Sinn Fein Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the Revenue Commissioners report on the tax paid by high earners shows the need for a fundamental review and reform of the tax system. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The report confirms that the highest earners have been using property-based tax reliefs extensively to avoid paying tax. They were so successful in this that 29 of them ended up paying no tax at all in the year of the study, 2001.
"During the recent Dáil debate on the Finance Bill the Government refused to accept amendments, including one from myself, calling for a fundamental review of the system. This study shows such that such a review is needed now more than ever.
"The Revenue Commissioners cannot give us a breakdown of the type of property-based reliefs used by top earners to reduce their tax bill or to eliminate it altogether. We need that information so that, for example, Revenue can call to account those landlords who avail of tax reliefs and who at the same time refuse to comply with tenancy regulations by registering as landlords."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness, has challenged the PSNI Chief Constable to publicly explain the handling of the McCartney investigation by his detectives. Pointing to growing evidence that the PSNI are holding back on charging suspects in an attempt to damage Sinn Féin, Mr McGuinness said:
"Yesterday the PSNI turned away two key people in the McCartney murder investigation, a key witness and a key suspect. Their explanation that they are making arrangements to interview the suspect is astonishing. They have been raiding homes in Belfast looking for this man yet when he offers himself for interview they turn him away. Such a course of action is unprecedented.
"Add to this the failure of the PSNI to put together an identity parade despite having eyewitnesses willing to testify and despite knowing the identities of all those involved in the killing of Robert McCartney. Normal police practice would see an identity parade organised at the earliest time to ensure the greatest chance of positive identification. In this case, six weeks after the killing, there has been no identity parade.
"It is also clear that eyewitness testimony which identifies by name some of those involved in the attack on Robert McCartney has been ignored and that a decision has been made not to arrest and charge those already identified by the eyewitness as participants in the events surrounding Robert McCartney's murder.
"Yesterday, in comments which were grossly misrepresented, I said that there are elements that are prepared to manipulate the McCartney case for political advantage. The PSNI is clearly involved in such manipulation. The PSNI's approach is not about justice; it is about damaging Sinn Fein. The PSNI are not normally reluctant to charge people. In this case the opposite is happening. I publicly challenge Hugh Orde to explain the handling of this investigation and why charges have not been brought." ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that fishermen and women in Ireland require fair play and a co-operative relationship from the European Union. Ms de Brún was speaking following an announcement on the establishment of the Community Fisheries Control Agency.
Speaking today Ms de Brún said:
"Sinn Féin believes that fishing stocks in the Irish Box and throughout Europe must be protected. What we ask for is fair play in the way Irish fishermen and women are treated in comparison with those from other countries. This was the main plank of a detailed discussion our Sinn Féin delegation held recently with the head of Commissioner Borg's Cabinet.
"Sinn Féin recognizes the right of other nations to fish in Irish waters. However, European policy has disadvantaged the Irish fishing sector for a number of years. At present, half of all fish consumed in the EU comes from Irish waters and yet while Ireland can claim over 16% jurisdiction of EU fishing waters, local fishermen and women catch only 4% of the EU total.
"While the Irish fishing industry has worked hard to ensure a sustainable way forward they have some very specific concerns which we have raised with the Commission.
The future of the fishing industry remains precarious and those in the fishing industry are rightly concerned as to what the future will hold.
"I reiterate my recent call for a long-term assessment of the Irish fishing industry to ensure its future sustainability. I am also calling for the financial protection of fishermen and women whilst tough catch quotas remain." ENDS
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty speaking after he returned from London because of the gravity of today's events has said that the direct rule Trade Minister Ian Pearson must respond positively to the employment task force after Adria confirmed today that 175 jobs will be lost.
Mr Doherty said:
"This is a devastating blow for the workers at Adria. The loss of 175 jobs will also have a huge impact on the local economy. There will be a ripple on effect on other local businesses
"At an emergency meeting of the employment task force at Strabane District Council today there was the clear demand for an urgent meeting with Ian Pearson (DETI) and Barry Gardiner (DEL) given the seriousness of this crisis.
