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Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín TD has expressed his disappointment regarding the varying stance that Regina Doherty has been taking on the North South Interconnector.

An Teachta Tóibín is particularly troubled by Deputy Doherty’s flip-flopping of her position as she is a member of Cabinet. The over grounding of the North-South Interconnector is Fine Gael and government policy. She cannot be against it in Meath but act as a Minister in a government pushing the project through.

An Teachta Tóibín said:

“Fine Gael are looking to build hundreds of 45 meter high pylons just 50 meters away from people’s homes. These pylons are carrying 400kv power lines, and naturally there is huge concern regarding the impact that this will have on the locality.

“In February, a motion was passed in the Dáil seeking a full international investigation into the costs of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector. Fine Gael had wanted a watered down version of this investigation – with no independent study or onus to implement the findings - which Deputy Doherty robustly defended and voted for.

“Now, Deputy Doherty is claiming that she couldn’t agree with the Fine Gael version of the motion at the time – because it was watered down and not strong enough. This is a clear contradiction on her previous stance where she was fully in support of the Fine Gael position.

“Deputy Doherty is claiming that her views have never changed on this issue, but she has plainly contradicted herself on radio interviews. It is disquieting to say the least that a Cabinet member is proving so flaky on an issue of such huge importance to the area. She is clearly displaying bad faith in these issues, and if all parties are to work together to achieve undergrounding – her flip-flopping is simply not good enough.

“The key question is will the terms of reference take into consideration the destruction of the value of homes and land. Will it take into consideration the costs to agriculture and tourism? If it doesn’t it’s a sham and no amount of flip flopping from Fine Gael will fool the people of Meath.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín today outlined the hugely negative impact that insurance hikes were having on businesses in County Meath, potentially threatening their viability.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday evening, Deputy Tóibín said:

“Over the last few months, I have been in undated by families and business people who either through their transport needs or their work have been hammered by insurance cost increases.

“There is a business in Navan that employs 15 people. It is open nine years. Its insurance has been €7,000 for 8 years, this year it has risen to €14,000. The business has never had a claim. The excuse they are given is that there is only two insurance companies functioning in their sector is the structure of the industry.

“Another business in Meath is open four years. Insurance was €2,500 a year. It has jumped to €8,500 this year. Cases like this are all too common and becoming increasingly frequent.

“I organised a public meeting in Meath a number of months ago to hear from people of Meath on the issue of insurance. Drivers across the board are being unfairly hit. There are also so many businesses who have come through years of hardship only to be faced now with shocking jumps in insurance costs.

“The structure of the insurance industry is broken. It is a leading reason why this country is losing competitiveness on an annual basis. It is a leading reason as to why there is spiralling costs in products and services that we consume in this country and it is put younger and poorer people off the road and out of functioning society every day.

“It is within the government’s power to act on this and help alleviate the cost burden on citizens and businesses alike. The Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance needs to be implemented immediately or else the situation is going to deteriorate even further.” 

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A Sinn Féin delegation has met with a cross-party group of TDs in Leinster House to discuss ongoing issues related to Maghaberry Prison.

The delegation including Party President Gerry Adams and National Chairperson Declan Kearney met this morning with a group including Eamon Ó Cuiv, Clare Daly and Maureen O'Sullivan.

Speaking after the meeting, Declan Kearney said:

"Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted issues which remain unresolved in Maghaberry Prison.

“These issues include full body searches, controlled movement and cultural equality for prisoners within the jail.

“We view these issues of contention as resolvable if the will was there to do so.

“I also took the opportunity to update the group of TDs on the situation with Tony Taylor who continues to be imprisoned despite any evidence having been brought forward over the course of the last 14 months to justify his imprisonment.

“We will continue to highlight these issues and work proactively with those who seek to find solutions.

“All of these issues should be set within the wider context of prison reform, which must seek to improve conditions for both integrated and segregated prisoners so that both staff and prisoners are treated equally with dignity and respect.

“The reality at present however is that a security mentality continues to have primacy in Maghaberry. This naturally undermines the development of a more rehabilitative culture as well as in relation to key aspects of both the system and every day prison life.

“Further to this, the issue of mental health care and the alarming levels of drug abuse within the prison were also discussed.

