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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has today called on Enda Kenny to attend next weeks Finance Committee meeting to brief Deputies on the outcome of this Thursday’s European Summit meeting.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It has been a long established practice for Taoisigh and senior Ministers to provide detailed briefings to the Oireachtas following European Council meetings. The purpose of these briefings has been to inform both the elected deputies of the Dail and the public of the content and outcome of the summits and their implications for the country.

“This Thursday’s emergency European Summit is one of the most important EU meetings in recent times. Its outcome will have profound implications for the Eurozone and for Ireland in particular.

“It has been a long established protocol that the Taoiseach provides the Dail with a detailed briefing on the content and outcomes of such summits and responds to questions from the opposition. Considering the stakes at this weeks meeting the need for such a briefing is beyond doubt.

“Sinn Féin has argued that the Government should recall the Dáil to allow such a briefing to take place. Unfortunately the Government has refused to take this course of action.

“However there is a Select Finance Committee scheduled to take place next week. At the very least the Taoiseach must attend this committee meeting to brief TDs on the emergency summit and answer questions.

“To refuse to attend the committee, having refused to reconvene the Dáil, would be yet another example of Fine Gael behaving exactly as his predecessors in the last Fianna Fáil Government.”

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SPEAKING after a meeting with British NIO Minister for State, Hugo Swire in Leinster House yesterday (Tuesday), Dublin South West Sinn Fein TD, Seán Crowe said that he used the opportunity to raise the issue of the British Government releasing its security files in relation Dublin Monaghan bombings to the bodies investigating the bombing.

The bombings led to largest loss of life in the conflict and are widely believed to have been carried out by loyalists with back up of elements of the British security establishment.

Deputy Crowe said:

“We now know that loyalists planted the bombs in Dublin and Monaghan.

“We also know that in the 1970s, loyalists hadn’t the capability or know how to construct bombs of the type which caused such devastation on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan.

“I pointed out to Mr Swire during his visit to Leinster House that there was a consensus right across the political divide in relation to this issue and that there was an urgency for British Government to deal with its murky past in a meaningful way.

“If we are to leave conflict behind there is a requirement on all of us to address the tragic human consequences of the past.

“This is a key element of the peace process and of building national reconciliation.

“The families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan attacks are demanding truth and justice. It’s time for the British to release their files on these bombing and give these families closure.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on the Government to lift the recruitment embargo on frontline services and has described the continuing use of temporary agency workers as a false economy.

Ms McDonald also noted both the Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform have confirmed it is not the Government’s intention to publish the Comprehensive Spending Review on its completion later this year.

The Deputy was responding to a joint statement issued this afternoon by the Government and ICTU’s Public Service Committee within which the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the Croke Park Agreement.

Deputy McDonald said:

“This afternoon’s statement reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the Croke Park Agreement but rules out reimbursement of pay cuts to low paid workers promised if sufficient savings were identified in the recent Implementation Body Review of the agreement.

“This announcement will be a huge disappointment for thousands of low paid workers struggling to meet increased mortgages repayments, utility bills and general cost of living expenses.

“Reports that the Government intends introducing greater flexibility in the operation of the on-going recruitment moratorium for some sectors may be overly optimistic. Frontline services are being undermined by the recruitment embargo. The continuing use of temporary agency staff throughout the public service, particularly in health, is exasperating the delivery of services and is in reality a false economy.

“Fine Gael and Labour are wedded to their commitment to drastically cut public service numbers over the next number of years. There is only so much fat that can be shed from the civil service even with greater flexibility and modernisation. So that only leaves frontline services. If greater flexibility is introduced in say health then education will suffer under this Government’s regime. Of course if the Government introduced radically different measures such as capping all public sector pay at 100,000 euro per year much needed frontline line service positions could be created.

“Media reports following today’s statement on Croke Park have alluded to the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review currently being carried out by departments. It is worth noting that the Government does not intend to publish the Comprehensive Spending Review on its completion. Both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform have confirmed this with me through Parliamentary Questions and in the Dáil chamber.”

