Welcoming World Refugee Day on June 20th, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD challenged the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to "show real leadership on refugee protection and send an unequivocal message that refugees are welcome here."
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"Minister McDowell has been conducting a war on refugees ever since he assumed office. During the election period he used them as scapegoats for his Government's failure to make adequate provision for healthcare and housing for all in this state. By his public statements he has himself directly contributed to the widespread misperceptions about them as a group. Irish people need to be educated about the conditions these people have fled.
But the Minister has failed in his duty to inform the public of the real facts.
The message the Minister should be sending is that asylum seekers are deserving of compassion - not derision - for having fled situations where their lives were at risk, or where they were wrongly imprisoned or tortured.
"On the occasion of World Refugee Day, I challenge the Minister to show real leadership on refugee protection. I challenge him to stop criminalising refugees, and to stop contributing to widespread misperceptions about them as a group. I challenge him to instead exercise his responsibility to dispel the prevalent myths about refugees and asylum seekers, and about Ireland's role in refugee protection. He must send an unequivocal message that refugees are, in fact, welcome here and will be shown the respect that they deserve.
"I am also calling for an end to the dispersal and direct provision policies which strip asylum-seekers of their dignity and deprive Irish society of their potential contributions to our economy. Many of these people are skilled, educated workers who are prevented from making a valid contribution here while awaiting their refugee status. Other countries issue temporary work permits to allow asylum seekers to work and pay taxes while their applications are in process. There is no reason why we could not do the same.
"It is time for us as a society, in general, to honour our cultural tradition of hospitality and show refugees the welcome and basic respect that every human being deserves. We live in the fourth wealthiest state in the world, so we can well afford to play our part and fulfil our international obligations on refugee protection. I call on all policy makers and public representatives to reflect on this on World Refugee Day." ENDS
Sinn Féin General Secretary Robbie Smyth said "The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle this morning engaged in extensive discussions relating to the role of our MEPs both in the European Parliament and in Ireland following the party's EU election success."
Sinn Féin General Secretary Robbie Smyth said:
"At today's meeting of the Ard Chomhairle we discussed our future engagement within the EU Parliament, including the party's options in terms of the various Parliamentary groupings.
"The Head of the party's International Department, Joan O'Connor, and National Chair Mitchel McLaughlin will travel to Brussels in the next few days, where they will engage with various Parliamentary groupings. They will report back to the Ard Chomhairle in the coming weeks.
"A decision will be taken before the Parliament first meets.
"There are many key challenges facing us in terms of the EU. Of particular concern for Sinn Féin is the proposed EU Constitution and the consequent referenda to be held, the protection of Irish neutrality and opposition to EU militarisation, the safeguarding and promotion of the Irish language, deepening the equality agenda and advancing the Social Agenda, Rural Regeneration and Fisheries policy and issues relating to Irish territorial reintegration, including the crucial All-Ireland agenda.
"Sinn Féin's MEPs will bring a strong all-Ireland voice to the EU institutions, they will make the institutions more real for people and will have a very visible presence in local communities and the political institutions North and South. They will at all times work to protect and enhance the rights and interests of the people of Ireland."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin speaking in Dublin today at the first meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle following the Local Government and European Union election campaigns congratulated the party's election workers and candidates and thanked all those who voted for the party in last week's elections. Mr. McLaughlin said that Sinn Féin's commitment is to deliver on our mandate in local communities, in the European Parliament, in the peace process and in building for Irish unity and independence.
Mr. McLaughlin said:
"Last weekend more than 342,000 people across Ireland vote for Sinn Féin making us the third largest party on the island. This is a tremendous endorsement of our peace strategy, our work in local communities and our analysis of the direction of the European Union. I want to congratulate our election workers and candidates and thank all those who voted for our party.
"This morning the Ard Chomhairle has been reviewing the election results and making preparations for the extensive work that lies ahead on Local Authorities, in the European Parliament, the peace process and in building for Irish unity and independence. There was widespread disappointment expressed at the passing of the government‚s citizenship referendum. The Ard Chomhairle called for full consultation prior to any legislation being introduced and committed itself to continuing to work for a fair, human rights based immigration policy for all of Ireland."
