Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on the Minister for Social Protection to clarify what her intentions are regarding the future of Child Benefit.
Speaking after the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection heard submissions from the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the End Child Poverty Coalition regarding the Mangan Report on Child Benefit.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;
“The Government via the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton have sent out mixed messages in the last week.
“Minister Quinn has suggested that further cuts to child benefit be reinvented in an additional free pre-school year, and the Tánaiste said after that no further changes to child benefit will happen, but the Committee heard that Joan Burton has asked the Ita Mangan group to look again at their Child Benefit thresholds.
“I am urging the Minister to end the doubt and shelve the Mangan Report and recommit to her original election promises, not to cut child benefit.
“The Minister seems to be planning the introduction of a second tier of child benefit which will involve a major cut to child benefit across the board.
“Any second tier of child benefit or support should only be considered as an addition to existing benefits, not as a cut. A practical way of delivering this would be to reduce the income limits used to assess qualification for Family Income Supplement and to increase the dependent child allowance associated with other social welfare payments.”
Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has called for RTÉ to ensure that regional services are maintained. Speaking at a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Deputy Colreavy said:
“Regional services are of immense importance to communities outside of the Dublin region. News and current affairs from around the country deserves equal airtime on RTE, and this can only be maintained if RTE keeps open its regional studios.
“My fear in a time of financial cutbacks in RTE, regional services could be targeted in the future. I understand that RTE are relocating some of their regional services, for example to Sligo IT and Dundalk IT. I am confident that this move will retain regional services in the area for the medium term but I also stress the need to ensure their certainty for the long term.
“It is also important that TDs and Senators from outside Dublin receive a fair amount of airtime on RTE. This can only realistically be done if regional studios are made available to them, especially on weekends.
“I have received assurances from the executive of RTE that regionals services are to be maintained despite cutbacks in RTE. There can be no doubt that a public service broadcaster must facilitate and provide a service for all parts of Ireland.”
“John Downey is a member of Sinn Féin and a long time supporter of the Peace Process. The decision to arrest and charge him in relation to IRA activities in the early 1980s is vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful. It will cause anger within the Republican community.
“Clearly if John Downey had been arrested and convicted previously he would have been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“As part of the Weston Park negotiation the British Government committed to resolving the position of OTRs. John Downey received a letter from the NIO in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any British Police Force. Despite travelling to England on many occasions now six years on he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges.
“This development represents bad faith and a departure from what was previously agreed by both governments.
“John Downey needs to be released and allowed to return home to his family.” ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs, trade, and diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has called on the European Council, when it meets today, to propose measures to tackle tax evasion and improve tax collection efficiency throughout the EU.
He said honest Irish taxpayers need assurance that they are not propping up tax-shy multi-national global giants.
Deputy Crowe, who raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday, said:
“This topic has been discussed with multinationals in parliaments in European member States and the US, with tax evasion and Ireland being linked in more than one parliament committee hearing.
“According to Herman Van Rompuy, a staggering €1 trillion is lost to tax evasion every year in EU member states. This is seven times the entire annual budget of the EU.
“We have heard reports by the US Congress that Apple is only paying a two per cent tax rate here, well below the 12.5% statutory rate.
“Although this State has avoided being labelled a tax haven by international bodies such as the OECD, some academics and high profile economists believe that it is.
“It seems that we are operating two very different tax systems, one for big multinational corporations and a second more onerous system for smaller companies and individuals. This is not a fair system of commerce and is undoubtedly hurting our domestic economy.
“This is contributing to our stagnant economy and keeping unemployment currently at 14%.
“PAYE workers are bearing the brunt of tax increases and social spending cuts, yet wealthy influential corporations are able to escape through tax avoidance measures.
“Investments from multinational corporations in Ireland have provided much for the state in terms of job creation and payroll taxes, and these jobs need to be protected.
“All EU countries need to improve their tax collection efficiency and tackle tax evasion and fraud because it is ordinary workers and their families who are paying for the shortfall in revenue.”
Speaking in the EU Parliament at Strasbourg today Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson has criticised the EU response to the monetary crisis for being driven by blinkered ideology.
Martina Anderson said:
“Instead of changing the failed policy of austerity, we do the same thing over and over again and expert a different outcome - a definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein.
“Intensifying the obligation on member states to follow this failed ideological approach is a sure recipe for further disaster.
· Where is the investment programme needed to create jobs and grow GDP?
· Where is the write-down of toxic debt?
· Why are the public still bearing the cost of the failure of banks?