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Speaking in favour of the all-party Oireachtas Motion on the Cloyne Report in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that it is high time that the Church stopped believing itself to be above the law. He asked how many inquiries would be needed before real action was taken on this “dreadful neglect”.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:

“While Sinn Féin supports this motion, we would have preferred to see the stronger language that was contained in a previous draft employed. The motion expresses how the House “deplores” the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish Bishops. Previously the motion had expressed “condemnation”. We in Sinn Féin still express condemnation of this scandalous intervention.

“The Church is not above the law and it is high time that they stopped thinking that they were. Father Lombardi may state that his remarks have been made in a personal capacity but this is the sort of disingenuous double-speak that must end.

“In Cloyne, Bishop Magee had no interest in protecting the children of Cork and fobbed his responsibility off to Monsignor O’Callaghan who equally had no interest in reporting abuse of children to the authorities. John Magee actively, knowingly lied to the government, to the health services, and to the Gardaí. He concealed information about the crimes committed by the priests within his diocese. He actively engaged in the reckless, and at times, wilful endangerment of children. There are prosecutions to be faced by those who perpetrated crimes against children, either through directly abusing them or being complicit in the cover-up of their abuse. Nothing less, I fear, will bring to an end this lurid regime.

“While this motion may be about Cloyne, the State still has questions to answer regarding its own procedures. There is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu with all of this. Only this week we have heard of a Donegal case where a school premises continued to employ a man convicted of sexually assaulting a young male despite the Gardaí expressing concern on the matter.

“It is a wretched failure of procedure within that school entity, and demonstrates the need for the Government to bring forward the publication of the National Vetting Bureau Bill and to establish the long awaited child welfare and protection agency and I would ask the Government to resource these bodies accordingly. Procedures, as we have seen ad nauseum, are of no use unless they are implemented."

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has criticised Minister Joan Burton for cutting allowances for gas and electricity particularly as prices are currently rising.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh accused the government of passing on gas and electricity price increases to pensioners by cutting the allowances. This means that the State will be paying less while pensioners will have to pay the increase.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh questioned the Minister on this issue in the Dáil today.

Speaking afterwards he said:

“By cutting the gas and electricity units allowance to pensioners the government is simply passing on the projected price increase to pensioners. The State will end up paying less while pensioners will be forced to pay more.

“At a time when prices are rising sharply the Minister Burton is cutting the gas and electricity units allowance of pensioners by 20% and 25% respectively.

“Attempting to defend these indefensible cuts in recent days the Minister has repeatedly argued that 21% of those in receipt of the household benefits package don’t use up their current units therefore it’s ok to cut the allowance. But neither she nor her Department know anything at all about the circumstances of that 21% or the circumstances of the remaining 79%.

“She does not now who the 21% are? She doesn’t know how many of the 21% are sitting in the cold and dark, scrimping and saving and scared to turn the lights or heat on for fear the bill that arrives will exceed their allowance of free units.

“The minister does not know if people are wintering in Spain or if they are in hospitals or nursing homes for part of the month and don’t need the units for that reason.

“And crucially the minister doesn’t know how many of the 2,000 people who die from the excesses of winter each year are amongst the 21% who aren’t using their full allowance of free units.

“It is completely unsafe to base a cut to every pensioner’s benefits package on the simplistic statistic that 21%, about whom we know absolutely nothing, aren’t using the full allowance?” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil today regarding Thursday’s Eurozone meeting in Brussels, Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams called on the Taoiseach to take the opportunity to ‘make a stand’ against the huge profits our EU partners are making from the exorbitant interest rate they have imposed on the loans made to this State.

Mr. Adams said the priority for the government at the summit must be to “ensure that Irish debt is brought to a sustainable level” and called for payments to unguaranteed senior bondholders to be stopped.

