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Improving the health and wellbeing of our farmers and rural dwellers requires cooperation right across government. 

That was the key message from Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill when she delivered the opening address at the ‘Rural Health and Well-being; A Call To Action’ conference in Cookstown. 

The aim of the conference, jointly hosted by Rural Support and the Ulster Farmers’ Union, was to highlight and address the increasing challenges facing service users in rural areas. 

The conference examined ways to achieve positive health and well-being outcomes for the rural and farming community.

During her keynote speech to delegates at Loughry College, Minister O’Neill highlighted the difficulties faced by rural dwellers. 

She said: 

“Looking after the health and well being of farmers and rural dwellers is a challenging task due to the diverse nature of the services required. Coupled with the challenges that living in isolated rural areas can bring, this makes our task more difficult. Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us, particularly the many statutory organisations involved in the provision of health care, to work collaboratively with the common goal of facilitating a better service for all our rural dwellers.”

However, she acknowledged the excellent partnership arrangements which have developed between her department, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Public Health Agency (PHA) and other organisations such as Rural Support.

The Minister said:

 “Through my department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme, we fund a number of initiatives which are definitely having a positive impact on the health and well being of rural dwellers. 

“Initiatives such as the MARA Project, the Farm Families Health Checks Programme, the work which Rural Support undertake, the Health in Mind Project, support of energy efficiency measures in rural homes, the Rural Challenge and Rural Micro Capital Grants Programme, and the Assisted Rural Travel Scheme have helped in no small way address health and well being issues as well as bring solutions to rural poverty and isolation issues”

Minister O’Neill emphasised her personal commitment to addressing the issues pertaining to rural health and well being.

She added: 

“This conference has in its title suggested that it is a time for ‘A Call to Action’. I therefore want to assure you all of my continued personal commitment to working with other departments, agencies and organisations and supporting initiatives which have a positive effect on the health and well-being of rural dwellers.” 


Education Minister John O’Dowd has met with the Welsh and Scottish Education Ministers to discuss areas for cooperation, during a two day visit to Wales and Scotland this week.

Minister O’Dowd met with Welsh Government Minsters Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills and Julie James, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology to discuss a range of issues before making a visit to Fitzalan High School in Cardiff to see the nurture unit and extended school facilities.

Minister O’Dowd then went on to Scotland to meet with Angela Constance, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.Speaking during the visit, Minister O’Dowd said: 

“The challenge faced by the Welsh and Scottish education systems are challenges that we face also. While my priority is to provide an education system that meets the needs of our young people, I do think there is value is sharing our experiences and understanding how others, in particular those with synergies to our own, are progressing on issues like the development of qualifications and the curriculum. 

"In particular, tackling educational underachievement is a priority for me and I am keen to hear the views of others and benefit from any shared learning. 

"My visit has identified some areas that might lend themselves to practical cooperation between the north of Ireland and Wales and Scotland and my officials will now take this forward.

“I would also like to thank the teachers and pupils at Fitzalan High School for their hospitality, in particular the nurture and extended school teams. Getting out to schools and meeting young people is the most enjoyable aspect of my job as Minister and it is always of interest to see how schools bring the curriculum to life within their classrooms.”


Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said the British government should fund legacy investigations and inquests. 

Mr McCartney said; 

"There is a state obligation on the British government to fund investigations into the past and legacy inquests. 

"The cases being investigated happened during the period of direct rule so it is logical that the British government should pay the costs, not the Executive. 

"That is not just our view, it is also shared by Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights. 

"The British government cannot continue to use cost as an excuse to continue to deny truth and justice to families, some of whom have been waiting for up to 40 years. 

"It is long past the time that the British government lived up to its responsibilities on dealing with the legacy of the past."


Cháin an Teachta Dála agus Úrlabhraí Gaeilge Shinn Féin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, an Rialtas go láidir inniú maidir lena gcur chuige náireach i leith na Gaeilge agus  a dteip maidir le cuir i bhfeidhm acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003, 12 bhliain i ndiaidh achtú na reachtataíochta.

