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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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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Government to fulfil its promise to children by ensuring that sufficient social workers are in place.

Commenting on figures from the Child and Family Agency showing the shortfall in social services for vulnerable children, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"At the time of the Children's Referendum we said that to have practical meaning it must be followed by resources from Government to protect and support children. The figures from the Child and Family Agency showing the major shortfall in the numbers of social workers for children represent a failure on the part of Government to fulfil its commitment. The Agency should now lead a concerted effort to ensure that the new Minister for Children James Reilly and his Cabinet colleagues put this right and provide resources to put in place sufficient social workers."

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On their first full day in Palestine, Sinn Féin MEPs heard continued calls for a radical shift in how the international community acts when it comes to the plight of the Palestinian people.

Martina Anderson MEP said: “From our meetings with both peace organisations and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives what we heard was a clear call for the international community to realise that the negotiations are over. Israel enters into the negotiations but then carries out deadly military attacks and land grabs - a direct contradiction with the peace it claims to want to work towards. Rather than continuing their support for talks, world leaders should be loudly denouncing the Israeli occupation of Palestine for what it is, the deliberate and systematic extermination of Palestinians from their land, nothing short of social genocide.

“We listened to representatives from organisations of both former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian prisoners who are now coming together to work towards peace. This was hugely encouraging. These are the types of organisations that the EU should be supporting. We also met with renowned Haaretz journalist Amira Hass; it’s hugely important for her expertise and insight into the reality of life under occupation to be felt in Israeli society.”

The European delegation is meeting today with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which provides aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees.

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan today expressed her horror at the extent of the destruction of Gaza and the consequences for the people there after a meeting this morning with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) official Mr Salvatore Lombardo.

The Dublin MEP who is currently visiting Palestine as part of a delegation of MEPs, which includes her party colleagues Martina Anderson and Matt Carthy, met with Mr. Lombardo in Jerusalem this morning and was briefed on the situation in Gaza.

“Salvatore Lombardo is a senior official with UNRWA and he stressed that in his 25 years experience he has never seen such destruction. He has told us that the situation in Gaza is about five times worse than it was in 2008 and that the amount of explosives used was astronomical.

“After our meeting with Mr. Salvatore we visited the Al Makassed Hospital. It was a harrowing visit. To see a three-year-old child amputee was dreadful but to be told both her parents have also lost limbs brought home the horror of what has happened to the people of Gaza.

“One point is very clear throughout this visit. Everybody here wants politicians to visit and bear witness to what has happened. Mr. Lombardo of UNRWA, the doctors at the hospital and the parents of the injured children are pleading for the world’s politicians to visit them, to see the destruction and horrific injuries at first hand and to tell the world. They want the world to know what has happened and they want those responsible to be held accountable.

“We, as politicians, must pass on their message and tell their story to the world while at the same time encouraging others to visit and bear witness to the horrific situation in Gaza.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that today’s announcement by Minister Alan Kelly is further evidence that the Government duped the people on the Local Property Tax.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Today’s announcement by Minister Alan Kelly puts an end to the spin from government that the purpose of Local Property Tax is about the funding of local services. The reality is that the local property tax is a tax that was created to aid the process of diverting finances from central government away from the funding of locals councils to the supporting of toxic banks.

“When Minister Kelly says no authority will receive less than 2014 he fails to mention that 2014 was an extremely low point and that without central funding the LPT system does not allow for greater funding.

“Many counties have seen their funding drop by almost 50% from 2011 to 2014. Under the LPT system these counties are now receiving this historically low level of funding only because they are being propped up by the surpluses of other counties.

“How can these authorities ever hope to build their services back to levels demanded by citizens?

“Families the length and breadth of this state saw the glossy leaflets produced by the Government depicting the bright playgrounds and beautiful parks that were to appear in communities as a result of the Local Property Tax. Those families were sold a fairy tale .The truth is that people are not getting extra services from paying this tax. People are struggling to pay and they are not seeing any real benefit.

“Sinn Féin remains opposed to this tax which is proving a complicated, regressive and insufficient way of funding our local democracies.

“Sinn Féin in government will abolish the property tax.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an adjournment debate on the campaign for the expansion of the university at Magee. 

Speaking ahead of next week's debate in the Assembly, the Foyle MLA said; 

"The expansion of Magee is vital for the development and regeneration of Derry. 

"There is a political and civic consensus that the Magee expansion must go ahead.

"I have secured an adjournment debate which will be held in the Assembly next week on Tuesday, September 16. 

"Recent comments by the employment and learning minister Stephen Farry casting doubt on the expansion of Magee caused great alarm in Derry. 

"This debate will allow local representatives and others to outline the importance of the expansion of Magee. 

