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Michelle O’Neill has been named the new leader of Sinn Féin in the North.

Please watch and share this exclusive interview below which tells a bit of her life story as a mother of two from a small village in County Tyrone, her work in politics and in the Executive, standing up for equality, respect and integrity in government and continuing the work that Martin McGuinness has done stretching himself for peace and reconciliation.

You can view a biography of Michelle O’Neill here


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Meath TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín today met with workers from Spicers Bakery and called on the Department to act to support of these jobs.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I along with my colleagues Cllr Joe Reilly and Cllr Caoimhe Ní Shlúain have met with the staff of the business today and I hope to meet with management in the next 48 hours. Already 27 jobs have been lost in the last few days and the remaining jobs are hanging on by a shoe string.

“I am calling on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to intervene to help analyse cost reducing measures and ensure that this business is supported to safeguard jobs.

“Spicers bakery has been a mainstay of the Navan and Meath since it opened its first flour Mill in 1834 and first bakery in 1880. Today the bakery industry faces substantial pressure due to the crushing of domestic demand, lack of credit, increased unemployment and the evaporation of disposable income.

“Since its establishment Spicers has provided jobs and delivered a service to the people of Meath. It is a both a local producer and employer. It is a central part of the heritage of the town and county. It represents the type of industry that is bearing the brunt of the failed policies of this government. It is the type of indigenous industry that should be the priority for support.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said that the party’s message to the Troika today is that, “a change of direction is urgently needed if jobs are to be created and a second bailout avoided.”

His comments were made in advance of a Sinn Féin delegation meeting with the Troika at 4pm in the Department of Finance. The delegation included TDs, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn and their advisors.

Deputy Adams said:

“Austerity is not working. Every available social and economic indicator confirms this. We want to discuss the details of Sinn Féin’s alternatives with the Troika today.

“We need a change in direction that provides for investment in job creation, retention of jobs and a return to economic growth if we are to avoid a second bailout.

“We believe that even within the framework of the current programme there are choices which would enable the Government to meet their EU/IMF commitments without punishing low and middle income families.

“This is Sinn Féin’s central message to the Troika today. The government must abandon austerity and bank bailouts. They must pursue a new strategy. This would involve investment in jobs to return the economy to positive growth and the removal of the burden of the Anglo Irish promissory note from the taxpayer.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has asked how many homeless families could have been housed with the public money wasted by the significant and substantial failings at the Helm Housing Association.

His comments came after the release of a report into Helm Housing Association which reported ‘significant and substantial failings’ by the senior management team and a failure of the Board at the housing association.

“Public money has been wasted while families on the waiting list in North Belfast and elsewhere have to put up with living in substandard or overcrowded housing, or having no home at all.

“Some of those responsible for these failings have reportedly left Helm Housing before this report was published, avoiding accountability for what was a complete waste of public money.

“It is homeless people that are losing out and especially here in North Belfast where there is such a lengthy waiting list. This is not only a case of bad practice and failure by Helm but also a lack of effective oversight from the office of the DSD.

“The DSD Minister should act immediately and target public money directly at addressing the local housing crisis in North Belfast. The homeless and those living in below standard and over-crowded housing should not suffer any more because of Helm’s failings.”

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Sinn Féin Junior Minister, Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) has welcomed the announced changes to Contract Management Procedures in the Procurement process by Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson today.

Martina Anderson said:

"Over two years ago I called for stringent new measures to ensure that small businesses got access to government jobs and that sub-contractors received prompt payment for work carried out.

"I therefore welcome todays announcement by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson that new Procurement Guidance will shortly be announced that will provide protection to sub-contractors and ensure prompt payment. Certificate of Unsatisfactory Performance will be issued to contractors who persistently fail to deliver on key contractual requirements.These will be defined in the contract and will include fair payment to subcontractors.

"The new protocols will also enforce compliance with social clauses reinforcing the Executive commitment in the Programme for Government to have Social Clauses included in all public procurement contracts. This was a key issue on which Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned.

"Both these steps will contribute to assist in creating and maintaining local jobs. I will be monitoring the situation to ensure that the terms of contracts are being shared right along the supply chain as envisaged in these new protocols and that the social clauses are strictly adhered to. I urge the CPD to ensure that these protocols are properly implemented.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed the commitment of Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín to maintaining library services across the North.

