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Sinn Féin will launch its proposals for political reform tomorrow outside Government Buildings at 12.30.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“The political system has failed the system. There is wide spread anger at political corruption and the economic crisis created by the Fianna Fáil Green Government.

“Sinn Féin is proposing fundamental political reform which is citizens centred and based upon equality and fairness.

“Our party tomorrow will launch our comprehensive proposals.” ENDS

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‘A blow to the democratic process’, is how Sinn Féin’s candidate in Galway West, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, has described the decision by TG4 to invite only three party leaders to take part in a televised debate on that station.

‘This is the most important election in the history of the State and people have a right to hear the views of all party leaders in the first official language’, he says. Although he welcomes the first ever televised debate in Irish between leaders, he maintains that it does not go far enough as only three parties are represented.

‘According to the polls, Sinn Féin have as much, if not more support than Fianna Fáil at present and the people should be allowed to hear about our policies, says Ó Clochartaigh. ‘Sinn Féin is the strongest party when it comes to the Gaeltacht and support for the Irish language and it is therefore also very unfair that our voice will not be heard on the national Irish language channel debate’.

‘The TG4 debate will focus as well, on issues such as regional development, culture and language which will not get as much airtime on other stations and it is essential that the citizens of this country hear how every party leader stands on these issues’, he maintained. ‘A limited debate such as this is not healthy, at a time when meaningful debate on all the issues is crucial’, said Ó Clochartaigh.

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said that Sinn Féin has today submitted a response to the consultation on the north’s Draft Budget.


Mr McLaughlin outlined his party’s view that there can be a ‘Better Way’ and that with the onset of Tory cuts, the onus was on the Assembly and Executive to take the lead in generating additional revenues, achieving fiscal and economic levers as well as working together to achieve the best deal for frontline services and those most vulnerable in our society.


Mr McLaughlin said;


“While others attempted to stand by and acquiesce with Tory cuts, Sinn Féin has consistently said that there can be a ‘Better Way’. Despite a Tory cut of £4 Billion from the north’s Block Grant, our economic proposal document identified revenue raising opportunities of over £1 Billion. This of course will not see off the impending difficulties but it shows clearly that when we stand up and stand together, we can begin to offset the worst excesses of Tory slash and burn policy.


It also highlights the very immediate and obvious need for the transfer of fiscal powers to the Assembly and Executive.


In our approach to the Budget process, Sinn Féin has been guided by the general principles that we need to grow the economy, we need to protect those who are most disadvantaged and we need to protect public services that are so vital to our economy. That includes continuing to oppose lifting the cap on student fees as suggested by the recent, revised Stuart Report.


We must also work to end the foolish and wasteful replication of services across Ireland and ensure greater harmonisation across the island; the notion that a country the size of ours can sustain two healthcare systems, two education systems, two transportation systems is simply unsustainable and detrimental to our economy.


In our submission we have outlined various ways that we believe could see further savings and additional revenue raised including the use of Housing Associations reserve, freeing up to £80 million from the Department of Social Development; the introduction of a plastic bag levy, which is being processed as a Sinn Féin Private Members Bill; and a phone mast levy which is currently under consideration by the Budget Review Group.


We see this Draft Budget proposals as a beginning of a process over the budget period to realise additional revenue into the provision of public services and to offset Tory cuts from London.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann and Sinn Féin spokesperson on the economy has criticised Invest NI for giving public money to a London company who says it will pass the financial benefits received to current employees in London who wish to relocate to Belfast.

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

“Invest NI have been under increasing amounts of scrutiny due to the low levels of investment currently being allocated to areas such as West and North Belfast, and west of the Bann which are areas with the highest rate of income deprivation and unemployment in the North.

“Further to this there have been millions of pounds wasted on issues such as the rental of empty offices or indeed the allocation of funding to firms that have since disinvested in the local economy.

“It has now come to light that a London based law firm is now paying £8,000 to existing staff members who wish to relocate from London to here. These are monies that should have gone directly to job creation locally.

“The relocation of staff from other countries will do little to increase levels of job creation or retention in the local economy.

“Invest NI is an organisation that receives millions of pounds in public funding per year. While any potential investment has to be welcomed there is a need for such bodies to ensure that public money is well spent, particularly in terms of economic growth.

