Commenting today on the issue of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s use of personal information regarding Wexford TD Mick Wallace, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said:
“Minister Shatter’s remarks to the media today will have done nothing to clear up public concern about his use of personal information, obtained from Gardaí, regarding another TD.
“This debacle raises serious issues about the behaviour of the Minister for Justice, who has access to the most sensitive of information regarding citizens. He has clearly crossed the line in using his access to such information for political purposes.
“I am calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make time available tomorrow for the minister to address the Dáil in relation to this issue and for opposition representatives to respond.
“In my own view, Minister Shatter needs to make a full public apology for using personal information, obtained as Minister for Justice, on live television in an effort to damage a political opponent.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has today said the government’s proposal to “carry out road repairs on the cheap must be scrapped”.
Responding to Minister for state at the Department of Transport, Alan Kelly’s proposals, Stanley said:
“The government has reached a new low. This road repair scheme expects local people to provide 20-50% of funding, including free labour, to ensure their roads are repaired. There are serious questions about health and safety as well as potential job losses to be answered.
“Essential repairs to our roads must be carried out by those trained in this specialised work. To expect local people to repair their roads is totally irresponsible. To expect local communities to fund raise to repair their roads is a terrible indictment of this government. People pay taxes to cover the cost of road repairs and other essential services. The scheme must be immediately scrapped.
“This government has slashed local government funding from €210m in 2011 to €24m this year. On top of this the government took a further €150m out of the Motor Tax Fund to pay off the foreign debt. These cuts have led to the crisis that is at the heart local authorities in Ireland today.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on transport Dessie Ellis TD said, “Minister Kelly’s government has cut spending on road maintenance from €1.258 billion in 2011 to €750m this year. Expecting local people to plug the gap is disgraceful. The less well-off communities will once again bear the brunt of this government’s mismanagement of our resources. This is a recipe for disaster.”
The Sinn Féin delegates to the Constitutional Convention have reiterated the party’s call for that body to deal comprehensively with political reform, not just Dáil electoral reform.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, who is representing the party along with Senator David Cullinane and Caitriona Ruane MLA said:
“It is unfortunate that the Convention chose not to consider the need for comprehensive reform of the Oireachtas as a whole, including whether the Seanad should be directly elected and its membership and powers and functions reformed to make them more distinctive and relevant.
“Instead, the Convention membership chose to restrict itself at this juncture to electoral reform of the Dáil only, as stipulated by the Government. The Government shortlist of compulsory issues does not include many of those most relevant to political reform, and those most urgently necessary. I would hope that the Convention sees fit to consider these and other issues of great public importance at a later stage, under its open remit or even under an extended mandate.”
Senator David Cullinane added: “I welcome the deliberative body’s decision to consider, at its next sitting in June, constitutional and other measures to increase enfranchisement and voter participation, as well as a range of constitutional and other measures to increase parliamentary representativeness and diversity and to ensure that seat allocation results reflects more accurately actual voter preferences.”
The three Sinn Féin delegates voted in favour of further consideration of measures to strengthen the system of proportional representation, of additional reforms to increase parliamentary diversity and representativeness, and of measures to increase the ability of all citizens to exercise their right to vote and to increase voter participation, including participatory democratic mechanisms.
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has called on farmers needing fodder to apply immediately as the scheme began at midnight on the 18th May. Mr McMullan said,
"The extra £1m secured to help farmers facing fodder shortages is now available since midnight. The scheme will be administered through Countryside Services and farmers who are facing shortages should prepare themselves to apply as soon as possible.
"Farmers facing shortages should contact Countryside Services through the website www.countrysiderural.co.uk where the details are available from this morning.
“The scheme ends at the end of the month so I would urge farmers to get in touch and apply as soon as possible so they can avail of the scheme.
"I would like to thank the Minister for her swift and decisive action that will ensure that farmers can feed their livestock and maintain the health of their animals."
Sinn Féin's justice spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, said that the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter must explain how he came by the information, which he revealed on television, about independent Wexford TD, Mick Wallace.
Deputy MacLochlainn said:
"It is very worrying that a Minister for Justice can go on Prime Time and use information which he says comes from An Garda Síochána, to score a political point against a Dáil colleague.
"The Minister must explain how he came by this information and clarify that it is not hearsay.
