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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on the government to begin adequately addressing the needs of young people.

Speaking on a report published today by the League of Young Voters and International IDEA which revealed that only 35% of young people voted in the 2009 European Elections, Senator Reilly said:

“Young people see through the lip service paid to their needs. The low level of youth participation in political and public life is continuously highlighted in this state and the absence of youth voices in political and public discourse is regularly flagged up. There are too few young people in positions of real leadership. The response to these problems – from those currently in power here, and Europe-wide for that matter, is often clichéd calls for greater participation from young people in political and public life.

“The report also finds that absenteeism among young people is closely linked to socio-economic factors with typical non-voters being students and unskilled manual workers are least likely to vote.

“An evaluation of the main parties’ manifestos for the ’09 elections showed that half of them failed to put forward specific policies relating to youth issues. Is it any surprise that young people develop apathy towards the political system when this is the case?

“Over the past three months I have met with many youth groups and organisations throughout the country and it is clear to me that young people are well informed on the issues that affect them, such as unemployment, emigration and third level education. It is my experience that young people are interested in political issues but are disillusioned with political parties that continue to break promises and the implementation of failed schemes such as JobsBridge and the Youth Guarantee.

“The report today should be a wakeup call to this government on how young people are feeling and shows how imperative it is for their needs to be properly addressed by the establishment.”

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Following the announcement in the Dáil this morning by the Taoiseach that the Garda Confidential Recipient has been sacked Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said the time has come for the Justice Minister to be relieved of his duties.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“When the two Garda Whistleblowers brought the penalty point scandal into the public domain, having been frustrated in their efforts to have matter properly dealt with internally, Justice Minister’s first instinct was to rubbish the two men, and he did so publicly.

“There is no doubt damage has been done to An Garda Síochána and the chief author of this damage is the Minister for Justice himself. Yet this is the man the government intends to task with setting the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into the alleged bugging of the Garda watchdog office,

“Just hours after the government announced its intention to instigate an inquiry into the bugging of GSOC’s office the Justice Minister landed into the Dáil to say there is no evidence of surveillance.

“At every turn throughout the Whistleblower and GSOC debacles Alan Shatter has failed to take the correct action. He has not acted impartially and it is time now for the Justice Minister to be relieved of his duties.

“All of the evidence clearly indicates that the government has little interest in effective systems of oversight or governance. By its inaction the government has been complicit in the undermining of the Garda whistleblowers and GSOC.

“If the Government is serious about restoring public confidence then it has no option but establish a fully resourced independent inquiry as provided for under the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004.”

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On the first anniversary of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s address to the women who survived the Magdalene laundries, Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh called on the government to immediately introduce legislation relating to the apology.

He said:

“Survivors have still not obtained the redress called for by the UN Committee Against Torture, and this is by any standards an unacceptable and unnecessary delay.

“Minister Alan Shatter has himself confirmed and I quote “that less than half the women have got their money, and none have got their pensions or health benefits”.

“Surely these women have suffered enough – most are now in the later stages of life and many are in declining health.

“These women have waited long enough for justice and the state owes them reparations.

“Even more alarming is that the nuns and the religious orders who ran these gulags have yet to apologise to the women for the regime of terror and brutality to which they subjected them.

“This is a disgrace.

“No criminal proceedings have ever been taken against the orders or against individuals who committed crimes in their name.

“The government’s provision of compensation and benefits is not and never can be a substitute for establishing the truth of what happened in these dreadful places.

“There can never be justice in this issue as long as the religious orders refuse to acknowledge the enormity of their crimes and atone for the terrible injustice done to the women who, through no fault of their own, found themselves incarcerated in convents the length and breadth of the country, without freedom, hope, love or human dignity.

“It is not acceptable that one year on from the Taoiseach’s apology, many of the women have yet to receive a penny.

