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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Brian Stanley TD, has indicated his support for an expansion of the services provided by Ireland’s Post office network.

Deputy Stanley spoke after meeting with representatives of An Post and the Communication Workers Union.

“The success of the recent pilot scheme between post offices in Credit Unions demonstrates the scope for bringing additional financial services to our post office network, and there is no reason why this scheme could not be rolled out nationwide.

“We have an opportunity to increase our use of the Post office network. The technology exists to provide a network that is fully computerized and linked to rural Ireland. The post office network is already equipped to do more business.

“Giving post offices the ability to sell insurance, process motor tax, and conduct individual banking services would secure their position in the community.

“It is crucial however that the government does not continue to encourage business away from Post offices by directing people to have welfare payments paid directly into bank accounts.

“Currently the majority of business conducted by An Post is government related and many would struggle to survive without this business. The social cost to small towns and villages of losing a post office needs to be factored in.

“An Post is unique in semi-state companies of having no state support, despite having a reach into every parish.

“Whilst the network is being challenged by modern changes we still have the ability to preserve this service into the future.”

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said comments made by a former head of the civil service about West Belfast revealed as archive papers are releases will not surprise people in the area.

The West Belfast MP said: 

"The comments made by the then head of the civil service in 1987 about West Belfast will come as no surprise to anyone who lives in the area.

"They are indicative of the attitude of the NIO and British government to West Belfast for decades. 

"West Belfast was subjected to a systematic campaign of state-sponsored violence and murder and was starved of funding and investment for many years in an attempt to keep the community down. 

"Attempts were made to turn West Belfast into a ghetto and to criminalise and demonise its people. 

"Those days are gone and are not coming back. While problems still exist as a result of the legacy of decades of underinvestment, West Belfast has been transformed since power was taken from the hands of unelected and unaccountable civil servants. 

"Sinn Féin have led this transformation and continue to work daily to for the people of West Belfast and to challenge discrimination and injustice." 

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Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the Oireachtas Finance Committee decision to hold a number of meetings throughout September on the motor insurance issue. Deputy Doherty had previously written to the Committee seeking that the insurance issue be dealt with as soon as possible.

He said:

“I am delighted that the Finance Committee will now meet throughout September to discuss this issue. I recently wrote to the Chair calling for this to be prioritised and my suggestion that the Committee take on this work won unanimous Dáil support in June.

“The working group set up by the Department of Finance has very belatedly begun its work on identifying the reason for the cost increases. I believe if we move swiftly, the Committee can complement this work. It is my understanding that the Committee will invite a very wide range of experts and industry actors as well as campaigners into the Committee to hear all sides.

“Each day that passes more and more drivers are landed with excessive quotes of up to two or three times their last premium without any explanation. There are fundamental issues that need to be looked at because the industry’s excuses simply don’t add up. I look forward to putting forward Sinn Féin’s ideas on how to tackle this crisis.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said information he has received from the Department of Finance under Freedom of Information shows that the plans by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to phase out the Universal Social Charge have been slated by Department officials as “regressive”, “base narrowing” and would have “limited benefits” because so many would gain nothing.

In the correspondence provided to Deputy Doherty, a range of alternative revenue sources are outlined including a 600% increase in property tax, a 5% increase in both income tax bands, increasing Corporation Tax to 19.5%, and a 5% VAT rate on children shoes and other previously 0% rated items.

Speaking today, Deputy Doherty said;

“This is the information that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were not telling us about during the recent general election which was fought on this issue. Department of Finance official briefings from February show very clearly that the move to abolish or phase out USC would be regressive, narrow the tax base and disproportionately favour the better off. An example is given of how  a minimum wage earner would gain €316, while a high earner with an income of €150,000 would gain over €9,500.

“Sinn Féin argued strongly that the USC could not be phased out completely as it would leave a massive €4 billion gap in public finances. Today, we learn that the Department presented to the Minister several options to replace this income. These include a 600% increase in Local Property Tax, increasing Corporation Tax to 19.5%, and a 5% VAT rate on children shoes and other previously 0% rated items and a 5% income tax increase to both rates. In each case these options were only part of the proposal. 

“Sinn Fein argue that those on the lowest incomes should be protected from USC while investment is needed to fix our health and housing crises. The scale of investment that will not be made because of a commitment to carry out what the Department of Finance has called ‘regressive’ and favouring the better off is now clear from the shocking options that were presented.

