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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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Dublin City councillor Janice Boylan has spoken out against the increase in fares Dublin commuters will face from 1st November.

Speaking today on the increase, the Sinn Féin representative said:

“This increase will be another in a long line of increases that has seen prices increase by 40% since 2012”.

“Back in 2013 Gerry Murphy from NTA said an increase was needed due to the decline in passenger numbers and the rise in fuel prices. However, I would go as far as say that increasing the fares again will lead to a further reduction in passenger numbers, making the problem worse and not better.”

“The reduction in government subsidies to the transportation companies has resulted in the people having to carry the burden again. This is just not good enough and we need to apply pressure on the government to ensure that these monies are not reduced further.  It is not fair for commuters to bear the brunt of the price hikes and the NTA now needs to look at alternative sources of funding.

“While I welcome the fact that some Leap card fares will be decreased slightly, we have witnessed the prices being increased on to many occasions and it's now time to look at a proper cost reduction programme and implement it as soon as possible. Ordinary people and public transport users cannot and should not have to foot the bill for this again.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has stated that over the past week we have seen a growing body of former and current senior government officials raise concerns over the rollout of feasibility of the Tory driven welfare reform agenda. 

Speaking today Mr Brady said: 

"Over the past two days both Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former government economist and Professor Malcolm Harrington have voiced concern over the rollout of the Tory driven “Welfare reform” programme. 

“Johnathan Portes stated that the difficulties in implementing the new system would not be completed by the set date of 2018 while Malcolm Harington in terms of the work capability assessments said; “I realised early on that there was something wrong with the system”.

Further to this Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP and chair of the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster speaking on Universal Credit stated that it was “outrageously weak.”

“This however is the system that the Tory Coalition wishes to impose on us within the North. 

“Sinn Féin have consistently highlighted that this is a benefit system being driven not for change and improvements but on a basis of the ideology of cuts and allowing the most vulnerable to soak up the sins of the bankers.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said the DUP's Jim Wells should apologise to the people of west Belfast for negatively stereotyping people from the area. 

Addressing the health committee, Jim Wells said; "if you go to a hard-bitten social club in west Belfast tonight you will see six-foot tall men with skinhead haircuts, tattoos and earrings standing outside in the rain smoking, and this is probably the only law they have obeyed in their life”.

Mr Maskey said; 

"These comments are absolutely shocking and must be withdrawn immediately. 

"Jim Wells has painted the people of west Belfast in a totally negative light with this outrageous stereotype. 

"He also characterised people in west Belfast as lawbreakers. 

"He needs to publicly apologise for these grossly offensive remarks.  

"These remarks highlight Jim Wells' prejudices, not only against people in west Belfast, but against working-class communities everywhere. 

"He also made disparaging remarks about what he described as lifestyle choices of working-class communities. 

"Instead of casting aspersions on entire communities, the health minister would be better suited tackling health inequalities." 

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Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised the increase in public transport fares, particularly those made to cash fares which are significantly higher than in the case of prepaid tickets and Leap card fares.

He made his comment following the release of new public transport fare levels to be implemented in the New Year.

Deputy Ellis said:

"I welcome that in some cases Leap card fares have decreased and I believe policy should be encouraging people to move toward prepaid cards like the Leap card which has been a great success, but the cash fare increases will hit many poorer bus and rail users hard.

“An adult return far on a commuter train will increase by as much as 16%. Some cash fares for Dublin Bus are going up by as much as 25c. This will mean for many their daily bus commute will be around 6 euro if paid in cash. While there are some savings for Leap card users there is also increases in shorter distance fares.

“It is right that we encouraged people to switch to the Leap card scheme but for some prepaying for transport is not a good option for them due to living on a very tight budget which leaves them struggling from week to week. These people will suffer under these increases.

“The way to improve our bus services is not to make them less affordable in any circumstance. Leap must be made attractive in its own right rather than making cash fares bad value. We also need to restructure networks in Dublin City centre to provide affordable services from short distance users without overcrowding existing services.

“Dublin Bus has made huge strides in the last few years and come out of the worst of the recession despite the neglect of the government. We cannot impede its progress by allowing further fare hikes and we had been told by the Minister for Transport that this would not happen."

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Minister Michael Noonan should put an end to the saga of the November 2010 ECB letter to Minister Brian Lenihan and release the letter.

Deputy Doherty said:

“For years now Minister Noonan has been sitting on this letter and refusing to release it due to ECB pressure. He should now put an end to this saga and release the letter as a full unedited document.

“In the context of the Banking Inquiry it is inconceivable that this letter would not be available and public. Minister Noonan should act now and make public his copy of the letter. Transparency campaigners like Gavin Sheridan and the EU Ombudsman have requested this letter but have been rebuffed time after time.

“I have asked a number of times in the Dáil if Minister Noonan will release it while Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has pushed the case directly with the ECB. In May this year they reiterated to her that they did not intend to release the letter and that they would expect to be consulted if it was to be released to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

“Minister Noonan should pre-empt any attempt by the ECB to procrastinate further or to impose conditions on the letter’s release by publishing it today.”

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A Sinn Féin party delegation including Conor Murphy MP, DSD committee deputy chair Mickey Brady, Fra McCann DSD committee member along with Alex Maskey Chairperson Social Development Committee meet with the four church leaders in Armagh today.