"Did he seek it out from gardaí in Mick Wallace's constituency? Did he hear it by chance during a social encounter? Was he given the information unsolicited by the garda who allegedly stopped Deputy Wallace for enfringement of a traffic law but did not press charges? Is it appropriate that the Minister for Justice should use information gleaned in the course of his work in this manner or if the information was not received through official channels, should it be repeated on prime time television to score a political point?
"I believe that it is not appropriate and that the minister must make a statement."
Developer Seán Dunne owes over a third of a million euros to Dublin City Council despite claiming in the USA that: "I am personally happy that my debt to the Irish State is clear". Sinn Féin’s Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha, Chairperson of the Council's Finance Strategic Policy Committee, revealed the sum owed by Dunne this week.
He said: "When developer Seán Dunne claimed in his US bankruptcy proceedings that he is happy that his debt to the Irish State is paid I requested City Council officials to ascertain what he owes to the City Council. It was reported to the Council's Finance SPC this week that he owes the City Council €337,264 in rates through his company Mountbrook Riverside (now dissolved) for office properties on Pembroke Road. There is no guarantee that any of this will be recovered for the people of Dublin City.
"Contrast this with the treatment of our older people and those dependent on social welfare who, if they fail to pay the Family Home Tax, will have it deducted from their meagre state payments.
"Developers such as Dunne were massively incentivised and subsidised by the state through tax breaks. They inflated the property bubble and were supported by corrupt banking, leading to the collapse of the Irish economy. And they have the audacity to claim their debts to the Irish people are paid." ENDS
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has welcomed the announcement by Minister O’Neill that an extra £1m has been secured to help farmers facing fodder shortages.
Mr. McMullan stated,
“I welcome the fact that the Minister has again acted quickly to instigate a programme that will help alleviate the plight that many farmers are facing over a lack of fodder.
“The Executive also needs recognition for agreeing to give an extra £1m to help the farmers and this will now be dispersed to those farmers most in need.
“Farmers who are eligible need to work with the Department to ensure the swift delivery of this extra hardship payments.
“The unseasonal weather has caused havoc with the farming communities ability to create the proper economic conditions in order to carry out their work and the Ministers timely interjections will help return some stability to those farmers.
“The Department now needs the time and space to deliver on these commitments and I would call on everyone who has the farming community at their heart to weigh in behind the Minister and help alleviate the problems farmers are facing.”
Responding to today’s launch by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) of a review into special education, Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien, TD, said the challenge was for Minister Ruairí Quinn to implement the key recommendations of the report.
Deputy O’Brien said: “I would like to commend the NCSE for carrying out the first comprehensive strategic review into special education in 20 years. The findings contained in the publication of their report: Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools must not sit on a shelf to gather dust.
“One of the key recommendations put forward by the NCSE is that the link between allocation based on category of disability, must be changed to one of allocation based on need.
“This is absolutely essential if we are to improve the level of supports for children with special educational needs, particularly where the emphasis is on integrating students into mainstream education.
“In recent weeks I have been dealing with parents of children who have Autism and Down Syndrome whose education is suffering because of the way Home Tuition and Resource Hours are allocated. We need a change of emphasis to a system that prioritises the needs of the child instead of allocation based on category of disability.
“I also share the NCSE’s concerns at the length of time many parents have to wait for a diagnosis to assess their child’s individual needs and learning capacity.
“It is essential we have in place a robust regulatory enrolment framework so as to ensure all children with special educational needs can access a school placement quickly.”
Responding to Justice for Magdalenes announcement today that the survivor advocacy group is to end its political campaign Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald commended the group for its tireless work in seeking recognition of, and justice for, the Magdalene women.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“All those involved in Justice for Magdalenes are to be commended for their steadfast work in seeking justice for all women who were incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries.
“Their tenacity, professionalism and integrity ensured that the voices of the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries were heard, and that those who are no longer with us will not be forgotten.
“Sinn Féin wishes Justice for Magadelenes every good fortune and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to them.”
Sinn Féin North Belfast councillor Danny Lavery said the people of North Belfast do not want armed gangs in their areas.
The local councillor was speaking after an 18-year-old was shot in both legs in the Cliftonville Road area last night.
Councillor Lavery said:
“Armed gangs are not wanted in North Belfast. People are moving forward and there are systems in place for making sure the PSNI do their job and police this community.
