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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams has called for “clarity from government and an end to the confusion surrounding the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme”.

For the second day in a row the Sinn Féin President raised the crisis in the Fair Deal scheme and the distressing impact it is having on elderly citizens and their families during Leaders Questions.

Mr. Adams focussed on the fact that contrary to the governments assertions, the HSE has informed Sinn Féin that the central computer system used to process applications has been shut down by it since May 16th and that consequently no decisions are being taken in respect of approvals for places under the scheme.

The Sinn Féin leader said: “Instructions should be given today to the HSE to switch its computer system back on and to immediately begin processing the applications and approvals.”

Mr. Adams said:

“Yesterday when I asked the Taoiseach about the Fair Deal scheme he told me applications for approval under the Fair Deal scheme will continue to be processed and accepted. And I welcomed that.

“Last night the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD, in answer to a question from my colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said that decisions to grant approval are subject to the availability of funding.

“However, the HSE is saying the opposite. The HSE has told Sinn Féin that approvals are not being given. Indeed the HSE told us that the computer system used to process Fair Deal applications has been shut down by them since May 16th.

“This flies in the face of what the Dáil was told yesterday and again this morning.

“Instead of clearing up the confusion that exists around the Fair Deal system the Taoiseach’s remarks yesterday and today, and his assertion that applications are being processed, when this is clearly not the case, have added significantly to that confusion.

“The contradictory positions from the HSE, and from the government exposes a degree of government mismanagement that is unacceptable and is causing great distress to many families.

“The reality is that today there are elderly people, many of them being cared for in difficult circumstances by their families, who are being prevented from taking up vacant nursing home places. There are people who at the moment cannot get final approval.

“The failure of the state to process and approve their applications means that anyone promised a bed could well lose that place if someone who can afford the bed takes up the vacancy.

“It is also a fact that a block in processing Fair Deal applications and approvals will force more and more elderly people into our Accident and Emergency Units and into hospital beds significantly increasing the strain on our already hard pressed hospital system.

“Fair Deal is now the only means available for elderly people on benefits or with limited means to access nursing home care. The confusion within the Health system and in government on the Fair Deal system has to be resolved quickly.

“Instructions should be given today to the HSE to switch its computer system back on and to immediately begin processing the applications and approvals.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD has said that the report on wage rates published yesterday should not be used as the basis for allowing employers to opt out of existing agreements.

The Kerry North/Limerick West TD was responding to the recommendations of the report and to comments made by Minister Richard Bruton who said that any changes made would be in line with the IMF/EU Memorandum of Understanding which clearly envisages lowering wage levels.

Deputy Ferris said “While the report itself recommends that the ‘basic framework’ of the JLC/REA system ought to be retained, I would have concerns regarding some aspects of the report, but more so in relation to the Minister’s own response.

“Recommendation 17, for example, supports the framing of legislation that would allow for ‘derogation from the terms of an ERO or an REA on economic grounds.’ In effect what that would mean, as I pointed out when former Minister Dara Calleary proposed such a clause, is that existing agreements could simply be overridden by employers pleading an ‘inability to pay.’

“Given that there are several cases before the Labour Court already challenging the provisions of existing orders, such a provision would in effect undermine the entire structure of agreed rates and would facilitate a potential lowering of wages for several hundred thousand workers.

“The response by the Minister, and his reference to the terms of the bailout which quite plainly envisage a lowering of wages, would indicate that he is thinking in terms of facilitating such a development. That would represent a massive blow for already low paid workers and would further depress the overall economy by further reducing spending power.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Michael Colreavy said that the Government must address the many challenges facing the agri-food sector.

Deputy Colreavy said:

“The agri-food sector is one of Ireland's most important indigenous manufacturing sectors, accounting for employment of 150,000 people. It includes approximately 600 food and drinks firms throughout the country that export to some 140 markets worldwide.

“Given that worldwide population is increasing at a rapid pace, consumption is rising and food demand is greater than ever, agri-food exports are a large potential source of revenue for the country; since Ireland is seen as a rural, green island, there should be greater efforts to capitalise on this and expand our agri-food exports.

“There are numerous challenges facing the agri-food sector, yet it is one of the few functioning areas of the real Irish economy and it does have the potential not only to maintain employment levels but also to significantly increase the numbers employed. This is provided that Irish government and EU impediments are removed and support is given in focused and imaginative way to ensure that the Irish agri-food industry builds on its high reputation world wide.

“Sinn Féin has produced a comprehensive policy paper on the agri-food sector which contains some 51 separate recommendations. The paper was endorsed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and provides a detailed set of proposals which I believe are credible and have huge potential. I would urge the Minister and his Department officials to look to these and other proposals and also to Food Harvest 2020, to seize the opportunity to enhance what can be a vibrant and prospering sector.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described the refusal of the British government to release all of the files in its possession on the Dublin Monaghan bombs as “wholly unacceptable”.

He also raised with the Taoiseach the withdrawal of funding from Justice for the Forgotten.

Speaking after Taoiseach’s questions during which the Sinn Féin leader pressed the Taoiseach on this issue Mr. Adams said:

“It is claimed by the British that they have already released those files they thought appropriate and do not intend to release any other files on the bombings they have in their possession.

“Why then does the British government refuse to allow an independent judicial figure to examine files which it did not give to the Barron Inquiry? Why not?

“Much was said last week by both governments, following the visit of the Queen of England, that the political relationship between this state and Britain had been transformed. If that is true then the British Prime Minister, as a good neighbour, should respond positively to the request by all of the parties in the Dáil to that information being made available so that victims and families can have closure.

“It is also a matter of deep frustration that the necessary funding for the Justice for the Forgotten group was withdrawn. This funding should be restored as a matter of urgency.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams has sharply criticised and expressed “deep concern” at the government’s mishandling of the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme.

