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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth amendment represent “a massive step forward for the repeal of the Eighth amendment” and the finalising of the Committee’s work represents a “welcome day for the women of Ireland”.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Today is a welcome day for the women of Ireland, who have been let down by the political system for decades in providing for their medical needs.

“The recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth amendment represent a historic step forward in correcting that injustice and are a step forward for the campaign to repeal the Eighth amendment.

“The challenge now is to have that referendum as soon as possible and to win that referendum.

“Sinn Féin has been unambiguous and consistent in our opposition to the Eighth amendment.

“The Constitution is not the place to deal with any issues relating to women’s health and we are glad that there has been support for that proposition at today’s Committee deliberations.

 “We are satisfied that the Committee’s report reflects our party policy insofar as possible and for that reason we will be supporting the final report of the Committee.

“There are aspects with which we don’t agree. We have made that clear, but that is the nature of Committee reports, and we must look ahead to the next step in process in righting the historic wrong of denying women adequate healthcare.”

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Speaking today in European Parliament in Brussels , Sinn Féein MEP Matt Carthy urged vigilance in the face of British Government wrangling in relation to the recent commitments it gave in relation to Brexit and the border in Ireland.

Matt Carthy said:

"After six months of negotiations, the British finally put their signature to something that recognises that different arrangements need to be put in place for the North of Ireland - a form of special status if you like. But they are already trying to go back on it. I’m pleased that this resolution calls them out on it.

"However we need to remain vigilant - the European Parliament, the EU negotiators, and the Irish Government. We all need to make sure that there is no going back on the commitments of last week’s communique.

"The North of our country cannot be pushed back or placed under the yoke of British self-interest once more. This resolution gives us the means to ensure that doesn’t happen. It gives us the means to protect the Good Friday Agreement, including trade and open borders, as well as rights and equality.

 "We’re not there yet. We haven’t achieved the full outworking of ensuring that all of Ireland remains together within all EU frameworks, yet. The agreement provides the scope to achieve that.  We must redouble our efforts if we are to get to that essential position."


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Speaking from Strasbourg Lynn Boylan MEP condemned two votes in the European Parliament which call for greater militarisation.

Boylan said:

“Today the European Parliament voted in favour of two reports calling for greater European militarisation. By voting in favour of the annual reports on Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy the European parliament has endorsed increased EU military spending, and further European defence integration.

“The wording in these two reports is clearly laying the groundwork for an EU defence union and the creation of an EU army. These two reports were fully supported by the three Fine Gael MEPs.

“Today the Fine Gael MEPs have voted in favour of the creation of EU military units as part of PESCO, spending 2% of our GDP on defence, and for the free movement of military equipment and troops within the EU.

“Not only have the Fine Gael MEPs voted in favour of the militarisation of the EU and shown their commitment to increased defence spending, they have also voted in favour of removing the national veto on common foreign and security policy decisions. This would make small member states like Ireland virtually powerless when it comes to foreign policy decisions.

“Fine Gael need to be clear with the Irish people about the militarised, undemocratic Europe that they are helping to build.”

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Dúirt urlabhraí Gaeilge Shinn Féin, an Teachta Peadar Tóibín, go raibh an Roinn Oideachais ag déanamh neamart ar chearta Gaeilge daltaí an Stáit uilig. Léirigh an Roinn mar fhreagra ar cheist pharlaiminte inniu nach raibh “aon phlean ann chun beartas ar leithligh a leagan amach don ghaeloideachas.”

Dúirt an Teachta Tóibín:

“Tá sé dochreidte nach bhfuil plean ar bith ag an Roinn Oideachais maidir leis an ngaeloideachas i gcoitinne, agus nach bhfuil sé beartaithe plean a chur le chéile amach anseo. 

"Tá éileamh as cuimse ar Ghaeloideachas sa stáit – tá breis is 23% tuismitheoirí á éilimh dá bpáistí, ach níl ach 5% de bhunscoileanna ina scoileanna lán Ghaeilge mar shampla. 

