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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the homeless figures for Louth and across the state as "deeply depressing and evidence of the absolute failure of the Government to properly and effectively tackle the homeless crisis. He then called on Minister Coveney to bring forward the launch of his vacant homes strategy. 

Gerry Adams said: 

“While the homelessness statistics for last month (February) show a slight decline in Louth, across the state there has been another significant increase in those forced into homelessness by the failed politics of the Government. 

"The homelessness figures for February show that there are 105 adults homeless in the North East, of whom 104 are in Louth. In the North-East there are 67 men and 38 women homeless. According to the figures produced by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government there are also 10 families, including 5 which are single parents, with 17 children, all homeless in the North East. 

"Across the state the number of people in emergency accommodation reached a new record high of 7,421 in February. This is an increase of 254 or 3.5%. The number of children experiencing homelessness has risen from 2,407 to 2,546. This is 35% increase in child homelessness on the same period in 2016. 

"The homelessness crisis in Louth and across the state continues to deepen. The reality is that contrary to Minister Coveney’s claims his policies are not stemming the flow of people into homelessness. He made a commitment that no families would be living in hotels and B&Bs by July this year. We are almost into April and the problem grows worse. The promised rapid build homes promoted as a means to house families have not yet materialised and are significantly behind schedule. 

"The Minister needs to urgently review his current plan. With his own deadline looming Minister Coveney must bring forward the launch of his vacant homes strategy. This must contain an ambitious, well-funded acquisitions programme.  He must also increase funding for Housing First tenancies. We need a minimum of 1,000 new Housing First tenancies this year.” 

  

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Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan has called for open civic debate about the successes and failures of the European Union sixty years on from the occasion which paved the way for the creation of the EU as we know it today.

MEP Boylan said:

“This weekend marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which brought about the creation of the European Economic Community and eventually paved the way for the creation of the EU as it is today. The anniversary offers all Member States the perfect opportunity to engage in wide-ranging civic debate on what the EU means to them, what they see as its successes and failures, and the future direction of the EU.

“There has no doubt been great successes of the EU, doubtless there have been failures too. We should celebrate the relative peace and prosperity that has been brought to Europe since the treaty. However, there should be no blurring of what this treaty did sixty years ago and the EU of today.

“We cannot on one hand celebrate prosperity and advancement without criticising the inequality and poverty that have been created through the EU austerity agenda, neo-liberal policies and extreme free-market based approach to trade.

“Similarly, we cannot celebrate the relative peace that was brought to the Europe without assessing the current unrelenting push for the militarisation of Europe at all levels, from coordinated security and defence policy through to an EU army. 

“In spite of all backslapping of EU leaders and commissioners, for many citizens around Europe the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome will be a reminder of what the EU should be and still can be - a peaceful, prosperous, social, and benevolent union of Member States. 

“Such a project will take time and effort, most of all it will require the EU to move away from the direction it has been arrogantly and ignorantly heading in past decades. It is imperative that this is done.

“Now is not a time for naval gazing, it is a time for open, critical civic debate about the EU and its future to achieve the social and caring Europe that was originally envisioned."

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Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, Martin Kenny TD, today criticised the proposals from Ulster Bank to close branch offices all over the country.

Deputy Kenny said:

“The closure of these branches, about a fifth of the branches Ulster Bank has in the country, is another nail in the coffin of rural areas.

“In the face of government inaction, more and more essential services are being withdrawn from rural Ireland and the claim that online functions replace real, live human beings in a branch office, is laughable in parts of my own constituency with a lack of broadband coverage.

“In my constituency and surrounding counties, there are branches closing in Ardara, Co Donegal; Arva, Co Cavan; Ballymote, Co Sligo; Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan;  Cootehill, Co Cavan; Edgeworthstown, Co Longford and Raphoe, Co Donegal.

“If this government and its Fianna Fáil props continue with their policies of stripping all facilities from small towns and villages, depopulation will follow and the decline of rural Ireland will continue.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said today that British Secetary of State James Brokenshire needs to bring forward substantial proposals on implementing agreements rather than indulging himself in pep talks.

Conor Murphy said:

“The talks are in a critical period. The clock is ticking and there can be no return to direct rule.

“Sinn Féin are in Stormont today. A deal is possible, the agreements are already in place, what’s required is their implementation.

