Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the recommendations in the first report of the review on the cost of insurance will, if implemented, remove one excuse for higher premiums the industry has been using. He welcomed the recommendation as representing a “sensible approach which is in line with what I have been calling for” and hoped that the move will lead to a drop in insurance premiums sooner rather than later.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The report today maps out a way to remove one of the excuses insurers have been using to justify high premiums. It is in line with what I have been calling for. There will no longer be the uncertainty of a sudden call on insurers’ funds if a competitor goes out of business. The insurers had told me this uncertainty was creating anxiety that required reserves and was putting off possible new entrants into the market. That excuse is no longer valid given what is signalled in the report.
“This was a key argument used by insurers to justify massive increases in premiums. If that is true, this plan to remove it should see premiums drop sooner rather than later. The review group now needs to get down to the next step of looking at the other reasons for the huge jumps in the price of motor insurance including examining the business model and underlying sustainability of the industry.
“It is now over two years since Setanta insurance went bust, leaving 75,000 policy holders high and dry. For those who were in the process of making claims, that was only the start of a very long drawn out process that is still being played out in the Courts today. Today’s report marks a much belated attempt by government to sort out the mess Setanta left in its wake.
“The approach taken by the working group is a sensible one. Legal changes should provide clarity as to the responsibilities of the Insurance Compensation Fund and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland in cases of future insurers going bust for third party claims. The 65% cap on what the ICF can pay out for third party claims will be lifted too. Ultimately, it is the driver who will pay whether through a levy to the ICF or in our premiums to the companies who fund the MIBI. At least now there should be clarity with the primary role of the ICF meaning a sense of stability can be restored.”
Speaking in his constituency today after a meeting with local farmers, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny TD called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the beef forum to deal with the problem of the recording of farm to farm cattle movements.
Deputy Kenny said:
“The penalisation of farmers by the meat factories for the number of movements an animal has recorded against it has to be tackled. Quality Payment Scheme bonuses are being withheld on this basis.
“There is a case to be made for not counting movement of cattle between quality assured farms.
“I have received many representations from farmers on this issue. They feel it is unfair, and I agree with them, that penalties are imposed by the meat processors for movements which are not significant in any way. A recent study carried out by ICOS found that many British supermarkets are not making the strident demands which are being imposed by Irish factories. ICOS correctly pointed out that the Quality Payments Scheme is in fact a quality penalty scheme as it is being implemented by the factories. Bord Bía does not place any of these movement restrictions on cattle.
“The Minister, as chair of the Beef Forum, will have to tackle this issue when he has everyone around the table.
“The factories take every opportunity to penalise farmers. At the moment they are exaggerating the Sterling devaluation after the vote by Britain to leave the EU.
“The Beef Forum is supposed to look after the interests of farmers as well as the rest of the sector and the Minister has a responsibility to defend the primary producer.”
Speaking in Leitrim today, Sinn Féin Agricultural spokesperson Martin Kenny TD congratulated Denis Duggan on his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Macra na Feirme.
Deputy Kenny said:
“Macra is an active and vibrant organisation in rural areas and always plays a positive role. Edmund Connolly did a great job over the past eight years and I wish him well in his new post in the South East.
“Meanwhile, I congratulate Denis Duggan on his appointment as CEO and hope that we will find areas for co-operation during his term in the post. I am sure that his experience in Enterprise Ireland will be invaluable as the creation of jobs and opportunities for young people in rural Ireland is vital.”
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh says the government’s new housing and homelessness action plan offers little solace for the thousands of people in mortgage distress.
Speaking today, the Senator from Galway said:
“I welcome the report, but I am worried about the lack of movement for those who are in mortgage difficulty and may face losing their home. The commitment in the Programme for Government to set up a special court to deal with these cases seems to have disappeared.
“I attended the Repossessions Court in Galway recently where 120 families were up in front of the registrar due to mortgage difficulties. This startling figure should be a wakeup call to the Government that this remains a key problem facing families.
