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Additional capacity must be provided within the domiciliary care system, given the vital role that it plays in the health service, Sinn Féin spokesperson for carers, Colm Gildernew has said.

The Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA also praised the contribution made by carers in relieving pressure on the wider health system.

He said: "Informal carers are playing a vital role in caring for family members at home and avoiding further pressures on emergency departments, and are to be commended.

"More capacity needs to be provided in domiciliary care to support those in need and their families.

"Fundamental to this is improving the conditions for the domiciliary care workers and attracting more into the workforce.

"This would create better capacity to deliver services in the community and reduce pressure on beds due to delayed discharge."

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Addressing workforce issues within the Health and Social Care Service is central to dealing with the severe pressures facing emergency departments, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said.

The party’s Health spokesperson was commenting after attending a briefing with the Permanent Secretary of the Health Department.

He said: "Tackling the problem of nurse shortages is vital to addressing the serious problems being experienced in health and social care including pressures in emergency departments across the north.

“The current rate of nurse vacancies in the system is not sustainable and capacity needs to be built to meet increasing demands.

"A workforce strategy is needed to ensure experienced nurses already in the system are retained, new nurses are attracted into the system and all are valued for the vital services they provide."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has commended all those who travelled to Leinster House today to make their voices heard for pension equality and fairness.

Addressing the crowd, Teachta Brady said:

“It is time for the over 42,000 people who are wrongly in receipt of reduced State Pensions to receive what they are entitled to from this Government.

“We know that the changes made to the State Pension in 2012 have directly caused this anomaly and this cannot be allowed to continue. If it does continue, then a further 8,000 people will retire on reduced pension payments every year, adding to the figure already of over 42,000.

“Next Tuesday, Minister Doherty will bring a proposal paper to Cabinet with a number of options as to how the Government can go about righting this wrong that has impacted so many of our older people.

“The message from today’s protest is clear. Older people want what they are entitled to in order to live their lives without fear of poverty or financial stress.

“All eyes will be on the Government to see if they will deliver on their promise to solve this crisis once and for all.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Ulster Bank’s tracker mortgage victims deserve real answers as to why they are being made wait while other banks are further advanced with their redress and compensation schemes.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Both the Minister for Finance and Central Bank Governor have now addressed the Finance Committee and made excuses for Ulster Bank. This scandal has been playing out for years now, yet Ulster Bank are far behind the other banks in giving back what they stole from their own customers.

“This is the same bank that left their own customers without banking services for weeks in 2012. Six years later, we are asked to accept the reason they are so slow at paying back their customers is because of an inadequate IT system.

“The time for excuses is well and truly passed. Thousands of Ulster Bank victims are still waiting for redress and compensation without any proper explanation as to why.  The Central Bank and Minister should be on the side of those victims, instead of making excuses for Ulster Bank.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the announcement of a plastic strategy by the European Commission.

Speaking from Strasbourg, the Dublin MEP said:

“The issue of plastic pollution is one that we cannot ignore and a strategy to deal with it is long overdue.

“The Commission’s proposals are comprehensive, including measures to clamp down significantly on single use plastics such as drinking straws and takeaway cups, improved access to tap water on the streets to curb bottled water use and increased funding for research into better design, durability and recyclability of plastics.

“However, I do have concerns about the Commission’s blind faith in the social conscience of the private sector to deliver on these proposals. The Commission referring to an industry pledge to reduce plastic waste as a ‘concrete’ measure is bizarre given our experiences with industry pledges in the past.  Self-regulation does not work.  What we really need to address the urgency of the situation with plastic pollution are binding rules and targets for industry.

