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Sinn Féin General Election candidate Cllr Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that a lot of voters will be unsettled by Micheál Martin's unconvincing response when asked about the possibility of an alliance between his party and Fine Gael after the election.

Cllr O'Laoghaire called on Deputy Martin to give people a straight answer on his position regarding the possibility of Fianna Fáil entering coalition with Fine Gael or possibly supporting a Fine Gael government from the opposition benches.

Councillor O'Laoghaire said;

"I think a lot of voters in Cork, and throughout the state, will be unsettled by Deputy Martin's softening position around possible Fianna Fáil support for another Fine Gael government.

"He started out adamantly stating that he would not consider supporting a Fine Gael government. Now, when the question is put to him, he is hiding behind evasive phrases like 'behaving responsibly and 'acting in the national interest.'

"It is becoming increasingly clear that a vote for Fianna Fáil will be a vote to prop-up another Fine Gael government.

"Such a prospect would spell disaster for ordinary people as it effectively amounts to Fianna Fáil endorsing another five years of chaos in our hospitals, a housing crisis and big tax breaks for high earners instead of investment in our critical public services.

"Fianna Fáil would be saying to people that they support the preservation of unfair water charges and the regressive local property tax.

"Fianna Fáil appear to have no vision of their own, and Micheál Martin seems intent on making his party politically irrelevant to ordinary people.

"Michael Martin's ambiguity around this issue demonstrates why Fianna Fáil cannot be trusted to act in the interests of ordinary people who have suffered so much under Fine Gael.

"Sinn Féin is the only party offering a real alternative, based on investment in our communities and services, relief for low and middle income earners, and a jobs investment plan that will create a fair recovery, for the many and not the few.

"Ordinary people cannot afford another five years of Fine Gael. It would be unforgivable for Fianna Fáil to volunteer to prop-up a second Fine Gael term.

"I am calling on Micheál Martin to give the people of Cork and Ireland very straight answers. Will he, for once and for all, rule out coalition with Fine Gael and the prospect of his party supporting a Fine Gael government from the opposition benches?

"The people deserve to know what exactly they are choosing if they decide to vote Fianna Fáil. As it stands, it increasingly looks like choosing Fianna Fáil will be a vote for a Fine Gael led Government."

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Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has criticised Fine Gael and Labour’s record in government of slashing supports for people with disabilities.

Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s policy document on Prioritising Disability Inclusion, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“Fine Gael and Labour bandied around promises to prioritise disability - but these have been badly broken. Instead of empowering and enabling all citizens to have a full and independent life, they have imposed cut after cut, with no plan to restore them. This flies in the face of a fair recovery.

“People with disabilities are one of the groups in our society most vulnerable to poverty and enforced deprivation. And this is a consequences of very deliberate actions by this government to dole out the worst of austerity measures on the most vulnerable.

“Bear in mind that this is a government that slashed the budget for disability services, closed the mobility allowance scheme, halved the housing adaptation grant, cut disability allowance while all the while our public services are being decimated.

“But there is another way. Sinn Féin has a vision for society in which all citizens can participate fully in life without being left behind. We will further the rights of people with disabilities, not diminish them.”

List of measures below:

  • Increase disability allowance by €20 a week.
  • Award a an automatic medical card to every child in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance and introduce a secure medical card for adults with disabilities.
  • Expand the Personal Assistant Service (PA) service by increasing PA hours by an additional 500,0000 hours each year for three years.
  • Increase respite care services by 20%
  • Increase the budget allocation to disability services by €125.7 million.
  • Provide additional places for people with disabilities on the Employability Service to allow an additional 1000 people with disabilities and 500 Momentum places for young recipients of Disability Allowance.
  • Increase resource teaching hours for children by 15% and provide 1,450 additional SNA’s to facilitate greater access for children with special needs.
  • Introduce a major infrastructure programme to make all public transport services fully wheelchair accessible, investing a total of €187 million.
  • Charge an Taoiseach with responsibility for Disability Inclusion ensuring a named spokesperson will sit at the Cabinet table and is party to all decisions affecting people with disabilities.
  • Establish a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Inclusion.

Audio version of the document below

PDF Booklet format of the document below

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane has said Sinn Féin will be supporting the amendments to the Justice Bill at the Assembly today. 

Ms Ruane said; 

"Sinn Féin  is opposed to the extension of the 1967 Act to the North of Ireland, however, we believes that in cases of rape, or sexual crime or when a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, the option of termination should be available. 

