Sinn Féin LGBT Spokesperson Fintan Warfield welcomes the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) board voting to end the MSM blood ban which currently bans gay and bisexual men from giving blood donations.
This comes within three weeks after Sinn Féin Health Minister Michelle O'Neil announcing plans to end the ban in the North.
Senator Fintan Warfield said;
"We, in Sinn Féin, welcome the news from the IBTS who now seek to end this discriminatory ban.
"The removal of this ban across Ireland will be a further step for the LGBT community towards true equality. It's now up to Fine Gael Health Minister Simon Harris to make the decision to remove the ban and Sinn Féin's Leinster House will be pushing at every opportunity to ensure this happens.""
Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’ Reilly added;
“We have previously called on the Minister to lift this discriminatory ban and we restate that call today. The ball us firmly in Minister Harris' court and there are no excuses for inaction. It's time to follow the lead of his counterpart in the Northern Assembly, Minister O'Neill and lift this ban.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now vital.
Matt Carthy said:
“The British Government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out of the EU. It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north and south.
“Irish interests are being actively and gravely damaged by the decisions taken in England.
“The north of Ireland has voted to remain in the EU. The British Government cannot now negotiate on behalf of people there to exit the European Union.
“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it is incumbent that the Irish Government and all Irish nationalist parties support this demand. To do anything less would be to betray the best interests of the Irish people.”
Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said leaving the European Union will be to the detriment of everyone in society.
Mr McGuinness said;
"This decision to drag us out of the European Union against our democratically expressed wishes, has nothing to do with issues around the European institutions and everything to do with the civil war within the British Tory party.
"The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans, unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to remain in the EU.
"The British government now need to take account of that and recognise that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on their own future.
"Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens and will be bad for business, trade, investment, and wider society
“I, and all Sinn Féin ministers will work to ensure the political institutions remain on a stable footing but it is very difficult to put detailed contingencies in place until we know the extent of the impact of Brexit on our finances, our infrastructure and health services.
“All of that is still subject to a negotiation but the fact is that we are in unchartered waters.
"Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government, the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people."
Sinn Féin Councillor for Sandyford Glencullen, Chris Curran has called on Minister Shane Ross to provide an explanation as to why his department failed to provide funding for Phase 2 of The Samuel Beckett Civic Campus in Ballyogan.
"I'm delighted that Phase 1 is now finished, but the complex is far from compete and we risk losing Phase 2 for a generation of our young people.
“The two-phase Samuel Beckett Civic Campus was approved by the council. Phase 1 provides basic services while Phase 2 is expected to include a community centre, library, sports building, events area, children's playground as well as a linear park.
“Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council applied for the maximum €3.8million grant under the Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism's Local Authorities Swimming Pool Programme.
“The application was unsuccessful.
"This is a serious blow because the loss of funding will jeopardise, not just the swimming pool, but the additional community facilities that would share the same building.
"The Carrickmines, Leopardstown and Stepaside areas are expected to have to a huge population increase. Our young people are desperate for places to go. The campus offers great hope for sport and community development and I fear that Phase 2 will be put on the long finger now.
“Minister Ross has questions to answer. He can't be acting as a champion for Glenalbyn Swimming Pool in Stillorgan, while burying his head on this one, especially since a key piece of funding for The Samuel Beckett Civic Centre comes from his department.
“Minister Ross needs to get his act together in a hurry, as this stinks of double standards.
“Sinn Féin will be proposing that the council hold a specific meeting focusing on the funding crisis.
“We will also be proposing the levies raised from local developments are ring fenced for the completion of the civic campus.”
David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform, said today that the Dáil needs to have a fresh debate on the revised estimates and the summer economic statement following the Brexit result.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“Three days ago the Government said that the cost of Brexit to the Irish economy would be between €2.5 and €3 billion over the next two years. Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes this morning said that Ireland’s GDP growth figures and our fiscal space would have to be revised downwards.
“Is this also the view of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform?
“It is clear that we need a fresh debate on the summer statement and the financial and economic implications of the result. This needs to be done so we can have an informed debate and discussion at the earliest opportunity.
“I have asked to meet with Minister Donohoe at his earliest convenience to discuss the matter. We need to move this forward as quickly as possible.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there is an onus on the British government to recognise the vote in the devolved administrations and has reiterated calls for a border poll on Irish unity.
Speaking after the result was officially announced, Ms Anderson said,
“This referendum had nothing to do with the best interests of our people, our island or our economy.
“This was all about a narrow-minded Tory party and their internal ruptures.