“Ireland is looking to introduce its own measures to tackle some plastics and I sincerely hope that Minister Denis Naughten takes a more robust approach to industry than the EU Commission has.  Ireland is the top plastic waste producer in Europe and now that China has announced it will no longer take that plastic for recycling. We need strong measures and we need them fast.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today called on the Government to reverse the discriminatory 2012 changes to the state pension that has disproportionally impacted on women with some losing up to €30 a week in their payment. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, the Dublin Central TD said:

“People who are being discriminated against when it comes to the state pension are today protesting outside the Dáil again to demand full restoration of their pension entitlement. Some are losing out on nearly €30 a week as a result of changes introduced in 2012.

“This discrimination disproportionately affects women who exited the workforce to raise children and look after families, and who then returned to employment later in life to qualify for the maximum payment. These changes hurt some men too.

“The Fine Gael-led Government of the day made these changes in the full knowledge of the weekly cut to payments and that the change would disproportionately impact women.

“Sinn Féin has been calling on Government to sort this out. In December 2016, we brought forward a Dáil motion to address this injustice that was rejected by Fine Gael Fianna Fáil. Our Budget for 2018 demonstrated to Government how the funding could be provided to rectify and correct this discrimination. We have also raised the matter in the Dáil and Seanad numerous times over the last 5 years.  

“Government is now considering some partial restoration. The Minister for Social Protection has acknowledged that these citizens have been wronged and whilst she has vowed to fix it she has expressed the view that something magical will have to happen to find the money.

“This is the Government who infamously conjured up €5 million to fund the Taoiseach’s vanity project in the form of the Strategic Communications Unit, and could find financial space to introduce tax cuts that disproportionately benefited higher earners.

“Sinn Féin’s 2018 Budget proposals demonstrated how the €70 million necessary to correct this injustice. Government’s job now is to provide a solution to right this wrong.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has strongly criticised the excuses of Government Departments for facing Irish citizens returnming from abroad.

Speaking following yet more false statements surrounding renewal of drivers’ licences Carthy said:

“The same Irish Government that is responsible for the mass emigration of thousands of young people from our shores is now actively blocking the same young people from coming home.

“Not only are they failing to plan for the return of citizens, but it is evident from responses I am receiving from the Departments that Government policy is to actually deter people from coming home.

“The latest issue that has come to the surface are the new rules requiring citizens to present themselves in person when they wish to renew their Irish Driver Licences.

“Up until recently procedures allowed citizens to post their licences home. But now the Department claims EU Regulations require a rule change. This is just not true.

“Not only does Directive 2006/126/EC on drivers’ licences not even deal with renewal procedures, but other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands - to name just two - allow citizens abroad to conduct these procedures through embassies and by post.

“There are simply no arguments to justify a system where citizens abroad can renew their passports but not their drivers’ licences online.

“If other Member States can make arrangements for citizens abroad, then it is grossly unfair that our own Government would make the situation more difficult for citizens abroad who may wish to return.

“To blame the situation on EU legislation and say that they are unable to take action is merely shirking responsibility.

“It is deplorable that emigration is till being forced upon young people by a failure of Government.

“Recent statistics from the Western Development Commission show that there has been a 41% decline in the number of people employed in agriculture in the last 20 years in the West of Ireland.

“Much of this is due to the massive amount of young people who left the region and the barriers that continue to be there for young farmers wishing to return.

“Farmers, nurses and others face real, legislative barriers and disadvantages when they seek to come home.

“The Government must stop hiding behind non-existent EU legislation and start planning for returning citizens. I will be writing to the European Commission and the Minister to ensure that the legal situation on the renewal of drivers licences is clarified."

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Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady has called for information following the death of a man in Newry last night.

Mickey Brady said:

"I am shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely death of a young man in Newry last night.

"My thoughts and condolences are with the family in a profoundly difficult period, and I call on anyone with any information to come forward to the PSNI."

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Sinn Fein leader in the north Michelle O’Neill has told the new British Secretary of State Karen Bradley that there must be a change of approach from her government if talks are to succeed in establishing an Executive which delivers for all. 