“The issue of rent certainty also seems to have been put on the long finger not because of the complexity of getting to grips with it but by a sheer lack of political will to deal with a broken private rental sector. Sinn Féin have never shied away from asserting that this lack of political will directly correlates with the number of TDs in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who have a direct interest in the private rental sector.
“Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil, in spite of referencing rent certainty in the lead up to the election, felt that they could not support a Bill proposed by Sinn Féin to deal with this issue. Fianna Fáil prevented rent certainty now being law.
“Issues relating to student accommodation, housing for the elderly and people with disabilities, traveller accommodation and transitioning people out of direct provision have not been adequately dealt with in the plan either, but we in Sinn Féin will continue to have these taken on board as the plan progresses.”
Beagán Faoisimh do dhaoine atá i nGuais Mórgáiste sa Phlean Tithíochta – Ó Clochartaigh
Deir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Seanadóir de chuid Shinn Féin gur beag an faoiseamh atá ann do na mílte duine atá i mbaol a guid tithe a chailliúnt de bharr deacrachtaí mórgáiste.
Ag labhairt dó inniu dúirt an Seanadóir do Ghaillimh Thiar-Maigh Eo:
“Cuirim fáilte roimh an tuarascáil ach tá mé imníoch faoin easpa gníomhú maidir le daoine atá i nguais mórgáiste.Is leir go bhfuil an tiomantas sa Chlár Rialtais chun cúirt speisialta bhunú chun dul i ngleic le cásanna mar seo imithe ar fad.
“D’fhreastail mé féin ar an gCúirt Athseilbhithe i nGaillimh le déanaí mar a raibh 120 teaghlach os comhair an chláraitheora de bharr deacrachtaí morgáiste. Ba cheart go gcuirfeadh an figiúr scanallach seo in iúl go soiléir don Rialtas go bhfuil an fhadhb seo ann.
“Is léir gur cuireadh an cheist seo maidir le cinnteacht cíosa, ar an méar fhada mar gheall ar easpa tola polaitiúla agus ní mar gheall ar aon deacracht teicniúil. Tá Sinn Féin a rá le fada go bhfuil nasc ann idir an easpa tola seo agus líon na dTeachtaí Dála Fhianna Fáil agus Fhine Gael a bhfuil leas acu san earnáil cíosa.
“Faraor, in aineoinn go ndrearna Fianna Fáil tagairtí do chinnteacht cíosa roimh an olltoghchán, ní raibh se de chumas acu tacú le Bille Shinn Féin a thabharfadh isteach cinnteacht cíosa. Chuir Fianna Fáil cos car chinnteacht cíosa.
“Tá ceisteanna ann maidir le tithíocht do mhic léinn, seandaoine, daoine le míchumas, an lucht siúil, agus daoine ag aistriú ó sholáthar díreach nach ndeachthas i ngleic leo sa tuarascáil seo ar bhealach sásúil go fóill, ach beidh Sinn Féin ag iarraidh iad a thbhairt isteach de réir mar a théann an plean chun cinn.”
The North stands to lose billions from its economy if we are forced out of the European Union, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said.
The Deputy First Minister was speaking following a major British Irish Council summit in Cardiff today to discuss the implications of the Brexit referendum.
Martin McGuinness said:
"It is absolutely clear from the various briefings and discussions today that leaving the EU would be economically, socially and politically disastrous for the North of Ireland.
"The meeting heard how our economy was set to receive €3.5 billion in European funds between 2014 and 2020. A sizeable portion of that will be at risk if we are forced out of Europe. Such funds will, of course, not be available at all in the years following 2020 and I don't think anyone seriously believes that the British Government will reimburse these losses.
"As well as these direct European funds, we are already losing an unquantifiable amount of private investment as foreign direct investors turn their attention to regions which can guarantee access to the European market.