Tar éis dó roinnt gearáin a fháil nach raibh an comhlacht leath-stáit "Irish Rail”, mar a dtugtar air go forleathan, ag comhlíonadh a dhualgais maidir leis an nGaeilge, chuir an Teachta Dála, Aengus Ó Snodaigh ceist Dála ag fiafraí den Aire  Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta,  liosta a chur ar fáil de na comhlachtaí poiblí a thagann faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003 nach bhfuil scéim teanga aontaithe ag an Roinn leo.

Ag labhairt dó inniu deir sé:

“Tháinig sé chun solais ón bhfreagra a fuair mé ón Aire Stáit  i Roinn na Gaeltachta, Joe McHugh, nach bhfuil Córas Iompair Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann agus Bus Átha Cliath, san áireamh, ag comhlíonadh a ndualgais maidir leis an nGaeilge. Masla amach is amach is ea an scéal seo a léiríonn go soiléir an drochmheas atá ag an Rialtas seo ar Shaoránaigh na hÉireann a dteastaíonn uathu maireachtáil trí Ghaeilge.

“Is é mo bharúil gur theip ar Fhine Gael/Páirtí an Lucht Oibre  agus Fianna Fáil rompu, an rud a bhí beartaithe  go reachtúil acu a chur  i gcrích – a  ndualgais maidir leis an Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chur  i bhfeidhm.

“De réir an eolais is déanaí atá ar fáil, tá tuairim is 400 comhlacht poiblí atá le háireamh faoi scáth an Achta. Is í an tAire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, Heather Humphries, atá freagrach as cinntiú go bhfuil scéim aontaithe le gach comhlacht poiblí, de réir an Achta Teanga.

“I láthair na huaire, tá 107 scéim teanga i bhfeidhm, a chlúdaíonn 115 chomhlacht poiblí san iomlán. Ina theannta sin, tá plé gníomhach ar siúl le 129 gcomhlacht poiblí eile chun scéimeanna teanga a aontú leo.

“Is rud suntasach é, sa bhliain 2015, dhá bhliain déag i ndiaidh achtú na reachtaíochta, nach bhfuil ach 115 chomhlacht le scéim teanga i bhfeidhm, cé go bhfuil 400 in ainm a bheith faoi scáth an Achta. Sin thart ar 70% de na comhlachtaí poiblí nach bhfuil ag feidhmiú de réir an Achta. 2003.

“Is í oidhreacht an Rialtais reatha i leith na Gaeilge ná easpa físe, easpa tacaíochta, easpa ceannaireachta agus easpa maoirseachta.

“Tá níos fearr ná sin tuillte ag Muintir na hÉireann agus ag ár dTeanga ársa.”


Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, took the Tánaiste to task on the worsening crisis in our health system in the wake of news of industrial action in Beaumont due to concerns over understaffing and patient safety.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Tánaiste the crisis in our health system is getting worse. This morning we learn that 99% of INMO members in Beaumont hospital have voted for industrial action. This is not a dispute over pay. It is a dispute over patient safety

“According to the INMO, staff levels have been decimated. The nurses are telling you that it is impossible to provide a safe level of care to patients. These are not my words – they are the words of the professionals.

“We are told that staff are close to burnout. Their workloads are impossible. They have been highlighting serious concern with management for some time. But nurse levels continue to fall - the situation continues to deteriorate.

“Beaumont hospital is short 45 nurses in the medical and surgical divisions alone. Today there are 22 patients in that hospital on trolleys. My own local hospital, The Mater, is 100 nurses short and today has 29 people on trolleys. In fact as we speak, the Mater is on the verge of triggering the Full Capacity Protocol - that is how bad the situation is.

“Tánaiste, why is this? The answer is very simple – today there are 4,500 less nurses in the health service than when you took office. This is the result of your health policy - you refuse to invest and to reform. It seems you prefer to give tax breaks to the rich than invest in more nurses, home help hours or nursing home beds.

“Your Teflon Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, has abandoned your government’s big idea. You now have no plan. Worse still you have no clue.

“Tánaiste, you really have some cheek to call for constructive engagement from nurses who are literally at the end of their tether. Stressed out of their minds and managing an impossibly and utterly chaotic situation in our hospitals. It takes gall of the highest order for you to appeal to these people to be constructive. They are more than constructive. They are managing day on day, the chaos that your government has caused in our hospitals.