“D’fháiltíomar go mór roimh an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta a bhí go mór de dhíth. Ach tá fís, creatlach, agus stiúradh ag teastáil le cur leis an ngaeloideachas go ginearálta.

"Ní dhéanann sé ciall go bhfuil an roinn, atá  freagrach as dul chun cinn na Gaeilge sa chóras oideachais, sásta treabhadh leo gan treoir. 

“Deir an Roinn go bhfuil siad ag rannchuidiú le roinnt gníomhaíochtaí sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge agus léiríonn sé seo tiomantas na Roinne sa réimse seo. 

"Tá an Straitéis ina cheap magaidh gan spriocanna, gan aidhmeanna nó amscálaí coincréiteacha. Táimid ag fanacht le foilseacháin plean ghnímh ina leith ó rinneadh athbhreithniú air bhreis is dhá bhliain ó shin. Níl sé sásúil go bhfuil roinn ag leanúint go treallach plean gan téagar. 

“Tá eagrais Gaeilge ar nós Gaeloideachas agus Foras na Gaeilge ag éileamh polasaí cuimsitheach don Ghaeloideachas. Chuirfeadh a leithead de phlean leis an bPolasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta ó thaobh acmhainní a roinnt, oiliúint múinteoirí agus pleanáil fad-théarmach. 

“Más é go bhfuil an Roinn ag iarradh a chuid ‘tiomantas leanúnach’ d’fhonn an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn is gá dóibh dul i ngleic leis na fadhbanna atá ann i dtaobh an ghaeloideachas go macánta, deireadh a chur leis an gcur i gcéill agus plean sonrach agus cuimsitheach a leag amach.”
 

Department admits no plan exists for Irish language education – Peadar Tóibín TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Irish language, Peadar Tóibín TD, has said that the Department of Education are neglecting the Irish language rights of students of this state. The Department stated in an answer to a parliamentary question today that they had “no plan for drawing up a policy for Irish language education”.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“It’s unbelievable that the Department have no plan at all regarding Irish-medium education in general, and that they have no intention of putting one together in the future. There is a huge demand for Irish-language education in the state – for example, there are over 23% of parents seeking Irish language for their children, but only 5% of primary schools are Gaelscoil schools.

“We warmly welcomed the Policy for Gaeltacht Education, which was so badly needed. But vision, structure and steering are needed to improve Irish-medium education in general. It makes no sense that the department, who are responsible for the progress of the Irish language in the education system, are happy to plough away without direction.

“The department says that they are helping with some of the aims of the 20 Year Strategy for Irish Language, and that this demonstrates their dedication to this sector. But the Strategy in itself is a mockery - without aims, goals or concrete deadlines. We are waiting for the publication of the action plan in relation to the Strategy since a review was initiated over two years ago. It is not satisfactory that the department are sporadically following a plan without substance.

“Irish language organisations such as Gaeloideachas and Foras na Gaeilge are seeking a comprehensive policy on Irish-medium education. A plan of this nature would add to the Policy for Gaeltacht Education in terms of shared resources, teacher training and long-term planning.

“If the Department are trying to progress their 'longstanding dedication'” to the Irish language, it is necessary that they stop the pretense, genuinely tackle the problems that exist within Irish-medium education and lay out a detailed, comprehensive plan."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said action is needed to turn the British government's commitments on Brexit into a legally binding agreement. 

Speaking in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament voted on a resolution to allow the Brexit negotiations to move to the next phase, Martina Anderson said: 

"In today's debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg it was clear that MEPs are concerned about the British government attempting to renege on its commitments made last week. 

"I made it clear to MEPs that this is what the British government does. It makes promises necessary to get others to move forward and then they start to row back and negotiate downwards. 

"We know that from years of experience of negotiations with successive British governments and their failures to implement agreements entered into. 