“Women survivors whose lives in and outside of the laundries were and continue to be characterised by physical and psychological suffering, poverty and stigma should not have to deal with further suffering brought on by additional delays.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has this afternoon described the government’s failure to progress the Restorative Justice Bill as unacceptable.

The Dublin Central TD said

“A full year has now passed since the Taoiseach apologised on behalf of the state to the women of the Magdalene laundries yet just one sixth of those eligible for the redress scheme have received a payment.

“Pensions, healthcare and other provisions as recommended by the Quirke report and signed off on by government have yet to be delivered on. We still don’t know if health services will be delivered for the small number of women living outside the state

“Government’s failure thus far to deliver on its commitments to the women is causing further hurt and distress.

“Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon the Taoiseach failed to give any comfort to the women as to when the provisions of the Magdalene Commission Report will be implemented.

“Justice Minister Alan Shatter has yet to even introduce the Restorative Justice Bill which is to give effect to the recommendations of the Magdalene Commission Report.

“Government’s delay on delivering the recommendations of the Magdalene Commission Report is simply unforgiveable. These women have been through enough and simply need access to very standard formers of care and support.”

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Speaking after a petrol bomb attack on his car last night, Waterford City Sinn Féin Councillor John Hearne has said no amount of intimidation will stop him from challenging criminality in his community.

Councillor Hearne said;

“In recent weeks I have been encouraging people to be brave in standing up to criminal elements in this community.

“The only way to stop these people is to cooperate with the Gardaí despite threats and intimidation.

“No amount of intimidation will stop me from challenging criminality in my community.

“Those responsible for the petrol bomb on my car last night have only strengthened my resolve.

“I encourage anyone with any information to bring it forward to the Gardaí and to cooperate with any inquiries they may launch.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Local Government Brian Stanley T.D. has strongly criticised the proposal by Minister Phil Hogan to tender out Local Community Development Programmes for 2015. Up until now the programme has been delivered on a not for profit basis by local development companies.

Deputy Stanley said:

“If the LCDP is put out to tender, the fear is that it will lead to a race to the bottom with private companies seeking to undermine pay and conditions with a view to winning tenders and boosting profits. It will also impact upon the effective delivery of the local services currently run by local development companies.

“I have placed a question to the Minister on this, and will seek to raise it again in the Dáil next week. It is vital that this move is stopped in the interests of both community workers and those who benefit from the services which they currently deliver.”

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Meath West Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín yesterday raised the need for the inclusion of the North South Interconnector in the Independent Pylon Review with Minister Rabbit in the Dáil.

Deputy Tóibín said;

“The central argument of the government for the exclusion of the North South Interconnector is the urgent need of the infrastructure and its stage of completion. Indeed the Minister stated that it was 97% complete. But this is simply is not true.

“Eirgrid withdrew a planning application for this project in the middle of an oral hearing in June 2010, because of a lack of thoroughness in its submission. Where is the urgency here? It’s currently at planning inquiry stage exactly the same place it was nearly five years ago.

“The fact is that 97% of the land owners along the route have stated that under no circumstances will they allow Eirgrid onto their land. Even if planning is granted this project is not going anywhere fast.

“But crucially we learned from the Minister yesterday that this project is designated an EU Common Interest Project and therefore the planning process will be subject to enhanced principles for public participation and an application for funding can be made to the EU.

“The key question is does this not completely change the timescale for the project? And if a pause is necessary logic dictates that the North South Interconnector should be included in the Independent Pylon Review.

“The North South Interconnector in its material impact on communities will be no different than any of the other projects around the country. Not including it in the review is a threat to public confidence in the whole process.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has raised his concerns over the increase of in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and said that it will inevitably lead to an increased amount of heroin reaching Ireland.

Crowe raised the issue during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Dáil today and called on Ireland and the EU to do more to stop the cultivation and transportation of this drug.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose to a new high of more than 200,000 hectares in 2013, a 36% increase over last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“That is the size of approximately 283 Phoenix Parks and the UN estimates that total opium production reached roughly 5,500 tons.