Commenting on last night's announcement that the British and Irish governments are planning to hold talks next week as a prelude to 'intensive negotiations' in September Mr. McLaughlin said:
"There is no reason why the two governments, Sinn Féin and the other parties cannot reach agreement by next Friday on the elements of an agreement needed to end the crisis in the process.
"The decision by the governments to put off intensive negotiations until September means that they have bought into the time-frame set down by the DUP. Once again the governments are allowing unionism to set the pace in the process. This is unacceptable.
"Sinn Féin believes that it is possible in a short period to achieve a comprehensive and holistic package which deals with all of the outstanding matters in a way that is definitive and conclusive.
"There is no reason why the effort to resolve this should be put off for the summer."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting this evening on ongoing discussions with the Irish and British governments said:
"Sinn Féin is currently engaged in detailed and intense discussions with the two governments. Our goal is to restore the political institutions and end the crisis in the process. To that end Sinn Féin is pressing for a comprehensive and holistic package which deals with all of the outstanding matters in a way that is definitive and conclusive.
"In our negotiations with the governments, and in our efforts to achieve a package of measures which will secure progress, we have focused on a number of key issues, these include the need for full participation in the political institutions including the power sharing executive and the all-Ireland Ministerial Council; the issues of policing and justice, including the transfer of powers to the Assembly; the issue of armed groups; the issue of arms, and the issues of human rights, equality and sectarianism.
"There are also matters which are clearly the responsibility of the two governments, including demilitarisation, as well as issues for the Review.
"Sinn Féin is committed to playing a full and productive role in resolving these matters. If the political will exists this can be done. Consequently, the intense efforts to agree this package should continue until there is an agreement or until we have exhausted all possibilities of agreement.
"Many of the issues are matters of basic rights and entitlements for citizens. They are about equality. The two governments must ensure that equality becomes a reality." ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will today officially name the Markets Community Development Offices in honour of local community worker Jim Hargey who died recently.
Ms de Brún will be joined by local MLA Alex Maskey and members of the local community for the short ceremony which will take place in Stanfield Street in the Markets at 2pm.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Human Rights issues Caitriona Ruane has added her voice to those calling for plans to relocate female prisoners from Maghaberry to Hydebank Young Offenders Centre to be stopped.
Ms Ruane said:
" Plans to move female prisoners from Mourne House in Maghaberry to a facility at Hydebank Young Offenders Centre are we believe at an advanced stage. For some time now the separate medical and educational facilities at Maghaberry have been closed to the female prison population and they have been forced to share these services with male inmates.
" The plans to relocate the female wing to Hydebank do not appear to have been properly thought out. Cells there do not have toilets or wash hand basins and there will be no separate medical provision for the women held there. The cells in Maghaberry currently do have these provisions.
" There is a growing feeling that it would be much better to reopen the educational and medical facilities at Maghaberry and bring that section of the prison under separate management structures. I would call upon the NIO to look seriously at this option before proceeding with the plan to move the women prisoners into the Hydebank facility." ENDS
Sinn Féin will hold a series of meetings over the coming days. A meeting of the Sinn Féin Officer Board will take place in Dublin today (Friday 18th).
This will be followed by a meeting tomorrow of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in Dublin (Saturday 19th) A senior party figure will be available to speak to the media on Saturday at 12.30pm at the party offices 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will address the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown on Sunday afternoon. The parade will assemble at 2.30pm.
Speaking today in advance of this series of gatherings the Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty said:
"Today's meeting of the party Officer Board and tomorrows Ard Chomhairle will provide the party President and Chief Negotiator with the opportunity to brief the collective leadership on the current state of our discussions with the two governments.
"On Sunday the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration will take place at Bodenstown and will be addressed by Gerry Adams. It will be the first major republican gathering since last weeks tremendous election results across the island. Both of our newly elected MEPs and other successful local government candidates from across Ireland will also be present." ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP has expressed his alarm that the Electoral Office is planning to scale down the annual registration canvass this year due to a shortage of resources.