"This resolution which was overwhelmingly passed by the European Parliament says that 'full enforcement' regarding Ireland is key in relation to last week's communique.

“The continued application of the European Court of Justice and Charter of Fundamental Rights would assure this. 

"We also heard pledged today to turn what was in the communique last week into a binding legal text and that needs to happen as a matter of urgency. 

"The EU and the Irish government cannot simply take the British government at their word. 

"The Irish government in particular need to act on its recent public utterances and push to protect the rights of all Irish citizens by ensuring the ECJ continues to have jurisdiction in the north through securing special status within the EU."

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has welcomed confirmation from the Department of Finance that all public sector workers are to receive a one percent pay uplift.

Pat Sheehan said:

“This move is long overdue but is still a welcome step in the right direction towards recognising the invaluable contribution of public service workers.

“Our party leader in the north Michelle O’Neill recently told the acting Head of the Civil Service that the latest budget allocations allowed for this payment to be made so we are pleased that it has now been approved.

“All public sector workers provide vital services and deserve to be paid accordingly. They are the biggest asset we have in the public services and should be invested in.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the Tory/DUP austerity agenda. We are calling for the cap on public service pay to be scrapped and are pressing for a fair deal for all public sector workers.” 

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Sinn Féin President and Louth/East Meath TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to do more to support those living with a disability and those who provide care. He urged the Taoiseach to release the details of the proposals published on Tuesday by Minister McGrath and to ensure that “the new services are put in place go gásta.”

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking during Leaders' Questions this morning in the Dáil where he raised the provision of services for carers and the announcement of an additional ten million euro by Minister McGrath.

Teachta Adams raised the urgent need for additional respite care for Louth which has an estimated 20,000 citizens with a disability.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“On Tuesday Minister Finian Mc Grath announced that he has secured an additional €10 million euro’s for respite services. I welcome this announcement. According to Census 2016 over twenty thousand people in my constituency of Louth /East Meath have a disability.

"At this time there are only 9 available respite beds for adults with intellectual disabilities. There are no emergency services. So there is a lot of work to be done to rectify this.

"The new services involved need to be put in place go gásta, and the details of the plan need to be revealed as quickly as possible. Much more needs to be done to support those living with a disability and those who provide care.

"For example, only 25% of full time carers will be eligible for the free GP card announced yesterday. This is because this card will be given only to carers getting the carers allowance. They should all be allocated Medical Cards.

"The issue of in-home respite hours is crucially important for some families. I reminded the Taoiseach of one case – that of Brendan who has got no in-home respite hours in the last five months.

"I also pointed to a parliamentary response from the HSE received by Teachta Louise O Reilly which revealed that the HSE will be providing 14,293 fewer overnight respite sessions this year and 591 fewer day respite sessions.

"The ten million additional euro announced by Minister McGrath is supposed to provide 19,000 respite nights. That means in effect that the HSE will only be providing an additional 4,707 respect sessions on what it was providing in 2016.

"This is not good enough. Citizens with disabilities and their carers have rights and the responsibility of the government must be to support those rights and to resource them.”

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that she is aghast that in spite of rising requests for respite sessions for people with disabilities, the Minister for Health has indicated that there will be nearly 15,000 less respite sessions provided in 2017 than in 2016.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“We have all read newspaper articles, seen news reports, and watched Primetime programmes in 2017 about the difficulties people with disabilities and their families face in the battle to get respite care.

“Only last week RTÉ Primetime broadcast “Carers in Crisis” which highlighted the difficulties for those who provide care for a family member or loved one face in the absence of adequate care and respite sessions being provided by the state.

“It is therefore beyond belief that in spite if the demand and need for respite sessions increasing across the state this year that the provision of respite sessions has actually decreased by nearly 15,000 sessions on what was provided last year.