“It is now believed that 75% of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan and we know that one of the key target markets for this drug will be Europe.

“Over the past 3 decades in Dublin we have all seen the devastating impact that cheap and widely available heroin can do to communities and individuals.

“I have stood over too many graves and attended too many funerals not to be concerned about this new development.

“It is important that we stop this drug at its source before it even gets here, and that means EU countries working with the Afghan government, as well as the governments of Iran and Pakistan, whose territories are to be used as supply lines to transport this opiate.

“Afghanistan is one of the most impoverished countries in the world so it is vital that the focus is not entirely just put on stopping poppy cultivation and farmers growing the crop but also on developing socio-economic programmes, with realistic and sustainable substitutes for the poppy introduced.

“As long as we think we can have short-term, fast solutions to this huge problem, we are doomed to continue to fail, but Ireland and the EU must act with urgency now.

“Inaction from successive Irish Governments and their inability to deal with heroin availability destroyed the potential of thousands of young people in Dublin and across this State.

“This new threat needs a collective response and immediate action to stop this drug arriving on our shores and into our communities.”

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South Down Sinn Féin MLA, Catríona Ruane has described DETI Minister, Arlene Foster's comments on the proposed HGV levy which is being introduced by the British Government as further evidence of the need for transfer of full fiscal powers from Westminster to the Executive.  The levy could see all HGV's crossing the border from this April being liable to pay up to £10 a day.

Ms Ruane said:

"Once more a DUP Minister has subserviently accepted the imposition of another tax on our economy by Westminster  - a HGV levy on vehicles registered in the South of Ireland. In response to a supplementary from myself asking that she request the Environment Minister to bring forward a paper assessing the impact of such a levy on the North's economy, Arlene Foster stated, 'It is not a matter for the Environment Minister; it is a matter for Westminster. They have decided that they are going ahead with the levy'.

"This is just the latest limp response by a DUP Minister to Westminster revenue gathering here with no regard to the effect on our economy. The imposition of this levy will have a detrimental effect on the expanding cross border trade which currently generates £2.3bn for this island and could dissuade investment in northern operations by southern based parent companies. This could have a particularly negative impact on the agri-food sector - our fastest growing sector.

"This is another revenue raising exercise similar to Air Passenger Tax and Corporation Tax which goes directly into the coffers of the British Exchequer with no return or economic benefit to our economy.

"It is another example of why we should be taking control of our own fiscal affairs and designing our own economic blueprint for financial stability and sustainability in conjunction with the Dublin government to develop an island economy.

“Sinn Féin has been vocal in its opposition to this move and our representatives, north and south have been to the fore in highlighting the issue at every elected forum.

“Arlene Foster should be representing the electorate here by robustly lobbying the British government to amend the legislation to exempt the north from this regressive tax"

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Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has praised the work of Folye Women's Aid in providing a range of support for victims of all types of abuse.

Speaking during a visit to Ashleywood House in Derry the West Belfast MLA said:

“Domestic and sexual violence are crimes that must be challenged and tackled by all in society.  They have devastating long-term effects on victims, their families and are an abuse of their human rights.

“Women's Aid have led the way for many years in supporting victims and survivors and in creating safer communities where people don't have to live in fear.

“Foyle Women's Aid is to be commended for the development of the Domestic Abuse Family Hub at Ashley House in Derry.  This first phase provides much needed support and independent living arrangements for families. 

“All of us must ensure that essential organisations like Foyle Women's Aid are supported and resourced by the Executive and that our policies are informed by listening to victims and those who work directly with them.

“Everyone has the right to live free from fear and abuse and all of us have a responsibility to ensure that we protect and support victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.”

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Sinn Féin TD, Sandra McLellan has said that the Justice Minister himself "must be placed under forensic scrutiny as part of any examination rather than be the one overseeing it."  The Cork TD was speaking during Sinn Féin's Private Members Business motion calling for an independent inquiry in to the alleged bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsmans office.