Sinn Féin will enter a short intensive talks process to test the willingness of the British government and the DUP to address the issues at the core of this crisis – an Irish Language Act, marriage equality and legacy inquest funding.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking after talking to Tanáiste Simon Coveney and British Secretary of State Karen Bradley at Stormont today.

“I spoke with the Tanáiste Simon Coveney and met Karen Bradley this morning and confirmed that Sinn Féin will enter this talks process on a short and intensive basis.

“We are determined to find a resolution that sees the institutions restored and delivering rights for all citizens.

“Credible, sustainable institutions can only be based on equality, respect and genuine partnership government.

“These talks will be a test of whether the British government and the DUP are finally willing to endorse these basic principles.

“Both governments have a responsibility for rights and equality under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

“I welcome the Taoiseach’s recent statement as a concrete commitment to this.

“I told Karen Bradley that the British government is not a neutral and impartial player and there must be a change of approach on her part. 

“For too long, the British Government has acquiesced in the denial of rights that are available everywhere else on these islands.

“The party delegation, which included Conor Murphy MLA and Gerry Kelly MLA, also raised the issue of leaked proposals on boundary changes which point to gross gerrymandering of constituencies in favour of the DUP.

“Manipulation of the democratic process is totally unacceptable.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD, Gerry Adams, has welcomed the news that the Pharmaceutical group Almac is to invest €34 million in its Dundalk site.

Gerry Adams said:

“Brexit has forced Almac which is headquartered in Craigavon, to move some of its operations to this side of the border to ensure its continued expansion and ability to access the EU marketplace.

"Almac is a growing company and is involved in a significant global expansion. The decision to expand its operation in Dundalk with the construction of a new laboratory, packaging facility for drugs and a 79,000 sq ft EU Distribution Centre, for clinical trial supply, is a significant boost for the north Louth region and for jobs.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Apple’s tax move has no impact on the EU’s ruling on State Aid against Ireland. He added that the Minister for Finance’s comments today that the money will start arriving in the escrow account in the second quarter of 2018 represents another slippage in the schedule for payment.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I have no reason to believe the move by Apple to repatriate some profits back to the USA changes anything in the ongoing State Aid case.

"To imply otherwise is either wishful thinking by government or smoke and mirrors. Minister Donohue also today let slip that the time-frame for collecting the money has slipped to the second quarter of this year having previous told the Dáil that it would be collected in the first quarter.

"The Commission’s decision is a clear cut determination that an agreement was made between Apple and the Revenue Commissioners to carve up profits for taxation that were generated in Ireland in a manner which ran contrary to Irish tax legislation.  Nothing has changed in that regard.

"A simple repatriation of the profits would give the US secondary taxing rights and leave primary rights with Ireland and so wouldn't reduce the judgement for Ireland as the US would only get a credit for the €13 billion of Irish tax.

"Ireland will retain primary taxing rights if Apple and the State’s appeal in unsuccessful. Apple will pay the €13 billion to Ireland and they might be able to get a refund of the same amount from the US against the US tax liability in Ireland.

"The recovery process for should be expedited now. There is a real danger that we could end up getting fined by the EU if there are more delays in collecting the state aid.

"The Minister revealed to me this week that the cost of the appeal and setting up the escrow account has now hit €5m. This number will only climb as the Court case approaches.”

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Note: Please see PQ to the Minister for Finance below

For Written Answer on : 16/01/2018Question Number(s)209 Question Reference(s): 55082/17Department: Finance

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Finance the cost to date in appealing the EU state aid ruling on a case (details supplied); the cost to date in the establishment of an escrow account and other costs related to the collection of the €13 billion plus interest from the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) in the Apple case

REPLY

The Government disagrees profoundly with the Commission's analysis in the Apple State aid case and is challenging the Commission's decision before the European Courts. The Irish authorities engaged fully with the Commission throughout the State aid investigation.

This involved a significant degree of legal and technical complexity, and additional expertise has been engaged where required. During the investigation, detailed and comprehensive responses were provided to the Commission to demonstrate that the appropriate amount of Irish tax was charged in accordance with the relevant legislation, that no selective advantage was given and that there was no State Aid.

