Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed efforts to make the Assembly more environmentally friendly but said more can be done.
Mr McMullan said;
"I asked the Assembly Commission to detail the various energy saving schemes currently in use in Stormont.
"In response I have been told that electricity usage and gas usage has been reduced, recycling rates have increased considerably and paper consumption is also down.
"While these improvements are welcome in terms of making the Assembly more environmentally friendly, I found it ironic that the response to my question was sent to me on paper in an envelope.
"Surely it would make more sense to issue responses electronically via email in order to further reduce paper consumption.
"I will be contacting the Assembly Commission by email to suggest this in order to keep reducing our carbon footprint."
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan has raised concerns in relation to the proposed new model for resource teaching hours in an engagement with the National Council for Special Education at this morning’s Oireachtas Committee Meeting on Education and Skills.
Teachta Nolan said:
“The new resource allocation model has been designed in response to the fact that assessments for children are not carried out in a timely manner, causing huge delays in accessing critical resources.
“While I welcome genuine attempts to ensure that children with special educational needs are in a position to access resources within an appropriate time frame, there are serious concerns with the proposed model.
“The €18 million allocated for the model is insufficient as a department briefing states that €24 million would be required to implement the model in 2017.
“The Department has also yet to publish the review of the pilot project of the proposed new model, which was carried out in 47 schools across the state last year.
“It is an issue of concern that the details upon which schools will be allocated resources such as the educational profile and weighting systems have not yet been finalised.
“The fact that resources once allocated under the new model will remain fixed for two to three years raises questions about the flexibility to deal with students who enter the education system with special educational needs or who have needs that only come to light at a later stage in the school year.
“The implementation of the EPSEN act 2004 still remains critical and the National Council for Special Education has made it clear that the new resource allocation model is not a substitute for the implementation of the act in full.
“Despite this, it would appear that the Department of Education has abandoned the implementation of this act in the foreseeable future and there are concerns that this new model will become a permanent feature of our education system.
“I am calling on the Department to of Education to give a clear commitment that supports for children with special educational needs will be adequately resourced, that the EPSEN Act will be implemented in full, that the review of the pilot will be published and immediate action will be taken to clarify the details of the new allocation model prior to its introduction in schools next September.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has encouraged those interested in disability rights to attend a major conference in Louth on November 4.
Speaking ahead of a hosting a major conference on disability rights, Ms Anderson said;
"As vice president of the European Parliament's disability intergroup I will be hosting a major conference on disability rights entitled, 'Unite for Rights' in the Carrickdale Hotel, Louth, on Friday, November 4.
"This conference will bring together human rights and disability experts, as well as MEPs and other representatives to discuss disability rights and inclusion.
"Among those taking part in the discussion at the conference will be Les Allamby from the Human Rights Commission, Monica Wilson from Disability Action and Ann Sofia, Human Rights Officer with the European Disability Forum, as well as legal experts.
"The result of the EU referendum and the prospect of being dragged out of the EU by the British government will also have a huge impact on disability rights and we will be discussing the prospect of Brexit at the conference.
"These discussions will help inform policy around disability rights issues as we move forward.
"I would encourage anyone interested in disability rights to come along and take part in this conference.
"Registration is at 9am and it will run until 2pm. Those wishing to attend should contact [email protected]."
The Moore Street Battlefield Site plan published today offers an alternative vision for the area, as opposed to demolition and a giant shopping mall, stated Sinn Féin Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh at the launch of the Plan in Dublin’s Mansion House today.
Published by the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street and commissioned by Cllr. Ní Dhálaigh during her term as Ard Mhéara/Lord Mayor, the Plan proposes the preservation and sensitive development of the site as an historic quarter of the city, with special emphasis on the GPO escape route. Cllr Ní Dhálaigh said:
“During my term as Ard Mhéara from June 2015 to June 2016 I prioritised the saving of Moore Street and the Battlefield Site and the campaign to develop an historic 1916 cultural quarter at the heart of our capital city. Working with the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street I established an expert working group who developed this document.