Speaking during the debate Ms McLellan said:

"The seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated, yet despite the fact that almost certainly the offices of GSOC have been targeted by a covert and sophisticated surveillance operation that could only have been carried out by a government agency, Minister Shatter, and senior Garda personnel have attempted to trivialise what has happened over a ten day period.

"Today’s decision by the Government to belatedly initiate a “review” into this saga is a response to what has become a catalogue of controversy and crises under the watch of Minister Shatter.

"The appointment of a retired High Court Judge to enquire into all matters of relevance will be viewed with a certain cynicism since it will be the Minister himself, albeit on advice from the Attorney General, who will set the Terms of Reference and who the High Court Judge will report too.

"It would be my strong view that the Minister himself must be placed under forensic scrutiny as part of any examination rather than be the one overseeing it."

Please find the full text of Deputy Sandra McLellan's speech delivered in the Dáil tonight during Sinn Féin's Private Members' Business motion calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged bugging of the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

Minister, tonight’s debate concerns one of the most important institutions of the state, the Gardaí Síochána.

Recent events surrounding the alleged surveillance of GSOC have raised serious questions about its independence and its capacity to ensure proper civilian oversight of the police in this State.

The seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated, yet despite the fact that almost certainly the offices of GSOC have been targeted by a covert and sophisticated surveillance operation that could only have been carried out by a government agency, Minister Shatter, and senior Garda personnel have attempted to trivialise what has happened over a ten day period.

This is unacceptable.

Minister Shatter’s failure to adequately address who compromised GSOC’s security is an indictment of his attitude and approach and earlier today the cabinet was forced into a U-turn and announce an enquiry that’s limited scope will likely amount to nothing more than a review into the GSOC scandal.

There are serious questions around the Minster’s capacity to oversee the role of the Gardaí and to be truly independent in his role as Minister for Justice and Defence.

His statement last week to the Dáil completely misrepresented what was in the GSOC Report and his distortion of these facts has been repeated by senior government Ministers and the Taoiseach, whose initial response to the Sunday Times article was to misinterpret the legislation in an attempt to discredit GSOC.

The question to be asked is whether this Government does in fact want an Independent Ombudsman at all?

Thankfully, these government failures have failed to undermine the public’s confidence in ordinary rank and file Gardaí, who we all acknowledge provide a vital public service.

However, the failures of both the Minister and the Garda Commissioner was further underscored last Friday when, at their joint press conference at Templemore, the Minister attempted to row back and demonstrate his confidence in GSOC, while at his side the Commissioner immediately undone this effort when he said, that the: “GSOCs pigeons had come home to roost”.

Today’s decision by the Government to belatedly initiate a “review” into this saga is a response to what has become a catalogue of controversy and crises under the watch of Minister Shatter.

The appointment of a retired High Court Judge to enquire into all matters of relevance will be viewed with a certain cynicism since it will be the Minister himself, albeit on advice from the Attorney General, who will set the Terms of Reference and who the High Court Judge will report too.

It would be my strong view that the Minister himself must be placed under forensic scrutiny as part of any examination rather than be the one overseeing it.

Yesterday, Sinn Féin publicly indicated that our party would be making the necessary amendments to the Garda Síochánna Act 2005 in order to strengthen the Ombudsman Commissions powers, in particular the need for GSOC to investigate the Garda Commissioner.

Today the Government announced that the Oireachtas Committee will be asked to review the existing legislation and make recommendations for change.

Can I suggest to the Minister that there is in fact zero opposition to strengthening the legislation and the need to include powers to investigate the Garda Commissioner can be made immediately on that basis, while broader policing reforms are considered by Committee?

It is also necessary that the Ombudsman, when conducting investigations, has oversight of an Garda Síochána, up to and including the Garda Commissioner.

