Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has accused the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy of ‘abandoning’ the key Rebuilding Ireland target of delivering an average of 25,000 homes a year during the lifetime of the plan.
Deputy Ó Broin said;
"Page 57 of Rebuilding Ireland outlines the main actions under Pillar 3 of the Plan. It states clearly that 'Key actions: Doubling of output to deliver over 25,000 units per annum on average over the period of the Plan [2017-2021]'. These homes are to be provided by the private, local authority and not for profit sector.
"The Rebuilding Ireland website repeats the same commitment. In the Pillar 3 section of the site it says says 'Pillar Actions: We will ensure that an average of 25,000 homes are produced every year in the period to 2021'.
"This means that Rebuilding Ireland intended to facilitate the delivery of 125,000 homes during the lifetime of the plan.
"However this week during Oral Questions Eoghan Murphy changed this key target. He told TDs that 'The target in Rebuilding Ireland is for housing supply to increase to 25,000 in 2020'.
"This is a significantly reduced target from that stated in the original plan. Given that total output in 2017 was 14,407 and 18,072 in 2018 is is clear that the Governments plan is significantly behind its original target. To date they are 35% behind target. If this trend continues they will be 43,750 homes short of their target by 2021.
"It is clear that this is why the Minister has abandoned this key Rebuilding Ireland target. How else could he claim that his plan is working. However to simply abandon this target and hope that nobody would notice is dishonest in the extreme.
"I have written to Minister Murphy asking him to clarify what the target is, when he took the decision to abandon the original Rebuilding Ireland target and how he can claim that Rebuilding Ireland is working when it is currently 35% behind what is its single most important commitment.’
Note to editors: Links to figures
Rebuilding Ireland: http://rebuildingireland.ie/Rebuilding%20Ireland_Action%20Plan.pdf
Rebuilding Ireland website: http://rebuildingireland.ie/build-more-homes/
Oral questions 20.2.19: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2019-02-20/8/#s12
The latest dire Brexit warnings from the business community are further evidence of the catastrophic course the DUP and Tories are leading our economy towards, Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said.
The party’s Brexit spokesperson was commenting after leading retail bodies in Ireland and Britain warned that a no-deal Brexit will squeeze household budgets and lead to reduced availability of some goods.
The management of Warrenpoint Harbour also warned today that businesses are stockpiling raw materials due to the continuing Brexit uncertainty.
Chris Hazzard said:
“The warnings from Warrenpoint Harbour and some of the biggest retail organisations in these islands are just the latest in a long line of dire predictions about the impact of Brexit.
“The CBI recently warned that a no-deal Brexit would cost the North’s economy almost £5billion a year while the Bank of England predicts an almost ten per cent economic contraction — that’s worse than the banking crisis recession.
“Our economy simply could not sustain damage on that scale but, despite this, the DUP and the hard-right of the Tory Party continue to pursue a reckless agenda which is inexorably leading toward a no-deal Brexit.
“The DUP should listen to business, review their approach and drop their reckless opposition to the backstop.”
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD has said ‘CAMHS services are not meeting the needs of an entire cohort of children and young people who are often in very desperate need of immediate care.’
He said ‘we need to see real action being taken to ensure that CAMHS services are properly resourced.’
Teachta Doherty said:
“Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the State are in a state of disarray. All of us know parents and families who are struggling to access appropriate care for their children and we are all aware of inadequate staffing levels in CAMHS services that make it impossible to meet the demand for care.
“There are currently in the region of 2,560 children and young adults on CAMHS waiting lists and almost 300 of those children and young people are waiting over a year to be seen. Those figures are absolutely unacceptable.
“Early intervention is crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health issues, but early intervention cannot happen if there are extensive waiting lists and a sheer lack of capacity in the system.
“CAMHS services are not meeting the needs of an entire cohort of children and young people who are often in very desperate need of immediate care and that is due primarily because of the failure to recruit the staff needed to fully operate CAMHS teams across the State.
“CAMHS services have barely half of the staff identified as part of ‘A Vision for Change’. When ‘A Vision for Change’ was launched it was supposed to a ten-year project, but it is now twelve years’ old and it has ceased to have any meaning because so much of it remains unimplemented.
“In my own area - the CHO 1 area, which covers Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and the North West - there are ten vacant posts in CAMHS and there are a total of 240 young people waiting to be seen.
“In the CHO 4 that covers Cork and Kerry there are 650 young people on waiting lists, with over 100 children waiting more than a year and it is little wonder that is the case because in the CHO 4 area staffing levels are around 56% of the recommended level. That is an absolutely shocking figure and confirms a serious lack of capacity in services.