 “Given the scale of the crisis do you have confidence in the Minister for Health? And can you tell the staff and patients at Beaumount and beyond, Tánaiste, how you will ensure patient safety?”


Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has welcomed the statement from the GAA including the Ulster Council to their commitment to develop a world-class stadium at Casement Park.

 Mr Sheehan said,

 “I welcome the fact that the entire GAA family have come together to support the redevelopment of Casement Park in West Belfast.

 “The GAA are determined to have a facility that will serve the entire community of West Belfast with this huge investment.

 “This investment has the potential to help revitalise the economic fortunes of West Belfast and bring much needed jobs to the area.

 “I also welcome the news that the GAA will consult with all stakeholders including local residents to ensure that this project can proceed in the near future.

 “The appointment of an experienced project manager in order to oversee the project is also a positive step forward.

 “I would call on community groups, local GAA Clubs, residents, businesses and other local stakeholders to engage with the project team so we can give the people of West Belfast and the greater GAA fraternity a stadium to be proud of.” 


Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said today that the provision of modular units may be necessary to boost emergency accommodation supply but are no solution to the shortage of social housing unaffordable rents. He made his comments in response to a government motion in the Dáil seeking to fast track planning processes to deliver modular units.

Deputy Ellis said:

“The motion masquerades as something to do with the need to urgently increase the supply of social housing but under any fair and responsible consideration of what social housing is, modular units for emergency homeless accommodation do not meet that definition. Modular housing is an ugly and messy emergency measure to provide a roof over the heads of families who have become homeless and so far have been dependent on B&Bs and hotel rooms which provide them with no access to cooking or other needed amenities in accommodation. A kitchen counter does not a make a home though.

“If the government wanted to urgently increase the supply of social housing it should have fast tracked planning for the social housing 5 years ago. It could have taken all the money it would spend on emergency accommodation over the last 5 years and put that into delivering social housing. Instead it has waited, it has dragged its heels, it has directly hurt those in housing need and those most at risk of homelessness through cuts and it has done little else bar compile plans and strategies to distract from that inaction and keep the spin doctors in work.

“The government certainly could have done more to support the project to build 72 houses on the site which now will be home to 22 modular units at a cost of 4.2 million, nearly €200,000 each. This sum could have bought easily 22 homes already for sale and available in the Dublin 9 area or nearby.

“€191,000 is more than it costs the council to build a home by about €11,000, yet that is what each modular unit is costing in Ballymun. There are three bed houses in the area which could be bought easily for €70,000 less than each of these units and could be occupied in days. These would not just get a family out of hotels, but out of homelessness completely.

“In Hampton Wood in Ballymun, there are 30 homes for sale right now

“It is particularly bizarre to me that in an area like Ballymun, banned from having rent supplement and new social housing because of claims about social mix that in a time of crisis the government will allow that regime to continue while dumping at least 22 homeless families on a site in a community which has been hit hard by austerity and essential services spread thin.

“In Finglas, Cherry Orchard and elsewhere, a similar problem is found. It is not that no units can be put in these communities, but the support and planning is essential. It has to make sense.

“I welcome in the motion that it is noted that the new homeless families are coming from the private sector. Will the government now accept the need to properly regulate the private rental market to protect against homelessness? Will the government now accept the private market has every interest in exploiting the crisis and no interest in solving it? Will you accept that your cuts to rent supplement and other basic payments and supports exacerbated the homeless crisis? Will you now accept the need for rent certainty and rent control?

“Sinn Féin recognises the need for emergency measures for urgent provision for people who are homeless right now. However, in the absence of preventative measures, in the absence of social housing provision the response is hopelessly inadequate." 


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said today's attack on the government’s forecasts by the Fiscal Council provides “a massive reality check” to Fine Gael.  He said the report makes it clearer than ever that any party promising huge tax cuts while committing to dealing with our homelessness crisis, the cost of childcare and the inequalities in our Health system are simply being dishonest.