This has continued with the annulment application that has been lodged in the General Court of the European Union. Notwithstanding the appeal in the Apple State aid case and the difference in view between Ireland and the Commission on the issue, the Government is committed to complying with the binding legal obligations the Commission’s Final Decision places on Ireland.

Significant progress has been made on this complex issue and the establishment of an escrow fund, in compliance with all relevant Irish constitutional and European Union law requirements, is close to completion. Officials and experts from across the State have been engaged in intensive work to ensure that Ireland complies with all its recovery obligations as soon as possible.

Over the past four years approximately €5 million (including VAT) has been paid in total, of which approximately €2.5 million relates to the recovery process. This includes all legal costs, consultancy fees and other associated costs. These fees have been paid by the Department of Finance, Revenue Commissioners, NTMA, Central Bank of Ireland, Attorney General's Office and Chief State Solicitor's Office.

This case has involved a significant degree of legal and technical complexity, and additional expertise has been engaged where required. As it is and will continue to be an important issue for the State, it will continue to be appropriately resourced.

For Written Answer on : 16/01/2018Question Number(s)210 Question Reference(s): 55083/17Department: Finance

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Finance the amount that will be deposited in the escrow account established to hold the moneys recouped from a company (details supplied) following the EU's state aid ruling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) Apple

REPLY

Notwithstanding the appeal in the Apple State Aid case and the difference in view between Ireland and the Commission on the issue, the Government is committed to complying with the binding legal obligations the Commission’s Final Decision places on Ireland.  

Apple therefore must be deprived of the benefit of the alleged aid and this involves two actions:

  • 1. The calculation of the amount of aid
    2. The process by which Apple are denied this amount of money

The Commission have estimated that this will amount to €13 billion but the precise sum is to be calculated using the methodology set out in the Decision, which is then subject to interest as set out in EU Regulations on the recovery of State Aid.  

These sums will be placed into an escrow fund with the proceeds being released only when there has been a final determination in the European Courts over the validity of the Commission’s Decision.  

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Investment is required in Special Education Needs provision to ensure all children with learning disabilities are provided with the correct support, Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has said.

The West Tyrone MLA was speaking as she opened a seminar hosted by Mencap in Stormont today focusing on the importance of early intervention for children with learning disabilities.

The Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s all-party group on Learning Disability commented: “It is essential that children with learning disability, like all young children, are provided with timely and appropriate early intervention, support and protection to ensure they have the best possible life chances.  In achieving this it is essential that there is continued investment in Special Educational Needs Provision.  In constituencies across the north there are reports that children are not accessing necessary support, or being processed through the appropriate procedures, due to cuts to the education budget.  This is completely unacceptable.  Vulnerable children and families are paying the price for Tory/DUP austerity.”

Michaela Boyle continued: “It is Sinn Féin’s position that it is completely unacceptable that the Education Authority is targeting cuts towards children with special educational requirements, who are most in need access to essential services.

“Sinn Féin have consistently made the case to both the Department and the Education Authority that funding for special educational needs should be protected.

“It is imperative that the Department and the Authority act in the interests of children.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada held a bilateral meeting with European Commissioner for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, in the European Parliament this week.

The Ireland South MEP met with Mr Vella to discuss the current state and future for Irish fisheries, Brexit and access to funding and redress mechanisms.

Ms Ní Riada, who is a member of the EU Fisheries Committee, said:

“I have always sought to use my position to bring the plight of ordinary Irish fishermen to the forefront of European politics, so I was very keen to discuss a range of issues with Mr Vella.

“One of the key issues we discussed was access to funding streams and the possibilities of public and private insurance or relief schemes for Irish fishermen, which will be worked into a set of proposals.

“We discussed the potential impact Brexit will have if Irish fisheries fall victim to displaced foreign fishing fleets. I made clear that should the British government expel foreign boats, it is simply unacceptable that those displaced vessels would just be shunted into Irish waters.