“Therefore I am very proud of the 56% of the electorate who saw through this and voted in favour of remaining as a member of the EU.
“Unfortunately however, votes in England and Wales now mean the 440,707 people in the North who voted to Remain in the EU are being dragged unwillingly out of the EU.
“English votes have overturned the democratic will of the north.
“There is an onus on the British government to recognise the vote in the devolved administrations and there is an onus on them to provide answers for the several unanswered questions that the people of the north have.
“Sinn Féin will now be pushing for a border poll, a measure agreed upon in the Good Friday Agreement 18 years ago, to provide Irish citizens with the right to vote for an end to partition and to retain a role in the EU.”
In light of the British vote to leave the EU, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for a border poll on Irish unity.
The Ireland South MEP said:
“56% of the electorate in the north have rejected the right-wing agenda of the British Tory party, yet English votes have overturned their democratic will.
“The British government has no mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the EU and therefore I am now reiterating our previous calls for a referendum on Irish Unity.
“It is unacceptable that a majority in England and Wales can alter the constitutional status of the North against the wishes of the people there.
“I am calling for consensus amongst political leaders in the South, as they meet today, on the need for such a referendum.
“Sinn Féin has been clear that Ireland’s role, both North and South, is to seek progressive change in Europe from within the EU.
“Whilst recognising the democratic deficit at the heart of Europe, and the neo-liberal tendencies within the bloc, our approach is to critically engage with the EU.
“There is no doubt that Brexit will cause immense difficulties across Ireland, but we must be prepared to deal with them to through unity, resolve and determination." ENDS
Ahead of students making the transition from second to third level education, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for the establishment of a system for scholarships and grants, as finances are an extra burden.
Speaking during a debate on a report dealing with the Strategic Framework for cooperation in education and training, Ms Ní Riada said,
“Access to sufficient finance for students is absolutely vital for their studies, however but I do not believe we should be advocating that our children leave college, ready to embark on their chosen career path already thousands of euros in debt, due to a student loan.
“In Ireland there needs to be a better system in place for scholarships and grants to help students attend third level education. Ireland has some of the brightest and best young people in Europe, we should be investing in them not only for their sake, but for the development of our county.
“Deposits for accommodation, rent, food, books and materials are some of the costs involved with furthering your education and the registration fee of €3,000 a year, is already the second highest in Europe.
A member of the Committee of Culture and Education in the European Parliament, Ní Riada continued,
“Some weeks students are faced with the decision of buying food for themselves or buying pricey course material to enable them to progress.
“Research conducted by the Union of Students in Ireland revealed that 87% of students fear having to drop out of college because of the cost of education; this is wholly unacceptable.
“Education is a basic right and it is our job as legislators to ensure access to education for all and not just those who can afford it.
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said he is shocked by Michael Noonan’s admission tonight that the inter-departmental group set up to look at the cost of motor insurance has not yet started looking at the issues behind the costs apart from the Setanta fallout.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I am shocked to hear that the group’s Review of Policy in the Insurance Sector has only so far dealt with the Setanta collapse issue and has not even begun to deal with the actual reasons behind the huge spike in premiums in the last couple of years. That work won’t be completed “for months” and has been given no timeframe to compete its work according to Minister Noonan tonight.
“The government is years behind public opinion on this issue. I have been calling for the government to take action for some time including through an amendment to a motion which was passed by the Dail this month. It is clear that this government is not taking the spiralling cost of car insurance seriously. The revelation by the Minister that his review/taskforce has not even begun to consider the issues behind the massive increases in premiums affecting consumers is clear evidence that the government is not taking the cost of spiralling car insurance.
“The work to prevent another Setanta is an important part of the work to fix our insurance system but the fact that has been the only issue discussed yet is shocking. Next Saturday’s (July 2nd) rally organised by the insurance campaign group Ireland Underground which we have been working closely is an opportunity for people to tell the government that it is time for action.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said Minister Michael Noonan has announced a major climb-down on a key Programme for Government commitment. The Minister has shifted the goalpost and is now claiming that the Programme for Government commitment - that it would be mandatory for banks to offer certain solutions to borrowers - only applies to vulture funds and not to all lenders.
Deputy Doherty said:
“In the space of a month the government has flip flopped on this key commitment. It was only a month since the Minister confirmed to me that the Programme for Government commitment meant that borrowers would have to be offered either a split mortgage or a mortgage to rent scheme before a repossession.