Addressing the Taoiseach Mr Adams said:

“Payments to unguaranteed senior bondholders must be stopped. If not, by the end of September you will have given them €4.3 billion. At the beginning of November the Government will pay €703 million to these bondholders. This is almost the exact same amount that has been taken out of the health budget.

“The social consequences of government policy is to be found in closed A&E units; in the almost half a million unemployed; in the decisions our
elderly citizens are being forced to take between paying bills and buying food.

“Taoiseach it is not enough to say that you have no choice, the truth is you do and you can start by making a stand for Ireland’s interests at the EU summit tomorrow.”

Gerry Adams TD Speech on EU Emergency Summit:

Taoiseach I welcome the fact that there is a Special Summit on the
European Debt crisis to be held this week.

However I have to say that I think the handling by your Government of this crisis since you took office has been appalling.

We heard a lot of guff during the election about not one penny more into the banks – Fine Gael will do things differently.

Yet in the next 10 days the government will pay €19 billion into Irish
banks.

Your Tánaiste - in those days he was presented by Labour as the Taoiseach in waiting – declared it would be Labour’s way not Frankfurt’s way.

You seem to have made no effort to build alliances with other EU
Governments such as those who are also in receipt of the so-called
assistance of the EU and the IMF.

And then you set aside all of your commitments on these issues; shredded your manifesto and proceeded to implement Fianna Fáil policy.

You also blame Fianna Fáil on every decision you have taken.

Of course, Fianna Fáil stand condemned for the mess they created but Fianna Fáil are no longer in government.

Fianna Fáil are not going to the European Summit. You are. You are the Taoiseach. You have choices to make.

Sinn Féin wishes you well. We want you to stand up for the citizens of this state and for Irish interests.

The difference between us is that we represent different interests.

The reality is that our so – called partners in the EU are set to benefit to the tune of nearly €10 Billion due to the penal rate of lending.

That is scandalous, that is what you need to re negotiate this week

The leaders of France, Germany and other EU states have made decisions not in the interest of the EU as a whole but in their own national interests.

You should follow their example.

You should not see yourself as an observer at this summit.

You need to make it clear that the EU Plan for Greece, Ireland and Portugal has failed.

Taoiseach the medicine is killing the patient.

Ireland is unlikely to be in a position to return to International Bond
markets in 2013; Irish Debt has been rated as Junk by one of the leading rating Agencies.

Taoiseach this EU/IMF plan is junk and it needs to be dumped.
And you should say so. Clearly and directly.

Taoiseach, the priority for the Government and for you at this summit needs to be to ensure that Irish debt is brought to a sustainable level.

You can’t tackle this debt crisis by taking on more debt.

Payments to Unguaranteed Senior Bond holders should be stopped. In November €703 million will be paid over to these bondholders.

Taoiseach, that amount mirrors almost exactly the amount of money taken out of the Health budget.

The social consequences of government policy is to be found in closed A&E units; in the almost half a million unemployed; in the decisions our elderly citizens are being forced to take between paying bills and buying food.

Moreover, your Government has spent 5 months negotiating an interest rate
reduction which you have as yet failed to achieve.

This reduction will save the exchequer only €150 million per year as it will not apply retrospectively to money already drawn down under the bailout.

In 2011 the Government pumped €3.1 Billion of Taxpayers money into zombie banks like Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide.

In addition our EU partners will benefit to the tune of nearly €10 billion from the exorbitant interest they are charging on the loans.

While an interest rate reduction will be welcome it amounts to very little when set against the profits our partners are making; the tens of billions being pumped into banks to pay for their mistakes; and the hardship our citizens are enduring.

Taoiseach, this is a policy which makes no economic sense.
It is madness.

The ECB policy of protecting Bank Bondholders whatever the cost is reckless
and dangerous and you need to call time on it.

It is reckless in terms of the social consequences that policy, as
implemented by you, is having on our citizens.

This is reflected in the downgrading of services in Hospitals, in the loss
of SNA’s in schools and in the forthcoming Household charge.

It is reflected in the Universal Social charge and the new taxes on
property and water that you are bringing in at the behest of the Troika.

