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Team Sinn Féin - Putting Ireland First

The largest gathering of Sinn Féin candidates in the history of the party took place in Drogheda, 350 local council election candidates contesting seats across all 42 councils in the 32 counties of Ireland joined with Sinn Féin's 4 EU election candidates for a final strategic planning day with the party leadership before the local council and EU elections on the 22nd May in the 6 Counties and the 23rd May in the 26 Counties.

Despite Government attempts at revisionism regarding his role in the recent series of controversies involving the Gardai, the Minister is in fact a central actor, and the author of a litany of catastrophes in this whole affair.


Sinn Féin is opposing cuts throughout Ireland because it is the right thing to do. The DUP need to be mature about this, face up to the consequences of the cuts on the people we represent and challenge the British government on their cuts agenda.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described last night’s address by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a softening up exercise in advance of this week’s budget. Deputy McDonald said the government is preparing to launch an unprecedented attack on the Irish people despite his declaration that the Irish people are not at fault for the economic crisis.

Speaking from Leinster House today Deputy McDonald said:

“Last night’s address was a missed opportunity. The Taoiseach gave the people no inspiration or hope that his government has a route out of this crisis.

“Instead what we got was the same tired rhetoric Fine Gael and Labour Ministers have been trotting out for the last number of weeks. And despite Enda Kenny acknowledging that the Irish people are not at fault for the economic crisis his Government will still target them to shoulder the heaviest burden.

“It is clear from the Taoiseach’s remarks that it will be those on the lowest incomes who will suffer most from the budget's cuts to services and social protection as well as increased charges.

“Sinn Féin has argued that those with wealth should pay more. We have shown that there is an alternative, that there are choices. Unfortunately this government, just like Fianna Fáil before them, is choosing to target the least well off while paying billions to unguaranteed bondholders.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has described cuts announced in today’s budget as putting an unfair burden on many working families and making access to further education much more difficult.

Deputy Crowe said that many students would see the increase in the student contribution fee to €250 and the 3% reduction in student grants by 3% as a betrayal of trust.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Despite all the pre-election promises and pledges Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has increased the third level contribution fee by €250, meaning students will now have to pay €2,250 annually.

“And despite all the government’s rhetoric about encouraging people who are unemployed to acquire new skills and training, capitation grants paid for participants on further education programmes will be reduced by 2% in 2012. The existing allowances paid to 16 & 17 year olds participating in Youthreach Community Training Centres and FÁS courses are being merged and reduced to one standard rate of €40.

“Overall, there will be a 2% reduction in the already less than adequate funding for capitation and related grants to primary and second level schools in 2012 and 2013 and a further reduction in 2014 and 2015. The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is to be reduced from €305 to €250 for children aged 12 years or more and from €200 to €150 for children aged four and over.

“Another big increase facing families is the additional charge for primary school transport that next year will double from €50 to €100. Added to this is the scandalous decision to cut the fuel allowance by €120 and reduce child benefits for 3rd and 4th children and multiple births as well as payments for lone parents. These regressive measures will suck €475 million out of local economies and families will be pushed further into poverty.

“These cuts will have the greatest impact on low and middle income families who are being denied access to third level education. Parents will find it increasingly difficult to pay for their children to attend school, with even the most basic items out of reach for many. It makes a mockery of the government’s claims that they believe education is a key driver that can help rejuvenate our economy.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has this afternoon accused Fine Gael and Labour of embracing political cronyism in government just like Fianna Fáil did before them.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Struggling families and the vulnerable are facing into yet another devastating budget which will see vital supports cut and charges increased.

“Yet citizens have been bombarded with reports of political cronyism over the weekend detailing excessive special advisor salaries for government party people and failures at the very top of the civil service to work in the best interest of the people.

“The crisis of leadership within the Department of An Taoiseach during the economic crisis has been confirmed in leaked reports of an organisational review of the department.

