Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said greater action is needed to tackle gender inequality following the publication of the EU's latest Gender Equality League tables.
The East Derry MLA said:
"Over the past ten years there has been no tangible progress in tackling gender inequality across all spheres of life.
"There have been no significant advances in reducing the levels of inequality across fields such as the workplace, income, education, health or political engagement.
"In third level education the traditional stereotypical gaps remain, males dominating in science and technology (66%) and females dominating in education (78%), health and welfare (71%) and humanities and the arts (65%).
"The concern is that where segregation remains in education, this is reflected in divisions in the labour market. The report states that this reinforces the undervaluation of work, skills and competencies traditionally attributed to women.
"The gender gap in employment remains with women more likely to face economic inactivity, part-time work, unpaid work, and lower wages; they have an average of five years’ shorter working life than men and face a significant risk of poverty in old age
"The report shows some advances have been made in the corporate field with more women being represented on boards but this is still very low at an average of 22% (up from 10% in 2005) so much more action is required.
"It is unacceptable that such inequalities persist and that so little progress has been made. Tackling gender inequality must be a priority, it requires political leadership to address the barriers that exist."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD today called on the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald to publish the report into the flawed investigation of former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Seán Fitzpatrick by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
Speaking after questioning the Tánaiste in the Dáil this morning, Deputy Quinlivan said:
“Back in May, the former Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD, requested a report into the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement’s flawed investigation into former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Seán Fitzpatrick.
“This report was delivered to the Minister’s office at the beginning of July and was immediately referred to the Attorney General’s office for advice. This report has still not been made public.
“This morning, I asked the Tánaiste that from her reading of the report, were staffing and/or funding cited as reasons behind the shambolic investigation, which resulted in the jury being directed to acquit Mr Fitzpatrick on all 27 charges in what was the longest running trial in the state’s history.
“As is the norm with Fine Gael Ministers, the Tánaiste did not answer my question as to whether staffing and/or funding were reasons outlined in the report, which leads me to believe these were indeed factors. The Tánaiste gave no date when the report would be published.
“As no specific increase in funding for the ODCE was outlined in Fine Gael’s Budget 2018, I specifically asked if the ODCE would receive more funding in 2018, to prevent a repeat of the Seán Fitzpatrick investigation and trial fiasco. The Tánaiste responded by reading out the budget allocation for 2017 and not answering my question.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget provided for a 25% increase of €1.2 million in funding for this office in 2018 to prevent a repeat of such a failure and ensure white collar crime is investigated as thoroughly as all other crimes.
“It is unbelievable to think that in 2017; just 34 people are employed by the ODCE to investigate white collar crime in Ireland.
“The Tánaiste’s refusal to answer my questions today on this important topic, highlight Fine Gael’s continued soft handed approach to white collar crime and the lack of priority they place on it.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has warmly welcomed the announcement this morning of an agreement between the two leading Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah who have been involved in reconciliation talks in Cairo.
Gerry Adams TD said:
“I want to extend my solidarity and congratulations to Hamas and Fatah on successfully reaching an historic agreement on a process to end the political divisions between them.
“This deal between Hamas and Fatah creates the potential for real progress in the efforts to rekindle the moribund Middle East peace process.
“I have travelled to the region several times in recent years and have met with both the leaders of Fatah and Hamas. I understand the challenges and difficulties they face and I wish them well in their efforts.
“I would urge the International Community to speedily grasp this opportunity and encourage all sides to open up a renewed dialogue to making progress in the peace process.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Brexit David Cullinane has said today that not enough progress has been made on the issue of the border and the Good Friday Agreement and called on the government to use its veto to delay movement away from the present round of Brexit talks.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“While there has been movement on the common travel area and the north-south bodies, it is clear that sufficient progress has not been made on the border and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.
“This is solely the responsibility of the British government.
“It is their responsibility to come up with solutions to a problem of their own making.
“Until sufficient progress has been made on the border and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement, it is impossible for the Irish government to move forward given these circumstances.
“The ball is not only still firmly in the British court; it is lying there idle, gathering cobwebs, and picking up dust.
“It is time for David Davis and the British government to get serious about Brexit.”
This week the seven Sinn Féin MPs travelled to Brussels for Brexit related engagements, and the European Citizens Prize Awards ceremony at which Border Communities Against Brexit were honoured.
Speaking from the European Parliament, Paul Maskey MP spoke of the impact of the Sinn Féin visit:
"The seven Sinn Féin MPs travelled to Brussels to engage in a series of meetings with European officials and with the Constitutional Affairs Committee at which we raised the disastrous impact of Brexit for Ireland.