“Today Minister Noonan completely moved the goalposts. He now claims that this commitment only relates to making previously unregulated mortgage owners have to apply this provision of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. That is a blatant flip flop despite the Minister’s protestations.
“This was a key commitment and one I welcomed that would have made a real impact on mortgage holders in arrears. Today, in typical fashion, the government have shifted the goalposts and removed what was a major commitment to struggling families and mortgage campaigners.
“Those of us who have campaigned on mortgage arrears welcomed the Programme for Government rhetoric but now it is clear that it is only rhetoric. This is a major flip flop and a disgrace so soon after the Programme for Government was signed.
“Those independents and others who support this government must now wake up and realise that a commitment from Noonan on arrears is worth nothing. More importantly, those in mortgage arrears must now be very cautious about believing any real change in the Fine Gael policy of “banks first” will happen.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan has written to the European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for water issues in the European Commission, to ask for a meeting to answer some serious questions regarding its interference in Irish politics and the future of water management in the country.
‘The European Commission is already on the record as saying that Ireland can use the exemption from water pricing contained within the Water Framework Directive as long as it is justified. The Irish government only needs to look to the other Member States and regions such as Scotland who have used this exemption successfully to see how it’s done.
‘It is therefore extremely disconcerting that some Irish journalists have reported that they have recently received official statements from the European Commission saying otherwise. Whilst I have since contacted both the Water Unit and the Spokesperson Services of the European Commission who have both denied giving any official briefings to journalists, it remains that there is clearly at least someone within the Commission attempting to reverse what they’ve previously said on Member States using the exemption.
‘I have requested this meeting to underline my serious concerns that journalists are receiving briefings being portrayed as official statements which are then being used in the media to wrongly claim that Ireland cannot abolish water charges. Not only is this incorrect but it is political intervention on a highly sensitive issue in Irish national politics. The Commission clearly needs to get its house in order and put an end to these unofficial remarks.’
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform, David Cullinane TD, criticised the government’s Summer Economic Statement for the serious underinvestment in public services outlined. Deputy Cullinane stressed the need for increased capital investment to address the many serious issues that are facing Irish society today.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“The choices set out in this summer economic statement fail the Irish people. Minister, ‘new politics’ has to mean new policies. It has to be about changing direction. It has to mean a departure from the old.
“We can choose to give tax cuts to the wealthy or we can invest in public services. We can choose to give tax breaks to the top 14 percent or we can choose to take people off hospital trolleys. We can choose to build houses and sustainable communities in the here and now or pretend that we are putting money away for a rainy day.
“Can I present you Minister with the figures from the Stability Programme Update which underpin the Summer Economic Statement. From 2017 to 2021 total expenditure will drop by 4 percent from 30.7 to 26.6 per cent of GDP. Total revenue during the same period will drop by almost one percent, from 30.3 to 29.4 percent. This is during a period where the government predicts GDP growth will run at an average of 3.4 percent.
“When you factor in the figures we can see that as the economy grows, the Government is raising less and spending less.
“This Fine Gael/Independent government – propped up by Fianna Fáil – is actively shrinking the State while issuing press releases that it is building for the future. These are policies that would make the Tory party blush.
“Minister, capital investment is one of the key issues – indeed possibly the key issue – that we are faced with today. When we build houses, when we increase capacity in our health service, when we lower class sizes, we are investing in the future. Minister, that is the big difference between building an economy and building a society.
“This is why, after nine years of chronic under-investment in these areas – after the bank bailout of Fianna Fáil and the unequal austerity measures of Fine Gael and Labour, that we have in Ireland today a chorus of diverse voices – IBEC, ICTU, the EU Commission all calling for the same thing: public investment in social and economic infrastructure.
“We can choose to give tax cuts to the wealthy or we can invest in public services.
We can choose to give tax breaks to the top 14 percent or we can choose to take people off hospital trolleys. We can choose to build houses and sustainable communities in the here and now or pretend that we are putting money away for a rainy day.
“Sinn Féin have put forward costed, fair and deliverable alternatives. I am positive about Ireland’s future, but only if we make the right choices.”
Speaking after meeting with senior PSNI officers in Newry yesterday, Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Mickey Brady said there was a concern in the community in South Armagh that the PSNI was failing to deal with a small number of people in the Cullyhanna area involved in criminality and intimidation.
Mr Brady said:
“For the past number of years we have been highlighting the activities of a small number of people involved in widespread criminality in the Cullyhanna area of South Armagh. The PSNI have, despite the support of the local community, failed to deal with the gang involved.