“Given the financial constraints that all government departments are working under and the severe economic difficulties facing families and communities in areas suffering from high levels of under investment it is extremely important that any potential opportunity to create employment must go to the benefit of people who need it most.

“It is clear that there is a need for a review into the workings of Invest NI and in the way public money given to that organisation for investment and job creation is spent."

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Commenting on UUP leader Tom Elliot’s speech today, indicating that the UUP are edging towards leaving the power sharing Executive by 2015, Sinn Féin Assembly member Conor Murphy has challenged both the UUP and SDLP to wake up, show some political maturity and get down to the business of delivering for ordinary people through the political institutions.


Mr Murphy said:


“Given the performance of the UUP Heath Minister in recent weeks who has gone AWOL from the Executive and the Assembly as his department lurches from one crisis to another many may not notice if the UUP departed from the Executive full time.


“The fact of the matter is both the UUP and SDLP have many ways been little more than semi detached members of the Executive throughout this term as they both struggled to come to terms with the new political landscape. They want the Ministerial jobs but are unwilling to do any heavy lifting at the Executive table. They adopt one position in the Executive and the opposite in the Assembly.


“In her conference speech SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie made it clear that she saw the future of the SDLP in an alliance with Ulster Unionism rather than with other nationalist or republican parties on the island. The joint approach adopted by both parties to their Ministerial roles indicates that this project is ongoing.


“From our perspective we will continue to stand by the Good Friday Agreement political institutions. We will not allow a dilution of the checks and balances contained within it and we will not run away from the job of delivering for people through the Executive.” ENDS

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Speaking this afternoon at the launch of Sinn Féin’s job creation proposals specifically for Dublin, Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe said that he was proud to be launching the proposals in his constituency where he urgently wants his party’s proposals to take effect.

Cllr Sean Crowe said that although Dubliners have been particularly hard hit by unemployment,the capital was only part of a much larger group of unemployed people across Ireland affected by the Government’s sabotaging of the state’s economy.

He said that a radically different approach to job creation along with innovative ideas like those in Sinn Féin’sdocument “”Let’s Get Dublin Working” were needed to turn the city around.

Sean Crowe said: 

"Today I am proud to be launching these proposals in my constituency which if implemented, will bring about significant and radical change to our local and national economies.

"Dubliners have been particularly hard – hit by the refusal of the government to intervene in situations where jobs could have been saved. Standing here on this site outside the old and empty Jacobs Biscuit factory is a testament to that failure. Unfortunately, the losses felt here have been replicated around the city of Dublin. From SR Technics in Swords to Dell in Cherrywood, thousand upon thousand of jobs have been lost because this government has either ignored the employees’ innovative proposals to keep companies open, or have failed to commit themselves in effort or time to come up with ideas of their own to sustain employment.

"Sinn Féin have come up with answers. Our proposals are radical, practical and different.

"Among them, is the call for more support tosmall and local businesses which form the backbone of many innercity communities. Priority should not only be given to large manufacturers or factories. Simple support like ensuring small businesses have access to credit or making sure local authority rates are not crippling them and protecting people’s incomes so they have disposable wages, are simple measures which if taken, would make a world of difference.

“Sinn Féin has consistently said that the only way to properly deal with the current economic crisis is to focus on creating and retaining jobs.  We must get people back to work and get them spending again.  That is the only progressive way out of recession.

“Our document 'Let’s get Dublin Working' puts forward, achievable and fully costed proposals that would save and create almost 100,000 jobs in Dublin in 2011.

“Along with supporting Dublin businesses and entrepreneurs, we must invest in infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and public transport.  We must complete the regeneration schemes around the city while investing in community facilities that would create jobs with social benefits for local areas.

“Sinn Féin’s proposals have long- term vision for the city of Dublin.We areprovidingreal, credible and costed proposals and alternatives to get Dubliners back to work and the capital’s economy flourishing again.” ENDS

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Expressing his party's support for the student nurses protesting in Dublin today, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

“Sinn Féin is committed to reversing the unfair and unjust Government decision to cut the pay of student nurses and would vote to restore, immediately, the pay of working fourth-year student nurses/midwives to 80% of the minimum of the current nurse scale.

