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Today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Agriculture Spokesman, Martin Kenny TD, introduced a piece of legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination against rural areas by public bodies in respect of measures likely to have a significant socio-economic effect.

Deputy Kenny told the Dáil:

“The issue of inequality that exists in this country is really an issue of ensuring people can live in rural Ireland.  To have people living in rural Ireland, we have to have infrastructure in rural Ireland and a development of jobs and opportunity.

“Opportunity can only come if a person is on a platform where they can reach that opportunity.  It is true to say that everyone has access to education but for many people living in rural areas across the length and breadth of Ireland, they are not in a position to reach the opportunity that may exist.

“If one looks at the map of the road network, it does not go near the north west at all.   It is similar with the rail network - it blocks out huge areas of the country.  

“If we are going to invest in the regions and ensure there is opportunity for people living in the regions, we have to make sure we do it everywhere.  We have to invest in places where there are low populations at present.  If we do not do that, there will never be people living in these areas.”

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney and Senator Paul Gavan met with the North/South Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin today.

Speaking after the meeting, Declan Kearney said: 

"We had a comprehensive discussion about Brexit and negative repercussions for Ireland north and south. Patricia King, Congress General Secretary, set out its analysis of the current situation and concerns about the approach of the Irish and British governments.

"Sinn Féin shares those concerns and we reiterated our view that Brexit will have catastrophic consequences for the island economy, workers’ rights, the Good Friday Agreement, and political stability.

"Our meeting addressed the convergence of the current deep political crisis in the north and overall impact of Brexit.

"The Sinn Féin delegation shared our newly published anti-sectarianism plan 'One Community' with Congress and explained that our focus in any post-election negotiations would be to secure equality and the Good Friday Agreement.

"I urged Congress to continue providing leadership in helping to mobilise civic society across Ireland in support of proper power sharing and partnership."

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Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said remarks from British Secretary of State James Brokenshire are an attempt by the British establishment to grant immunity to state forces involved in the conflict.

The North Belfast candidate said:

"Today James Brokenshire repeated the crass comments of British prime minister Theresa May that it is ‘appalling when people try to make a business of dragging our brave troops through the courts’.

"These remarks are dangerous and disgraceful and a clear attempt by the British establishment to grant immunity to soldiers who acted with impunity when it came to killing Irish citizens.

"Comments like this made by British ministers in parliament created an environment which saw the death of Human Rights Lawyer Pat Finucane.

"They are also an insult to those bereaved by British soldiers and their agents.

"Sinn Féin is clear that no one can be above the law and everyone should be held to account."

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Diaspora An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has said that there is little concrete progress from the Government to match their rhetoric on emigrant issues. Speaking today after the Minister of State for Diaspora Joe McHugh appeared in the Seanad the Galway/Mayo South Seanadóir said:

“We need to see diaspora as Irish citizens abroad to which the Government has a responsibility to help if they choose to return home. It isn’t words of encouragement or solidarity that the returning Irish need, but concrete government action on the myriad of problems and obstacles that face them. Many of these have been identified by advocacy groups and highlighted consistently by myself, yet we have seen little action and a lot of passing the buck.”

“Many returning emigrants face difficulties such as obtaining car insurance and are often charged extortionate premiums. There are problems having qualifications recognised, accessing education, healthcare and securing accommodation.”

“Financial institutions are creating difficulties which the Government are not addressing. Many banks now demand that recent utility bills be produced as proof of address in order to open a new account. Mobile phone bills are not accepted for this purpose. It is impossible to sign up to utility services in the first place pay utility bills on a regular basis without the facilities of a bank account. 

“The issue of Presidential voting rights has not gone away. Minister McHugh indicated today that an ‘options paper would be put before members of the Global Civic Forum in May. We will hold him to that and his previous promise to have them in place by 2018.

“Minister McHugh needs to drive the Interdepartmental Working Group on Diaspora Affairs much harder than he is. His relaxed approach is simply not delivering for Irish citizens abroad.”