"A full business case for the expansion of Magee will be on the employment and learning minister's desk in October and it is our hope he will look positively on that. 

"The expansion of Magee is a crucial part of the One Plan, which is a Programme for Government commitment, and Sinn Féin is determined to see it delivered."

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During a meeting of the Fisheries committee today Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South, Liadh Ní Riada called for the Commissioner-designate hearing to be asked to explain why the Commission has not honoured its commitment to pay for scientific data research to determine fish quota.

Speaking after the meeting Ní Riada emphasised that by not fulfilling their obligation they have put fishing communities in an impossible position where they are expected to pay for this themselves. Ní Riada also said that at the next meeting she will highlight the plight of our fishing communities as a result of the Russian Ban.

Ní Riada said:

"Yesterday I met with representatives from the Federation of Irish Fishermen who raised serious concerns with me regarding the effect that the Russian Ban is having on fishermen. The importation of a list of seafood including fish, lobsters, molluscs, shrimps and other invertebrates has been banned and this action is causing current and real economic problems to these sectors. Based on figures from 2012 the direct economic losses caused by the withdrawal of the Russian market amounts to 153.8 million Euros. Similarly the EU market faces further distribution as Russia seeks alternative markets such as South America.

"I understand that The Directorate-General for Agriculture has reacted rapidly by requesting a potential impact analysis from its officials, approved exceptional measures to assist farmers and called a management committee meeting. On the other hand, we have The Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DG MARE) who has not been vocal on the issue and this is directly affecting the fishing industry.

"I will be calling on the Institution to take responsibility and to urgently address this issue which is having a detrimental effect on the lives and livelihoods of fishermen, aqua culturists and the whole supply chain".

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Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has said the DUP have abandoned communities in loyalist working-class areas. 

Speaking after Education Minister John O'Dowd announced £1.85 million in the greater Shankill area supporting projects to improve the lives of children. 

"This funding package is welcome and will help transform the lives of children in the Shankill area. 

"This investment package includes almost £1 million going into schools in the Shankill area. That is more than double the average percentage increase across the North. 

"All of this came about because of changes to the schools funding formula. 

"Incredibly, the DUP actually tried to block these changes and in fact are still actively trying to block these changes, despite the obvious benefits to loyalist working class areas. 

"This further highlights their transformation into an anti-working class party more concerned about getting into government with Tory millionaires than standing up for the communities it claims to represent. 

"In doing so they are seeking self advancement at the expense of communities in the Shankill, Ballybeen, and Fountain areas."

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has endorsed the designation of the Shankill area as a Children and Young People’s Action Zone.

Speaking following a meeting with the Greater Shankill Community Convention in Parliament Buildings, the Minister said: 

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Greater Shankill Community Convention for their commitment to improving outcomes and life chances for children and young people in their local area. 

“Your ambition is inspirational. I endorse your community’s determination to take action to transform the lives of children and young people and most importantly I want to play my part in supporting you in your work in the months and years ahead.”

Reflecting on the support provided by the Department of Education, the Minister said: 

“I am totally committed to targeting resources to wherever they are needed most. As a result of changes to the Common Funding Formula that I made earlier in the year, schools in the Shankill area have received in this financial year alone an extra £1million to help them meet the needs of their pupils. 

“Many millions of pounds are being invested from my Department’s capital budget in new schools and in minor works to improve the learning experience. 

“The youth sector in the Greater Shankill area has also benefitted from investment including £1.85million for a new Glencairn Youth Facility which I am giving the go-ahead to today. This modern purpose-built facility will provide a safe and welcoming environment for young people to meet, make friends and take part in structured activities.

“All of these and other initiatives delivered through the Delivering Social Change Project, Extended Schools and Sure Start are designed to create maximum impact in raising standards and helping to tackle underachievement in education.”

Concluding, the Minister said: 

“You have recognised that building aspirations and helping your young people reach their full potential require effort on the part of an entire community. Ministers and their departments have a role to play but so much more can be achieved when a community itself takes the lead. I wish you every success in implementing your framework and in creating a Greater Shankill Children’s and Young People’s Action Zone.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has criticised the European Council for its position on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Speaking during a debate in the Environmental Committee on the issue the Dublin MEP said:

"The European Council's report on GMOs contains too many loopholes and leaves member states open to legal challenges from biotech companies.

"The Council's proposals require a number of improvements mainly in the fields of risk assessment which requires strengthening and also in cross-border dissemination where I am proposing generous buffer zones between areas which have banned GM cultivation and those which haven't.

"I also propose enlarging the grounds justifying the restrictions or prohibition of GMOs on the territory of a member state by adding the protection of biodiversity and human or animal health. 

"It is my intention to table amendments to improve the text in the Council's report and protect member states' right to ban GM cultivation and consumer rights in the face of biotech companies."  

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