Deputy Doherty said even before the Fiscal Council's intervention the fiscal space was so limited as to make the promises on Fine Gael on tax unbelievable. 

He said:

"The Fiscal Council have once again had to provide a reality check on the increasingly irresponsible and unrealistic promise of Fine Gael, that they can drastically cut taxes without damaging public services. We have a housing and homelessness crisis and families are struggling with the cost of childcare while the wheels are literally falling off our health service. Today’s reality check shows us that cutting taxes in a way that favours the better off is not a valid option for any party seeking to build a fair recovery.

“As the report states, cutting government spending by five percentage points of GDP by 2021 “is not realistic given underlying expenditure pressures that are likely to emerge in the coming years.” In other words the figures simply don’t add up for Fine Gael’s promises to cut taxes while protecting public services.

“The upcoming election is now boiling down to a choice between a Fine Gael party intent on slashing taxes for the better off regardless of the social and economic cost, or a government led by Sinn Féin which will invest in the country in a responsible and long term way and actually take on the crises in health, housing and childcare, to name but three.

“While Sinn Féin accepts that the fiscal rules have to be respected broadly, it is increasingly clear that they have these rules have potential to restrict essential public investment, as we pointed out at the time of the Austerity Treaty. Regardless of the details however, the choice between investment and unsustainable promises is becoming clearer day by day.

“I look forward to engaging with the Fiscal Council in the Finance Committee next week to see why they, like the opposition parties, are being kept in the dark and to find out why their reports differ so widely from the government spin.”


Sinn Fein Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has today introduced a Bill in the Dáil to provide for measures to prevent homelessness and limit rent increases. He said he hoped to have a debate on the Bill in the Dáil in the near future.

Deputy Ellis said:

“Firstly I’d like to thank the excellent advocacy work of groups like Focus Ireland, Threshold, Simon, the Peter McVerry Trust and SVP who have fought long and hard for the kind of reform contained in this simple but important and timely bill.

“Today we have an ever growing population of people who are without a home or secure accommodation. Thousands of people every night sleep in B&B’s, hostels and hotel rooms. Hundreds sleep rough, on the floor of night cafes. Many more invisible homeless sleep in abandoned buildings, dark corners where no one looks or on the sofas or floors of a friend or relative. At least 1,500 of our homeless are children - children who must get up, go to school and learn about life through the prism of desperate need, isolation and insecurity.

“The many causes of this emergency are all interacting to create a perfect storm but the failure itself lies firmly at the door of government. The groundwork had been laid for the crisis long before this government took office but their inaction, and even in some cases reckless action, has turned a fire into an inferno - a wave into a tsunami.

“This Bill seeks to amend Section 2 and Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 to update the definition of homelessness and bring in new responsibilities for Local Authorities in dealing with homelessness and people affected by it.

“It provides for the Local Authority to consider the position of families and individuals at risk of homelessness, as well as those already experiencing it, and so compels the authority to act in a preventative way. Prevention is better than cure we are always reminded, but that is not the case when you consider policy for tackling homelessness. Homelessness is treated like a dangerous contagious and terminal disease which must be quarantined and controlled.

“The amendment to Section 10 provides for funding for bodies such as Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to support interventions which would prevent homelessness and adequately deal with the problem to ensure the housing of people who need support. A crucial point of this amendment is to open resources to those who have not previously experienced homelessness, so as to prevent them from falling into this pit, or quickly remedy the individual crisis.

“The last section is to do the job the government failed to do for the last five years, to put a lid of rent rates. The government failed to deliver rent certainty, only providing for a delay in rent increases. Rent Certainty is the limiting of rent increases over a period of time, not simply the delay of such increases. This Bill would tie increases to the rate of inflation which would only provide landlords with the ability to raise rents within a small margin or not at all. This would provide real certainty.

“No Bill is perfect and I welcome constructive criticism which is intended to enhance the bill and to deliver on its aims. Rejection of the Bill by this government, as often happens with opposition bills is totally unacceptable given its very reasonable and needed content.”


Young people taking an active role in democracy and dialogue bodes well for our new shared future.

That was the message from Junior Minister Jennifer McCann who today attended the Youth Forum’s Congress in Parliament Buildings.

