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Following a meeting a Taoiseach regarding the ongoing enquiry into IBRC and sale of assets, Sinn Féin TD and Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that government need to move now to fully resource the commission and enable it with the necessary legal powers to fully investigate the actions of IBRC and ensure that this state got the optimum value for tax payers’ money.

The Donegal TD said: 

“The Commission was established almost a year ago. The operation of the commission has been hampered by the lack of powers and resources and has been unable to cast a full light on the operation of IBRC and the sale of assets at a greatly reduced price.

“The wind up of IBRC and the sale of assets all happened under the watch of Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan.

“For the past 6 months, there has been ongoing meeting with an Taoiseach on this matter and little progress has been made. 

“The government need to move now to fully resource the commission and enable it with the necessary legal powers to fully investigate the actions of IBRC and ensure that this state got the optimum value for tax payers’ money.” 

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Local Sinn Féin Councillor Noeleen Reilly has criticised attempts by
Fine Gael on Dublin City Council to delay the Local area plan for
Ballymun.

Speaking from Ballymun today she said,

“Ballymun is next in line for a local area plan.  It has been almost
20 years since the regeneration where much work is still to be done.

“We are without shopping facilities and much of our town centre is derelict.

“During the Development plan meetings this week Fine Gael councillors
put forward a motion to change the arrangement of the area plans,
meaning Ballymun would drop down the line.

Unfortunately this motion was passed.”

She further added,

“Dublin City Council management were quite clear that Ballymun would
be next in line regardless of the motion as it is a statutory process.
I hope this offers some relief to residents in the area.

“There are many communities that need plans and investment.  I am
really disappointed that these communities have now been pitted
against each other by Fine Gael.

“The draft plan for Ballymun is due to come back to the council in
October and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure
that a realistic plan is put in place for Ballymun.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned the vandalism of a North Belfast memorial to those who died in the world wars

Speaking today the North Belfast MLA said:

“The attack on the Woodvale memorial is not the act of a republican. It is a shameful attack, which I condemn outright.

“The graffiti was utterly distasteful.

“This week has seen a number of attacks against memorials including the republican plot in Milltown cemetery.

“All these acts of mindless and sectarian vandalism need to stop immediately.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned two shootings in Belfast last night including that of a man in Ardoyne.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“I condemn last night’s shootings in Ardoyne and Poleglass.
“Those responsible for these shootings are at war with the community and have clearly learned nothing from the recent brutal murders of Conor McKee and Michael McGibbon.
“I would call on anyone with information on these attacks to bring it forward to the police.”

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Cllr Cara McShane had proposed £180k in grant funding at a recent council meeting for the Friends of Glenariff community project. She said the DUP has enraged people from all sections of the community in the Glens by attempting to sabotage the funding.

"The project received majority support from council after a lengthy debate last Tuesday night.  The support from council was also necessary in order to secure almost half million pound of match funding from an external funding body by Friday of this week.

"Despite the DUP opposing the funding and losing the vote, they have now triggered a mechanism where 15% of councillors can sign a petition calling for Council to take legal advice and discuss the proposal again.

“This is essentially a stalling tactic to ensure the Glens’ group miss out on the crucial deadline this Friday of the match funding and effectively throw six years of hard work into the back burner.

"The Friends of Glenariff have been working hard for almost six years to organise this project.  

"This is political posturing by the DUP.   

“It is a deliberate stalling tactic from a party that doesn't have a mandate in the entire Glens DEA and who will use any means possible to treat people in this part of the borough as second-class citizens."

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin yesterday introduced a Bill that provides for rent certainty in the private rental market by linking changes in rent arising from a rent review to the Consumer Price Index.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“This Bill will provide greater protection to both tenants and landlords from unpredictability in the rental market.

“The half- measures introduced by former Minister Alan Kelly are not working.

“Rents in Dublin are now unaffordable for many and this is adding to the homeless crisis.

“This legislation is needed to stabilise the market and the Bill I introduced yesterday will seek to do this.” 

