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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described the Garda Inspectorate report into crime investigation as “a major milestone in Irish policing”. He called on the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald to immediately establish a Criminal Justice Service Group to implement the recommendations in the report.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“The Garda Inspectorate Report is a comprehensive and devastating critique of the systems within An Garda Síochána. It is a major milestone in Irish policing and reveals that our police service is simply not fit for purpose based on international best practice.

“The criticism in the report of the new Garda rosters, lack of Garda vehicles and the loss of trained Garda to admin duties are a particular embarrassment to this Government. Their programme of cutbacks was labelled as “modernisation” and “smart policing”. That spin has now been exposed for all to see.”

He concluded:

“The Garda Inspectorate has called on the Government to establish a Criminal Justice Service Group to implement the recommendations in the report. They also again call for the establishment of a Criminal Justice Working Group to implement the recommendations of their previous report on the Fixed Charged Processing System (penalty points). It is absolutely vital that the Minister immediately establish both.

“As the report points out, not only have the Irish people been failed but also the majority of the decent men and women of An Garda Síochána. We all deserve a modern, fit for purpose policing service.”

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David Cullinane has criticized the Government’s lack of action on the rising rate of suicide in the State. Speaking during a Seanad debate on mental health and suicide, Senator Cullinane said:

“Government has not grasped the severity of the mental health crisis, a crisis that is affecting the most vulnerable in society.

A Vision for Change contains many good policies around social inclusion, practice and integration, showing where Ireland could improve.

“However the Mental Health Integration Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the first of its kind to rate countries according to how well each government supports the integration of people with mental illness into society, ranked Ireland 14 out of 30 European countries.

“However, as the Index shows, subsequent reports from independent monitoring groups set up to oversee the implementation of A Vision for Change found it was slow and inconsistent.

“The reduction of mental health funding from €937 million in 2006 to €758 in 2013 meant that currently just 5.3 per cent of the overall health spendinIreland was provided to mental health.

“This needs to return to the level recommended in A Vision for Change of eight percent.

“Mental health is very complex and it is vital that we ensure services in this area are   properly funded.

“For far too many people this can be a matter of life and death.”

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, today in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Crowe raised key Foreign Affairs issues with Minister Flanagan including the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, recognising the Palestinian State, the Kurdish fight against ISIS, the human rights abuses in Bahrain, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Deputy Crowe said:

“This was the first time Minister Flanagan has met the Foreign Affairs Committee and I had a lot to raise with him.

“I called on him to use the upcoming European Foreign Affairs Council meeting as an opportunity for the EU to push for a complete lifting of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.

“Additionally I called on him to make moves to officially recognise the State of Palestine and send a strong message to the Palestinian people that Ireland supports their right to self-determination and a two-state peace process.

“I raised with him the dire situation in Kobani and called on him to ensure that we will support the Kurdish people in their struggle against ISIS and that we will directly supply them with the humanitarian aid they need.

“I also brought up the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and explained Sinn Féin’s opposition to the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS) mechanism in TTIP and my concern with the overall secrecy of the talks, and asked him to raise this with his colleagues

“I told the Minister of the arrest and continued incarceration of Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen imprisoned without due process in Egypt, and asked him to use his office to ensure that Ibrahim gets all the consular assistance he needs, and that he is released and can come home as soon as possible.  

 “Lastly I brought his attention to the case of Nabeel Rajab, a human rights and democracy activist in Bahrain, who was arrested for sending a tweet critical of the Bahrain. I asked the Minister to raise Nabeel’s case with the Bahraini Government and his European counterparts.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has encouraged people to attend a meeting in Strabane on Friday on the possible impact on Ireland of Britain leaving the EU. 

Speaking ahead of the event, which will be hosted by Pat Doherty MP in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane, on Friday from 2-4pm, Ms Anderson said; 

"The North of Ireland has benefitted hugely from membership of the European Union over many years. 

"We see those benefits on a daily basis both in the North and on a north-south basis right across the island. 

"Now we have a situation where the British government has committed to holding a referendum on membership of the EU. No-one knows exactly what a British government withdrawal from Europe would mean. 