“It outlined to the Commission how the Hague Preferences had not been adequately applied in Ireland´s case and that the issue of national quota distribution at home must be the preserve of the Irish government.

“The Commission argued that in the event of Brexit or if relative stability was revised they still must fulfil other international obligation.

"However, I outlined, in no uncertain terms, the substantial contribution Ireland has made down through the years to the EU economy in terms of the value of the fish taken by other member states from Irish waters.

“I made clear that that contribution, already above and beyond what we owe, is at a maximum and any further over-saturation of Irish waters would collapse our indigenous industry.

“Today's meeting was useful. There will be many more such meetings ahead regarding Ireland's fisheries, particularly in regards to Brexit, but Sinn Féin's position and the position of coastal communities right around the country has been made abundantly clear to Mr Vella and the Commission.”

Picture attached:  Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada held a bilateral meeting with European Commissioner for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, in the European Parliament this week

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the work of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment and called for a referendum that puts a simple repeal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution to the people as recommended in the committees report.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, the Dublin Central TD said:

“Over the last twenty four hours we have listened to the harrowing experiences of Joanne Hayes and all the horrific events that surrounded what became known as the Kerry Babies’ case thirty three years ago.

"The scale of mistreatment she endured at the hands of the State was unprecedented, and it was horribly and agonisingly public. Joanne Hayes is entitled to a full and formal apology by the State for its persecution and vilification of her and her family. She is entitled to compensation and redress 

“The Kerry Babies case and the insertion of the Eighth Amendment into the Constitution took place in an atmosphere that was toxic.

"This was the Ireland of the Mother and Baby Homes and the Magdalene Laundries. An Ireland where women were to be subjugated, kept inside the home, to be kept quiet and accept their fate. This obsessive control of women did not happen by accident. 

“It was intended by a powerful conservative cohort across Irish society – in Government, the Church, across the highest ranks of the public and civil service and the professional elite.

"Women’s subjugation was a part of a carving up of power and influence in the public and private spheres. The Eighth Amendment was I believe in effect a constitutional coup, a reactive codification for the subjugation of women.

“The X case brought into sharp focus the worst expression of the conservative coup. A child, pregnant as a result of rape, dragged through the courts by the state whose purpose and stated intent was to force her to continue with the pregnancy from rape to full term. 

“Even after the 1992 Supreme Court judgment, the public outcry, and the horrors endured by Miss X and her family, successive Governments refused to legislate for the X case for more than two decades.

"It took the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and the alphabetical array of cases taken by incredibly brave women to shame Government finally enacting the X case Supreme Court decisiontwo decades later.

There is now broad acceptance across the Oireachtas and in wider society that the Eighth Amendment must be repealed from the Constitution. Now is a time for leadership. In the final analysis this debate is a matter of public health, of women’s health and our rights to decide on these matters for ourselves. 

“A simple repeal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution as recommended by the committee must be delivered on by Government, and there can be no equivocation on this by anyone.”

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Speaking in the Seanad this evening, Seantor Paul Gavan spoke of his experience on the 8th Amendment committee and the need for the 8th amendment to be repealed.

Senator Gavan said:

“We must repeal the 8th amendment from our constitution. It constitutes an unacceptable clinical risk for women across Ireland.

“The current situation whereby a woman can only have an abortion if she is otherwise going to die, is simply not tenable in any society that is serious about protecting and respecting the lives of women.

“The Eighth amendment committee was informed by Professor Arulkumaran, President of the International College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, that risk with regard to the life of the mother is something which can escalate in minutes or in hours.

"Rhona Mahony, Master of the Rotunda, compared this situation to a game of medical roulette with a woman’s life.

“Doctors are being mandated by the law to wait until the very moment in which someone’s illness turns from a risk to their health to a risk to their life. This goes against all other aspects of best medical healthcare. 