“We cannot allow a situation to persist, where if a child or young person needs care they are going to face an extended waiting period that puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk.
“During Leaders’ Questions in late November, in response to another question by me on this issue the Taoiseach accepted that CAMHS services are not up to scratch in many areas and said that he would ‘be looking for a report on a comparison between resources, staffing and outcomes’ in respect of CAMHS services.
“I want to know if that report has been compiled, what it contains and whether it will be published, because we need to see real action being taken to ensure that CAMHS services are properly resourced."
The Electoral Office must take immediate steps to repair the damage it caused by wrongly warning electors they would lose their right to vote in some elections if they change their nationality status to Irish, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
The Sinn Féin Vice President was commenting after an Electoral Office letter indicated that Irish citizens would not be permitted to vote in Westminster elections.
Branding the correspondence ‘a clear breach of the Good Friday Agreement’, Michelle O’Neill also revealed that she raised it with the British Government.
Michelle O’Neill commented: “I have seen an official Electoral Office letter sent to an elector in Downpatrick warning them that because they have changed their nationality status to Irish that they no longer have a right to vote in certain elections.
“That is entirely wrong. It is unacceptable and is, in fact, a clear breach of the Good Friday Agreement which provides the right of everyone in the North to Irish, British or dual citizenship.
“With this correspondence, the Electoral Office are riding roughshod over that agreement and warning that hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens in the North will be disenfranchised.
“I raised this matter directly with the British Secretary of State Karen Bradley who has confirmed that the Electoral Office warning is entirely erroneous.
“Unfortunately, this is not the only example of misinformation from the Electoral Office which has issued other false warnings to electors in different areas across the North.
“Whether they need to provide training to their staff or implement disciplinary measures, the Electoral Office now has a responsibility to repair the damage it caused by wrongly issuing this correspondence.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education and Skills Spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD has said it was astounding that the Department of Education and Skills has allowed hundreds of substitute teachers to remain unpaid for a period of up to two months due to glitches in a new payroll system introduced as of the 1st of January.
“Teachers have been contacting both my office directly and the offices of colleagues, desperately looking for answers as to why they have still not been paid for hours worked from the 1st of January. My Parliamentary Question reply from the Department indicates that some substitute teachers can expect a further delay until end of February for the issue to be resolved and for proper payment to commence.
“Substitute teachers have financial commitments and bills to pay the same as any other teacher or school employee. Two months is an unreasonable amount of time to expect people to just sit, wait and hope for the best without any communication on when to expect payment.
“The Department has stated that new administrative arrangements for PAYE began on the 1st of January this year. The new arrangements do not affect the way income tax and other statutory deductions are calculated under the PAYE system, but change the way employers report payroll information to Revenue.
“When the Department reported pay and statutory deductions details for some substitute teachers and other staff during January, it inadvertently included a ‘cessation of employment’ date in the payroll submissions. This had the impact of stopping or reallocating those employees’ tax credits and rate-band entitlements, which in turn resulted in them suffering over-deductions of tax from their DES salaries.
“It is clear that teachers who were affected weren’t kept abreast of the situation and were given no information about the timeframe which they were expected to wait. Understandably, this has been hugely distressing to teachers who have been left in the dark and are expected to continue working in blind faith that they will be back paid and that the problem would be rectified.” ENDS
Note: Please see the relevant PQ below
For Written Answer on : 19/02/2019
Question Number(s): 195,196,197 Question Reference(s): 7658/19, 7659/19, 7660/19
Department: Education and Skills
Asked by: Kathleen Funchion T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of substitute teachers at primary level that have been affected by the issue arising from the new modernised PAYE system being implemented from 1 January 2019 which has caused teachers to be underpaid.
- Kathleen Funchion T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19 February, 2019.
* To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of substitute teachers at post-primary level that have been affected by the issue arising from the new modernised PAYE system being implemented from 1 January 2019 which has caused teachers to be underpaid.
- Kathleen Funchion T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19 February, 2019.
* To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the immediate measures being taken to rectify the problem arising from the new modernised PAYE system which is causing substitute teachers to be underpaid; and the date by which those affected will be paid all amounts overdue to them.
- Kathleen Funchion T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19 February, 2019.
The new PAYE system developed by Revenue was deployed for the first time from the 1st January 2019. My Department pays 120,000 staff on a fortnightly basis. Between 5,000 and 9,000 substitute staff who cover absences for teaching and non-teaching staff could be paid each fortnight for the full period or a number of days per fortnight.
