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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.



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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has given a broad welcome to the Central Bank’s announcement on new mortgage rules. He said the debate around the new rules has shown up the government’s’ failure to provide social housing and a functioning rental market.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I give a broad welcome to the Central Bank’s new rules. Sinn Féin fully supports the principle behind the move. Regulation such as these new rules have a crucial role to play in creating a normal healthy lending market that is not based on runaway property prices fuelled by credit.

“These new rules must be monitored and reviewed to ensure they achieve their aim of keeping house prices down. Constantly soaring house prices and credit demand chasing increasing prices is bad for the economy and bad for society. This is especially true in Dublin.

“What this debate has brought to the fore is the absolute failure of this government to provide social housing and a functioning rental market. The Central Bank have now effectively put the ball in the government’s court. They must put in place a plan to make sure all parts of the housing market are working.”

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Dúirt an CTR Sinn Féineach Cathal Ó hOisín nach raibh san iarracht le stop a chur ar Choláiste Dhoire ach cur amú ama acu siúd atá ag iarraidh bac a chur ar fhorbairt na Gaelscolaíochta.

Bhí an tUas Ó hOisín ag labhairt i ndiaidh gur theip ar rún de chuid an UUP ag iarraidh ar an Aire Oideachais John O’Dowd amharc arís ar phlean forbartha don Choláiste.

Theip ar an rún nuair a reachtáil Sinn Féin le tacaíocht ón SDLP achainí ar bhonn ábhar buartha leis an rún a chur ó mhaith.

Dúirt Cathal Ó hOisín:

“Is scéim í Coláiste Dhoire a bhí daoine ag obair uirthi le 20 bliana anuas.

“Tháinig an moladh seo ó thuismitheoirí atá ag iarraidh oideachas a chur ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge dá gcuid páistí.

“Tá 450 páistí i gContae Dhoire, taobh amuigh díobh siúd atá ag freastal ar Ghaelscoileanna i nDoire Cholmcille, ar bhunscoileanna Gaeilge.

“Níl ach iarbhunscoil Ghaeilge amháin i láthair na huaire sna Sé Chontae ar fad, Coláiste Feirste. 

“Tá dualgas ag Roinn an Oideachais scolaíocht trí mheán na Gaeilge a chur ar fáil agus a spreagadh ar son na bpáistí sin uilig atá ag iarraidh teacht uirthi.

“B’fhearr don UUP cearta na bpáistí sin ó phobal na Gaeilge a aithint in ionad bheith ag cur ama amú ag iarraidh failleanna oideachasúla a dhruidim síos.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to raise the issue of a European debt conference when he meets European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker next week.

Mr Adams criticised the Taoiseach for rejecting the demand for a European debt conference, particularly in light of the elections in Greece and of this State’s debt burden.

Gerry Adams said:

“It makes absolutely no sense for a State with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 111% to say no to a debt conference.

“The citizens of this State should not have to depend on Greece to propose something which is so obviously in the interests of this State and its citizens.

“The negotiating track record of the Taoiseach and the Government in the EU and on Ireland’s debt has been utterly pathetic.

“They have committed to repaying every cent of the toxic Anglo debt, and have completely surrendered on the recapitalisation of the pillar banks.

“They have refused to negotiate in any serious way at an international level in the best interests of the Irish people.

“Instead they have inflicted widespread hardship on Irish citizens and damage to this society.”

“The latest CSO statistics indicate that the number of children in poverty has risen to 140,000 and that this government will miss anti-poverty targets, with more than a third of young people in the State experiencing enforced deprivation.”

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin had never accepted that Irish citizens should have to pay private bank debt but that the Government refused to negotiate in any serious way at EU level in the best interests of Irish citizens.

Addressing Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this evening, Mr Adams said:

“Fine Gael and Labour rolled over on this issue while Sinn Fein’s call for ‘burden sharing’ is now EU policy.

“Sinn Féin will continue to push for the EU to honour its obligations for unfairly forcing this debt on Irish people.

“The Government also have had the option to apply for retrospective re-capitalisation of bank debt in AIB and Bank of Ireland. So far they have not done this.”