“This gang shot local man Michael Bellew as part of a campaign of intimidation to force him from his home, attempted to murder Frank McCabe junior and are routinely involved in a wide range of criminality generating huge sums of money. Yet despite all of this it seems to the local community those involved seemed to operate with impunity.
“The failure of the PSNI to tackle this gang is undermining community confidence in their ability to carry out the basic functions of a policing service. It seems the people involved are protected from investigation and prosecution.”
Party colleague and local Assembly member Megan Fearon said:
“The vast majority of people in South Armagh are law abiding and reject absolutely the criminality associated with this gang. However people should rightly expect the PSNI to step up to the plate and do the job they are supposed to fulfil. The perception that a number of individuals are being allowed to operate above the law is undermining community confidence.
“Sinn Féin will be seeking a meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to once again highlight the community concerns at his forces failure to secure prosecutions and investigate properly the activities of this group.
“The PSNI leadership must move to reassure the local community that individuals involved in criminality are not being allowed to continue to operate with impunity as they are State Agents. This is the perception which currently exists.
“The Fresh Start Agreement promised a new approached to dealing with this sort of criminal gang, yet six months on the ground there seems to be little evidence of the PSNI changing their approach.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on sports Imelda Munster TD has congratulated the Irish football team for reaching the last 16 of the Euros after beating Italy last night.
Deputy Munster also congratulated the fans last night describing them as brilliant ambassadors for the country.
Speaking today Deputy Munster said;
“The Irish team have lifted the spirits of the nation with their heroics in Lille last night. Massive congratulations to Martin and Roy and all our boys in green who have done the country so proud.
“I want to also congratulate all the Irish fans who have been brilliant ambassadors for Ireland over the last couple of weeks.
“There can be no doubt that we have the best fans in the world.
“I wish them and the team all the best as we head into the last 16 and hopefully we can keep this journey going all the way to the final.”
Sinn Féín Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has said that Minister for Health, Simon Harris has no plan to tackle the chronic hospital waiting lists in Galway where 42,516 people are awaiting operations and that the Government needs to set up a working group to look at progressing a new hospital with the necessary resources in the city.
Speaking today after tackling the Minister of State, Helen McEntee, on the issue in the Seanad, the Galway West – South Mayo Senator says:
‘Galway University Hospital continues to have the highest outpatient & inpatient waiting lists in the country. According to the latest figures available 31,417 people are on the outpatient waiting list, 4,744 of those waiting over twelve months. The lists are particularly high for orthopaedics, cardiology, dermatology and ENT.
‘The inpatient waiting lists show that GUH almost doubles its closest rival Beaumont Hospital, for the title of the hospital with the longest waiting lists. 11,099 people are waiting for procedures, a quarter of those waiting over a year.
‘I asked the Minister to outline the government’s plan to rectify this appalling situation and the response was pitiful to say the least. It is clear to me that this government have no clear strategy to provide the people from Donegal to Galway, who are languishing on the waiting lists in Galway with the essential treatment they need.
‘At a recent briefing for Oireachtas members the management of Saolta Hospital Group who operate Galway University Hospital made it quite clear that the capacity of the present hospital cannot deal with the numbers passing through it and that in part is a reason for the constantly high numbers of people on waiting lists.
‘I have called again on the Minister to put a working group together to plan for a new hospital in Galway with the appropriate resources and staff available to service the region.’
Caithfidh an Rialtas grúpa oibre a bhunú i gcóir ospidéal nua do Ghaillimh – Ó Clochartaigh
Deir Seanadóir Shinn Féin Trevor Ó Clochartaigh nach bhfuil plean ar bith ag an Aire Sláinte, Simon Harris chun dul i ngleic leis na liostaí damanta feitheamh ospidéil i nGaillimh le 42,516 duine ag fanacht ar obráidí agus gur chóir don Rialtas grúpa oibre a bhunú láithreach féachaint le h-ospidéal nua a thógáil i nGaillimh leis na h-acmhainní cuí.
Ag labhairt do tar éis tabhairt faoin Aire Stáit Helen McEntee ar an ábhar seo sa Seanad inniu, deir Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar – Maigh Eo Theas:
‘Arís eile tá Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh ar bharr na liostaí feitheamh ó thaobh obráidí seachtrach agus cónaitheach de sa tír. De réir na bhfigiúirí is déanaí atá le fáil tá 31,417 othar ag fanacht ar chóir leighis seachtrach, 4,744 ag fanacht níos mó ná bliain. Tá na liostaí thar a bheith fada ó thaobh cúrsaí ortaipéideach, cairdeolaíocht, deirmeolaíocht agus ENT de.