“For these reasons I fully support the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment, and also for terminations when the mother’s physical or mental health is at risk, and where there is a Fatal Foetal Abnormality. 

“In 2018, surely it’s time to trust women. We also have to face reality. Ireland is not an Abortion Free country. Women in Ireland have abortions all the time. 

“10 women per day, each day travel for terminations. The vast majority of these women receive no aftercare when they return home. 

“We also know that 1800 abortion pills were supplied to Irish women over the internet by one provider alone in 2016. 

“To put those figures into context, it’s estimated that about 12% of Irish women of reproductive age have had an abortion. That means all of us whether we are aware of it or not, know somebody who has had an abortion. These are the people that the State has failed and continues to fail.

“It is time for the Irish people to have their say on the matter. The referendum will not be easy. There are a lot of challenging conversations that need to be had; it will take courage and real leadership. 

“I truly hope that he does not falter in the same manner that Garret Fitzgerald did in 1983, with a half-hearted support for the Repeal campaign. The women of Ireland deserve better, they must not be failed again.”

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Speaking in advance of a meeting with British Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP tomorrow, Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O’Neill MLA said that urgent and meaningful talks are needed to resolve the political crisis and restore the political institutions on a sustainable basis.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“Party colleagues and I are meeting the new British Secretary of State Karen Bradley tomorrow at Stormont.

“This will be the third time I’ve spoken to her since she was recently appointed. I will again reassert our position that Sinn Féin stand ready to engage in talks, but only if they are meaningful and can reach a successful conclusion which sees the critical issues resolved. 

“There is no public or political credibility in endless talks which go nowhere.

“Sinn Féin want to see the restoration of power sharing institutions and new equal partnership government which delivers for all.

“That requires Karen Bradley and the British government to act with the rigorous impartiality demanded of them by the Good Friday Agreement as co-guarantors if we are to see any meaningful negotiations take place. She is not a neutral broker and has a duty to fulfil her political responsibilities. 

“Their partisan approach to date has been underscored by their pact with the DUP at Westminster which completely eradicated any remaining pretence of impartiality and serves to compound the difficulties which exist. 

“If any new talks to restore the Executive are to succeed, there must be a new approach from Karen Bradley’s government.

“The political will must also exist within the DUP which has not been evident to date.

“We believe that Agreement is possible and our leadership will play our full part to try reach a resolution. 

“Therefore we need a talks process which is about getting a positive outcome including the implementation of agreements and a new approach which delivers for everyone.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said that Sinn Féin will continue to explore the potential for inclusive Growth Deals for Derry and the north-west region, alongside the wider Belfast area.

The Foyle MP was speaking following a meeting with British Secretary Sajid Javid, in which she led a delegation of civic and business leaders from the Derry and Donegal areas.

Elisha McCallion said:

“The British governments’ ‘City Deals’ plan has the potential to assist locally developed and bespoke economic programmes, such as the Strategic Growth Plan created and endorsed in Derry City.

"Today's meeting with the British government was an opportunity to outline the unique economic needs of the north-west of Ireland.

"In order to progress any potential deal, I insisted that the British government publicly commit to plans to contribute to an Inclusive Growth Deal for Derry and the north-west.

“Following years of unrelenting Tory austerity which has savaged public services and local budgets, Sinn Féin is open to any economic assistance which would develop and invest in our towns and cities.

“But as a party we have clear principles by which this assistance must be judged."

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed Minister Doherty’s change of mind on examining the effectiveness of the current rates and payment period of the Fuel Allowance.

Minister Doherty announced that a review of the Fuel Allowance would be carried out despite refusing to do so during deliberations of the Social Welfare Bill late last year.

Speaking following the debate, Teachta Brady said:

“I welcome the fact that Minister Doherty has now decided to examine Fuel Allowance in the context of the effectiveness of the payment in its current form.

“During deliberations on the Social Welfare Bill late last year I submitted an amendment to the Bill seeking such a report.