“Through a response to a Parliamentary Question I submitted, Minister Harris outlined that there will be an estimated shortfall of 14,293 overnight respite sessions for 2017 compared to what was provided in 2016 and a shortfall of 591 day respite sessions.

The PQ response stated:

  • “The most recent available data from the HSE indicates that for 2016, 175,555 overnight respite sessions and 43,143 day sessions were accessed. It is planned that 161,262 overnight respite sessions will be accessed in 2017. The number of day respite sessions planned is 42,552.”
“This is completely shocking and unacceptable. These hours provide respite to parents and families who have a person in the household with a disability; they are some of the hardest pressed and struggling families in the state, and the evidence shows that this Government is failing them.

“While I welcome yesterday’s announcements that €10million in additional funding will be provided for people with disabilities and carers, the fact is that of the approximately 19,000 respite nights per year that this is to go to providing, it is in fact just an estimated increase of 4,707 respite sessions on what was provided in 2016.

 “The Health Service cannot wait for RTÉ to broadcast a programme to shock the Government into action to do the right thing and increase respite care. What would the case have been if Primetime had not broadcast that programme?

“We need year on year increases to provide for those who currently need respite care as well as those who will need it in the future. 

"The Government cannot slash respite care sessions by nearly 15,000 sessions and expect things to work the same and only increase the hours after their cuts have been exposed on Primetime."

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Sinn Féin MLA John O’ Dowd has urged everyone opposed to the undemocratic imposition of Brexit on the island of Ireland to remain steadfast in their opposition and to continue to campaign whenever and wherever they can.

The Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson commented:

“While the focus has shifted to Brussels and the role of EU leaders the opposition to Brexit on the streets of Ireland was the driving force which secured commitments to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, no Brexit border and the protection of rights.

“The next phase must be about turning those commitments into legally binding international agreements and I welcome the recent statement from the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt that the British Government will not be allowed to renege on any final agreement.

“The EU, the British and Irish Governments must be left in no doubt the opposition to Brexit in Ireland has not waned and we will not accept a fudge on our future peace and prosperity.

“The wide and diverse spectrum of groups, businesses and individuals who have opposed the imposition of Brexit must continue to campaign, lobby and protest. Whether it is an email campaign or a street protest the message must be heard in Dublin, London and Brussels, we will not accept anything less than full protection and implementation of our democratic and civil rights.

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has said that the interim arrangements in place for public servants wishing to remain at work beyond 65 are ‘purposely unattractive’.

Interim arrangements have been put in place by Minister Paschal Donohue until legislation to extend the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 is passed.

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta Brady said:

“The interim arrangements put in place by Minister Donohue and agreed with public service employers makes for grim reading.

“Employees will be allowed to remain at work beyond 65 but only under certain conditions. These conditions include 65 year olds retiring and being re-hired for the extra year, being paid at the minimum point of their relevant pay scale which will result in pay reductions, and no longer being able to accrue pension benefits for the year.

"This means that those wishing to remain at work to add to their PRSI contributions will be unable to do so. I would also question whether or not trade unions were consulted on these arrangements.

“These conditions are extremely disappointing and will only serve to push public servants out of work at 65 and will therefore, prevent them from remaining at work.

“The Bill I introduced which was passed unanimously in the Dáil in February is the legislation that will abolish mandatory retirement in all instances, something the Government is clearly intent on avoiding.

“If these interim arrangements are anything to go by I would be cautious as to the actual text of this legislation to raise the mandatory retirement age to 70 and what it will actually look like.”

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Sinn Féin’s Seanad Mental Health spokesperson Senator Máire Devine has welcomed a recommendation from the Youth Mental Health Taskforce today which calls for legislation to be published to reform the consent provisions of the 2001 Act, to allow people under the age of 18 to have direct access to mental health services.

Senator Devine said she is at the advanced stages of drafting such legislation.

Speaking today, she said;

“There is a particular anomaly around access to mental health services for 16 and 17 year olds.