· Where is the recapitalisation of banks we were promised by the ESM?
· Where is the lender of last resort? – a role the ECB should fulfil.
The EU’s approach is the worst of all worlds - wresting economic decision-making responsibilities from countries without any transfer of wealth that might justify fiscal union only exacerbates the situation making it more difficult to navigate a course to recovery and stability.”
Speaking in Strasbourg today on the European Council - Tax Havens and Tax Evasion discussions - Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said that it is beyond time that the EU and Member States took firm action against Tax evaders and implemented strong measures to close loopholes used by Tax Avoiders.
Martina Anderson said:
“The European Council will meet tomorrow to discuss the pervasive practice among multi-national conglomerates and the superrich of using a myriad of Tax evasion and tax avoidance methods to circumvent state tax regulations.
“This must be more that a smoke and mirrors exercise as we need robust and meaningful tax regimes that ensure that these tax evaders and avoiders can no longer declare obscene profits and dividends for shareholders while the citizens of the countries where they generate these profits are being driven to despair under the draconian austerity being imposed by authorities in Brussels.
“We find ourselves in the scandalous situation – whereby during the Irish European Presidency term and at a time when the Irish government claims that the only avenue open to it in rebuilding the economy is to impose harsh fiscal policies on the population – we hear confirmation of multi-nationals like Google, Apple and Starbucks have been abusing lax tax regulations to the tune of billions of Euro.
“What is required is an action plan with commitments and loophole free regulations that will ensure that these companies abide by the State’s Tax laws and will give confidence to citizens who are fed up with fine words from governments and bureaucrats but no action to ensure compliance.
“While the EU commission appears to be prepared to take action, the EU Council seems less anxious to address this blatant rip-off of the European Taxpayer. Given that the Irish government presently holds the EU Council Presidency, it should lead by example and bring forward legislation - at least in its own jurisdiction - to close the loopholes and enforce compliance. Unless it addresses this issue the legacy of the Irish Presidency will be one of protecting the rich and punishing the poor.”
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams this morning described the issue of suicide as “a national crisis which requires a national all-island response”.
Speaking in the Dáil this morning the Louth TD pointed out that, “every year more than 1000 citizens lose their lives to suicide across this island – in my own constituency of Louth there were 16 suicides in 2011.”
The Louth TD also welcomed the Tánaiste’s support in the Dáil this morning for greater co-operation on al all-island basis.
Teachta Adams said:
“Monday saw the publication of a report by the 3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide) charity ‘Suicide in Ireland 2003-08.’ It makes for grim reading.
“It found that the actual number of citizens dying by suicide each year is significantly greater than official figures. In 2011 government statistics said that 525 people died by suicide. The 3T’s report puts that figure at 722.
“The 3Ts report also reveals the startling fact that one child under 18 years of age dies by suicide every 18 days! And the Irish state has the fourth highest youth suicide rate in Europe and that rate is increasing.
“It is very clear that Government’s strategies to tackle suicide are not working. Suicide prevention is under resourced.
“The impact of suicide across the island is dreadful. When you add up the figures for 2011 we see that over 1000 citizens died that year as a consequence of suicide on this island. The figure for road deaths for the same period was 245. Despite this huge gap in deaths suicide does not secure the same level of investment and resources that is put into safety on the roads.
“The reality is that there is an island wide – national emergency – in respect of suicide and it requires an island wide national response.
“I believe that there should be an island wide independent suicide prevention agency – on the same lines as the Road Safety Authority in the south – bringing together the resources of each state under one over-arching agency to develop and oversee a strategy could reduce the numbers of suicide. I welcome the Tánaiste’s support for this in the Dáil this morning.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD this morning challenged the government on its handling of the scandal of tax avoidance by multi-national companies.
The Louth TD described the current arrangements as “one law for big corporations, developers and bankers and another for small businesses and ordinary citizens” and he pointed to the reshaping of the tax system to “allow revenue to go into people’s bank accounts and credit union accounts and wages and welfare to take unfair new taxes.”
Speaking afterward Teachta Adams said:
“On Tuesday Apple CEO Tim Cook told the US Senate investigation that for the last ten years Apple Sales Ireland paid an average corporate tax rate of just 2 per cent. In 2011 this company paid just 0.5% tax.
“A separate company, Apple Operations International, also based in Ireland, had an income of $30 billion here from 2009 to 2012. Amazingly it has paid no tax.
“I can’t imagine a local business getting away with any of this. There is clearly one law for big corporations, developers and bankers and another for small businesses and ordinary citizens.