"For us in the north of Ireland, and particularly those who live and work in the border counties north and south, any change in our membership of the EU would have drastic consequences. These have the potential to stifle the progress and development of this region. 

"This is a hugely important issue. That is why Pat Doherty MP is hosting a public meeting on the impact Britain's referendum on EU membership would have on Ireland. 

"I will be addressing the meeting alongside Ruth Tallion from the Centre for Cross Border Studies. 

"The meeting will be held in the Fir Tress Hotel, Strabane, on Friday November 14 from 2-4pm.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said legacy issues of the conflict will be the focus of talks tomorrow. 

Speaking ahead of a full round of talks with the British and Irish governments, Mr Murphy said; 

“Sinn Féin’s acceptance of the Haass recommendations was an enormous compromise on our position on legacy issues. We remain convinced that an Independent International Truth Commission is the most effective vehicle to deal with all that is involved. We will seek to build in that direction.

“Haass, however has been rejected by the DUP and the UUP while the British government’s position on the recommendations was both lukewarm and belated.

“In one respect at least the Haass/O’Sullivan exercise met with one important success. That is in bringing about an acceptance of the reality that there is no single narrative of the conflict; that, indeed, there are multiple narratives. 

"From that must flow an acceptance by all that the voices of the victims and survivors of the conflict must be heard and respected and not simply the loudest voices. 

"The views of the many thousand victims and survivors who have remained silent must also be heard. This is key to the process of reconciliation so vital to the establishment of a permanent peace.

“Sinn Féin’s position on legacy issues has been constant. We believe that everyone – governments and their agencies, combatant organisations, political parties and so on – should pledge themselves to talk about and hear the truth about the past. And that the role of the media in shaping what many believed to be truth should be examined.

“We have had many reminders in recent times of what is required. This is flagged up by the withholding of information from inquests, the constraints placed on the Police Ombudsman and the Attorney General and the ongoing withholding of information from Judge Barron’s inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Most recently we have had the shelving of the inquiry into the murder of citizens in Derry on Bloody Sunday. 

"The European Commissioner for Human Rights, only last week, made clear that the funding issue, given as the reason for this, is the responsibility of the British Government.

“Sinn Féin’s basic criteria in respect of this important issue are; victim and survivor centred, comprehensive in scope and effective.

“That is the basis on which we will judge any proposed outcome to the current talks.”

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has announced a number of changes within the Sinn Féin Oireachtas team.

Mr Adams said:

“Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has been appointed as Sinn Féin Spokesperson for the Diaspora. This is a crucial role as our party continues to give voice to Irish citizens abroad, many of whom have been forced to leave Ireland, and particular the rural west, to find employment on the back of this Governments policy of relentless austerity.

“Sinn Féin argued strongly and successfully secured the inclusion of voting rights for citizen’s resident outside this State to be included in the remit of the Constitutional Convention. The party have brought forward a constitutional amendment bill calling on the Government to set a date for a referendum on the matter and we will be intensifying the campaign for voting rights in Presidential elections in the coming weeks under the leadership of Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

“Seán Crowe TD will now be Spokesperson for Defence in addition to his current role in Foreign Affairs. He will take this brief from our Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn. The portfolios of Justice and Defence were also separated this year by the government.

“Peadar Tóibín TD will be appointed Junior Finance Spokesperson working alongside Pearse Doherty TD in this portfolio and on the Oireachtas Committee. This will be in addition to his current role as Spokesperson on Jobs and Enterprise. This will allow the party to fully apply our efforts to the banking inquiry in which Pearse Doherty is our member.”

“These changes are carefully considered and will continue to enable Sinn Féin to provide strong and robust representation on behalf of the electorate and hold the Government to account.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for greater funds to be provided to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme in light of the rise in the ageing population and previous Budget cuts in funding. The ‘Fair Deal’ scheme provides financial support to those who are in need of long-term residential nursing home care.

Speaking in Leinster House today Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

"We have learnt that Minister Varadkar is in danger of not being able to properly equip the long promised children’s hospital. Nor is he able to increase the numbers of care beds for older patients in the health service despite this Government knowing that a growing ageing population would lead to an increased demand on services.