He said Sinn Fein supported the growing calls for a European Debt Conference that would make debt sustainable and fair, and called on the Taoiseach to “reflect” on his rejection of the idea.

He asked Mr Kenny to “raise the issue of a debt conference in your meetings next week with Presidents Tusk and Juncker” and also to raise the issue of retrospective recapitalisation of the pillar banks.

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Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Constituency Matt Carthy has welcomed the vote by the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee today in Brussels in favour of the proposed trialogue amendment to cap fees charged by banks to process shoppers’ payments across the EU.

The Sinn Féin MEP, who is working on the deal on behalf of the GUE/NGL group within the Parliament, has said the amendment is the result of an agreement reached through negotiations by the ECON committee, the European Council and the Commission and could see the introduction of the capped fees on cross border and domestic card based payments very quickly after the plenary vote by the European Parliament in April.

Speaking from Brussels after the vote today Carthy said: 

“I welcome the vote by the ECON committee today in favour of the trialogue amendment which seeks to cap interchange fees for card-based payments, paid by the merchant’s bank to the bank that issued the card.

“Currently the fees for card based payments are not transparent and differ between EU countries where in some cases they are subject to legislation and others to decisions by national competition authorities.

“As a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Shadow Rapporteur for this legislation my priority is to ensure that retailers do not suffer and undue costs by credit card companies and that consumers are protected from excessive charges.

“During discussions at ECON preparatory meetings I also highlighted the importance of including cross-border transactions in any capping arrangements. This is particularly important in an Irish context where we need to break down all barriers in order to create an effective all-Ireland economy.

“Once this agreement has been finalised, cross-border debit card transaction fees will be capped at 0.2% of the transaction value. With domestic transactions, member states can apply the cap of 0.2% to the annual weighted average transaction value of all domestic transactions within the card scheme for just five years and thereafter the cap per transaction will universally apply.

“For credit card transactions, a fee cap of 0.3% of the transaction value will apply.  Member states, including Ireland, can decide to impose a lower cap if they so wish.

“These changes will be a positive development for customers and for Irish businesses operating on a cross-border basis.  I welcome the progress that has been made here today and I intend to lobby my fellow MEPs for support to ensure that this legislation is voted through at plenary.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that Fianna Fáil have no policies which will tackle the housing crisis they have created. He made this claim during a debate on housing policy in the Dáil this evening.

Deputy Ellis said;

"Fianna Fáil, like the Government, are incapable of grasping the reality of the crisis we are face in housing and particularly social housing.

“They are incapable of talking about real solutions because like the Government, they are utterly opposed to them. Like the Government they are want to decrease further state provision of housing and move responsibility onto the private sector and voluntary bodies. There is very little difference between what Fianna Fáil says now on housing and what they said while they were dismantling the social housing system during their 14 years in Government.

“We need major investment in social housing construction by Local Authorities and we need rent controls immediately to stop the flow of people into homelessness due to unaffordable rents caused by the shortage of social housing, oversaw by Fianna Fáil and the current Government.

“The only policy difference Fianna Fáil articulates is one which simply does not stack up. Increasing Rent Supplement levels or removing the cap would simply drive up rents further while providing no security for the vast majority of people at threat due to high rents or unable to find housing within the range of the cap. Rent Supplement is an expensive scheme and even a small increase would be insignificant to individual recipients and would cost a lot of money. A ten percent increase in rates across the board would cost approximately 32 million euro before you consider the likely rent hikes.

“Why should we throw more money at landlords? Rents are too high and need to be controlled. Where the private market has failed to provide for people the state must intervene. Only through building more social housing and regulating rent rates can we tackle this crisis.

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Sinn Féin MLA Mairtín Ó Muilleoir has said the 2015/16 budget protects the most vulnerable in society and creates genuine opportunities for economic growth.

Speaking during the debate on the budget in the Assembly, the South Belfast MLA said; 

“It's clear from this budget that caring for our people, especially those on the margins, while building community, easing the burden on working families, creating jobs and turbocharging our economy are priorities for us.

“Sticking to those priorities in the face of slash-and-burn policies from the Tory-led coalition has been some feat.