"There are many more implications for the common travel area, for the free movement of people, goods and services which all add up to a disastrous situation. Potentially, we are looking at tens of billions being taken out of our economy over the coming decade."
Martin McGuinness also criticised the British Government's handling of the situation.
"We are in this mess because the previous British Government called the referendum in a foolish attempt to placate racist and loony right wing elements within both UKIP and the Tory Party. And, rather than respect the democratic wishes of the people here who voted to remain in the EU, it seems the new British Government is determined to drag us out against our will."
Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has welcomed the news that Planning permission has been refused for masts on the Metro Hotel & Apartments, Ballymun Road and Santry Avenue.
Speaking today from Ballymun, Cllr Reilly said,
“Residents have been concerned for some time about the number of masts on top of their apartments. There is anywhere between 150-200 masts on top of the roof.
“I had a motion on this issue at the Dublin Northwest area committee back in October 2015 as I was concerned about the masts being on top of residential homes as I was not aware of any others around the city.
“It later transpired that Planning permission had not been sought for these masts by Airspeed Telecom and Host Ireland and they were in breach of planning enforcement.
“The council have refused retention planning permission on the basis of the number of the masts their high visibility and that the location of the development on the top of a building with residential uses seriously injures the residential amenities of the residents in the tower and is contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
“It concerns me greatly that these masts have been on top of the hotel and apartments for years without permission and were essentially left there.
“They need to be removed immediately.
“I have contacted both Dublin City Council and Comreg on this matter and unfortunately the response I received was unsatisfactory.
“No one could provide me with evidence that all Health and Safety checks had been done on these masts.
“The decision by the planners to refuse retention permission is a vindication of residents who had rightly many concerns.”
The Department of Housing and NAMA must work with Dublin City Council to ensure Lynam’s Hotel continues to provide emergency accommodation for Dublin’s homeless families, according to Sinn Féin Cllr Daithí Doolan.
Speaking this afternoon, Cllr. Daithí Doolan, chair of Dublin City Council’s housing committee, said:
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. It is unacceptable that families are being forced to leave Lynam’s Hotel to seek emergency accommodation elsewhere. Hotels and B&Bs are already booked out during the summer season. The Department of Housing and NAMA have an obligation to work with Dublin City Council to ensure the new buyer remains an agent for the city council and continues to provide emergency accommodation to Dublin’s homeless families. I have written to Minister Coveney and to NAMA requesting that they meet with Dublin City Council to discuss this proposal.
”The current Government claims housing would be a priority for them. Here is an opportunity to prove it; a phone call from Minister Coveney to NAMA and this current crisis could easily be over.
“Families who are already traumatised by homelessness must be provided for and protected from any further upset. I firmly believe if we work together we can bring a solution to his awful situation.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has been commenting on recent figures released by NAMA to the Committee on Housing and Homelessness.
Teachta Brady said:
“A total of thirty six properties out of 6,637 nationwide are identified as NAMA properties in County Wicklow. Out of these thirty six properties, only seven have been transferred to the local authority to provide homes for people on the housing waiting list. Today, there are over three thousand people on the housing waiting list at Wicklow County Council. Seven houses being provided doesn’t even scratch the surface.
“The Housing Action Plan launched by the Government this week puts in part, a reliance on NAMA to provide houses across the State. However, the housing crisis varies county by county and one solution does not fit all. Even if NAMA transferred all thirty six houses in their possession to the local authority it would have little or no impact on the housing waiting list as it stands. It must be acknowledged that relying on NAMA to provide properties in Wicklow is simply not an option.
“While, NAMA do not hold a significant number of properties in Wicklow and certainly, nowhere near the numbers needed, they do own substantial land parcels in the County. These land parcels need to looked at for their suitability to be developed if we are to provide homes for the three thousand plus on the housing waiting list.
“NAMA need to use the land they hold in Wicklow to develop and build houses on. They cannot be allowed to hold onto land that could be developed in the midst of a housing crisis and when the need for housing is not being met within the County.”