"Our policy also reflects the view that termination of pregnancy should be available to those who choose to avail of it in situations of fatal foetal abnormality.  

"This is a position which reflects international minimum human rights standards 

"There is an enormous amount of hurt and anger felt by women who felt let down by the state in which they live and felt forced to travel abroad for a procedure they felt should have been entitled to at home.  

"The DUP has said they are supporting a commission which will report in six months. However, we feel this does not go far enough as it does not address the plight of women in the here and now who are pregnant as a result of rape or women who are faced with fatal foetal abnormalities. 

"I believe that the public are ahead of the politicians on this issue and are in favour of changes to the law on these narrow grounds. 

"That is why Sinn Féin supported these amendments."

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Sinn Fein MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann welcomed the announcement that the Women's Centre Childcare Fund will be made available for another year. 

Ms McCann said; 

"Sinn Féin has been lobbying on behalf of women, their families and the women's sector for this fund to be continued for another year to protect this essential childcare service.

"On Monday we met with the DSD Minister and pressed on him the need for it to be protected along with funding for Neighbourhood Renewal Programmes.

"I have spoken to many women and representatives from the sector over several months and they all expressed concern that the positive impact from the WCCF would be lost if a gap were to happen.

"I'm delighted their consistent lobbying has paid off and that women and their families will continue to benefit from this service."

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Sinn Féin’s National Chairperson Declan Kearney will host Education Minister John O’Dowd MLA and Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín at an Irish Medium Education event this Friday, 12th February, in the new family centre opened in Crumlin.

Mr Kearney said:

"I am delighted to welcome ministers O’Dowd and Ní Chuilín to Crumlin on Friday for an engagement on the next steps for Irish Medium Education.

"I invite Irish language groups, activists, Gaelscoileanna and Boards of Governors to take this opportunity to engage with Sinn Féin and our ministers on the way forward in 2016 and beyond.”

He continued:

"Sinn Féin are committed to the development of the Irish medium sector and to ensuring the rights of pupils and parents who choose education through the Irish Language are fulfilled. 

"Facilities such as the Ionad Teaghlaigh in Crumlin and Coláiste Dhoire in Derry, are testament to the commitment John O’Dowd and Sinn Féin have shown to the development of Irish Medium Education.

"Friday is an opportunity to explore how we can plan and campaign together for the time ahead.

"2016 is a challenging year for us all, with the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising and Assembly elections on the horizon. Pobal na Gaeilge is in a prime position to push forward and break new ground in the development of the Irish language. 

"We hope Friday morning's meeting can be a platform to further discuss and build the type of co-operation needed across the Irish language sector, across the education sector and across the political spectrum." 


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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has welcomed an Executive agreement to set up a working group to make recommendations on a proposed inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes/Magdalene Laundries. 

Ms McCann said; 

"I welcome the agreement from the Executive to set up an interdepartmental working group led by the Department of Health to make recommendations on the scope of any proposed inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene laundries. 

"The working group will bring its recommendations to the Executive within six months. 

"I met today with a number of individuals and groups who were directly affected by the abuse they suffered in Mother and Baby Homes and listened to their experiences. 

"This is a step forward for all of those who have suffered greatly from being in these homes. 

"It will follow a similar model which led the Executive to establish the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. 

"While I welcome this step forward, Sinn Féin's position that all victims and Mother and Baby Homes are entitled to a full inquiry."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has been visiting the west. In the last 24 hours, the Sinn Féin leader has addressed packed rallies in Sligo with party candidates Chris McManus and Martin Kenny, Mayo with Rose Conway Walsh, East Galway with Ann-Marie Roche, and Roscommon with Clare Kerrane.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Sinn Féin has a vision to make the west a sustainable place to work and live; where our young people aren’t forced to emigrate; with a health service fit for purpose; where broadband is available for families and business, and where employment opportunities are available for returning graduates.

“People in the West of Ireland are sick of being treated as second class citizens. Government policies have devastated the region. Austerity policies have hit families, public services and the local economy. Emigration has forced many to seek a new life overseas.

“Our healthcare system is in crisis. The government broke its commitments on Sligo cancer care service and emergency department services in Roscommon. As a result, Galway University Hospital suffers chronic overcrowding.

“There has been a failure to deliver high speed broadband. Consequently,   communities and businesses have been hindered in their efforts to grow and create more jobs.