 Speaking after the meeting Mr Maskey said,

 “The meeting with the leaders of the four main churches was most constructive and in depth. I very much welcomed the opportunity to discuss the current impasse on proposed Welfare Reform legislation in the Assembly.

 “Our discussions covered the widespread public concern and confusion about what impacts there will likely be if the legislation is passed unamended in the Assembly.

 “All of us at the meeting agreed that tackling poverty and protecting the most vulnerable in our community is the responsibility of all of society whilst the Assembly parties have the responsibility to seek agreement on the way forward in protecting the most vulnerable while also helping to make politics work better for everyone.”

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UNICEF Report on Child Poverty shows children are paying price for Government Policy – Carthy

Speaking today in relation to the UNICEF 12th Annual Report Card entitled Children of the Recession, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Constituency Matt Carthy said:

“The UNICEF report measures whether levels of child poverty have increased or decreased since 2008 and shows that in Ireland, Child Poverty has increased by 10% and currently ranks 37th out of 41 OECD countries, ahead of Croatia, Latvia, Greece and Iceland.

“This comes after figures released by Eurostat showed that the child poverty rate in Ireland rose from 18% to 28.6% between 2008 and 2012, meaning that there are an additional 130,000 children living in poverty in Ireland as a result of the austerity policies implemented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments.

“In my view, these figures prove that children, particularly those of lower income families, have been paying a disproportionate price for the austerity agenda that has been relentlessly pursued by successive governments.

“Sinn Féin has continually argued that greater supports must be provided to those on low incomes and our alternative Budget proposals outlined specific measures that the Government could introduce which would go some way to addressing this issue.

“These measures included a proposal to take 296,000 of the lowest earners out of the USC net, raise the One Parent Family Payment Income Disregard, increase Family Income Supplement by 10%, increase funding for the School Meal Programme, the School Books Grant and increase the Annual Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance of €50.

“All of these measures could have been introduced while still meeting the Budget Deficit targets and, along with the abolition of the water charges and family home tax would have put money into the pockets of hard pressed parents.

“Instead this Government chose to introduce yet another Budget which unfairly targets those on lower incomes. According to the ESRI Budget 2015 is a regressive Budget in which the bottom 20% of households took a hit of 1.1% while the top 20% saw an increase of 0.5% thanks to tax cuts.

“It is an absolute scandal that 28.6% of our children are living in poverty and Government representatives should treat today’s figures as a wake-up call as they clearly demonstrate the real impact that political choices have had on the lives of our children.”ENDS

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Minister for Agriculture has allowed meat processors to ‘run amok’ - Carthy

Speaking after he supported the local Beef farmer’s protest at the ABP Meat Processing plant in Clones, Monaghan yesterday, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midland’s North West Constituency Matt Carthy said:

“The level of frustration and anger of local beef farmers at yesterday’s protest was palpable and the fact that this is the first protest of this type in 15 years is testament to the growing sense of desperation felt by many farmers as they continue to see no improvement on the issue of beef pricing.

“Beef farmers are at their wits end as they continue to produce a high quality product to specific standards yet the Irish beef prices are now below the EU average while the price paid for beef in Britain has increased by €100 per head in recent weeks and are now at €350 per head above Irish beef prices.

“Many farmers spoke to me of the manipulation of the factories and processing plants who control the price paid to farmers for their beef – in many cases there has been a lack of monitoring and control on processors who have used price and specification cuts for weight and age not included in the original Quality Payment System as a tool to devalue livestock.

“Meanwhile a 2013 report by Teagasc has confirmed that the income of cattle farmers has reduced between 12% and 22% with the average family income in this category now at very low levels between €9,469 and €15,595 depending on the production system. This is despite the fact that production costs have seen an average increase of 7% with an increase in feed costs of between 44% and 95%.

“In my view, the Minister for Agriculture has not responded adequately to this growing crisis to date and has allowed the factories and processors to run amok causing untold damage to the beef sector and farmer’s incomes.

“There must be regulation imposed on the processors before more farmers are forced out of beef and this valuable industry is lost altogether.

“I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to intervene immediately to ensure that the interests of beef farmers are adequately protected.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile has tonight called for collective leadership to prevent trouble in East Belfast from getting out of hand.

The East Belfast councillor said;

"On Sunday a crowd of up to 60 orchestrated an attack on the PSNI after being prevented from making their way to the interface with Short Strand from Castlereagh Street.

“Today a crowd also attacked a car in the Short Strand and attempted to attack a number of homes. Crowds have been gathering at both Castlereagh Street and the Woodstock Road since early this evening.

“It is clear to community leaders that many of those responsible are coming from areas far outside inner-East Belfast to engage in this activity.

“Recent questions to the Chief Constable at the Policing Board have revealed that over £3million has been spent on policing the interface in inner east Belfast since 2011. This is a staggering figure and quite “simply unacceptable.

“I have been on record consistently calling for an end to the deliberate attempts at raising tensions at this particular interface. Ultimately it is ordinary families from both communities who suffer the fallout.

“What is needed is clear and collective leadership to support residents and to face down those who are intent on causing trouble."

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