“I am delighted today to launch this Plan which demonstrates clearly that the choice in Moore Street and the Battlefield Site today is NOT between the current neglect and dereliction of the area and a giant shopping mall that would involve the destruction of the battlefield site.
“No, there is another way. We can preserve and protect the entire 1916 terrace 10-25 Moore Street and the lanes of history and we can create a cultural and historical quarter with a thriving street trading and commercial life.
“This Plan offers a vision of how such a quarter might look. It is not by any means exclusive of other plans or visions. It is not a detailed blueprint. But it does draw together the history of the battlefield site, describes it in detail, tells the story of the campaign to preserve it and offers a view on how it might be preserved and developed sensitively.
“The demolition and shopping mall plan is thoroughly discredited and I believe it will never see the light of day. This is about the alternative.
“I welcome the recent establishment by Minister Heather Humphries of the Moore Street Consultative Group to chart the way forward for the Battlefield site. I welcome the fact that the Group has been given a wide remit and has begun its work. Let us hope that progress can be made. Government must give leadership.”
Full text follows:
Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street
Battlefield Site Plan – Launch 27 October 2016
Cllr. Críona Ní Dhálaigh
Cuirim fáilte mhór romhaibh uile chun Teach an Árd Mhéara agus muid ag seoladh Plean Sráid Uí Mhordha atá foilishte ag Fóram an Ard Mhéara.
Bhí caomhnú Sráid Uí Mhordha agus mar príóreacht agam i rith mo théarma mar Ard Mhéara. D’oibrigh mé le Fóram an Ard Mhéara ar Sráid Uí Mhordha agus chuireamar grúpa oibre ar bun, le seaneolaithe atá tar éis na moltaí sa Phlean seo a cheapadh. Molaim an Plean daoibh.
You are all very welcome to the Mansion House for the launch of the Moore Street Battlefield Site Plan produced by the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street. I wish to thank the current Lord Mayor Brendan Carr and my predecessor as Ard Mhéara Christy Burke for facilitating this process.
I want to especially welcome all of you who have been working so hard to save this vital part of our national heritage. Your work was never more relevant and essential than it has been this year, the Centenary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the Easter Rising of 1916.
Through your efforts over many years you ensured that the last headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic was still standing in this Centenary year. We all know that it would have been rubble many years ago if so-called developers and planners had got their way.
Campaigners, including relatives of the Proclamation signatories and of the other executed leaders, as well as descendants of the members of the Easter Week garrisons, have ensured that the historic quarter we seek can indeed become a reality.
During my term as Ard Mhéara from June 2015 to June 2016 I prioritised the saving of Moore Street and the Battlefield Site and the campaign to develop an historic 1916 cultural quarter at the heart of our capital city. Working with the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street I established an expert working group who developed this document.
I am delighted today to launch this Plan which demonstrates clearly that the choice in Moore Street and the Battlefield Site today is NOT between the current neglect and dereliction of the area and a giant shopping mall that would involve the destruction of the battlefield site.
No, there is another way. We can preserve and protect the entire 1916 terrace 10-25 Moore Street and the lanes of history and we can create a cultural and historical quarter with a thriving street trading and commercial life.
This Plan offers a vision of how such a quarter might look. It is not by any means exclusive of other plans or visions. It is not a detailed blueprint. But it does draw together the history of the battlefield site, describes it in detail, tells the story of the campaign to preserve it and offers a view on how it might be preserved and developed sensitively.
As I say in my introduction to this document the demolition and shopping mall plan is thoroughly discredited and I believe it will never see the light of day. This is about the alternative.
I welcome the recent establishment by Minister Heather Humphries of the Moore Street Consultative Group to chart the way forward for the Battlefield site. I welcome the fact that the Group has been given a wide remit and has begun its work. Let us hope that progress can be made. Government must give leadership.
This Plan can now be used as a resource in the ongoing campaign to save Moore Street and reinforce the argument for the development of the historic quarter.
Molaim an plean seo daoibh agus go néirí linn uile san obair.
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon raised concerns about future support for Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) at the Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs Committee meeting today.