It seems that even the IMF has lost patience with EU dithering and ECB
obstructionism on the issue of Burden sharing.

Taoiseach you need to impress on other leaders this week that the Irish
people are no longer prepared to carry the can for these gamblers and speculators.

Finally, Taoiseach thus far you have refused to listen to Sinn Féin’s
advice on these matters.

That is your entitlement. That is your choice.

But all of us have to learn to listen to opposing voices.

You represent us at this summit. You are not there as a spectator.
Ireland is a good place. The Irish people don’t deserve to be walked over.

You need to make a stand.

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed today's launch of the consultation into a Carrier Bag Levy. Mr McKay, whose Single Use Carrier Bag Act was passed into law earlier this year said:


"It is to be welcome that the Environment Minister is moving ahead with the introduction of a levy on carrier bags, something that I discussed at length with the previous Minister and his officials.

"The introduction of this levy is something which has widespread public support and will result in businesses saving thousands of pounds that they would normally spend on purchasing bags.

"I will be meeting the Minister next week to discuss the introduction of this levy and will be pushing for him to do his utmost to introduce a levy as soon as possible. In the meantime it will be important that local stakeholders and members of the public take the opportunity to respond to this consultation."

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA has met the EU Commission to discuss CAP Reform.

Speaking after a meeting today in Brussels with Georg Haeusler, Head of Cabinet of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, the Minister said: “The meeting with Mr Haeusler took place at a very opportune time with the publication of the EU Budget proposals at the end of June and the upcoming CAP reform legislative proposals which are expected on 12 October. I took the opportunity to put our views on CAP reform directly to the Commission, with a particular focus on the importance of a sufficient CAP budget and the potential changes in relation to direct payments.”

The Minister continued: “In relation to the CAP budget, I made the point that while the recent budget proposals would see a freeze in the CAP budget at the 2013 level, this represents a significant reduction in real terms. I stressed that it is very important that future budget negotiations do not result in any further reductions.

“I explored the issue of the future shape of the Single Farm Payment Scheme and emphasised the importance of regional flexibility so that we are able to design a payment structure that best suits our industry. Our discussions also covered the issues of payments going to active farmers, a small farmer scheme, capping of direct payments and greening of the Single Farm Payment.

“I was pleased to learn from Mr Haeusler that the proposals will contain a specific targeted scheme for small farmers. Indications are that this would be a lump sum payment for five years and that it would not require cross compliance or other controls. If this can be properly targeted at small active farmers, this would be a very welcome development.

“In relation to the matter of greening of Pillar 1, I outlined a number of concerns and emphasised the need to avoid excessive bureaucracy, and was comforted that Mr Haeusler accepted that the greening aspect will need to be feasible, measurable and have a positive impact.”

The Minister concluded by saying: “We are at the beginning of the CAP reform progress and when the legislative proposals emerge, I intend to seek further meetings with the Commission. I wish to build on the work of the previous Minister in developing relationships with the Commission as I believe this is essential in order to influence the CAP reform debate.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said that new figures released by the British Treasury regarding the devolution of corporation tax to the North are untested.

“These are untested figures from the British Treasury and are figures that the Executive would dispute, as such they need to be treated with caution,” said the chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee.

“The British Treasury is obviously not comfortable with handing over control of corporation tax to the Assembly and these figures can be seen as a scare tactic.

“The bottom line is that the devolution of corporation tax is a very complex area that needs looked at carefully and no decision will be made until it is seen that the outcome will benefit all the people in the North.”

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed today’s announcement by OFCOM to reduce significantly the prices that BT Wholesale can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in primarily rural, less densely populated areas.

Minister O’Neill said: “In today’s digital society, broadband communication is increasingly important for business development and growth, delivery of government services and to our everyday lives. But some rural areas of the north are being left behind. Without access, or a decent level of access to broadband, these communities and businesses are being denied the opportunity to join the digital age.