A cessation date was included in the return sent to Revenue on the 3rd and 17th January for post primary substitute teachers and on 10th January for primary and non-teaching staff. The new Revenue ’system updated the employees’ records immediately and assigned zero credits to them.
The issue that caused the main problem has been resolved and any substitute staff being paid for the first time in 2019 on payrolls since the 17th January in the case of post primary and from 10th January for primary and non-teaching staff, are not affected.
I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a solution was applied for some staff in the post primary teacher payroll that issued last Thursday (14th February). In that regard, a total of 2,450 new Revenue Payroll Notifications were loaded to the post primary teachers’ payroll of 14th February. The payroll generated refunds for 69 substitute teachers. Further RPNs for post primary teachers will be processed in the payroll of 28th February and refunds of tax will issue where due.
Revenue has forwarded 4,728 RPNs to be applied to the primary teacher and non-teaching staff payrolls for payment on the 21st February. It is expected that 533 refunds will be issued to primary substitute staff and 177 refunds to substitute non teaching staff on the 21st February.
My Department is endeavouring to ensure that every payee has the correct Revenue Payroll Notifications (RPNs) applied to them.
Where a substitute teacher / non-teaching staff member has more than one employer, the Revenue Commissioners will issue RPNs based on the information available to them. Employees may have more than one source of taxable income and may assign credits to more than one employment. Tax credits and taxable basis are decided by Revenue and notified to the employer to apply to payrolls. Any refunds of tax to staff are based on the information supplied by Revenue.
Sinn Féin Councillor for Sandyford Glencullen Chris Curran has welcomed news this morning that plans for the Metrolink rail line in Dublin are to see major changes in order to avoid major disruption to the Luas Green line for up to four years.
The original plan for the Metrolink would see the new rail line emerge from underground at the Green Line Charlemont stop and continue on to Sandyford on the Luas line. This would have caused major disruption to the existing line leaving thousands of commuters without a service for up to four years and bringing much of South Dublin to a standstill.
Councillor Curran said;
"This implementation of the existing plan would spell disaster for commuters and businesses right along the southern Green Line.
"The project requires a complete rethink and I am happy to see that the National Transport Authority will announce changes next month.
"We need to stop relying on radial mobility where commuters need to travel to the city centre in order to reach other suburbs.
"While I accept the dire need for a rail link to the airport, to rip up a hugely successfully piece of transport infrastructure is crazy and wasteful.
“During rush hour, Luas carries the equivalent of 80 buses. To force that amount traffic into already congested areas like Renelagh and Donnybrook is deeply unfair on residents in those areas. As a result, commuters could take to their cars and exacerbate the problem.
"Instead Metro should run to Dublin Airport from the city centre only. The remaining funds could be used to help link the M50 suburbs, employment hubs, existing Luas lines and the Intercity Rail Network.
“This overall investment is a fabulous opportunity to change the way Dublin moves and provide commuters with a wider range of public transport options. We have to look at ways to maximise the return.”
The Renewable Heating Incentive is a shambolic waste of taxpayer’s money and should be shut down completely, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said.
The Newry Armagh MLA was speaking in advance of an expected announcement on the future of the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme following a consultation carried out by the Department of the Economy.
Conor Murphy commented: “The RHI scheme has become a byword for everything that was wrong in the political system here in the North. The DUP’s involvement in the scandal drastically undermined public confidence in the power-sharing institutions and led to a shambolic waste of taxpayers’ money.
“A consultation was carried out on the future of the scheme and Sinn Féin made it abundantly clear in our response that it should be closed down as soon as possible.
“Even with reduced tariffs, the RHI scheme is comprehensively and irretrievably flawed and spending more public money on it is unjustifiable.
“It is at best ineffective and at worse counterproductive in doing what it was supposedly established to do – reduce carbon output.
“The RHI tariffs were more lucrative for smaller, less energy-efficient boilers and the wood pellets subsidised by RHI emit more carbon when burnt than fossil fuels.
“These flaws remain. RHI should be shut down completely and investment redirected towards building our renewable energy capacity to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the “dependency of the HSE on agency staff in the Louth area as symptomatic of a health service in perpetual crisis because of the government’s failed health policies”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The chaos within the cervical check system, the numbers of women now waiting up to seven months for the result of smear tests; the overspend in the construction of the National Children’s Hospital; the numbers of citizens on hospital trolleys, and the waste of taxpayers’ money on agency staff, are just some examples of the failure of policy on this government’s watch.