“The hundreds of millions of lost tax revenue could have been used to get people back to work.
“Sinn Féin appreciates the fact that Apple employs 4000 people here. But the Apple companies at the centre of this controversy exist for the purpose of allowing Apple to avoid paying tax and the government is allowing the state to be used as part of a chain of cash movements for the purposes of massive tax avoidance.
“Compare this to the draconian powers given to revenue to reach into people’s bank accounts, credit union accounts, wages, welfare payments and pensions to take the unfair family home tax.
“It is also accepted that the massive corporate tax avoidance scams that are taking place hurt the developing world. Christian Aid estimates that the lives of 350,000 children could be saved each year if this kind of corporate tax avoidance was ended.”
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today affirmed her support for farmers whose incomes have been impacted by bad weather and high feed costs.
Responding to an Assembly motion on the fall in farm incomes, the Minister said: “There are a number of reasons for the fall in farm income in 2012. Most notably the cost of feed rose by £82million. In addition, production fell, because of the poor weather conditions, in a number of sectors including dairying, cereals and most field crops. There was also a weakening of the Euro against Sterling which reduced the amount of SFP by around £22million. These were the main factors and unfortunately they are factors very much out of our control. However, there are actions that can and have been taken to mitigate impacts and to build a stronger more resilient industry.”
The Minister continued:
“I have taken a number of steps to try to ease the cash-flow problems that many farmers are experiencing. These have included making earlier payments on some subsidies and with the support of the Assembly establishing a hardship scheme for those significantly affected by the snow storm at the end of March.
“I recognise there are continuing problems for our farmers due to the poor growing conditions last year, a prolonged winter and poor grass growth as a result of a late spring. This has left many farmers suffering a significant fodder shortage. Consequently, I have secured £1million from the Executive to help defray the transport costs of bringing feed in from overseas. My Officials and I will continue to work closely with the industry as we work our way through the current difficulties facing the sector.”
The Minister concluded:
“We also need to look to the longer term. The growth in world population means demand for food will be increasing. I want to help the industry position itself to take advantage of these opportunities. We need to build an industry that is not only competitive, but also more resilient in the face of market volatility and other income shocks. I am examining the proposals of the Agri-food Strategy Board and I will be seeking to work with the Board, industry as whole and with the support of the Assembly to set an agenda for growth and contribute to the building of an industry that is outward looking, self-reliant, sustainable and profitable.”
Mr Flanagan said:
"In recent weeks we have been provided with statistical information from the Utility Regulator that large business users are paying comparatively more than their competitors in most other member states in Europe pay.
"This is an unacceptable situation for our large users.
"Unfortunately, the solution being put forward by some to resolve this matter is simply to bring in a price hike for domestic customers and small businesses.
"I am concerned that this increase may be the first step in efforts to make domestic consumers and small businesses pay more to allow price reductions for large businesses.
"This is an unacceptable solution to the problem and I have sought clarity from both Power NI and the Utility Regulator that this price hike is not being implemented to subsidise the price large users pay for electricity.
"Many households and small businesses across the north cannot afford such a substantial increase in electricity prices and if it turns out that they are going to pay more in order to subside large users, then this will leave a sour taste in many people's mouths."
Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said places, which bring children and young people together from different backgrounds help build a better future for all.
Speaking at the launch of the Fabrication Laboratories (FabLab) in North Belfast, the West Belfast MLA said:
“This is a fantastic facility where both children and inventors can turn their ideas into reality.
“Yesterday we debated the new Good Relations Strategy Together: Building a United Community in the Assembly, which will take forward a number of actions to foster better relationships based on respect, mutual understanding and trust.
“The inclusive nature of FabLab has ensured that a wide range of people from differing backgrounds can work together to build a better future for all.
“It shows how work at a local grassroots level can make a difference.”
May 21st, 2013 - Sandra McLellan TD
Speaking in the Dáil tonight on the Technical Group’s private members bill on the Eurozone crisis, Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Sandra McLellan said:
“Sinn Féin has pointed out many times that the Euro was never designed to serve and benefit the people of Europe. It was a project of the few for the few.
“We are of the view that the Euro, in terms of both its fiscal design and the political economy which underpins it, is seriously flawed.
“For example, Ireland like other countries is essentially a member of a currency system over which it has no monetary control.
“However we do need to keep in mind that while the Euro was undoubtedly a factor in the crisis, it was not the sole cause.
“This is the legacy of years of Fianna Fáil misrule, clientele-ism, corruption, and indifference.