The party’s spokesperson on agriculture said:
"The committee agreed to have the Ulster Farmers Union and the Agricultural Producers Association make a presentation on the future of support for ANC.
“This is an extremely important issue and we must ensure support for ANCs is secured.
“In his response to my question the Chief Executive of the Livestock and Meat Commission supported this view.
“He stated that given the essential role of ANCs to the beef and lamb production that we could not afford to see any developments that would pose a threat to the production of raw material.
“I would call on the Minister to take note and give a listening ear to the stakeholders who are supporting the continuation of ANC support.”
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will have to take action and approach the slurry storage and spreading crisis which is building in the North West, says Martin Kenny, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture and TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal.
Deputy Kenny said:
“We all understand the reasons behind a slurry spreading deadline and, of course, support the prevention of pollution and other ecological aims for which it was designed.
“However, we have a situation in the North West that after a wet summer, slurry storage is full and the ground has not been fit for spreading. Now, even though the deadline has passed, the weather has been dry and the ground more suitable, but farmers are being threatened with severe penalties if they go ahead and do what is necessary.
“This is the perfect example of why farming by calendar does not work. The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, assured me and other elected representatives from the region that some flexibility would be shown in the circumstances.
“A phone number was supplied but farmers calling it are referred to the section of the Department dealing with the Nitrates Directive and are told not to spread.
“Now that winter is here and it is time to put stock back indoors, this is a crisis. There is no room for delay as the weather could be wet again next week and the Minister and the Department have to be decisive and act now.
“I am calling on Minister Creed to clear up the confusion between two sections of his Department in animal welfare and nitrates and to help farmers deal with this situation while weather permits.”
It has emerged today that both the department and Túsla have proposed measures that would see Guardian Ad Litems no longer receive legal representation when it comes to advocating for children in a court setting. Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has expressed dismay at these proposals.
The Cork South Central TD said:
“I’m somewhat baffled that these proposals can even be considered, especially from what appears to be an attempt to save costs.
“In 2012, we had a referendum on the rights of the child, a vote which passed by close to 60%. This measure being put forward flies in the face of that result.
“The best interests of the child should always be paramount in a legal case directly involving any children.
“Guardian Ad Litems give a voice to these children, a voice that went unheard for decades.
“Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon today said that removing the right of court-appointed guardians to legal representation would be a U-turn on the constitutional rights of the child.
“Justice O’Hanlon also stated that these proposals may engage the article-six right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Minister Zappone must come forward and clarify her position on this matter immediately.”
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has called on the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to provide an appropriate and detailed response to the independent report, which she commissioned, on the concentration of media ownership in Ireland.
The report, published this week, calls for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the matter.
"Whatever about the opinion of Denis O'Brien, it is clear that Minister for Communications cannot continue to dismiss the substance and import of this report. Its analysis, findings and recommendations are extremely important and should be given the serious treatment warranted by their weight.
"This is not only about the future of the media in this state but the manner in which the Minister now responds has implications for the development of good public policy in this area. We cannot have Ministers rubbishing and criticising such contributions without having taken the time to read and study them. I think we can all agree that this is not an approach to discussions around public policy that should be allowed to stand, especially from those in Ministerial office.
"It is worth remembering that this is the same Minister who is contemplating subsidising the print media with taxpayers' money and yet he casually dismisses a groundbreaking report that flags up very serious issues in the landscape of that sector. That is incredibly reckless.
"Any objective and reasonable reading of this report reveals its obvious value in charting a pathway to a media market in Ireland that is open, diverse and pluralistic.
"This is surely an honourable aim around which we can find common ground. Therefore, Minister Naughten should now give an appropriate and detailed response to the matters addressed in the report and the call for the establishment of a commission of inquiry."
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady extends his congratulations to Katie Taylor, who hails from his hometown of Bray, as she steps into the professional world of boxing.
Teachta Brady said:
“I was delighted to hear the news this afternoon that Katie Taylor has signed a professional contract with Matchroom Boxing.
