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Sinn Féin stands for equality and protecting the most vulnerable. Our progressive politics and commitment to the rights of citizens is the only alternative to the extreme austerity agenda of the British government. A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for real and lasting positive change.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.


Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to...



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has demanded clarity from the British Government following a near fatal incident involving a local trawler and a submarine 18 miles off the coast of Ardglass.

"This is an extremely serious incident and very concerning for the entire fishing fleet," the Mid-Ulster MLA said.

"The crew of the Karen were fortunate to escape with their lives after the trawler was towed backwards at a speed of 10 knots as trawl wires and fishing gear were smashed to pieces.

"I have contacted the British government today seeking urgent discussions regarding this incident.

"I believe they have very serious questions to answer, particularly amid concerns that the vessel involved could have been part of the hugely controversial Trident nuclear fleet.

"There are also reports the vessel could have been involved in a NATO training exercise or even a Russian ship.

"But whatever the truth of the matter, our fishermen deserve answers and assurances that their lives aren't going to be endangered by the reckless actions of submariners, whatever country they belong to."

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Belfast man Christy Walsh has suffered a miscarriage of justice and should be compensated, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said.

Mr. McGuinness was speaking after meeting Mr Walsh in Stormont today.

"I met this afternoon with Christy Walsh, who is clearly a victim of injustice," he commented.

"He spent many years in prison and should be entitled to compensation for his experiences.

"Sinn Féin has raised this case with David Ford and we will continue to support Mr Walsh in his quest for justice." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed a determination by the Parades Commission to restrict an Orange Order parade in Glengormley. 

Mr Kelly said; 

"I welcome today's decision by the Parades Commission to place restrictions on this parade. 

"This is a new parade and Sinn Féin met with the Parades Commission to discuss it. 

"It has been diverted away from the Children's Hospice and nearby nationalist homes and that is to be welcomed. 

"The original application was unnecessary and provocative and the local community will be pleased with this determination. 

"It reinforces the point that dialogue is key to resolving issues around contentious parades." 

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Sinn Féin Leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the commitment from the Taoiseach that the government will hold a debate in the Dáil following the publication of the report from the McMahon Working Group into the Direct Provision system.

Teachta Adams raised the issue with the Taoiseach yesterday during Order of Business.

Teachta Adams said:

“The Direct Provision system is 15 years old this month, but it has been widely condemned for the ill-treatment of refugees who are denied the right to work and are paid a derisory living allowance.

“The Direct Provision system was originally intended to accommodate asylum seekers for six months. Today, almost half of the 4,324 people living in the system have been there for five years and many have been there longer than that. Twenty five per cent of people living in the centres have been there for more than six years. At least one person has been in the system for 14 years. In addition, figures from the Minister for Justice have revealed that 61 asylum seekers have died in direct provision since 2002. 16 of these were under five. This is unacceptable.

“Conditions in the centres are also unacceptable. They are overcrowded with families often sharing one room. To the government’s shame, around one third (1529) of those in the 34 DP centres are children.

“Successive Irish governments have paid private contractors over €850 million to run these centres since 2000. Some own more than one centre and some have received more than €100 million in state funding.

“The Taoiseach previously told me that the report of the working group chaired by Mr. Justice Bryan MacMahon would be published by March, then it became Easter.

“In his reply to me on Wednesday the Taoiseach said that Justice McMahon expects ‘to submit his final report to the Minister before the end of May’. I know from speaking to him that the range of cases arising has been much more extensive than one might have imagined. I do not wish to speculate on the outcome but it will be debated in the House when the Minister publishes it. It is a matter of considerable importance.” 

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Speaking from Brussels this morning, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West and member of the European Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Matt Carthy has echoed the calls of his Oireachtas colleague Martin Ferris for the Government to establish an independent working group to address the issues surrounding land eligibility.

Carthy said:

“I recently met with senior representatives of the ICSA to discuss a number of issues affecting the farming community in my constituency.

“One of the issues which arose, as it does frequently in any meeting of farmers or their representatives, is the issue of land eligibility.