“The British government are offering pep talks but what’s required are substantial proposals from the British government and the DUP on implementing agreements. 

“The British government’s failure to seriously engage in these talks means that a deal at this time is infinitely more difficult and it’s time for the Irish government to step up to the plate to hold them to account.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew said a picture erected in Moygashel stands in stark contrast to the dignity and respect shown for Martin McGuinness yesterday. 

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA said:

“This picture stands in direct contrast to the events yesterday where tens of thousands came from across Ireland and the globe to pay respects to a political leader in a dignified manner.

“No one did more for the peace process than Martin McGuinness.

“His outreach to everyone regardless of race, gender, class, religion or sexuality was an example to us all and he continually worked to build a better society based on respect, tolerance and equality.

“There is a family mourning the loss of their husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and indeed many mourning the loss of a friend.

“I condemn this vile behaviour in the strongest way possible. Actions like this cause concerns and problems for society."

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According to the latest figures released by the Department of Housing, there has been an increase of 22% in families presenting as homeless in the South-West region which includes Cork City, Cork County and Kerry.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire expressed his concern at these latest figures, and questioned whether or not Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s proposals to end homelessness are adequate.

The Cork South-Central TD said;

“The most recent figures are quite worrying, and these increases seem to be consistent nationally. It also begs the question as to whether or not plans to end homelessness by Minister Coveney are backed the ability to do so.

“Despite the efforts of Minister Coveney, the latest increases are indicative that proposals put forward by the Minister are not working.

“Homelessness is being normalised, rather than viewed as a chronic ill of society.

“This in itself is worrying, indeed it is an indictment, and shows a severe lack of action on this front.

“Cork City’s homeless figures are at crisis levels for some time now, and the spiralling numbers of families entering emergency accommodation have services bursting at the seams.

“Major cities and towns require a new radical approach to tackling homelessness. My colleague Eoin Ó Broin TD has outlined many suggestions as to how the Minister could be more proactive.

“Rent certainty is something which could provide families that find themselves in these situations with some relief.

“Additionally, promises to review insolvency thresholds and set up a new Special Mortgages Court sit on the legislative programme six months after they were due to be published. They must be acted on.” 

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the February homelessness figures which show that 7,421 people are now living in emergency accommodation.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Unfortunately, the homelessness figures for February show the problem is worsening. In January 2017, there were 4,760 adults in emergency accommodation; this month, there are 4,875 adults living in emergency accommodation.  This represents an increase of 254 on January of this year and a 27% increase in twelve months.

“The number of homeless families has increased from 1,172 in January 2017 to 1,239 in February. The number of homeless adults recorded for February 2017 has increased from 4,760 to 4,875.

“I welcomed last month that there was a slight dip in child homelessness. However, this trend has reversed. There are now 2, 546 children sleeping in emergency accommodation. This is 35% increase in child homelessness on the same period in 2016 and an increase of 157 from January this year, where the number of homeless children stood at 2,407.

“Contrary to claims Minister Simon Coveney made last month, his policies are not stemming the flow of people into homelessness. He made a commitment that no families would be living in hotels and B&Bs by July this year. With each month that passes, it becomes more improbable that the Minister will keep this promise. The promised rapid build homes promoted as a means to house families have not yet materialised and are significantly behind schedule.

“I am calling on the Minister to review his current plan and to adopt a more urgent approach. With his own deadline looming he must bring forward the launch of his vacant homes strategy. This should contain an ambitious, well-funded acquisitions programme.  He must also increase funding for Housing First tenancies. We need a minimum of 1,000 new Housing First tenancies this year.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has again raised the matter of council landbanks in County Louth in the Dáil. Questioning Damien English TD, Minister of State in the Department of Housing, she asked whether the Minister’s department had completed collating the data for the landbanks available for housing and criticised the lack of progress in delivering housing for the people of Louth.

Deputy Munster said:

“The situation in County Louth is shocking, and given the scale of the housing crisis I am sure that is replicated right across the State. There are almost 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in County Louth, many of whom have been waiting more than nine years to be housed. The number of applicants on the housing waiting lists exceeds the entire supply of council-owned housing stock in County Louth, which is a shocking statistic to bring to the attention of the House.

“Meanwhile, there are 54 acres of council-zoned landbanks throughout the county on which Louth County Council pays €3 million a year in interest only for the loans. Citizens are deprived of vital services and amenities because the council must pay such an amount in interest, while the land lies idle and barren as not a single house has yet been built.”