“The correspondence provided to me by the Department of Finance proves Sinn Féin’s case. It is simply not realistic that the USC could be phased out completely without major tax increases or a complete neglect of investment.

“Finance Minister Michael Noonan must face up to that fact now as we enter the most crucial phase of budget planning. This budget should be about investment in public services such as health, housing and education while protecting the lowest earners in society from the USC. Any party now proposing the phasing out or abolition of the USC must explain whether it will neglect public services or let the public know which one of the hugely hurtful tax options it will implement to replace the lost revenue.

“Minister Noonan should also outline why this information was not included in the brief he published after the government was appointed.” ENDS

Note: Please see attached the FOI document in question

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has welcomed a historic peace accord between FARC and the Colombian government. 

Mr Murphy, who previously travelled to Colombia to assist the peace process, said; 

"The peace accord between FARC and the Colombian government is a welcome step forward in the Colombian peace process. 

"It is a further historic step in the process to end the most long-running conflict in the world. 

"This follows two years of peace talks in Havana, which Sinn Féin supported and participated in. I and other Sinn Féin representatives have travelled to Colombia and Cuba to meet with both sides and share our experiences of building peace.

"It is encouraging that both sides have agreed to work together to tackle the major political and economic issues facing the Colombian people and to deliver justice for all victims of the conflict. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to support the Colombian peace process as it moves forward."

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has condemned attempts by Spanish courts to prevent Basque political leader Arnaldo Otegi from standing in upcoming elections. 

Mr Maskey said; 

"Arnaldo Otegi is an internationally respected leader of the Basque people and has been instrumental in developing the Basque peace strategy and process. 

"Attempts to obstruct and prevent the Basque people from having the opportunity to elect Arnaldo in the Basque Autonomous Parliament Election on September 25 are undemocratic and unjust.

"In order to promote and build on the courageous steps taken by the Basque independence movement, and in particular by Arnaldo Otegi, this decision must be condemned by the International community and should be immediately overturned. 

"Spanish Government policies of censorship, marginalisation and isolation are wrong. They are counter productive and will not work

"Instead of trying to deny Arnaldo Otegi the right to seek a mandate from the Basque people the Spanish Government needs should instead promote and support a process of dialogue to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Basque Country."

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has warmly welcomed the announcement that the Colombia Government and the FARC have agreed a final peace agreement, calling it historic and a genuine opportunity for a lasting peace.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

 “I want to warmly welcome this historic announcement that a final peace agreement has been reached.

“I want to commend the extremely hard work that the Colombian Government and FARC negotiators have put in over the past four and a half years of talks. I also want to commend the Cuban and Norwegian Governments for helping to facilitate and support the talks process.

“This agreement has the potentially to end the 52 year conflict and it gives Colombians the chance to live in peace after decades of devastating war.

“No one is in any doubt that huge difficulties and challenges lay ahead. All sides to the agreement prepare need to take risks to ensure a fair and equitable peace process is established and that this process is nurtured and built on.

“The Colombian Government needs to bring to an end the continued brutal and violent actions of right wing paramilitary groups. In the 30 days between 21 February and 18 March 2016 30 political and community activists were murdered by these paramilitaries.

“Peace cannot grow in a climate of fear and repression. The Colombia Government needs to ensure that the democratic process is up to all political groups without fear of attack or assassination. The issue of land distribution and the millions of internally displaced by this conflict will be a huge and immediate challenge.

“I hope that formal negotiations between the Colombian Government and the ELN can also reach a successful conclusion, and that the Colombian people can begin the arduous task of building a lasting and inclusive peace in their country.” 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell has condemned those behind the disruption caused by a security alert at Atlantic Avenue in North Belfast.

Cllr Campbell said:

"This attack was wrong and must be utterly condemned.

"It has brought nothing but disruption to the local community with several homes being evacuated.

"Incidents like this serve no purpose other than bringing disruption to the community and they need to stop immediately.

"I would call on anyone with information to bring it forward to the Police."

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has condemned the decision of the Israeli authorities to deny him entry to Gaza. 

Speaking from Palestine, Mr Sheehan said; 

"The decision by the Israeli authorities to deny me entry to Gaza is unacceptable and I condemn it. 