“Last year saw the single biggest increase in agency spending in the last five years. Since 2011, Fine Gael have spent almost €2bn on temporary agency staff to fill staffing gaps because they have continuously failed to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
“Agency staff were supposed to be a temporary fix to a staffing problem, but it is now a fixed policy with escalating costs each year which impact on funding for other health services.
“The failure of the government to address the recruitment and retention crisis around nurses has left hospitals with huge gaps in nursing staff that is being filled by agency staff who cost significantly more.
“Louth County Hospital spent over a million-euro last year on agency staff. Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda spent over €9million of agency staff.
“Louth is part of CHO area 8 (Community Health Organisation) which provide community healthcare services outside of acute hospitals. These include primary care, social care, mental health, and other health and well-being services. According to a Parliamentary response CHO 8 has seen the cost of agency staff escalate over the last 8 years from €13 million in 2011 to €32.5-million-euro last year.
“The government is responsible for this mess. It is its policies which have created the ongoing multiple crises with the health services. Spending €318-million-euro last year on agency staff is not the answer.”
Irish Government must reject British suggestion of dumping nuclear waste in Ireland – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has called on the Irish government to condemn the British government consideration of sites across the North to be used as potential dumping grounds for radioactive nuclear waste.
Carthy said: “Reports that the British government are considering sites across the North, including near Newry, as potential spots to store radioactive waste from its nuclear facilities have appalled locals on both sides of the border. The very idea is sickening and utterly unacceptable.
“Nuclear waste is the most toxic substance on the planet. It remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, and during this time, the material poses deadly threats to all human and animal life and the environment in a large area surrounding it. All it takes is for a geological event such an earthquake or tremor, or human error - which has happened in these storage facilities countless times - for the seal on the material to be broken and the surrounding area to be contaminated.
“Clarity in this matter is important as we do not want to cause any unnecessary alarm among communities. At present, this is a not a direct proposal from the British government to dump radioactive waste near Newry or any site in the North.
“What we have seen to date has been the recent publication of a report for the British government from Radioactive Waste Management, a state-owned company, identifying five locations in the North as possible future locations for dumping nuclear waste. This includes an area of granite bedrock near Newry, stretching from Slieve Gullion to the Mourne Mountains.
“But it is important that we send an early, strong and united signal from our communities rejecting outright any possibility of such a development. It is clear from the video released by Radioactive Waste Management that these sites appear to be the preferred options the British government agency is focused on investigating further.
“I welcome the recent cross-party, unanimous vote in the Newry, Mourne and Down council rejecting this possibility from the outset.
“I would encourage other local authorities on both sides of the border to do the same, to send a clear and unmistakable message to the British government that Irish communities across the island absolutely reject this possibility. We need to demand that these sites stop being ‘investigated’ by the Radioactive Waste Management agency as potential storage areas.
“It is also imperative that the Irish government sends a clear message that it will not tolerate a situation in which any part of Ireland is used as a dumping ground for Britain’s toxic, radioactive nuclear waste.”
Today, the Public Accounts Committee agreed to Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane’s request that Paul Quinn of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and officials of the Department of Health appear before the Committee to answer questions on the National Children’s Hospital debacle. He has also called on the Chair of each sub-committee of the Board to attend. This is essential for public accountability.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“I am happy to say that the PAC at my request has agreed to call Paul Quinn, Chief Procurement Officer at DPER, to appear before the Committee.
“Mr. Quinn served on both the Development and both the Finance and Procurement Sub-committees of the hospital, and as such would have been intimately aware of the overruns at the National Children’s hospital, the escalations, and when and where they happened.
“The public need answer on these issues, and Mr. Quinn should be in a position to provide them.
“I am also happy that the Committee agreed to recall the Dept. of Health before the Committee to also answer questions on the children’s hospital.
“I made it clear that I will not be signing off on any periodical report on the Children’s Hospital until the Department addresses the issues that have come to light in recent weeks.
“None of this would have been necessary if the HSE simply made the minutes and reports of the various committees available at the start.
“Instead, information had to be dragged out of them, and after they had appeared at the PAC.
“This is not good enough.
“I look forward to putting questions to the Chief Procurement Officer and to the Department on this issue in light of the information now available, as well as to the chairs of the relevant sub-committees.
“Accountability is a slow and frustrating process in this State, but eventually we will get there.”