“Sinn Féin will continue to proactively make representations and campaign for effective and necessary reform with all institutions and agencies which have responsibility for prison policy and resources."

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has wished outgoing Finance Minister Michael Noonan well but said that, in office, the Minister’s adherence to austerity was replaced by irresponsible and unsustainable tax cuts that have put us back on the road to ruin.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I wish the Minister well on a personal level. Politically however, his conservatism and regressive Budgets lead him to make the wrong choice every time and to deepen and lengthen the recession.

“We see how the wrong choices in accelerating NAMA sales, rolling out the red carpet for vulture funds and a refusal to stand up to the banks bailed out by the people have left scars on our economy that will take a long time to correct and represent ongoing scandals.

“His adherence to the EU’s austerity handbook stalled economic growth for years and mass emigration and massive cuts to the services that protect our vulnerable citizens were seen as awkward side-effects and not as the human tragedies that they were.

“In his last couple of Budgets, the Minister has set us back on the road to ruin through irresponsible and unsustainable tax cuts that are also contributing to spiralling house prices.

“Whoever replaces the Minister must bring some fresh ideas. Much of the damage has been done, but the tax cutting agenda is one that can still be stalled and reversed before it is too late.” 

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Tá ráite ag iarrthóir Shinn Féin i nDeisceart Bhéal Feirste go mbeidh a pháirtí ag tabhairt tacaíochta don Lá Dearg ar son Acht Gaeilge Dé Sathairn i mBéal Feirste.

Labhair an t-iarrthóir Ó Muilleoir i ndiaidh gur seoladh na céadta balún taobh amuigh de Chultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich ar Bhóthar na bhFál mar chuid den fheachtas ar son Achta.

Dúirt Ó Muilleoir,

“Tá cearta agus cothromos tuillte ag Gaeilgeoirí, ag díograiseoirí agus gach saoránach. Dé Sathairn, taispeánfar an t-éileamh ar son comthromois do na Gaeil.

“D’aontaigh Rialtas na Breataine agus an DUP le hacht a thabhairt iseach níos mó na 10 mbliana ó shin. Tá ag teip orthu ó shin i leith maidir lena gcoimitmintí a chomhlíonadh, i leith an chomhaontaithe sin agus chomhaontuithe eile ó thaobh an chomhionnnais agus an ama atá thart.

“Caithfear comhaontuithe a chomhlíonadh le muinín an phobail a thabhairt ar ais do na hinstiúidí polaitiúla.

“Ní gníomhaithe polaitiúla amháin atá ag éileamh Acht Gaeilge. Tá na mílte páiste sa chathair seo agus ar fud an tuaiscirt ag fáil a gcuid oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge. Is é a dtodchaí atá i gceist.

“Díríonn mórshiúl An Dreama Dheirg ar an chomhionannas, ar an mheas agus ar chearta le haghaidh cách. Ní bagairt d’aon duine an chomhionannas. Is le cách an Ghaeilge agus iarraim ar gach duine bheith i láthair Dé Sathairn lena dtacaíocht a léiriú.

“Tá áthas orm, fosta, a fheiceáil go bhfuil fógra sna meáin ina gcuireann breis is 35 eagras i gcoinne an maíomh nach bhfuil ach ‘dream beag’ daoine ag iarraidh Acht Gaeilge  – grúpaí ar bhuail Arlene Foster leo san áireamh. I ndáiríre, ní stopfaidh pobal na Gaeilge go nglacann an DUP le ceart an phobail i leith Acht Gaeilge.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin has called on the Government to increase investment in wastewater treatment in order to avoid potentially massive EU fines. This comes on foot of the European’s Commission’s decision in February to launch court proceedings against the state for breaching the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

Speaking today after the Committee meeting where it heard evidence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Irish Water, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin said:

“The EPA and Irish Water were invited into the committee as a result of the European Commission decision in February to bring the state to the European Court of Justice for breaching the urban waste-water treatment directive.  The state is now potentially facing massive fines as a result of the infringement process currently underway for failing to ensure that urban waste water in 38 urban areas across the state is adequately collected and treated in order to prevent serious risks to human health and the environment.