‘Tá na liostaí d’othair chónaitheacha in Ospidéal na hOllscoile Gaillimh beagnach dúbailt an méid atá san chéad ospidéil eile is measa, Beaumont agus 11,099 ag fanacht le h-obráidí , ceathrú cuid díbh sin ag fanacht ós cionn bliana.
‘D’fhiafraigh mé don Aire cén plean atá ag an Rialtas leis an scéala seo a chur ina cheart agus ní mórán dóchas a thug a fhreagra dhom. Tá sé soiléir domsa nach bhfuil straitéis dá laghad ag an Rialtas leis an gcóir leighis riachtanach a theastaíonn ón dream atá ag fulaingt fad is atá siad ar na liostaí feitheamh i nGaillimh a chur ar fáil.
‘Ag cur i láthair le déanaí de chuid grúpa ospidéil SAOLTA, a bhfuil Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh faoina gcúram, rinne an fhoireann bainistíochta iontach soiléir é nach bhfuil an ospidéal reatha ábalta déileáil leis na h-uimhreacha arda atá ag teacht tríd agus gurb shin is cúis a bheag nó a mhór leis na liostaí fada feitheamh.
‘Tá iarrtha agam, arís eile ar an Aire grúpa oibre a chur le chéile chun tosú ag pleanáil chun ospidéal nua leis na h-acmhainní cuí a chur ar fáil i nGaillimh le freastal mar is ceart ar phobal an réigiúin ar fad’.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams TD has described the admission of children to adult only in-patient mental health approved centres as a “scandal that must be urgently addressed.”
The Louth TD said: “The Mental Health Commission report published this week has revealed that 95 children were admitted in 2015 to adult approved centres in direct contravention of the Code of Practice”.
20 of these children were from the Community Healthcare Area (CHO 8) which covers county Louth, Laois, Offaly, Longford Westmeath and Meath.”
Gerry Adams said:
“Under current mental health policy children up to the age of 18 who require in-patient mental health services should only be admitted to dedicated child and adolescent in-patient units.
“Last year that instruction was breached 95 times and 20 children from the region that includes Louth were among them.
“The report also reveals that the Community Healthcare Area with the highest numbers of admissions was CHO 8 which includes county Louth.
“The Commission states that the admitting team attempted unsuccessfully to source an inpatient bed in the approved dedicated child and adolescent centres for all of the children. However, it has emerged that on all dates that children were admitted to adult centres there were bed vacancies. It notes that it is ‘unclear why these vacant beds were not made available.’
“It suggests that this may be down to beds being needed outside of office hours or the lack of available emergency cover. None of these excuses are acceptable.
“The Commission’s report illustrates how much remains to be done, including the need for independent monitoring of the State’s mental health strategy ‘Vision for Change’. There are also huge issues surrounding funding, or the lack of it. The current level of funding for mental health is still less than the 8.24% target, based on 2005 figures, envisaged in ‘A Vision for Change’.
“I have written to the Minister for Health seeking explanations about the admission of children to adults units. The government also has a responsibility to provide adequate funding and administrative and organisational resources to mental health services.”
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called for more recognition of the role played by carers in society
The Sinn Féin health spokesperson said;
"I attended the launch of the Carer's Charter in the Long Gallery at Stormont today to pay tribute to the key role played by carers in our society.
"There is no doubt that carers make a huge contribution to our society with their hard work, dedication and tireless care they provide.
"While the vast majority of carers do not seek recognition or reward it is important that we recognise their efforts and support them.
"Legislation is in place elsewhere to support carers and we should be looking at examples of best practise to find the best way to look after our carers.
"I will be discussing this with my party colleague and health minister Michelle O'Neill to take this forward."
Speaking during a Private Members’ debate in the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary, Deputy Carol Nolan, said that more action needs to be taken to ensure that heritage sites are protected.
The Deputy said:
“Funding to the heritage council has been slashes in recent years and this is having a significant impact on the ability of local communities to preserve heritage structures.
“For example in my own home county of Offaly, projects such as the restoration of the Ardara bridge have stalled and remain incomplete.
“While local people try to make our county as appealing as possible to tourists and conserve our heritage for future generations to enjoy, unfortunately it appears that their commitment is not shared by Government.
“I am calling on the Minister to ensure that sufficient funding is made available to ensure that local heritage projects can be progressed and our local heritage can be protected.”