Mr McMullan stated:

“I understand that due to financial constraints libraries have been under pressure but I welcome the commitment from the Minister to maintain the number of libraries across the North. 

“Rather than close a number of libraries the Department has opted for rearranging opening hours to save the number of libraries.

“While this is not the ideal scenario the restructuring of opening hours will prevent a substantial number of libraries from closing and therefore maintain local services which will benefit local communities.

“Libraries are an essential part of local communities and provide a range of services that cannot be replicated by other providers.

“Apart from books, libraries now have services such as computer suites, music and video and photo copying services to mention but a few.  

“Local communities also have a role to play in protecting library services and should maximise the use of their local branch to ensure their long term future

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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey said she is very concerned that, 48, 751 children and young people in North contacted Childline over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and Young People said:

“It’s very concerning that nearly 50,000 children and young people in the North contacted ChildLine over a two week period at Christmas and the New Year and that this figure has increased 50% from last year.

“It’s clear that a time of year which should be a joyous and a happy occasion for many children, is in reality not the case.

“Increasing numbers of young children are trying to cope and deal with the aftermath of domestic violence and binge drinking in the family home.

“Often this is hidden away from the public eye and the only source they can access for help is the likes of Childline.

“It is really important that these children have someone to talk to. Organisations like Childline play a vital role in helping youngsters who feel they have no one else to turn to.

“We need to ensure that children know that there is help out there and such services are available. I would urge all schools, youth clubs and sporting organisations to have the numbers of the likes of Childline on their notice boards.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the HSE National Service Plan spells misery for health service users and staff in 2012. He accused Health Minister James Reilly of making an elaborate show of tinkering with a plan that is based on the savage Budget 2012 cuts which to which he signed up.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This HSE National Service Plan implements the savage cuts to health spending imposed in the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s Budget 2012. The plan spells misery in 2012 for people who use our health services and the staff who have to deliver those services.

“The budget reduction of €750 million comes after the €1 billion reduction in 2011. Health Minister James Reilly’s claim that front-line services can be preserved through greater efficiency is contradicted by the Plan which states that ‘the bulk of the reductions that the HSE is required to deliver in 2012 will impact increasingly directly on frontline services’.

“We face the loss of nearly 600 beds in public nursing homes – a devastating blow. I am certain that communities will increasingly resist these cuts of beds and threatened closures of homes across this State.

“The Service Plan confirms the projected departure of 3,000 staff from the health services in 2012 and states that the Plan itself will have to be reviewed later in the year depending on the numberss going – in other words more cuts.

“Again the Plan contradicts the Minister’s repeated assurances that front-line care can be protected when it says that ‘efficiencies will not compensate for the loss of frontline healthcare delivery staff in such large numbers’.

“Over Christmas Health Minister James Reilly made an elaborate show of tinkering with a Service Plan that is based on the savage Budget 2012 cuts which to which he signed up. The Plan is every bit as bad as signalled and he and his Cabinet colleagues bear full responsibility
“This Plan confirms that the health and welfare of the Irish people is to be sacrificed by the Fine Gael and Labour Government in pursuit of a failed economic strategy that is destroying public services, employment and economic growth.” ENDS

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The privatisation of Dublin City Council's domestic waste collection service which begins from Monday 16 January is happening because "Fine Gael and Labour at council and at government level have allowed it to go ahead", according to Sinn Fein’s Cllr Micheal Mac Donncha.

He said:  "Householders across Dublin City are only now receiving notice of the privatisation of their waste collection service from Monday. They face a bill for their annual charge of €100 which must be paid within 30 days plus a requirement for payment in advance for bin lifts. They also face increased lift charges from July. Low income families and individuals who have waivers are only covered for this year. People who fall below the income threshold for the former waiver will have no scheme to apply for.

"This privatisation of our city's waste collection service was opposed in three City Council votes at the end of 2011. However, Fine Gael and Labour councillors supported a City Council Budget based on the privatisation of the service. They complained of the legislation which allows the City Manager to impose privatisation while endorsing his action by their support for the budget.

"In government, Fine Gael and Labour have continued the policy of privatisation and have done nothing to introduce either the promised national waiver scheme or to repeal the Fianna Fail legislation which gives City and County managers the power to privatise.

"This is a shameful end to a City Council service that has been provided for over a century. It is a sad day for democracy in Dublin. Sinn Fein wll continue to oppose privatisation and to defend public services." ENDS

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Wicklow Sinn Féin Councillors John Brady and John Snell are today taking part in ‘The Big Push’ to save the Accident and Emergency Department at St Columcille’s Hospital Loughlinstown.