"I am here to show Sinn Féin's solidarity with the Palestinian people and to promote efforts to reach a peaceful solution in the region. 

"The people of Gaza have suffered enormously as a result of the Israeli blockade and the continuing military onslaught, the most recent just days ago. 

"There is a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel is attempting to hide that from the international community but they will not succeed. 

"The international community have a responsibility to support the people of Palestine and to challenge the Israelis to stop the persecution of Gaza." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called on businesses, universities and other organizations who avail of EU funding to ensure that they make their concerns over Brexit heard.

The East Derry MLA was speaking after a day of engagements in the area with MEP Martina Anderson:

“There is a lot of concern among the business community, for the universities and the many others who avail of EU funding, and of course for farmers, as to the impact of the EU referendum result and the uncertainty that has resulted.

“It is very important that all of these stakeholders make their opinions and concerns known to their representatives in all forums, be that unions, chambers of commerce or elected representatives.

“The people of the North voted to remain and that vote must be recognised and respected.” 

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Reacting to the publication of the terms of reference for the inquiry into the Olympics tickets controversy Sinn Féin’s spokesperson Imelda Munster has criticised Minister Ross for not establishing a statutory inquiry with powers to compel witnesses and evidence.

Teachta Munster said;

“Sinn Féin had argues strongly that a non-statutory inquiry would be toothless and may never get to the full truth of the matter.

“However, Minister Ross met with Fianna Fáil yesterday and it seems an agreement was made that the inquiry could make a recommendation if it chose to do so that a statutory inquiry be held.

“That’s nothing more than a half measure and I’m sure if Shane Ross was still in opposition he would be very critical of this move.

“What we have here is a scandal of international proportions and the minister’s response has been to establish a toothless inquiry.  That’s not good enough in Sinn Féin’s view.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has announced that Philip McGuigan has been selected for co-option as an MLA for North Antrim. 

The Sinn Féin chief whip said; 

"Following consultation with Sinn Féin activists in North Antrim, the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle has approved the selection of Philip McGuigan for co-option as the new MLA for the constituency. 

"Philip is an excellent public representative and has served as a councillor in the area since 2001 and was an MLA for North Antrim from 2003 to 2007. 

"I have no doubt that with Philip's return to the Assembly he will continue to provide first class representation to the people of North Antrim. 

"I wish him well and look forward to working alongside him in the Assembly." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has urged young people receiving GCSE to “follow your heart and passion” when it comes to fulfilling their educational or career path.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s GCSE results announcement the Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson and Chair of Assembly Education Committee said:

“I want to wish everyone awaiting results every success.

“There is a lot of pressure on young people now a-days and I would tell them follow your heart, follow your passion.

“I anticipate once again this year there will be further improvements in literacy and numeracy, given the success of the Signature Project, which was introduced by my colleague, the then Education Minister John O’Dowd and the wider Executive.

“There is a strong argument to be made to reintroduce this scheme in the future.

“I would also like to take this opportunity congratulate the role the parents and teachers play in educating our young people.”

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Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Agriculture, Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has stated that a commitment by the Minister for Agriculture that vital TAMS payments would be made to farmers in July this year has not been followed through with and has left farmers in deep financial trouble.

Speaking after being made aware of this delayed payments issue, Senator Mac Lochlainn said:

“On the back of already expressed worries about delays in payment of BPS and ANC schemes, the Minister must intervene immediately to ensure whatever problems are obviously arising within the processing of all these payments schemes are teased out and resolved once and for all.

“I have contacted the Ministers office to highlight the pressing need for these payments to be made to farmers immediately in line with the commitment he made.

“It is not good enough that farmers who have had an extremely hard year income wise, and are under severe cashflow pressure, now face these preventable and avoidable delays.

“The ICMSA have called on the Minister to bypass the computer system and make manual payments as has happened with other schemes if it is this system causing the delays and I fully endorse this call.

“This is the time of year that farmers make necessary upgrades to their farms to ensure they meet compliance standards and avoid penalties once inspections commence in the Autumn. I further call on the Minister to deploy extra resources to sort out this chaos once and for all. Farmers have lost confidence in the systems that make these payments and it will now require the Minister to personally intervene, honour his previous commitment and restore this confidence.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said that he hopes the new term at De La Salle College in West Belfast will be a positive one following the publication of the report of an independent panel into problems at the school.