"The manner in which management have dealt with the announcement, with workers hearing the news second hand through the media last Thursday, has angered many.
"I will be lobbying INI in the short-term for the expansion of new sectors such as Northbrook to alleviate the immediate crisis and also for financial support for the long-term development of existing local industry and indigenous enterprise.
"There must be an immediate focus on the packages available to workers - dealing with redundancy, and practical and Strabane specific re-training towards a range of skills shortage occupations/growth industries."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness, has said that there is growing evidence that the McCartney family's campaign for justice is being exploited and manipulated by the PSNI to damage Sinn Féin.
Mr Mc Guinness said:
"Republicans have suspected that the PSNI is tailoring their investigation into the murder of Robert McCartney to cause maximum damage to Sinn Féin. Today's revelations that the PSNI turned away a key witness and a key suspect adds further weight to this suspicion.
"In such a high profile murder investigation it beggars belief that the PSNI would reject the offer of an eyewitness statement from a key witness and the opportunity to interview a key suspect who they claim to have been searching for.
"But this is what has happened today. It is also clear that eyewitness testimony which identifies some of those involved in the attack on Robert McCartney has been ignored and that a decision has been made not to arrest and charge those identified by the eyewitness. The normal police practice of quickly putting suspects into an identity parade has not happened despite the fact that the PSNI know who was involved and has eyewitness evidence about this.
"This underlines the fact that politics rather than justice is driving the PSNI investigation. All those who have been vocal in support of the McCartney‚s need to put some searching questions to the PSNI."ENDS
The Chairperson of Magherafelt District Council, Patsy Groogan today hosted a reception for An Fhirinne, the campaign for truth on collusion at the Council Offices, Ballyronan Road, Magherafelt.
Speaking at the event, Cllr. Groogan said:
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome representatives of the campaign for truth on collusion, An Fhirinne to this reception in recognition of their campaign efforts. It is important that all those families affected by the policy of collusion have their voices and personal testimonies heard.
"Indeed many families in the Magherafelt District Council area have suffered directly as a result of the British state's policy of collusion between British intelligence agents, the RUC and unionist death squads over the past 30 years. Today, we especially remember two elected members of Magherafelt District Council, councillors John Davey and Bernard O'Hagan, who were murdered as a result of this policy, which ensured a most vicious onslaught against republicans and nationalists across south Derry and north Antrim in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"The families demand closure and peace of mind, and I pledge my support to the families in their search for truth and justice. We are mindful that many other families have suffered and lost loved ones, as a result of the conflict in the six-counties.
"There are people who do not want to contemplate or admit that the British Government were complicit in state sanctioned murder. It is important as we continue to move through a period of conflict resolution that the voices of all of those who suffered in any way are heard. The families of those murdered at the hands of the British state deserve to have their voices heard also.
"I assure everyone gathered here today of my continued support for your campaign for truth and justice." ENDS
Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor, Killian Forde, has expressed his and his nine fellow Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillors deep disappointment by the refusal of Connex, the operators for the LUAS to remove the overhead cables crossing O'Connell Street for the passing of the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Thursday.
Councillor Forde said:
"Connex's refusal to temporarily remove the cables means that the maximum height allowed of any of the floats is now 4 metres. Last year, some of the floats were up to 12 metres high and they were visually and artistically brilliant. The St Patrick's Parade over the past decade has been transformed into a dynamic showcase of some of the best street theatre and art in the world. Connex selfish stance will limit the development and expansion of the parade and the festival.
"All over the Island community groups and artist have been toiling to design and build floats and now as this late hour many groups have to
make massive changes to their construction due to the shortsightnees of this private company.
Sinn Fein councillors have requested an urgent meeting with the City Manager to explore the options available to the Council to get Connex to comply with the festival organiser's request."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has arrived in New York on the second day of a week long visit to the US. Responding to news that Senator Ted Kennedy has cancelled a planned meeting for Thursday a spokesperson for Mr Adams in New York said:
"We are disappointed at this decision. Senator Kennedy has played a positive role in the process.
"Sinn Féin has worked closely with him in the past. On this occasion we believe that he has been badly advised.