“These serious shortcomings are indicative of short-sighted planning, a problem that has beset our health services historically, and one that punishes both young and old alike.

"There has been a significant increase in those waiting for the Fair Deal Scheme. Currently there are 2,182 people waiting 15/16 weeks to get financial approval for ‘Fair Deal’ support. In Budget 2015 we saw €25 million allocated to address the problem of delayed discharges from acute hospitals. I understand, however, that Minister Varadkar cannot provide specific details on how that €25 million is to be utilised.

“We need to know what portion of this funding is to go towards Fair Deal. Is there to be any additional funding for home care packages, and what of additional funding for community intervention teams?

“What needs to happen is that we move entirely from this flawed scheme to a rights based system whereby those vulnerable citizens can receive long term care when they need it and thereby reduce the reliance on acute hospital beds" concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to outline the Government’s position in relation to householders being denied insurance cover for water leaks from Irish Water pipes.

Mr Adams also asked the Taoiseach to rule out the threat of the Revenue Commissioners taking money from people’s wages to pay water charges or that people on social welfare would have the charges deducted from their payments.

Addressing the Taoiseach in the Dáil this afternoon, Gerry Adams said:

“Taoiseach, hard-pressed families across the State are still waiting and worrying about the water bills that you are preparing for them. Their anxiety and stress has been increased by your unwillingness, even now, to tell them how much you are going to force them to pay.

“As if this incompetence was not enough, Irish Water has said it will only fix the first leak that occurs in a householder’s garden. Leaks inside the home or a second leak in a garden will be the sole responsibility of the householder who will be forced to pay for thousands of gallons of leaked water and any damage caused.

“The potential bill to householders could be huge.

“If this was not bad enough, insurance companies are saying that they will limit their liability to householders who face these major bills from Irish Water as a result of burst pipes.

“Taoiseach, do you believe that this is acceptable?

“Families the length and breadth of the State have taken to the streets in their tens of thousands. They have told you very clearly that they cannot pay your water tax.

“Can you now explain what your position and the position of your Government is about these families being hit with massive bills for water leaks but who will be denied insurance cover?”

Mr Adams called on the Taoiseach to rule out the idea of revenue being used to take water charges from people’s wages or the Department of Social Welfare deducting the charges from social welfare payments.

He said:

“Taoiseach will you today, set out clearly the position of the Government in regard to these issues. You persist in ignoring the reality that many families cannot afford your water charges.

“Will you now state categorically that under no circumstances will your Government use the threat of the Revenue Commissioners to take money from people’s hard-earned wages to pay your water tax?

“Will you also make it clear that citizens in receipt of social welfare will not have money taken directly from their payments to pay your unwanted, unjust and widely rejected tax?”

ENDS

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Dublin West Sinn Féin representative Cllr Paul Donnelly has said that the figures for cancer rates in the Blanchardstown area in particular Blakestown are not surprising given the savage cuts in services in areas like Blakestown.

 Cllr Donnelly said:

 “I read the report this morning and sadly I am not surprised by these figures. Unfortunately it has been well acknowledged by the medical profession that poverty and health are intrinsically interlinked.

 “Access to health care in working class areas is a huge problem, especially for those on low incomes who are not eligible for medical cards but don’t earn enough to afford to properly look after their own health.

 “In many GP surgeries the waiting time could be up to three hours, with a minimum cost of €50. We have a hospital charge of €100 and we have prescription charges even for those with medical cards.

 “In the Corduff area, it was announced that building work was due to start on the new primary care centre, it is now over six months and not a single brick has been laid and we are still looking at a green field site.

 “We immediately need properly funded education and prevention programmes directed at these identified areas, easier access to health care and treatment and a reduction in waiting times to see consultants. 

“What we need is a new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation.

 “This will mean an end to the HSE and to the 'two tier system' and will include comprehensive community-based primary health and social care services for all, including general practitioner and dental services and an abolition of all prescription charges. As a stepping stone towards a free universal healthcare system, medical cards should be immediately extended to all those earning on or below the minimum wage.

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