Deputy Munster also criticised the Government’s slow progress in rolling out a proper social housing scheme, 8 months on from the launch of the Rebuilding Ireland document.

“We are now over eight months on from the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, and the Government has still not completed the mapping of the local authority landbanks. This should have been completed a long time ago, long before the publication of Rebuilding Ireland. It beggars belief that in the middle of a housing crisis the Minister had not ascertained what land belonged to local authorities across the State.

 “The Minister of State indicated there are 26 different projects, but only six are being done by the local authority. The rest are from public-private partnerships and approved housing bodies. With the six developments, there will be a total of 123 homes over the next two to three years. There are 4,000 people on the housing list.

“Of those 123 homes, 20 have an unknown date of completion, seven are regeneration projects and 24 come from the acquisition of vacant units. There are three renovations included in that figure.

“The Government seems to be saying that Louth should be happy enough with 123 houses, with only a certain number being newly built, over the next three to four years, in the middle of a housing emergency.

“It is clear as a bell that the Government's entire policy to solve the housing crisis is developer-led and developer-driven and completely ineffective.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described the continued incarceration of Ibrahim Halawa as “a blatant violation of his human rights.”

Speaking from Stormont Castle, where he is participating in negotiations, Teachta Adams said;

“Ibrahim appeared in court earlier this week in a wheelchair. It is also believed he is suffering greatly as a result of ulceration of the skin due to fly-bites.

“This is a very painful and serious condition. Ibrahim is very sick.

“After more than three years, the Egyptian state has failed to produce any evidence against Ibrahim. The state’s technical report doesn’t even mention Ibrahim.

“The continued incarceration of Ibrahim Halawa is vindictive and cruel. It is a blatant violation of his human rights.

“President Sisi must now consent to Ibrahim’s release. He can do so today, either through the use of Presidential decree or through a Youth Amnesty.

“There is no impediment to securing Ibrahim’s freedom other than the will of the Egyptian state.

 “Every day that Ibrahim spends in jail is another day needlessly taken from his life.

“The Irish Government must now consider taking a legal challenge against Ibrahim’s continued imprisonment as their diplomatic efforts have fallen on deaf ears.” 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has reacted to the HIQA report into ambulance capacity by demanding “urgent action and investment”.

Speaking today, Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The HIQA report published today shows that speedy reforms are needed.

“The report gives a damning indictment of Government inaction on this issue and shockingly states that significant shortcomings in Dublin are putting patients’ lives at risk. The national picture is no better with stories coming in every day of patients left stranded waiting on an ambulance. 

“This report should act as a wake-up call for the Minister for Health Simon Harris that swift action is needed to ensure that the best quality ambulance services are available all over the country.  

“How many more reports of this kind will it take for the Government to do something about this chaos?

“The people deserve an operational, properly funded and well-resourced ambulance service that is fit for purpose. They are clearly not getting that. 

“The issues regarding closer cooperation between the NAS and the Dublin Fire Brigade have been well flagged and need to be dealt with.  We cannot continue to have a situation in Dublin where there are lengthy delays for patients and we must ensure that the DFB service is protected and enhanced where necessary and that all agencies providing ambulance cover for Dublin are working well together.

 “Communities across the country should not have to experience long and dangerous delays waiting for ambulances. The paramedics and frontline personnel want to ensure quality of care and patient safety and this cannot happen without these commitments in terms of resourcing being followed through on.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has reiterated the calls of his party colleagues on both the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Health Simon Harris to work speedily on the gaining of accessibility of the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.

The Cork South-Central TD raised the issue directly with the Taoiseach on the floor of the Dáil on Wednesday afternoon last.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said:

“I have a specific question on the programme for Government commitment to tackling the current challenges in health. Cystic fibrosis is one such challenge. With 1,200 people in Ireland suffering from the condition, we have one of the highest rates of cystic fibrosis in the developed world.

“Will the Taoiseach update the House on the current status of negotiations with Vertex on the availability of Orkambi and the extension of specialist therapies?

The Taoiseach responded by stating that he expected discussions between Simon Harris and companies involved in its manufacture would conclude in a matter of weeks.

