Sinn Féin TD and Children’s Affairs spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that the current investigation into the horrors inflicted upon people in the Mother and Baby Homes, County Homes, and Magdalene Laundries is seen by some among the survivors as a severe injustice to those who were subjected to brutal treatment over many decades.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire encouraged cross-party support for a motion designed to unveil the truth of what happened in those homes.
Speaking during the debate on the motion, the Cork South-Central TD said:
“The recent revelations at Tuam Mother and Baby homes have only confirmed some of our deepest fears. The findings of human remains in what appear to have been mass graves, did come as a shock, but in many ways was no surprise.
“People are right to be angry, and I’m sure many representatives elected to this house have heard both the anger and sorrow felt by the wider public over the past few weeks, but particularly those who were in these institutions
“From my perspective, and I think it is a perspective shared by many of those involved, the state has made a somewhat feeble attempt to as much as scratch the surface of all this in the form of a Commission of Investigation in Mother & Baby Homes, which was announced two years ago last month.
“The state and consecutive governments continues with its departmentalised approach, which is fragmented and illogical, as the crossover between these homes and institutions like them are inseparable.
“This model would ensure that the voices of all survivors are heard, too many have been excluded, and heard in a way that gives them dignity, and that they can trust in the process. This is about transitional and transformative justice.
“My intention with this motion, which is the first in my name, was to make a genuine attempt for righting the wrongs of the past, to give a voice to those whose words have fallen on deaf ears for far too long now.
“Are the members of this house going to again be responsible for the stifling the voices of these people?”
Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Pat Buckley has called on the Government to support a Sinn Féin motion to establish a Truth Commission to investigate conditions at Mother and Baby Homes across the state following the revelations of mass graves at a home which had operated in Tuam. He said that the full truth being revealed was the only way to address the stain on Irish society caused by the scandal and to allow healing for survivors.
Deputy Buckley said:
“If one thing is clear about how we must proceed with addressing the shameful scandal of abuse, neglect and imprisonment represented by the Mother and Baby Homes which operated in this state, it is that we must as a principle accept the word of and believe the survivors of these crimes.
“I believe the survivors of places like Bessborough and Bethany and others.
“I believe them when they describe a kind of existence which if perfectly honest I don’t want to believe. However, I know from their dignity and resolve and from the catalogue of already exposed outrages, that these horrors they speak of are true and that they must be brought out into the light.
“Sinn Féin’s motion demands that we ensure a process for that to happen, so that survivors can seek solace in that openness and that we as a nation examine ourselves and our society and truly say, never again.
“It is only by seeking the truth, and speaking it loudly, that healing will be allowed to happen. Untold hurt has been done and this chance for healing has come far too late but we can begin that process now.
“Many of the women who survived these crimes have already gone on record. This is not an easy thing for anyone to do with such a deep trauma. We must respect that and seek to allow existing testimony to be treated with due respect and to not be ignored, especially for survivors who are no longer with us.
“We must also ensure today that we build an Ireland which respects and defends the right of women as has not been the case even to this day.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to “practice what he preaches on the undocumented” and “provide undocumented migrants in this State with an opportunity regularise their status”.
Speaking in the Dáil today during Order of Business, Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Last week, while in the US for the St. Patricks Day, the Taoiseach lobbied for immigration reform for the undocumented Irish. This is an issue of huge importance to the 50,000 plus undocumented Irish people in the US and their families at home. The Taoiseach has Sinn Féin’s full support in his efforts.
“However, the Taoiseach’s case would have been a lot stronger if he practiced what he preached at home.
“There are an estimated 26,000 undocumented migrants living in this state. Many have been here for years, have children and are working.
“The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland Justice for the Undocumented campaign has called on the Government to introduce a scheme that would allow migrants the chance to come forward and regularise their situation.
“Today, during Promised Legislation, I called on the Taoiseach to bring forward legislation that will provide undocumented migrants in this State with an opportunity regularise their status. I welcome the Taoiseach’s response that he has tasked Minister Denis Naughten to look at these issues. However, I would like the Taoiseach and Minister Naughten to adopt the same urgency here and they have asked of the current US administration. What’s good for undocumented Irish migrants in the US is surely good enough for undocumented migrants here in Ireland.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has called for the Irish to ramp up its response to Brexit in advance of Article 50 being triggered by the British Government on 29 March.
Deputy Crowe was speaking in the Dáil during Post-European Council statements when he also raised the case of Ibrahim Halawa and a UN report into Israel’s apartheid policies.