"As MPs we are making the case in Dublin, in Brussels and in London for Designated Special Status for the north within the EU.
"I also want to congratulate Border Communities Against Brexit for their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the entirely negative impact of Brexit in Ireland.
"To be awarded the European Citizens Prize for this work is a remarkable achievement.
"I call on everyone to get involved in civic campaigns of this kind to draw the attention of Europe, and the world, to the economic and social challenges posed by Brexit."
The DUP are not fooling anyone about their responsibility for relentless Tory austerity, Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady has said:
“Yesterday the DUP at Westminster attended a solidarity rally for Bombardier workers, only weeks after pledging support to the RCN 'Scrap the Cap' campaign.
“This is rank hypocrisy given that the DUP voted to maintain the cap on public sector pay as their first act of support for the minority Tory government.
“Now they pledge support to Bombardier workers, while giving life to a Tory government which is doing little to protect them.
“Tory government austerity and their assault on public services is only possible with the unconditional support provided by the DUP.”
Sinn Féin Public Accounts Committee member Mary Lou McDonald TD today secured the agreement of committee members to recall HIQA, the authority’s Chairperson Brian McEnery and the CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland to address significant governance issues relating to nursing home fees.
The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader said:
“During HIQA’s attendance at the PAC two weeks ago, I raised specific questions regarding conflicts of interest and nursing home fees. In both instances, I was assured by HIQA that no such issues arose.
“However, alarming matters were raised in media reports last weekend that have added to my ongoing concerns regarding nursing homes fees and governance matters.
“As a result, I wrote to the Clerk and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee requesting that HIQA’s Chairperson Brian McEnery and the authority’s Executives return to the committee to address these very serious concerns.
“Today, I secured the agreement of the committee members that HIQA and its Chairperson be called back to the committee next week. It was also agreed that the Chief Executive of Nursing Homes Ireland be requested to attend.
“I urge the authority, its Chairperson, and the CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland to adhere to this request to and come before the committee next week.
“Elderly people and their families reliant on nursing home care deserve a system that is fair and transparent.”
Sinn Féin's culture arts and sport spokesperson Sinéad Ennis has called on the Department for Education to show leadership and reinstate the sports development grant programme.
The South Down MLA said:
"I am calling on the Department for Education to show leadership and reverse the decision to cut the schools sports development grant immediately.
“Cutting the Sports Development Grant would have a direct impact on the employment of 50 GAA and IFA coaches through the Curriculum Sports Programme.
“It would also have a severely damaging impact on sporting projects within our local schools and to the tens of thousands of children who practically benefit from this funding.
“School children shouldn't have to bear the brunt of relentless Tory austerity, austerity enabled by the unconditional support of the DUP.
“Yesterday a further £10 million was allocated to the Department of Education.
“Our position remains clear, the cut to this frontline service must be reversed immediately.
"Sinn Fein will continue to rigorously oppose these assault on public services and the most vulnerable in society.” ENDS/CRÍOCH
Commenting on Budget 2018’s allocation to citizens with a disability and carers, Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has criticised the government’s “refusal to introduce meaningful supports and much needed additional investment for citizens from Louth/East Meath with disabilities”.
The Louth TD said:
“The Oireachtas Library and Research Service prepared a report for me last month on intellectual disability services in Louth/East Meath.
“The report revealed that according to summary results by the Central Statistics Office, based on last year’s census, there are as many as 20,662 citizens or 13.6% of the population of Louth/East Meath recorded as having a disability.
“As the number of people affected by specific types of disabilities is not currently available – (this data from the 2016 census is expected in early November) – the Oireachtas Library used data from the 2011 census. This identified just over 10,000 citizens in Louth/East Meath with a physical and sensory disability; 7,000 with a chronic illness; just over 5,000 with an intellectual disability and 2,562 with a mental health illness.
“This means that a significant number of disabled citizens and their carers in Louth/East Meath will naturally and inevitably require support from the state.
“Budget 2018 will fail them. The government claim of a €75 million increase fails to break down how this money will be spent but much of it is slotted to cover pay adjustments and the €5 increase in disability and carer payments.
“In reality, it would appear that only an additional €15 million will be available to fund some additional services. This allocation falls far short of what is required for Louth/East Meath and for the 643,000 people and families across the state who suffer the experience of exclusion and for many the poverty that it creates.