“Small and peripheral farmers have got a bad deal. The Gaeltacht areas have been hurt by the abolition of Údarás na Gaeltachta elections and the slashing of funding to Gaeltacht areas. Garda stations have been closed and Garda numbers significantly reduced. Many elderly people live in fear as a result. Turf cutters have been criminalised.

“These difficulties are a direct consequence of the government’s austerity policies.

“Sinn Féin believes that all of this can be reversed. We have produced a detailed plan - A New Deal for the West – which can transform life and communities in the west.

“Sinn Féin has been working north and south for rural Ireland, especially through the party’s Stormont Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development Michelle O’Neill and Leinster House spokesperson Martin Ferris.

“A Sinn Féin government would introduce a new deal for small towns and villages throughout the west. This would mean the retention of the village school, an audit of the public transport system to ensure villages’ needs are catered for, and the retention of doctors in local villages and small towns.

“Sinn Féin is also committed to supporting island communities along the west coast and making it a viable option for people to live and work on the islands. This would include a Charter of Rights for the islands.

“There should be a specific job creation strategy with targets and timescales from Údarás na Gaeltachta based on the needs of each island.

“Sinn Féin would create a Department for Fisheries, Marine and Marine Communities, with a specific Junior Minister given responsibility for islands and to promote the fishing industry in island communities we would aid cooperatives and development companies in buying fishing licences which could be licenced out to island fishermen.

“Creating sustainable employment and allowing people to have a credible career is vital. In government, Sinn Féin would develop a new enterprise strategy to orientate infrastructural development and IDA and Enterprise Ireland development in a balanced regional manner.

“Sinn Féin will improve connectivity, including broadband and transport infrastructure to the West and within the West.

“Sinn Féin is committed to recruiting 3,000 additional Gardaí over our term in government. A coherent strategy is required to maximise Garda visibility in rural communities.

“In government, Sinn Féin will tackle the current inequitable healthcare system with a universal public health system, tackling geographic inequalities in health service provision, free at the point of access. No more emergency department Bills or prescription charges, or GP charges.

“These are just some of the many proposals that Sinn Féin is committed to introducing. Sinn Féin will make no promise we will not keep.” 

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Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has expressed concern and support for local soccer fans experiencing difficulties obtaining tickets for UEFA Euro 2016 matches.

The Northern Ireland soccer team will compete at the tournament this summer. Tens of thousands of fans submitted applications for tickets to the three group games – against Poland in Nice, Ukraine in Lyon and Germany in Paris – but many loyal fans who expected to secure tickets were told that their application was unsuccessful.

The Minister said: 

“After the team qualified for its first ever European Championship finals, and first major tournament for 30 years, local fans were understandably ecstatic. They were, of course, eager to secure tickets to the three group games in Nice, Lyon and Paris, and submitted ticket applications in their droves over winter.

“There were always going to be more applications than tickets available, and it was vital, therefore, that a system was put in place by the Irish FA and UEFA to ensure the fair distribution of tickets among supporters. 

 “I know that the local supporters’ umbrella group, the AONISC, worked closely with the Irish FA to develop a points system that would reward loyalty, ensuring those fans who are block bookers and who have attended most matches in the run-up to qualification would have priority. This information was then passed to UEFA, which has ultimate responsibility for allocating tickets to all matches in the tournament.

“Unfortunately it has transpired that, for whatever reason, the ranking points system has not worked as envisaged, meaning many of the most loyal supporters, who have attended home and away games for many years, have not been able to secure tickets.

“I know that the IFA has taken swift action to address the issue, and as a result UEFA has made available a further 1,000 or so tickets for the opening game against Poland in Nice. I commend Patrick Nelson and his team for their efforts to that end. However, there remain many other supporters who have not been allocated tickets to the matches in Lyon and Paris, despite having a high loyalty points tally.

“I urge the IFA and UEFA to re-examine the situation to identify any possible additional steps to accommodate local fans and find a resolution that is fair and equitable.” The Minister added: “Fans of the Republic team are now understandably concerned that their ticket applications, which are also based on a loyalty system, might also not be implemented as hoped. 

“It is paramount that the IFA, FAI and UEFA put supporters’ needs at the centre of the ticket allocation process so that the understandable frustrations we have seen in the last couple of days can be avoided in future.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today launched the new Pathway Fund which will replace the Early Years Fund from 1 April 2016.

