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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Oliver McMullan said that the Minister for Enterprise Trade & Investment needs to explain why she has excluded the agriculture business from the £50m loan scheme fund.

Oliver McMullan said:

“I would like to know why the agriculture business has been excluded from this fund especially considering that the industry has been so successful in the North, generating 3.7b for the local economy in 2010.

“If an industry has proven to be so successful then it is obvious that this is the area where you would want to invest given its track record of delivering.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly Housing spokesperson Fra McCann has called on the Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland to spell out exactly how he will deal with anti-social neighbours.

The Sinn Féin MLA said:

“This is a serious problem I had raised with the Minister last Tuesday at a meeting about anti-social tenants. Not a day goes by without reports of people torturing and making life miserable for their neighbours. 

“The Housing Executive have been ineffective in challenging this behaviour and have abandoned many estates to those who would destroy their neighbourhoods.

“The Minister should elaborate on what he intends to do to about this serious problem and I believe he is wrong to suggest that this just happens in social housing. 

 “The Minister needs to develop a package of proposals that could be added to the Housing Bill and would for the first time put tenants first in their continued battle against anti social elements.”

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Bairbre de Brún, Sinn Féin MEP was today in Stormont to meet with Development Aid NGOs (Trocaire, Christian Aid, Concern, Oxfam Ireland) ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change talks in Durban which she will be attending as part of the official delegation from the European Parliament.

Ms de Brún said,

"This was a very interesting and informative meeting and I pledged to raise at Durban the many points they raised with me.  The issue of climate justice and developing countries is central to the way European countries need to approach the UN talks. Although developing countries have historically contributed the least to the global rise in temperature, they are disproportionately affected by the high levels of emissions which have been pumped out by the developed nations since the industrial revolution.

"These developed nations, including the EU, have an immense responsibility in ensuring that their emissions are curbed significantly whilst also making sure that the developing nations have the capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change. It is therefore imperative that sufficient financing, promised at previous negotiations, is properly mobilised to allow developing countries a sustainable path to clean low-carbon futures, and to help them cope with the effects of the change already happening.

“I further pledged to those I met to go back again to the Irish government on their failure to bring forward the promised climate change legislation.”

Ms de Brún will be in Durban, South Africa from the 5th of December to attend the high level segment of UN Climate Change Negotiations.

Ms de Brún recently hosted a number of environment organisations in Brussels to attend a major conference on climate change which she co-organised in advance of the UN climate talks.

 

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Sinn Féin Assembly Housing Spokesperson and West Belfast MLA  Fra McCann MLA has criticised Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland over comments he made about under occupation in Housing Executive properties.

Fra McCann said:

“The Minister needs to understand that many people class these homes as family homes where they have reared the children and lived out most of their lives.

“To suggest that it is unacceptable that 70% of social housing is under occupied does not take into consideration the strong ties people have to these houses.

“It is proposed in the Tory welfare reform bill that people living in under occupied houses could loss 15% housing benefit for one room under occupied and 25% for two rooms empty.

“This could impact on thousands of tenants when you consider there are over 90,000 Housing Executive houses and over 30,000 owned by housing associations the scale of any reduction in housing benefit could force tens of thousands out of their homes.

 “Nelson should join with us in pushing for an increase in the number of new builds that would not only address the housing crisis but also stimulate the economy.”

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Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD today called on Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter to urgently change the legal requirements that force Irish citizens born in the north to send their birth certificates to the British Legalisation Office before they can marry in the 26 counties.

The Cork North Central TD said;

“A number of people have been in touch with my office who are extremely annoyed and disappointed that despite the fact they are Irish citizens, they are compelled to send their birth certificates to the British Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes to receive an apostille stamp before they can marry in the 26 counties.
“This requirement effectively means that Irish citizens born in the north cannot marry until they receive permission from the British state. Not only is it a massive inconvenience for these citizens, it completely flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Under the current legal arrangement, an Irish citizen born anywhere in the six counties must comply with this rule if they wish to marry in the 26 counties, however this rule does not apply to persons born in Latvia, Denmark, Italy, France, Belgium, Tunisia or Brazil. It is an issue of fairness as well as fundamental rights. If the government can make arrangements for those born outside of Ireland who wish to marry, they can make the same arrangements for those born ninety miles up the road.

“Official documentation such as birth certificates, produced in the six counties, which are routinely used for identification purposes, should be acceptable for verification purposes to all Irish state bodies. I will continue to raise this matter with the Minister so that all Irish citizens are treated equally regardless of where they were born on the island.”

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Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised the cabinet for holding off on the appointment of a new junior minister for housing.

He described the move as an attempt by the cabinet to keep disgruntled Labour backbenchers in line until after the budget.