Sinn Féin's Oliver McMullan has said the PSNI need to tackle loyalist paramilitary crime as a matter of urgency.
Oliver McMullan said:
"It appears that loyalist paramilitary gangs were behind the murder of a man in Glenwherry who was shot dead in his home.
"This is the latest in a series of killings carried out by loyalist paramilitary gangs throughout Antrim and further afield.
"There has also been widespread allegations of money laundering, intimidation, racketeering and involvement in the drug trade all connected to loyalist paramilitaries.
"These groups need to disband and get off the back of the community.
"This ongoing paramilitary criminality is a scourge on our society and needs to be tackled urgently by the PSNI.
"I will be contacting the PSNI urgently to discuss their response to this ongoing criminal activity.
Sinn Féin Senator for Mayo Rose Conway-Walsh has welcomed the support for Sinn Féin legislation that would enshrine in law a worker’s right to access their tips earned while working for an employer.
Speaking tonight, Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“The Protection of Employee Tips Bill would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse.
"This Sinn Féin Bill would also require employers to display their tipping policy either on their menu or in another suitable manner so that customers have transparency with regard to whom and how their tip is distributed.
"All this is aimed at helping those workers on a low wage or who have precarious or irregular employment to keep all of what they are entitled to. Customers do not hand over tips lightly and those same tips should not be deducted or withheld for no reason.
"The Bill has received cross-party support and Sinn Féin are pushing for the Bill to be completed through both Houses of the Oireachtas before the busy summer season. To do this we need the support of all parties.
"There has been a great consensus already from trades unions and from many responsible employers themselves.
“Many people are actually surprised to hear that workers do not, in fact, have a legal right to their tips. The public would also be shocked to hear that research produced in 2017 highlights that one-third of all tips are stolen by employers on a regular basis.
"I know many good employers in the hospitality industry and they have nothing to fear from this Bill. There’s no downside to this for anyone, unless you happen to be a bad employer who dips their hand in the tip jar."
Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed indications form the Irish government that additional money will be allocated to support the continued development of the north west city region.
The Foyle MP said:
"Today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for an update on funding for the continued development of the north west city region in Derry and Donegal as part of the Ireland 2040 project.
"I welcome the Taoiseach's reply that he has been working with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council on the development of the north west city region.
"It was also encouraging that he said he imagined he would be able to provide additional funding to the project and that he is keen to continue to support the development of Derry working with Letterkenny as part of the wider north west city region.
"I will also be raising this with Tanáiste Simon Coveney in Leinster House tomorrow to continue to ensure the development of Derry and Donegal and the north west city region remains on the agenda of the Irish government."
Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny has said that Fianna Fáil’s refusal to support Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the health minister, means that Fianna Fáil leasder, Micheál Martin did not want accountability.
Speaking during the Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Minister Simon Harris, Deputy Kenny said:
“Unless some Fianna Fáil Deputies manage to grow a spine in the next half an hour, the Minister will stay in position with their blessing, under Deputy Micheál Martin’s instruction.
“Why does he not want accountability? Maybe it is because he simply does not believe in accountability.
“During his 14 years as a Minister, time and again, Deputy Martin ducked and dived, avoiding accountability at every turn.”
Deputy Kenny then mentioned cronyism in appointing the Irish Blood Transfusion Board, the Hep C scandal and the oversight of the FÁS expenses scandal.
He continued; “The simple reality is Deputy Martin does not believe in accountability in public life nor does Fianna Fáil. His primary legacy is the HSE itself, a body he established, in which he managed to translate his personal failings into an institutional with systemic failings.
"This body continues to affect every man, woman and child in the State and is an organisation behind which every Minister of Health since has hidden when they come into power.
“The motion we are debating tonight seeks to hold the Minister, Deputy Harris to account for his failures. He may, however, quite reasonably look across the Chamber at Deputy Martin and others as the source of many his current woes.
“Tonight it looks like Fianna Fáil will again help to provide cover for a failing Minister. He will again scupper attempts by the real Opposition to provide accountability in Irish public life.”
This evening, Sinn Féin’s Bill to give workers a legal right to their tips successfully passed Committee stage with all-party support.
This simple Bill will make it illegal for employers to steal their workers’ tips and ensure that workers are protected by the law. It will require businesses to display their tipping policy to ensure customers have full transparency as to how their tip will be shared.
Speaking after the debate, Senator Gavan said:
“We are delighted that we have been able to move this Bill through the house to the final stage of proceedings.
“This would not have been possible without the public support of ICTU, SIPTU, Mandate, Unite and the USI.
