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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Latest Statements

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Responding to reports today that Minister Michael Noonan said he would not rule out a deal being done on the €3.1 billion promissory notes due on the 31st March, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that the Government should not make this payment and tell the ECB that that is the deal.

Deputy Doherty said the Government should not be waiting on the sidelines for a deal to be handed to them, but that they should be standing up for the rights of Irish taxpayers.

Doherty said:

“This Government cannot pay the €3.1 billion due to IBRC, formerly Anglo and Irish Nationwide, on 31st March. The state cannot afford to hand over money which will go to the Irish Central Bank to be burnt. Sinn Féin has repeatedly highlighted the unjust nature of this debt and called for the Government to inform the ECB that Ireland cannot and will not carry this debt.

“The Government at this point needs to tell EU institutions that this is the deal. We should not be waiting for a deal to be struck on lengthening the timeframe or whatever other hare-brained idea the Minister has which still boils down to this debt being carried by the Irish people.

“This Government needs to stand up for its own taxpayers and citizens in the same way that other European Governments have done for their countries. The current Government and the last have adopted a policy of the class pet when it comes to Europe and it has not worked. We have received no help in bailing out the banks. We have implemented austerity for years and we've been given a loan that has conditions attached which attempt to dictate the future of our economy for years ahead. Current policy is not working. It is time for the Irish Government to stand up and be counted.”

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The Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Sandra McLellan has urged the Minister for Health James Reilly to ensure that the victims of symphysiotomy finally receive justice.

Deputy McLellan is one of the Sinn Féin representatives on the Oireachtas All-Party Support Group for Symphysiotomy.
Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy McLellan said:

“Today is a monumental and emotional occasion for all victims of symphysiotomy. We in Sinn Féin would like to acknowledge the fantastic resilience and commitment of all those survivors, victims and campaigners, who actively campaign for justice for the victims of this barbaric procedure.

“The consequences of the symphysiotomy procedure for mothers was horrendous. The long-term physical effects only tell half the story. Many mothers had great difficulty bonding with their children and I as a mother of three find this one of the most heart-breaking consequences of this unnecessary procedure. The brutality of the practice of symphysiotomy turned what should be the most memorable and joyous occasion of childbirth into a nightmare.

“We as elected members of parliament have a duty to ensure these women, who’s constitutional and human rights were violated by these pelvis-breaking operations, finally receive justice”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the Minister for Health to authorise a full public inquiry into the practice of symphysiotomy saying that “nothing less will suffice.”

Mr. Adams was speaking during this morning’s Dáil debate on Symphysiotomy in which he described the practice as “institutional abuse involving acts of butchery against women.”

Deputy Adams said:

“Unless the victims are given satisfaction, the campaigning but more importantly the hurt, the anguish, the grief, the bereavement goes on. Given the increasing age of the victims and the chronic pain and constant medical intervention they require as a result of symphysiotomy, it is urgent that the Minister deal with this now.

“Our focus must be to ensure that this deep wrong is finally brought to a conclusion and in a way that is acceptable to the victims.”

The Sinn Féin leader also appealed to the Minister to ask the government to “agree to the lifting of the statute bar to enable victims to seek redress through the courts.” He pointed to other justice campaigns which he said can be resolved in this term of the Dáil.

“These groups include Justice for the Maggies, for other victims of institutionalised abuse, including in Bethany Home, and in our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, and victims of symphysiotomy.

“All these causes are crying out for justice. Victims and survivors of symphysiotomy deserve the support of this Dáil and this government.

“They have been failed by this state. That wrong can be righted. We as Teachtaí Dala, elected by our peers, have a duty to make this happen.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said there are answers needed from Department of Enterprise Trade & Investment Minister Arlene Foster as to whether public money had been used by Independent News and Media to pay for redundancies in the Belfast Telegraph.

Jennifer McCann, who is a member of the DETI Committee at the Assembly said:

“Invest NI gave the £3.5 million pounds between 2005 and 2009 to secure jobs at the Belfast Telegraph while the company have been intent on rolling out redundancies.

“I will be raising the matter today at the meeting of the DETI committee and have also put in a priority written question to the minister to explain how this public money was used.

“Sinn Féin representatives have already met with the Unite union and the workers. This is obviously a matter of concern that workers jobs are threatened but that public money ear-marked to save those jobs may have been used to make workers redundant.

“The Minister needs to get answers from the company and explain to the wider public and specifically the workers where this public money went to.”

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A new online resource for teachers launched today will help young people engage with and learn from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

‘Aspire, Aim and Achieve’ is aimed at pupils at Key Stages 2 and 3 and contains a range of interesting and educational classroom activities, PE games and video material based on the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Speaking about the resource, Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “Aspire, Aim and Achieve is an inspirational eLearning tool that enables teachers to get pupils involved in activities that promote a healthy lifestyle and that help them learn about the world around them. The virtual learning environment provides a novel and engaging way for pupils to connect with subjects including history, geography, art and citizenship.

“I urge teachers across the north of Ireland to make use of the range of opportunities that Aspire, Aim and Achieve offers.”

The Minister added: “The resource is the result of significant collaboration between my Department and a range of local educational and sporting organisations and I commend all of those involved in developing the material for the website.”

Aspire, Aim and Achieve also offers teachers the ability to arrange video conferences with local sporting personalities, elite athletes and with other schools, enabling pupils to network directly with their peers and work together on a cross-community basis.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “This project really demonstrates how the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be a catalyst for learning and engagement across a range of subjects. Through the Games, its history and ethos, pupils here can explore relationships between sport and the arts, and between different countries and cultures. This eLearning tool will be an excellent legacy of the Games for local schools which they can continue to use in years to come.”

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Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has appealed to farmers to make greater use of the online facility for submitting their 2012 Single Application.