Go leor cainte agus beagán gnímh ón Rialtas ar chúrsaí Diaspóra – Ó Clochartaigh

Tá ráite ag urlabhraí Shinn Féin ar an Diaspóra An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh gur beagán dul chun cinn ceart atá bainta amach ag an Rialtais i bhfianaise a bhfuil ráite acu go nuige se oar an ábhar. Ag labhairt dó tar éis don Aire Stáit ar an Diaspóra Joe McHugh teacht os comhair an tSeanaid dúirt an Seanadóir do Ghaillimh/Maigh Eo Theas:

“Caithfimid breathnú ar an Diaspóra mar shaoránaigh Éireannacha atá ag cur futhú thar lear, saoránaigh a bhfuil dualgas ar an Rialtas cuidiú leo má tá siad ag iarraidh teacht abhaile. Séard atá ag teastáil ón diaspóra ná gníomhaíocht cheart ón Rialtas i leith na bhfadhbanna is na mbacanna atá rompu seachas caint chorraitheach agus Tá na fadhbanna seo ardaithe ag na brúghrúpaí agus tá béim curtha agam orthu le fada agam féin ach is beag atá déanta ina leith ach daoine á gcur óna ndoras féin.

“Tá deacrachtaí móra roimh eimircigh ag teacht abhaile cosúil le hárachas mótair a fháil agus is minic a ghearrtar táillí iontach ard orthu dá bharr. Tá fadhbann a bhaineann le cáillíochtaí a aithint, teacht isteach ar oideachas, an córas sláinte agus tithíocht a fháil.

“Tá institiúidí Airgeadais ag cruthú deacrachtaí nach bhfuil an Rialtas ag dul i ngleic leo. Teastaíonn bille tfóntais is déanaí ó chuid mhaith de na Bancanna mar chruthúnas seolta chun cuntas reatha a oscailt. Ní ghlactar le billí fóin póca lena aghaidh. Tá sé dodhéanta ar an gcéad dul síos clárú le comhlacht fóntais  gan cuntas bainc a bheith agat.

“Níl deireadh leis an éileamh cearta vótála Uachtarántachta a bhaint amach. Thug An tAire McHugh le fios inniu go gcuirfear páipéar rogha os comhair biall an Fhóraim Phobail Dhomhanda i mí na Bealtaine. Caithfidh sé cloígh leis an ngealltanas sin agus an ceann a thug sé maidir le réiteach a bheith ann faoi 2018, agus beimid ag súil amhlaidh 

“ACithfidh An tAire Mc Hugh An Grúpa IdirRanna Oibre ar na Diaspora a stiúradh níos mó díograis ná mar atá sé faoi láthair. Níl ag éirí lena dhearcadh réchúiseach agus níl sé ag seachadadh do shaoranaigh Éireannacha thar lear.”

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Speaking before the debate tonight on the Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age Bill Denise Mitchell TD Junior Spokesperson on Social Protection said that this Bill is ultimately about ending a long held discrimination allowed under current employment law.

Denise Mitchell TD for Dublin Bay North said:

‘The Bill Sinn Féin are proposing will mean that workers, whether for personal or financial reasons, can continue to work if they wish. Currently when people reach a certain age, usually 65, they are forced from the workplace through their employment contract.

‘People can of course have a contribution to make after they retire but setting an age on when people are forced from the workplace seems to say they have no economic value or contribution to make. It has the feeling of an “out with the old” and “in with the new” approach and this cannot remain.

‘We must remember how this affects different people. What of those women who had their pension bands changed in 2012 and will now receive less of a pension, can they not at the very least be allowed work to gain more contributions? Although Sinn Féin would prefer in fact that the cuts be reversed as we raised in a motion in the Dáil only in December.

‘This act Sinn Féin are amending is the Employment Equality Act. How can we say we have equality in the workforce while the State allows blatant discrimination exist and this must be changed’

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Speaking after his appointment to the Seanad’s new committee on Brexit, Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said that the Committee’s focus must be on standing in defence of Ireland’s National Interest and protecting the North’s majority vote to remain within the EU.

Speaking from the Oireachtas today, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;

“I am proud to be representing Sinn Féin on this important new committee.

“I will act as a vocal representative for the 56% majority of citizens in the North who voted to remain in the EU but are currently under threat of being dragged out against our will by a vote taken in England.

“Across the political spectrum in the Seanad, parties agree that Brexit will have disastrous implications for Ireland in its entirety; therefore our new committee must work positively and resolutely with all stakeholders and the government to ensure that Ireland’s National Interests are protected.

