Here is the much celebrated video shown at Sinn Féin's An Chéad Dáil event in the Mansion House Round Room on January 12, 2019. Sinn Féin former Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha wrote and presents this historic and inspiring reflection of the events of 100 years ago.
Irish Government must reject British suggestion of dumping nuclear waste in Ireland – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has called on the Irish government to condemn the British government consideration of sites across the North to be used as potential dumping grounds for radioactive nuclear waste.
Carthy said: “Reports that the British government are considering sites across the North, including near Newry, as potential spots to store radioactive waste from its nuclear facilities have appalled locals on both sides of the border. The very idea is sickening and utterly unacceptable.
“Nuclear waste is the most toxic substance on the planet. It remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, and during this time, the material poses deadly threats to all human and animal life and the environment in a large area surrounding it. All it takes is for a geological event such an earthquake or tremor, or human error - which has happened in these storage facilities countless times - for the seal on the material to be broken and the surrounding area to be contaminated.
“Clarity in this matter is important as we do not want to cause any unnecessary alarm among communities. At present, this is a not a direct proposal from the British government to dump radioactive waste near Newry or any site in the North.
“What we have seen to date has been the recent publication of a report for the British government from Radioactive Waste Management, a state-owned company, identifying five locations in the North as possible future locations for dumping nuclear waste. This includes an area of granite bedrock near Newry, stretching from Slieve Gullion to the Mourne Mountains.
“But it is important that we send an early, strong and united signal from our communities rejecting outright any possibility of such a development. It is clear from the video released by Radioactive Waste Management that these sites appear to be the preferred options the British government agency is focused on investigating further.
“I welcome the recent cross-party, unanimous vote in the Newry, Mourne and Down council rejecting this possibility from the outset.
“I would encourage other local authorities on both sides of the border to do the same, to send a clear and unmistakable message to the British government that Irish communities across the island absolutely reject this possibility. We need to demand that these sites stop being ‘investigated’ by the Radioactive Waste Management agency as potential storage areas.
“It is also imperative that the Irish government sends a clear message that it will not tolerate a situation in which any part of Ireland is used as a dumping ground for Britain’s toxic, radioactive nuclear waste.”
Today, the Public Accounts Committee agreed to Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane’s request that Paul Quinn of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and officials of the Department of Health appear before the Committee to answer questions on the National Children’s Hospital debacle. He has also called on the Chair of each sub-committee of the Board to attend. This is essential for public accountability.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“I am happy to say that the PAC at my request has agreed to call Paul Quinn, Chief Procurement Officer at DPER, to appear before the Committee.
“Mr. Quinn served on both the Development and both the Finance and Procurement Sub-committees of the hospital, and as such would have been intimately aware of the overruns at the National Children’s hospital, the escalations, and when and where they happened.
“The public need answer on these issues, and Mr. Quinn should be in a position to provide them.
“I am also happy that the Committee agreed to recall the Dept. of Health before the Committee to also answer questions on the children’s hospital.
“I made it clear that I will not be signing off on any periodical report on the Children’s Hospital until the Department addresses the issues that have come to light in recent weeks.
“None of this would have been necessary if the HSE simply made the minutes and reports of the various committees available at the start.
“Instead, information had to be dragged out of them, and after they had appeared at the PAC.
“This is not good enough.
“I look forward to putting questions to the Chief Procurement Officer and to the Department on this issue in light of the information now available, as well as to the chairs of the relevant sub-committees.
“Accountability is a slow and frustrating process in this State, but eventually we will get there.”
Sinn Féin's Oliver McMullan has said the PSNI need to tackle loyalist paramilitary crime as a matter of urgency.
Oliver McMullan said:
"It appears that loyalist paramilitary gangs were behind the murder of a man in Glenwherry who was shot dead in his home.
"This is the latest in a series of killings carried out by loyalist paramilitary gangs throughout Antrim and further afield.
"There has also been widespread allegations of money laundering, intimidation, racketeering and involvement in the drug trade all connected to loyalist paramilitaries.
"These groups need to disband and get off the back of the community.
"This ongoing paramilitary criminality is a scourge on our society and needs to be tackled urgently by the PSNI.
"I will be contacting the PSNI urgently to discuss their response to this ongoing criminal activity.
Sinn Féin Senator for Mayo Rose Conway-Walsh has welcomed the support for Sinn Féin legislation that would enshrine in law a worker’s right to access their tips earned while working for an employer.
Speaking tonight, Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“The Protection of Employee Tips Bill would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse.
"This Sinn Féin Bill would also require employers to display their tipping policy either on their menu or in another suitable manner so that customers have transparency with regard to whom and how their tip is distributed.