Beginning in Arklow at 11am an Ambulance will start a symbolic journey and travel to St Columcilles Hospital in Loughlinstown. It will stop in towns along the way where a hospital trolley will be pushed through the towns by members of the campaign group.

Speaking about the plans Sinn Féin councillor John Brady said "As the campaign to save the A&E in St Columcilles hospital, Loughlinstown intensifies it has been decided to hold a symbolic ambulance run from Arklow to the Hospital in Loughlinstown. We have called it ‘The big push to save our A&E’ we will also be pushing a hospital trolley through the main towns on route to the hospital.

“The purpose of ‘The big push’ is to again highlight how critical the A&E is for Wicklow. People from across the county depend on the service and closing it and forcing people to rely on an already over stretched St Vincent's Hospital will have a detrimental impact on all residents in Wicklow.”

Councillor Brady continued “The 24 hour A&E will close in Loughlinstown shortly unless there is Government intervention. The 21,000 people who use the service annually along with all other residents in the catchment area for the hospital deserve investment in the hospital and not a downgrading.

“The closure of the A&E is not about providing a better service, it is simply a cutback dressed up to look like it’s a reconfiguration that will remove people from the hospital trolleys in the corridors of Loughlinstown. The opposite is the case. Cutting the A&E in Loughlinstown will simply compound the problems currently being experienced in St Vincent’s and will ultimately result in a deterioration in the level of service for patients and possibly deaths.

“We are calling on everyone interested in saving the A&E in Loughlinstown to get involved in ‘The Big Push to Save our A&E’. Time is running out as the HSE, supported by Wicklow’s five TD’s, are hell bent on push through these cuts.

“However people power can ultimately stop this going ahead. We are asking people to come along today and walk with the group which will be led by an Ambulance and followed by the trolley push.”

Sinn Féin county councillor John Snell continued “The big push is a symbolic act to show that people from Arklow and further depend on the A&E. We will be starting in Arklow at 11am, then onto Wicklow Town for 1pm before going to Bray at 3pm. We will then move to the Hospital where after the lengthy journey a symbolic coffin will be delivered at the hospital gates.

“We will be encouraging as many people as possible to join in the big push along the way even if it is just through one of the towns, it is important that we stand shoulder to shoulder in an attempt to save the A&E.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, has congratulated the women workers at the La Senza lingerie group for achieving payment of the wages and overtime owed to them after a sit in at the Liffey Valley store in Dublin.

“The workers at La Senza, along with those at Lagan Brick in Cavan and Vita Cortex in Cork, not only lost their jobs, but found themselves abandoned by their former employers and by government.

“When people lose their jobs, which is a disaster for them, they must be protected against being abandoned to their fate without even their minimum entitlements,” he said.

“The women workers at La Senza, in the face of such behaviour by the company, took the only course of action open to them: they sat in. This case had a good conclusion, but the women are still without jobs and the worry is that will be fate of thousands like them in coming months as the government fails to create jobs and continues with its austerity programme.”

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Dublin South Central Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed the announcement from Diageo that it is to make a capital investment of €153 million in a brewing centre of excellence at St James’s Gate, Dublin with the creation of 300 jobs during the construction phase.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh has called for a local employment clause to be inserted into the construction contract to ensure that the project employs people from one to the state’s worst affected unemployment black spots.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“This news is a welcome boost for the constituency of Dublin South Central which has suffered greatly in the recession.

“I am calling for a local employment clause to be inserted into the construction contract to ensure that local people are employed on the project as this is one of the worst affected unemployment black spots in the state.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the decision by a court in Belfast to hold a full judicial review hearing into the British government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989.

Mr Adams said:

“In October the British Secretary of State for the north Owen Patterson stood in the British Parliament and speaking on behalf of his Prime Minister he admitted that British state agencies had colluded with a unionist death squad in the shooting dead of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.

“Despite this admission the British government has refused to honour an inter-governmental agreement with the Irish government made at Weston Park in 2001.

“It is outrageous that the British Prime Minister should erect obstacles before the Finucane family, break commitments given to them and force that family into another court hearing to get to the truth.

“On Thursday the Taoiseach raised Pat Finucane’s case with David Cameron but he needs to go beyond polite conversations which go nowhere.