“Katie Taylor has been a brilliant ambassador for Wicklow and for Ireland throughout her amateur boxing campaign.
“She has been a fantastic role model for young people all over the country especially, for young girls. This will continue in her professional career.
“Katie’s gold medal at Olympics 2012 is seen by many as the highlight of her amateur career but with that also came six European titles and five world titles. I would class her as one of Ireland’s greatest amateur sporting stars of all time.
“I wish Katie well in her future as a professional boxer. I have no doubt that her successes in the boxing world will continue as she takes this step in her career.
“Next month, Katie will make her debut at London’s Wembley Arena and she will do so with the full support of the people of Bray, Wicklow, and her country.”
Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has stated central government must do more to encourage councils to draw down the maximum traveller accommodation allocations available.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Information I received in a parliamentary response from the Department this week indicated that only €1,607,946 of €5,500,000 in allocated government funding for traveller accommodation has been drawn down to date in 2016.
“It is a matter of concern that, on the basis of the figures provided, that some local authorities haven’t used their allocation for 2015 or drawn down their allocation for 2016 yet. For example, Clare County council was allocated €37,000 in 2015, recouped none of this from central government, was allocated €200,000 in 2016 and has not claimed back a cent yet. Similarly, Cork County Council was allocated €149,000 in capital allocations in 2015 and also recouped none for that year. In total in 2015, six local authorities were allocated funding that wasn't drawn down.
“Minister Coveney did state in his response that his Department is currently contacting every relevant local authority in order to ensure that drawdown is maximised. However I wonder if it’s now time to change the government’s approach towards how it allocates capital funding for the purposes of traveller accommodation.
“The government has stated it is increasing the funding available by €3.5m for 2017. However this funding is no good when it is not being utilised. Sinn Féin has stated in our Better4Housing policy document that the government should frontload funding for local authorities with a good track record of drawing down funding.
“The Minister must do more than pay lip service to the issue and he must find a better way of ensuring that adequate traveller accommodation is provided in a prompt manner by all local authorities.”
Note: Please see the PQ in question below
Question No. 264
Chun an Aire Tithíochta, Pleanála, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the amount of funding allocated and drawn down by all local authorities for traveller accommodation in 2015 and to date in 2016; and his plans for improving the drawdown of local authorities in 2017 as a result of the funding increase announced in Budget 2017..
- Eoin Ó Broin.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 25th October, 2016.
Ref No: 31758/16
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)
In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.
The capital allocations in respect of Traveller-specific accommodation for 2015 and 2016, and amounts recouped in 2015 and to date in 2016 are set out in the table below. Typically, the bulk of expenditure occurs in the last quarter of the year, having regard to lead in times for planning, design and construction of capital projects. To ensure maximum expenditure and delivery of accommodation, local authorities submit quarterly profiles of expenditure to my Department. These are monitored against actual expenditure and if a difficulty is identified in drawing down funding allocated for a particular scheme during the year, it is reallocated to another scheme. Expenditure during 2016 is being closely monitored and my Department is currently contacting every relevant local authority in order to ensure that drawdown is maximised.
My Department also provides current funding for accommodation-related supports to operate in tandem with the capital programme. Current funding of €4.3m is being provided in 2016. Over €3.2m has been recouped to local authorities in 2016 to date, of which€0.943m was self-funded by local authorities from surplus Local Property Tax receipts. A similar level of current funding will be provided in 2017.
Capital funding of €9m is being provided for Traveller-specific accommodation in 2017, an increase of €3.5m (64%) on the 2016 allocation. This is the second consecutive year that the Traveller Accommodation capital budget has been increased. Included in this is provision to assist local authorities with the costs of capital works arising from the fire safety review of traveller-specific accommodation.
As regards the delivery of Traveller-specific accommodation and associated funding, theProgramme for Partnership Government commits to establishing a special working group to audit the current delivery and implementation of local authorities’ Traveller Accommodation Plans and consult with stakeholders on key areas of concern. This commitment has been underpinned in Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, which provides for the commissioning by the Housing Agency of an expert, independent review of Traveller accommodation expenditure and delivery of units, having regard to the targets contained in the local authority Traveller Accommodation Programmes. The review has commenced and is due to be completed in quarter two of 2017. The review will provide factual information and a key platform for the special working group to progress its work effectively. The working group will be established as soon as possible after completion of the review.
