union of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. When a border poll is held Owen Patterson will have no vote on that issue. That is as it should be, entirely a matter for the people of Ireland.
The political landscape in the North has been transformed in recent years and there is growing support for a united Ireland. A border poll is inevitable. Mr Patterson knows this. It is only a matter of timing.
The united Ireland that Sinn Féin seeks is inclusive. All elements of society on the island of Ireland must be comfortable and secure in the system of governance that is agreed. It is essential that everyone has the fullest expression of their identity without intruding on the rights and entitlements of others. Diversity, equality and tolerance is the key to this.
Sinn Féin wants a united Ireland. Both governments are obliged to legislate for this. Like everyone else who is working for this very legitimate and logical objective Sinn Féin must demonstrate to unionists that a peaceful and prosperous future can best be achieved in a new union of the people of this island. Unionists must be persuaded that this is in their best interests.
Currently unionists remain isolated on the margins of the British political system where they make up 2 per cent of the population. In a united Ireland unionists would make up 20% of the population and be able to exercise real authority, power and influence.
Increased dialogue and engagement with the wider unionist constituency will challenge republicans. We need to engage in a full and open dialogue, including listening to unionist views, fears and apprehensions unconditionally.
It is important that every opportunity is taken to increase understanding and mutual respect. Republicans need to reach out in a real effort to heal differences and create trust with unionists.
Real reconciliation also means dealing with the legacy of conflict. That will challenge everyone — republicans, unionists and the Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential as the process of change currently under way moves from conflict resolution to an entirely new society.
As we continue building towards a united Ireland, Sinn Féin must also offer solutions to the problems faced by citizens in the here and now.
We want a New Republic rooted in citizens rights and people centred. That also means the right to a decent quality of life, a job and social protections."
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation Peadar Tóibín TD has said that the government’s approach to banking is failing workers and small business.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“The 2,500 job losses announced yesterday will have a devastating effect on the workers with AIB and First Trust in the North.
“These follow the 950 jobs lost at the beginning of the year in the Ulster Bank as well as the 6,000 job losses in the banking sector since 2008.
“It is clear that a restructuring of the banking sector is taking place. However this restructuring needs to be driven not only by financial concerns but also by consideration for the workers who face an uncertain future.
“The scale of the job losses in the banking sector is in many ways a result of the EU insisting on an overly rapid deleveraging from the market. This currently is the government’s primary concern. The negative side of this is also seen in the fact that 50% of small businesses are being denied credit which is freezing the domestic market.
“The government needs to change its policies to fix the real economy. It needs to put credit-flow to small business as its primary concern. This would organically allow proper levels of staff to remain in the banking system. That is not happening now. Government policy is negatively impacting across Ireland and necessitates a co-ordinated approach between the government and the northern Executive.
“There is a need also for justice for workers losing their jobs due to the actions of a few senior figures who left with enhanced packages and benefits.
“The government needs to use its position of influence to ensure a just settlement for workers is achieved and that a package of support is developed for those who choose to return to the labour market.
“The government needs to learn the lessons of the failures of previous applications to the European Globalisation Fund. A targeted project to reskill those made unemployed in the banking sector is needed as a matter of urgency.”
“The government is preparing Teachers for export” according to Sinn Féin Senator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. Speaking in the Seanad today, the Senator from Galway West stated that the conditions facing newly qualified teachers entering the system are unfair and inequitable and that the state is letting the millions of euros invested in their training to go to waste as most of the teachers will be forced to emigrate in order to find gainful employment.
The Sinn Féin Senator organised a briefing in the Houses of the Oireachtas on Wednesday with the INTO and the Newly Qualified Teachers Action group which represents thousands of student teachers from the four major teacher training colleges in the State. The speakers outlined that many of them will be working close to minimum wage levels if the new salaries regime proposed by the Education Minister comes in to effect. They would be working for €419 per week as newly qualified teachers, which they claim is unreasonable, and unfair.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“Many of these Student Teachers are planning to emigrate. Many of them are mature students, have a great deal of others qualifications, responsibilities and a good deal of experience. They simply cannot manage on what they are being offered. Teaching work is available abroad, offering salaries of up to €120,000 per annum. The government expects these highly qualified graduates to work for €24,000 per annum and they are not in a position to do so. This will also create inequalities within schools as well, as these graduates will be expected to do the same work as those on much more favourable conditions. This will undoubtedly lead to frustration and disenchantment with a knock on effect on the standard of teaching.