“These armed gangs only strike fear into the community and those involved in the them should stop and examine the negative impact of their actions.
“There is a lot of positive work going on in North Belfast by community groups and organisations and they are showing courage and focusing on the way ahead, not going back.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard has said that the additional 230 teachers will not only offer new teachers experience but will impact on numeracy and literacy levels.
Mr. Hazzard stated,
“This initiative by the Minister John O’Dowd will have a double impact within education system by given newly qualified teachers an opportunity to get experience and allow children to increase their numeracy and literacy skills.
“It is important that all children are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential and injecting these teachers into targeted areas where children are not reaching the required standard will allow them to rise to the required levels.
“This initiative will continue to raise the academic achievement right across the board and give much needed employment to newly qualified teachers.
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the decision by Justice Minister David Ford that a dedicated agriculture crime unit is to be set up within the PSNI.
Mr. McMullan said,
“Last year I called for a dedicated unit to be set up to target specific crimes against the farming community as opposed to rural crime.
“The agricultural industry is the biggest industry in the North and farm equipment and livestock are very expensive so any crime against this industry is costly.
“As we are all aware farmers have been hit hard through weather conditions so they need to have proper protection against criminals.
“I welcome the fact that the Minister has now acted to set up a dedicated unit within the PSNI to tackle crimes against the farming community and hope that this unit can tackle the criminals that are preying on farmers and their equipment.”
The Foyle MLA and member of the Assembly’s Health Committee said:
“The Health Minister should introduce a similar scheme to the pilot scheme in Scotland whereby community pharmacies are able to directly dispense vitamins to pregnant women under the Healthy Start Scheme.
“At the minute in the North there is a lot more bureaucracy involved which deters women from accessing these vitamin under our own Healthy Start Scheme.
“The Minister should outline the numbers and percentage rates of pregnant women availing of the free vitamins under the Healthy Start Scheme in the North and implement a similar system to that in Scotland so that more pregnant women will avail of the service.”
On the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD extended his continuing sympathy and solidarity to all the survivors and bereaved of 17 May 1974. He repeated his call for an independent international inquiry into bombings in Dublin and Monaghan.
Speaking before the commemoration in Dublin, this morning, the Sinn Féin president said:
“Sinn Féin supports Justice for the Forgotten as it continues to campaign for the British Government to provide us with the documentary information - currently being withheld - that can progress investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
“Sinn Féin believes that as a society seeks to leave conflict behind, and to move forward there is a requirement that all of us address the tragic human consequences of the past.
“Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been caused through conflict in our country. We reject any attempt to create and sustain a hierarchy of victims. All victims and survivors of the conflict must be treated on the basis of equality.
“In order to deal with our past, Sinn Féin believes an independent International Truth Commission is required as a vehicle for truth recovery.”
“I also note that the government has not restored funding to the Justice for the Forgotten group.”
May 16th, 2013 - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, today expressed his condolences on the death of former GAA president, Paddy Buggy.
“Paddy Buggy was an accomplished hurler and a proud Kilkenny man. His prowess on the field was matched by his capability in later life as President of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
“I send my sympathies to his wife and family and to the GAA family in Kilkenny which will miss him greatly.”
Lisburn Sinn Féin councillor Stephen Magennis has accused those responsible for a shooting attack on the police today of being involved in a reckless and pointless attack, which not only jeopardised the lives of police officers but also local people, including children.
“Due to the good weather people living in Foxes Glen were sitting outside their homes watching their children playing.
“I was in my back garden when I heard the shooting and rushed into the street to grab my daughter to safety as did other parents did the same.
“We are very lucky no one was injured or killed in this reckless and pointless attack.
“The bogus reporting of a burglary by dissidents in order to serve their agenda only does a grave disservice to this community. Following a number of serious incidents in the local area over the past weeks this community is calling for an effective policing response
“Those behind the attack need to explain to this community the rationale behind this attack and what exactly it achieved except causing fear and upset for the local residents.”
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has urged the finance minister, Michael Noonan to meet with representatives of the Waterford Crystal workers, who recently won a court case in the European Court of Justice. The workers had brought the government to the commercial court for failure to compensate the workers for loss of pensions.
Senator Cullinane has written to the minister for finance on behalf of eleven Oireachtas members who attended an all-party briefing, requesting an urgent meeting between the minister and members of the Unite Union.