Traveller Accommodation: Capital Allocations and Amounts Recouped
*Includes €55,000 which was self-funded by Fingal County Council from surplus Local Property Tax receipts..
Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny, who represents Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, has noted that a deal has been done in Belgium, with the regional government of Wallonia, regarding the Canada-EU agreement which is now likely to go ahead.
Deputy Kenny said:
“CETA could be the final nail in the coffin for the country's beef farmers who are literally on their knees as it is. They will not be able to compete with cheap Canadian beef entering the EU.
“I note that the Wallonian regional government got a deal which it says will help protect its agri-food and farming industries. This is more than can be said for the Irish government which once again has rolled over at the whim of Brussels and failed to protect our farmers from this damaging deal, which will be followed by TTIP if we are not vigilant.
“Under the CETA trade agreement, the EU will be granting Canada the right to export into the EU 50,000 tonnes of beef which would include 15,000 tonnes of frozen beef, 30,838 tonnes of fresh/chilled beef and 4,162 tonnes of fresh beef.
“Teagasc in its National Farm Survey Results 2015 says that the average family farm income across the 84,259 farms represented by the survey was €26,303 in 2015. Cattle-rearing farms have the lowest average farm income a mere €12,660 with a majority (53%) of cattle rearing farms earning less than €10,000 in 2015.
“Beef Analysis 2025, a briefing document prepared by the Department of Agriculture shows that beef accounts for 30% of gross farm output making it the most important primary agriculture product in Ireland.
“We export 90% of our beef making us the biggest net exporter of beef in the EU and the fifth biggest in the world. Exports are in the region of 500,000 tonnes worth over €2 billion.
“Britain is still the biggest market for our beef representing 53% of exports or 250,000 tonnes. Most of the rest of our beef goes to Europe, particularly France, Italy, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
“Consumption in the EU, the market which accounts for over 98% of Irish exports has declined since 2010 to under 7.8 million tonnes and is expected to remain at that level into 2023.
“Current imports into the EU amount to 300,000 tonnes and the import requirement in the coming years is not predicted to go much beyond this.
“Beef farmers will not be able to take another hit if cheap Canadian beef enters the EU. Many beef farmers will be forced out of business and if this is allowed to happen our most important industry in terms of trade will be jeopardised.
“It's ironic that one arm of the government, namely the Department of Agriculture, is working to increase beef output while another arm, the Cabinet, is hell bent on ratifying a toxic trade deal which will flood the EU with cheap beef to compete with our exports.”
Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, welcomed that 191 countries supported a UN resolution calling for an end to the USA’s blockade of Cuba and that the USA abstained from voting against the annual resolution for the very first time.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The US Government first imposed economic, commercial, and financial restrictions on Cuba in October 1960 shortly after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
“The 56 year old blockade directly violates the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which reaffirms the freedom of trade and navigation. This unilateral measure imposed against Cuba has cost the island billions of dollars and its human impact is incalculable.
“This is the 25th year in a row that the UN has voted to support a resolution calling for the lifting of the USA’s illegal blockade of Cuba. Last year only Israel and the USA voted against it, and I want to welcome that they abstained and adopted a different approach this year, and crucially no country voted against the resolution on 26 October.
“Sadly the resolution is non-binding, and despite the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the progress in this area, the reality is that the US economic, commercial and financial blockade continues to operate on a daily basis against the Cuban people.
“Normal relations between two sovereign countries cannot exist while one is kept under an unfair and brutal blockade.
“The embargo against Cuba is illegal and inhumane, and it must be removed unilaterally and unconditionally.”
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has extended an invitation to the Minister for Health in the North Michelle O’Neill to address Seanad Éireann.
Niall Ó Donnghaile was speaking after the health and social care sector in the North welcomed the Sinn Féin Health Minister’s report on transforming the health service ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together’.