“OFCOM’s decision has the potential to redress this imbalance and narrow the digital divide between urban areas and more rural parts of the north. Reducing the prices that BT Wholesale can charge other providers is expected to generate more competition between retail ISPs and lead to cheaper retail prices and better quality services for consumers.

“This is good news and has the potential to bring economic and social benefits to rural areas. From an economic perspective, it will no doubt bring some relief to many rural businesses who may be suffering as a result of having poor access to broadband or inadequate speeds with their broadband service. It will also benefit some of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in our rural areas, and address feelings of exclusion and isolation, by helping younger and older people to access these new technologies and the opportunities provided by them.”

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Sinn Féin Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA Michelle Gildernew said she is extremely concerned that a number of cases of a virulent strain of the clostridum difficile bacterium have been identified in the South Eastern Trust area.

“This is indeed worrying considering that an inquiry revealed earlier this year that a c. difficile outbreak in the Northern Trust area was linked to the deaths of 31 people in 2007/08,” said the Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP who is also Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee.

“I call on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to take every precaution necessary to ensure that this recent spread of the bug does not have the same consequences as the previous outbreak and that anyone suffering from the ‘superbug’ gets the best treatment available.

“It could be said that the previous Health Minister did not take a hands on approach to the outbreak a few years ago and hopefully Minister Poots will not repeat this approach.

“It is unacceptable that people entering hospital in order to have illnesses and other ailments treated run the risk of contracting life threatening viruses so the minister must take the necessary steps to ensure that there is no spread of this problem." Críoch

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has commended the three students who have issued a High Court challenge to Government's decision to change the Maintenance Grant Scheme.

Speaking today Deputy Crowe said: “As part of Budget 2011, only students living a minimum of 45 kilometres from their college will be eligible for the ‘non-adjacent’ grant. This means that thousands of students who live between 24km and 45km from their place of education will have their grants slashed by 62%.

“The challenge brought before the High Court has been made on behalf of students attending various third-level colleges around the country and is supported by the Union of Students in Ireland.

“I understand they are attempting to quash the Minister’s decision to change the rules governing how far a student must live from college in order to receive a higher (non-adjacent) rate of grant payment. Sinn Féin supports their efforts to stop the Government implementing changes that would raise the current 24 kilometres threshold to 45 kilometres or more.

“This policy change is very unfair, particularly on students who have committed themselves and budgeted for courses over a number of years only to find that their grant has been cut by over 60%. I have had people ring me who are being forced to end their third level course because they can no longer afford their college fees. To make matters worse, there seems to be no way of appealing this rule or making a case for exemption.

“This change in policy is a direct attack on the rights’ of thousands of disadvantaged students around the country to access third level education.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork East, Sandra McLellan has criticised the Minister for Health's decision not to proceed with a full investigation into the health risk posed by the Haulbowline dump.

Deputy McLellan said:

“The decision by the Minister for Health not to carry out a baseline health study in the Cork Harbour area appears to be one based primarily on financial considerations. The fears of the local community concerning the potential long-term affects of the toxic waste have not been addressed, and can not be addressed by a simple statistical analysis of the National Cancer Registry.

“The Chief Medical Officer's response does not go far enough. We want assurances that the affect of this toxic dump will not have negative health implications for the local community in years to come. The only way to give those assurances is by completing a full investigation. I will continue to press the Government for funding to be made available to carry out this investigation.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD will this morning in the Dáil raise serious concern over the closure of both the male and female acute units at St. Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, from 31 August and the implications for mental healthcare.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“In reply to my Dáil Question, Minister of State for Health, Kathleen Lynch, has confirmed that the male and female acute units at St. Ita’s, Portrane are to close from 31 August. This is required by the Mental Health Commission due to the condition of the building and the hospital cannot be registered until refurbishment works are completed.

“The condition of St. Ita’s has for long been of concern but successive Governments have failed to put in place alternatives. Now we are told by the Minister and the HSE that the St. Ita’s units will close from 31 August and there is only a vague assurance that unspecified acute mental health services will be provided for the heavily populated North Dublin area served by the hospital.

