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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said there will be no end to the pension levy for many workers despite the government spin that the levy will end next year.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Over the last number of weeks I have been approached by a number of retired workers in private pension funds who have been informed that because of the pension levy, their pensions will be cut until the end of their lives. These companies are large companies with hundreds if not thousands of employees who now face an annual reduction of up to 2.3%.

“For these pensioners and workers who have not yet retired the levy is another austerity tax that will not end in any recovery.

“On its introduction, Minister Noonan stressed that this was a temporary measure but now, years later, it is becoming apparent that for many workers this levy will mean a permanent reduction in their pensions. When the levy was mooted Sinn Fein called for extra safeguards to make sure this levy wasn’t simply passed onto pensioners and workers. Our proposals were rejected and now years later that bitter fruit is ripening.

“There may be an element of pension trusts using the levy as an excuse to inflict cuts and if so the government must examine this issue and make sure pensioners are not being treated unfairly.

“I am calling on the Minister and the Finance Committee to call in the pensions industry and the Pensions Ombudsman in to sort out what is permissible under the legislation and to ascertain the full rights available to pensioners.”

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the EU's recognition, in principle, of the state of Palestine. The compromise motion was carried by an overwhelming majority, 498 votes to 88

Ms. Boylan spoke on the resolution in Strasbourg yesterday stating that:

“I am proud to vote in favour of this resolution. It is a step in the right direction for Palestinian statehood. Although it is well overdue, resolutions such as this one are part of a growing movement across Europe to support a Palestinian state. This month the Dail added its voice to this growing movement by agreeing to the adoption of a Sinn Féin motion which called on the government to respect Palestine’s right to self-determination and to recognise the state of Palestine.”

The EU vote follows symbolic votes recently by several national parliaments – including the UK, Sweden and France and Luxembourg to recognise a Palestinian state.

Ms Boylan also stated:

“With Israeli actions including the recent war in Gaza and the accelerated illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank having a serious impact on the progression of talks, I welcome the growing international support for Palestinian statehood.

This resolution, though watered down, should send a strong signal that Palestinian statehood is essential to progress a meaningful peace process.

I would like to reiterate calls made by Sinn Féin on all parties to refrain from any activities which would undermine the viability and prospects for a two-state solution.”

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said his sympathies and those of his party lie with the family of the pregnant woman who is clinically dead but is being kept alive to sustain her baby.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“This is an absolutely heart breaking set of circumstances.  My sympathies and those of the Sinn Féin party lie with the grieving family. 

“We should be mindful that the full details are not yet available. 

“This case and others highlight that there are issues with the current constitutional arrangement that need to be addressed.

“The Government needs to come forward and resolve these issues. As a political party we are in the process of doing this.

“Sinn Féin’s current policy would require an amendment of the Eight Amendment to the Constitution.  We believe that all these matters should be considered by a second Constitutional Convention.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has stated that a new law applying in England and Wales with regards to controlling and coercive behaviour in abusive relationships should be examined and extended to the North of Ireland.

Speaking today Ms Boyle said:

“There is very much a hidden dimension to the ways in which abuse occurs in domestic relationships. The fact is one partner may excerpt controlling or coercive behaviour over the other which can have a hugely detrimental impact on the victim.

“Controlling movement, friendships, associations, work commitments or even right down to what time a person can eat or use the toilet is unfortunately for some a terrible reality.

“The new law in England and Wales can strengthen laws on domestic abuse and should be examined and extended to the North in order to make our legislation more robust when dealing with this everyday issue.

“I will be speaking to my colleagues on the Justice committee and raising this with the Justice Minister to see what provisions can be made in the future for this.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed news that a record number of farmers will receive Single Farm Payments in December.

The East Antrim MLA said;

"More farmers than ever before have received their Single Farm Payments in December with around 95 per cent of the North's farmers already getting their money.

"This is great news for farmers in economically challenging times.

"Over £234 million has already been paid out to farmers across the North and the remaining farmers will receive their payments in the near future.

"Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill is to be congratulated for this record performance, which will be welcomed by farmers everywhere.

"This has been achieved because improvements to the inspection system and the increasing numbers of online applicants.

"This is a yet another example of Sinn Féin standing up for farming and rural communities."

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Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín today accused the Tánaiste of peddling a myth on Labour and Fine Gael’s record on job creation since entering government. The Meath West TD noted that the government has fallen far short of its own target on job creation and many of the jobs coming on stream are low paid and temporary. 

The Sinn Féin Jobs Spokesperson said:

“True to form the Tánaiste has ignored the facts and run instead with spin on Labour and Fine Gael’s record on job creation. For every job this government has created 5 people have emigrated, and there are 48,500 less under-35s in employment since Labour and Fine Gael entered government. Youth unemployment remains unacceptably high at just over 23%. Numbers in the labour force are still in minus figures when compared to the peak of 2007.

“New jobs coming on stream are of course welcome but this is happening at a glacial pace, and many of the jobs being created are low paid and temporary. Ireland has the third highest rate of underemployment in the EU and the second highest rate of low pay across the OECD countries. 