“We have repeatedly criticised and called for reversals of the savage health cuts of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government. The professions of nursing and midwifery in this State are going through their worst experience since the 1980s due to the cutbacks. The people on the frontline who have to cope with the outcome of the cuts in terms of patient care are the nurses and midwives, and I paid tribute to them during the debates on the Nurses and Midwives Bill (May 2010) for the superb work they do in caring for people in our health services. They carry out that work despite being hampered by a fundamentally flawed system, by mismanagement at government and HSE level and by the current cuts.

“We commend the many thousands of nurses and midwives who have campaigned not only against the unjust paycuts placed on them, but very importantly against the many cuts in services to patients over recent years. It is most often the nurses who have blown the whistle on the HSE and the Government, exposing malpractice, the reality of A&E overcrowding and the myriad other effects of Government cutbacks.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey has welcomed the announcement by Department of Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy that he will not abolish the Education Maintenance Allowance.

Ms Ramsey stated,

“I welcome the fact that DEL Minister Danny Kennedy has stated on the back of a question from Sinn Féin that he will not be abolishing the Education Maintenance Allowance.

“It was thought that the Minister would follow the example of his Tory colleagues in London and abolish the EMA here in the North.  The EMA is important in allowing children from deprived areas the option of staying in education until they sit there A-Level exams.

“The uptake in the numbers of children deciding to stay in education until they are 18 is testament to the success of this scheme.  Sinn Féin has campaigned to have the EMA maintained and will now hold the Minister to account to ensure he makes good his promise today in the Assembly chambers

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Sinn Féin MLA for South Antrim has welcomed the siezure of illegal fuel and the removal of tonnes of toxic waste in Crumlin this morning.

 

Speaking today Mr McLaughlin

 

“The closure and removal of this illegal fuel laundering plant is to be welcomed.The discovery of 18 tonnes of toxic sludge, a by product of this process, is certainly shocking and to have this removed will be a great relief to the local community given the environmental damage that this could have caused to local land and waterways .

 

“I would urge people not to use fuel depots such as these despite understandable concerns about the price at the pumps of legitimate service stations.

 

“While those behind it may see a quick profit, they nevertheless show little concern for the local community by storing large quantities of fuel without proper safety mechanisms, producing toxic by products to be dumped illegally and selling on fuel that will inevitably damage the motor vehicles.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said that instead of offering the public solutions to the serious problems which the Fianna Fáil Government created, they are engaged in a smear campaign against Sinn Féin.

Speaking on radio this lunchtime Mr. Adams said Sinn Féin is not interested in negative campaigning. Sinn Féin is bringing forward practical proposals and solutions.

Mr. Adams said:

“Micheál Martin is engaging in a smear campaign against myself and Sinn Féin in an effort to mask the fact that Fianna Fáil offers no real solutions and no real proposals to kick-start the economy, sort out the banks and get people working.

“Fianna Fáil wrecked the economy and has no real solutions to the mess they created.

“People are struggling to cope with the affects of Fianna Fáil’s budget and austerity measures. There are almost half a million people on the dole, thousands are emigrating and our health and education systems are in tatters.

“Sinn Féin is offering solutions including an end to taxpayers’ money being poured into toxic banks, and a new budget to reverse the Government’s savage cuts, the abolition of the universal stimulating the economy and investment in jobs.” ENDS

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Speaking this morning after launching Sinn Féin’s Irish language Proposals outside the Fine Gael party’s Head Quarters in Dublin, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said they had chosen Fine Gael’s offices as a sign of protest at their plans to reduce the status of the Irish language for second level students.

He said:

“In contrast to Fine Gael, Sinn Féin is committed to the protection and restoration of the Irish language. Rather than taking measures that will contribute to the dissolution of Irish, we believe the state should in fact be taking constructive steps to strengthen, support and encourage its growth.

“Unlike Fine Gael’s proposal to de- prioritise Irish by removing it from the second level education system as compulsory, we in Sinn Féin commit ourselves 100% to its promotion.

“We have today launched a list of proposals which we believe if implemented, would further protect the Irish language. One among many of those proposed is that there should be an Aire Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta in Cabinet with responsibility to deliver on the 20 year strategy.

“Equality is an integral part of a democratic society and this, as we have stated in our party’s manifesto, includes upholding the rights of Irish language speakers.

“We believe that the future of the Irish language depends upon the continuing existence of sustainable Gaeltacht communities where Irish remains the primary language of the community. These communities must be protected, supported and developed. That is why we advocate proper resourcing into the education system and are promoting the right to be educated through the Irish language.