Note: See attached the Bill in question

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Responding to the news that the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics have said that the drug Orkambi cannot be funded at the current price, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD said that “deciding that a drug is too expensive to be funded, without addressing how costs can be reduced through negotiations with relevant companies and sectors is not a tough policy choice, it is a cop out”.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The ruling from the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics that the breakthrough drug Orkambi was deemed to be too expensive to be funded by the HSE is a shocking blow to not only the Cystic Fibrosis patients for whom the drug was transformative, it is a blow to our health service.

“The underlying issues involved around drug costs in the State are becoming prevalent once more, as patients are often being left without lifesaving medication, because of prohibitive costs. 

“The solution to the pressures on our health services does not lie wholly within acute hospitals, but must also include a greater role for prevention, early intervention and management. In this case, we have a drug that has been wholly transformative to those who have been part of its trial, whose hospital admissions have been reduced and indeed saved by the drug, but the drug will not be funded by the HSE for other patients. 

“Yesterday in the Dáil, Minister Harris noted that ‘there are tough policy choices, trade-offs and decisions to be made, especially in terms of managing resources, addressing performance and ensuring accountability’. Deciding that a drug is too expensive to be funded, without addressing how costs can be reduced through negotiations with relevant companies and sectors is not a tough policy choice, it is a cop out.

“We know that recent negotiations with the IPHA with a view to securing an agreement to reduce the price of medicines and reduce the growth in the drugs and medicines bill to an affordable level collapsed and this will inevitably inhibit the HSE from investing in new and innovative medicines over the next number of years. 

“The issue of high tech drugs will be more and more important in the time ahead. And as scientific breakthroughs are made that can help save lives and extend the lifespan of our population, it is something that we need to get to grips with. Ministers need to make tough choices, but tough choices should not have life or death consequences.

“The makers of Orkambi have stated that they are willing to negotiate with the government and these negotiations need to take place as a matter of priority.” 

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Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that the feigned protests of Fianna Fáil following the revelation this week that Fine Gael plan to downsize School buses is this week rings hollow with the people of Mayo and the West.

Senator Conway-Walsh said:

“Current School Transport Policy was planned and introduced by Fianna Fail in their 2011 Budget.  The changes for the primary school transport system including the introduction of the annual charge, the removal of eligibility under the closed school rules for certain children living less than 3.2 km from the school and the minimum of ten eligible children required to retain a transport service rest squarely on the shoulders of Fianna Fáil.

“It was absolutely clear to me and the parents and teachers who campaigned with me to fight against the demise of school transport that Fianna Fail/Fine Gael were hell bent on getting rid of school transport.  The latest step to downsize the school buses is another nail in the coffin of Rural Ireland.  The Value for Money Review on School Transport conducted by Mary Coughlan in 2010 set out how School Transport was going to be axed.

“There has been a huge number of children pushed into the ‘concessionary transport’ category rising from 4,854 in 2011/12 to 18,688 in 2014/15.  These are children who are deemed not to qualify for free transport either because of nearest school rule, minimum numbers or income.  Up to now, they have been able to allowed to use the spare seats on the buses but if the bus sizes are reduced they will be left without transport.

“The Minister for Rural Affairs must now make a stand for Rural Ireland by stopping this latest attempt to get rid of school transport and by introducing flexibility into the system to meet the needs of rural families and rural communities.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has condemned the shooting of a man in the Poleglass area of Belfast last night. And she called on those responsible to end their war against the community. 

Jennifer McCann said:

“I condemn the shooting last night of a man in Poleglass.

“The people behind these shootings are at war with the community. Their campaign against people in their own community should end now.  

“Anyone with information on this attack should bring it forward to the police."

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the guilty findings by the jury in the trial of former Anglo directors John Bowe and Willie Mc Ateer. However, he said that the two convictions on a single charge, after so many years since the banking crash, showed the weakness of the state’s stance on white collar crime.


Deputy Doherty said:


“These convictions are a good start but they are also long overdue. The damage caused by the fraud of which these men have been found guilty, and their roles with Anglo, is still being felt by every Irish worker in their pay cheque and every Irish patient in a hospital in this country. It is infuriating that we have had to wait nearly decade since the banking crash for these convictions to be handed down.