Commenting today on TASC's recent report ‘Economic
Inequality in Ireland - Cherishing All Equally 2016’, Sinn Féin
Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion TD said that the report's
revelation of some key gender inequality indicators for the state were
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said:
“TASC’s recent report on the inequalities in existence within this state, particularly between gender divisions, exposes what many suspect but do not want to believe.
“Some gender inequality indicators were quite frankly, shocking:
· The gender pension gap is 37%, the fifth highest pension gap in the EU
· 29% of female workers are low paid in Ireland compared to 19% of male workers, which is the sixth highest level in the OECD
· Lone parent households (90% of lone parents are women) had a deprivation rate in 2014 at 58.7% and a consistent poverty rate at 22%
· Women carry out 70% of family care work across the state
· On over 3,494 occasions in 2013, women's domestic violence services were unable to accommodate women and their children because the refuge was full or there was no refuge in their area.
“These facts make for tough reading when in black and white. I commend TASC for their work in exposing the pervasive inequalities between women and men in Irish society. It's also evident that it is women who are economically deprived who feel the brunt. They not only struggle financially, but must face the challenge of gender inequality in the work, place, in the household and ultimately in the futures through lack of security as well.
“The report states that, according to the European Gender Inequality Index 2012, “Ireland ranked eighth highest out of the EU 28 with a score of 56.5 where 1000 indicates gender inequality”. It is abundantly clear that gender inequality remains a huge challenge here. It's not a topic we can confine to the past. As evidenced in the report, modern Irish society continues to push women's entitlement to fair living conditions and secure futures to the side. I aim to shine light on the issue at every opportunity.”
Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed the news that nurture units at two Irish language schools are to receive funding.
The Sinn Féin education spokesperson said;
"I welcome today's announcement that funding will be provided for nurture units at Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin and Bunscoil an Droichid. This is great news for both schools.
"There is no doubt that nurture units play a hugely beneficial role in children's education.
"I wish both schools well in the future."
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the publication of data on the use of exceptions under the new mortgage rules as he had requested from the Central Bank. The data shows that the banks used only 30% of the permitted 35% leeway allowed. He said that the real story in the data is that supply remains the issues not demand and that this new evidence should make the government think again about a ‘help to buy’ scheme.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I am happy that these figures have finally been released after I raised this issue with the Central Bank and Minister for Finance. The idea that the Central Bank could ask for evidence based submissions without this crucial piece of evidence was absurd. I am glad that we now have a picture of how these rules are working.
“By using only 30% of the permitted leeway, the banks are not using the full leeway available to them. In fact, that 5% would mean that an additional €129m could be loaned outside the caps.
“It is very noticeable that for First Time Buyers the average loan to value has not changed dramatically. It is now 78.7% for those that fall within the rules compared to 80.7% for those that fell outside. That is only a minor change and when we consider that there is another 5% of lending that could potentially be used outside these caps the effect of these rules on First Time Buyers is quite limited.
“Overall, the picture is one of supply still being the issue. In light of this data, the government must take second look at the proposed help to buy scheme. There is simply no evidence that these rules have created a need for such an expensive scheme.”
A new sustainable energy contract has been awarded for the supply of electricity and natural gas to the health and social care sector.
The four year, £140million deal was awarded by combining the buying power of all six Health and Social Care Trusts, the Health and Social Care Board, the Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Business Services Organisation.
Speaking about the contract, Health Minister said:
“This new contract will see electricity supplied from 100% renewable sources, flexibility for organisations in how they procure their energy and savings in excess of £4million on electricity during the first year of the contract.
“The health and social care sector can play a leading role in reducing carbon emissions and encouraging healthier lifestyles to combat climate change, save money, and achieve health benefits. By pooling our resources and using the buying power of the entire health sector, we have managed to drive down costs by 20% and contribute to the well-being of our planet by using renewable, sustainable and flexible energy sources.