“The only way for Ireland to protect its economy and people's jobs is for the North to be granted Special Status within the EU.” 

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Sinn Féin's Pat Sheehan has said the British government must release money to fund legacy inquests. 

Pat Sheehan said: 

"Today the families of the Ballymurphy massacre victims were in court in the latest stage of their long campaign for truth and justice about what happened in 1971. 

"They heard from the coroner that the lack of funding for legacy inquests is holding up progress on dealing with the deaths of their loved ones. 

"The failure of the British government is letting down the Ballymurphy families and others and adding to their pain and suffering. 

"The British government needs to live up to its obligations and provide funding for the proposal put forward by the Lord Chief Justice to deal with legacy inquests."

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Eoin Ó Broin has called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to give victims’ families a voice in the reform of sentencing for offenders.

Speaking today in the Dáil during questions on promised legislation, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Yesterday outside the Dáil, the Irish Road Victims Association held a moving vigil displaying 188 photographs of people killed by reckless drivers.

“One of those photographs was of Marsia Lieghio who was tragically killed in a hit and run at the Fonthill Road in 2005 aged just 16. The driver in this case had previous convictions for drunk and unlicensed driving but only served 10 months.

“The Irish Road Victims Association is a NGO that supports those bereaved or injured by road collisions. The group campaigns for justice for road crash victims. One of the key asks of this group is for relatives and victims of road crashes to have a louder voice in judicial proceedings.

“In the Programme for a Partnership Government, there is a commitment to bring forward legislation to reform sentencing for offenders. One of the key recommendations of the Law Reform Commission is for a Sentencing Council to be established to provide guidance to judges as to the appropriate sentence for offences.

 “I urged the government to urgently implement these proposals and to bring forward legislation that would provide greater clarity in sentencing and that would provide victims’ families with greater input in the judicial process.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be active industry opposition to the progressive proposals already in train to amend drink driving laws.  Sinn Féin has consistently stated that there should be a zero alcohol limit for drink driving.

“'In response to my question, Minister Fitzgerald committed both to enacting reform and including the voices of victims in any such reform. While her commitment is welcome, families need action and the Minister needs to move quickly on this issue.” 

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Deputy Maurice Quinlivan speaking in the Dáil chamber today said that “JobPath is undermining the viability of other schemes such as Community Employment (CE) and Local Employment Services and in a number of cases is preventing people from taking work.”

Deputy Quinlivan called on the Minister for Social Protection to have an immediate review of this flawed and regressive scheme.

Deputy Quinlivan continued:

“I have had a huge number of complaints from people involved in Community Employment  who tell me that they cannot fill vacancies on many schemes. This is because the vast majority of eligible participants are being ‘hoovered up’ by the private companies that are operating Jobpath on a commission basis for the Department of Social Protection. Whilst many people are missing out on the opportunity to access CE schemes and learn vital skills, local community services are at the same time starting to suffer from their inability to deliver crucial local services. Many of the communities affected often service very disadvantaged, older and disabled people.  This does not make sense, economically, morally or socially.”

“Many people are also convinced that the Department of Social Protection is giving priority to JobPath when issuing lists of potential participants thus hindering CEs ability to recruit staff.”

“I have also had complaints from participants on JobPath who are ‘going nowhere’ on that scheme and would prefer to be on a CE, or other social employment scheme, but cannot transfer.”

Deputy Quinlivan concluded:

“In a case in Limerick a woman was referred to JobPath but 5 days later she was offered a place on a CE Scheme - JobPath have refused this person her place on the CE scheme, depriving her of a job and the charity service of a valuable staff member.”
“So while the Minister wants people engaged in job activation schemes and finding employment on the other hand, JobPath are directly blocking people from taking up employment made available to them.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has criticised government tenant purchase policy stating it has “contributed to the Housing Crisis and must be replaced”. Deputy Ó Broin’s comments come as Sinn Féin published its submission to the review of the tenant purchase scheme.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Sinn Féin supports the principle of Tenant Purchase. Tenant Purchase allows working families to purchase their homes and ensures greater security of tenure for them and their families.

“However, a huge concern for Sinn Féin is that due to the failure of successive governments to provide an adequate supply of social housing stock, tenant purchase has over a number of decades contributed to an overall depletion of the social housing stock.