“It was disappointing that the Department of Housing was not in attendance at the meeting today as it is the Government that is facing the EU infringement proceedings. The EPA stated that it had concerns about 127 wastewater treatment sites across state.

 “Irish Water outlined their plans to bring the 38 treatment plants up to an adequate standard by 2021. However, during questioning, it was not clear whether their investment programme is sufficient to achieve this.

“In response to a parliamentary question in March, Minister Coveney confirmed that €1 billion in funding is needed to bring these wastewater plants up to scratch. However, in the Committee today, we were told that only €620m would be made available between 2017 and 2021 to remedy the problem.

“I am concerned that the level of investment provided to 2021 to fix these plants will not be enough to address the serious health and environmental issues arising from the ongoing breaches of our wastewater treatment obligations.

“The decrepit wastewater infrastructure is a direct result of decades of under investment by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments. The Irish state has had nearly twenty years to fully implement the urban wastewater treatment directive. It can delay no longer. The Committee has proposed inviting the EPA back in very six months to provide updates on how the state is working to tackle this problem.” 

Note: Please see the PQ response in question below

QUESTION NO: 432

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 21/03/2017

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning; Community and Local Government the estimated amount it would cost to adequately upgrade the infrastructure in the wastewater plants in the 38 agglomerations across the State that are deemed to be in breach of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

REPLY.

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive mandates the required standards for the collection and treatment of waste water from urban areas and sets various deadlines for meeting these standards. All requirements of the Directive should have been met by the end of 2005 at the latest. As such, achieving compliance with the requirements of this Directive is a long standing issue.

With regard to the 38 agglomerations identified in the current EU infringement process, Irish Water estimate that investment of €1bn in waste water treatment plants is necessary to ensure adequate treatment of waste water from these urban areas.

It must be emphasised that this is the level of investment necessary to address specific failures with regard to appropriate treatment of waste water in the 38 agglomerations. Further significant investment is required to ensure ongoing compliance in all agglomerations, facilitate ongoing capital maintenance and upgrade needs, ensure the proper functioning of waste water collection systems, and provide for adequate treatment capacity to facilitate future population and economic growth.

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Sinn Féin MLA and South Belfast candidate Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has pledged Sinn Féin’s support for this Saturday’s Lá Dearg march in Belfast for an Irish Language Act.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was speaking at the launch of several hundred Acht na Gaeilge balloons outside the Falls Road’s Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich in support of the demand for an Irish Langauge Act.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said:

“Irish language speakers and enthusiasts are entitled to equal rights with every other citizen and Saturday’s march to the City Hall is for equality for Gaeilgeoirí.

“The British government and the DUP agreed to an Irish Language Act more than ten years. They have failed to honour that agreement and other agreements on equality and legacy.

“Agreements must be implemented if public confidence is to restored in the political institutions.

“It is not just political activists who are demanding an Irish Language Act. Thousands of children in this city and throughout the North are taught through the medium of Irish. This is for their future.

“This An Dream Dearg march is about equality, respect and rights for all. Equality threatens no one. The Irish language is for all and I would call on people to come out and show their support on Saturday.

“I am also pleased to see over 35 organisations including those Arlene Foster met take an advert in today's press refuting her claim that only ‘very few’ want an Irish Language Act. The reality is the Irish Language community won't rest until the DUP concedes their right to an Irish Language Act.”

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has strongly criticised the decision by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to not make domestic violence an offence under the new Domestic Violence Bill.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“It strikes me as somewhat bizarre that the Tánaiste has opted to not include specific measures making domestic violence against a partner an offence.

“Ireland for many years had a taboo around domestic violence, and to some extent incidents of domestic violence still go under-reported.

“I’m sure the Tánaiste is not intentionally compounding a certain stigma that still exists but her decision does not encourage those who fall victim to domestic violence to feel more confident in coming forward.

“It is important to emphasise that assault and domestic violence are not necessarily one and the same, and does not encompass abuses other than those of a physical nature.

“I understand the DPP has said that domestic abuse and ordinary assault are hard to define, presumably in a legislative sense, but it is our responsibility as legislators to navigate this.

“I would ask that the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice reconsider, and take on board the concerns of many stakeholders.