Afterwards, Deputy Ó Laoghaire stated:

“As I had said in the chamber, there are 1,200 people throughout the state that would expect to see significant health benefits on the back of Orkambi being commercially available.

“The plight these people face on a day to day basis is unimaginable, and this should not be the case when such a drug is known that would impact on their lives in an extremely positive way.

“The Taoiseach has been saying negotiations would be concluded within a matter of weeks, for months now. I hope it is actually imminent.  

“The need for sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis to have access to Orkambi has trundled on for quite some months now, and both the Taoiseach and Minister Harris should work with a matter of urgency, allowing patients to have an increased standard of living.  

“This should be a top priority on both their parts.” 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has called for Minister Shane Ross to consider a review of the services provided by the Coast Guard in light of reports of frustrations within the service at a lack of resourcing and the fact that the service is not on a legislative footing.

Deputy Munster said:

“Now, more than ever, we are aware of the important, often dangerous, and admirable work of the Coast Guard. No one can deny the important work which it carries out.

“In recent times however, senior members of the Coast Guard have expressed frustration at the lack of the funding available to them from the Department of Transport and, for some time now, members of the voluntary branch of the service have made requests seeking to put the Coast Guard on a legislative footing.

“There is a complete lack of legislation on the Coast Guard. It is the only one of the blue light services not on a proper legislative footing. The Minister has stated before that the volunteer element of the Coast Guard is seeking legislation but I think it goes further than that. There are many issues with the Coast Guard. I think a review of the services and their needs is in order.

“If members of the Coast Guard itself and the volunteers are putting to the Minister the need to be put on a legislative footing, and if they are also raising issues with the lack of resources and support that they feel they are getting from the Department of Transport, that should be enough to warrant the Minister agreeing to a review.

“We trust these volunteers and staff members with our lives every single day of the year. We should listen to them when they draw attention to problems in the Coast Guard.”

Deputy Munster asked Minister Ross if he would be willing to meet with members of the Coast Guard to discuss issues facing the service at present, and he indicated that he would be willing to participate in such a meeting.

“I am happy to hear that the Minister is open to a meeting, and I hope that these matters can be resolved through engagement between the service and the Minister and his department.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has spoken out in support of Bus Éireann workers who began strike action today.

Deputy Tóibín said that, while difficulties experienced by those using the service are deeply regrettable, this course of action was an inevitable consequence of the insidious Government policy to undermine public services.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Right around the world, there is a significant migration of wealth from the 90% to the 10%. The richest 85 people on the planet have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people. This is leading to unrest and instability around the world. This is happening for a number of reasons. One of those is the continued attack on wages and working conditions of ordinary workers. Workers such as those in Bus Éireann and Tesco find that through no fault of their won their pay and conditions are being hammered.  

“Ideologues such as Shane Ross are helping to drive this change by undermining markets with excess supply capacity until the workers within no longer have enough income to pay for the ordinary costs of life such as rent, mortgages, and raising their children. What sense does it make to push families into surviving on Family Income Support?

“This current crisis has not come about by accident. Bus Éireann are not being allowed to compete on a level playing field with private contractors. I questioned the CEO of the National Transport Authority when she appeared before Committee last month. She admitted that private transport providers were not obliged to accept the travel passes, and that private transport providers do not serve the same number of villages and towns as our public transport system.

“Years of under-subvention is coming home to roost. It’s worth noting that our public transport network receives the lowest subvention in Europe. It’s clear to me that Minister Ross is not wasting this crisis and is opportunistically widening the private sector involvement in this sector.

“Public transport is a vital service, and can be a lifeline for those living in regional and rural Ireland. We are witnessing a decimation of routes both rural and urban.  Despite the frustration the public feel for such disruption in their lives, the blame must be focused solely on those who created this crisis, the Government’s sneaky privatisation plans and Minister Ross’s total inaction on resolving the matter.” 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Government must address the chaos in our hospital emergency wards.

Deputy O’Reilly made the comments on the back of a report from the INMO Trolley Watch campaign which saw upwards of 500 patients on trolleys this week.

Speaking in her constituency today, the Dublin Fingal TD called for solutions to the crisis, saying:

“The people currently lying on trolleys in our A&Es, their families, and loved ones don’t want any more hand wringing from Government and so-called opposition parties. They want someone to step up and fix the chaos in our health services.

“This week saw upwards of 500 people on trolleys in our hospital corridors.