“We know that the culture in Irish banking was corrupt and reckless at the time. Billions of the people’s money was squandered and wasted yet the vast majority of those incidents aren’t illegal even to this day- reckless lending being a case in point.


“It is time to create a genuine system that does not tolerate reckless lending and takes white collar crime seriously. It should not be treated as a victimless crime. It is incredible that in so many cases white collar crime is still treated as not even being a crime at all.”

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David Cullinane TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, said this evening that while the government makes loud noises about the right to work, it is completely silent when it comes to rights in work. He stated that the Labour Party, in opposition, wants to wrap itself around the Starry Plough and pretend that the last five years did not happen. He said that Labour will be held to account, as will this Fine Gael/Independent government.


Deputy Cullinane said:


“It is not possible to have a right to work without rights in work, and the purpose of this amendment is to put that to the government in very clear and simple terms.


“We also need to point out the sheer hard-neck arrogance of Labour in putting forward a Private Members’ Bill that simply lists all of the things Labour failed to do while part of a government with the largest majority in Dáil history.


“It is as if the last 5 years did not happen. In terms of working people’s lives, we had a disastrous Fine Gael/Labour Government. Inequality rose, poverty levels increased and workers’ rights were diminished. The wealthy and the elites were cosseted while the poor, the disadvantaged and the working classes were abandoned.


“Workers were locked out of their jobs, had their basic rights denied and found a Government unwilling and unable to help. When we think back to the Labour and Fine Gael government we remember the workers in Lagan Brick, Vita Cortex, Talk Talk, La Senza, Clerys, Dunnes Stores and many more. It was an era of sit-in protests as workers occupied their places of work demanding action.


“And what did Labour do? Nothing. They sat in Government and implemented the conservative, Neo-Liberal policies of FG. In the last  election they got what they deserved. The people spoke and passed judgement on their record.


“But today - true to form - Labour is doing what Labour does best.


“After a disastrous term in Government its plan is to spend some time prancing about in opposition throwing radical shapes in a desperate attempt to alter its image.


“Labour will be held to account, and workers’ rights will be fought for.”

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Speaking during a Dáil debate this evening on a Labour Party motion regarding the right of workers, Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire condemned the practice of bogus self-employment and the ill treatment of workers.


Deputy Ó Laoghaire said;


“This has been for a long time a significant issue as regards the Building Trades, however, I know that it is creeping into other forms of employment, including in IT, and many employment agencies. In January of this year, ICTU calculated that this loss is at roughly €80 billion per year, or circa €680 billion since 2007.


“Bogus self-employment allows the company to make an illegitimate saving on tax and employers PRSI, a figure which increases profit by roughly 11%, all at an expense to the exchequer.

For the worker, this can mean no entitlement to holiday pay, sickness or maternity benefit, or even pension contributions. No redundancy, no notice of termination, and no recourse when it comes to a case of unfair dismissal.


“The “eRCT” (electronic Relevant Contracts Tax) system was introduced in 2012 by Minister Noonan in order to clamp down on the black economy, however in ways it has consequently facilitated employers in declaring workers as self-employed instead of the proper designation of employees.


“What’s more in some instances, it forces many individuals to engage directly with the revenue themselves, which can be very complex, and often causes significant difficulties and errors, and can end up leaving workers effectively out of pocket. These types of contracts are archaic in nature, must be buried for good, and mechanisms that create a disincentive to exploiting workers must be enacted.”

Deputy Ó Laoghaire also raised the need for redundancy reform:


“Unfortunately, Workers having to sit in to secure basic statutory rights, and redundancy that they were entitled to, was a hallmark of industrial relations during the term of the last Dáil.

Workers upon being made redundant do not have adequate protections, and I would urge the Minister to act on this. The German model of redundancy with payments approximate to pay and complemented by training is worth considering.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has accused the Labour Party of gross hypocrisy and of failing to defend the rights of workers while in government. Speaking during debate on the Labour motion calling for greater protection of workers


Deputy Quinlivan said:


“I welcome any initiative to protect workers’ rights but the hypocrisy at the core of this motion is staggering.  