“Additionally, in my capacity as Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs, I echo the calls of Women’s Aid that courts must consider any history of domestic violence when they make orders for access to children.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, teachta Carol Nolan, has called on the Government to remove the barriers to education for all children. She was commenting on the vote today on the Equal Participation in Schools Bill 2016.

Teachta Nolan said:

“Sinn Féin has consistently stated our position in relation to the removal of barriers to education so that all children can access their local school on an equal basis.

“Sinn Féin favours an inclusive education system, where the rights of all children are upheld. 

“We believe that the spirit of this bill, in the round, seeks to further that objective and we supported the bill at second stage in order to send a clear message that the issue of religious discrimination in school admissions must be addressed.

“We recognise that the wording of part of this bill is unclear and could have unintended consequences for schools, however we are confident these could have been addressed at committee stage.

“Sinn Féin would have engaged with stakeholders and proposed amendments to ensure that the bill did not have any adverse implications for schools and pupils.

“The primary consideration in the debate must be the right of children to receive an education on an equal basis and the Dáil has once again missed a clear opportunity to send a strong signal that any form of discrimination in terms of access to education will not be tolerated.

“The Government must address this issue once and for all and Sinn Féin will continue to take every opportunity to stand up for the right of all children to have equal access to education.” 

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said that Minister Leo Varadkar’s new found concern for the impact that cuts his party have implemented are “a bit late in the day”.

Speaking after the Committee for Social Protection meeting this morning, Teachta Brady said:

“Minister Varadkar announced a number of intentions as regards Budget 2018 for spending in Social Protection, including consideration of restoring the Telephone Allowance and Bereavement Grant. 

“It is no coincidence that, on the first official day of his leadership campaign, Minister Varadkar talks about reversing two of the harshest cuts implemented by his party which impacted some of the most vulnerable people in the State.

“Of course, the Minister could have reversed these cuts in the last Budget; he could have brought in a lesser Bereavement Grant payment as the first step to re-introducing it in full or a similar measure for the Telephone Allowance, but he chose not to.

“With this, the Minister also announced his intention to increase the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance by 25% with the savings made from his recent social welfare fraud campaign. He reckons that savings of about €10 million would cover this increase.

“Given the fact that the Minister continues to use a savings figure of €506 million due to ‘anti-fraud and control measures[‘ made in 2016 when the actual figure is €41 million, I could not even begin to imagine the figure he will conjure up for the so-called savings his campaign will generate.

 “Unfortunately for Minister Varadkar, people’s memories are not that short and the Minister’s new found interest particularly, in restoring the Telephone Allowance and the Bereavement Grant all of a sudden will be seen for what it is; nothing more than words, merely part of his leadership campaign.

“Minister Varadkar has stood over the harshest of cuts imposed on our most vulnerable citizens, the impact of which he did not care about then and certainly does not now.” 

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said it is time for a real debate on the future of AIB following the passing of a Dáil motion that prevents the sale of the bank until the fiscal rules have been changed.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The passing of the motion is bizarre and seems to be a result of distraction about the leadership race meaning Fine Gael forgot to call a vote. It is also bizarre that the Labour motion seeks changes to the very rules they championed.

“The important thing is that the motion passed and that now we have space to start a real debate about the future of AIB.

“Nobody has bothered to even present a case as to why AIB should be sold. It is after all now paying hundreds of million in dividends to the Irish people every year. Thanks to growth and a technical adjustment, there is no longer the immediate pressure to reduce our debt ratio.

“The Minister for Finance confirmed to me that a sale, even if it received full face value, which it would not, of 25% of AIB would reduce our debt ratio by only 1%; a drop in the ocean so this is not about reducing our debt.

“I have heard no convincing argument that selling AIB makes any sense regardless of what one would do with the proceeds.

“Today’s motion means the sales process should be stopped in its tracks. The Dáil vote, however it was arrived at, must be respected.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan today condemned Fianna Fáil and the Government that voted to halt progress on the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017 that would address the problem of ticket touting in Ireland.

Speaking from Leinster House, Teachta Quinlivan said;

“This afternoon, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voted against moving ahead with regulating the ticket touting problem in Ireland. This is a very disappointing development, and highlights the fact that party politics come before all else, including consumer interests, for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

“Despite both parties having previously indicated they would support my Bill, today they reneged on this and voted to halt reform of this area.