Mr Maskey said:

"It is clear from the report there were many issues that faced the school and went on for far too long.

“The people who were impacted the most were the pupils and that's not good for education.

"I hope the school can move forward in a more positive manner and that De La Salle can continue to be the centre of excellence in teaching and learning that it has been for many years now.

"West Belfast is proud of the achievements that De La Salle has had over the years and no one wanted to see the problems we witnessed at the school.

"There needs to be clear channels established to ensure better working relationships between management, staff, pupils, parents and the wider community.

“The CCMS and the EA have a duty to the school and I will be seeking a meeting with them to get their views on this report and to see what their plans are to move forward on a positive outcome for all concerned.

"A new academic year is almost upon us now and I hope that this can be a great term for the entire school and that progress can be made from all concerned.” 

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De réir figiúirí a nochtadh ón Roinn Forbartha Réigiúnaí, Gnóthaí Tuaithe, Ealaíon agus Gaeltachta don Teachta Dála Peadar Tóibín Sinn Féin le déanaí, tá 12 fostaí ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ar thuarastal ós cionn €85,000 mhíle sa bhliain, le ceithre acu ag tuilleadh thart ar €100,000.

Ag labhairt dó inniu dúirt an Teachta Tóibín

“Léirigh an Roinn Forbartha Réigiúnaí, Gnóthaí Tuaithe, Ealaíon agus Gaeltachta dom mar fhreagra ar cheist pharlaiminte, go raibh 31 duine fostaithe ag an Údarás ag tuilleadh breis is €65,000 sa bhliain. Tá 12 acu ag tuilleadh ós cionn €85,000 sa bhliain, agus ceithre acu ar thuarastal breis is €100,000.

“Is mór an méid é seo, go háirithe má chuireann tú na ciorraithe ar fad ar bhuiséad an Údarás le blianta beaga anuas san áireamh. Níor thug an rialtas ach aon mhilliúin san iomlán i mbliana leis an Straitéis 20 Bliain a chuir i bhfeidhm. Is deacair a chreidiúint go bhfuil breis is €1,135,000 á íoc ar thuarascálacha dhá dhuine dhéag.  

Tá cúrsaí fostaíochta sa Ghaeltacht i ndrochstaid amach is amach. 

"Ba mhaith liom go gcuirfí an fócas ar chruthú postanna agus infheistíocht sna limistéir Ghaeltachta le haon airgead breise a bheas ann. Tá sé scannalach go bhfuil go leor spásanna folmha sna heastáit tionsclaíochta éagsúla de chuid an Údaráis.

“I mbuiséad Shinn Féin anuraidh, chuireamar roinnt moltaí chun tosaigh ar chostas €10 milliún ar an iomlán a mbeadh tionchar dearfach acu ar an nGaeilge. I measc na mbeartas seo, bhí méadú €5 mhilliún do chistíocht chaipitil Údarás na Gaeltachta. Cuirfidh níos mó fostaíochta le caomhnú agus le forbairt na gceantar Gaeltachta."

 

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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has said that the recent Daft.ie figures on rent increases highlight the ongoing difficulties that many families are facing. Wages are just not keeping up with the rise in property and rent prices, particularly in the Dublin area, he claims.

Crowe believes that the latest Daft.ie figures reinforce the view that the Government needs to urgently look at introducing rent certainty to alleviate the pressure on struggling households.

In the Dublin area, rents rose by 11.1% over a 12 month period and cost of renting is highest in the South Dublin area.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“According to Daft.ie, the average rent in Dublin is running at €1,520. That is 5.2% higher than during the peak Celtic Tiger levels.

“For someone on the average monthly wage of €2,980 living in Dublin, rent for a house will swallow up 51% of their pre-tax wage. That is huge chunk of anyone’s salary.

“This means that buying the average house in Dublin is virtually a no-go area for a person on the average wage.

“Continuous rent increases affects everyone dependent on the private rental sector for their accommodation needs. This includes working families who cannot afford to save to buy a home, low income families that are paying up to 60% of their disposable income on rent, and the increasing amount of students, as there are now 20% fewer properties available to meet this demand.

“In real terms, all of this is leading to a significant reduction in disposable incomes year on year and the erosion of a families’ ability to provide for their housing.