"As Pope Francis has said; 'How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

"As someone who has had the great joy of being welcomed into homeless shelters and food banks across this great city, I want to say that it's news to me and to Sinn Féin when the vulnerable suffer.

“London has decimated budgets here since 2011, removing £1.5bn from the block grant.

“Despite that assault on our people, this budget has managed to put an additional £204m into frontline health services.  

“We also agreed to provide a package over six years of £565m to mitigate against the potential loss of benefits to individuals and families.

“We have retained a series of anti-poverty measures and set up a Supplementary Payment Fund to provide protection specifically to families with children, people with disabilities, and those who are long-term sick.

“This budget gives the Education Minister a £63m uplift while in DEL, the draft budget was revised to give Minister Farry an additional £33m.

"We will ensure therefore that in our attempts to rebalance the economy, voluntary redundancy schemes across government should not diminish or damage vital public services and that no one should be made compulsorily redundant.

"I would ask small business owners and leaders to take confidence from this bold budget by stepping up to the plate once more.

"Now that the economy is in recovery, because of the policies of this executive, it's time to dust down that business plan which has been lying on the office shelf for some years."

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has highlighted the findings of the recent European Health Consumer Index study which rates Ireland in 22nd place out of 36 countries, a drop from its previous level of 14th.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said; 

“This study raises highly disturbing questions, but does not come as a surprise to anyone who has kept a close eye on the current state of the Irish Health system. Ireland’s rating has dropped radically, not least because those who conducted the study felt that the official waiting list data has lost all credibility. This is something that I have raised on several occasions but the Minister has always denied the claim. It now clearly is the case.

“The Minister for Health recently released his priorities for the remainder of the lifespan of this Government. He has announced that the target for waiting lists has changed.  The target is now that no one will wait longer than 18 months for an outpatient appointment, and then an additional 18 months for their treatment. In other words not much of a target. In 2001 the target had been that “no public patient will have to wait for more than three months to commence treatment, following referral from an out-patient department" same to be in situ by 2004. That this is no longer even a target is an indictment of the current Government and their prioritisation of the population’s health needs.

“We have seen the targets on waiting times increase and nearly 50,000 patients are now waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment. The study also found that patient empowerment was similar to levels in Romania and that healthcare inequality was evident. The fact that so many people avail of private health insurance was interpreted as “extreme dissatisfaction with the public system.

“The people of Ireland deserve a better health system, one in which they are empowered and seen and treated within a reasonable timeframe. Minister Varadkar’s new targets mean that Ireland’s rating could slip even further,” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said public representatives should not be exempt from Assembly efficiency savings. 

The North Antrim MLA said; 

"It is clear that savings have to be made as a result of the Tories’ repeated assault on the Assembly's block grant. 

"Public representatives must be prepared to shoulder some of the responsibilities of these reductions. 

"That is why Sinn Féin proposed that MLAs’ wages should be cut by 15 per cent. 

"We have also put forward a proposal for a 15 per cent reduction in the salaries of Special Advisors. 

"On top of that Sinn Féin is advocating a similar cut in the wages of Executive ministers. 

"We are also proposing an end to the practice of additional remuneration for chairs of Assembly committees. 

"Sinn Féin believes that public representatives must be prepared to take these reductions in order to continue to protect the most vulnerable."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has stated that today’s meeting between the Assembly and Oireachtas committees for Agriculture was productive and sought to address key points affecting farmers across the island.

Speaking today Mr McMullan said:

“Today's meeting between the Assembly and Oireachtas committees for Agriculture was very productive.

“Many issues were discussed including the cross border trade, milk process, CAP reform and the importance of an All Ireland animal health policy.  

“In today’s market and competitive climate it is essential that farmers across the island receive the farm gate price that they deserve. If this is not the case then the industry will not be sustainable and we will find it increasingly difficult to attract young people into the industry.

“We also must ensure that we move towards improving animal health and standardising this across the island. It is a nonsense to think that we have two administrations and sets of standards for livestock that may literally be a field away from each other.

 “Committee members from the Assembly and the Oireachtas agreed to move this debate forward and examine realistic solutions. We are now looking forward to the return trip to Leinster House to see that these issues are advanced to the benefit of all of our farming communities.” 

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