“The Library and Research facility at the houses of the Oireachtas is due to publish a paper on the back of my request examining in more detail consent for mental health treatment for young people. I expect this to be published early next week.

“I am also at the advanced stages of drafting legislation on this issue, which I will be introducing in the Seanad in the New Year.

“This is a vitally important piece of work for our young people and I am delighted that the Task Force has recognised it today.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín met today with the Department for Communities and called on them to intervene to tackle chronic housing shortages and inequalities.

Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“I told the Department for Communities today that I have formally complained to the Housing Executive about its failure to tackle the current chronic housing shortages and associated problems in the sector on the basis of objective need.

“I informed them that three United Nations reports and a report by the Equality Commission have expressed their concern about the failure to stem housing inequalities, which continue to grow.

“The Housing Executive has continued to fail families by not expressing any interest in sites that could be used to develop social housing in North Belfast in particular those from the Catholic/Nationalist community.

“Housing Executive statistics from 2016 demonstrate that 938 homes are needed for families from the Catholic/Nationalist community from a figure of 1,700.

“The Housing Executive has not provided any suggestions on how this gap is going to be closed. They have done nothing to address the criticisms and concerns raised by the United Nations, the Equality Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commissioner for Children and Young People. 

“I told the department today that is unacceptable and it is Sinn Féin’s view it must intervene to deal with the shortage of social and affordable housing and tackle inequalities." ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth Gerry Adams has welcomed the news that Minister Finian Mc Grath has secured an additional €10 million euro in funding for respite services.

A portion of this funding is to be allocated to deliver a proposal put to the HSE for dedicated respite services for people with intellectual disabilities in in the Louth and Meath area at Bower House, Balbriggan, Co Fingal.

Speaking following the Minister’s announcement this evening in the Dáil, Teachta Adams stated;

“My office spoke to Minister Mc Grath’s office today following the announcement that an additional funding of €8 million euro has been secured to provide respite services for nine new dedicated houses for respite in each Community Health Area.

"I have been consistently raising this issue with the government. A further commitment was made by Minister Mc Grath in the Dáil this evening to provide funding for respite services in a purpose built unit which will cater for people with intellectual disabilities in Louth and Meath.

“There is a serious lack of scheduled respite services for citizens with disabilities in County Louth. People with disabilities and their families have been living in a state of perpetual crisis. I have met with many families who are in dire need and they all have a similar tale of never-ending fights to access services from the State which should be theirs by right.

 “I have also raised the case of Sam O Carroll with the Taoiseach for some time now. Sam is an 18 year old man with severe autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs. He is now 18 and as a result he cannot avail of previous respite services that he once attended. He has been without respite since July. This funding has the potential to change Sam’s life.

“I want to commend the parents, families and community groups who have challenged the government to tackle the crisis in respite services in Louth for some time now.

"I have no doubt that, in the absence of such collective campaigning that families in need of these services would be still stranded in a state of perpetual crisis.

“While I welcome this news, I have asked the Department of Health for the detail of this proposal. It is imperative that these services are accessible as soon as possible to those who need them.”

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The DUP could remove the barriers to the creation of a new Executive at Stormont by ending their anti-rights blockade, Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has said.

 “Sinn Féin is determined to see the restoration of power-sharing institutions,” she commented.

“The vast majority of the public also want to see this and I very much welcome the initiative from civic nationalism this week calling for respect and equality at the heart of the process. 

“Sinn Féin wants to see civic society empowered and participating in the political process. 

“It is essential that every sector of society regardless of political allegiance, who want to protect our interests and future, make their voice heard and make it count.

“Ongoing cuts to hard-pressed public services is a consequence of propping up the Tory Government and its austerity project.

“The DUP need to start listening, because the challenges facing our public services, particularly our health and education systems, require the attention and knowledge of locally elected and accountable Ministers working collectively in the Executive.