"For our part we will continue to tackle the issues which need to be resolved if the Peace Process is to succeed and we are confident that we will work with Senator Kennedy again in the future." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North Martin Ferris has welcomed this afternoon's statement from Kevin Walsh, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill. Deputy Ferris said:
"I want to welcome this afternoon's statement from Kevin Walsh, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill. This was a difficult decision for the men and their families, particularly as the government had twice agreed to their release.
"I believe their apology to the McCabe and O'Sullivan families is genuine as is their desire not to be used as a blockage to ongoing efforts to re-build the peace process.
"Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for the release of the four men but we will honour their request that this will not be part of negotiations."ENDS
Sinn Féin senior negotiator, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has said that party members with any information on the brutal murder of Robert McCartney have been instructed to come forward and give an 'honest and full' account.
Mr Kelly said:
"Sinn Féin supports the McCartney family's demand for truth and justice.
"We have consistently said that anyone with information about Robert's murder should come forward.
"We support the determination of the McCartney family to see the perpetrators in court and have been working on the ground to achieve this.
"Sinn Fein members with any information on the brutal murder of Robert McCartney have been instructed to come forward and give an honest and full account.
"I understand that a number of party members have given statements to their solicitor with the instruction that they be forwarded to the Police Ombudsman." ENDS
Speaking on his arrival in the US for a week -long series of engagements Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP congratulated the party's candidate in the Meath by-election, Joe Reilly, and thanked all those who voted for Sinn Féín.
Mr. Adams said:
"I want to congratulate Joe Reilly on the substantial increase in his vote and to thank all those who voted for our party. This is a fantastic result and it is clear that the increase in our support is due to our work throughout County Meath, our work in the peace process and our campaign for a united Ireland.
"We will use our mandate to bring about change and to continue with our work to re-build the peace process."ENDS
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty says that the failure by Adria owners Quantum to be up front with the workforce in Strabane in relation to the 200 pending job losses has compounded the feelings of shock and anger in the community.
After talking to workers and Union representatives at the factory today (Friday) Mr Doherty said, "The very least that Quantum management owe to the loyal workforce of Adria is to be open an honest. Instead the company has treated the workforce shabilly to say the least.
"Speculation has been rife for weeks about the imminent announcement of up to 200 job losses.
"However, workers are totally devastated to have to find out on the news about these redundancies. This is despite the fact that just last week, Quantum were denying to me, through Invest NI, that any redundancies were imminent.
"Now in the absence of any official announcement workers are having to endure an agonising weekend wait to find out if they will be among the expected 200 redundancies to be announced early next week.
"They are now also facing the prospect of meagre redundancy terms following indications from management that Quantum do not operate the same redundancy package for workers as did the former owners Adria.
"Quantum must live up to its obligations to its workforce not only in terms of redundancy packages that is inherited from the previous owners but to being open and honest with is remaining workforce." ENDS
Speaking from Meath today, Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has reiterated the demand for the Department of Transport and the Department for Regional Development to honour the Common Chapter commitments to deliver an All Ireland Development plan vis-à-vis road safety, improving the road infrastructure.
Mr McCartney said:
"In the light of the EuroRap - the EU Road Assessment Programme report launched this week; it is obvious that this country needs an All Ireland Transport Strategy that deals with improving road safety, rural - urban interconnectivity, environmental impacts to decrease emissions and to develop a 21st Century multi-modal network that can significantly reduce dependency on the motor car.
"The Cross-Border impact of this study has been well highlighted by the Minister responsible for Transport, Martin Cullen and Dr.Malcom McKibbin, the Chief Executive of the DRD Roads Service. I am calling on both Governments to seriously look at the post-Good Friday policy context and redress all the issues outlined in the report, to plan, implement and deliver the All Ireland strategy this relatively small island should have in place.
Raymond McCartney expressed his concern at the Minister's lacklustre remarks in relation to the introduction of 2+1 road programmes.
"The continued use of 2 + 1 roads, from a road safety perspective, is a dangerous substitute for dual carriageways. Both Road Agencies, the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the Roads Service NI must take more than a friendly stay in touch approach to devising an overarching transport plan.