"All this is aimed at helping those workers on a low wage or who have precarious or irregular employment to keep all of what they are entitled to. Customers do not hand over tips lightly and those same tips should not be deducted or withheld for no reason.
"The Bill has received cross-party support and Sinn Féin are pushing for the Bill to be completed through both Houses of the Oireachtas before the busy summer season. To do this we need the support of all parties.
"There has been a great consensus already from trades unions and from many responsible employers themselves.
“Many people are actually surprised to hear that workers do not, in fact, have a legal right to their tips. The public would also be shocked to hear that research produced in 2017 highlights that one-third of all tips are stolen by employers on a regular basis.
"I know many good employers in the hospitality industry and they have nothing to fear from this Bill. There’s no downside to this for anyone, unless you happen to be a bad employer who dips their hand in the tip jar."
Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed indications form the Irish government that additional money will be allocated to support the continued development of the north west city region.
The Foyle MP said:
"Today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for an update on funding for the continued development of the north west city region in Derry and Donegal as part of the Ireland 2040 project.
"I welcome the Taoiseach's reply that he has been working with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council on the development of the north west city region.
"It was also encouraging that he said he imagined he would be able to provide additional funding to the project and that he is keen to continue to support the development of Derry working with Letterkenny as part of the wider north west city region.
"I will also be raising this with Tanáiste Simon Coveney in Leinster House tomorrow to continue to ensure the development of Derry and Donegal and the north west city region remains on the agenda of the Irish government."
Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny has said that Fianna Fáil’s refusal to support Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the health minister, means that Fianna Fáil leasder, Micheál Martin did not want accountability.
Speaking during the Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Minister Simon Harris, Deputy Kenny said:
“Unless some Fianna Fáil Deputies manage to grow a spine in the next half an hour, the Minister will stay in position with their blessing, under Deputy Micheál Martin’s instruction.
“Why does he not want accountability? Maybe it is because he simply does not believe in accountability.
“During his 14 years as a Minister, time and again, Deputy Martin ducked and dived, avoiding accountability at every turn.”
Deputy Kenny then mentioned cronyism in appointing the Irish Blood Transfusion Board, the Hep C scandal and the oversight of the FÁS expenses scandal.
He continued; “The simple reality is Deputy Martin does not believe in accountability in public life nor does Fianna Fáil. His primary legacy is the HSE itself, a body he established, in which he managed to translate his personal failings into an institutional with systemic failings.
"This body continues to affect every man, woman and child in the State and is an organisation behind which every Minister of Health since has hidden when they come into power.
“The motion we are debating tonight seeks to hold the Minister, Deputy Harris to account for his failures. He may, however, quite reasonably look across the Chamber at Deputy Martin and others as the source of many his current woes.
“Tonight it looks like Fianna Fáil will again help to provide cover for a failing Minister. He will again scupper attempts by the real Opposition to provide accountability in Irish public life.”
This evening, Sinn Féin’s Bill to give workers a legal right to their tips successfully passed Committee stage with all-party support.
This simple Bill will make it illegal for employers to steal their workers’ tips and ensure that workers are protected by the law. It will require businesses to display their tipping policy to ensure customers have full transparency as to how their tip will be shared.
Speaking after the debate, Senator Gavan said:
“We are delighted that we have been able to move this Bill through the house to the final stage of proceedings.
“This would not have been possible without the public support of ICTU, SIPTU, Mandate, Unite and the USI.
“We have also had fantastic grassroots support from One Galway and One Cork, community activist groups who have been out on the streets talking to people about the hospitality industry and listening to the horror stories of bad employers stealing workers hard earned tips.
“I also want to give credit to Labour and the Civic Engagement group who have worked with us on this Bill to strengthen the Bill and provide it with the broadest level of support.
“Irish research shows that 1 in 3 workers experience the regular withholding of tips and this must be addressed.
"We understand that most employers are good employers. This Bill will change nothing for them. The only people who have anything to fear, are those employers who dip their hand in the tips jar.
“Sinn Féin will now be looking to move this Bill again through its final stage in the Seanad, to ensure that workers’ have a legal right to their tips before this summer’s busy season.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has expressed condolences following the death of a man on the Drumcoon Road, Coleraine on Wednesday afternoon.
The East Derry MLA said:
“There is a deep sense of shock in the local community at the news that a man has died in a tragic collision on the Drumcoon Road this afternoon.
"Any death on our roads is one too many.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with this man’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.”