“Sinn Féin believe that the current scheme is flawed and should be replaced with a new scheme based on seven recommendations outlined below. A key recommendation is that any housing stock sold by the local authority must be replaced on a one-for-one basis with new or purchased additional units to the Council housing stock. These replacement units must be additional to the local authorities overall housing provision targets under Rebuilding Ireland. All tenant purchase receipts must be ring-fenced for future provision of social housing.  

“We also recommend that individual local authorities should have a certain level of autonomy when it comes to managing their stock in relation to Tenant Purchase. For example, any future tenant purchase scheme should include the provision for individual local authorities to limit the sale of its housing stock in high pressure housing areas.

“Furthermore, in order to ensure that minimum quantities for each property type exit within local authorities, for example specially adapted homes for tenants with disabilities, the issue of the exclusion of certain local authority properties from a tenant purchase scheme should be a matter for each local authority.

“In the medium term, in order to ensure that all future large scale public housing schemes are able to achieve a strong income mix, we believe they should include affordable houses alongside affordable rental and differential rental schemes. This would ensure a greater income mix within council estates contributing to balanced and sustainable communities and local economies.” 

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, met with the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee in Leinster House.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy Crowe said:

“I welcomed the opportunity to meet the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee during their one day visit to Dublin.

“During our meeting I detailed my party’s deep concerns over the British Government’s approach to Brexit and how it will impact on Ireland unless the North is granted a special status within the EU.

“I told the Committee that the North being forced to leave the EU against the expressed wishes of its people will also represent a major set-back for the political process in the north, and directly challenge the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. I made it clear that this also fundamentally undermines the principle of consent contained in the Agreement.

“I also briefed the Committee on the Sinn Féin motion, which was passed by the Dáil last week, calling on the Government to negotiate for special designated status within the EU.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills Teachta Carol Nolan has raised the issue of the commitment under the Programme for Government in relation to the development of an in school speech and language therapy model. Teachta Nolan was speaking this afternoon in the Dáil under Questions on Promised Legislation.

Teachta Nolan said:

“There is a clear commitment under the Programme for Government that a new in-school speech and language therapy model would be delivered.

“This is something that has been floated for years, yet progress has been painfully slow.

“The Action Plan for Education 2017 merely sets a target to consider the findings of the HSE review on speech and language therapy, suggesting that it will be years before the in-school model will be established in our schools.

“Figures released from the HSE show that almost 350 children are waiting over 1 year for an initial assessment for speech and language therapy while over 1100 children are waiting over a year for initial therapy.

“Having met with Inclusion Ireland, the lack of early intervention and school age therapeutic supports for children with complex needs was highlighted as an issue in terms of the upcoming admissions bill and may explain in part the reluctance of schools to admit children with complex needs.

“I have highlighted this issue with the Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities and I am calling on the government to tackle this issue as a matter of urgency.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today challenged Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald regarding the out of control costs of building the national children's hospital.

Deputy McDonald urged the Tanaiste to allay the fears of parents across Ireland by stating when the hospital will be built.

She criticised the evasive responses received from Tánaiste as further evidence of the government's "neglect" of the health service.

She said;

"This morning parents read with horror the fact that the situation has spun far out of control. The current estimated cost has ballooned from an initial €404 million in 2012 to a mind-boggling figure of over €1 billion today.

"As it stands, Ireland’s national children’s hospital will be the most expensive children’s hospital to be built anywhere in the world. 

"This infuriating saga is now a sorry tale of bungles, incompetence and broken promises stretching across two decades. 

"In that time, we have seen both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments make big announcements to the Irish people, but those same governments have delivered very little.

"Today, twenty-four years after the idea was first proposed in 1993, the national children’s hospital is still a project wrapped up in uncertainty and chaos.

"How can we expect anything else from a government whose entire approach to healthcare is based on fostering crisis, havoc, and confusion? 

"The abject failure to get a handle on the astronomical costs of the children’s hospital, and allay the fears of parents, is proof positive that Fine Gael and this government is utterly bereft of leaders.

"I asked two simple questions of Frances Fitzgerald.

"What is this government going to do about the spiralling costs? 

"When will the hospital be built?"