“The motion calls on the Dáil to ‘stand up for working people and ensure employees secure a fair share of national prosperity’.

“These are fine sentiments but this motion is sponsored by a party who was a partner in the most right-wing government since the foundation of the state.


“In government, Labour and Fine Gael went vulture like after the incomes of ordinary working people and waged war on the living standards of the most vulnerable.


“The policy of austerity stretched beyond people’s pay packets and funding for key public services was slashed and the state’s industrial relations architecture dismantled.


“The end result of five years of Labour/Fine Gael government is that across the board, in both the public and private sector, workers pay and conditions have dramatically deteriorated


“In government Labour introduced policies that increased levels of deprivation, and in-work poverty. These policies were bad for workers, bad for the economy, and bad for society.


“On top of this they slashed funding for key public services such as health, social housing, and public transport.


“This is Labour’s legacy to working people and to the exasperated working/ middle classes who have nothing more to give.


“Labour’s new found concern for workers rights is fooling no-one and can only be described as political amnesia and a pathetic shift in tactics from a floundering party”. 

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Sinn Féin councillor and newly elected deputy mayor of Belfast Mary Ellen Campbell has said she looks forward to representing everyone in the city in the year ahead. 

Speaking as she was elected as the first openly gay deputy mayor of Belfast, councillor Campbell said; 

"I believe with this nomination my party has shown our commitment to equality. 

"I intend in my year in office to highlight and put a focus on the rights and needs of the LGBT community. 

"Belfast is a welcoming city. We celebrate diversity now more than ever before. And LGBT visibility is good for Belfast. 

"We are the institution that passed the first motion on marriage equality on these island. We also held a transgender remembrance event for the first time. These events and milestones are good for all the citizens of Belfast.

"A city based on equality is a happier and more prosperous one. 

"I look forward to representing all the citizens of Belfast in the role of Deputy Mayor regardless of creed, class, gender or ethnicity and discharging my duties in the most inclusive and equal basis possible."

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Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has today welcomed the RTE Primetime report on the muscovite mica crisis in Donegal. 

The Senator from Donegal said ‘there can be no further hiding place for our government’ after the airing of the report by the national broadcaster.

He also commended the Mica Action Group of affected Donegal families on their ‘determined campaign for justice’ that has now reached a national audience.

He said:

“This crisis that has devastated so many families in Donegal is the result of a profound failure of State regulation. The evidence in last night’s report was overwhelming and there can be no further hiding place for our government.

“Sinn Féin public representatives in Donegal have relentlessly pursued this issue over the last number of years and we will not rest until a real solution for so many Donegal families is found.

“In recent weeks, I have repeatedly raised my concerns about the limited terms of reference given to the expert panel currently tasked with investigating the extent of the mica crisis in Donegal. 

“Let's be clear; what is required is a Mica Redress Scheme that provides financial support to the families in Donegal so that they can rebuild their homes and make them safe for their families.

“Sinn Féin now calls on Minister Simon Coveney to immediately meet with a cross party delegation from Donegal County Council as they have requested. 

“No doubt these revelations of internal Donegal County Council communications on the scale of the mica damage to the council's housing stock will only have heightened the concern of those councillors. 

“It is not acceptable for Minister Coveney to maintain a position that Donegal County Council foots what will undoubtedly be a massive bill to rebuild these council homes. 

“The Minister and his government must step up to the plate.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed news that the new Education Minister Peter Weir is to visit Coláiste Feirste.

The chair of the Education Committee said:

“Speaking as someone who has a strong personal interest in Irish Medium education I welcome news that Peter Weir will be visiting Coláiste Feirste.

“The growth in the Irish Medium sector has been one of the great success stories in education over the last 30 years.

"The Irish language belongs to all our people and the experience of Irish medium schools has been positive for education, for culture and for whole communities. 

“Sinn Féin remains committed to encouraging and facilitating Irish Medium education throughout urban and rural communities in the north.”

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan has called on the government to increase funding for the capital spending plan for 2016 to 2021.