“The government says that education is an essential tool for economic recovery, but they are damaging that possibility with policies like this which undermine the work of the sector. TDs and Senators from all political groupings were at the briefing, and they all agreed that there is a clear need for a review of the proposals. We in Sinn Féin will be seeking a debate on this matter and will be bringing forward legislation to reverse these changes. We hope that other elected representatives will support us in that regard.”
Tá an Rialtas ag traenáil múinteoirí le heaspórtáil – Ó Clochartaigh
‘Tá an Rialtas seo ag ullmhú múinteoirí le heaspórtáil’, a deir Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. Ag labhairt do sa Seanad inniú dúirt sé go bhfuil na hathruithe ar choinníollacha oibre atá beartaithe do mhúinteoirí nua a thagann isteach sa chóras míchothrom agus éagórach agus go bhfuil na milliúin d’infheistíocht stáit dhá chur amú mar go mbeidh air formhór na n-oidí seo dul ar imirce le fostíocht fiúntach a fháil.
D’eagraigh Seanadóir Shinn Féin cur i láthair i dTithe an Oireachtais ar an gCéadaoin ón INTO agus Grúpa Gníomhaíochta na nOidí Nua Cháilithe, a dhéanann ionadaíocht ar na mílte ábhar oidí ó cheithre choláiste ullmhúchán sa Stát. Chuir na hurlabhraithe in iúl go mbeidh cuid acu ag obair ag beagmach an íosphá náisiúnta má chuirtear an réimeas nua tuarastail atá molta ag an Aire Oideachais i bhfeidhm. Dúirt siad go mbeadh orthu oibriú ar €419 sa tseachtain mar mhúinteoirí nua-cháilithe agus go bhfuil sé seo miréasúnta agus mífhaireáilte.
“Ta cuid mhaith de na hábhar oidí seo ag pleanáil dul thar lear. Is mic léinn aibí cuid mhaith acu a bhfuil taithí, cáilíochtaí agus dualgaisí go leor eile acu. Ní féidir leo maireachtáil ar an méid atá dhá thairiscint. Tá obair múinteoireachta ar fáil thar sáile agus suas le €120,000 sa bhliain mar thuarastal’, deir an Seanadóir. ‘Tá an Rialtas anseo ag iarraidh ar na daoine ardchumais seo oibriú ar €24,000 sa bhliain agus ní féidir leo sin a dhéanamh. Cruthóidh seo éagcothromaíocht mór sna scoileanna chomh maith, mar go mbeifear ag iarraidh ar na daoine seo an obair céanna a dhéanamh lena gcomhleacaithe a bhfuil coinníollacha i bhfad níos fábharaí acu. Cruthóidh seo míshuaimhneas mór agus titifdh an caighdeán teagaisc dá bharr”, a deir Ó Clochartaigh.
“Deireann an Rialtas gurb i an oideachas ceann de na huirlisí is fearr atá againn le teacht amach as an ngéarchéim eacnamaíochta ach cuireann siad sin i mbaol le polasaithe den chineál seo a bhaineann an bonn den tionscal. Bhí Teachtaí agus Seanadoirí ag an gcur i láthair as gach grúpa polaitiúil agus d’aontaigh siad ar fad gur gá athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar na moltaí seo. Beidh Sinn Féin ag féachaint le díospóireachtaí faoi leith agus bille a rith chun na hathruithe seo a chur ar ceal agus tá súil againn go dtacóidh na hionadaithe tofa eile ar fad linn sa chás seo”, a deir an Seanadóir.
Following a briefing by leading Irish development NGOs in Leinster House held this week, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn said "the history of Ireland's NGOs and missionaries is a unique one. Worldwide our reputation for overseas aid and development is exceptional when compared to other countries.”