"The Tanaiste's evasive responses will not quell the alarm of parents whose children are waiting in agony for vital treatment and surgeries. Her replies, if anything, will only exacerbate those fears.

"The government's management of the national children's hospital is unfolding into yet another shambles as it continues its neglect of the health service."

ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has said that the Government is wilfully neglecting transport links to rural Ireland, which is causing untold damage to the viability and connectivity of these regions. 

Deputy Tóibín, chairman of the Committee for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, said:

“Rural Ireland is under threat by cuts to public transport services as evidenced by the cutbacks on the Bus Éireann Expressway routes. This could have very grave implications for those living in the countryside as their already limited access to transport could be further curtailed.  

“Much of the reason the Expressway service has become loss making is down to poor management – the National Transport Authority (NTA) granted too many licences to private companies which over-saturated the market. These private operators are not bound to provide essential services to the public, can ignore smaller towns and villages, and do not have to take the free travel pass.

“This means that ordinary residents are at risk at being left behind, especially those who live in rural areas. These could have serious implications for those who are in the most isolated regions, as well as those who use the travel pass. Derry and Letterkenny have neither rail, motorway, nor air connections with Dublin and now Fine Gael is considering removing the Bus Éireann service.  

“The acting CEO of the NTA appeared before Committee earlier this month. When I questioned her, she admitted that private transport providers were not obliged to accept the travel pass. She also said that it was unlikely that private transport providers would stop at the same number of villages and towns that our public transport system currently serves.

“A huge disparity also came to light between the rate of subsidies that public transport providers in Dublin receive as to the rest of the country in committee. Bus Éireann receives €40 million in subventions each year – serving a population of approximately 3.5 million. This is at least four times less than what Bus Áth Cliath receives - €57 million servicing a population of approximately 1.2 million people.

“Protecting our rural transport links is crucial.  We cannot simply allow the government to let less profitable routes which offer a vital service to those living in rural Ireland to be eliminated. If rural communities are to remain viable, it is obviously important that they remain connected.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has called on Minister Varadkar to ensure that no person engaging in industrial action will have their Family Income Supplement stopped.

Teachta Brady said:

“On joining with Tesco workers on the picket lines in recent days, I was concerned at the number of workers who had mentioned threats made to them regarding the loss of Family Income Supplement payments for participating in strike action.

“Tesco’s use of bully boy tactics and threatening workers who are on FIS because of the Tesco contracts is totally unacceptable.

“This is not just another tactic used by Tesco management in an attempt to break the ongoing strike but a threat straight from the Department of Social Protection rulebook.

“The Department expect employees to declare that they are engaging in industrial action for their FIS payment to be stopped and then re-applied for once they return to work.

“Workers are then left to wait up to 6 months for FIS to be awarded to them again and are therefore, left with this payment that they are already entitled to.

“Minister Varadkar needs to ensure that his Department remove this rule immediately. He also needs to give assurances that no worker engaging in industrial action will have their payment cut.

“No worker engages in industrial action unless they have no other option. The State must not play any role in discouraging industrial action through such a financial sanction as this.

“On raising this with Minister Varadkar today, he has committed to look into the matter and I will be following up on this with him.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has said it is unacceptable that patients are still suffering on trolleys in UL hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the State. The high number of times the hospital has had to deal with overcrowding is not acceptable. Nearly every day in 2016 the emergency protocol was activated. Unfortunately in January 2017 this emergency protocol has been activated every single day.

Maurice Quinlivan TD stated:

“Through a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for health, I have received the figure on the ‘Full Capacity Protocol’ and its usage in Limerick. This is an escalation plan for the placing of additional beds on inpatient wards and in hospital halls. We see within the figures that this protocol was used in UL Hospital some 304 times in 2016 and every single day in January 2017.

‘Full Capacity Protocol’ (FCP) is supposed to be an emergency measure to deal with overcrowding. It is not supposed to used every day or to become the norm. It means cancelling elective procedures and aggressive discharging. It was never intended to be like this.

“This means that on 304  occasions this emergency full capacity measure was deployed in the Hospital last year and every single day in January 2017

“This again indicates the continuing problem in our health service. Being left in a hallway on a trolley is a horrendous situation to experience for any patient. We cannot leave people in these distressing situations. We need to invest in the public health service. We need to address the bed, as well as staff shortages throughout the HSE. The continued failure to recruit addition staff , especially nurses in Limerick will mean that the crisis will continue. No doubt the uncertainty which surrounds the opening of the new Emergency Department will mean that the Full Capacity Protocol’ will be continued to be used with adverse affects this causes to patients.