"The EuroRap report suggests that 80% of accidents are attributable to low - medium risk road networks. These 2 + 1 capital works projects are an excuse for not putting in place the type of infrastructure that is required throughout urban and rural Ireland.
Working as part of the Sinn Fein electoral team to assist with Meath County Cllr. Joe Reilly's By-election, the Sinn Fein spokesperson commented on the impact of transport on all communities.
"I am amazed to see so much construction in Meath; the problems facing the people of Meath are not dissimilar to those facing people all over the country. The infrastructure must be planned to incorporate building communities and catering the needs of the disabled, children, commuters, tourists and all transport users." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP is travelling to the US tomorrow to carry out a extensive series of engagements. Mr. Adams will be in Washington DC, New York and Ohio. Speaking before his departure Mr. Adams said "My message in the United States next week will be very clear - I will be asking those who have supported the peace process and Sinn Féin's role in it, to continue that support so that the task of re-building the peace process can begin." Mr. Adams is in County Meath today where he is campaigning with the party‚s by-election candidate Joe Reilly.
Mr. Adams said:
"For more than a decade now Irish America has played a valuable role in the peace process. When opponents of change were lined up against progress, they intervened in the interests of peace. Next week I will be asking them to do so again. I will be speaking directly to those who have supported the peace process and Sinn Féin's role in it. I will be briefing them on the grave difficulties that the process faces at this time and also outlining the contribution that republicans are willing to make to get the process back on track.
"The peace process is the only way forward but we have to be realistic. The only aspect of the process, which currently exists is the IRA cessation. There are no political institutions, no dialogue, no plans to implement the outstanding aspects of the Agreement.
"If we are to move out of this deepening crisis, then the starting point has to be genuine dialogue between the parties and the two governments. That is the message that I will be bringing to the US next week." ENDS
Saturday, March 12
5:45 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - Cincinnati, Ohio
7:15 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Community Event - Union Hall, Local 392 Plumbers Cincinnati, Ohio
Monday, March 14
7:45AM Council on Foreign Relations Breakfast - New York City
12:00PM Friends of Sinn Féin Luncheon - New York City
4:45PM Transport Workers Union Local 100 - Annual James Connelly Reception New York City
7:30PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - New Jersey
Wednesday, March 16
4:00 PM Meeting with Mitchel Reiss at State Department Washington DC
6:30 PM America-Ireland Fund Dinner, Washington, DC
Thursday, March 17
8:00AM Friends of Sinn Féin Breakfast - Washington, DC
3:00 PM National Press Club - Washington, DC
4:30 PM Senator Kennedy - Washington, DC
5:30 PM Friends of Ireland/Ad Hoc Committee - Washington, DC
Friday, March 18
1:00PM John Carroll University (Speech) - University Heights, Ohio
6:00 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - Mayfield Heights, Ohio
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will accompany Councillor Joe Reilly as he casts his vote today, Friday 11th, in the Meath by-election. Councillor Reilly will cast his vote at 2pm in O'Mahony's, Brews Hill, Navan.
Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly has described news that local authority service charges had risen by ten times the rate of inflation in the last three years as "astonishing" and further confirmation that this Government was engaged in "slight of hand economics" and was "hell-bent on screwing people for every penny they can."
He went on to say that the increase in Health service charges by almost six times the rate of inflation was "evidence that access to healthcare is becoming increasingly dependent on ones ability to pay."
Councillor Reilly was responding to the latest consumer price index published today. He said, "These latest figures are astonishing. While consumer price inflation itself is running at a fairly modest 9.8% over the three year period the inflation in local authority service charges was running at over 100%.
"It is now abundantly clear that the Government is engaged in slight of hand economics. While claiming to operate a low tax economy, they are at the same time hell-bent on screwing people for every penny they can through double taxation and levies. This is the least equitable way of raising taxation. It is not based on ones ability to pay.
"What is also very worrying from this report today is the news that inflation in Health service charges is running at six times the rate of inflation. This is evidence that access to healthcare is becoming increasingly dependent on ones ability to pay." ENDS
Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy speaking from London has said that the decision to remove allowances from Sinn Féin's four MPs is as predictable as it is undemocratic.