Speaking this evening during the debate on the motion of no-confidence in the Minister for Health, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the case is clear that the Minister for Health must go.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The submission of this no-confidence motion was not rushed, it is not vindictive or personalised, this motion was submitted because the scandal of the National Children’s Hospital overspend was the final straw.
“There are those out there in your own party and in the media that somehow think that this motion is unfair.
“When I hear that I wonder if these people have lived under a rock for the past three years, are they being deliberately obtuse, or just plainly partisan.
“Those who say this motion will not build a hospital or reduce waiting lists, nothing this government is doing is currently achieving that either.
“We are not going to stand on the side-lines and let the government off the hook for failing to deliver and presiding over a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
“We were elected to stand up and give a voice to our constituents.
“At least we are using ours, unlike our colleagues in Fianna Fáil who have never understood political accountability.
“What we seek to do here is do what is right in the service of political accountability and the future of our health service.
“This National Children’s Hospital overspend is not an isolated incident, it is one in a series of scandals, mistakes, and failures that have blighted Harris’s ministerial term.
“If the tables were turned, and it was I or any other opposition TD who were in the Minister’s shoes and had presided over the litany of scandals he has presided over, would they vote confidence in us?
“There is not a snowballs chance in hell he would.
“And by extension, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that I’ll be voting confidence in him tonight.
“The Minister for Health must go."
Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA MLA Colm Gildernew welcomes confirmation that a new contractor has been appointed to take over the provision of General Medical Services at Northland Surgery in Dungannon
Colm Gildernew commented: "There was great concern when the surgery reached breaking point so I am sure many of the patients will welcome the news that a new contractor has been appointed. However, many of their concerns remain.
"Primary care, such as GPs, play an invaluable role within our health and social care service. For many their local GP is the first port of call when ill.
"We need to ensure that our GP services get the support they need. This news today will be welcome but many of the pressures within primary care remain.
“I will be contacting HSCB (Health and Social Care Board) to seek assurances they there will be no reduction in services as a result of this new arrangement.”
Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has encouraged applications for the 2019/20 Minority Ethnic Development Fund.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“The Minority Ethnic Development Fund (MEDF) provides support for voluntary and community organisations working with minority ethnic people and groups to assist them in promoting good relations between people of different ethnic backgrounds.
“The funding will be split into three tiers, guidance notes for applicants, which explain the tiers and the criteria for funding in more detail and the application form can be downloaded, on the website www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/racial-equality#toc-3.
“A number of funding seminars have also been arranged to provide further information on the process for potential applicants, they will be held on the following dates 26 February in Holywell DiverseCity Community Partnership, 10-14 Bishop Street, Derry at 11am, 27 February in Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon at 2pm and 4 March in NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast at 2pm.
“The closing time for all applications is 2pm on 21 March 2019.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said said there is growing concern among EU nationals living in the north about the impact of Brexit.
Colm Gildernew said:
"I met with the British government's ambassador to Poland to discuss the concerns of Polish and other EU nationals living in the north over Brexit.
"There is widespread concern among EU nationals living in the north about Brexit and the British government's controversial settlement scheme.
"EU nationals are already leaving the north as a result of concerns over Brexit and more have said they are considering leaving.
"This will impact on a number of sectors locally and employers are already reporting difficulties with recruitment.
"We need to see the backstop, which has already been agreed, protected in order to avoid a hard border and we need to see the interests of Ireland, and the interests of those who have come to work and make their home here, protected."
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has written to an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar seeking clarification on whether he intends to pursue an independent inquiry into failures in audiology services in the west.
Teachta McDonald this afternoon raised the issue of the some 60 families, further to the 49 identified last year, whose children have been left with lifelong impairments because of failures in the system.
The Sinn Féin President accused the Taoiseach of deflection and of evading accountability.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“Every day, we hear of another scandal in our broken health services.
“Today, the Taoiseach said that the latest disaster regarding children failed by audiology services is all down to a mistake made by an individual doctor.
“One incident may be a mistake. However, we are not talking about one incident. We are talking almost 100 children affected, who have been told via letter that they may now have lifelong hearing impairments as a result of failings in the system.
“This is not a mistake – this is gross negligence and I want to know who is going to be held accountable.
“Families don’t want spin. They don’t want closed ranks and they don’t want deflection. The buck has to stop somewhere.
“These families want an independent investigation and crucially, the requisite services needed without delay.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has urged the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to ‘rethink his draconian proposal to suspend housing lists applicants for five years for refusing two offers of Council housing’. The Minister confirmed the proposal during a Dáil debate today.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Today during Oral Questions, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy confirmed he planned to introduce a five year suspension from the housing list for applicants who refuse two offers of Council accommodation.