The Dublin South-West TD said:
“We are now aware of exactly when the British Government plan to trigger Article 50 - 29 March. Against all sense and democratic reason, the British Government is persisting with its plan to impose Brexit on Ireland.
“The Taoiseach must act urgently and decisively to stand up for Ireland’s national interests at the European level to secure special designated status for the north within the EU. He must also demand flexibility for Ireland to robustly respond to the negative consequences that Brexit will have on trade between Ireland and Britain.”
“Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa has been detained in Egypt for over 3 and half years without trial. He is being charged as part of a sinister mass trial which has collapsed and been postponed 19 times already. He has no chance of receiving a fair trial and was recently moved to a prison hospital because of his failing health.
“It is time for a very direct intervention from the Irish Government to save the life of its citizen and I called on the Irish Government to explore and examine taking a legal case against Egypt to the International Court of Justice over Ibrahim Halawa’s detention and treatment.”
“A new report by the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) launched last week, rightly accuses Israel of being an apartheid state.
“The report is a detailed analysis of Israeli legislation, policies and practices that enable it to operate an apartheid regime. Yet the Irish Government and the EU refuse to face the reality of Israeli apartheid and challenge it.
“The Irish Government needs to sanction Israel for its international and human rights law violations. It should also finally recognise the State of Palestine, in line with the demands of the Dáil and Seanad.”
Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan has condemned the refusal of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor to commit to the future of the Succeed in Ireland initiative run by ConnectIreland.
Speaking after the Jobs committee meeting, Deputy Quinlivan said:
“The Minister’s failure thus far to intervene shows a complete disregard for the diaspora many of who were there for Ireland in its time of need. ConnectIreland’s aim is to utilise Ireland’s diaspora and global connections to persuade companies to move to Ireland and create jobs.
“After 5 years of work, they have successfully brought over 2,000 jobs to rural Ireland and are currently working with 957 additional companies, encouraging them to locate here. They have built up a network of 78,285 connectors based in 147 countries who continue to give ConnectIreland great leads every day.
“One significant thing that distinguishes ConnectIreland from other job creation initiatives is its success in creating jobs in rural Ireland, where over 60% of their jobs have been located. This is more important now than ever, as we need to bolster job creation outside of Dublin to counteract the effects Brexit will have especially on rural communities.
“This progress to date is set to be eliminated by the inaction of the Minister who is to allow the contract expire on Sunday, without any justification.
“ConnectIreland helps create jobs in areas the IDA do not focus. They work with potential companies too small for the IDA and locate them in rural communities where the IDA does not focus. It’s outrageous that this programme is being terminated, with no review and no appreciation for the excellent work achieved to date.
“It was outlined today by the representative from the Department that the jobs brought to Ireland by ConnectIreland only cost around €4,000 per job, versus the cost of €10,500 incurred by the IDA. It baffling that as a result this government would close the cheaper job creation option.
“We were also told that a review is to be carried out, but no terms of reference for a review have even been established yet, despite the fact that the contract expires this Sunday.
“At best, this is extremely poor planning by the Minister and, at worst, shows the Department has no intention whatsoever of renewing the initiative without explanation. This is a job creation initiative that is 250% cheaper per job created, than the cost incurred by IDA, and it is proposed to close it? It’s genuinely astonishing.
“Sinn Féin won’t sit by and allow the Succeed in Ireland initiative run by ConnectIreland to be discontinued without a similar or better programme to replace it, the Minister’s inaction on this issue is unacceptable.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for a suspension of all beef and poultry imports from Brazil and the immediate cessation of trade talks between the EU and Mercosur countries following recent shocking revelations.
Matt Carthy said:
“The European Commission must cease using the agricultural sector as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations.
“Revelations this weekend that Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter of red meat, has been selling rotten beef and poultry for years will come as a slap in the face to the many EU farmers who work hard every day to meet high food health and safety standards for consumers.
"The fact that Brazil is part of the Mercosur trading block with whom the European Commission is currently engaged in a trading offensive will make this news even harder to stomach.
“Issues like this arose in recent debates of the EU-Canada (CETA) agreement, and will continue to rise so long as agriculture continues to be a bargaining chip in free trade negotiations.
“Other trading blocks around the world have been quick to respond to this scandal, while Commissioner Hogan has far failed to act because he is more concerned for the European Commission’s broader trade offensive. This is entirely unacceptable.
“Comprehensive animal health controls, traceability rules, environmental standards and food safety protections are core principles of European agricultural production and serve the high standards European consumers have come to expect.