“This is a do-nothing government that does not want other parties bringing forward legislation.

“I have previously stated that I would welcome extensive engagement with all stakeholders at committee stage, where this Bill would be fully scrutinised and all issues can be discussed and addressed. If other parties had constructive amendments to improve the Bill, these too would have been welcomed. However, shelving the Bill will have no benefits for anyone, and it will be consumers who lose out.

“The decision today means my Bill will not be moved forward until February 2018 at the earliest and, as a result, consumers can expect to continue to get ripped off by ticket touts and unscrupulous secondary selling sites, thanks to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael stopping this legislation.” 

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Sinn Féin's Paul Maskey will lead a Sinn Féin delegation to meet the Electoral Commission tomorrow to discuss concerns over the DUP's 'dark money' during the Brexit referendum campaign. 

Paul Maskey said: 

"There are serious public concerns about the £425,000 in 'dark money' the DUP received from a shadowy group during the Brexit referendum campaign. 

"The DUP have yet to reveal where this money, paid by the mysterious Constitutional Research Council, actually came from. 

"With allegations of involvement of individuals linked to Saudi Arabian intelligence it is vital that the public gets answers as it is illegal to receive election donations from a foreign government. 

"I will lead a Sinn Féin delegation consisting of Chris Hazzard, John Finucane, Michelle Gildernew, Elisha McCallion and John O'Dowd to meet the Electoral Commission tomorrow to raise concerns about potential abuses of the electoral system by the DUP. 

"As more revelations come to light about this DUP 'dark money' it is essential that the public get answers to these serious questions." 

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Sinn Féin TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee David Cullinane said today that the proposed sale of Harold's Cross Stadium to the Department of Education for €23m leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“The proposed sale of Harold's Cross to the Department of Education for €23 million throws up a lot of issues.

“All we know so far is that this was done to tackle debt issues and that the Department of Education has provisionally decided to commit €23 million of public funds to a site with a stadium on it that has to be demolished at an additional cost to the Department and even that is predicated on the appropriate rezoning taking place.

“We also know that a public sale was ruled out in favour of a closed process between two Departments.

“We also know that Savills, at some point, produced a valuation of the stadium for the Irish Greyhound Board and that the Board refuses to make this valuation public.

“It is important that value for money is achieved here and that the concerns raised by myself and my colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee are addressed to a satisfactory degree.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA and Westminster candidate in South Down Chris Hazzard said the tearing down and destruction of 70 of his election posters in the Mournes was a sign that people are afraid of the momentum and positivity around his campaign.

Chris Hazzard said:

“We discovered this morning that 70 of our election posters have been torn down and destroyed before being dumped at Kilkeel harbour.

“Clearly some people are afraid of change and the positive momentum around Sinn Féin’s campaign in South Down. There were also large posters destroyed showing Sinn Féin’s support for the campaign to save services at Daisy Hill Hospital.

“Despite this anti-democratic vandalism the Sinn Féin team in South Down will not be deterred and we will continue to offer the people of the constituency a fresh, positive, equality based alternative.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the adoption of the Food Waste Report in the European Parliament which calls for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 at a time when almost 10% of families are facing food poverty.

Speaking from Strasbourg, the Dublin MEP said:

“30% of all the food we purchase currently goes to landfill.  That equates to approximately 360 bags of sugar in weight per person per year.  The European Parliament has been calling for some time for the EU Commission to act on the matter and has now called for a 50% reduction by 2030.

“In particular, I am happy to see a call for review of food labelling.  The report highlights the confusion over ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates and calls for this system to be revaluated.

“The report also highlights that, despite such shocking food wastage, almost 10% of families are facing food poverty. While calling for mechanisms to make food donation by retailers easier, I also welcome that it emphasises that Food Banks are not a solution to poverty and calls on the EU to do more to address social inequalities.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the north stands to lose almost one billion euros in EU structural funding as a result of Brexit. 

Speaking during a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Martina Anderson said: 

"EU cohesion funding has been vital for the north of Ireland and for border communities recovering from years of conflict and neglect.

"Now all this good work is under threat because of a Brexit that most people in the north do not want and did not vote for.

"By supporting Brexit the DUP has let the people of the north down as we stand to lose 982 million euros in structural funding.

