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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



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The Sinn Féin on Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has introduced a Bill to the Dáil proposing that the voting age for Dáil, European, and Local Elections, as well as constitutional referendums, be lowered to 16. The change would require that a referendum be held to alter the current constitutional provision.

Deputy Stanley said:

 “I am introducing this Bill in the hope that it will win all party support and ensure that the voting age is lowered to 16 prior to the next general election. The current government has committed itself to possibly lowering the age to 17, and has said that it will publish a Bill in the New Year. However, I would argue that the age should be set at 16, and that a referendum be held as soon as possible in order to ensure that this takes place before the next general election.”

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly also said:

“I have met with a range of youth organisations who are calling for this change. The fact that 16 year olds in Scotland were able to vote in the recent referendum caught the imagination of people here. The Scottish referendum blew the myth that young people are apathetic out of the water. Young people drove the turnout in the Scottish referendum in a way that was extraordinary. By doing so, they've shown that they are capable of getting engaged with politics.  If we get this right, we will take the first steps to creating a voter generation and democracy will thank us for it. I would hope that all parties in the Oireachtas support our proposal.”

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Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called for fracking to be banned throughout the island of Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Colreavy said:

“The recent decision in the six counties not to extend the licence for the exploration company Tamboran Resources is a positive step.

“Tamboran has proposed to use fracking in the region of the Lough Allen Basin, an area which covers Leitrim and Fermanagh.

“I today called on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to introduce a ban on the use of fracking in the 26 counties.

“Fracking is an unsafe means of extracting shale gas that could potentially have a serious impact on people’s health, the environment and the agricultural industry.

“The government should now stop fracking in its infancy rather than allowing companies to proceed to the next step of the licencing process.

“This makes sense not only for the environment, but also for the economy.

“The government should be acutely aware that under the proposed new TTIP international trade agreement, it may become possible for multinational companies to sue states for banning products or activities, possibly including fracking.

“To pre-empt any such action taken against the state, the government should introduce a ban on fracking now to avoid contravening any future trade agreement.”

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Speaking today after the first meeting of the European Parliament's Delegation to the US, Sinn Fein MEP for the Midland's North West Constituency Matt Carthy said:

"I am delighted to be appointed as a member of the EU Delegation to the US. This delegation is particularly important in terms of EU relations with America.

"The delegation engages with the US Administration and Congress, political actors, the media, academia, business and civil society to raise awareness of the EU issues and concerns and promote the importance of the EU- US relationship among the American public.

"The Delegation covers a broad spectrum of issues of mutual concern to the US and EU including Agriculture, Democracy and Human Rights, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Education, Energy and Environment, Jobs and Growth, Trade and Investment and Transportation.

"As the negotiations on the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership progress, I believe it is particularly important that Ireland's interests within the EU are fully protected and it is my intention as part of this Delegation to ensure that this happens to the fullest extent possible.

"I also intend to use my membership of this Delegation to build and strengthen relationships with our diaspora living in America and highlighting issues of concern to them. At the first meeting of the committee today I raised the issues pertaining to the Irish undocumented in the United States with the new EU ambassador to the US, David O'Sullivan, who promised to support the Irish government efforts to regularise their status.

"I look forward to getting involved in the interesting work that my role on this delegation offers and ensuring that the interests of Ireland are represented at every opportunity both in the EU and further afield." 

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Derry Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson Geároid Ó hEára has welcomed the creation of 35 jobs by Seagate in Derry. 

 Speaking after the jobs were announced this morning, Mr Ó hEára said; 

"This announcement that Seagate is creating 35 high tech jobs in the city is very welcome.

"These high-end jobs are what Derry needs to help boost our economy. 

"This is a significant commitment to the city by a major market leading global firm. 

"Seagate is one of the largest employers in the city and the fact that they have chosen to make this significant investment of almost £35million in their future in Derry is a hugely positive development which recognises the high quality of employees available in the north west

"I met with the global president of Seagate, Dave Mosely, last week in advance of this announcement at the Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and we discussed the need for further investment in the city. 

"Attracting investment from international companies, as well as encouraging our own small and medium sized enterprises and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship, is crucial to growing and developing our economy n Derry. 

"This is a very encouraging jobs boost and hopefully there will be many more positive announcements in the future."   

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has dismissed the new report commissioned by the government which calls for tax breaks for landlords rather than rent controls to protect tenants.

He made his comments following the publication of Rent Stability in the Private Rented Sector by DKM consultants.

Deputy Ellis continued;

"This report is another sop to landlords who have been shown to be making good profits off often substandard accommodation charging whatever rate they choose because they know people are desperate enough. The findings of this report that rent regulations would be worse for tenants flies in the face of the realities of the rental market and the experience of tenants at the moment.

“The report proposes tax breaks for landlords but this would only increase their profits and keep rents at the same rate. Rent rates are not currently inflated to unaffordable levels because landlords are taxed too high; they are inflated because of the shortage of housing and the desperation of those seeking it. Landlords are renting properties which are often overcrowded, damp, cold and under managed for astronomical rates, which are not sustainable given average incomes at present and the general cost of living. People have lost their homes due to rent increases while they continued to work a full time job.