"However, what is the point in all of this legislation for farmers and consumers if the European Commission is willing to compromise it all when it comes to third country products?
“I have consistently raised the issue of the lowering of standards and cheap imports and the threat this poses for Irish farmers and consumers, and I will continue to do so.
“I am now calling on Commissioner Hogan to immediately suspend beef and poultry imports from Brazil and remove Agriculture chapters definitively from EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed his sincere sympathy with the family of Martin McGuinness on his untimely passing.
Carthy, who is currently in Washington on a European Parliament delegation confirmed that he will be leaving early in order to attend Martin's wake and funeral.
Matt Carthy said:
“Irish republicans at home and abroad have been deeply saddened at the untimely passing of our dear friend and comrade Martin McGuinness.
"Indeed this morning in Washington I have been struck by the condolences expressed by EU and US officials whom I met.
Martin McGuinness's reach clearly went far beyond those with a strong interest in Irish politics.
“I wish to extend my sympathies to Martin’s wife Bernie and the entire McGuinness family.
“Martin is revered throughout Ireland and internationally as a patriot, a freedom fighter, a real leader, a statesman and a peacemaker.
“An active Irish republican all his adult life, Martin had an unswerving commitment to the cause of a United Ireland and to justice and equality for all.
"In my role as chair of the Sinn Féin United Ireland project Martin was always supportive and encouraging. His advice was always sound and always important.
“He was very focussed on building a better Ireland for all our people and reached out to former political opponents and foes in the cause of peace.
“Martin remained a deeply committed republican leader to the very end and he will continue to guide us in the time ahead as we build a United and a genuine republic based on equality and social justice.
"In many ways Martin established the roadmap to achieve a United Ireland. I firmly believe that by following his path we will achieve that goal sooner than many realize. That will be just another part of the great legacy of Martin McGuinness."Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.ENDS
Sinn Féin TD and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Regional and Rural Affairs Peadar Tóibín has said that a couple of months ago, An Post management came to the committee and stated that 500 Post Offices throughout the state were economically unsustainable, while making the point that only one third of farmers in the state are currently considered independently economically sustainable and that large swathes of rural Ireland will be broadband-free for at least another five years.
An Teachta Tóibín said:
“As a result of real regional policies, we are witnessing economic activity and population continuously migrate to the Dublin region to such a degree that its estimated that Dublin will contain 50% of the population of the state be in the years to come. If the current trend continues, Ireland will develop into a city state with ‘a 21 county national park’.
“Our post office network is disintegrating. What is an invaluable service, especially in rural Ireland and in our most isolated communities, has been allowed, under the watch of the government to become more and more unviable.
“We have been waiting many months to hear details of Minister Michael Ring’s report. We have been waiting over a year to hear how the Kerr Report, published last January would be implemented. Painfully and slowly, we have been subjected to a drip feed of leaks to the media. Now, we hear that potentially hundreds of post offices are to close.
“I wholeheartedly support the diversification of post offices and allow for a greater range of services to be offered. However, I question why this is taking the government so long to put in place. They have known for years that our post offices needed radical action to remain sustainable and yet sat on their hands – or worse.
“198 post offices closed during Fine Gael’s last stint in Government, meaning a further loss for communities already experiencing the devastating effects of emigration and cuts to public services. I am urging the Government to act constructively and seize the opportunity that our post offices and their vital infrastructure offer communities.
“With the necessary political will, we could see a rejuvenation of our post offices, an expansion of services; from financial services, to social enterprise and public service delivery. Sinn Féin will fight for our post offices throughout the country and oppose at every level the blinkered privatisation agenda of the Fine Gael/‘Independent’ and Fianna Fáil-backed Government.”
Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on his constituency colleagues from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and People Before Profit to refuse their pay increase due to come in this month. The call comes as Ó Broin this week signd the official Oireachtas waiver gifting the salary increase back to the State.
Deputy Ó Broin said;
“This month TDs will get the first of two pay increases worth a total of €5000 per year. This will bring the basic TD salary up to €92,000 per year.
“There is simply no justification for any TD or Minister to take this pay rise. We are already paid too much. At a time when many families are struggling to get by on low wages or with rising prices and high levels of household debt, the right thing for all TDs to do is to gift this substantial pay increase back to the State.
“This week I have signed the official Oireachtas waiver form gifting the first part of the pay rise back to the State. I will do the same when the second phase of the pay increase comes into effect in January 2018.
“As a Sinn Féin TD I only take home an average wage and invest the remainder of my salary into the local community and my constituency service.