“The psychiatric unit at Beaumont Hospital - promised since 1987 - was delayed because of former Health Minister Mary Harney’s now ditched ‘co-location’ plan. Minister of State Lynch tells us that the contract for the construction of the psychiatric unit at Beaumont has been awarded and it is hoped construction will begin in the last quarter of 2011. But what happens to people who need to be admitted for acute psychiatric care between 31 August 2011 and the completion of the Beaumont Unit? The concerns and questions raised further highlight the lack of proper planning and provision for mental healthcare by successive Governments in this State.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended his sympathy to the family and friends of prominent Mayo republican Cathal Quinn who died at the weekend.

Gerry Adams said:

“Cathal Quinn from Killala was a lifelong republican activist who served the cause of a united and independent Ireland with dedication and commitment.

“I want to extend to Cathal’s daughters Maebh, Dearbhla, Fionnuala and Orlaith, his sons Feargal and Gearóid and to the wider Quinn family circle my deepest sympathy and condolences at this sad time.

“I measc laocra na nGael go raibh sé.”

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Speaking on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill this evening, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government Brian Stanley TD criticised the decision by the Government to reduce the number of TDs in the Dáil in the absence of any meaningful political reform in the State.

The Laois-Offaly TD said;

“While Sinn Féin welcomes the provision of the six month rule for the holding of by-elections to the Dáil we take serious issue with the provision in the Bill to reduce the number of TDs to as little as 153 in the absence of any meaningful political reform. There is no corresponding enhancement of local authority powers either. It is unacceptable. There is a still a question regarding the constitutionality of this Bill.

“Reducing the number of TDs is not going to make it any more representative or enable people to participate any more effectively in democracy on this island. It won’t mean there will be any more people from low-income backgrounds who are voiceless in political debates. This is all about being seen to be doing something even if it will have no actual effect on reforming politics whatsoever.

“The hands of the Constituency Commission are still tied in that they cannot recommend anything more than three, four, or five seat constituencies. We are calling for proportional representation to be strengthened through the introduction of larger multi-seat constituencies. It is absolutely essential that more than just token gestures are made when it comes to democracy and political reform so we have tabled an amendment to this effect.

“We also proposed that political parties should be obliged to furnish their accounts to the Standards in Public Offices Commission so that all political funding is out in the open. Members of organisations the length and breadth of the country get to see their accounts every year, whether it’s a community development project in Tullamore or a GAA club in Lifford or a women’s centre in Middleton.

“Sinn Féin, as an exercise in financial transparency, has published our full accounts and handed them to the media for a number of years. Publication of these accounts should be a prerequisite before a single cent of public money is allocated to a political party in that calendar year.

“We are right to demand the highest financial standards from those in receipt of state money, or those in the employment of the State, so the government should be willing to do this. It is disappointing that the Government parties chose to vote against our amendments which would have made meaningful change to the political process in this state.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has described Joan Burton’s comments about unemployed people making lifestyle choices to stay on the dole as a spineless attack on the most vulnerable people in the state.

Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Cullinane said the only choice for many people out of work is the dole, or the plane out of the country.

Senator Cullinane said:

“The Minister is misleading and attempting to distract the public by claiming that people are deciding not to work, as a lifestyle choice.

“The fact is, there simply isn't employment just waiting for the long term unemployed to take up. Some 100,000 young people have emigrated, and there are in excess of 460,000 people unemployed, 14,500 of which in my own county. These people are the victims of bad policies on the part of politicians.

“It is not their fault and it is wrong to blame them and to stigmatise them. For many of these, the only choice they can make is whether to take the plane or the dole.

“In my view it's an attempt by the labour party and the government to divert attention from their failure to create jobs, and their betrayal of their promises to get people back to work, and to protect the vulnerable.

“These comments are a slap in the face for those people who get up every day of the week, submitting CVs to countless employers and filling out countless application forms, only to hear nothing back.