Speaking today from Leinster House, the Waterford senator has stated that it is not acceptable for the minister to seek to delay compensation any further.
“This initiative follows on from a successful briefing which I hosted in Leinster House for Oireachtas members, at which it was agreed by a cross party group of TDs and senators, to exert pressure on the minister to meet with the Waterford Crystal workers’ representatives as soon as possible.
"I believe that compensation is a matter of urgency, and needs to be dealt speedily. These workers have already suffered unnecessarily and considerable hardship. It is time that their long wait for justice is ended. The government needs to meet with Unite, which represents these workers, to discuss the manner of compensation.
"It cannot be kicked to touch as an issue, nor should the government have to wait on the high court decision on the matter. This issue can be and must be dealt on its merits. It is clear that the ECJ took the view that the workers needed to be compensated, and the High Court cannot overturn that.
"It is a scandal that the workers have been so shabbily treated and had to drag the government to court to get what they are simply entitled to. It is time that this government brought this sorry episode to a close.
"If the workers are fairly compensated these pensions it will represent a boost not only to the workers and their families but also to the wider local economy."
Note to Editor
The following are the TDs and senators who signed the letter to the minister.
Senator David Cullinane
Joan Collins TD
Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú
Roisín Shortall TD
Michael Colreavy TD
Patrick Nulty TD
Clare Daly TD
Ciara Conway TD
Brian Stanley TD
Seamus Healy TD
Ann Phelan TD
Peadar Toibín TD
John Halligan TD
Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey who is also the Chair of the Health Committee in the Assembly has called for the sections outlined in the Transforming Your Care strategy to be scrutinised individually to assess and examine the changes ahead.
Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:
“There are concerns regarding the role-out of the Transforming Your Care strategy following the fiasco surrounding the proposed closure of Residential Care Homes.
“In the public mind this was far from a good start for the beginning of a strategy that was designed to improve our health service.
“There are ten key themes outlined under the strategy which include areas such as prevention, older people, maternity and childcare, acute care and so on.
“With such a wide ranging remit affecting many departments within our health system there is an onus on us to examine in depth the proposed changes for each area in order to avoid a repeat of the events we saw with Care Homes and the trauma caused to many older people.
“The Health committee has agreed to my proposal to look at a programme of work that will undertake consultation with key stakeholders including Trade Unions, the TYC implementation team and the HSC board.”
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has dismissed claims by an official from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office that the G8 summit taking place in Fermanagh will bring in up to £700 million into the local economy.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:
“Since the announcement was made that the G8 summit was taking place in Fermanagh we have been forced to listen to one ridiculous claim after another.
“At a public meeting discussing disruption as a result of the G8, an official from the British Foreign & Commonwealth claimed that the summit would bring in up to £700 million into the local economy.
“This is a figure that has been plucked from thin air, for no other reason but to deal with the growing resentment at the level of disruption in Fermanagh as a result of the G8.
“Already we have been told that schools are closing with exams disrupted, hospital appointments cancelled, waterways are closing, driving lessons and tests cancelled, mobile phone coverage impacted and all road works have been cancelled.
“This is not a proportionate response to dealing with a gathering of eight men and women who are simply coming to Fermanagh to perpetuate the myth that they speak for the whole world.
“Tangible economic benefits will be minor and very short lived. At this morning’s meeting of the Enterprise, Trade & Investment committee, we received information on the economic ‘benefits’ of the 2010 G8 summit in Scotland. This summit cost £90.9m to host, two thirds of which was paid by the Scottish government, not the British government, and the actual benefit to the Scottish economy was a meagre £4.6 million.
“I have now asked for a similar piece of work to be done based on sensible predictions for the forthcoming G8 summit in Fermanagh.”
Senator David Cullinane has given a cautious welcome to news that agreement between management and unions at Bus Éireann has been reached.
Speaking today from Leinster House, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights said that it was encouraging that a deal had been arrived at, however, like the Bus Éireann workers, he would await details before judging the deal in full.
“It’s positive and encouraging in principle that Bus Éireann and unions have come to an agreement. While the full details have yet to emerge, we hope that the terms of the deal are acceptable to the Bus Éireann workers and their families. Like them, I will wait to see the detail before making a full judgment.”