“Yesterday the Toiseach told the Dáil government had delivered between 80,000 and 100,000 jobs, however the most recent CSO figures tell a different story. There has been an increase of 58,600 in employment since Q2 2011. It is worth noting that 25,560 of those attending activation schemes are classified as employed. 

“The ESRI’s most recent research into the distributional impact of 2015 tells us that those on the lowest incomes have lost the greatest amount of household income. Add low pay and underemployment to the mix and you have all the ingredients of an insecure and uncertain recovery.

“Unemployment has been falling slowly but if we add those attending activation schemes and who are underemployed the rate of unemployment rises to a figure closer to 20%, and that’s without including emigration. If government refuses to acknowledge the scale of the challenge then they will continue to fail to implement the policies necessary to secure a fair and prosperous future for Ireland.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his support and solidarity for the Ballymurphy families who protested today at the joint proposal in last week’s negotiations from the British and Irish governments, which would deny bereaved families access to an Inquest.

The Sinn Féin leader criticised the Taoiseach Enda Kenny who in the past has supported the families’ demand for an Independent Panel into the Ballymurphy Massacre; promised to back the families ‘120%’; and volunteered to bring into the Dáil an all-party motion in support of the families.

The Louth TD said: 

“Mr Kenny has broken all of these commitments.

“Today the families were back in court seeking a date for the commencement of the inquest hearing which the PSNI and British Ministry of Defence have thus far stalled by refusing to hand over important documentation from 1971.

“The Taoiseach has failed to honour commitments he gave to the Ballymurphy families in respect of support for an Independent Panel to investigate the deaths of the 11 victims in 1971 or to introduce an all-party motion in support of them.

“Last week he also signed on for a British government proposal which would deny bereaved families their right to Article 2 compliance inquests and allow the British government to hide behind the use of ‘national security’ concerns.

“Under last year’s Haass proposals outstanding inquests were protected. Under the proposal from the two governments the Ballymurphy Massacre and other similar disputed cases would be moved to the ‘Civil Inquisitorial’ section of the Historical Investigations Unit if their inquests have still not been completed. 

“Given the delays in disclosure by the PSNI and British Ministry of Defence it is unlikely that many of these inquests will have concluded.

“The powers and remit of the ‘Civil Inquisitorial’ process are unclear and will be dependent on ‘national security’ concerns.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called for additional police resources for Larne to tackle loyalist criminal gangs. 

The East Antrim MLA said; 

"This latest incident where a man was beaten with hammers and pick axe handles in the Bay Road area of Larne must be condemned. 

"This fact this happened in a quiet area highlights the problem in Larne where the absence of policing is being exploited by loyalist gangs and their criminal cohorts. 

"Previously the PSNI had a quick response team located in Larne but they withdrew it and relocated it to cover Ballymena and Coleraine. 

"The PSNI need to reinstate this team to Larne and target resources at the loyalist criminal gangs who are behind the vast majority of crime in the area. 

"I am calling on the PSNI’s Chief Constable to review policing resources in Larne and to seriously tackle the criminals who are holding the town to ransom."

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Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Dessie Ellis has called on the Minister to work with opposition representatives to ensure that the penalty points system is not damaged irreparably by recent problems in legislation. He also made the point that road fatalities were now rising and more Garda resources were needed to ensure the effectiveness of the system in place.

Deputy Ellis said:

"Major strides have been made in the last decade with the introduction of Penalty Points and strategy which had greater success than even the government of the time had expected.

“The strength of the deterring effect of penalty points was down to two things; mostly that the public saw the administration of penalty points as fair and that they had sufficient reason to believe that they would receive penalty points if they flouted the law.

“These two essential planks of the Penalty Points system’s effectiveness have been severely damaged over the last 3 years and this issue has not helped the matter.

“The failure to commence the other section in question was another case of human error which we must work to avoid at all costs but will always be a possibility.

“The Minister has met with Transport spokespeople both in the Dáil and the Seanad and I would ask that this engagement become more commonplace and certainly be continued for the duration of the out working of this Bill. I would ask the Minister to agree to update the spokespeople and the Committee over the New Year.

“This is a case for transparency and fairness in the administering of the scheme, not scrapping it as some might argue.

“This is especially important in the context of a policing organisation which has weathered three years of harsh austerity. Cuts made by this government has meant fewer Gardaí, fewer vehicles, fewer stations but all the while more responsibility for road safety laid at the door of the Gardaí.

“They have clearly worked extremely hard to fill the gaps caused by this lack of resources but they cannot be spread so thin and continue to be as effective. Less capacity for the Gardaí to do their job means more people continuing to drive dangerously on the road.

“Without proper resourcing we cannot return to the success of previous years. I do not believe we have reached a threshold. There are still people flouting the law and endangering lives and we can do better. The key is giving the correct supports to the Gardaí to do their job.

“NCT waiting times must also be tackled. I have dealt with people who have had to wait between 2 and 5 months and this is not acceptable."

Videos

Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


Photos

Senator David Cullinane speaks to media