“The Irish government must relentlessly press the British government on this issue through every diplomatic means and at every international institution open to it.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil today on a Sinn Féin motion on DEIS schools Peadar Tóibín, TD for Meath West, stated there is no silver bullet that will solve any country’s problems but the most powerful tool for progress as a nation is Education.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Education is central to the development of a prosperous and robust economy. How many times have we heard the buzz words of smart economy or knowledge economy. All meaningless given that the last government and this one keep reducing investment.

“A couple of years ago this state's investment in education was below the OECD average. Since then we have had traveller support teachers removed, English as an acquired language teachers removed, SNAs removed, Home School Liaison removed. We have had this attack on the DEIS schools, we have small schools under pressure causing major problems in rural areas especially in the Gaeltacht.

“Up to 700 career guidance teachers will also lose their positions. They will be moved out of their role and will start teaching again in the classroom. Many of the young teachers they will be replacing will as a result lose their jobs. Career guidance teachers carry out the IQ testing, carry out the aptitude testing, psychometric tests and interest tests for our students, they help students pick correct subjects at first year and at fifth year. They help students make informed decisions when they fill out their CAO Forms, UCAS forms, Post Leaving Certificate courses or apprenticeships and much more.

“But most importantly guidance counsellors look after the mental health of our students. In many ways career guidance teachers are the first port of call for students who have suffered from physical or sexual abuse, or who have suicidal or self-harm tendencies. Due to the critical role these teachers play I urge the government to reverse their decision on this issue.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, has welcomed the fact that the Taoiseach discussed the Pat Finucane case with British prime minister, David Cameron in London today.
Yesterday in the Dáil, Deputy Adams had asked the Taoiseach to raise the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, the killing of 11 people in the Ballymurphy massacre of 1971 and the case of murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane with the British prime minister.
Speaking today Deputy Adams said: “The British government committed to an agreement with the Irish government, at Weston Park, to have an enquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, widely suspected to have been a victim of British state collusion.
“By refusing to have the enquiry Mr Cameron is in breach of an intergovernmental agreement. He needs to be pressed relentlessly and forcefully to honour this obligation,” Deputy Adams concluded.
ends

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, can today reveal that €9.2million secured for redundant Dell workers in Limerick has been lost as a result of maladministration by the Department of Education. The new information was received from the Department in a parliamentary question asked by Deputy Doherty.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Workers made redundant by Dell in 2008 were due to receive retraining supports to the tune of €22.8 million following an application by the then government to the European Globalisation Fund. This money was to be used to assist these workers return to the workforce.

“However, I can reveal today that a massive €9.2million of this fund which had to be used by June 2011, was not spent. Two thirds of this will be returned to the European Commission under EGF rules.

“It is a scandal that 40% of a fund intended for workers made redundant in 2008 was unspent more three years after these workers lost their jobs. That a significant portion of this €9.2million will be returned to the European Commission is simply beyond comprehension.

“The reason for this scandal is clear. Mismanagement by the ministers responsible and maladministration by the department officials involved has resulted in unemployed workers being denied vital supports aimed at getting them back to work.

“While we do not know the amounts involved yet, a similar picture is likely to emerge with other programmes funded by the European Globalisation Fund. Thousands of workers in SR Tecnics, Waterford Crystal and the construction sector are likely to lose out as a result of mismanagement and maladministration.

“I am calling again for an independent inquiry into the management and administration of these European Globalisation Funded projects. This is the only way to determine why is responsible and, more importantly, to ensure that this kind of scandal never happens again.” ENDS

Note to editor: The full parliamentary question and reply is below:

Uimhir:175, 234

Ceist Pharlaiminte


Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish the European Globalisation Fund Final Report and Statement of Expenditure that was submitted to the European Commission on 28 December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pearse Doherty.

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money returned to the European globalisation fund from the funds secured for Dell workers in Limerick as contained in his report to the European Commission of 28 December 2011 on the EGF Dell programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
-Pearse Doherty.


* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 11th January, 2012.
Reference Number: 1031/12, 41183/11

Freagra


Minister of State, Ciarán Cannon

I propose to take questions 175 and 234 together.