“Former Secretary General Dermot McCarthy who recently retired on a full pension at just 57 years of age is named as the number one culprit for department’s failure to develop a strategic response to the economic collapse.

“Under Fine Gael and Labour’s watch Dermot McCarthy received a golden handshake worth a whooping €713,000 including an annual pension of €142,000.

“Every time I raise the scandalously high pay and pension arrangements for the top dogs in the public sector Government Ministers blithely respond with the curt retort, ‘because they’re worth it’.

“Paying off failed senior civil servants with bumper pension pots and plum jobs in Europe in an effort to get rid of them is a scandal. Tonight the Taoiseach will tell the people of this state to tighten their belts before overseeing a budget that will push more and more people into poverty and debt.

“Just like successive Fianna Fáil Taoisigh the very same man continues to award massive salaries to government ministers, special advisors, judges, hospital consultants the president and secretaries general. Yet it is clear none of the protected elites are worthy of such scandalously high pay at this time of economic crisis.

“Under this government’s watch the tax take is down, the cost of living is increasing, unemployment is rising and Fine Gael and Labour have just extended the failed banking guarantee. On what planet does Enda Kenny think he’s worth €200,000 a year?” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh today launched a mobile billboard to remind people of the Labour Party’s commitment to protect Child Benefit in government.

Speaking as he launched the billboard today Deputy Ó Snodaigh made a last minute call on Labour Party TDs to live up to their commitment and vote against any reduction in child benefit in the budget.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“A major plank of the Labour Party’s election campaign was the commitment to protect child benefit in government. They said Fine Gael would cut the payment if the got an overall majority.

“However it now seems as though that commitment has been abandoned now that they are in government.

“The question now is; will the Labour Party TDs vote for a reduction in child benefit having stood on a platform of defending it just nine months ago?

“I would urge all TDs to vote against any reductions in child benefit and social welfare rates. Sinn Féin has shown that there is an alternative way to reduce the deficit. We should be targeting the wealth in this state rather than those who are already struggling in this recession.” ENDS

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Speaking in County Laois this morning, where he was launching the party’s pre-budget submission, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said Taoiseach Enda Kenny must oppose any further loss of Irish sovereignty to the EU. He called on the Taoiseach to stand up for Ireland.

He said:

“Over the last few days we have seen the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel propose wide ranging changes to the EU treaties aimed at centralizing the control of the budgets of member states.

“Sinn Féin fundamentally rejects the idea that a further loss of fiscal powers is a positive development for the Irish people.

“The events of the last few days are a continuation of what we have seen throughout this crisis with the German and French governments taking upon themselves the role of European leaders. The Taoiseach and the Irish Government so far have acquiesced in this. Enda Kenny now needs to put on the Green Jersey. He needs to act in the Irish national interest.

“In the Dáil this week The Taoiseach said he supported ‘the creation of stronger economic governance throughout Europe, and particularly the Eurozone’. He spoke positively about EU President Van Rompuy’s interim report which ‘will identify possible steps to strengthen economic union, focusing on further strengthening economic convergence within the Euro Area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union including the possibility of limited Treaty changes’.

“This is a mistake. The reality is that what is being proposed goes far beyond limited treaty change and envisages the loss of any remaining fiscal powers.

“Sinn Féin is the only party in the Dáil who have been consistent in our position on successive EU referendums. The latest developments show that much of what we said has indeed come to pass.

“Sinn Féin argued that the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties were all steps in the transformation of an economic community of independent states into one big European State. One of our primary objections to this process was the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the union that was evolving.

“The behaviour of the French and German leaders in recent weeks has demonstrated this very clearly. They told the Greek government not to hold a referendum on their bailout. They seem to have played a role in the removal of the previous Italian government. They are now attempting to present the other member states of the EU with a fait accompli and force the centralising of economic powers in Europe.

“Nicolas Sarkozy’s thinly veiled attack on this state’s corporation tax indicates that these states are operating in their own interests.