· In addition: there is no commitment to increase personal assistance hours or to increase respite care services.
· There is no funding for neuro rehab teams and transitional services.
· There is no mention of any new employment supports for people with disabilities.
· There is no specific target for social housing new builds or adaptions to facilitate those citizens with disabilities.
· There are no disability inclusion initiatives to support citizens with a disability, their carers and families.
“The additional modest benefits are inadequate and will not
come into effect until March next year.
“The week before the budget was published the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that funding for citizens with disabilities ‘will have to form part of the budget and estimate process.’ He said: ‘I am sure we will find additional funding for disabilities service next year’.
“The Taoiseach and the government did not do that. Those with disabilities and their families and carers will be very disappointed with Budget 2018.
“In our Alternative Budget, Sinn Féin proposed an increase in Disability Allowance, the Blind Pension and Invalidity pension of €6 from January 1st. We also proposed an additional €53.48 million including half a million new personal assistance hours and an increase in respite care services of 20%.
“Sinn Féin would also employ an additional 600 frontline staff including speech and language therapists, physios and psychologists.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that the small budget increase in the Traveller accommodation budget for 2018 will do little to ease the Traveller accommodation crisis. The Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy announced that the Traveller accommodation budget for 2018 would be €12m, an increase of €3m on 2017.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“According to the Minister, the additional spend will deliver 110 homes in 2018. According to Pavee Point, this is inadequate to keep pace with new family formations and the overcrowded situations that currently exist on Traveller sites and group housing schemes.
“In Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget for 2018, we proposed to restore funding for Traveller Accommodation Programmes to 2008 levels by increasing the budget by €31m. This would deliver 400 Traveller specific family units.
“However, in tandem with increasing the funding available from central government, more needs to be done to ensure local authorities to draw down the funding available. Many councils in the past have failed to spend their allocated funding.
“To tackle this problem, Sinn Féin believe that the Minister of Housing should have additional powers to ensure that all funding allocated to local authorities for Traveller accommodation is drawn down and spent on an annual basis.
“In the meantime, we are calling on the Department of Housing to immediately publish the Housing Agency Report reviewing the effectiveness of Traveller Accommodation Programmes.
“I raised the matter at the Housing Committee today and it was agreed that on publication of the report Committee would hold a series of hearings on the report’s findings. These would involve the report’s authors, Traveller advocacy organisations, the Department of Housing, and the City and County Managers Association.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Brexit David Cullinane TD said today that the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe needs to inform the Dáil how the Revenue Commissioners was allowed to fly around Europe having meetings on Brexit without Government approval.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“The publication today of the Revenue Commissioner’s report on post-Brexit customs is to be welcomed.
“However, there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.
“According to RTE journalist Tony Connelly, the Commissioners went off to Sweden and Norway on their own bat to study customs models.
“This was hardly a ‘desktop study’ as alluded to by the Taoiseach.
“It ruffled diplomatic feathers and damaged the Irish government’s position in Brussels.
“This took place at a delicate time as negotiating positions were being sorted out and, according to government sources, the actions of the Commissioners actually hampered the Irish diplomatic effort.
“The draft report they wrote is one that took no cognisance of the fact that the border issue is at its heart a political issue and one that requires a political solution.
“The Minister needs to explain to the Dáil who authorised these trips and why the Revenue Commissioners was allowed to conduct its own parallel Brexit process, one that was out of step with government's Brexit strategy.”
Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has said John Taylor has an obvious duty to retract and correct the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“The reality is that John Taylor made wholly incorrect comments about the McGurk’s massacre.
“The fact that he made these comments as a government minister, even as part of a discredited Unionist government, places a very clear onus on him to withdraw these remarks about this terrible sectarian attack.
“John Taylor was not, as he claims, repeating fact as presented to him, he was promoting the misinformation that was generated to blame republicans for a bombing that was entirely sectarian in nature and which claimed the lives of 15 innocent people, including school children.
“The relatives of those killed and the survivors need to hear a clear and unequivocal retraction of these hurtful comments by John Taylor.” ENDS/CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion TD has said that the proposed measures missed an opportunity to address student fees, secondary level education and the early years/childcare sector staffing crisis.
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Teachta Funchion said:
"While the Government talks about helping families in need, it is clearly ok with the ever- rising cost of third-level education becoming a crippling cost to thousands of students and their parents.
"SUSI grant thresholds need to be adjusted to allow middle income earners to be able to access the SUSI grant scheme.