“We have also had fantastic grassroots support from One Galway and One Cork, community activist groups who have been out on the streets talking to people about the hospitality industry and listening to the horror stories of bad employers stealing workers hard earned tips.
“I also want to give credit to Labour and the Civic Engagement group who have worked with us on this Bill to strengthen the Bill and provide it with the broadest level of support.
“Irish research shows that 1 in 3 workers experience the regular withholding of tips and this must be addressed.
"We understand that most employers are good employers. This Bill will change nothing for them. The only people who have anything to fear, are those employers who dip their hand in the tips jar.
“Sinn Féin will now be looking to move this Bill again through its final stage in the Seanad, to ensure that workers’ have a legal right to their tips before this summer’s busy season.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has expressed condolences following the death of a man on the Drumcoon Road, Coleraine on Wednesday afternoon.
The East Derry MLA said:
“There is a deep sense of shock in the local community at the news that a man has died in a tragic collision on the Drumcoon Road this afternoon.
"Any death on our roads is one too many.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with this man’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.”
Speaking this evening during the debate on the motion of no-confidence in the Minister for Health, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the case is clear that the Minister for Health must go.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The submission of this no-confidence motion was not rushed, it is not vindictive or personalised, this motion was submitted because the scandal of the National Children’s Hospital overspend was the final straw.
“There are those out there in your own party and in the media that somehow think that this motion is unfair.
“When I hear that I wonder if these people have lived under a rock for the past three years, are they being deliberately obtuse, or just plainly partisan.
“Those who say this motion will not build a hospital or reduce waiting lists, nothing this government is doing is currently achieving that either.
“We are not going to stand on the side-lines and let the government off the hook for failing to deliver and presiding over a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
“We were elected to stand up and give a voice to our constituents.
“At least we are using ours, unlike our colleagues in Fianna Fáil who have never understood political accountability.
“What we seek to do here is do what is right in the service of political accountability and the future of our health service.
“This National Children’s Hospital overspend is not an isolated incident, it is one in a series of scandals, mistakes, and failures that have blighted Harris’s ministerial term.
“If the tables were turned, and it was I or any other opposition TD who were in the Minister’s shoes and had presided over the litany of scandals he has presided over, would they vote confidence in us?
“There is not a snowballs chance in hell he would.
“And by extension, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that I’ll be voting confidence in him tonight.
“The Minister for Health must go."
Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA MLA Colm Gildernew welcomes confirmation that a new contractor has been appointed to take over the provision of General Medical Services at Northland Surgery in Dungannon
Colm Gildernew commented: "There was great concern when the surgery reached breaking point so I am sure many of the patients will welcome the news that a new contractor has been appointed. However, many of their concerns remain.
"Primary care, such as GPs, play an invaluable role within our health and social care service. For many their local GP is the first port of call when ill.
"We need to ensure that our GP services get the support they need. This news today will be welcome but many of the pressures within primary care remain.
“I will be contacting HSCB (Health and Social Care Board) to seek assurances they there will be no reduction in services as a result of this new arrangement.”
Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has encouraged applications for the 2019/20 Minority Ethnic Development Fund.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“The Minority Ethnic Development Fund (MEDF) provides support for voluntary and community organisations working with minority ethnic people and groups to assist them in promoting good relations between people of different ethnic backgrounds.
“The funding will be split into three tiers, guidance notes for applicants, which explain the tiers and the criteria for funding in more detail and the application form can be downloaded, on the website www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/racial-equality#toc-3.
“A number of funding seminars have also been arranged to provide further information on the process for potential applicants, they will be held on the following dates 26 February in Holywell DiverseCity Community Partnership, 10-14 Bishop Street, Derry at 11am, 27 February in Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon at 2pm and 4 March in NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast at 2pm.
“The closing time for all applications is 2pm on 21 March 2019.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said said there is growing concern among EU nationals living in the north about the impact of Brexit.
Colm Gildernew said:
"I met with the British government's ambassador to Poland to discuss the concerns of Polish and other EU nationals living in the north over Brexit.
"There is widespread concern among EU nationals living in the north about Brexit and the British government's controversial settlement scheme.
"EU nationals are already leaving the north as a result of concerns over Brexit and more have said they are considering leaving.
"This will impact on a number of sectors locally and employers are already reporting difficulties with recruitment.
"We need to see the backstop, which has already been agreed, protected in order to avoid a hard border and we need to see the interests of Ireland, and the interests of those who have come to work and make their home here, protected."