“It is very important that workers will be given the opportunity to evaluate the deal and to work out how it will affect them and their families. There have been many years of industrial peace at the company and no union worker would have taken lightly the decision to strike.
“What is very apparent from this dispute, and indeed the rejection of the Croke Park II agreement, is that workers on low to middle incomes have had enough
“They simply cannot take any more hits to their income and I think that the ordinary workers at Bus Éireann will judge this deal on the effect that it will have on their pockets.
“The company has rightly reconsidered the pay of higher earners at the company, with four per cent cuts to pay for management and cuts of up to 20% for directors.
“From the outset we have said that any cuts to pay should come from the higher end of the scale and we are glad that the company has accepted that.
“Michael Faherty of the NBRU said earlier that they had been shouting out for this all week, and it underlines how unfair that the initial proposal was that higher earners would not take any hit.
“It is important to underline that this dispute was a conflict of the Minister’s own making, and a direct consequence of his continued cutbacks to public transport.
“The government need to realise that cuts and savings to public transport cannot be made on the backs of lower and middle income workers.
“Bus Éireann has seen significant underinvestment over many years, and simply cutting the funding and expecting the company to simply cope with that is irresponsible, and will do nothing for the future of public transport in Ireland.
“This dispute shows once again that workers standing their ground in face of hostility from sections of the media and government representatives has resulted, we hope, in a significant gain for these workers and their families.”
Tá Sinn Féin ag impí ar an Aire Talmhaíochta, Simon Coveney, dul chun cainte lena chomhleacaí sa Fhrainc chun fodar atá le teacht go hÉireann a fháil tríd calafoirt na Fraince. Deir urlabhraithe talmhaíochta an pháirtí, Martin Ferris TD agus an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh go n-ardóidh siad an t-ábhar sa Dáil agus Seanad ar maidin arís, tar éis d’ionadaithe ó na heagrais feirmeoireachta an bac ag calafoirt na Fraince a chuir ar a súile dóibh.
“Dar leis na hurlabhraithe talmhaíochta a bhí i dteagmháil linn, tá suas le 3200 carn fhéir ag suí ag na duganna ag fanacht ar lochtú, ach tá oibrithe sa Fhrainc ag diúltú iad a lódáil. Níl ach cheithre choiméadán le cur ar loingis atá le teacht go hÉireann agus ní bheidh iontu sin ach 120 carn fhéir”, a deir Ferris. “Ní leor sin le freastal ar an éileamh ollmhór atá ann faoi láthair.
“Caithfidh an tAire a ról reatha mar Chathaoirleach ar Chomhairle na nAirí a úsáid le cur ina luí ar údaráis na Fraince comhoibriú chun an beatha beithíoch riachtanach seo a chuir go hÉireann gan a thuilleadh moille, le cuidiú le feirmeoirí anseo déileáil leis an ngéarchéim reatha.
“Tá frustrachas ollmhór ar fheirmeoirí na Gaillimhe nach féidir leo gréim a fháil ar an mbeatha beithíoch thábhachtach seo”, dar le Ó Clochartaigh. “Ní féidir leo meabhar ar bith a fháil ach an oiread, nach bhfuil an tAire ag déanamh níos mó ag leibhéal na hEorpa le h-íocaíochtaí a thabhairt chun cinn le cuidiú leis na deacrachtaí ollmhóra atá acu ó thaobh sreabhadh airgid di. Tá siad ag iarraidh orainn freisin glaoch ar an Rialtas chun Aire Stáit a cheapadh sa Roinn Talmhaíochta láithreach, chun cuidiú leis an Aire Sinsearach leis an dúshlán dochreidte atá san earnáil.
“Tá an tAire Coveney sa gcathaoir ag Comhairle na nAirí, ag plé leis na comhráití ar na comhpholasaithe talmhaíochta agus iascaigh, chomh maith le déileáil le ‘burger gate’ agus anois an ghéarchéim fodar. Síleann feirmeoirí nach féídir leis gach rud a dhéanann i gceart agus mar thoradh ar seo nach bhfuil tosaíocht cuí tugtha ag an Rialtas don ghéarchéim reatha. Níl rudaí chomh dona sna sé chontae, áit nach bhfuil na feirmeoirí i gcruachás leath chomh dona mar gur cosúil go bhfuil an tAire Talmhaíochta ansin, Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin, tar éis na gnóthaí a láimhseáil ar bhealach i bhfad níos éifeachtaí”, dar le hurlabhraithe Oireachtais Shinn Féin.