"This is funding that thousands of people depend on for their businesses, community projects, and infrastructure.

"Some projects are already being delayed because of the fear and uncertainty around Brexit.

"The EU needs to ensure that the benefits of decades of cohesion policy aren’t lost by ensuring that the north has guaranteed ongoing access to funding after Brexit, as part of a designated special status within the EU."

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Questioning the Minister for Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton during topical issues this week, Dublin Bay North TD Louise O’Reilly raised the issue of the escalating crisis in primary school places in the Swords area.

Deputy O’Reilly used a topical issue to challenge the Minister regarding the serious problem of lengthy primary school enrolment waiting lists in Dublin Bay North.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is hardly necessary for me to rehearse all of the issues again. We have had this discussion several times already. The Minister said he would monitor the situation as the schools completed their enrolment process in the coming weeks.

“Some two or three weeks ago, I spoke with a number of parents with children in the Holy Family national school at the moment whose siblings are waiting to attend. They have been in touch with me since to say they still have no clarity. It appears that the Minister is waiting for this situation to somehow magically resolve itself, but it is not going to.

“There is a need for action on the part of the Minister and the Department to deal with this on a proactive basis. It is not a case that will sort itself out once the waiting lists are cleared because there are children who are going to be left without places.”

Upon a non-committal reply from Minister Bruton to resolve the issue, Deputy O’Reilly responded:

“Therefore, I ask that the Minister and his officials meet the board of management to discuss with them every option that might be available, and meet directly with the parents so they can explain their concerns. I have met these people. They are very ordinary people. They are not people who would seek something outrageous from the Department of Education and Skills. They do not want anything other than the capacity to be able to have their children educated in their community, where they play sports and live, where their friends are and where their siblings go to school.” 

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Speaking in Leinster House today, before the Dáil vote on his Rural Equality Bill, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal Martin Kenny said he is hoping still that all rural TDs will support the Bill, but it seems that Fianna Fáil has abandoned rural Ireland.

Deputy Kenny said:

“We are being told that Fianna Fáil will vote against our Bill, which is very disappointing.

“This directly contradicts everything that party likes to say about defending rural Ireland.

“The reality is that Fianna Fáil has abandoned rural Ireland and proof of it is how they are voting with the government against this measure which would ensure that public bodies would have to rural-proof their actions to ensure they did not adversely affect rural areas.

“Lip service is one thing. Standing up for rural Ireland is another. Fianna Fáil is propping up Fine Gael no matter what. I am sure their rural TDs will be red-faced as they vote against this measure in the Dáil this afternoon and rightly so, they should be ashamed.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Planning Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the government for “betraying the planning recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal” by failing to establish an independent planning regulator with real teeth.

Deputy Ó Broin said

“The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, which began report stage in the Dáil last night, has failed to legislate for a key recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal report into planning corruption.  Mahon proposed the creation of an independent planning regulator with real teeth. Minister Coveney’s Bill seeks to create a toothless tiger whose only function will be to advise.

“The Mahon Tribunal concluded that too much power was centralised in the office of the Minister, that his Department did not have adequate checks and balances, and that the Minister’s power to provide direction Local Planning Authorities should be handed over to an independent Planning Regulator.

“The Government has completely ignored this and has instead, with this Bill, created a planning advisory body, with limited powers and no power to independently adjudicate on important planning decisions.

“We are still living with the legacy of bad planning and the Mahon Tribunal report references the corrupt planning decisions that were made in relation to Quarryvale and Clonburris in my own constituency.  The local community is still feeling the negative impacts of these poor decisions.

“If this Bill is enacted, we will be left with a regulator that has no independent power to intervene in order to correct planning failures or planning corruption. This is a complete betrayal of the letter and spirit of Mahon.

“Importantly Fianna Fáil deputies have remained silent on this issue and voted down opposition amendments aimed at giving the regulator real teeth.  The public will draw their own conclusions from this.

“There is no way the Government can stand over this legislation as it stands. It is not true to the intentions of the Mahon Tribunal recommendations. I am urging the Government to reconsider its decision to continue the over-centralisation of power with the Minister and to amend the Bill at Seanad stage to create a truly independent office of a planning regulator.” 

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