“I am also delighted that over the course of the contract the suppliers will provide extensive support to HSC organisations in line with the aims of the public health framework Making Life Better. This will cover a wide range of initiatives, for example campaigns and community energy saving awareness schemes, sponsorship of access to events for charities and underprivileged young people, health and wellbeing and volunteering programmes.
“It is increasingly recognised that we need strengthened collaboration across all sectors of society if we are to create the social, economic and environmental conditions to support good health and wellbeing, and this is an excellent example of a partnership approach which has added potential to benefit employees, customers and the wider public.”
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today visited the Agewell Project in Magherafelt to see their unique service in helping older people maintain their independence.
Speaking during the visit to the Agewell Project, the Minister said:
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to see firsthand the work that Agewell provides for the people within the Mid Ulster area. The project provides an excellent and unique service for older and vulnerable people living in the community.”
The range of services provided by the Agewell Project includes Good Morning Calls, a free telephone service to provide reassurance and a listening ear to older people living on their own. It also provides a home maintenance service and a community development initiative.
Minister O’Neill continued:
“I am very aware that our population is getting older and it is important therefore that we find better and more innovative ways of caring for our older people. The Agewell Project is a great example of what can be achieved by organisations working together to help our oldest and most vulnerable maintain their independence and dignity in the community for as long as possible.”
The Minister also met with staff involved in the project:
“It is obvious to me that the staff have a passion for their work by their dedication and enthusiasm. I have been greatly impressed by the great care and support that the people of Mid Ulster are receiving through the Agewell Project.”
The Project was launched in 2010 and works in partnership with statutory and voluntary bodies to deliver a range of services for older and vulnerable people in the community.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, asked Minister for Transport Shane Ross in the Dáil this week was he aware that Drogheda is the only town in the country that is tolled.
There is a slip road toll tax entering and exiting Drogheda, which Deputy Munster argued is having an adverse effect on local people, business and tourism in the area.
Deputy Munster said:
“The situation is ludicrous. People have to pay a toll to enter or exit the town, which has led to congestion in the town as people attempt to avoid the tolls. What business in their right mind would be encouraged to set up an operation in Drogheda above another town when there’s a toll tax to enter and exit?”
The Louth TD gave the example of two retail parks, on either side of the town, where to use the small stretch of motorway between them you have to pay a toll. Otherwise you are forced to drive through the town, a journey that can take upwards of 40 minutes.
“The slip road tolls have having the opposite effect to what they were supposed to have. They are compounding the problem by adding to the congestion in an already traffic-choked town.”
Deputy Munster asked the Minister, given the adverse effects these slip road tolls are having on the town, would he consider a review of the slip road tolls with a view to having them removed. Munster invited Minister Ross to visit Drogheda to see first-hand the effects that both tolls are having on traffic congestion. Minister Ross declined to visit, however he agreed to talk to Transport Infrastructure Ireland during the summer to seek further clarity on this issue, as he has not been made familiar with this particular issue, and the problems associated with it.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath Imelda Munster has again hit out at the HSE and management at St Mary’s, Drumcar, run by St John of God’s, for allowing a situation to develop where upwards of 51 families have been left without respite services for four weeks.
This was due to the HSE pressing St Mary’s at St John of Gods to accept an emergency patient, despite knowing St Mary’s, Drumcar has no emergency beds in their service, and in the full knowledge that it would result in the cancellation of pre-booked respite beds for upwards of 51 families.
Deputy Munster said:
“I have serious concerns over the most recent revelations around secret top-up payments to senior staff at St John of God’s, and the fact that CEO John Pepper has employed five of his relatives, including his sons and wife, at the Drumcar campus.
“There have been further revelations reported about multiple payroll systems for senior management. The largest of these payments was over €600,000, which was paid to the Chief Executive.
“Has there been no oversight and no supervision by the HSE, and why did they allow it to go unchecked, and at the same time they were cutting services for vulnerable people”.