“According to the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, 53 people are waiting in Limerick University Hospital, with 23 people on trolleys and 30 patients in overflow wards.

“Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar has 33 people waiting, while there are 29 patients waiting for beds in South Tipperary General Hospital. Overall, there are 249 patients on hospital trolleys today with 114 in overflow wards.

“This trolley crisis is a symptom of a health system in chaos and a Minister who is out of his depth and unable to deal with it. This cannot be allowed to continue. We need to stop and fix it.

“The Government must, as a matter of urgency, establish an Emergency Department Taskforce on a permanent basis to deal with the crisis at hand. We must increase the number of hospital beds, nursing home beds, and home help hours. We must also invest in community services, the under-resourcing of which means that people end up in hospital when they could and should be cared for in the community.

“Above all, we need political will to end this crisis. We must recruit, reform, and invest in our health services as a matter of urgency.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane said today that the HSE and Tony O'Brien continue to obfuscate when dealing with the Public Accounts Committee and patience is running out.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“Last year, Tony O'Brien was asked by the Public Accounts Committee whether people involved with the Grace case still worked in the public service and yesterday, after thirteen months, we finally got an answer.

“Two of the people involved are currently working with the child agency, Tusla.

“Mr O’Brien also admitted that the decision not to publish the report in 2012 or 2013 was an internal HSE decision.

“It was only in April 2015 that an Garda Síochána wrote to the HSE to request they hold off on publication.

“Yesterday, I found Mr O'Brien to be a frustrating and hostile witness.

“It was only after persistent questioning from myself that Mr O’Brien told the Committee that H6 of the Devine Report is currently on the payroll of a public service body.

“One of the allegations that hangs over the entire Grace case is that the HSE was involved in a cover-up.

“Rightly or wrongly, that is also the public perception at this time.

“The HSE has to ask itself at this stage whether Mr O’Brien’s recent appearances before the Public Accounts Committee strengthen or weaken that perception.

“His continued obfuscation is a serious matter for the Committee and they will have to be discussed next week.” 

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Speaking after 220 jobs losses were announced by Ulster Bank, Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Maurice Quinlivan has called out Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, on her silence about mounting job losses announced all over the country in the past number of weeks.

The Limerick TD said:

“Ulster Bank’s announcement of 220 job losses and its closure of 22 branches, 2 of which are located in Limerick, is terrible news for staff, and residents who depend on these branches in their local areas. Ulster Bank made a profit of €280m in Ireland in 2016. Against this backdrop, it is hard to comprehend the closure of so many branches, and the loss of over 200 staff.

“These job losses are going to have an immediate negative impact on workers and their families, but also on the local economy and availability of services. I know personally that many people depend on the branches in Castletroy and Newcastle West for their banking needs, and this closure will mean Ulster Bank will no longer have a presence in Limerick outside the city.

“These 220 job losses come in addition to 500 at HP Inc., 200 at RTÉ, 210 at Coty, 50 at Coca Cola, and 25 at ProTek Medial in Sligo, all in the last 6 weeks. The Minister needs to act now to assist companies already located in Ireland that are struggling, and outline what plans she has in place to help those made redundant. This pattern of job losses needs to be addressed as a priority.

“In addition to this, the Minister is allowing the closure of the ConnectIreland initiative this week, which is successfully bringing jobs to rural Ireland through the use of the Irish diaspora.

“The silence from the Minister on this is deafening, she needs to outline what her plan is to stop the haemorrhaging of job losses and take action now before more jobs are lost.” 

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Members of SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union placed pickets at Colbert Station early on Friday morning in response to a decision by Bus Éireann management to impose €12 million of cuts to pay and services.

Speaking from the picket in Limerick today, Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said:

“I visited the picket today along with Senator Paul Gavan and local Councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh at Colbert Station today to offer our support and they are very angry that they have been forced in this strike.

“Minister Shane Ross and the Fine Gael party are hell bent on taking our national bus company down the path of wage cuts, service cuts, and privatisation. This has been official party policy for Fine Gael since their 2011 manifesto pledge to open all bus routes to competition.

“In addition, the current Public Service Obligation subvention is wholly inadequate. I am calling on Minister Ross to come out of hiding, face up to his responsibilities and do the job he is being paid for.