“Surely it is then understandable that workers whose families are spending over 50% of their income on rent are now looking and agitating for pay increases, but the cycle of rent increases needs to be broken. If the current trend continues, it will have no net benefit to workers or their families as their incomes will be further swallowed up by unproductive rent.  

“Earlier this year, Sinn Féin tabled the Rent Certainty Bill 2016 which would have linked rent reviews to the consumer price index. This would have provided much needed stability in the private rental market, for both landlords and tenants.

“The Government needs to recognise that rent certainty is key to alleviating pressure on these households and needs to act accordingly. The latest Daft.ie figures reinforce the view that the Government needs to look again at introducing rent certainty to alleviate the pressure on those trapped in the rental sector.” 

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Protection of Employees (Collective Redundancies) Bill

David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for workers’ rights, published today a draft bill that would close the legal loopholes that allow tactical insolvencies. 

He is calling on all parties to work together to tackle the scandal of tactical insolvencies and protect the rights of people who have worked all their lives and who expect, with good reason, to have their hard-earned pensions protected.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“I have drafted a Bill that would give legislative support to key recommendations in the Duffy-Cahill report that was commissioned in the wake of the Clerys closure.

“The bill would provide protection for employees in collective redundancy situations in which the employer is insolvent.

“It would give power to the High Court to return assets which have been improperly transferred and give preferential creditor status to employees. It would also require that a 30-day consultation period is entered into in cases where it is known that a company’s liabilities are such as to trigger redundancies.

“Although the bill has been drafted and is ready to go I have not yet moved it.

“Instead I have sent a copy to all the major parties and groupings seeking support.

“I also sent a copy to Patricia King of ICTU asking that congress facilitate cross-party discussion with a view to making this an all-party bill.

“We are open to discussion and to working with others to perfect the legislation. I am publishing it today in order to move that discussion onwards.

“We have seen in this Dáil that parties and groupings are willing to support motions and bills that speak to the rights of employees. We saw it with the Labour motion on workers’ rights, and with my own bill on banded hours which was passed by the Dáil albeit delayed for 12 months.

“Together we can produce legislation that will tackle the scandal of tactical insolvencies and protect the rights of people who have worked all their lives and who expect, with good reason, to have their hard-earned pensions protected.

“If we are really to have new politics, this is a way of showing it.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Government need to do more than thank the two women who live tweeted their abortion story over the weekend. She said that the growing tide of support for repealing the 8th amendment has not gone away, and that Government need to take immediate action its obligations under UN law.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is very clear that action on the eighth amendment cannot wait any longer. There is a ground swell of support for its repeal and the actions of the public- from public murals, clothing lines and poll results- indicate that they want a say on this issue. Indeed, the fact that two women turned to twitter to publicly chronicle their abortion story- that made by thousands of women every year- shows the level of discontent for the current situation.

“While Minister Harris took to twitter to thank the two women for their honesty in telling their story, the Taoiseach was noticeably silent. Thanks, however, are not what the women of Ireland need- repeal of the 8th amendment is.

“It is very clear that the Government’s only intention this term of addressing this issue is the citizen’s assembly. An Taoiseach was very clear last session about the need for every citizen from around the country, based on geography, gender and age to have their say on the 8th amendment, but what he fails to realise is that the best way for citizens to have their say is in a referendum. 

“A citizens’ assembly can have value as one part of a national conversation on the eighth amendment, but it of itself as the only Government response is not sufficient. It will not address Ireland’s obligations under UN law. 

“This issue will not go away. Politicians and the Dáil may be in recess, but the public will not let this issue lie. More women will continue to make the journey to England and more pressure will be brought to bear on the Government.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has welcomed the announcement by Health Minister Michelle O’Neill that she is establishing a strategic Health Partnership Forum with Trade Union colleagues.

The West Belfast MP said:

"I welcome the establishment of a Health Partnership Forum. 

"Since my party colleague Michelle O’Neill took over as Health Minister she has shown that she is interested in hearing ideas from the grass roots and make changes where possible based on those ideas.

"We need all relevant partners to provide strategic influence in both policy development and service delivery in the face of pressures as a result of Tory austerity. 

“An agreed approach on the way forward will ensure that everyone is behind the reshaping and refocusing of our services. 

"It will also ensure a better health and social care experience for the public." Ends/Críoch 

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