"Despite agreeing to accept the amendment on the condition it was re-worded, Minister Doherty then rowed back and opposed the amendment.

“While this was extremely disappointing given the fact that anecdotal evidence suggests that cuts to the Fuel Allowance have been detrimental for low income households and older people, I welcome the Minister’s acknowledgment that there is an issue with the incidence of fuel poverty.

“We know that Ireland currently has the highest levels of excess winter mortality in Europe with an estimated 2,800 excess deaths during each year.

"We also know that 28% of households are experiencing fuel poverty. These are exactly the reasons why we must see this report carried out and I welcome the Minister’s intention to conduct this review within the next couple of weeks.”

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Below you can find the full text for Gerry Adams speech on the report of the joint committee on the Eighth Amendment:

"Go raibh maith míle agat a Ceann Comhairle, Tá mé buíoch as an deis labhairt ar an ábhar fíor-tábhactach seo atá faoi bhráid na Dála um tráthnóna.

100 years ago this year Ceann Comhairle, Countess Markievicz was elected to the first Dáil and went on to become the first female Cabinet Minister in Europe.

She was part of a revolutionary strand of the national movement that included women like Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, Kathleen Lynn and Elizabeth O’Farrell.

Fine women, who serve as role models for many of us to this day.

They led the struggle for women’s rights in extraordinary times, buoyed by the freedom charter that was the 1916 Proclamation, which addressed itself equally to Irish men and Irish women.

They must have felt betrayed after the counter-revolutionary period which resulted in the development of two conservative, narrow-minded States in our country that championed public policy that was anti-women, chauvinistic, cruel and intolerant.

Women were written out of history.

In this State, their status was confirmed in the 1937 Constitution, which asserted that a woman’s place was in the home.

For women who strayed beyond so-called “norms”, they were sent to Magdalene Laundries or to mother and baby homes.

There they endured unbelievable hardship and were denied everything by a State that condemned them for no reason other than the fact that they were women.

Such attitudes permeated every facet of Irish life.

The architecture of the State ensured that women were consigned to lesser status.

The employment marriage bar remained in force until 1973.

Domestic violence was not even recognised as an issue and it wasn’t until 1976 that a wife could seek a barring order against her husband.

‘Criminal Conversation’, which enshrined in law that a wife was the property of her husband, remained on the statute books until 1981.

Contraception wasn’t available without a prescription until 1985, and even then, only in chemists until 1991.

Even the simplest things - the purchase of a television or a radio on hire purchase - were not possible without a husband’s signature.

Whilst strides have been made in addressing some of the historic injustices forced on women by this State, the legacy of that treatment remains with us today - on issues like pay equality or the lack of it, the scarcity of women from many aspects of public life, politics or leadership positions in government, academia and other sectors.

That injustice is evident in the continued prevalence of the 1983 Amendment to an already out-of- touch Constitution, which prohibited access to what was, even at that time - in any other developed society - basic medical treatment.

That is not right.

It is wrong and it is our responsibility as legislators to end that injustice.

The business of the State should be to ensure that women have access to proper healthcare services should they need them, and should they choose to avail of them.

The State has a responsibility to support women. 

We should not fool ourselves.

Abortion is a reality in Ireland.

Abortion pills are available here which can be ordered online and taken by women without medical supervision.

Or women in distress can go to England.

An English solution to an Irish problem.

I have my own position on abortion, but as a legislator I have no right to impose that view on anyone.

It is not for any of us here to cast judgement on anybody for doing what they feel they need to do.

It is for women to make that judgement.

I for one believe they are fully capable of doing so.

That they are entitled to do so.

Those who are opposed to abortion are entitled to their opinion.

They are equally fully entitled not to have a termination.

Everyone has the right to choose.

Those who prescribe to a particular faith for example, can heed the guidance of their religious leaders - if they so choose.

But is not for anyone to foist their views on others.

That is my strongly held opinion.