Senator Ó Donnghaile said:
“Sinn Féin believes healthcare must be developed on an all-Ireland basis.
The Health Minister Michelle Ó Neill has launched a visionary plan aimed at transforming healthcare in the north and highlighting the importance of health care free at the point of delivery.
“One of the key issues Minister O’Neill has been working on with Minister Harris has been greater harmonisation and co-operation on health services on an all-Ireland basis.
“We have all seen the benefits of cross-border working.
“As such I have extended an invitation to the north’s Health Minister to address the Seanad on her report in making a 20th Century health service fit for purpose in the 21st Century delivering for patients and staff alike.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Fingal Louise O’Reilly today raised the issue of pyritic damage to homes in Dublin Fingal with the Minister for Finance during the passage of the Finance Bill. Drawing on the parallels between the help to buy scheme for first time buyers, she called on the Government to extend the eligibility under the pyrite remediation scheme to include Building Condition Assessments with a Damage Condition Rating of 1 so that families left in limbo in Dublin Fingal can get access to recourse.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“This legislation gives effect to the builder’s bonanza that
is the help to buy scheme-
With all the evidence pointing to the scheme increasing house prices, increasing debt on young families and increasing profits for builders.
“In this giveaway, has any thought been given to the type of homes that this scheme will bankroll? I ask because in the area I represent, as you are aware, there has been an historic issue with pyrite.
“Families, young couples, first time buyers paid large sums of money, only now to have their home rendered effectively worthless. Burdened with negative equity, a house with no resale potential and often little chance of remediation, these people found absolutely no hope in this Budget.
“It is a condition of eligibility under the pyrite remediation scheme that an application to the Pyrite Resolution Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2. This means that many households are locked out of the scheme; stuck in limbo.
“We must remember Minister, these were the group of people who one time were encouraged to get on the property ladder and to get that starter home. But now, they are left with these houses, riddled with pyrite and often no recourse to remediation.
“With all the talk of your help to buy scheme, what about help to stay for people like this? For people who have damage condition ratings of 1, negative equity, a starter home that has now become their forever home with perhaps a family that doesn’t fit into it, what about help for them?
“Minister, I am calling for the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to extend the eligibility under the pyrite remediation scheme so that Building Condition Assessments with a Damage Condition Rating of 1 can be included.
“I have a motion on the order paper that I hope other TDs can and will support, particularly those TDs in my own constituency who know the stories and issues first hand. Your Government want to show you attach importance to pyrite remediation, then this is a way to do that. I am asking you now Minister to work with your cabinet colleagues on this.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called for clarity on the future of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments.
The vice chair of the Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs committee said:
"The current ANC scheme, which has been important in supporting productivity in severely disadvantaged areas, is due to end in March 2017.
"As yet we don't know if there will be a continuation of ANC payments.
"Farmers in these areas will face a loss of income if there is no replacement for the current ANC scheme.
"In response to the DAERA consultation earlier this year, the Minister ruled out either reducing the Basic Payment Scheme to fund an ANC Scheme or funding it through the Rural Development Programme.
"In response to my recent question she reiterated this view and stated she was still considering other options but, given the pressures on both the Department’s and the Executive’s budget, providing any additional support will be challenging.
"The lack of a decision on the future of the ANC scheme or its replacement has resulted in great uncertainty for farmers.
“Given that farmers are already facing into an uncertain future as a result of the British government's plan to pull us out of the European Union clarity on the situation is needed and soon.
“The north voted to remain as part of the EU and that vote must be respected.”
Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada MEP has today welcomed the European Parliament’s incorporation of Sinn Féin´s proposal calling for the need for measures to ensure the protection of the instruments of the Good Friday Agreement and the Peace Process, including support for regions such as the North and the border areas.
“I welcome the fact that the European Parliament today has acknowledged how vital the instruments of the Good Friday Agreement is for peace in Ireland with its incorporation of my proposal for ensuring support for the north and the border communities into its mandate for negotiating the budget with the Council and Commission. It shows a welcome level of commitment to upholding the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement and I am happy to see that it is a key priority of the Parliament as demonstrated by the inclusion of the Article in the Resolution.