Mr Adams was speaking today during Leaders Questions today where he challenged the Taoiseach on the serious “failings in the management by the HSE of the Fair deal Nursing Home Support Scheme”.

Mr. Adams said:

“Last week older people and their families were alarmed when it was suddenly announced by the Minister that he understood that the funding for the ‘Fair Deal’ nursing home care scheme was running out.

“It was reported that, less than half way through the year, the allocation for 2011 was already gone or nearly gone and that the HSE had suspended the approval of new applicants for the scheme.

“This was hugely upsetting news, with Age Action saying they were inundated by distraught callers, many in tears, made more distressful because the Minister didn’t appear to know what was happening.

“Since then the Health Minister has said that new applications will be dealt with – which is welcome – and that the problem was that the HSE used the €100 million of the money allocated for Fair Deal for other purposes. He said this was due to ‘confused messaging’.

“For their part the HSE said that the total budget available to it for long term residential care had always and would continue to be used exclusively for the care of older people resident in nursing homes.

“The HSE also said it is seeking clarity about the Minister’s remarks and there are reports that it has not started the processing of new applicants.

“So, there is a very confused picture.

“In addition, if the €100m intended for Fair Deal has been spent already where will the Minister make up this huge sum of money? Where will these new cuts fall within the Health Service? “

The Louth and East Meath TD also warned that “the growing waiting list within our hospitals is likely to get worse as more and more elderly people who should be in nursing homes remain in hospital.”

Mr. Adams also raised the absence of appropriate funding for home care packages which would allow many elderly people to stay in their own homes.

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Sinn Fein’s Education Spokesperson in the 26 counties, Deputy Séan Crowe, has supported calls by Fr Derek Farrell for a postponement and review of last year’s budget cuts to Traveller education.

Deputy Crowe, who has submitted a number of questions on the matter to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, believes the most vulnerable sections of society are facing the brunt of cuts to essential frontline services.

He continued: “Fr Derek Farrell is correct when he says it was ‘staggering’ that the Department of Education had targeted two thirds of the cuts in teaching posts at Travellers.

“The benefits of having specialised teachers teaching children from Traveller families cannot be overstated and the loss of an estimated 800 posts to Traveller education at primary and post primary level will be devastating.

“These regressive polices will have the greatest impact on children who need additional support in order for them to reach their full potential. If these cuts are implemented,” Cllr Crowe continued, “then much of the progress made in supporting Traveller children will be lost as will be their right to obtain a decent education.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, describing today’s Finance Bill as “anaemic” has said that, “Sinn Fein will seek to amend the Bill to replace the pension levy with changes to pension tax relief”.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The core element of today’s anaemic Finance Bill is the imposition of a 0.6% levy on pension funds for the next four years. The Government plans to raise €470 million a year with the levy.

“The pension levy proposal is deeply inequitable. It excludes the Approved Retirement Funds used by many high earners to invest in their pensions. It also makes no differentiation between the pensions held by ordinary workers and those of high earners.

“There is a far more equitable way of raising funds for job creation through the pension system. Sinn Féin has long advocated the standardisation of pension tax reliefs at the lower rate. This measure would not only remove an unjustifiable inequity in the current system but generate significant revenue for the state to invest in economic recovery.

“Based on figures from a 2009 ERSI report on pensions, standardising pension tax reliefs would generate an additional €1.1 billion, of which €616 million would come from the top 10% of earners.

“Indeed the same report estimated that in the same year 82% of all pension tax relief went to the top 20% of income earners, demonstrating the grossly unequal nature of this relief and the need for its reform.

“Of course Sinn Fein would invest this money in a very different way to that outlined by the Government last week. However in the context of the Finance Bill before us the government has a clear choice between raiding the pension funds of all and targeting new revenue rising at those who can afford to pay the most.

“Sinn Fein will be tabling amendments to the Finance Bill that will seek to replace the pension levy with a standardisation of existing pension tax reliefs, the aim of which is to generate significant revenue to invest in creating jobs.”

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the decision of the Health Minister in the Six Counties, Edwin Poots, to go ahead with the development of the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, a facility that is due to serve the North West.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The decision of Health Minister Edwin Poots to go ahead with the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin is welcome, reversing the decision of his predecessor to postpone the development.

“This is a vital development for cancer care in the entire North-West, including County Donegal. Because of the flawed plan for radiotherapy provision in the 26 Counties there is no unit planned north of a line from Dublin to Galway, so Altnagelvin will have a vital cross-border role. I will be pressing Health Minister Reilly to help ensure that this development does indeed go ahead and without further delay and is fully utilised.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “shameful” the 12 to 18-month waiting list for endoscopy at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

He said:

“It is shameful that young children are now facing a wait of between 12 and 18 months for endoscopy at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. This is a real crisis in gastroenterology services as children from across this State depend on Crumlin Hospital to carry out these vital tests.

“Children must endure up to a year and a half of illness, and in some cases severe pain and distress, before they even get a diagnosis. As a father of children who are Coeliac I know the pain and distress of infants with this condition and the anguish of parents, especially in the time before a diagnosis is obtained.

“There is no shortage of endoscopy equipment or of expertise to use it in this State. The problem is that much of it is concentrated in the private hospital sector – as witnessed by the fact that since January this year 40 gastroenterology patients were referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund for treatment in private hospitals. These private treatments are carried out at greater expense than those in the public health system. Once again the criminal folly of the two-tier system is causing real hardship for patients and massive waste of public money that should be spent in the public system.

“Health Minister James Reilly must intervene to ensure that no child should have to wait for more than three months for an endoscopy.” ENDS

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Michael Colreavy TD & Cllr Darren O'Rourke