“However, I think it is important for TDs to make it clear that we do not deserve or need this €5000 increase. I am calling on my constituency colleagues, Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil’s John Curran and PBP’s Gino Kenny to refuse this unjustified and unwarranted pay increase.”
Sinn Féin TD and Children’s Affairs spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, speaking at Leinster House today, has called on the Dáil to support his motion, which proposes the establishment of a Truth Commission in to the treatment of women and Children at Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries, and all other related institutions.
The Cork South-Central said:
“The recent finding of Human Remains at Tuam has caused a great deal of anger and sadness, throughout the island of Ireland, and here in Leinster House.
“It has been followed by reports from other Mother and Baby Homes which cause great distress; inconsistency of records at Seán Ross, the malnutrition of Children at Bessborough, and the fear that there may be more children buried at unmarked graves at homes throughout Ireland.
“From the outset of the Commission of Investigation, it was our view that the Terms of Reference and the process were utterly inadequate. This has become increasingly clear in recent times. The exclusion of survivors that were not in the listed institutions and the behind closed doors approach, as well as the lack of access to documentation for survivors. It is simply not good enough, and many survivors are dismayed and frustrated.
“The Commission of Investigation Model is not fit for purpose and Sinn Féin believes that a new model is required.
“There has been a failure to recognise that, though the experiences in Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries, Industrial Schools, and other institutions are varied and different, that these issues are intrinsically linked.
“This was a regime, underpinned by an appalling attitude towards women, particularly unmarried women and their children, which manifested itself across the institutions of the state.
“It is for that reason we are proposing a Truth Commission. This would draw on the best principles of International Practice, from South Africa, Chile, Australia, and Canada and apply them here.
“This model would ensure that the voices of all survivors are heard, as too many have been excluded, and heard in a way that gives them dignity, allowing them to trust in the process. This is about transitional and transformative justice.
“We are also calling in the motion for the Government to ensure that all Mother and Baby Homes & County Home sites are subject to an injunction preventing structural changes or interference to land where excavations or investigations may be necessary.
“This should be an absolute minimum commitment, and we hope the Dáil will support this motion, because the current Commission of Investigation is simply inadequate.”
Sinn Féin leader in the Seanad Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has expressed her sincere sympathy with the family of Martin McGuinness on his untimely passing.
Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to Bernie and his children. Martin was not only a political leader for us in Sinn Féin, but was also an inspiration for peace and freedom around the world.
“Republicans across Ireland will mourn his passing. Across Ireland and internationally, he is recognised as a statesman and peacemaker.
“Martin was a regular visitor to the west, and to Mayo in particular, both in a personal and political capacity. He joined me on many occasions on the election trail and had a genuine connection and affinity with all those we met. He came to Mayo during his presidential campaign in 2011 and was received with great warmness.
“He was also a regular visitor to the west in a personal capacity and believed strongly in the potential of region and the need for investment. He had a keen sense of the importance of rural Ireland to the republican project.
“Although we have lost a great leader today, we have a wonderful legacy of peace left to us. We now have to continue on and achieve what Martin started. The aims of Irish freedom and unity were central to his life and we owe it to him to make these his legacy.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness who sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning.
Speaking at Leinster House today Teachta McDonald said;
“Today we have not only lost a great Irish leader and patriot, we have also lost our friend.
“Martin was an inspirational Irish Republican and a tireless worker for peace, reconciliation and Irish Unity.
“It was my privilege to call him my friend. He will never be forgotten.
“His legacy is the peaceful future he helped to secure for our island and the advancement of the Irish Unity movement which is gathering pace at this time.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with Martin’s clan, his wife Bernie, his children Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala and Grainne, his granchildren and extended family.
“I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a anam dílis.”
Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O'Neill MLA has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness who passed away last night.
Michelle O'Neill said:
"On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to offer my deepest condolences following the death of our friend and comrade, Martin McGuinness.
"Martin was truly a giant of Irish politics and was known and respected across the world.
"He led republicanism from the front for decades, striving for reunification and promoting peace and reconciliation and a genuine commitment to equality and respect.
"Growing up as a young republican I was inspired by Martin McGuinness and I continue to be today.
"His leadership, grace and warm personality have transformed Irish politics for the better and his impact will be felt for many years to come.
"My thoughts are with his wife, Bernie, and children, Emmet, Fiachra, Fionnuala and Grainne and the entire clann at this time."
It is with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Speaking this morning Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:
“Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.
“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country. But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both.
“On behalf of republicans everywhere we extend our condolences to Bernie, Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala and Grainne, grandchildren and the extended McGuinness family.