Ellis continued;

“People are sick and tired of cuts and austerity to pay for a bailout which shouldn’t even be happening. Ordinary working people have had serious drops in their income and many low earners are teetering on the poverty line. Labour promised they would protect these people and they have failed. The upcoming budget is set to be another betrayal.

“Despite the serious issues ongoing in housing, the massive numbers on waiting lists, the huge subsidy of private landlords and the failure to address the spiralling homelessness problem, the role of Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing remains unfilled following Willie Penrose’s resignation.

“The Cabinet is using the temptation of this position to keep Labour TDs supporting their attack on working people, the vulnerable and the old. The question is whether or not ministerial perks are worth more to these TDs than the people who elected them.

“Labour backbenchers are getting increasingly uncomfortable with their leadership’s acquiescence with the policy of the bailout and austerity they railed against in opposition. They know their voters won’t forget and the cabinet are worried.”

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA, has announced the payment processing targets for 2011 Single Farm Payments (SFP) and 2012 Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances (LFACA).

Outlining the targets, Minister O’Neill said: “My Department will begin to pay out 2011 Single Farm Payments in December. We are aiming to pay 83% of claims in December and a total of 90% by the end of January. The payments will be paid into farmers’ bank accounts from around 12 December and the vast majority will be completed before Christmas.

“I am pleased to say that this year’s exchange rate is slightly more favourable for those farmers who receive their payments in sterling. The December payments alone will be worth in the region of £200million and will provide important support to farm incomes.”

Minister O’Neill explained that EU rules permit DARD to make payments only when eligibility has been fully established and that this means that not all claims will be paid immediately.

She said: “EU rules require my Department to carry out checks to all claims to verify their eligibility and assess the correct amount due before a payment can be released. Many of the cases that we cannot pay immediately, particularly those with on-farm inspections, have identified land eligibility concerns and changes to farm maps and therefore require complex assessments which take time to clear. Claims with unresolved queries and which involve inspections will be paid later in the payment schedule. In a number of other cases we cannot process a payment because the farmer has to provide us with bank account details or because probate is awaited. I would urge farmers who have not already done so, to supply their bank account details without further delay.”

Highlighting the work being carried out to upgrade the arrangements for recording and notifying inspection findings, the Minister continued: “My Department has been working to introduce improved systems to electronically record and notify inspections findings and speed up the transfer of inspection findings to Orchard House. It has taken time for the new systems to become fully established, but I am pleased to say that the necessary work has now largely been completed and that inspection reports are being transferred to Orchard House for assessment.”

The Minister also confirmed that payments due in 2012 under the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances Scheme (LFACA) will begin to issue in early March 2012.

In conclusion Minister O’Neill said: “Farmers should avoid phoning Orchard House about their payment unless it is absolutely necessary over the course of the next two months. This frees up the maximum number of staff to work on getting payments out instead of taking time out to investigate when specific payments might be made. If a call to Orchard House is unavoidable, we would appeal to callers to be patient, as phone lines are likely to be busy at peak periods.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on energy, Martin Ferris TD, has questioned the new measures proposed by Minister Pat Rabbitte to improve home energy efficiency.

It is proposed to replace existing grant schemes with a form of loan in which households will access money to pay for improvements and then repay what they have saved on their energy bills.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The measures outlined by the Minister are not altogether clear yet and I would be concerned by the factoring in of loans to be administered through the banks.

“It is true that measures taken to date, and the large expenditure on various schemes and grants, have not tackled the issue of fuel poverty. That needs to be central to any plan to tackle both energy efficiency and the fact that a large and growing number of people are unable to pay their energy bills with all the consequences that has in terms of health and well being.

“The government was to have framed an innovative fuel poverty programme but I remain to be convinced in what way these proposals will be part of that. I look forward to questioning the Minister on these issues tomorrow in the Dáil”.

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Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has today written to Coillte boss David Gunning calling on him to immediately reduce his salary in line with his commercial semi state counterparts.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Families across the state are facing unprecedented hardship and financial uncertainty and it is in this context that commercial semi-state chiefs were asked to take a meagre 15% voluntary pay cut.

“David Gunning’s on-going refusal to accept a 15% pay cut has been a bad call on his part and I’ve written to the Coillte chief today demanding that he show leadership at this time of crisis.

“Sinn Féin in its Budget 2012 proposals has called on all public sector salaries, including commercial semi state Chiefs, to be capped and we also want to see the introduction of a third tax band of 48% on incomes over €100,000 per year.

“If the government believes it cannot enforce pay cuts on current commercial semi state chiefs then it needs to impose emergency taxation measures to claim back the cash.”

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Frontline services protected in budget agreement – McGuinness


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