“We now find ourselves part of a monetary system that operates in the almost sole interest of advanced capitalist accumulation and of Germany. Europe’s political elite must immediately address the democratic deficit that lies at the heart of the EU project.
“There must also be an end to the destructive and counterproductive politics of austerity. And an investment programme on the scale of the Marshall Plan and a social insurance fund to assist countries that are currently struggling.
“It is important that the politically deliberate rejection of egalitarianism is challenged, and that we begin to seriously conceive of and work towards a European Union and an Ireland, without poverty.
“This is the challenge ahead. Leaving the Euro tomorrow would not make that challenge any easier.”
Appearing before the US Senate Committee today, the leadership of Apple confirmed that a deal was agreed with the Irish Government that reduced the tax liability to two per cent has been in place for a number of years.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson said:
“Today at questions the Taoiseach denied that a special deal was in place for Apple and its tax liabilities. Appearing before the Senate Subcommittee hearings the leadership of Apple confirmed that a deal had been negotiated and was in place since Apple made its first investment in Ireland in the early 1980s.
“Since 2003 this has meant that Apple has paid less than two per cent corporation tax. The Taoiseach needs, as a matter of urgency, to come to the Dáil and put right the record. Through the hearings this state has been likened to a tax haven this is undermining our international reputation.”
Sinn Fein finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, announced today that the Oireachtas Finance Committee will hold hearings to discuss the issue of the low rates of effective corporation tax paid by multinational companies based in Ireland. Doherty contacted the Committee in November to request the hearing. The Donegal deputy said the findings of the US Senate Committee which described Ireland as a tax haven and found that Apple is using Ireland to not only write off its international tax bill, but has a special agreement with the Irish Government to reduce its Irish tax bill to 2%, as absolutely scandalous.
Deputy Doherty said:
"The findings by the US Senate Committee that show Apple is using Ireland to write-off its international tax bill by setting up an Irish incorporated, non-resident entity to handle 30% of its global earnings but pays tax nowhere, and the fact that Apple has a special arrangement with the Irish Government to reduce its domestic corporation tax rate to 2%, is scandalous.
The committee describes Ireland as a tax haven and that is not something this government should be ignoring or dismissing as not their problem.
"The issue of large multi-national corporations like Apple and Google not paying high effective tax rates in Ireland, or using Ireland as a vehicle to avoid paying tax internationally, is prominent in the news now but it’s something Sinn Fein has been highlighting for a period of time.
“I contacted the Oireachtas Finance Committee in November and requested hearings on this issue which are due to commence shortly. I have put a number of names of experts in the field forward to the committee and I have also proposed that we invite the Irish representatives of leading multi-national companies in Ireland in to answer questions.
“Ireland has benefitted from foreign direct investment in our economy in terms of jobs and payroll taxes. These jobs have to be protected. But our corporation tax rate is already very fair and cannot be undermined by a continual writing down of effective tax rates. Ireland is perceived as a tax haven and that is not beneficial to us in the long-term for either jobs, or tax take.
“This government continues to protest that our tax system is transparent. It is transparently flawed. Our tax code has been written for the benefit of large companies and the wealthiest in society, while SMEs and individuals are obliged to pay their tax bills in full. They cannot negotiate reduced tax bills.
“There cannot be one law for the big company and another for the small. This is what I want to get to the bottom of in the committee hearings. This is where we can shine a light on the tax structures and activities of large companies to reveal once and for all if they are playing the game fairly or they, and this government, are taking us for a ride.”
Brian Stanley TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, has today challenged Minister Hogan, “to remove the shroud of secrecy surrounding the government’s climate change bill”.
Speaking after the Dáil committee meeting on the climate change bill, Stanley said:
“So far the debate has been carried out in secret. The cabinet committee on climate change meets in secret, Minister Hogan refuses to publish the Attorney Generals advice on emission targets and the proposed expert advisory committee on climate change will not be allowed to publish reports without government permission. If we are to get public by in, these reports must be made public.
“The effects of climate change are scene globally and felt locally. This government continues to sleep walk us towards a climate disaster. I would remind Minister Hogan that there is no environmental bailout. There is no Troika, ECB or IMF waiting to assist us. I would urge the government to adopt our climate change bill and save us from environmental bankruptcy.
“The debate on climate change must be open, transparent and inclusive. The public must not only be aware but must be part of a national conversation on this most important issue. For this to work the public must buy into the process.