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Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín has challenged British secretary of state James Brokenshire over his government's failure to implement an Irish language act. 

Carál Ní Chuilín said: 

"Today, Irish language activists from across the north gathered at Stormont to protest at the failure of the British government to live up to its commitment to implement an Irish language act. 

"This was agreed in the St Andrew Agreement in 2006 but more than a decade later the British government still haven't acted. 

"Their failure to live up to this responsibility has given cover to the DUP who have treated the Irish language and identity with disrespect and disdain. 

"I have today written to James Brokenshire calling on him to fulfil his government's obligation by implementing the agreement for an Irish language act. 

"It is long past the time the Irish language community is treated with respect and equality."

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Sinn Féin TD for the Offaly and North Tipperary constituency, Teachta Carol Nolan, has said that Sinn Féin welcomes the Disability Miscellaneous provisions Bill but states that the legislation does not go far enough. Teachta Nolan was speaking on the Bill yesterday evening in the Dáil.

Teachta Nolan said:

“I have met with local disability rights groups, such as the Offaly Centre of Independent Living, who have long campaigned for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

“Sinn Féin welcomes this legislation in so far as it goes towards that aim.

“However, we share many of the concerns of disability groups and other non governmental organisations in that this bill does not go far enough.

“One of the main concerns that has been expressed to me is that there has been no public consultation in relation to aspects of this legislation with the various stakeholders.

“The issue of deprivation of liberty is a core issue that needs to be addressed in order to ensure Ireland’s full compliance with the UN convention yet the bill does not deal with this matter.

“Furthermore, this bill provided an opportunity to include persons with disability in the advisory committee to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in its monitoring capacity, yet this was not done.

“Overall, while I welcome many provisions of this bill, it is a missed opportunity to give full effect to the UN convention and our support is dependent on these issues being fully addressed at committee stage.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary Carol Nolan has said that the hypocrisy and sheer brass neck of Fianna Fáil on workers’ rights is staggering. Teachta Nolan was speaking during the debate on the Industrial Relations (Right to Access) Bill yesterday evening in the Dáil.

Teachta Nolan said:

“We had Micheál Martin stand up here in this house this very morning during Leader’s Questions and speak about the race to the bottom, terms and conditions for Bus Éireann workers and also the need for the Minister to engage with the unions.

“He waxed lyrical about the need to protect workers – to ensure they don’t bear the brunt of government policy.

“Yet now, when Fianna Fáil have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, to do something that will bring positive change to workers, to help stop that race to the bottom, the fake outrage and concern has disappeared, as has Micheál Martin.

“Fianna Fáil show their contempt for ordinary workers as they stand firmly behind the corporations that reap millions in profits on the back of the sweat and hard work of our people.

“The Bill simply gives trade unions the right to meet their members regarding official trade union business in the workplace.

“It seeks to limit the ability of employers to undermine trade union membership and the solidarity of workers.

“I am asking again that all deputies in this house stand with ordinary workers across this state and support this legislation.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed deep concern at the potential closure of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Sligo, which services large parts of the west & northwest.

Farming groups from around the north west protested at the Lab in Sligo today. 

Matt Carthy, a member of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee said:

“I am deeply concerned at the potential closure of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Regional Veterinary Lab in Sligo, which services large parts of the west & northwest.

“Apart from the blow to workers at the lab, any closure would have a significant negative impact on farming communities in the north west. 

“The situation again raises questions regarding regional imbalance in services and infrastructure. 

“Any closure will mean that farmers in the North West will be forced to make lengthy journeys to avail of services to labs in other parts of the country.

“This lab performed over 3,000 post mortems on cattle and sheep in 2016 and tested nearly 30,000 samples from farmers. It is a vital service for suckler, beef and sheep farmers in this region.

“I will be in contact with the Minister for Agriculture to seek to ensure that diagnostic services in the north west, which are important in protecting the health status of the national herd, and which are important for the wider rural economy are maintained, and that this lab remains open.”

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