“We also believe the right to education through Irish should be constitutionally and legally enshrined as one of the primary steps in protecting its existence for generations to come.”

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Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn has welcomed Minister Conor Murphy’s successful bid for £8.6 million towards City Of Derry Airport Safety works.


Speaking today Cllr MacLochlainn said


“This is great news for the City as we faced with the possibility of a 1.5 % adition to the rates if Conor had not succeeded in his bid.
“The essential safety works to City of Derry Airport are vital for its continued development as a vital piece of infrastructure for this city and region.


“At a recent meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers, Minister Conor Murphy, DRD, and Sammy Wilson, Minister Murphy wxpressed his committment to Derry Airport and within days he issued a ministerial directive to make the necessary contribution.


“He has now secured the bid of £8.6 m which will assist in keeping our rates for the coming year down. I want to applaud Conor Murphy’s commitment to development of the North West in general and Derry in particular.
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Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson, Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) has accused Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey of insulting the integrity of patients who claimed that they were only informed of their late diagnosis last week.

Martina Anderson said:

“In response to my questioning in the Assembly today Minister McGimpsey rejected the claims by at least two cancer patients that they were only informed last week of the delay in their diagnosis.

“The Minister insisted that all patients were informed of their X-Ray results by the end of Autumn of 2010. Despite the fact that the Moore family in Derry went public about their late notification last week and the ensuing publicity, the Minister is now demanding proof before he will investigate the claims.

“This is not the first time that this Minister attempted to defend the indefensible but I have no intention of letting him off the hook. These families want answers and I intend to hold Minister McGimpsey to account until they get answers and an explanation as to why they were only informed a matter of hours before the CEO’s of the Western Trust and the Health Boards were to appear before the Assembly Health Committee. It would seem that these two families were only being informed while the CEO’s were in transit to Stormont where they told the Committee that all patients were informed by the end of October 2010.

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Sinn Féin TDs Pearse Doherty and Aengus Ó Snodaigh will tomorrow launch Sinn Féin’s proposals on the Irish language at Fine Gael’s Headquarters on Mount Street at 11am.

Fellow Sinn Féin Candidates Dessie Ellis (Dublin North West) and Ruadhán MacAodháin (Dublin South East) will also attend the launch.

The decision to launch the document at Fine Gael’s office is in protest at their plans to reduce the status of the Irish language for second level students.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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The Sinn Féin candidate in Cork East, Sandra McLellan, has rubbished a claim by Fianna Fáil candidate Kevin O’Keeffe that Sinn Féin’s tax proposals constitute a threat to farmers. She said there is no proposal to tax farm land. 

McLellan said: “Councillor O’Keeffe has a hard neck attacking Sinn Féin over our policies for rural Ireland given the savage attacks which his government has implemented right across rural Ireland in order to bail out Fianna Fáil’s friends the failed banking and property speculators. 

“We have clear, well thought out proposals including a comprehensive document detailing how the agri food sector can become one of the engines of growth if people reject the austerity policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party. 

“We will also, as the only serious All Ireland party through our MEP and our Minister for Agriculture in the north Michelle Gildernew alongside a strengthened team of Sinn Féin TDs in Leinster House, be fighting for small to medium farmers during the review of the Common Agricultural Policy. 

“Councillor O’Keeffe is deliberately misleading farmers with regard to our tax proposals. In our manifesto we propose to introduce a 1% tax on all assets of over €1 million “excluding working farmland.”  In other words we have no intention whatsoever of taxing farmers in that way because we understand that the market value of farm land often bears little relation to the income that farmers derive from it.” ENDS

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Healthcare GE2011 doc coverLaunching Sinn Féin’s health proposals ‘Healthcare in Ireland – there is a better way’ Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that the current two-tier system must be replaced with a new system based on equality of access for all based on need alone.

He said:

“The healthcare system needs root and branch reform. We need a system where access to care at all levels is equitable and based on medical need alone. The two-tier system is inherently inequitable and inefficient and it has to go. Sinn Féin has comprehensive proposals to transform our healthcare services. We seek a new system based on public service and social solidarity.

“Our core proposal is for a new universal public healthcare system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation. We would establish a Health Funding Commission to help plan the transition to the new system.

“In the short term we would abolish prescription charges for medical card patients and introduce measures to reduce the cost of drugs by tackling waste and profiteering.