Issues raised and debated included the need to promote youth participation in politics, the impact of sectarianism and racism, and the importance of child and adolescent mental health services.
Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said:“The voices of all our young people must not only be heard but listened to and we should embrace and encourage political awareness and activity.

“The issues raised were wide ranging and all were given due respect and sensitivity regardless of individual personal views. Children and young people in our society are central to everything we do, and we must support every child regardless of their background to ensure they have the opportunity to choose their own future.
“The lively debate and dialogue which was evident at the Youth Congress reinforces we have a new generation who are keen to make a positive difference not only to their lives but to the lives of others. I commend everyone involved and look forward to welcoming many of them back to Parliament Buildings in the future should they decide to pursue a career in politics.”
The Congress attended by over 100 young people was Chaired by the Speaker of the Assembly Mitchell McLaughlin MLA.


Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, has commended women’s rights activists across Ireland for taking part in the global ‘16 Days of Action’ to stop violence against women. The 16 days begin today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and end on 10 December, Human Rights Day.

Ms Boylan said: “The level of violence against women in Ireland is simply unacceptable in 2015. One in five women in Ireland has experienced physical or sexual violence. One in five women have been abused by a current or former partner at some stage in their lives.

“Awareness campaigns such as the 16 Days of Action are vital in challenging the still too common attitude in the community that violence against women is a family or social issue, as opposed to a criminal issue.

“But we need far more than that. I welcome the Irish government’s signing of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women earlier this month, but I am frankly dismayed by the fact that the government dragged its heels on doing so for so long, making Ireland one of the last member states in the EU to sign up.

“It was forced to act only after a scathing report on Ireland’s record on women’s rights by the United Nations and a strong campaign for ratification led by organisations such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Women’s Aid and Amnesty International.

“The Istanbul Convention criminalises forced marriage, female genital mutilation, stalking and physical, psychological and sexual violence. It outlines the need for the provision of 24-hour shelters, medical care, helplines and legal aid for survivors.

“Now that the government has signed the Convention, its ratification and implementation must be given the highest priority.

“For example, the Convention states that there should be one family refuge per 10,000 of the population, a target Ireland is far behind. We only have one-third of this number, and government cuts to local services are exacerbating the situation when instead we need to see a serious financial commitment.

“We also need to see the Garda granted increased powers to issue emergency barring orders from the family home against a perpetrator of violence to provide immediate protection to the victim.

“During these 16 Days of Action, my Sinn Féin colleagues and I across the country will be raising awareness in the community on the need for the swift ratification and implementation of the best practice outlined in the Convention, and the need for a thoroughgoing change in attitudes among all sectors of the community.” ENDS


Speaking following the resignation of IFA president, Eddie Downey, Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has said: “I believe that Eddie Downey had no choice after the revelations of the past week”.

He added:

“My sincere hope is that the association can recover and go back to the role for which it was founded: to represent Irish farmers.

“As a member of the IFA and as a public representative, I am disappointed and angry at the apparent sense of entitlement which seems to have been prevalent in Bluebell.

“The majority of Irish farmers are having a hard time now and in the recent past. Many of them are struggling to survive on small incomes and frankly, I don't believe that people earning a fortune are sufficiently in touch with their reality to adequately represent them.

“I sincerely hope that a newly-reformed association can go back to doing the job it is meant to do.”


Sinn Féin TD and Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris has echoed criticism made by the President of the European Milk Board of former Minister and now EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Mr. Romuald Schaber has said that recent comments from the Commissioner have betrayed ‘a lack of expertise in the field of agriculture’. Deputy Ferris has said that it is further evidence that his fears around Phil Hogan’s suitability for the post were justified.

The Kerry North TD said:

“In a period of extreme difficulty for Irish dairy farmers, it would appear that one of their greatest obstacles is tragically an EU Commissioner for Agriculture from Ireland. It is astonishing that the Commissioner recently said that not many farmers were producing milk below cost, and that if they were, they would simply stop producing milk.