The Minister was speaking today as she outlined the 2012 Single Application process.

Highlighting the benefits the online Single Application service brings to farmers and their agents, Minister O’Neill said:

"Farmers or their agents can choose to use on-line or use a paper application. I recommend the online option because it has several advantages over the paper form. The 2012 online Single Applications service, which is available from 20 March, automatically checks application for errors and omissions as the form is being completed online. This helps reduce the time my Department has to spend on processing and checking claims after they are submitted and helps to produce faster payments. The service is easy to use and available 24 hours a day, including weekends. Broadband users will also be able to access their maps, based upon the latest available aerial photographs, online in advance of them being delivered by post.”

Paper copies of the application and guidance material will be received by farmers around 28 March 2012. Urging farmers to submit their applications early, the Minister said: “Farmers who want to submit a claim to the 2012 Single Farm Payment, Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances and the new Countryside Management and Organic Farming Schemes, must submit a 2012 Single Application Form. Farmers should complete their forms carefully and ensure they are submitted well in advance of the closing date of 15 May 2012.”

Minister O’Neill advised that farmers will also shortly receive aerial maps based on existing field boundaries, but enhanced with ineligible features which the Department can see from the aerial photographs being used for the map improvement project. All permanent ineligible features should be captured along with trees and scrub greater than 0.1 hectares.

The Minister said: “The aerial photographs will be issued to arrive around the same time as the SAF packs being posted to farmers. They can also be accessed online approximately one week before they arrive by post. We know that some farmers are still claiming for land that is not eligible. Other farmers are not declaring all the agricultural land on their holding. It is important that all farmers refer to the latest aerial photographs and the guidance material provided when walking their farm to check for ineligible features before completing their 2012 application. I am appealing to them to get their claims right.”

Referring to the Countryside Management and Organic Farming schemes, the Minister said: “Farmers who wish to claim management payments for the claim year which started on 1 January 2012, must do so by submitting a 2012 Single Application.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Jonathan O’Brien TD, today questioned the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn during Leaders’ Questions on the High Court challenge to implementation of the Household Charge, and asked them to scrap this unfair tax.

The Cork North Central TD stated:

“Yesterday the High Court gave leave to an individual to challenge the implementation of the Household Tax. In the Governments haste to obey the diktats of their so called European partners in paying unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders, and by picking the pockets of hard pressed citizens through the implementation of unjust and unfair taxes such as the Household Tax you forgot to translate the legislation into our National Language.

“In light of the High Court ruling yesterday, coupled with the overwhelming number of people, including myself, who are choosing not to register and pay this unjust and unfair tax. Would you agree that it is now the time to do the right thing and scrap this tax altogether?

“Minister there are very few people listening to this debate who will believe you when you say that the money collected from the household tax is going towards local services. People, despite what this Government might think, are not stupid. You have cut the funding to local authorities to the point where many are now not able to provide the most basic of services such are road resurfacing, traffic calming etc.

“Even if every single household in the state paid the household charge we would only be back to where we were before these cuts to local government. The issue here is one of fairness. This tax is not fair, a point on which your party leader agrees, and it is irresponsible of this Government to bring forward legislation which they know is not only unfair but also regressive.

“It's time to stop digging a bigger hole for yourself and just scrap the household tax.”


ENDS

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Speaking at Order of Business in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Deputy Jonathan O’Brien called on the Government to introduce legislation to prevent a situation similar to the events surrounding the Vita Cortex workers happening again. Deputy O’Brien condemned Minister Ruairi Quinn’s response that they had no plans to introduce such legislation.

The Cork TD said;

“I reminded the Minister that the Programme for Government and indeed the Labour Party election manifesto contains a commitment to legislate for workers’ rights to collective bargaining. Despite this government’s commitment to protect workers’ rights, today in Cork workers in Vita Cortex are on the 91st day of an occupation to get what was promised to them.

“I asked the minister when legislation will be introduced to ensure that no other workers have to go through what the Vita Cortex workers have gone through in order to receive what they are entitled to, and he responded that they had no plans to introduce legislation. All the Vita Cortex workers are seeking is fair treatment from their employer.

“I am calling on the minister to adhere to the terms of the Programme for Government and introduce collective bargaining legislation immediately.”

ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil during statements on symphysiotomy the Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD called for justice and truth for the surviving victims of this practice in Irish hospitals.

He strongly criticised the statement of Health Minister James Reilly that this was not a barbaric practice.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This is both a sad and an historic occasion – the first time that the Dáil has had statements on the use of symphysiotomy and pubiotomy, that barbaric practice which inflicted so much pain, distress and disability on so many Irish women.

“Exactly a month ago on 15 February here in this Dáil chamber I questioned the Minister for Health James Reilly on symphysiotomy. I asked the Minister if he agreed that this barbaric act should never have been carried out in the first place.

The Minister replied:

"I reject the Deputy’s contention that this was a barbaric act, although its use in certain circumstances may well transpire to have been utterly inappropriate."

“That was a very regrettable statement on the part of the Minister. I challenge him to ask any of the surviving victims if they agree with his contention that sympysiotomy was not barbaric. A barbaric act is defined as something cruel and primitive. Symphysiotomy was both cruel in its infliction and its effect and because it was medically unnecessary. It was primitive because it arose out of an attempt to impose on the bodies of women an ultra-conservative version of Catholic teaching.

“We need a full and proper inquiry that is open and transparent and that gives the victims their proper place.

“We also urge the Government to introduce legislation amending the Statute of Limitations as was done in the case of sexual abuse victims. This would allow the women to pursue legal action.

“We also need to see a comprehensive package of supports for the surviving victims of symphysiotomy, including health amendment cards for all.”

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