"An investment of €310 million has made available to 2021 to address the infrastructure needs of higher education sector, and an increase in National Training Fund levy to add €47.5m of additional investment next year.
"Yet no meaningful investment in improving access to education through increasing SUSI grant thresholds, or improving on-campus mental health services.
"There was no new funding model announced on how third-level education should be funded nor any decrease in fees.
"The pupil-teacher ratio at second level remains higher than it was 10 years ago despite the state's economic growth in recent years.
"Last month, the OECD report Education at a Glance actually stated that spending on education in Ireland needs to rise. Schools had understandably expected to see an increase in their funding in this Budget for 2018.
"Yet spending on second-level education in Ireland as a percentage of GDP will continue below the OCED average.
"An increase in guidance counselling posts are welcomed, but these represent a move towards the restoration of schools’ 2011 guidance counselling provision, which was cut in 2012.
"HAP is not working. What good is it increasing the rate if landlords refuse tenants via that payment system? Accessing rental properties that will accept HAP remains a key barrier for families.
"Only earlier this month the Government's Special Rapporteur on Child Protection said that emergency accommodation denied children several rights including to health and education and it compromised their ability to develop.
"Regarding Childcare and the Early Years sector - it’s truly exasperating that no reference was made to childcare staff in this Budget or their conditions and poor pay.
"Particularly after the Dáil unanimously passed a motion I introduced last July calling for the recognition of the sector and the urgent changes needed.
"There’s an intrinsic link between the working conditions of those responsible for children and the quality of care and outcomes. International research and evidence tells us that repeatedly.
"In our Alternative Budget proposed a 2018 investment some 5 times that of this government. That's what's needed to begin creating a high quality childcare and early years sector that puts the child’s development as it’s priority as well as those who carry out the essential work in caring and educating them.
"If the Taoiseach and this Government is authentic about his commitment to creating a ‘republic of opportunity’ for all children and students from all sections of society equally, then he would seriously need to re-examine the logic of the Budget 2018 measures announced."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Disability Rights and Older People, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D. has said that Government policy continues to ignore the needs and the rights of those with disabilities.Speaking in the Dáil this evening, An Teachta Ó Caoláin said;“Budget 2018 was an opportunity for the Government and Fianna Fáil to make a real difference in the lives of those living with a disability in Ireland
"Our proposals reflect the fact that Sinn Féin demands equality for people with disabilities and asserts that it is possible to improve the lives of all who live with a disability. It is simply a matter of priorities and choices!
"This Government decided to invest €5million euro into a communications unit for themselves instead of investing it in the most vulnerable in society. Ba chóir go mbeadh náire oraibh”.
Léirigh an Rialtas an easpa tosaíochta a thugtar dá chuid saoranach thar lear sna ciorruithe ar bhuiséad don diaspóra
Tá urlabhraí Shinn Féin ar an diaspóra, An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clocahrtaigh, ag impí ar an Aire Stáit Ciarán Cannon míniú a thabhairt maidir le €4 mhilliún a bheith gearrtha ó na buiséid reatha a bhaineann le hiarrachtaí chun 'Freastal ar ár bPobal i gCéin agus i gCóngar agus chun Athmhuintearas agus Comhoibriú a spreagadh.
"Ag labhairt i dTeach Laighean inniu, deir an tSeanadóir Ó Clochartaigh;
"Tugann na hAirí Rialtas aghaidh ar áiteanna ar fud an domhain aimsir Lá 'le Pádraig ag moladh ár ndiaspóra go hard na spéire as bheith chomh tábhachtach dúinn. Mar is ceart, tréaslaíonn siad an dianobair atá á déanmah ag eagrais ar fud an domhain chun saoránaigh thar lear a chabhrú.
Ach le linn tréimhse an bhuiséid gearrann siad a gcuid buiséad. Sin fímíneacht an Rialtais seo.
Baineadh €1.747m de bhuiséad na Roinne Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála agus baineadh €3.943m de bhuiséad an tsrutha a mhaoiníonn os cionn 200 eagras a chuidíonn leis an diaspóra agus iad ag dul i ngleic le hardú suntasach ar líon na ndaoine ag cur isteach ar phas Éireannach, méadú ar na tacaíochtaí d'Éireannaigh thar lear.
Maoinaítear An Ciste Athmhuintearais freisin, a thacaíonn le os cionn 100 eagras sibhialta agus pobail atá ag obair chun síocháin agus athmhuintearas a chothú ar oileán Éireann féin agus idir Éire agus an Bhreatain.