We will not have a policing culture based on accountability and transparency if the person at the top of the force is exempt from independent investigation.

This was eloquently noted in recent days by former Police Ombudsman in the North of Ireland, Nuala O'Loan, who said that based on GSOC’s current set-up she simply would not be there.

We need to amend the legislation to give effect to these broader reforms and modernise our laws to match the policing challenges of 2014 and the administration of justice in this state.

There is great merit in the idea of creating an independent policing board with proper oversight similar to the body that exists in the North.

For instance at community level, Joint Policing Committees have in most part become talking shops. There must be community input and structures which are responsive in order to win public trust and confidence in policing.

Additional powers must be devolved to Joint Policing Committees to give local representatives direct input in the development of Local Policing Plans.

Joint Policing Committees also need to be given a more effective role in ensuring that Local Policing Plans are fully implemented.

The Gardaí must then be held to account for its implementation.

In the North, Sinn Féin became a driving force for progressive change and policing accountability in the north. The Patten Report provided a blue print that enabled the creation of a policing service that is accountable and answerable to the public it serves.

It is clearly time to usher in new change. This government stood on a platform of dramatic reform. Let's now match words with action and get on with the task in hand, which the people expect and which this government promised to deliver.

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The policing services in this state could learn a lot from their counterparts in the North, according to Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D.

The Cavan/Monaghan T.D. was speaking during tonight’s Sinn Féin PMB on the GSOC controversy.

He said;

“At the root of the current controversy is the failure of successive Governments to reform and modernise the Garda Siochána and to provide for robust accountability for the police service. The Garda Siochána Act of 2005 went some way towards reform but fell far short of what was required.

“The establishment of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was a step forward which we welcomed at the time. But we also pointed out its shortcomings. Its powers are insufficient; the limits on it are too restrictive.

“With all respect to others in the Oireachtas, no-one can speak with more experience and more authority than Sinn Féin on the long and painstaking task of transforming policing in the Six Counties. It has been one of the most fundamental aspects of the entire Peace Process. While the task is far from over, it can also be said that it has been one of the successes of the Peace Process.

“In the North we have replaced the RUC, a highly militarised, politicised and sectarian police force, with a record of sustaining a one-party state and later taking the front line in the British government’s counter-insurgency war. In its place the Police Service of Northern Ireland was established and, while very far from perfect and with much work still to be done, it has begun the complete transformation of policing. This, of course, could only have happened in the context of a Peace Process and a political process based on parity of esteem and inclusivity. We in Sinn Féin have played a key role in that achievement.

“It is one of the ironies of history and of the Peace Process that we now have a situation where policing reform is more advanced in the North than it is in this State.”

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Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/North Leitrim has called for an independent inquiry into the bugging of GSOC offices to be established.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Colreavy said:

“Since the story of the bugging of GSOC’s offices broke it is clear that a full, independent inquiry is needed to establish the facts of this case.

“There are numerous questions that remain to be answered and statements made by Minister Shatter have failed to address public concerns about this serious scandal.

“Everybody (with the exception of Minister Shatter, the Taoiseach and government Ministers) accepts that GSOC’s offices were bugged and that it is possible that classified or sensitive information that may have been in their possession was compromised.

“The Gardaí have become centre of this scandal and the burden of responsibility lies upon their organisation to ensure that they are above reproach on this matter.

“They must acknowledge what type of surveillance gathering they are involved in and what technology they do and do not use. They must clarify whether they ever employ private companies to carry out surveillance operations.

“Could surveillance of GSOC ever be justified legally, for example if it was believed that members of GSOC were leaking information to journalists as they have been accused? And could the Official Secrets Act be used to justify such an operation? Only a full independent inquiry will be able to resolve such questions.”

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has said that entrusting the terms of reference, for any inquiry into the GOSC controversy, to Minister Alan Shatter would be like allowing the fox to design the chicken coop.