“Dairy farmers cannot simply choose to produce less milk from day to day. It is a unique form of production and Phil Hogan does not seem to be aware of this. It is deeply worrying that a Commissioner for Agriculture would be so blind to the realities of one of the largest sectors of agriculture across the EU.

“Phil Hogan is proving to be as bad in Europe as he was in Ireland. I have long held worries about his suitability, as have many others in Sinn Féin. When my colleagues in the European Parliament voiced these concerns at the time of Hogan’s nomination, they were dismissed by Fine Gael as ‘ludicrous and opportunistic’. Now it is the turn of dairy farmers to be treated with such casual disregard.

“The only course of action is clear. Phil Hogan must resign his position before more farmers suffer the brunt of his bad policy and lose their livelihoods.” 


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said he is disappointed that once again Fine Gael and Labour have voted down an amendment to the Finance Bill in support of future Budgets being subject to Equality Budgeting.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Once again this year, Sinn Féin tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill seeking a commitment to full Equality Budgeting for future years and once again the government rejected it.

“The OECD recently slammed the budgetary process in the Oireachtas. It is therefore all the more disappointing this year that, after five years, the government has no intention of offering its budgets up for independent analysis looking at its effects on people by age, marital status, gender, income and a range of other statuses.

“The government has a right to introduce whatever budget it wants but the equality budgeting process should put an end to the spin and allow the facts of how a Budget has affected the Irish people and sections of it to be seen. Nobody should fear Equality Budgeting. The government reaction against it once again shows that they fear an independent light being shown on their decisions that would help the public cut through the political spin.” 


Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the proposal coming out of the Westminster Autumn review for the establishment of a new Derry/Dublin air service.

Raymond McCartney said:

“While the focus will rightly be on the British Chancellor’s u-turn on tax credits in the Autumn review it also contained proposals for new air routes including Derry/Dublin. The majority of funding for a new Derry-Dublin route would be under the Regional Access Connectivity Fund (RACF) being offered by the Department of Transport in Westminster.

“This is a welcome development for Derry and the North West economy. Sinn Féin has long maintained that connectivity between Derry and the major centres of population including Dublin is crucial if we are to achieve our full potential for economic development.

“As part of our lobbying for infrastructural development a Sinn Féin delegation led by deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA and Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Elisha McCallion met recently with City of Derry Airport (CODA)  management to discuss additional routes including reinstating a Derry/Dublin service.

“Sinn Féin representatives on the Joint Oireachtas Committee for the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement are also pro-actively lobbying in support of the CODA request for the Irish Government to match the contribution by Westminster for the Derry / Dublin air service. Following today’s proposal the Irish government must now act to serve the North-West of Ireland and citizens of the Derry/Donegal region by approving the match funding requested by CODA. 

“It is encouraging that today’s proposal brings achievement of this service one step closer.”


Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has accused the government of putting lives at risk by its failure to put in place a 21st century water treatment system for the country.   Speaking on foot of the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waste Water Report for 2014, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The EPA’s Urban Waste Water Report makes for shocking reading. It shows that raw sewage is being discharged into at least forty-five rivers, lakes and beaches around the country.

“This clearly has serious public health implications and in regions that are heavily dependent on tourism it has the potential to damage the local economy. Raw untreated sewage is also very damaging for already hard pressed coastal communities and the aquatic environment.

 “The ongoing saga with the shambolic entity of Irish Water and the continued lack of investment in the country’s water infrastructure is a damming indictment of this government. The government’s spin on Irish Water is fooling no one as the failure to provide water treatment plants to the people of Carraroe, Spiddal, and Athenry speaks for itself.

“It seems that Fine Gael and Labour prefer to spend tax payer’s money on the inflated salaries of senior Irish Water officials rather than on ensuring the quality of the nation’s water.”  


Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, speaking from Strasbourg, has stated that the European Parliament's special TAXE Report was an elaborate PR Stunt which was weak on matters of importance such as the need for full transparency while simultaneously attacking the principal of national sovereignty on taxation matters.

Carthy, a member of the European Parliament's Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, was speaking after Sinn Féin voted against the TAXE Report in the plenary.