The new fund will be open to all providers of registered early years education. It will prioritise support in areas of disadvantage, where there is little or no provision and where services will enhance integration from an early age. The fund will be administered by Early Years – The Organisation for Young Children (EYO).Speaking ahead of the launch the Minister said:

 “It is widely recognised that the early years of a child’s life are some of the most important in terms of their development. Intervention during these early years of education can have a significant, positive and lasting impact on raising educational standards and narrowing gaps that prevail in achievement later in life.” 

The fund will also promote services that are delivered on a community-based social economy basis and will focus on the delivery of quality early years services and the sustainability of the early years sector.

Continuing the Minister said:

“Evidence shows that the greatest impact and most significant difference can be made for children from areas of disadvantage. During these times of severe budgetary constraints, it is critical that we focus resources in areas where we can ensure the best possible outcomes for our children.”

Concluding, the Minister highlighted his Department’s Learning to Learn Framework and his vision that all children have equal opportunities to achieve their potential. He said: 

“High quality early years education and learning positively impact on a child’s educational outcomes. The Pathway fund will make a valuable contribution to achieving this aim. I welcome the appointment of EYO to deliver this fund and wish them well for the future.”

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Commenting on the Executive’s allocation of an additional £20million for education, Education Minister John O’Dowd said: 

“I am delighted that the Finance Minister has allocated an additional £20million for education. This additional funding further demonstrates the Executive’s commitment to our young people’s future, by supporting education, a cornerstone of the society in which we live and a foundation for the future of all our young people.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson who is leading an EU Delegation to Palestine, has met with Israeli and Palestinian NGOs to discuss the topic of Indication of Origin labelling.

Ms Anderson said,

"Over 800,000 settlers live illegally in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

"These Illegal Israeli settlements remain one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the region and was the topic of conversation during our meeting with Israeli and Palestinian NGOs.

"The EU presently contributes directly and indirectly to the occupation of Palestine via trade in settlement products, financial support for Israeli institutions in the occupied territories and investment in Israeli military infrastructure through the nature of its present agreements with Israel.

"While labelling only affects 1% of the total trade between the EU and Israel it amounts to an estimated €200 million worth of illegal settlement products to the EU every year. 

The Chair of the Delegation of Relations with Palestine, Ms Anderson said,

"Although we received a renewed commitment from the EU last November to label products from illegal Israeli settlements, we are still waiting for this to be implemented. 

"The introduction of labelling on these products will inform consumers and allow them to make an informed decision when purchasing goods, the profits of which directly or indirectly, contribute to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

"This issue has been a key campaign for the Delegation for Relations with Palestine and we will continue to campaign on this issue in order to put pressure on Israel to respect international law and help advance a sustainable peace in the region." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called on Health Minister Simon Hamilton to clarify the position on the New Innovative Fund, which was supposed to have opened in January to assist charities.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “The New Innovative Fund was supposed to open in January to assist charities through funding over a three or five-year period but as yet is not available for applications.

 “Charities are confused about what the fund will cover, who will administer it and how long the scheme will last for.

 “Some charities are seeing a reduction in funding of 25% per year leaving them unable to provide the services they are designed to provide.

 “There is a worry that only innovative projects will be funded and that these will not be renewed after the initial period.

 “I have been lobbied by charities such as the Downs Syndrome Trust who are afraid that their long-term strategies will not be covered by this fund.

 “The Minister needs to remove all of this uncertainty immediately and clarify when this fund will be accessible to charities.

 “I have now tabled questions to the Minister in order to ascertain the facts around the New Innovative Fund.”

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Sinn Féin Irish language spokesperson Rosie McCorley has called on those interested in Irish Language education to attend a seminar in the new Crumlin Irish language family centre, Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach on Friday 12th February.

 Ms McCorley said,

 “This is a great opportunity for those involved in Irish medium education to come together to discuss the way forward.

 “More and more parents are choosing to educate their children through the medium of Irish and research has shown that those children who do so benefit immensely from learning the language.

 “I welcome the fact that Education Minister John O’Dowd will be in attendance as will be several other key speakers.

 “The seminar which will run from 11am to 1pm can help devise strategies that will see the sector grow over the coming years and highlight some of the difficulties currently being experienced by Irish language schools.

 "I would encourage all those with an interest in Irish medium education to attend”

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Responding to a parliamentary question which showed that there were nearly 70% less jobs in IDA companies in Monaghan in 2015 than in 2006, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said this was endemic of failures of successive Governments to secure real and long-term investment.