Mr Doherty said:
"Reports from within the Electoral Office are suggesting that the annual canvass to compile the register will this year be dramatically scaled back and be in the main replaced by some sort of postal operation. The reason being given for this is a lack of resources, the effect will be disastrous.
"Currently there are well over 200,000 people disenfranchised in the six counties. The adoption of a postal system for registration will mean in effect that it will prove almost impossible to reverse the alarming decline in the register. The Electoral Office will only be contacting those currently on the register, ignoring new first time voters and those who have already lost their right to vote as a result of the current legislation.
"If this system is adopted then I can confidently predict that the numbers on the register will continue to nosedive at an even greater rate. Our focus needs to remain seeing the legislation amended and the Electoral Office conducting as rigorous a registration canvass as is humanly possible. Cut backs on this crucial public function are simply not an option." ENDS
Commenting on media reports of contacts between Sinn Féin negotiators and the British government, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:
" Sinn Féin are involved in intensive efforts to see a resolution to the outstanding matters but will not discuss the detail of these engagements in the public arena.
" However what I can say is that our negotiating team remained in contact with the two governments throughout the course of the election campaign and continue to do so.
" Sinn Féin are determined to play our part in overcoming the current crisis in the peace process. We have a mandate from the people to do this. However this is not simply a matter for Sinn Féin. The two governments and the other parties have to play their role also." ENDS
Speaking after winning the right to proceed with a case against the British government decision to sanction Sinn Féin on the back of the flawed IMC Report, Assembly Group Leader Conor Murphy said that the victory was 'the first hurdle in the legal challenge'.
Mr Murphy said:
" This legal case challenging the British Government decision to discriminate against Sinn Féin on the back of the flawed IMC Report is one part of our confrontation of this body which operates outside the terms of the Agreement and is little more than a securocrat smokescreen for the exclusion of Sinn Féin.
" I am happy today that we have overcome the first legal hurdle in challenging the decision of the British government to discriminate against Sinn Féin and our electorate. It is my hope that this case will now quickly proceed to a full hearing.
" The British government need to realise that Sinn Féin will not simply sit by and watch the rights and entitlements of our electorate being diminished and attacked on the back of a report from a body which has no credibility, democratic mandate or function under the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS
Newry & Armagh Sinn Féin Assembly member Davy Hyland has accused the PSNI and British Army of attempting to demonise and intimidate the South Armagh community after they have laid siege to the area.
Mr Hyland said,
" This morning the PSNI and British Army used the pretext of a suspected bomb to enter the South Armagh. They have since went on to lay siege to the area, a siege which is still ongoing.
" This entire operation which we are led to believe also involves 26 County State forces supporting the British Army and PSNI is seen as little more than an exercise in community intimidation and punishment. People are being stopped and searched all over South Armagh, our offices have been inundated with complaints from local residents who have been stopped, searched and abused by the Crown Forces.
" Those individuals and political parties who provide the political cover for these sorts of operations need now to publicly explain to the people of South Armagh their views on today's disgraceful activity.
" This sort of well planned attack on an entire community goes to show just how far removed the PSNI are from the sort of policing service demanded by the Good Friday Agreement. South Armagh is the most militarised area in the six counties, it does not take this sort of massive operation to deal with individuals who the PSNI suspect of engaging in illegal activity. This operation crosses that line and will be seen by local people as an attack not on individuals suspected of engaging in illegal activity but on the entire South Armagh community." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke speaking from the City Centre this morning said there are growing concerns that Carmichael House will shut in the next two weeks following the refusal of Minister Noel Ahern to provide the finance which is required to keep the project going.
Councillor Burke said:
"Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups plays an invaluable role in the life of the community and provides an invaluable service for 45 small voluntary groups concerned with illness, social care, sport, education, the environment and disability. It is disgraceful that the government have refused to provide long term secure funding for a project that plays such an important role in the daily lives of the community and that it is now struggling for its very survival.
"Over the last few days we have listened to backbench TDs line up and waffle about the need to listen to what ordinary people are saying. What people are saying in this area is that Carmichael House needs help and the government need to do something about it.