“Unemployment, and particularly long term unemployment are often accompanied by low self esteem. These disgraceful comments will certainly not help. When the unemployed hear such comments from well paid politicians, many of whom, frankly, live in ivory towers, it simply adds insult to injury.

“This was a spineless attack on the most vulnerable people in the state; issue of long term unemployment is very serious and complex, and should not be trivialised.

“We should be having a debate on how we get people back to work, and the government should deliver on its promises to create employment, rather than insulting the vulnerable.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for Mid-Ulster Francie Molly has called on anyone with information regarding the death of Declan Quinn in Coalisland to bring it forward immediately to the PSNI.
 
 “Sinn Féin offer our sincere sympathy to the Declan Quinn’s family. This is a tragic event which I’m sure has left the family distraught and has shocked the local community.
 
“The facts surrounding this case still need to be brought to light and I call on anyone with information on Declan Quinn's death to bring it forward to the PSNI.” 

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Conor Murphy MP, MLA (Newry/Armagh) while welcoming the movement on retention of some of the money in End Year Flexibility (EYF) said it does not go far enough.

Conor Murphy said:

“Sammy Wilson’s announcement that the British Treasury has decided to ‘allow’ him to retain some unspent monies in the EYF calculations, although welcome does not go far enough.

“The fact is that the British Treasury unilaterally cut over £4billion from our entitlement in the Block Grant which decimated our ability to deliver the programme of public expenditure required if we are to combat the worst effects of the recession. Not satisfied with slashing our budget without any consultation the British Chancellor then further raided our finances by changing the rules on EYF.

“Sammy Wilson’s comments that this is a ‘vast improvement’ and ‘would ensure ‘that we retain our resources where they can be of most benefit’ is yet another example of his subservient attitude to the British Exchequer. The British Treasury has also said that the amount ‘allowed’ to be retained would be capped at £59million for day-to-day running costs or £15million for capital projects. Sammy Wilson should be fighting to have all funding that while not yet spent has been earmarked for particular projects retained here.

“The clawing back by the British Treasury of any monies that has been allocated to Departments is unacceptable and should be resisted as a further attack on our ability to deliver our Programme for Government.

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Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels when the European Commission presented its proposals to Ministers for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Speaking after Council the Minister said: “This has been the first opportunity for Member States to give their reaction to the reform proposals which were published by the Commission on 13 July. It is clear that there a lot of work to do to improve on the package of proposed measures. Like many others I had hoped that the proposals would mean greater regionalisation of decision making and a move away from the overly bureaucratic, centralised approach to fisheries management. We need to exploit the knowledge of local fisheries managers and the fishing industry more in the design of future fisheries management measures.

“I have concerns about the Commission’s proposals which would require Member States to introduce mandatory “transferable fishing concessions”. Ultimately this could lead to a consolidation of fishing rights in the hands of some of the more wealthy fishing fleets to the detriment of coastal communities which depend on fishing.”

The Minister also met with Lowri Evans, Director General of DG MARE. The Minister said: “I was glad to get this opportunity to discuss the Commission’s CFP reform package, the impact of the Cod Recovery Plan on our fleet and prospects for the vital negotiations on fish quotas which will happen in November and December. I also wanted to reinforce my commitment to take measures in Irish Sea fisheries to reduce discarding of unwanted fish and to explain how important local experience was in the development of anti-discard measures.

“My Department, in partnership with its scientific advisors and the local fleet, have successfully tested new fishing gears which have been found to be more effective than those currently specified in EU regulations. This new design would more than half the discards of small haddock and whiting caught by the Nephrops trawlers. We want to do further work on gear technology later this year. Where there are successful solutions I want to see that can be introduced with the minimum of fuss and bureaucracy.”

During her visit to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council the Minister also met with the Scottish Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead and the South’s Fisheries Minister, Simon Coveney TD, to discuss the Commission’s CFP reform package and the approach to the annual quota negotiations.

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