“This proposal in draconian, unnecessary and should be withdrawn. Today, I urged the Minister to rethink the proposal and to engage with the Oireachtas Housing Committee before proceeding any further.
“Many housing list applicants refuse offers of accommodation for entirely legitimate reasons. What a housing official may deem a reasonable offer may not actually meet the needs of the family.
“Access to schools, public transport, and family support networks for childcare are the most common reasons for refusals. Some applicants also refuse offers in the small number of housing estates that have high levels of criminal and anti-social behaviour. Nobody should be penalised for refusing such inappropriate offers.
“In fact, if all Local Authorities introduced Choice Based Lettings, an online system for allocating social housing operated by 16 Councils, then the problem the Minister believes exists would be dealt with without penalising anyone.
“Choice Based Lettings gives housing applicants an element of choice over where they will live. It also dramatically reduces the time a property is vacant while the allocation process takes place.
“I do not accept that there are large numbers of people frivolously refusing appropriate offers of accommodation. If the Minister has evidence to the contrary, he should present that evidence to the Oireachtas Housing Committee.”
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has accused DUP Leader Arlene Foster of ‘staggering hypocrisy’ after she criticised his party leader Mary-Lou McDonald.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “For Arlene Foster to accuse anyone of undermining due process is quite incredible. This is the same woman who the High Court found had acted unlawfully during her time as First Minister by blocking the Lord Chief Justice’s request for legacy inquest funding.
“If that had happened anywhere else in the world, there would have been an outcry. The courts found that the joint first minister of the government used her position to prevent grieving families from accessing their legal right to an inquest.
“That is absolutely scandalous yet Arlene Foster has never apologised for these actions. Neither has she taken any steps to rectify them so for her to now demand a retraction from Mary-Lou McDonald is staggering hypocrisy.
“Sinn Féin will take no lectures from Arlene Foster, given her track record or actively preventing families from accessing truth and justice.
“And that is what is at the heart of this case. The PSNI’s failure to provide evidence to the Ombudsman on dozens of killings by Loyalist death squads is appalling. Arlene Foster has had nothing to say about that but is quite happy to attack Sinn Féin.
“The Ormeau Road bookies families and other victims of Loyalist death squads have waited over 27 years for truth and justice.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support them and we will continue to oppose any attempt to block truth and justice, whether it comes from the PSNI or Arlene Foster.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the 48% underspend in traveller accommodation budget by local authorities in 2018.
According to information received in response to a parliamentary question only €6.2m out of a total allocation of €12m was drawn by local authorities in 2018.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Information I received yesterday detailed the funding recouped by every local authority in the state on traveller accommodation in 2018.
“The figures are extremely disappointing. Local authorities have only drawn down 52% of the funding allocated and some have spent nothing on traveller accommodation in 2018.
“Ten local authorities spent nothing despite being allocated funding for 2018. These local authorities include Carlow, Cavan, Cork County, Laois, Longford, Mayo, Meath, Westmeath, Wexford and Galway City.
“The majority of local authorities underspent their traveller accommodation allocation. These 14 local authorities include Clare, Donegal, Galway County, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Wicklow, Cork City, Dublin City and Limerick.
“Some Local Authorities did overspend on their budgets and this must also be acknowledged. These include South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Kerry, Waterford and Tipperary.
“Unfortunately the huge underspend in traveller accommodation is becoming a trend now. In 2017 only €4.8m out of a total allocation of €8.7m was drawn by local authorities in 2017.
“Especially when you compare it to 2015 when €4.1m out of a budget of €4.3m was recouped in 2016 when €4.2m out of €5.5 million was spent.
“While Sinn Féin welcomed the creation of the working group to review the Traveller Accommodation Programmes, this is the second year in a row, under Minister Murphy’s watch where the underspend was close to 50%.
“Is the Minister engaging with the Local Authorities who are not spending anything on Traveller Accommodation?
"The Minister must outline what action he is taking to ensure there is not a similar under-spend in 2019. There is no point in putting out a press release stating that the overall budget has increased if it is not being spent.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has accused Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty of misleading the Dáil in relation to the number of jobs sourced through the JobPath service.
Teachta Brady said:
“During the debate on the Sinn Féin Motion regarding JobPath, Minister Doherty stated in her response that “41,000 persons gained a full time job” through the service.
“However, when I sought a breakdown of the 41,000 figure, I received correspondence from Minister Doherty which told me that of the 40,869 job starts, just 11,334 were sustained for over 12 months.
“So, in reality what the Minister means by 40,869 full time jobs is actually 11,334 jobs which lasted for over one year.