Mr Murphy said:
"Republicans were challenged to take our analysis to the electorate. We did so and as a result Sinn Fein is the largest pro-agreement party in the north and the third biggest party on the island of Ireland. The response of the establishment, North and South, is to move the goal posts and introduce undemocratic sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are based on unfounded allegations.
"It is no surprise that the British parliament should attack and discriminate against an Irish republican political party which challenges it right to rule part of our country.
"The decision today is a further attack not just on Sinn Féin and our political mandate but also on the people we represent.
"Sinn Fein will continue to resist all attempts to disenfranchise Sinn Féin and the hundreds and thousands of people we represent. We will continue to argue and promote Irish reunification and will continue to represent people from communities marginalised by the establishment." ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor Killian Forde has expressed his anger at the news that the privately run AerDart service, linking Howth Junction DART Station and the Airport, is to be closed with the loss of nine jobs. The service which is due to finish on the 20th of March is closing, according to the company, due to the falling passenger numbers caused by the closure of the DART at the weekend.
Cllr Forde said:
"This service has proved invaluable for air passengers and workers getting to the airport. One worker, who contacted me this morning, will now have to take a DART into town and a bus back out to the airport to get to work adding on an extra 45 mins to her daily commute. There is a lot of annoyance that this service is ending.
"The ending of this service highlights the dangers of privatising bus services. They only remain viable as long as profits remain high and can be scraped at a moments notice.
"The suspension of the weekend DART services is temporary. The company that runs the AerDart service - ComfortDelGro - is a multi national company with deep pockets - the least they could have done was respect the customers that paid money to them for the past four years and stick with the service for the next three months until the DARTs are back running at the weekend.
"The irony in this is that Dublin Bus will not be able to replace this service because they have been refused extra funding for new stock until they open up their bus routes to private operators. It is an unbelievable situation.
"I will be writing to the Minister for Transport asking him not to consider the ComfortDelGro company for any new bus route when the DART reopens at the weekend. I will also be pointing out the very real danger that bus privatisation causes and urging him to immediately release the money for the 150 buses we were promised in 2001." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking on the last day of canvassing in the Meath by-election said "A vote for Joe Reilly and Sinn Féin in this by-election is a vote for Meath, a vote for the peace process and a vote for a united Ireland. As we prepare to go to the polls I want to appeal to all voters to come out and vote and to vote for Sinn Féin and to transfer to Sinn Féin. "
Mr. Adams said:
"The establishment parties have failed to deliver for Meath in this time of prosperity. Meath has become a residential commuter belt, which lacks basic services and infrastructure such as hospitals, decent educational facilities, integrated transport including a rail link to Navan and childcare. And for almost 30 years these same parties have been robbing the most vulnerable people in this society.
"A vote for Joe Reilly is an alternative to all of that. Councillor Joe Reilly is by far the most active and experienced representative in this contest. A vote for Joe Reilly is a vote for the peace process and for a united Ireland. A vote for Joe Reilly is a vote for Meath.
"As we prepare to go to the polls I want to appeal to all voters in this by-election to endorse this work - to vote for Sinn Féin and to transfer to Sinn Féin."ENDS
Speaking during statements on the Travers Report in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said, "The Minister for Health and Children has tried to shift all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the civil servants. While senior civil servants clearly cannot be exonerated, it is beyond question that the primary responsibility rests with Ministers who are supposed to be accountable to the Dáil and to the people."
Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say that, „This report has exposed executive failure on a huge scale and over the space of nearly 30 years. The buck stops on the desk of every Minister for Health since 1976 and every Cabinet since then must share collective responsibility."
He concluded by saying, "People should not tolerate any diminution of health and social services as a result of the ineptitude and the neglect of successive Governments. We will strongly oppose any such penalising of people in need. It must not be allowed to happen. The Government must look elsewhere for this revenue, whether by borrowing or otherwise, but do not let it compound this very serious situation by punishing those who depend most on the health and social services." ENDS
Full text of contribution of Caoimhghin O Caoláin to Statements on the Travers Report
"The Travers Report is a massive indictment of successive Governments and successive Minister for Health since 1976. It is also an indictment of the ethos within the senior management of the Department of Health over the same period.