Senator Reilly said:

“In 2006 there were 484 jobs in IDA supported companies in Monaghan. Then, at the end of 2015, there were only 146. This represents nearly 70% of a decrease. Indeed, the decrease in these jobs is most noticeable under the Fine Gael/Labour Government as jobs went from 352 in 2011 to 146 at the end of 2015. This is not keeping the recovery going by any means.

“Unfortunately, this is endemic of the failures of successive Governments to secure real and long-term investment. Monaghan only received two IDA visits in 2015, and that came on the back of not receiving any in 2014. Indeed, since 2008, there have been 4 IDA Ireland sponsored site visits to Monaghan and 10 to Cavan.

“Counties such as Cavan and Monaghan suffered disproportionately from the economic downturn, with unemployment rates and emigration well above the state wide average. It would appear that the inaction of the enterprise agencies to bring potential investors is exasperating the regional disparities in employment. Such examples can be seen in the closures of plants like BOSE, and with nothing to replace them Cavan and Monaghan are being left even further behind.

“Fine Gael say they want to keep the recovery going but it is clear that in Cavan and Monaghan we are getting more of the same, and that is not translating into positive news for investment. In our manifesto, Sinn Féin have committed to developing a new enterprise spatial strategy to orientate infrastructural development and IDA and Enterprise Ireland development in a balanced regional manner.

“Similarly, we will set ambitious targets for regionally balancing foreign investment and delivering an integrated enterprise policy that maximises the growth potential of domestic entrepreneurs and businesses.”

ENDS

EDITORS NOTE: Parliamentary Questions:  394 & 395 Tuesday 2nd February 2016

To ask the Minister for Health the number of children who are awaiting orthodontic assessment, by region, up to six, six plus to 12, 12 plus to 24 and 24 plus months in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Health the number of children who have been assessed and are awaiting orthodontic treatment, by region, up to six months, one year, one year to two years and two years plus in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The information on waiting times for assessment and for treatment at the end of Quarter 3 of 2015 is shown in the tables below.  The information is collated by the HSE by region and for the intervals as shown.   

Response to PQ

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Sinn Féin MLA and Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the pledge that Sinn Féin will restore the Moore Street historic buildings if elected to government.

 Ms Ní Chuilín said,

 “Moore Street is one of the most historic sites on the island and needs to be preserved for future generations.

 “I welcome the pledge by Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald that if elected to government that Sinn Féin would see the full restoration of the site.

 “As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising it is fitting we ensure that future generations are not denied the experience of seeing at first hand the buildings and artifacts central to that rebellion.”

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Sinn Féin Cllr. Denise Mitchell has dismissed the Labour party’s childcare policies as “a cheap election gimmick designed in an attempt to win votes from the very people that the Labour Party has let down for five years”. The councillor for the Beaumont Donaghmede ward of Dublin City Council continued by saying that “Sinn Féin will improve the childcare system in a number of different ways”.

Cllr. Mitchell said:

“Having cut child benefit twice during her term of office Joan Burton incredibly tried to take credit for partially reversing those cuts ahead of the election. It is cynical in the extreme to expect adulation for giving back a fraction of what she cruelly snatched away in the first place.

“And now they are promising the world with a manifesto based on money that it has been shown they do not have. The simple truth is that Labour’s promises are worth as much as they were in 2011, nothing.

“The Tánaiste could not answer a simple question that was put to her in the Dáil about the costings of her childcare proposals which she produced miraculously before an election after five years in government.

 “In my own view, this is just a cheap election gimmick designed in an attempt to win votes from the very people that the Labour Party has let down for five years.

“The average cost of childcare is €310 per week per child across the state. In Dublin, it is even higher. One study conducted last year found that having two children in childcare in many parts of Dublin would cost a family €27,000 per year. Almost half the workforce earns less than this.

“Sinn Féin will improve the childcare system in a number of different ways. We will make childcare more affordable by introducing a cap on fees at €180 a week, dropping down in time to €150.  As the current average cost of childcare per month is €1,100 this means that families will save up to €4,560 a year per child.

 “We wish to improve the quality of care also, to enable the progression of current childcare workers to level seven and eight qualifications.  This would be achieved by extending the learner fund by €80million over five years with the aim of having a 60% degree led workforce by 2025.

 “We will increase the capitation grants of the free pre-school year by €5 a week and we will provide an additional 1,000 Special Needs Assistants in Early Childhood Care and Education.  We will also extend the ECCE scheme to 48 weeks which means a further reduction the childcare bill as well as greater security to childcare workers on short contracts.