Concerns regarding the delay in progressing the Narrow Water Bridge were raised today at the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee by Warrenpoint and Dundalk Chambers of Commerce.
Speaking after the meeting Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth Gerry Adams said;
“This project will deliver 270 jobs in the construction sector and other sectors. It will create a legacy for economic development for decades to come.
“The finance is in place and ready to go. The DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has limited time to agree to this on this very beneficial project.
“Taoiseach should address the matter directly with the DUP Party Leader, Peter Robinson, to ensure that this opportunity and finance is not lost.”
Conor Murphy MP for Newry and Armagh said;
“This project is has been in the pipeline for some time, the business case has been developed and is robust. The EU has recognised the vital importance of the project and has put in place finances to build the bridge.
“The economies and communities of Down, Armagh and Louth are interdependent and interlinked. Workers, produce and products cross the border every day.
“The bridge will ease this and further promote the whole area of tourism and joint action for the benefit of all.
“The Minister for Finance, in the North, should outline and resolve his concerns to ensure that the Bridge is built, jobs are created and benefits are delivered to all in our community.”
Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has called for world leaders attending the G8 Summit next month to listen to the voice of our young people.
Speaking at a Youth Summit in Fermanagh on International Development the West Belfast MLA said”
“Young people are both the conscience of today's society and the architects of tomorrow.
“When world leaders of the eights richest nations meet here next month it is important they hear the message from our young people about the type of world which the next generation will inherit.
“There are 7000 children under the age of five that die every day due to under-nutrition and one in every eight children will go to bed hungry tonight. This is preventable.
“The young people gathered here today are speaking for the world’s population that live in poverty who do not have a voice at the G8 Summit. Their voices need to be heard when major decisions are being made that will effect all of our futures.”
Sinn Féin is calling on Minister Simon Coveney to intervene with his French counterpart to have fodder destined for Ireland moved through French ports. The party’s Agriculture spokespersons, Martin Ferris TD and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh are raising the issue in the Dáil and Seanad this morning after spokespersons from farming organisations highlighted an impasse at French ports to them.
“According to farming spokespersons who have contacted us, some 3200 bales are sitting in French ports waiting to be loaded, but the French dockers are refusing to load them. Only four containers are to be put on ships headed for Ireland accounting for only 120 bales”, says Ferris. “That is far too little to cope with the present demand.
“The Minister must use his current position as Chairman of the Council of Ministers to get the French authorities to co-operate fully to have these vital foodstuffs transported to Ireland without further delay and help Irish farmers cope with the devastating crisis they find themselves in.”
“Galway farmers are incredibly frustrated that they can’t get their hands on this essential fodder”, according to Ó Clochartaigh. “They really can’t understand either why the Minister is not doing more at a European level to have payments brought forward to help them deal with their massive cash flow difficulties. They are asking us as well to call on the government to appoint a Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture now, to assist the senior Minister in dealing with this unprecedented challenge.
“Minister Coveney has been chairing the Council of Ministers, in the middle of CAP and CFP negotiations, as well as ‘burger gate’ and now the fodder debacle. Farmers feel he can’t do it all and that the Government has not been giving this crisis the attention it deserves. It appears farmers in the six counties have not been affected as badly, where the problems seem to have been handled much more efficiently by the Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill.”
Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis has blasted the government for their active role in attempting to place further barriers to employment in front of former political prisoners. He made his comments as part of a debate on a Sinn Fein motion on the Good Friday Agreement in the Dáil this evening.
Deputy Ellis said:
“The spirit of the Good Friday Agreement is clear. Barriers should be removed not erected in terms of allowing ex-prisoners from the conflict to obtain employment. The people backed this agreement with massive support and the government is bound by its commitment.
“Fine Gael and Labour have, particularly in relation to Haulage and Taxi industries, sought to make it more difficult for ex-prisoners covered under the Good Friday Agreement to keep work.
“This is threatening the livelihood of many families and is totally unacceptable.
“The government cannot pick and choose what it likes about the agreement it signed up to. It must live up to its responsibility and remove barriers to employment and give this a legislative basis.
“For a government so eager to honour its agreements with bankers and bondholders it is truly galling to see their total disregard for the agreement which brought gave peace room to grow.”