Carthy stated:

"It does not serve the interests of the ordinary Irish citizen to have our sovereignty relinquished through any attempted tax harmonisation. It is absolutely and fundamentally the right of the Government of each member state to legislate in the best interests of their citizens, particulary in the setting of rax rates.

"The report provided an opportunity for parliament to demand transparency and accountability in both the European and International Taxation system, but the majority of MEPs rejected measures that would have facilitated this.

"Instead, they adopted a number of disconcerting provisions which fundementaly undermine taxation sovereignty.

"Sinn Féin want tax fairness and transparency to be placed at the centre of any Taxation Legislation and this extends to ensuring that a more equitable Corporate Tax System is implemented. But all matters relating to the setting of tax Rates must remain a matter of national competency and the European Parliament has no right to attempt to attack sovereignty in this way.

Carthy concluded

"I will continue to demand that genuine and credible actions are taken around corporate tax evasion, specifically in relation to the evidence which suggests that the effective rate of tax paid by multinational and large corporations is in fact much lower than the 12.5 per cent headline rate.

"There is now a big job of work for Ireland to develop an equitable & transparent corporate tax regime where multinationals cannot exploit our system to avoid paying their fair share of tax while at the same time ensuring that at all times that Irish sovereignty is protected.



Speaking at the Banking and Finance Committee today, Sinn Féin Deputy Finance Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín stated ‘the banking sector is dysfunctional in this state.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“85% of the market is concentrated in two pillar banks. This gives incredible seller power to these banks which can be abused in terms of mortgage interest rates, mortgage arrears, lending and customer service. It means that they can call the shots in every aspects of their interaction with customers.

“We have a crisis within the property market. Supply is glacial compared to demand. We have a crisis within lending to small business. The government have created a whole ecosystem of new lending facilities to small business which have received really low take up due to them being funnelled through the two pillar banks. We also have a serious problem with regards money lenders charging impossible rates of interest to low income families.

“On the other side of the equation, we have the Credit Union sector who came through the banking crisis remarkably well and who have €13 billion of assets. Today in Committee they spoke of threats to their sector and how they could be doing a lot more if allowed to do so. It is clear to me that the government have put an illogical brake on the sector preventing it evolving to meet the needs of citizens. Robust regulation is a must. That’s not in question. The question is does this government want the Credit Union sector to play a full and fruitful role in the lives of the community or to push them to margins.” 


Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the DUP policy of in-out politics seems to be continuing over the party’s position on EU membership.

Speaking after Sammy Wilson called the British government’s position “pathetic” while attending a “Leave the EU” event with Nigel Farage Ms Anderson said:

“The DUP policy of playing a game of in-out politics seems to be alive and well, this time with confusion over their in-out position on EU membership. 

“Senior DUP MP Sammy Wilson has called the British governments position on renegotiation Britain position in the Europe as “pathetic” while posing for photographs with UKIP leader Nigel Farage at a Leave the EU event.

“This flies in the face of Arlene Foster and Peter Robinson selling the North as the gateway to Europe. Alongside this Peter Robinson has stated that a vote to leave the EU would potentially damage the local economy.   

“Sinn Féin have been clear. It is abundantly clear that any exit will have huge implications on our agricultural sectors, our fisheries, exports and inward investment. It simply does not make economic sense to leave the EU.

“The DUP now need to be clear with our people and all the sectors who receive European funding. Do they support an EU exit or not. Do they want to represent their Tory friends in Westminster, UKIP or local people who are net recipients of EU funding.”


Sinn Féin MLA and Finance spokesperson Daithí McKay has stated that the outworking’s of todays Tory Autumn Statement will see a real term 5.3% reduction in spending for the North of Ireland. 

Speaking today Mr McKay said: 

“The outworking of George Osborne’s Autumn statement will see a real terms decease in spending ability of over 5% in the North. 

“When we need to boost our economy the continual hollowing out of budgets by the Tories will lead to a further flat lining of economic growth in the north.

“This will undoubtedly put further pressure on already stretched public services and job creation opportunities. 

“We need to see fiscal policies that will stimulate the economy and it is quite clear that the Tories obsession with their cuts ideology is more important to them than economic realities and peoples jobs and livelihoods.” 

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