Speaking in response to the publication of the ‘State of Ireland 2016’ report on the country’s infrastructure, Deputy Quinlivan said:

“This is not rocket science. If the economy is to develop the government must invest increased funding in infrastructure and large projects. Done properly public investment programmes can be key drivers in addressing poverty, inequality and building a fairer society. Right now, we have a chronic shortage of social housing, outdated or non-existent flood defences, a shortage of schools and a lack of basic infrastructure throughout the country.

“Failure to invest in these projects will seriously hinder a balanced economic recovery. Ireland has been ranked 40th of 61 countries for basic infrastructure in the 2016 World Competitiveness Yearbook.

“I recently submitted a written question to the Minister for Finance asking him to explain his comments that ‘we do not meet the criteria for applying for greater flexibility on EU fiscal rules to support long-term investment programmes’.

“Minister Noonan’s response that Ireland is not eligible to invoke the investment clause provision in the Stability and Growth Pact due to the levels of growth projected in the Department’s current macroeconomic outlook, is not acceptable.

“Ireland must demand greater flexibility in the application of EU fiscal rules. It is the duty of the government and Minister Noonan to ensure this happens. The needs of the people of Ireland and the future development of the Irish economy must take precedence over EU bureaucracy.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed the prospect of a Special All-Party Committee to develop a single long term vision plan for healthcare, saying that it is a positive step, albeit one that should have been taken a long time ago.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“I welcome this motion to establish a Special All-Party Committee to develop a single long term vision plan for healthcare. This is a positive step, albeit one that should have been taken a long time ago.

“For too long, our health system has been in crisis.

“This crisis can be boiled down to two key failings on the part of successive governments: firstly, an extreme depth of fundamental inequality in how patients are treated, differentiated on ability to pay and location; and secondly, the sheer incapacity of the system to deal with even demographic pressures, evidenced particularly in our Emergency Departments and maternity care.

“Sinn Féin have long been committed to the realisation of a world-class system of universal health care, accessed on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery, and funded by progressive taxation.

“We are dedicated to the provision of healthcare services and social care services as a right, with equal access for all based on need and to the greatest extent that resources allow. This right is especially relevant for older people and the provision of supports for older people is becoming increasingly important as our population ages.

“I hope that the establishment of this committee will not simply provide a talking shop but rather a gathering of people with ideas, vision, and most importantly, solutions, to bring about the changes that are so desperately required in our health system today.” 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine Martin Ferris TD has today welcomed the decision by Minister Michael Creed which ensures that penalty points can only be applied after the complaint has been heard by a court

Speaking following the announcement in the Dáil, Deputy Ferris said;

“It is infuriating that the last government, despite a ruling of the High Court, implemented a statutory position for the imposition of penalty points on fishermen without recourse to the justice system.

“It is a positive development that the Minister has now removed the statutory instrument of March 2016 signed by former Minister Coveney which we believe discriminated against fishermen who are trying to make a living.

“I welcome the fact that Minister Creed has stated that he will be giving effect to the decision either through the implementation of a new statutory mechanism or by introducing primary legislation.

 “Depending on the content of the new mechanism or legislation, this decision represents a significant victory for fishing communities throughout the state.”

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht Peadar Tóibín has asked Minister Heather Humphreys whether she intended to appeal the decision of the High Court to declare the Moore St. Battlefield Site as a National Monument.  

Speaking afterwards, Teachta Tóibín said:

“The Minister has flatly refused to rule out appealing this decision. She stated that she is actively considering her next step.

“It would be an absolute travesty that such important sections of this historical site in the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising would be floored to make way for a shopping centre. The Minister is the Minister for Heritage and therefore has responsibilities for its protection; not ruling this out highlights the real threat that this site is still under.  

“It’s also important that the Minister represent that overwhelming desire of the people on this issue. It’s also important that the Minister take cognisance of the fact that her government is in a minority on this issue and needs to respect the wishes of the Dáil also. We also want the Minister to declare that NAMA will not fund an appeal on behalf of Chartered Lands. We need to accept the decision, and develop an official state plan to proceed with the redevelopment of the Battlefield site ASAP.” 

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