“Ireland should be proud of our NGOs and Missionaries and the fantastic work that they carry out globally.
“Despite the economic crisis at home, overseas aid and development is an area in which we can hold our head high. Significant funding is raised from the ordinary citizen. Over €100milion is received annually by the main NGOs voluntarily from the Irish public. That is a truly incredible testament. It is also clear to me that the NGOs in this country are passionate about proper corporate management, accountability and effectiveness.
“The goal of achieving long-term, sustainable results in Ireland's programme countries is only achievable through the excellent work of Irish NGOs and Missionaries, and the generosity of Irish citizens.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has today urged the government to avoid any further conflict with rural Ireland and provide full funding for the upgrade of septic tanks.
While questioning the Minister in the Dáil today, Stanley said:
“Sinn Féin welcomes the long overdue publication of the draft standards for septic tanks. But rural householders demand equality with their urban neighbours.
“Some €2.7 billion was spent in the years from 2000 to 2007 on improving waste water treatment plants in urban areas. This was funded by tax payers’ money, urban and rural.
“Meanwhile we now have a situation whereby rural householders are expected to foot the bill themselves to meet the current waste water standards. This is totally unjust and unworkable as many of these householders are in mortgage arrears and have seen their incomes collapse as a result of unemployment and the last five austerity budgets.
“There is a requirement on the Minister Hogan’s department to provide full funding to ensure this work in carried out. Otherwise we will be dragging householders through the courts and criminalising law bidding citizens.
“The government should compromise in order to avoid further confrontation. He would do worse than learn from the last nights turf cutting debate. Sometimes it is best for a government to engage, listen and compromise.
“If we apply the current draft standards, on a risk based approach there will be a modest number of septic tanks that will need remedial works.
“The investment in upgrading of domestic septic tanks will also provide much needed employment and economic stimulus for local economies.”
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe met this week with student teachers who have been forced by the government to take a 14% cut in pay and allowances.
Describing the plight of newly qualified teachers as “unacceptable, immoral and wrong”, Deputy Crowe said:
“Regardless of what financial challenges we face, forcing such punitive cuts on newly qualified teachers is wrong and unjustifiable.
“It is also short-sighted considering the tens of millions that are being spent on training teachers for them to then enter employment being paid a wage that is below the industrial average. Some of our most capable young people from the teaching profession will be forced to emigrate in order to get paid a decent wage for basic day-to-day items and pay their mortgage.
“The imposition of these cuts will at best only obtain very minimal savings. They reflect the type of short sighted policies that have blighted this government’s first 12 months in power and will drive a generation of young people away from these shores.
“The briefing that was given by student teachers made clear that what is being imposed on the next generation of teachers will undermine and erode the goodwill and moral of staff who play such a pivotal role in our society. The disparity in wages arising from these cuts will also cause resentment amongst staff and greatly impact on the delivery of education in the classroom.
“Minister Quinn should reverse these cuts immediately.”
Peadar Tóibín TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation speaking in the Dáil on the issue of state retirements said:
“We all agree that there is a need to reform our public services to ensure that they are fit for purpose, to ensure the delivery of a first world service for our citizens in an efficient and effective manner.
“The actions of this government demonstrate a fixation, not on public sector reform, but rather an ideological driven attack on the size of the public sector.
“This government has slashed essential budgets in health and education, they have failed to reel in the excessive payments to the senior public servants, and they have brought forward the blunt and instrument of incentivised retirement. This has led to an unplanned and uncoordinated loss of 9,000 posts.
“It will lead to the loss of essential skills and experience without the plan to replace these skills. On average, if each of the retirees have 30 years’ experience that leads to a cumulative loss of 270,000 years’ experience.
“In the absence of a plan to fill the skills deficit the options left to the minister appear to be; let the already under strain services cover the holes in provision or rehire those who have retired and pay them twice.
“This is not scaremongering already within the education sector 383 posts are now filled by teaching staff that are in receipt of pensions payments, this is, they have a public pension and receive a wage.
“So we have reduced numbers, we have a loss of experience, we will have a reduced level of service and we will be paying people a pension and a wage to do the jobs there are currently doing.