“For a scheme that is as successful as Minister Doherty insists, she should be willing to use the actual figures rather than figures which do not represent the reality of job outcomes. Instead, she uses misleading figures without any substance.
“The Dáil has spoken. They have passed the Sinn Féin Motion to end the mandatory nature of JobPath and to end referrals to it. Minister Doherty cannot ignore the democratic wishes of the Dáil. JobPath has failed and it needs to go.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will host a public meeting on Brexit in Maghera in Friday.
Martina Anderson said:
“As part of a series of public engagements on Brexit across the north, on Friday I will host a public meeting on the impact of Brexit in Maghera on Friday.
“The public meeting will be addressed by Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill who will discuss the impact of Brexit and the need for the backstop to be protected and maintained.
“The backstop is the bottom line and stands as an insurance policy for the people of Ireland to prevent the imposition of a hard border.
“We are now at a crucial stage of Brexit and it is essential the EU27 and Irish government stand firm to ensure the interests of Ireland are protected.
“Tory Brexiteers and their allies appear intent on crashing us out of the EU and driving our economy off a cliff.
“In that scenario the people of the north should be given the opportunity to have their say on their own future in line with the Good Friday Agreement through a referendum on Irish unity.
“The public meeting will be held in Walsh’s Hotel, Maghera, on Friday from 9.30 to 1pm and I would encourage as many people as possible to come along.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin can today reveal that Government spent €695,346,000 on various rent subsidy schemes in 2018. The figures, described by the Dublin Mid-West TD as ‘staggering’, were released to Deputy Ó Broin last night in parliamentary questions from the Department of Social Protection and Department of Housing.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“In 2018, Government spent a staggering €695,346,000 in rent subsidies to private landlords and property owners. This colossal sum was paid to house 98,345 households across four schemes administered by two government departments.
“The Department of Social Protection spent €175,340,000 on private landlords for 24,303 tenancies on the Rent Supplement Scheme.
“The Department of Housing spent €100,400,000 housing 11,684 households in long term leased properties on the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme. It spent a further €143,340,000 to house 18,915 households in four year Rental Accommodation Scheme leases.
“The largest area of expenditure was through the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme which cost €276,600,000 to house 43,443 households in short term two year leases.
“This is a massive transfer of public money to private landlords. It represents bad value for money for the taxpayer as well as the ‘casualisation’ of social housing into short term insecure tenancies that are bad for tenants and for communities.
“2019 will see a significant increase in the overall cost of private rental subsidies as the budget for HAP has been increased to €422,729,000. While Rent Supplement costs should fall, this will be offset by expected rises in RAS and SCHEP expenditure. This will bring the total cost of rent subsidies close to €900,000,000 by the end of this year.
“To put this into perspective, the total budget allocation to Local Authorities to build and buy new Council homes in 2018 was €561,670,000 almost 20% less than paid out to private landlords.
“While rental subsidies for low income households are an important part of any stable housing system, they should be short term and declining in number and cost. Instead, what the latest figures highlight is Fine Gael’s over reliance on the private rental sector to meet long term housing need while at the same time underinvesting in real social housing.
“This policy must be urgently reviewed and a plan put in place to reduce the number of subsidised social housing tenancies in the private rental sector. This can only be achieved through a significant increase in the capital budget to local authorities and approved housing bodies to build and buy permanent social homes.”
Note: Please see a table detailing total expenditure below and the relevant PQs attached
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said a review into the PSNI’s failure to provide evidence to the Ombudsman on dozens of killings by Loyalist death squads needs to be thorough, well resourced and cover all disclosure processes for justice agencies.
The party’s policing spokesperson said:
“Failure by the police to disclose key information to investigations by the Police Ombudsman into dozens of killings by loyalist death squads is appalling.
“The Ormeau Road bookies families and other victims of Loyalist death squads have waited over 27 years for truth and justice.
“Many families are now questioning if they will ever get the truth from the PSNI and what exactly is the extent of recent revelations on disclosure.
“The PSNI must be held accountable for their mishandling of legacy cases. Time and time again they are failing victims and their families.
“The Criminal Justice review must not be allowed to further delay the process of disclosure.
“The review needs to be thorough, well resourced, and cover all disclosure processes for justice agencies and must come forward with meaningful recommendations. Justice delay is justice denied.
“The continued denial of truth and justice to victims of the conflict reaffirms the need for an end to the delays in implementing the legacy structures agreed by the two governments and the political parties at Stormont House.
“The British government must end the delay in properly funding the Lord Chief Justice for legacy inquests and adequate funding to the Ombudsman’s Office to carry out its work meet its commitments to provide maximum disclosure to victims of the conflict.”