My Department as the EGF Managing Authority in relation to the Dell EGF Programme, submitted the Final Report and accompanying statement of expenditure to the European Commission on 23 December 2011 as required in compliance with the EGF Regulations and the specific European Commission decision awarding a
financial contribution from the EGF to finance active labour market measures following the redundancies in Dell and its suppliers in Ireland. The total certified expenditure representing the contributions of the EGF and national funding included in the statement was Euros 13,619,598 in relation to measures carried out after 3 February 2009 and before 29 June 2011.

Until the European Commission has duly considered these documents and responded formally to the Department, no monies have been, or will be, returned from those received in respect of this EGF programme. Under Article 15.2 of the EGF Regulations, the European Commission shall wind up the financial contribution from the EGF no later than six months after it has received all the information required in relation to the final report and statement of expenditure.

Similarly, as the final report and statement of expenditure submitted to the European Commission are the subject of ongoing discussions between the parties, I will not be in a position to make them available until that process is complete.

The Department circulated an EGF review consultation document to relevant worker representative bodies and to service providers on 22 December 2011. This review exercise should be very useful to my Department in delivering on future EGF programmes in Ireland.

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his disappointment at the announcement by Diageo that it is to close Dundalk brewery by July 2013 and he has called on the government to intervene directly and urgently with Diageo to make every effort to retain Dundalk brewery and its 55 jobs.

The Sinn Féin leader was commenting after Diageo announced that it is closing the Dundalk and Kilkenny plants and centralising its operations in Dublin.

Deputy Adams said:
“It is not good enough for Diageo to praise its Dundalk workforce and describe as “outstanding” its contribution to their business, and at the same time throw 55 workers onto the dole queue.

Dundalk brewery has been a backbone of the local economy for generations. Although much smaller than it once was, it still makes an important contribution to Dundalk.

The closure of the plant in July 2013 will be a bad blow for the town and every effort needs to be made to persuade Diageo to retain the brewery.

I have contacted Richard Bruton, the Minister for Enterprise and Jobs and Innovation, asking that he arrange an urgent meeting with Diageo to press for a reversal of this decision.

Diageo announced this decision four years ago. Workers have a right to know what the previous government, and this government did to prevent this decision from proceeding.
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Speaking in the Dáil this week in support of the La Senza workers, Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe said:

“On Wednesday morning my party colleague Eoin Ó Broin and I visited the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre to meet workers of La Senza who have been treated disgracefully by their employers.

“It is unacceptable for workers to be told on a Monday morning that they no longer have a job and for the employer to withhold wages and overtime for hours worked. It is also unacceptable for employees to be left with no redundancy package by their employer.

“Workers have an absolute right to expect adequate notice of redundancy and December’s wages and overtime should have been paid on time. An adequate redundancy package must be been put in place for all staff to assist them in the difficult transition to unemployment.

“When I met workers out at Liffey Valley and in the Dáil, it was clear they have a great deal of support from local people who are shocked and angered by what has happened.

“One employee who worked for the company for nine and a half years was told on a Monday morning by seven heavies that her job is gone. She received no communication, phone call or e-mail and has still not been informed officially that she no longer has a job

“This company has shown contempt to both its staff and Irish taxpayers by their blatant disregard of the legislation that is there to protect workers’ rights. The government must address this issue and not allow the company to get away with this.

“All of the workers I spoke to who have lost their jobs still have no proof of their redundancy and this presents a difficulty in itself. The only way the workers can prove that they have been made redundant is for trade unions to provide a letter informing the Department of Social Protection of the situation. It highlights the difficulties in this regard and the importance of joining a trade union.

“There is something badly wrong with the existing legislation if workers can be treated in this way. Here we have a company that has already been sold off and the €6.5 million made in profits sent to Britain. All of the La Senza workers I met with had worked overtime and have not been paid. Attempting to get redress through tribunals will be a long, drawn out process considering there is a waiting list of 35,000 people.

“That is wrong and means it could be two years before these people are paid.”

“This is unacceptable and when Sinn Féin raised this in the Dáil this week we made it clear that the government must intervene and support the rights of La Senza workers.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin has condemned what it described as "EU treaty change by the back door". Commenting on reports about the latest draft of the austerity treaty which EU leaders are negotiating behind closed doors, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, TD said:

"We are very concerned that the EU treaties are being changed by the back door. Not content with a new international agreement which Euro area leaders agreed in December, they have decided to tear up the rule-book and change the EU treaties behind our backs and with no public engagement or consultation.