“Recent Dublin City Council inspections found that 90 per cent of private accommodation inspected is not up to standard. The idea of giving landlords tax breaks to increase their profits further, on the hope they will invest in more housing, is clearly a bad idea.

“Rent controls will not solve all our problems but it will do a number of important things. It will stop unfair rent increases which are making people homeless. It will also foster a culture around renting in the long run, which makes it a more viable long term option which should push up standards. This will not work though, unless done in conjunction with major investment in social housing, to take the pressure off in the private market.

“The report does call for a code of conduct for landlords who are in arrears or rental properties being taken into receivership. Sinn Féin has been calling for this to be done for the last three years. A binding process whereby tenants are not left on the street because a landlord has failed to hold onto their property is needed.

“It is also shameful that so many properties are being held empty by banks who have repossessed them. We need to broaden the Mortgage to Rent scheme further to keep people in their homes.

“When a family working full time cannot afford to rent in the city they work it is clear that the rental market is not fit for purpose and regulation is essential. That must start with stabilising rents."

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Dublin City Councillor Cathleen Carney Boud has voiced strong opposition to proposals to convert the former Garda station at Whitehall into a city mortuary. In a formal objection sent to the Office of Public Works on October 16th 2014, Cllr Carney Boud expressed objection to the proposed use of the Garda station on a number of grounds.

The Sinn Féin elected representative stated:

“The Garda Station in its current state is not suitable to facilitate this type of use. To accommodate a city mortuary, the building would need extensive refurbishment and any major alterations to the building would be in breach of the preservation orders. A mortuary has specific needs in terms of its laboratory and water services and the suitability of the current underground services would be cause for concern”.

“In addition, local residents have also expressed strong opposition to the plans and their views must be respected. A listed building of this type should be firstly be considered for the use of the community, before anything else”

On the 21st of October this year Cllr Cathleen Carney Boud put forward a motion to the North West Area Committee stating that the Whitehall premises should be utilised for the benefit of the local community through the establishment of community resource facilities. The motion was agreed to by all Councillors and a letter detailing this will be issued to the Office of Public Works.

“A city mortuary is deserving of a purpose built facility and using a listed building is simply not appropriate. I strongly urge the OPW to take our objections seriously and to cease plans to refurbish the premises for this purpose. Whitehall Garda Station should be preserved for the use of the local community”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has thus evening reiterated his rejection of allegations made against him by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin.

Gerry Adams said:

"I want once again to reject in the strongest possible terms, entirely malicious and spurious allegations by the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil  Leader that I have any information regarding abusers being moved from the North, across border to this jurisdiction or anywhere else.

"If anyone - and that includes Mr Kenny or Mr Martin - have information regarding the whereabouts of anyone who is a potential threat to members of the community, they should make that information known to An Garda Síochána."

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Sinn Féin TD’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Mary Lou McDonald today invited carer representative groups to the Dáil to make a case for the restoration of the Respite Care Grant. The carer representative groups were given the opportunity to address TD’s and Senators from all political parties and make their case for the restoration of the €325 grant.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh stated:

“Myself and my colleague Mary Lou McDonald invited these groups all of whom represent and/or work to support carers, people with disabilities and older people.  

“Carers, because of the nature of their role in society, don’t often get the chance to take to the streets in protest or kick up a fuss. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to ignore them.

“The government had many options in terms of trying to reverse some of the worst impacts of successive austerity budgets. Restoring the Respite Care Grant should have been a priority. What we are saying is that it is not too late. In the overall scheme of things we are not talking about a huge sum of money – just €29.6 million – out of a budget of billions.

“We are calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Social Protection to reverse this cut and to restore the respite care grant in full.”

Deputy McDonald said:

“Carers are among the hardest-working groups in society. The work they do is invaluable to their families and communities and their work saves the state millions of euro year in year out.

“Instead of appropriately recognising and rewarding this contribution the government has instead cut benefits, including the Respite Care Grant. The meagre €5.00 extra in children’s allowance won’t make up for that.

“Today we heard testimonies from parents and carers who can’t afford to heat their homes, can’t afford to buy new shoes for their children and who haven’t been able to go on a family holiday for years. The Respite Care Grant is used by families to pay for necessities as well as treats and its cut has caused enormous hardship for thousands of families.”

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Sinn Féin MEPs today voted in favour of increasing EU funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency in Palestine.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson made the case for increased funding saying:

"Whilst the budget is not ideal I voted in favour of supporting the peace process and financial assistance for Palestine and for UNRWA.

"As the people of Gaza are emerging from the most recent onslaught their needs are greater than ever and UNRWA needs financial support to carry out their work.

"UNRWA is dealing with thousands of families who are homeless and without livelihood. Even those with homes find themselves in neighbourhoods where water, sewerage and electricity systems have been demolished.

"The future of Gaza must not be defined by the instability and poverty imposed by the blockade.

The international community needs to do more than just providing humanitarian assistance. We must take action to address the underlying causes of the crisis. Hence, ending Israels occupation in Palestine.

"As we wait on that to happen, UNRWA is playing a leading role in addressing the devastation caused by the recent conflict and the pervasive effect of the Israeli imposed blockade.

"UNRWA is seeking $1.6 billion for emergency relief, early recovery and reconstruction priorities in the Gaza Strip, and hence, the EU must increase UNRWAs budget.

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