“At the meeting I proposed that the committee have public hearings with presentations from experts and stake holders. I suggested that an appropriate date would be Global Environmental Day on June 5th similar to the one currently taking place on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
“Refusing to include emission targets based on secret advice is unacceptable. Minister Hogan must publish the Attorney Generals advice on emission targets. The last government published a bill with targets and the Attorney General had no problem.
“We need a climate change bill with clear targets and a process that is transparent, open and accountable.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has accused An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny of surrendering without a fight on the issue of reducing the number of EU seats in the 26 Counties.
Martina Anderson said:
“I wrote to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny on 27th March requesting that he use the Irish European Presidential term as a platform from which to lobby support for retaining the 12 EU seats presently held by the Irish State.
“Apart from acknowledging that a reduction from 12 to 11 seats will pose challenges to ensuring effective Irish representation across the range of the EU Parliamentary functions and its Committees, Mr Kenny proposed no plans to mount any opposition to the proposals.
“As they have done with economic sovereignty, Mr Kenny and his government intend to surrender an Irish seat in Europe without a fight. I have to ask the Coalition government in Dublin, when is it going to stand up for the Irish people against the continued erosion of their influence in Europe?“It seems that no indignity imposed by Europe is too great for Fine Gael/Labour to subject the Irish electorate to. It’s time they demanded equal status with all other European States and fought against the ever increasing influence of a growing bureaucratic elite in Brussels. It's time to stand-up and put the best interests of the Irish people front and centre.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson was today in Strasbourg to attend a European Parliament event marking International Day Against Homophobia (May 17th).
Martina Anderson said:
"As a member of the European Parliament's intergroup on LGBT I am proud to be able to stand up for the rights of the LGBT community
"In 2013, we live in a society which is markedly improved in the field of LGBT rights but there remains much to be done on this issue.
"When citizens are still experiencing discrimination, hate and even violence based on their sexual orientation we cannot claim that we are a society of equals.
"In the North of Ireland, there are unfortunately still too many examples of such homophobia in both society and indeed politics as we recently saw when right-wing elements joined forces to veto the Sinn Féin marriage equality bill in the Assembly.
"Indeed, with the recent news that research has shown that gay people are shockingly seven times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals in Ireland, we must do much more to ensure that discrimination, fear and a sense of isolation of one section of our community is eradicated. CRÍOCH
May 21st, 2013
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said that the moratorium on road works during the G8 summit will leave over 1000 workers in limbo.
Mr. McAleer stated,
“I meet with Gordon Best of the Quarry Products Associations and he is concerned that over 1000 workers will find themselves without wages over the eleven day period of the G8.
“Contractors have not be contacted yet nor were they consulted before the decision to halt all road works across the North apart from the Ards peninsula and C class roads.
“This is a complete overkill and the we need the PSNI to tell us why road works in places as far away as Coleraine, Ballycastle or Belfast pose a threat to those meeting in Fermanagh.
“These workers are now in a state of limbo but they will still have mortgages, fuel bills, grocery bills etc to pay. Due to the fact that they are still employed it is questionable whether they will be entitled to social security.
“I have now tabled an emergency question to the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy asking whether he will ensure that these workers will be paid over the period and I intend to raise the issue at the committee tomorrow.
“While some people are exalting the benefits of the G8 summit the reality so far is uncertainty and community disruption.”
Sinn Féin MLA and member of the agriculture committee Ian Milne has called for more support for hill farmers.
In making his maiden speech in the Assembly Mr. Milne said,
“Hill farmers make up a large percentage of the total population and it is important that they are supported.
“I recognise and welcome the Minister’s commitment to hill farmers especially in her swift reaction to the recent crisis. However the problems facing hill farmers are more complicated than the recent crisis with snow and fodder.
“Research carried out by Oxfam last year found that hill farmers are forced to take drastic action, such as cutting back on their own grocery bill and foregoing the basics in life just to keep their farms viable. Indeed, some of the accounts that we heard from the charity Rural Support, when it addressed the Committee recently, brought home to us the sheer level of emotion and trauma that is experienced by our farmers as they struggle to make ends meet.
“I am calling on the Department to look at ways in which hill farmers can be supported either through grants to improve outbuildings or by ensuring that the new proposed Area of Natural Constraints replacing the Less Favoured Areas payments are more accessible to hill farmers.
“It is also important that we look at improving infrastructure such as internet access, rural health and educational improvements to improve the lives of hill farmers many of whom live in isolated area.
“I will continue to support the hill farmers in attempting to make the industry sustainable in the long term so that this way of life so crucial to our society is maintained.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard MLA has welcomed the Minister of Education's decision to abolish the requirement for schools to carry out Computer Based Assessments.