"The present Minister for Health and Children has tried to shift all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the civil servants. While senior civil servants clearly cannot be exonerated, it is beyond question that the primary responsibility rests with Ministers who are supposed to be accountable to the Dáil and to the people. Ministers are elected by the Dáil to exercise executive functions. This report has exposed executive failure on a huge scale and over the space of nearly 30 years. The buck stops on the desk of every Minister for Health since 1976 and every Cabinet since then must share collective responsibility.
"We are expected to believe that the former General Secretary of the Department, Michael Kelly, was a chief culprit in all of this and that, as a result, he has been penalized by being moved out of the Department. But the Government has moved him to another senior and very well-paid position as the full-time chairperson of the Higher Education Authority - despite the fact that an OECD report recommended an extensive public recruitment campaign for this position. If the Government considers this civil servant culpable why did they not take steps to dismiss him as they are empoweres to do? If he was not culpable or negligent why was he moved or required to move at all? Does the Government fear that a dismissal, if it were challenged in open court, might further expose the responsibility of Ministers for this debacle?
"Who in particular does the Government hold responsible? If all senior civil servants in the Department over nearly 30 years were responsible then no-one was responsible. Yet this is going to cost billions. Even in the smallest GAA club in the country, if funds are misappropriated or mismanaged the treasurer has to take responsibility for what happened on his or her watch. The treasurers in this case were successive Ministers for Health. But it is harder to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is for a member of the political elite in this State to accept responsibility and to abide by the consequences, up to and including resignation or dismissal.
The Travers report concludes:
"Ministers should insist on full and periodic briefings on key issues of policy and operational performance."
"If Ministers did not do this in relation to the illegal charges it is a scandal. If they did so then we are not being told the truth about the knowledge of successive Ministers for Health and Children.
"This report describes the illegal charging of people in care as being the result of 'long-term systematic corporate failure". It beggars belief that this could have continued for almost thirty years. It also beggars belief that successive Ministers for Health and Children failed to take action over the lack of legal basis for the charges.
"The Report could not be clearer when it states that the Department of Health and Children undertook many reviews of the charging practice over the years from 1976 to 2004 and ALL of them concluded that the legal basis for the charges was, at the very least, uncertain and should be rectified by the introduction of amending legislation.
"The Report concludes that a solution to this problem was readily available through the introduction of a simple legislative amendment. Why was this course of action not taken?
"Even more disturbing are the wider implications of this report for the running of the health services in this State over the last three decades. I want to highlight what I consider a very important conclusion of the Report and one that has received little attention so far. This goes to the heart of why all of this was allowed to continue for so long. The report makes findings about why it took from 1976 until 2004 for the Department of Health and Children to request legal advice from the Attorney General. Among the underlying reasons it finds:
'A strong desire to protect what was regarded as an important source of 'own income‚ by the health boards as a means of protecting the provisions of essential health services in a system widely regarded as being under-funded.'
"The import of that statement is very serious. Underfunding of the health services by successive Governments contributed to the belief that the illegal charges as a source of funding for health boards should not be threatened. It was judged better to continue to charge people illegally than to take the necessary decisions to increase revenue for the health system, to reform it and to organise public services on a more equitable and efficient basis.
"What does that tell us about the mindset within the political and civil service management of the health services? It can only be described as ad hocery, a reckless disregard for the future, a vista that saw only as far as the end of a term of office. As a result of that short-sightedness the State's finances will now face a huge challenge to meet the bill for repayment.
"The Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance have both stated that this massive bill will directly effect the overall health budget in terms of a negative impact on the future provision of services. Let us make one thing very clear. People should not tolerate any diminution of health and social services as a result of the ineptitude and the neglect of successive Governments. We will strongly oppose any such penalizing of people in need. It must not be allowed to happen. The Government must look elsewhere for this revenue, whether by borrowing or otherwise, but do not let it compound this very serious situation by punishing those who depend most on the health and social services."ENDS