“We are serious about our commitments and we will deliver on them if we are given a mandate to do so.

“Sinn Féin will produce a fully costed, deliverable and comprehensive childcare policy next week.  And, unlike the Labour Party, we will deliver on our promises to the electorate if we win a mandate to do so.” 

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane today attended spoke at a party press event to unveil measures to enhance workers rights.

Speaking at the launch Senator Cullinane outlined a range of measures which he said would be implemented by Sinn Féin in government to help low paid workers.

He said;

“Fine Gael and Labour’s term of office has been marked by a further deterioration of the rights and entitlements of workers rights.

“Low paid workers are struggling to make ends meet.  Many are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.  They have no access to healthcare or affordable childcare.

“Sinn Féin stands with these workers.

“If elected to government we will increase the minimum wage to €9.65 an hour, take 277,000 low paid workers out of the USC net, lower the PRSI contribution, link future national minimum wage increases with the cost of living and we will invest heavily in health, housing, education and childcare.

“All of this has been set out in our manifesto and in our fully costed and comprehensive documents on health, housing and childcare.

“Sinn Féin is the only party that has a full costed plan to invest in our public services and we are the only party that got its figures right. The other parties have been caught spoofing.

“If elected to government we will ease the burden on low paid workers.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Fein will not take any lectures from Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fail on criminal justice issues.

Speaking in Ballina, where he was accompanied by Sinn Féin's General Election candidate for Mayo, Cllr Rose Conway Walsh, Gerry Adams said:

"Sinn Féin will not take any lectures from Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil on criminal justice issues.

"A Fianna-led Government closed the Garda training college at Templemore which had devastating affects on Garda numbers.

"This was compounded by the actions of Fine Gael and Labour in Government who slashed Garda numbers and resources.

“This Government has a disastrous record in justice. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was forced to resign, a Garda Commissioner was forced to retire and the Gardaí have been undermined.

"The Taoiseach has yet to give a credible explanation of his role in this.

"Sinn Féin has a long and proud record of standing with working class communities in Dublin against drug dealers and criminal gangs. 

"Sinn Féin Ministers recently agreed with the Irish and British Governments on an All-Ireland Task Force to tackle organised crime.

"The thugs behind the recent deplorable murders in Dublin need to be apprehended and jailed.

"The Gardaí need the full support of the community and proper resources from the State to carry out their job effectively.

"Sinn Féin is committed to restoring Garda numbers, recruiting an extra 3,000 Gardaí and reversing the policy of Garda station closures.

"Political posturing by Enda Kenny, Joan Burton and Micheál Martin on this issue is cynical and opportunistic electioneering and is not convincing anyone, least of all those communities who have suffered most at the hands of criminal gangsters.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has pledged support for Victims and Survivors Services and staff at the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister in light of a proposal by SDLP Finance Spokesperson Claire Hanna to arbitrarily remove  £800,000 from its budget allocation.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: 

“The SDLP’s so-called alternative budget had just one single proposal — to raid OFMDFM coffers in order to fund a shortfall in women’s centre childcare amenities — despite the fact that Minister Maurice Morrow has indicated he is about to extend funding to the women’s centres to the end of this budget period. 

“The SDLP cut in the OFMDFM budget cut could only have two outcomes: the loss of around 20 jobs or the axing of services such as the Victims and Survivors Services which has an annual budget of just over £800,000. 

“The SDLP need to tell staff at OFMDFM how they would select personnel for their P45s and how they would justify refusing redundancy payments as they have allocated no costs to their £800,000 cut.

“They also have to tell vulnerable users of OFMDFM services, such as refugee and asylum speakers or victims and survivors, how they would justify removing their services.

"The SDLP is entitled to oppose a budget which successfully passed with £4.8bn for allocated health, £2bn for education and £505m in welfare top-ups while also capping tuition fees, blocking water charges and defending free travel for the elderly but they should withdraw their threat to the services and staff at OFMDFM."

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Sinn Féin General Election candidates in Dublin City have officially lodged their nomination papers this morning in the office of the Returning Officer, in Fownes Street.

Speaking this morning Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said:

“We are running fifteen candidates across the county and this morning I was joined by a number of our hugely capable candidates running in constituencies across the city.

“In the last local and European elections we substantially increased our number of public representatives across the county and in few weeks’ time we hope the electorate will vote to increase the number of deputies we return to Leinster House.

“We believe there is a great and historic opportunity now in the forthcoming election to elect an alternative and a progressive government.”

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