Deputy O’Brien was speaking on during the debate on the Sinn Féin PMB calling for an independent inquiry into the matter.

He said:

“Who is to gain by not having a fully independent inquiry? Who gained by the Minister coming into the Dáil and being less than forthcoming when addressing the matter last week?

“In light of these questions, and they are questions that only he can answer, entrusting the terms of reference to the Minister Shatter would be like allowing the fox to design the chicken coop.

“This is an issue that goes to the heart of the credibility of the administration of policing and justice in this state.

“These questions must be answered in order to allay the fears of citizens.

“We must have a truly independent inquiry - one where the terms of reference are not entrusted solely to the Minister.

“What the Government has offered today falls far short of such a demand.”

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Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris has said that there are still many unanswered questions around the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation into the case of convicted drug trafficker and garda informant Kieran Boylan.

Deputy Ferris was speaking today on Sinn Féin’s motion calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged bugging of the GSOC offices.

Deputy Ferris said:

“There are still many questions, some of which have been raised by Labour Party Minister of State, Joe Costello, surrounding the case of drug trafficker and garda informant Kieran Boylan. How did the Minister know that the bugging wasn’t something to do with that case?

“This man is not a small player in the drugs world. He was caught with two and a half million euros worth of heroin.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions decided to drop the charges against him as his trial was drawing to a close.

“The ombudsman complained that the Gardaí had deliberately delayed and frustrated its four-year inquiry into allegations Boylan was allowed by his Garda handlers to continue dealing drugs while he supplied information on the dealers to whom he was still selling.

“Deputy Costello knows in his heart that if he was in opposition and not part of the Labour Party, which has devoted itself to propping up this government, that he would be joining with Sinn Féin and other opposition deputies in calling for an independent inquiry into this whole affair.

“How can the decent gardaí who do their best to carry out their duties properly keep the confidence of the public when this latest debacle remains under wraps and not subject to proper public scrutiny?

“How are they to have confidence that the Garda Ombudsman’s office can pursue their complaints in circumstances, like these, where the gardaí are not co-operating and the government is not fixing this?

“An independent inquiry is essential so that public confidence in the Ombudsman’s Commission and the gardaí can be restored and that all outstanding questions can be answered at last.”

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Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh today called on the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbittee to explain why he did not intervene in the recent controversy regarding RTE and defend freedom of speech.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The politics of this debate centre on the censorship of certain views.

“The end result has been the censorship of Rory O’Neill by RTE and a denial of his right as a gay person to name homophobia.

“This does not set a good precedent for the upcoming referendum on marriage equality.

“It is the LGBT community who must define what homophobia is. They are at the receiving end of it and know its demeaning and discriminatory characteristics best.

“There is a politics of censorship surrounding this debate.

“This is not just about homophobia and gay marriage.

“It is about freedom of speech and the obligation of the state broadcaster to facilitate and protect this right.

“RTE should not censor debates that address issues to do with human rights and the equal standing of minority groups before the law.

“As the state broadcaster it must ensure the LGBT community receive adequate airtime in the run up to the referendum on marriage equality.

“After all, you are either for freedom of speech or you are against it – there can be no half measures.

“As Minister with responsibility for the national broadcaster Pat Rabbittee failed to defend this fundamental right for the people of Ireland.”

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Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane today called for Rehab to come before the Public Accounts Committee and to answer all questions put to it in relation to salaries and state funding.

Senator Cullinane said:

“People are astounded and outraged that Angela Kerins is in receipt of a payment package worth €272,400 from Rehab.

“This is higher than the remuneration package paid to many Presidents and Prime Ministers of sovereign states.

“This is an excessive amount by anybody’s standards.

“It is simply not acceptable that people with physical and intellectual disabilities who work in Rehab are expected to live on disability benefit of €188 while senior management drain the organisation of much needed resources.