“It is outrageous that these families have been left high and dry without respite over the summer months, with cuts to services meaning that patients at their Daycare Centre are now expected to pay €5 a day for their lunch, and a 44 year man with intellectual disabilities is sent to a nursing home for respite.
“The manner in which these respite services were cancelled, despite families having pre-booked them to coincide with their much-needed holidays can only be described as reckless. There seems to be a major disparity in how service users and their families are treated, compared to how Mr Pepper and his family reap the benefits of the service through top-ups and jobs for the family.”
Sinn Féin TD for Offaly/North Tipperary, Teachta Carol Nolan, has today called on An Post to meet with members of the Killeigh Post Office Action Committee to discuss proposals to re-establish a post office in the village. Teachta Nolan’s comments follow on from a public meeting in the village last night on the issue.
Teachta Nolan said:
“The Killeigh Post Office was closed down two years ago when the postmaster retired. The post office was viable at the time and a suitable premises could not be found to maintain the service.
“An Post indicated at the time that they were interested in maintaining the Post Office and it was reported that the contract would be put out to tender.
“A retail premises has been purchased by a local man, who is very keen to establish a Post Office in a central location in the town at his own cost.
“The Action Committee is extremely disappointed that An Post have not progressed the proposal to re-establish the post office.
“I am calling on An Post to immediately commit to a meeting with the Action Committee to consider the establishment of a post office for the village.
“I have written to the retail operations manager within An Post to request that he advise of an appropriate time to facilitate this meeting and I await a response.”
Sinn Féin TD for the Offaly and North Tipperary Constituency Carol Nolan has welcomed cross party support for the Sinn Féin motion passed in the Dáil calling for very sick children who are in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance to be provided with a medical card.
Teachta Nolan said:
“The denial of medical cards to children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance cannot be justified.
“Domiciliary Care Allowance is a payment for a child under the age of sixteen with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age.
“Nobody is in any doubt of the deep hardship caused to families in this situation and adding extra pressure on parents to wade through streams of paper and bureaucracy in order to access adequate supports is inhumane.
“We should be creating a society that puts children and their needs first; a society that protects those children most in need.
“I welcome the levels of strong cross party support on this issue and I welcome the Minister’s commitment to extend the medical cards to these children as a budget priority for 2017.
“The Minister must now publish the legislation to give effect to this measure as soon as possible so that these families can have certainty as soon as possible.
“Families should not be forced to wait any longer for this support.”
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has slammed comments made by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan on RTE’s Drivetime Show.
The Minister was commenting on the visit to Ireland by French President Francois Hollande who is an active proponent of an EU army.
Minister Flanagan said that the EU must speak with one voice on Defence.
Speaking from Dublin, the Sinn Féin MEP said
“It seems the Minister needs a lesson in neutrality; how can Ireland possibly claim to be neutral if it is aligning itself with military aggressions carried out by other EU Member States? Many of the conflicts that EU member States are involved in are as a direct result of their colonial past and continue to destabilise regions.
“It is not possible to try to impose democracy through the use of force and yet some member states, France included continue to try to do just that without ever learning from their mistakes.
“Ireland has a strong history of neutrality and peacekeeping, something that Irish citizens are proud of.
“Minister Flanagan also suggested that Ireland would reinforce the Irish Army presence in Mali to free up French army personnel. Sinn Féin opposed the sending of army personnel to Mali in the first place as it was not a UN peacekeeping mission. A UN report from the OCHR outlined gross violations of human rights by Malian troops and criticised the Malian government for allowing their army to act with impunity.
“Any attempt to reinforce the numbers of Irish army personnel in Mali will be resisted by my party and we will demand that it be brought before the Dáil to be voted on. Despite Minister Flanagan and Fine Gael’s desire to run roughshod over Ireland’s neutrality, it is not theirs to give away.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD is in Cork this evening. Tonight’s meeting is one of 46 being held across the island to discuss Sinn Féin’s future ten-year strategy. Teachta Adams welcomed the “growing interest in and support for a referendum on Irish unity being part of the negotiations on Brexit that will take place in the next few years.”