"If these people want to change the EU treaties there are clear procedures laid out in the Lisbon Treaty which they can use. The ordinary treaty revision procedure which applies when sovereignty is being transferred from member states to the EU institutions, necessitates the establishment of a treaty change convention, made up of member state parliamentarians, European parliamentarians with member state government and European Commission representatives to ensure an open and transparent approach.

“It is clear these negotiations are anything but open and transparent.

"We are calling on Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore to put an immediate stop to this treaty change by stealth."

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The government needs to take steps to safeguard against increasing levels of suicide in the current depressed economic climate, according to Sinn Féin Senator, David Cullinane.

Speaking in the Seanad today the Waterford Senator stated that suicide often increased in times of recession, due to a number of factors, and that action was needed to counteract that.

Senator Cullinane said:

“International research shows evidence of a trend that suicide increases in times of recession. According to Amnesty International Greece’s suicide rate increased by 40pc in the first half of 2010.

“Regrettably, it seems that this trend is establishing here as well. Registered deaths from suicide in 2009 reached a record figure of 527, a 24% increase on the previous year, and there were 127 deaths from suicide registered in the second quarter of 2010 a further increase on 2009. The Samaritans, recorded an increase of 9% in calls in 2011, with one in eight calls of the over 400,000 calls received being recession related."

“The pressures that the recession brings affect a wide variety of people. Clearly unemployment brings with it a great deal of stress, anxiety and worry, and according to the Irish Institute of Suicidology, for every 1% rise in unemployment there is a .79% increase in suicide rates.

“However, people who are employed also face serious pressures. In the current climate, and particularly in a very competitive work environment, where margins are thin, and the stakes high, and many workplaces, public and private under enormous pressure, then clearly employees will find that pressure difficult. This is a time of financial stress, and needless to say, personal stress and anxiety as well.

“In 2007 the National Economic and Social Forum (social partnership) published its report Mental Health & Social Inclusion. It suggested various measures to safeguard mental health in the workplace. It suggested putting in place procedures for managing staff with mental health problems, the employers would participate in and support campaigns to raise awareness and challenge stigma and put in place guidelines, incentives and programmes to support people with mental health problems to stay in employment through, for example, adapted or flexible work schemes and schedules.

“Little of this has been implemented. If the Government is serious about tackling suicide prevention, it must ensure that measures are put in place to protect people’s mental health against the effects of the recession, both among the unemployed and in the workplace. But more fundamentally, it must also prioritise job creation, as the only long term solution to recession related mental illness is to bring an end to the recession, and to ease the pressure, both on the unemployed, and on those working in under resourced, and overstressed workplaces.” ENDS

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Cavan Senator Kathryn Reilly has today said that the HSE is gutting services at Cavan General Hospital and that the patient care and safety of people in the North East region is being sacrificed. Senator Reilly was calling for a debate with the Minister for Health following the announcement that there would be a 25% cutback in staffing at the Outpatient Department at Cavan General Hospital.

Senator Reilly said:

“The failure to increase capacity at the hospital following the downgrading of Monaghan General Hospital, together with the recruitment embargo, have already resulted in enormous pressure on staff and patients at Cavan General Hospital. Now a further 25% cut to outpatient services will completely decimate patient care and safety.

“The proposed cuts for Cavan are completely unrealistic given the further curtailments in services in Monaghan hospital last year. The HSE is completely out of touch with the realities of the public health service.

“Rather than decimating public health services in the region, the minister needs to look at restoring services to Monaghan Hospital and maintaining and developing the services in Cavan.

“I have been advised that the Minister is to sign the HSE Service Plan tomorrow which will mean each HSE area will seek to impose further cuts to stay within their reduced annual allocations. This is unacceptable. The minister needs to come to the house and discuss the HSE service plan and how he thinks he can protect frontline services and ensure that patient safety isn’t sacrificed. This needs to happen before the cutbacks take effect in Cavan on 23rd January.

“There was absolutely no consultation or discussion at local level with either nursing staff representatives or elected representatives on the issue. We cannot accept the situation where after the event the HSE involves itself in discussion with some stakeholders, not about the decision or the service, but how its decision is to be implemented. There should be a real process of local consultation with stakeholders, whether staff, members of the public, service users or patients, before decisions are made.

“The HSE is gutting services at Cavan General Hospital and in the wider North East region. They say that reduction in staffing will not mean a reduction in clinics but in practice we will see extended waiting lists and further drains on the services if these cuts are allowed proceed in the coming weeks.” ENDS

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