"When it comes down to it Carmichael House needs 300,000 Euro a year from the Government, this is outside of the money which they raise themselves, and by any stretch of the imagination the service they provide is value for money. Last night the Health Department said they would come forward with half of the funding but Minister Noel Ahern has refused to give any further assistance to them.
"If it does not receive 150,000 Euro from Minister Ahern's department in the next two weeks then it will have to close its doors for good, resulting in a large number of CE schemes being shut down and nine staff being made redundant.
"I have been in touch with both Carmichael House and Minister Ahern this morning and have called on the Minister to support this project. There has been a lot of talk about inequality in the last few days but if the government stands by and allows such a valuable service to go to the wall it will not be forgotten by the people of this area."ENDS
Sinn MEP for the Dublin constituency Mary Lou McDonald has today said that horse-trading over the appointment of a new EU Commission President, is diverting attention away from serious negotiations surrounding the signing off on an EU Constitution. Ms McDonald said that 'the Irish Presidency is obsessed with concluding a constitution, even if that meant a flawed constitution'.
Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:
"People should not allow themselves to be diverted away from the fact that EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today to finalise agreement on the draft EU Constitution. Much of the focus thus far, has been on who will take over as Commission President, yet fundamental and far reaching decisions will be made today, and in the short weeks ahead to agree a legally binding constitution for the EU.
"This is not a Charter for an EU of Equals. It does not redress the democratic deficit as we were promised it would. Regardless of what Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell has said in his election literature, it does not afford special recognition to the neutral states, nor protection for Irish neutrality. There is a lot wrong with this draft Constitution.
"The Government has failed to engage the Irish people in an informed discussion around it. The potential international prestige value of leading successful negotiations has eclipsed any sense on the Government's part that the Irish delegates are responsible to look out for and advance Irish interests during the negotiations process. What has the Government achieved for Ireland in the negotiations? What have they given away in the interests of not upsetting the more powerful states? These are the real relevant questions that we need to ask and to which we should demand answers from Bertie and his team."ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor for north Belfast Eoin O'Broin has slammed today's determination by the Parades Commission that will allow the Tour of the North march to go ahead unrestricted.
Speaking today Cllr O'Broin said:
"This is clearly the wrong decision. The Parades Commission have taken the decision to force a provocative and sectarian parade through a sensitive interface area. This flies in the face of the hard work that has been going on both sides of the interface to help keep tensions down.
"The fact that there has been a series of security measures for houses on this interface and the installation of CCTV highlights the potential for serious disorder at this flashpoint. The Parades Commission has also ignored the attacks on nationalist homes on Duncairn Gardens at the same march two years ago.
"This is once again a reward for the continued intransigence of the Loyal Orders to engage in dialogue with nationalist residents.
"However, irrespective of the Parades Commissions determination Sinn Fein will be doing all in its power to ensure that things on the ground stay peaceful this weekend and that we have a quite summer." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in advance of the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration, which will take place in Bodenstown this weekend said: "When the people went to the polls last weekend they were demanding far reaching political change. That is why more than 342,000 people across Ireland voted for Sinn Féin, making us the third biggest party in the 26 Counties and on the island."
Mr. Adams said:
"When the people went to the polls last weekend they were demanding far reaching political change. That is why more than 342,000 people across Ireland voted for Sinn Féin, making us the third biggest party in the 26 Counties and on the island.
"For decades successive governments have pursued right wing policies with vigour -- they have failed to properly address the crisis in the health service or to tackle the vested interests that are forcing so many young people out of the housing market. Instead they rewarded big business and property developers. With the onset of the celtic tiger all of this came into sharp focus. At a time of great affluence, poverty and inequality increased and public services diminished. Instead of using the wealth to look after the disadvantaged, governments made up of all the main parties rewarded their cronies.
"The reality is, it wasn't that the establishment wasn't listening to the people, they were simply ignoring them.
"While Fine Gael had a good election, the fact is they were only stemming the tide. Their vote increase was only 1.6%. Labour is already signalling that it is once again looking to Fine Gael as partners in government -- a party whose policies are actually in line with the current government on social and economic issues.