"Ag comhdháil i nGaillimh an deireadh seachtaine seo caite a d'eagraigh Ciarán Staunton ó Bhrúghrúapa Éireannach um Leasú Inimirce agus Karen McHugh ó Bhaile Sábháilte Éireann tháinig imní chun cinn maidir leis na decrachtaí atá roimh shaoranaigh Éireannacha ar mhian leo teacht abhaile. Dheimhnigh an tAire Cannon go bhfuil se tiomanta do dhul i ngleic leis na constaicí seo.
"Beidh airgead breise seachas ciorrruithe ag teastáil chun go leor de na beartais seo a chur i gcrích.
"Táim ag fiafraí den Rialtas soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir leis na ciorruithe atá beartaithe, cé na cláracha a bheidh i gceist, cén smaoineamh atá taobh thiar den chur chuige buiséadach seo agus cén fáth gur ghlac siad an chéim siar seo.
"Táimid ag iarraidh go ndéanfaidh an Rialtas na ciorruithe seo a athchinneadh agus chun níos mó tacaíochtaí sholáthar do na heagrais a chuidíonn le saoranaigh Éireannacaha thar lear. Masla ar an tsárobair a dhéanann siad i gcéin agus i gcóngar a bheadh i rud ar bith níos lú ná seo."
Another slap in face for Diaspora in Budget 2018 – Ó Clochartaigh
The government has once more shown its lack of priority for Irish citizens abroad with cuts to the diaspora budget for 2018.
Sinn Féin Diaspora spokesperson Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is calling on Minister of State Ciarán Cannon to explain why almost €4m has been cut from the budgets available and as they say themselves - “to Serve our People at Home and Abroad and to Promote Reconciliation and Co-operation (Our People)”.
Speaking from Leinster House, Senator Ó Clochartaigh says:
“Our Government Ministers head off every St. Patrick’s Day across the globe and wax lyrical about the importance of our Diaspora. They rightly applaud the sterling work being done by organisations across the globe to support Irish citizens abroad. But come budget time they cut their budgets. That is the hypocrisy of this Government.
“This year’s budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sees a cut of €1.747m in current funding and €3.943m from the capital budget for the strand which funds over 200 support organisations supporting the Diaspora, is dealing with a huge increase in passport applications, increased consular supports for the Irish abroad and the Reconciliation fund which provides support to over 100 civil society and community organisations working to support peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.
“At a conference organised in Galway last weekend by Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and Karen McHugh of Safe Home Ireland concerns were raised at the huge difficulties being faced by Irish citizens who wish to return home. Minister Cannon acknowledged these and said he was committed to addressing them. A lot of this will need extra support not budgetary cuts.
“I am asking the government to clarify where the cuts are intended, which programmes would be affected, what is the reasoning for this budgetary approach and why they have taken such a retrograde decision. We want the the government to reverse these cuts and indeed increase supports for those organisations supporting Irish citizens abroad. Anything less is an insult to the huge contribution they make at home and abroad.”
Dúirt an Teachta Peadar Tóibín nach raibh dóthain airgid á chur ar fáil ag an rialtas le spriocanna an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta a bhaint amach. Níl an Roinn Oideachas ag infheistiú ach milliúin euro in san bpolasaí ina iomlán.
Dúirt an Teachta Tóibín:
“Is beartas láidir é an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta agus bhí sé go mór de dhíth ar na ceantair Gaeltachta leis na blianta fada. Ach ní éireoidh leis mura dtugtar maoiniú leormhaith ar fáil. Tá baol ann go mbeidh an cinniúint chéanna aige is mar a bhí ag an ‘Straitéis 20 Bliain’.
“Mar aon leis an Straitéis, níor leagadh amach amlíne leis na gníomh uilig a bhaint amach sa Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltacht – in ainneoin gurb é seo mar a dhéantar le gach plean gníomh rialtais eile. Ba údar imní é dom níor a sheoladh an polasaí, ach anois is léir nach bhfuil an rialtas i ndáiríre faoi chur i bhfeidhm an pholasaí.
“Níor thug an rialtas ach €1 milliúin sa bhuiséad inné don pholasaí. Is cinnte nach leor é seo. Cur i gcás na costais a bheadh ann le múinteoirí nua a aimsiú, le clár nua tosaigh múinteoirí a sholáthar, le clár iarchéime a fhorbairt ar oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge agus oideachas Gaeltachta do mhúinteoirí bunscoile agus meánscoile, Comhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta a mhaoiniú mar is ceart, tacaíochtaí breise a thabhairt dos na scoileanna a bheidh páirteach sa scéim.