“Ms Kerins’ salary is obscene - it is immoral and unacceptable.

“There is a toxic culture of bonuses, top-ups, and cronyism that has undermined confidence in charities and the state.

“The damage done by these scandals is incalculable.

“Rehab must now come before the Public Accounts Committee and answer all relevant questions put to it. It must give details on the salaries and pension contributions it pays to its other Executives and specific information on how it spends state funds.”

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Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on Rehab to provide full details of the pay and pension arrangements of the charity’s management team to the Public Accounts Committee.

Deputy McDonald also called on the charity to provide the independent reports it has based its Chief Executives pay on.

The Dublin Central TD said, “After weeks of stonewalling Rehab has finally bowed to public pressure and published the salary of its Chief Executive.

“People are astounded and outraged that Rehab is paying it Chief €272,400 annually. Rehab claims than its research shows that this is significantly below the salary paid to Chief Executives of companies of similar size. This position simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

“It is now clear that Rehab’s boss is paid almost three times the salary of most charity’s CEO’s.

“Rehab’s senior management cannot don their charity hat when it suits them only to ditch it when it comes to management pay.

“It is also clear that Rehab has not applied the Haddington Road Agreement pay cuts to its CEO as it sought to do with the rest of its workforce.

“Drip feeding the pay and pension arrangement of senior management in Section 38 and Section 39 organisations is damaging the ability of charities to fundraise.

“It is clear that the toxic culture of bonuses, pay top-ups, gold plated pensions and cronyism for a small few has undermined the charity sectors reputation.

“These organisations and their dedicated staff provide vital services to our most vulnerable citizens and it is the public who provide much of the funding.

“Understandably it is those who work in these organisations and those who fundraise for them are looking on in bewilderment as to how charity CEO is being paid a truly excessive salary.

“Rehab must provide all pay and pension arrangements of its management team when it comes before the Public Accounts Committee. Rehab must also provide the three independent reports it has based its Chief Executives pay on. Full accountability and transparency is what is required of Rehab at this time.”

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Responding to the announcement that government it is to appoint a retired High Court Judge to inquire into the bugging of GSOC’s office Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the decision to entrust the inquiry’s terms of reference to the Minister for Justice as absolutely unacceptable.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Over the last ten days the government has rejected any suggestion of an independent inquiry in the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) bugging scandal.

“Throughout this debacle government has sought to muddy the waters and keep attention focused on the leak from GSOC rather than the bugging of the Garda watchdog’s office.

“By its own actions the government has sought to undermine the independence and integrity of the Ombudsman’s office. Minister Shatter’s statement to the Dáil and subsequent appearance on Prime Time simply does not tally with the briefing he received from GSOC at the beginning of last week.

“Following significant public pressure and just hours before the Dáil is about to debate a Sinn Féin motion demanding an independent inquiry the government has reversed its position and announced the appointment of a retired High Court Judge to investigate the bugging of GSOC’s office.

“Government’s decision to entrust the terms of reference for this inquiry to the Minister for Justice is absolutely unacceptable. Minister Shatter has behaved evasively throughout this scandal and has sought to distract attention from the real issues at play.

“It is also Sinn Fein’s strong view that the inquiry should report back to the Oireachtas and not to the Minister for Justice.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Ferris TD, today called on Minister Simon Coveney to aid the white fish sector, “which is in dire need of financial assistance” due to severe weather conditions.

Deputy Ferris said:

“There are boats which have been tied up for the past 12 weeks, unable to go to sea due to the weather.

“There are families depending on an industry which is in dire need of financial assistance. The minister announced some aid for those who lost gear, but there are people with mortgages to pay on their homes and their boats, who have not been able to earn a penny for the past three months.

“I am calling on the minister to come to the aid of the white fish sector and again, to recognise that what has happened is a national disaster. It is time to call on the European Union to come to the aid of the coastal communities on the West and South coasts who have been so badly hit by the recent storms.”

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