“The Irish government supported by Fianna Fáil, and the British Conservative government must now follow support in ensuring the north gets the best out of a bad situation as a result of Brexit."
Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, Martin Kenny has reiterated his party’s support for a ban on fracking and has described the government’s amendment to the Tony McLoughlin bill as a sinister and deceitful development by a Fine Gael government which is clearly not willing to implement a ban on hydrolic fracturing.
Deputy Kenny said:
“When I saw that Tony McLoughlin’s bill was being introduced in private members’ time and not as government legislation, I feared that the government was not committed to a ban on fracking.
“As his bill came out in the Dáil lottery before our own Sinn Féin legislation to ban fracking, we were prepared to support it in line with our commitment to prohibit it on the island of Ireland, North and South.”
“The government amendment to this bill is a sinister and deceitful development which does not ban fracking and introduces reports, consultations and other delaying tactics before a second reading, not until the middle of next year.
“We don’t need any more reports or consultation on fracking when the most reputable bodies and scientists have proven its devastating effects on the environment. This is something that we do not want here and as soon as possible Sinn Féin will introduce legislation to ban it.
“This amendment reintroduces the discredited report carried for the EPA by CDM Smith a long-standing proponent of fracking and advocate for the oil industry. It also introduces a clause which speaks of “not giving rise to adverse effects on the use of natural resources or on the state’s energy policy” which clearly displays the government’s intention to proceed with hydrolic fracturing if it can.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking following Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, has said “I questioned the Taoiseach today in relation to claims by the British Secretary of State James Brokenshire that, and I quote, the British government ‘have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration working closely with the Irish government’.”
“The Taoiseach stated that no such measures have been agreed so the two positions of the respective governments are clearly are at odds with one another”.
An Taoiseach told the Dáil today that:
“Deputy Adams asked if we had an agreement with the British Government on the use of Irish ports. We do not have an agreement because we do not yet know whether the British Government is looking for a hard exit from the customs union and the Single Market and controls at its own borders or something else.”
On the 9th October, James Brokenshire told The Guardian that:
“We have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration working closely with the Irish government.”
“Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the Common Travel Area, building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners.”
This afternoon, at the International Parliamentary Union conference, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan called on the British Government to respect the terms of the Good Friday agreement in regards to its commitments on human rights.
Speaking at the conference in Geneva - a gathering of 141 parliaments from around the world- Senator Gavan said;
"The British Government needs to think again on its plans to revoke its commitment to the European Convention of Human Rights. This Convention is a cornerstone of the Good Friday agreement and I would urge the British government to respect their legal obligations with regard to this agreement.”
In a wide ranging address on the topic of human rights Senator Gavan also called on parliaments to pressurise the US government to end the blockade on Cuba, as well as concluding with an impassioned appeal to the world assembly of parliaments to support the cause of the Palestinian people.
The Limerick based Senator said;
"This summer, I visited Palestine on a delegation of representatives and I saw for myself the apartheid system that the Israeli Government has imposed on the Palestinian people. I witnessed Segregation, Inequality, Supremacism and Subjugation. We all need to do something about this onslaught of Israeli imperialism. Now is the time for all parliaments to endorse the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and break the Israeli stranglehold on Palestine"
Sinn Féín MLA Barry McElduff has called for a "more meaningful" consultation about Area Planning for schools.
The Chair of the Education Committee said:
“The committee received a comprehensive presentation on Area Planning from the Department of Education, Education Authority and Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.
“While I accept that good educational outcomes are the key driver for this I would ask the Education Authority to release the research and evidence which supports the minister’s argument that composite classes of three year groups provide poor educational outcomes.
“I would also call on the Department of Education and the Education Authority to consult meaningfully not just not on the ‘Providing Pathways’ document and the individual school development proposals but also on local area plans.
“The Department needs to raise awareness for this consultation which closes on 12 December and would call on interested parties, school communities and parents to actively engage with the consultation.”