The Sinn Féin leader has called on the Irish government “to defend and uphold the integrity of the remain vote by citizens in the north.”
Gerry Adams TD said:
“The British referendum result is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many years. Cork will not be immune from the economic and political consequences of the Brexit negotiation. This state trades 1.2 billion euro each week with Britain. This sustains tens of thousands of jobs. It is therefore essential that we ensure the maximum cooperation and coordination of our response to this evolving situation.
“This week the Taoiseach agreed to put in place an island wide dialogue/forum to discuss how all sectors of society north and south will respond to Brexit. This is hugely important. In recent years the many cross border connections that have been established since the Good Friday Agreement have become stronger.
“For example, recently the two Ministers for Health, jointly announced a forty two million pound investment in an all-Ireland children’s heart service at the opening of a new cardiac unit in Dublin. All of these areas of cooperation could now be in question because of Brexit.
“As we try to chart a course through this the most pressing priority must be to protect the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, its institutions and the two economies on this island.”
Speaking on the issue of an all-island referendum on Irish unity Teachta Adams said:
“The negotiation on Brexit presents important opportunities, not least the potential to redesign the constitutional and political future of the island of Ireland.
“There is a very real fear in the business and farming sector, in the community and voluntary sector, and especially within communities along both sides of the border; of the likely adverse economic and political implications of Brexit.
“But there are also opportunities. In these new political conditions, the appeal of being part of a new, reimagined confident Ireland may well prove very attractive to some unionists in the north. But achieving that will require political leaders here rising above their historical tendencies and developing an all island view.
“Why should the unionists move to explore new relationships on this island if some of the main parties are content with the old structures and current partitionist arrangements?
“All of us need to move beyond the rhetoric and into the reality of unity and the necessary programmes and outreach to achieve this very achievable objective. Part of this could include efforts to agree all-party approaches on the way forward.
“I welcome the Taoiseach’s recognition of the possibility and potential for a referendum on reunification to be part of any negotiations with the EU and Britain on Brexit. We now need to go beyond this by actively talking about the constitutional and institutional shape of that new Ireland. This is not just about 6 counties joining 26 counties. This is about uniting the people of this island and creating a new Ireland.
“If the Brexit vote has done anything it has thrown into sharp relief the damaging consequences of partition and the fact that in a changing EU it does not make sense that one part of this small island will be in the EU and the other part outside.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed comments made by Minister Varadkar on proposed radical changes to the social welfare system; namely, linking welfare payments to the cost of living
Teachta Brady said:
“I welcome proposals made by Minister Varadkar to link welfare payments to the cost of living something Sinn Féin have been calling for many years. Indeed, we were the first political party to call for this to happen.
“The fact that we have 750,000 people living in poverty in Ireland as well as the fact that the proportion of children living in consistent poverty almost doubled during the recession from 6.3% in 2008 to 11.2% in 2014 is reason enough on its own to look at reforming the system.
“There is no doubt that the huge increase in poverty levels is a direct consequence of both the political priorities and choices made by Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil before them. The cuts they made and the new taxes they introduced caused extreme hardship for families right across the State and little or nothing has been done to alleviate this for the majority of these families.
“The growing issue of poverty has not been tackled by this Government and it therefore, must be considered when changes are being proposed for the social welfare system. The weekly basic welfare payment is currently €188 while, the poverty line in 2016 is €218 per week. Therefore, the Government needs to set welfare rates at the poverty line to begin with. This will immediately go some way in benefiting those who are struggling with the increased cost of living and the additional taxes and charges imposed by Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.
“Every person in receipt of social welfare should receive a payment that provides them with a basic standard of living. The Minister’s proposals are just one step in the right direction.”