Mr. Hazzard said,
“I welcome the Minister’s decisive action in ending Computer Based Assessments after several reports highlighted concerns with the system.
“It is widely accepted that assessment of children is a good tool in ensuring that every child can fulfil its potential and achieve the highest standard of academic achievement.
“However the CBA’s did not fulfil that role with teachers and parents finding the system difficult to manage especially when there were technical issues.
"The Minister has listened to those concerns and has now set in place a process to learn the lessons of this experience and put in place a future system which is fit for purpose.
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on those who state that they are now opposed to Jim Allister's Special Advisors Bill to support a Petition of Concern to ensure that there is a not a legislative process for discrimination.
Speaking today Mr McKay said:
"This bill is in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement and is there are very strong concerns that it runs against the European Convention of Human Rights. Jim Allister clearly understands this and as the lone anti-peace process voice in the Assembly is pushing to discriminate and unpick the Agreement.
"As this bill now progresses to its final stage all parties who wish to protect the Good Friday Agreement and equality need to combine and ensure that this bill will not be enacted.
"Simply voting against the bill in its final stage will not stop the bill from going through its full passage. There is no halfway house. There is now a clear onus on those who stated that they are opposed to the bill as it stands to support a Petition of Concern and stop the legislating of discrimination."
Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Fra McCann has welcomed the launch of the Rural Housing Action Plan.
Commenting on the plan and the 50 actions contained within the report the West Belfast MLA said:
“It is hope this report becomes a reality and is not just left on the shelf to gather dust. The report gives all who live in rural communities an opportunity to play a part in creating a plan that can deal with the real problems faced by those who live in rural communities.”
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD has called for the Irish government to intervene and focus the British government on the outstanding issues of the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking today in Belfast, Gerry Adams TD said:
“Sinn Féin recently tabled a private members motion in the Dáil to mark the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement 1998.
“All parties in the Dáil have welcomed the transformation which the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements have brought and the enormous progress which has been made.
“Importantly all parties including the Government parties also have significant concerns that the current British government are in default on some of their commitments with respect to past agreements.
“The critical test of the political institutions in the north is whether or not they can deliver meaningful change to peoples lives.
“British government policies are undermining the ability of the Executive to do this. They have presided over cuts in the block grant, a shortfall in the promised peace dividend, and now they are seeking to impose a welfare cuts agenda in a way that will bring hardship to already disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens.
“This is unacceptable and must be challenged.
“The Irish government, as a coequal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement is obliged to intervene and to also challenge the approach of the British government.
“I am calling on them now to bring forward a strategy to ensure the British government deliver on the commitments and support the work of the Executive.”
Commenting today on the issue of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s use of personal information regarding Wexford TD Mick Wallace, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said:
“Minister Shatter’s remarks to the media today will have done nothing to clear up public concern about his use of personal information, obtained from Gardaí, regarding another TD.
“This debacle raises serious issues about the behaviour of the Minister for Justice, who has access to the most sensitive of information regarding citizens. He has clearly crossed the line in using his access to such information for political purposes.
“I am calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make time available tomorrow for the minister to address the Dáil in relation to this issue and for opposition representatives to respond.
“In my own view, Minister Shatter needs to make a full public apology for using personal information, obtained as Minister for Justice, on live television in an effort to damage a political opponent.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has today said the government’s proposal to “carry out road repairs on the cheap must be scrapped”.
Responding to Minister for state at the Department of Transport, Alan Kelly’s proposals, Stanley said:
“The government has reached a new low. This road repair scheme expects local people to provide 20-50% of funding, including free labour, to ensure their roads are repaired. There are serious questions about health and safety as well as potential job losses to be answered.
“Essential repairs to our roads must be carried out by those trained in this specialised work. To expect local people to repair their roads is totally irresponsible. To expect local communities to fund raise to repair their roads is a terrible indictment of this government. People pay taxes to cover the cost of road repairs and other essential services. The scheme must be immediately scrapped.
“This government has slashed local government funding from €210m in 2011 to €24m this year. On top of this the government took a further €150m out of the Motor Tax Fund to pay off the foreign debt. These cuts have led to the crisis that is at the heart local authorities in Ireland today.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on transport Dessie Ellis TD said, “Minister Kelly’s government has cut spending on road maintenance from €1.258 billion in 2011 to €750m this year. Expecting local people to plug the gap is disgraceful. The less well-off communities will once again bear the brunt of this government’s mismanagement of our resources. This is a recipe for disaster.”