“During the most recent EU referendum campaign on the Lisbon Treaty Sinn Féin argued that a better deal was possible, that the treaty reduced Ireland’s say in Europe and would allow future changes to EU Treaties to be passed without a referendum.

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour sold the electorate a pup by arguing that passing the Lisbon Treaty would lead to more jobs in Ireland. Just this week the number of people on the dole in this state jumped to 448,000. It is clear from the way the Irish Government is approaching this issue that it desperately want to avoid the Irish people having a say on any Treaty change.

“The Taoiseach has thus far refused to commit to hold such a referendum. This is in line with the behaviour of previous governments who ignored the views of the electorate following the rejection of the Nice and Lisbon referenda.

“The Taoiseach needs to start acting in the national interest. For example an illustration of the two-tier European Union which is emerging is the discussion by German parliamentarians of elements of this state’s budget. This was demeaning for our parliamentary system and for Irish citizens. The Taoiseach needs to spell out clearly that the bigger states will not be allowed to encroach any further on what remains of Irish sovereignty. He needs to stand up to them. If, as he claims, the government’s intention is to restore sovereignty then he needs to start now. This means making it clear that he will not agree to further centralization of fiscal powers in Brussels.

“Any further surrender of fiscal powers would be a backward step.

“The only way out of this debt crisis is a combination of sensible fiscal policies and a credible growth strategy.

“It is clear that the austerity policies being implemented across the EU, but particularly in the so-called peripheral states, is failing. A European-wide investment programme accompanied by debt restructuring is needed. The Taoiseach needs to make this clear prior to the EU summit on 8th December.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has revealed that in a PQ response the Minister of Health has said he is considering the possibility of establishing an inquiry under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 into the allegations of sexual abuse of patients in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda in the 30 years from the 1970s.

The Minister has also said that he intends consulting with the Attorney General on the legal issues.

Last week the Taoiseach rejected a request from Gerry Adams TD to establish an independent inquiry into the Lourdes allegations.

Mr. Adams said:

“Those affected by the alleged sexual abuse of patients in Lourdes Hospital Drogheda have been waiting for decades for an inquiry and the truth. Successive governments have stalled on this. In opposition Fine Gael and Labour criticised the then Minister Mary Harney for refusing to establish an inquiry.

“In July of this year the Minister James Reilly acknowledged the trauma for the scores of patients affected. He said: ‘Many people have suffered as a consequence of not being able to have this issue aired in public.’ The Minister has the authority to change this.

“Following the Taoiseach’s refusal to establish an inquiry I wrote to the Minister for Health. In his reply the Minister said: ‘My department is currently exploring the options in this regard including the possibility of a Commission of Investigation under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. I also intend to consult with the Attorney General in view of the complex legal issues involved.’

“This examination of options needs to be carried out as a matter of urgency. The Minister knows the hurt and distress that is being experienced by those affected by the alleged sexual abuse of patients in Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and they are looking to him to deliver on the commitments he made while in opposition.” ENDS

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British government policy is leading to greater child poverty in the north of Ireland. Sinn Fein MLA Mickey Brady was speaking after figures released by Child Poverty Action showed child poverty had increased by 3% over a year.

“An additional 14,000 children have now joined the 40,000 already living in severe poverty and the 80,000 children living in persistent poverty here, in the north of Ireland,” said Mickey Brady.

“A further 40,000 children are living in families just £5 away from falling into poverty. Rising costs in fuel and food, together with the decision by the British government to leave rates of benefit more vulnerable to inflation, means those figures are likely to increase further.”

“The British Coalition is making a bad situation worse. Job cuts, wage cuts and cuts in welfare are adding to the pain without curing the disease. Growth is the only way to address the deficit, the current Tory-led austerity drive is hurting ordinary families while driving the economy further into recession.”

“And what is the British government’s response to increasing child poverty? They are planning to change official targets for reducing poverty and the means by which it is measured. In other words, rather than addressing child poverty, Iain Duncan Smith is planning to cover it up,” said Mickey Brady.

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