“Fianna Fáil also have a role here; they are propping up this Government and this appalling Minister. I am calling on all elected representatives to demand that Minister Ross intervene now. These workers and the travelling public have already suffered enough.

“The Government need to immediately solve the immediate funding crisis before embarking on meaningful negotiations with all stakeholders to secure the long term future of our public bus service.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today said that public confidence in the management of An Garda Síochána will be further eroded by the revelations around wrongful convictions for motoring offences and major discrepancies in the recording of breath tests on the Pulse system.

Teachta Adams said;

“Public confidence in the senior management of An Garda Síochána is already on the floor following the dreadful treatment of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

“Confidence will be further eroded by the news that approximately 14,700 people have been mistakenly convicted of motoring offences, while only half of the breath tests recorded on the Pulse System were actually carried out.

“In recent years, there have been a litany of problems associated with the Garda, including the original penalty-points scandal, the controversy surrounding the tapping of phone calls at Garda stations, and the smear campaigns waged against whistleblowers who were trying to hold the force to a higher standard.

“As well as the resignation of a Minister for Justice, the departures of a Garda Commissioner and a General Secretary of the Department of Justice, and the sacking of a confidential recipient, there are now numerous commissions of investigation on-going in relation to matters of policing and justice.

“The latest revelations come as part of what is a never-ending crisis. It is a mess. The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said that she is concerned. This is not good enough. The Minister must demand a comprehensive explanation from Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan about this latest debacle. The Minister must also make a detailed statement to the Dáil.

“The matter should also be referred to the Public Accounts Committee as the state will have to cover the costs of this fiasco.

“All of these issues go to the very heart of public expectation and confidence in the integrity of our policing and justice systems. That necessary confidence in Garda Management does not exist at this time.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis, speaking in Leinster House this week, called on support for the Sinn Féin motion to set up a truth commission which would establish the truth of what practices took place in Mother and Baby Homes and other institutions and called for other parties to support the bill. 

Deputy Ellis said:

“The atmosphere and climate in these institutions was allowed due to this States failure. And let us remember who were in these institutions.; it was young women and children, young girls who, as Austin Clarke in his 1963 poem said, were left to ‘cook, sew, wash, dig, milk cows, clean stables and, twice a day, giving their babes the teat’.

“There have been many failures over the years in relation to how this State has dealt with the legacies of abdicating its responsibilities for the welfare of mothers and babies to religious organisations. The lack of overview and regulation, the failure of addressing concerns raised over the years as to what was happening in these homes and when it became more than apparent that there was serious abuses occurring and had occurred, the state stood frozen, silently wringing its hands and muttering platitudes while still doffing its cap to the religious who successfully evaded answering or taking responsibility for the actions of its members who carried out these abuses.

“At this moment,  the State has to date failed to initiate a meaningful process that would help obtain the truth for survivors, nor has it provided a suitable forum that would allow the full story of these institutions and the system that underpinned them to be made public. Considering the long line of failure in regards to these institutions, we are introducing this Private Members Bill calling for a truth commission to be established to allow the state to break that cycle of failure and start the process of a truthful discourse of a shameful past.” 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today spoken out in support of Bus Éireann workers who commenced strike action at midnight last night, saying that “workers didn't create this financial crisis. Bad policy and poor management created this crisis.”

Deputy Munster said:

“Public transport is a service just like education and health. This was never about industrial relations or industrial relations dispute. The workers didn't create this financial crisis. Bad policy and poor management created this crisis.”

She also spoke of the policy decisions made by Government which are the cause of the financial crisis in Bus Éireann, and the government’s privatisation agenda.

“Our public transport network faces issues such as the lowest subvention in Europe, the over-saturation of routes caused by issuing of licences to private operators resulting in loss making for our public network, and gross under funding of the Free Travel Pass by the Department of Social Protection all directly contributed to this financial crisis.

“It is abundantly clear that it is now firm government policy to outsource and privatise our public transport network along with a policy of a race to the bottom for workers’ rights, pay and conditions.

“Unions and workers have for months called on Minister Shane Ross to engage with all the stakeholders including the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority, Bus Éireann management and the unions, and he and the Government have repeatedly refused to engage.

“If this Government get away with their plans, we will see a decimation of routes both rural and urban in our public transport network. The Minister needs to accept that this disruption in our public transport is a result of his inaction. He needs to get all the stakeholders around the table to find a resolution.” 

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