Some will oppose that analysis.

Some who will do so are friends of mine.

They are good people Ceann Comhairle with sincerely held views.

I respect that.

So, tolerance has to be hallmark of our discourse.

But Ireland has changed.

That change has been spearheaded by women in the first instance.

And mná na hÉireann are not going accept the continued “guidance” of a Constitution - written when women were second-class citizens - revised in 1983 under false pretences - as dogma.

Women don't need moral diktat.

They certainly don’t need condemnation.

What they need and deserve is respect. 

What they need is the right to make decisions about their own health and their own lives.

Repealing the Eighth Amendment is the right thing to do. 

It will correct a historic wrong.

I hope that a referendum to afford the people the right to do this happens as soon as possible.

And I hope that the people will support that proposition.

We can debate the merits or otherwise of what legislation will come after that.

For Sinn Féin’s part we accept the need for the availability of abortion where a woman’s life, health or mental health is at serious risk or in danger, and in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and in the cases rape

or sexual abuse.

The first step is to allow women the right to make a choice on these deeply distressing matters and to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Go raibh maith agat a Ceann Comhairle."

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In answer to a parliamentary question by Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín the Department for Health has admitted that there is currently no provision in legislation for the regulation or inspection of residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.

The Meath West TD asked the question in relation to the proposed Church of Scientology Narconn drug treatment centre in Ballivor Co Meath.

Teachta Tóibín said;

"There is significant opposition and concern in Meath that this unregulated facility could negatively impact on local people.

"The Department of Health also stated to me that organisations which provide addiction services and are funded by the HSE are required to meet minimum standards in the delivery of services across a range of criteria which form the basis of any service level agreement.

"The Department went further and highlighted that there is no evidence to suggest that the drug treatment programme, provided by the organisation I had referred to them, would meet any of the criteria set out by the HSE for agencies that provide addiction services in its behalf.

“It appears that anyone can set up a residential treatment facility without accreditation and regulation in Ireland at the moment. To me this is a major gap in the state’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people.

"People in the grip of addiction are often at their most vulnerable. Over 80% of people presenting with substance abuse suffer with anxiety, depression and have backgrounds of trauma.

"The State has a duty of care and must protect these people. Surely Minister Catherine Byrne must start the process of developing minimum standards for all residential treatment or rehabilitation centers specializing in addiction. This process needs to happen now."

ENDS//

Note: Please see PQ below

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if an organisation (details supplied) or its affiliate organisations sought access or gained access to deliver its educational programmes to schools in the past five years; and the details of same. (Details Supplied) the Church of Scientology.

REPLY

The organisation referred to has not made any approach to my Department regarding access to deliver educational programmes to schools. 

The board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school and is therefore responsible for making decisions as to what external organisations it uses to supplement the curriculum.For Written Answer on : 16/01/2018 Question Number(s): 830 Question Reference(s): 54980/17 Written Department: Health

QUESTION*  To ask the Minister for Health if an organisation (details supplied) or its affiliate organisations has been granted certification, accreditation or a licence by organisations under the direction of his department to deliver health, education or addiction programmes; and if the organisation must have certification, accreditation or a licence to deliver health, education or addiction services here.

Peadar Tóibín T.D.Details Supplied: the Church of Scientology

REPLY

The advice of my Department would be that  anyone seeking treatment for addiction should contact their local HSE addiction service.The Department has no jurisdiction over agencies that provide private addiction services.

 There is currently no provision in legislation for the regulation or inspection of residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.Organisations which provide addiction services and are funded by the HSE are required to meet minimum standards in the delivery of services across a range of criteria which form the basis of any service level agreement.

There is no evidence to suggest that the drug treatment programme, provided by the organisation referred to by the Deputy, would meet any of the criteria set out by the HSE for agencies that provide addiction services in its behalf.

That organisation's drug treatment programme comprises a series of interventions with limited or no basis in a scientific understanding of human physiology and brain functioning.

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