“I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a anam dílis.”
Sinn Féin Deputy, Maurice Quinlivan has called for an "honest debate" on the crisis in our Healthcare system.
Citing the ongoing crisis in University Hospital Limerick (UHL), Deputy Quinlivan said;
"It is very clear that people are fed up of empty sound bites, and even emptier promises about how things will improve in the future.
"In 2004, then Minister for Health, Mary Harney declared a crisis in Healthcare. Thirteen years later the crisis continues, and if anything has since worsened."
In particular Deputy Quinlivan called on Fine Gael to stop promising to abolish the USC, whilst also promising to "fix" our Healthcare system.
The Deputy continued;
"We can have tax cuts or proper investment in our Healthcare system, but we can’t have both. It's time Fine Gael stopped playing fantasy economics with people's lives."
Deputy Quinlivan pointed to choices made by Fine Gael (and supported by Fianna Fáil) in the last budget.
"Fine Gael decided to cut Inheritance Tax, Capital Acquisitions Tax and USC even as patient numbers were hitting new record highs in UHL. These tax cuts- which primarily benefit the better off, were a political choice. The better choice would have been to increase investment in infrastructure and our public services, especially in healthcare.
"Sinn Fein will be holding a public meeting on our party's proposals to tackle this crisis next Thursday 30th March at 7.30pm in the Pery Hotel, Limerick, with our spokesperson on health, Louise O'Reilly."
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilin has called on Irish language activists to back An Dream Dearg's public rally for Acht Gaeilge.
The North Belfast MLA said:
"An Dream Dearg have organised a public rally for Acht Gaeilge this Wednesday at 11am at Stormont.
"There is a need to ensure respect, recognition and rights for Irish Language speakers.
“It is quite clear from the demonstrations on the streets across the north in recent months that people are angry at the disrespect which has been shown towards the Irish language and identity.
“Political unionism needs to change its approach to the Irish language and identity and embrace respect and equality.
"The Irish language belongs to everyone, it threatens no one and should be respected.
“Those who speak the language come from all walks of life. They are tired of the DUP's complete lack of respect for the Irish language.
“They want to see a society that promotes and supports the development of cultural and linguistic diversity through legislation and protections."
Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald has called on the Irish government to take a stand over Brexit and act to secure designated special status for the north within the EU.
Speaking in Belfast today, Mary Lou McDonald said:
"It is now clear that the process will begin which will see Theresa May and her government attempt to drag the north out of the EU against the democratically expressed will of the people.
"This is a very dangerous situation for Ireland north and south and it is clear that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny must take a stand and act in the national interest.
"The people of the north voted to remain in the EU and the Dáil backed a motion calling for the north to be afforded special designated status within the EU.
"The Taoiseach must now act on that and work to secure designated special status."
Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill has said the approach of the British government remains the biggest stumbling block to progress in the ongoing talks.
Michelle O'Neill said;
"The biggest stumbling block to progress to date in these talks has been the approach by the British government.
"We need to see the British government stepping up to the plate and delivering on the key issues that have been previously agreed.
"We do not need a new agreement. We need to see implementation of what has been previously agreed.
"We now need to see a change in approach from the British government if progress is to be made."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for sport, Imelda Munster has offered her sincere condolences following the sudden death of Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride.
Deputy Munster said:
“News of the death of the young football player, Ryan McBride has been a shock, and huge loss for many.
“He was much loved, and held to high esteem by his family, friends, teammates and fans of the club.
“I would like to send sincere sympathies on behalf of myself and the party to the McBride family and all those affected by this loss.
“They have received a lot of support and love from their community and nationwide, and I have no doubt that it will continue.”
Commenting on the Journal.ie’s FactFind survey which showed that in its first year, only 20 Government Bills were signed into law in the 32nd Dáil, Sinn Féin Party Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh said the findings illustrate how completely ineffective this Fine Gael-led Government is.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“Despite claims by the Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty that the 32nd Dáil is “unusually productive” the facts tell a different story. In its first year only 20 Government Bills were made law which is the joint lowest for any Dáil since the formation of the State.
"This lack of efficiency when progressing legislation starkly illustrates how ineffective this government is, despite its complaince arrangements with Fianna Fáil. The failure to produce legislation lays squarely at the feet of the government, who have little vision and therefore produce little in terms of new laws."
Deputy Ó Snoidaigh concluded:
“It is little wonder that the public have so little faith in a political process that is delivering such a small amount of legislative change at a time when we have an unprecedented housing shortage and a health system that is in crisis.”