“Some 30,000 farmers across the country have received letters from the Department outlining reductions in their farming area and it is estimated that just over one third of those who have received the letters have chosen to appeal, highlighting the high level of scepticism among the farming community regarding the process.

“There is growing speculation among the farming community that the Department is deliberately targeting marginal farmers in order to offset a fine from the European Commission to the tune of €180million. This is unfair.

“Meanwhile, appeals that are being processed from 2013 are still being held up and are affecting the farmers entitlement to a variety of payments upon which their income depends.

“This issue is impacting particularly on farmers with marginal and disadvantaged land who rely heavily on payments to maintain an adequate level of income.

“Farmers from across my constituency and beyond have consistently highlighted to me the problems with both the ground and aerial inspections and this is a matter that I have raised in the European Parliament at Committee level directly with Phil Hogan.

“I am currently working on a submission to the Commissioner outlining the practical difficulties faced by farmers subject to the inspection process, which I hope will be positively received and provide the means to simplify the requirements at European level.

In the meantime, it appears that there is a growing sense of inease among the farming community in relation to the Government's handling of this issue and I feel that the suggestion of an independent working group to establish a clear set of guidelines would go some way in addressing this issue to everyone's satisfaction."


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Note: PQ relating to this press release is below.

Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson for Children Sandra McLellan has outlined how Tánaiste Joan Burton’s much heralded After-School Childcare scheme has solved nothing on the childcare issue, with only 267 children using the scheme instead of the 6,000 promised places in 2012.

Deputy McLellan, responding to figures given in response to a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, said; 

“Figures given in response to a parliamentary question to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs show that a shockingly low number of only 202 parents are availing of the After-School Childcare (ASCC) programme. 

“When this scheme was launched with great fanfare in 2012, it was to have funds of 14 million per year allocated to it. This allocation was to provide over 6,000 part time after school child care places for the children of low income parents.

“However despite the desultory uptake due to huge cuts in the scheme’s funding, Tánaiste Joan Burton continues to fly the flag for this scheme in numerous media interviews and in the Dáil, portraying it as a success story of this Government.

“Even today the Tánaiste mentioned the scheme, justifying cuts in the lone parent allowance in response to questions raised by Mary Lou McDonald.

“The scheme is typical of the Government’s ‘big announcement, no action’ style of politics. It betrays Fine Gael and the Labour Party’s real commitment to childcare, and casts doubt in the minds of parents about this Government's authenticity in addressing childcare issues. 

“It certainly puts serious doubt into my mind what the Minister perceives to be a successful initiative. This certainly wasn't one. This Government made "Increased access to subsidised childcare and after school places" one of its Government Priorities in 2014 for the remaining term. How does the lack uptake of this initiative speak to this Government now?”

QUESTION NOS:  416 & 417
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 15/04/2015  



*  416.  To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the total number of children and households availing of the Afterschool Childcare Scheme..

                                                                                         - Aengus Ó Snodaigh

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 15th April, 2015.

*  417.  To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child care providers participating in the Afterschool Childcare Scheme, by county..

                                                                                         - Aengus Ó Snodaigh

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 15th April, 2015.

 
REPLY.

The total number of children and the number of parents availing of the After-School Childcare (ASCC) programme and the number of child care providers participating in the programme, as requested by the Deputy, are shown on the attached table.

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Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy and Natural Resources has called for the EPA to appear before the Transport and Communications Committee following the publishing of their interim report on fracking.

Deputy Colreavy said:

“The interim report published by the EPA is an insult to the committee and to the Minister. There is little or no substantive information regarding the progress of their work investigating what is a very dangerous method of extracting gas.

“The interim report is simply bluffing off the minister, elected officials and members of the public as to what progress is really being made.

“Fracking is a potentially very dangerous procedure that could destroy the water supply, the agriculture and tourism industries in the Lough Allen Basin. Therefore, the EPA need to be thorough and detailed in their investigation.

“I am making a request that the EPA come before the Transport and Communications Committee to give a proper and comprehensive account of the work that they have carried out so far, and of the work that they intend to do over the next number of months.