"Labour should learn the lessons of the election. They should work with others to build a real left alternative, which would also have a progressive position on the national question. The history of Labour throughout its existence has been that it has taken the completely wrong position on this question. While undoubtedly there are sincere elements within the party who are committed to progressive policies there are also those who appear to be only interested in getting their bums on Ministerial seats.
"A radical agenda to end inequality and advance the peace process and Irish unity is urgently required. I believe that those who are committed to ending inequality need to come together in a broad alliance for change. This must include not merely political parties but community groups, voluntary organisations, trade unions, farmers' organisations, campaigning groups and human rights bodies.
"Sinn Féin's successes should not be judged merely by how many votes or seats we win. Our success has to be judged on the amount of change we bring about. Quite significantly we have the capacity to set the political agenda. So while other parties are bigger than us, already many Fianna Fáil representatives have realised that the Government's inability to tackle the issues of poverty, hospital waiting lists and the housing crisis needs to be rectified. If one of the outcomes of the election is that the government is forced to deal with these issues then that is a very positive development.
"Of course Sinn Féin doesn't have all the answers but we have a commitment to equality, to building the peace process and to pursuing the democratic objective of unity and independence. I would invite everyone whether they are in other political parties or not to join us in that endeavour. They can do so by joining Sinn Féin, and we will be launching a national recruitment drive in the near future, or they can do so by working with all of us fighting for equality through their own organizations or as individuals.
"Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin and we are going into that year determined to see our agenda for change implemented."ENDS
Speaking at a Stop Bush press conference in Buswells Hotel, Dublin at 11:00 this morning, newly elected Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan said: "Our new team of councillors and our MEPs will be raising the issue of the occupation of Iraq on every council they are elected to and in every forum available to them throughout the island in the coming months. We will express our views to anyone we meet, any time, any place."
Mr Doolan said:
"On February 15 last year, one hundred thousand people came out in Dublin to protest against the occupation of Iraq. Ignoring their protest, the government proceeded to allow thousands of US troops to come through Shannon on their way to the war, effectively including Ireland in the war effort and supporting the occupation. It's important that this country stands as one on the issue. Last week's election was an indication that the Irish people will not put up with a government which does not listen to what they are telling them.
"Sinn Féin is fully committed to neutrality for Ireland and completely opposes the occupation of Iraq. Our new team of councillors will be raising the issue of the occupation on every council they are elected to and in every forum available to them throughout the island in the coming months. We will express our views to anyone we meet, any time, any place.
"Sinn Féin is supporting the Stop Bush campaign and we are calling on people to come out in large numbers again next week to once again show their feelings about the occupation of Iraq."ENDS
Speaking during the second stage debate on the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004, Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan TD slammed the anti-heritage ethos behind the Bill and questioned Minister Martin Cullen's suitability for holding responsibility for the Heritage portfolio.
Deputy Morgan said:
"Unsurprisingly, Minister Martin Cullen has brought forward a Bill which seeks to put developers and the interests of the National Roads Authority before safeguarding our heritage.
"This is an anti-heritage piece of legislation designed to overcome conservationist's opposition to the Carrickmines interchange on the M50, the M3 Clonee to North of Kells motorway, the Waterford bypass and the construction of a 4 storey hotel 20 yards from Trim castle. The basic underlying theory of the Bill is to permit the destruction of national monuments to facilitate infrastuctural developments. The introduction of this Bill makes it absolutely clear that Martin Cullen is as unsuited to holding responsibility for Heritage as he is for holding responsibility for environmental protection.
"If the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government had any interest in Heritage protection what he should be doing is putting in place mechanisms to ensure that, prior to the commencement of developments such as the Carrickmines interchange, proper procedures and impact assessment studies are put in place. This would ensure that mistakes such as those which led to the Carrickmines debacle are not repeated again and would ensure that national monuments be detected early and avoided when building infrastructure. What the people of this State are seeking is that roads would be built legally and properly having followed proper planning processes including the early identification of heritage sites and national monuments so that they can be avoided rather than destroyed.