“We would restore Ministerial and Departmental responsibility for public health services, remove the excessive bureaucracy of the HSE and cap salaries at 100,000 euros.

“We would enshrine the right to healthcare in the Constitution and establish a Health Ombudsman.

“The downgrading of local hospitals must be reversed. They must be allowed to play their proper role as providers of a full range of care, including emergency services.

“The State subsidising of the private for-profit healthcare sector must be ended and all public money allocated for healthcare must be spent in the public system to deliver care on the basis of need alone.”

Commenting on the health policies of the other parties, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

“Fianna Fáil is defending the indefensible by calling for the status quo to continue – not surprising given that their new leader is a former Minister for Health & Children who conceived the failed HSE.

“Fine Gael and Labour are advocating a health insurance model which has the potential to give insurance companies a determining role in the delivery of health services.

“There are also differences between the Fine Gael and Labour proposals and we have no idea what a hybrid Fine Gael/Labour government health policy would look like.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will tomorrow launch his party’s health policy document entitled ‘Healthcare in Ireland – There is a better way’.

Deputy Ó Caoláin will be joined by fellow Sinn Féin candidates Peadar Toibín (Meath West) and John Brady (Wicklow) at the launch which will take place at the gates of Leinster House on Kildare Street at 11.30am tomorrow.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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Education doc GE2011 CoverSinn Féin TD and General Election candidate for Dublin South Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh has today launched the party’s proposals for a return to free education.

Speaking from the Department of Education Ó Snodaigh said:

“The Fianna Fáil/Green Government has been engaged in a full frontal attack on our education services over the past number of years. Capital funding has been cut, the pupil teacher ratio has increased, funding for special needs and combating educational disadvantage has been cut, student registration fees have gone up and the administration of the back to school allowance has become a farce.

“Fianna Fáil continually talks about the knowledge economy while at the same time it has been busy decimating our education system. That is a disgrace and needs to be challenged. It should be brought to the attention of every Fianna Fáil canvasser in this election.

“Free education in this state is a myth. The cost of education has increased exponentially year on year with experts indicating the cost of educating a child from junior infants through to third level to be in and around €70,000.

“Every September is a struggle for parents to come up with the money needed to send children back to school. Added up, the cost of books, uniforms and transport reaches into the hundreds and often thousands.

“Sinn Féin is committed to making free education a reality.

“Article 42.4 of the 1937 Constitution states ‘The State shall provide for free primary education’. That obligation is not being upheld.

“A return to free education has to be a cornerstone of building a better Ireland. We have to recognise that education is key to economic recovery and enabling every child to reach their potential.

“Sinn Féin is proposing 6 simple steps to free education including opposing third level fees, increasing the school capitation grant and establishing a book lending scheme.

“In our 2011 pre-budget submission Sinn Féin showed how we fund our public services such as education in a way that is fair including asking those who have more to pay more. We have shown that public services such as education can be spared from cuts.

“We have shown how investing in services such as education will pay dividends and ultimately in the long run will end up saving the state money.

“We can make free education a reality if the political will is there. Sinn Féin has that will and, if elected to government will follow through on our commitment to protect and invest in our education system.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said the current row between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour is a phoney debate.

He said any disagreements on economic matters between the main parties can only be on minor details as they are all in cahoots on the consensus for cuts, all signed up to the four year plan and they all agree with the EU/IMF loan.

Mr Adams said:

“The fact is that any real disagreements on economic matters between the main parties are on minor details only.

“The current argument between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour is a nonsense argument and a phoney debate.

“The fact is that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party all agree on their broad economic approach. They are all in cahoots on the consensus for cuts, all signed up to the four year plan and they all agree with the EU/IMF loan.

“Sinn Féin stands alone in opposition to the EU/IMF loan, the consensus for cuts and the four year plan. We are the only party to say clearly that the Irish taxpayer cannot afford this loan and there is now a growing swell of support for our position both among the electorate and among economists and key commentators.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said called on all parties who wish to form part of the next Government to give a commitment to keep Crumlin Children’s Hospital open.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking during a protest at the hospital today.

He said:

“The campaign against the closure of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin is continuing and will continue after this election is over.

“I am therefore calling on all parties who wish to be part of the next Government to give a commitment to keep the hospital open.” ENDS

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