“The need for cohesive political leadership to drive forward the transformation of our health service set out in the Bengoa Report is the most urgent example of this.

“But the anti-rights and anti-equality stance of the DUP is preventing this. The DUP is, in effect, putting unpopualr party and personal views ahead of our health, education and other essential public services.

“The majority of MLAs want to see marriage equality, language rights and legacy inquests delivered. The majority of MLAs are progressive in their thinking.

“The main block to the delivery of these basic rights and to the full and immediate restoration of the political institutions is the DUP. Its anti-rights agenda is entirely out of sync with public opinion across these islands. The DUP needs to end this stubborn anti-equality blockade which would allow us all to get back to the work that we were elected to do”.

“The British government also needs to stop pandering to the DUP by allowing them to block rights they afford their own constituents.”

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has welcomed the families of the victims of the Loughinisland Massacre to Leinster House today for a special screening of the groundbreaking documentary ‘No Stone Unturned” which investigates the massacre at the Heights Bar In Loughinisland in 1994 and the collusion between the RUC and the UVF in carrying out the murders.

The screening will take place this evening at 7pm in the AV Room.

Speaking this afternoon Senator Ó Donnghaile said;

“I am happy to welcome the Loughinisland families here to Leinster House today and I would encourage TDs and Senators to come along and watch the film this evening.

“This is one of the issues at the heart of the current impasse that is holding up the efforts to get the Assembly back up and running.

“The refusal of the British Government to allow inquests into the deaths at Loughinisland, and other deaths, remains a significant stumbling block and must be dealt with.  And politicians in this state, particularly those who use this issue as a stick to beat Sinn Féin with, also have a responsibility to remind the British Government of their commitments in this regard.

“The Irish Government, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements, must raise this issue with the British Government.  I welcome Taoiseach Varadkar’s commitment last week that never again will an Irish Government leave Northern Nationalists behind but actions speak louder than words.

“I note the open letter from 200 prominent members of the Nationalist Community in the North which calls on An Taoiseach to protect the rights of all citizens in the North and I would hope that he will respond both positively and comprehensively.

“The film which we are screening this evening in Leinster House is by Oscar winning Director Alex Gibney.  It investigates the massacre at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in 1994 and the collusion between the RUC and the UVF in carrying out the murders.

“The families of the victims are here with us in Leinster House today.  I hope politicians from all parties will come and meet with them and watch the film.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP will accompany the families of victims of the Loughinisland Massacre at a viewing of high-profile documentary ‘No Stone Unturned’.

The South Down MP said:

“The viewing of No Stone Unturned in Leinster House is an important opportunity to bring the film and its message to community and political figures in Dublin.

“Raising the profile of the rampant and systemic collusion in the Loughinisland Massacre has had a real impact on citizens across the island, but this is sadly not the only such story to tell.

“Over 40 years on and some families are still waiting for their right to truth and justice about the murder of their loved ones to be respected. The injustice of collusion is as relevant as ever.

“As MP for South Down, I will continue to campaign alongside the Loughinisland families in their search for justice for the murder of their loved ones by British state proxies.”

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Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson, Imelda Munster TD has today called on Ryanair to engage with pilots to avert strike action over the Christmas period.

Deputy Munster has signalled support for pilots who have given notice of their intention to strike on 20th December over the issue of Trade Union recognition. She has also said that Ryanair can avoid all of this by engaging with their pilots.

Deputy Munster said:

“I hope that Christmas travellers will not be discommoded by strike action on 20th December. Ryanair can avoid all of this by engaging with their staff and listening to their just and rightful concerns.

“This dispute has been a long time coming. It is outrageous that the situation has come to this, especially so close to Christmas. During the summer it became clear that there were serious problems at the company when hundreds of flights were cancelled.

“The company appears to be haemorrhaging pilots, and this latest development is further proof of serious discontent at the company.

“Ryanair refuses to engage with staff through the union of their choice. Pilots have been raising concerns for a long time, and Ryanair has stuck its head in the sand.