"Instead, we have provisions in this Bill allowing the Minister to grant a consent for the carrying out of works to a national monument which may result in the destruction of part or all of the monument after archaeological works have been carried out. We can expect that this legislation will result in a repeat of the destruction of Viking Dublin at Wood Quay, a situation which we hoped would never be seen again as Governments under pressure from the EU had since then put in place increased protection for our heritage which this Bill seeks to remove. Sinn Féin will be opposing this legislation." ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP has expressed his alarm that the Electoral Office is planning to scale down the annual registration canvass this year due to a shortage of resources.
Mr Doherty said:
" Reports from within the Electoral Office are suggesting that the annual canvass to compile the register will this year be dramatically scaled back and be in the main replaced by some sort of postal operation. The reason being given for this is a lack of resources, the effect will be disastrous.
" Currently there are well over 200,000 people disenfranchised in the six counties. The adoption of a postal system for registration will mean in effect that it will prove almost impossible to reverse the alarming decline in the register. The Electoral Office will only be contacting those currently on the register, ignoring new first time voters and those who have already lost their right to vote as a result of the current legislation.
" If this system is adopted then I can confidently predict that the numbers on the register will continue to nosedive at an even greater rate. Our focus needs to remain seeing the legislation amended and the Electoral Office conducting as rigorous a registration canvass as is humanly possible. Cut backs on this crucial public function are simply not an option." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD sought a Dáil debate today on the urgent issue of the 11,000 families of Irish citizen children who currently await a decision from the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell on the regularising of their status, since the Supreme court ruling on the non-automatic rights of parents to remain here with their Irish citizen children.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"There is an urgent need for the Minister for Justice to keep the promise that he made to the parties at the first briefing on the citizenship referendum that he would move to regularise the situation of approximately 11,000 families of Irish citizen children who face either separation from their parents or effective exile as a result of Government policy. He cannot continue to leave these families in limbo and it is imperative that he bring Irish policy into line with our European partners with respect to the obligation to uphold children's rights to the care and company of their parents, enshrined in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, as outlined by the Advocate General in the Chen case.
"He insisted on rushing through the recent referendum on citizenship within 3 months of the very first briefing on it, ignoring many groups and voices who advised that the electorate were not sufficiently informed on the issue. Now, the very least he can do is provide for those non-national families who had children born to them here and anxiously await a decision on their status, by allowing them to remain here under humanitarian grounds." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin southwest Seán Crowe has expressed concern at certain practices of the ESB today while speaking in the Dáil on legislation regarding the ESB.
Deputy Crowe said:
"I am very concerned about an issue in my own constituency in Tallaght, which the Company and Minister ought to investigate. That is the fact that in one Supermarket the machine where people purchase tokens for their meter is situated in an Off-Licence. Given that those who have a meter are people most likely to have had a tradition or difficulty paying bills in the past, this can often present a huge temptation for customers with alcohol-related problems and some understandably find it impossible to resist. Instead of buying units of electricity many are buying units of alcohol. I would appeal to the Minister to use his influence with the ESB to ensure that meter machines are not placed in such obviously unsuitable locations.
"Another issue that has arisen in relation to meters is the fact that the vast majority of the 20,000 meters have not been adjusted to take into account recent increases in charges. This means that people paying for their electricity through the meter are actually accumulating debts.
"There have already been cases where people have discovered this and it can have quite a disturbing effect on those who have been struggling for years to pay bills and who thought that they had overcome that problem through the meter system only to find out that they are once again in debt. This is something that the company should address as a matter of urgency to ensure that the meters are updated. I believe that there is also a case to be made where people whose meters have not been adjusted to register the increases should not have to pay debts, which they have accrued through no fault of their own.
"While the ESB has had increased levels of profits over the past number of years, it has also imposed quite severe increases on household consumers. While it is obviously a good thing that a state enterprise is able to generate such profits, this ought not to be at the expense of the consumer. I believe it should be the case that the customers of the ESB should benefit more directly through not having to pay increased electricity bills. This is particularly important for those many people on low incomes who find it increasingly difficult to meet their bills." ENDS