“Ní beag an obair an méad seo a chur i gcríoch. Anuas ar sin tá ar an roinn cur leis an Aonad Gaeltachta atá bunaithe acu,sparánachtaí taighde tríú leibhéal a sholáthar, foireann thiomnaithe de chigirí a shannú, forbairt gairmiúil leanúnach speisialta a chur ar fáil do phríomhoidí agus múinteoirí, maoiniú agus acmhainní foirne breise a chur ar fáil do shuíomhanna oideachais sna luathbhlianta agus na dosaen nithe eile a chur i gcrích.
“Tá an cháipéis lán go béal le geallúnaí riachtanacha, ach an bhfuil an rialtas sásta beart a dhéanamh de réir a mbriathar? Is baolach nach bhfuil.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has urged the government to step up its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Ibrahim Halawa.
Gerry Adams said:
“It is 23 days since Ibrahim Halawa and his sisters were acquitted by a court in Egypt. Ibrahim Halawa has now spent over four years in prison.
"The conditions under which he has been held have caused Ibrahim serious health issues.
"I am calling on the government to immediately step up its diplomatic efforts to secure the speedy release of Ibrahim Halawa and return him to his family in Dublin.”
Sinn Féin Seanad Spokesperson on health and wellbeing Senator Máire Devine has expressed her 'utter disappointment' at the government's failure to give much needed investment into mental health services.
Today it was confirmed that, despite what was announced within the budget yesterday, there will actually only be a paltry €15 million increase in the mental health budget, not €35 million increase as was originally announced.
Speaking on the revelation, Senator Devine said;
“I am utterly appalled. A €35 million increase in mental health would have fallen short of addressing the crisis we face in mental health, seeing as how measures from Mental Health Reform and others state that at least a €65 million increase was needed just to keep things as they are. But only €15 million of fresh investment that has been secured amounts to a mere increase of just 1.8%.
"This budget was all about choices - and the choice of Fine Gael made was to choose spin over substance and not invest the much needed funding into essential services.
"With the equivalent of a third of the mental health budget going into the Government's new spin team, this explicitly shows Fine Gael do not have the political will to invest in our mental health services.
"The Taoiseach seems more concerned with style and spin over substance, while failing to account that there are ordinary people suffering without essential 24/7 crisis intervention services, without open beds in the Linn Dara in- patient unit for mentally unwell children and other much needed resources.
"During my tenure as a psychiatric nurse we never felt the investment on the ground. I will be working with my union, the Psychiatric Nurse’s Association, to address this completely unacceptable budget. Our children, and our communities, deserve more.“
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has welcomed the public confirmation of a £40 million cash injection for the health.
The Sinn Féin health spokesperson said:
“Sinn Féin has argued for some time the Department of Health was aware that additional resources were available.
“We welcome the allocation of an additional £40m.
“This money should have been released to address some of the pressures on health without resorting to cuts and the farcical consultation process, which is now meaningless.
“It has always been our view these cuts were unnecessary and the consultation was a cynical exercise, which only succeeded in creating division and concern within the wider community.
"People responded to a consultation process based on pressures of £70m facing HSC services. Today's cash injection of £40m for health significantly changes the circumstances in which the public consultation was held.
“Given the changed financial circumstances Trusts cannot, and should not, make recommendations to the Department of Health without a full comprehensive consultation process on a new set of proposals, which fulfils its Section 75 obligations under its Equality Scheme.”
Sinn Féin Argiculture spokesperson Declan McAleer has welcomed clarification from DAERA regarding the ‘exceptional circumstances’ under which farmers can spread slurry beyond the 15th October deadline.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“I have been contacted by many farmers who are under severe pressure to get their slurry spread before the deadline of 15th October.
“This is due to exceptional rainfall during July and August which has also led to cattle being housed earlier than expected.
“On foot of this, I wrote to the DAERA Permanent Secretary for clarification on the ‘exceptional circumstances’ under which farmers may deviate from the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) Regulations.
“The Permanent Secretary recognised that the wet weather has created difficult circumstances for farmers, particularly in the North and West.
“He stated that farmers must demonstrate that they had taken all reasonable steps to manage the situation and was left with no alternative as a result of the adverse weather conditions.
“I would encourage any farmers who are experiencing particular difficulties to speak to either their DAERA Advisor or local farming organisation.”