“This is why the issue has come to a head at Christmas. It could and should have been dealt with much sooner.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the failure of the government to progress the Health (Transport Support) Bill which is about providing a new scheme for citizens with disabilities who need transport supports.

The Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grants were scrapped in 2013. There are almost 5,000 citizens' with disabilities still receiving these supports but no new claimant has been accepted since February 2013.

Speaking in the Dáil Gerry Adams reminded the Taoiseach that;

“In February 2013 the Government scrapped the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grants because it was claimed they were not in compliance with the Equal Status Act and the Disability Act.

"This was done despite a recommendation from the Ombudsman for the scope of these schemes to be widened. The government took the decision because, as then Minister Kathleen Lynch said, it would cost too much.

"Instead of equality for citizens with disabilities we got an accounting exercise by government. A replacement scheme was promised but not delivered. This has caused much hardship for those excluded from these resources.

"The Health (Transport Support) Bill has languished on the legislative programme for five years. According to the current legislative programme this Bill is now a priority piece of legislation for publication. However pre-legislative scrutiny is still to be determined.”

The Sinn Féin leader asked the Taoiseach if he had any actual date for the publication of the Health (Transport Support) Bill.

In his response the Taoiseach said that the government was looking to bring the Bill forward next year and to include costings for it in the next budget in October 2018.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Denise Mitchell, has said that it is of the utmost importance that all available resources are provided to allow for the identification of remains at the former site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

Speaking shortly after the publication of the Technical Report, Deputy Mitchell said:

“Many of the relatives of those buried at Tuam are rightly very concerned by the likelihood that some of the remains may never be identified.

“I call on the Government to do all it can to ensure that whatever resources necessary are made available to help respectfully recover and  identify these remains at the site.

“I want to welcome the commitment by the Minister to a structured consultation process to allow all interested parties the chance to have their say and contribute to future decisions at the site.

“I will endeavour to meet with survivors and their advocacy groups over the coming period to discuss their views and I hope that Minister Zappone will do the same.”

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Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has called for the European Parliament to take a strong position on tackling tax avoidance, fraud and financial secrecy when MEPs vote on the final recommendations of the Panama Papers inquiry report tomorrow.

Addressing the plenary this morning in Strasbourg, Carthy said: "It is ironic but not surprising that just as the Panama Papers inquiry committee is finishing its work, we are faced with a new and even bigger offshore leak – the Paradise Papers. We urgently need a new committee to examine the Appleby revelations in this Parliament.

"Let’s remember that there  is a grim human cost to this system that allows the ultra-rich to avoid contributing to society in any meaningful way, and which deprives our communities of the public services they need. In Ireland, we have seen eight people die – in the freezing cold, on the streets – in a period of 14 weeks as a result of a homelessness crisis largely caused by a lack of investment in social housing.

"Unfortunately, our governments are not innocent bystanders in the corporate tax avoidance system. In many cases they actively promote it.

"There is a political choice to be made by those in power – shield the financial secrecy of the super-rich, or promote the rights and wellbeing of communities. You can’t do both."

"This Parliament has an important role to play in setting the political agenda. We need to make the strongest possible statement calling for this rotten offshore system to be wiped out when we vote on this report," he said.

Commenting after his speech to the plenary, Carthy added: "Unfortunately our colleagues in the EPP, the political group that Fine Gael is part of, are targeting no less than 38 paragraphs of the report that they want removed, including some of the most progressive content. I genuinely hope that MEPs from across the political spectrum in Ireland will not support efforts to water down the Parliament's position on tackling tax avoidance, fraud and secrecy.

"The Parliament needs to listen to what European citizens are demanding, and support strong positions when it comes to public access to beneficial ownership registers, public and global country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations, and strong rules on regulating the enablers of tax avoidance schemes including lawyers and the Big Four tax advisor firms."

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