“Confidence in any final report produced by the EPA at the end of this process hinges on an open and transparent programme of work during the drafting of the report.” 

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Note: PQ relating to this press release is below.

A response to a Parliamentary Question from Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has shown that more than half of Freedom of Information requests to the Department of Environment this year relating to Irish Water were not answered within the statutory timeframe. 

The reply from Minister Alan Kelly’s Department outlined that fifty Freedom of Information requests relating to Irish Water were received by the department so far this year. Of those only twenty-three were answered within the statutory timeframe, a further ten were completed within an extended period, fourteen were answered outside the extended period timeframe and three are outstanding.

Speaking today Deputy Doherty said; 

“The Department of Environment is responsible for the Freedom of Information requests yet it has failed to answer more than half of requests submitted to that department on Irish Water this year within the statutory timeframe. 

“This is an outrageous situation and I would call on Minister Alan Kelly to make a statement on the matter at the earliest opportunity. 

“Freedom of Information requests are an important piece of our democratic fabric and they need to be taken seriously. 

“We should not allow a situation to exist where the department that is responsible for FoI requests can’t even facilitate its own requests. If this is a matter of resources the Minister should provide them without delay." 

ENDS

Question No.            769

Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:

To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:                                                                 

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of Freedom of Information requests received by his Department relating to Irish Water since 1 January 2014; the number of these that were completed on time; the number that were completed after an extra requested period; the number that were not completed in either of these timeframes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 15th April, 2015.

Ref No:   14068/15

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly)

My Department received fifty Freedom of Information requests relating to Irish Water in the period 1 January 2014 to 10 April 2015.

Of those requests, twenty three were answered within the statutory timeframe. A further ten were completed within an extended period, which was required for additional consideration of the request and which was notified to the requestor. Fourteen requests were answered outside the timeframes and three requests are currently being processed.

While every effort is made within my Department to respond to requests as promptly as possible, it is sometimes necessary to extend the period for processing of requests due to reasons such as the need for third party consultation or the volume of material to be examined.

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Sinn Féin Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has stated that decent work with decent pay is a basic demand.

The Cork North Central TD made the comments today in support of a Sinn Féin PMB motion which calls for a ban on zero contracts and for the coalition to set a date for the introduction of Collective Bargaining legislation which statutorily compels employers to engage with trade unions; provides for trade union recognition; and has robust anti-victimisation clauses to protect workers from intimidation.

Speaking from Leinster House today, Deputy O’Brien said;

"It is unfortunate but unsurprising that the Government has rejected the motion.

“Asking for a permanent employment contract, decent rates of pay, guaranteed working hours, and decent working conditions is not a lot. It’s not like they are seeking a doubling of their wages or some extravagant pay increase.

“It is security. They are asking to be employed in a manner that allows them to know if they can make their rent week to week, or pay for childcare, or their children’s dinners.

“It is a basic demand.

“This government promised they would introduce collective bargaining legislation and it is still nowhere to be seen. Now companies like Dunnes are punishing and sacking workers for attempting to engage in a fight for better conditions.

“I commend the Dunnes worker for the stand they took in going out on strike recently. It was a brave move.

“They are not asking for much at all.

“It is, as the Mandate campaign has titled it, only basic decency they are asking for.

“It suits the government to have a legal framework that allows employers to stagger ten hours of employment over five days and have a workforce there at their beck and call. It suites the government to allow workers live their lives with the threat of unemployment hanging over them.

‘It suits them because they get to say to their employees that due to unemployment, there will always be someone there to take the place of that worker and do the hard graft for poor wages and in poor conditions.

“A third of all one-income households are deprived.

“I don’t know how anyone can stand over that. It is a shocking statistic.

“Low pay means an increased dependency on social transfers. The state is subsidising low pay employers in the pursuit of profit. That isn’t right. There is talk of economic recovery, but there are people out there who had nothing before the recession, and nothing during and still haven’t a penny right now.

“This motion created an opportunity to change that by enacting basic standards in employment law.”

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