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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

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

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here




Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said that the response from the IFA to the question of the playing of the British national anthem at the North’s soccer games says it all.

“The topic of playing this anthem at the North’s games has come up for discussion with former nationalist players saying changing it would help make it more comfortable for nationalists to play for the team.

“The no comment response from the IFA shows how far they are willing to go to make Windsor Park a welcoming place for all the community.

“It is obvious that the playing of the British National Anthem is a divisive issue and to ignore this or push it under the carpet is confirmation that other attempts to get nationalists playing/supporting the team are just tinkering round the edges of the core problem.

“The way ahead is to follow the example of rugby, cricket and other sports with an all-Ireland team.”CRÍOCH/END

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West Belfast MP Paul Maskey MLA has welcomed the Audit Office report on the Bioscience and Technology Institute (BTI)

Mr Maskey stated

“Some of the issues that came to the fore within the report are alarming, including widespread shortcomings in corporate governance, especially procurement and conflicts of interest, the Department cannot afford to let this happen again.

“BTI failed to establish the true cost of the switch from BCH to Harbourgate and whether such a move was financially viable.

“A finder’s fee of £100k was paid out even though the building was not appropriate while there was also a lack of transparency over who received the fee. Among a list of issues needing answers is the spurious claims that tenants had been secured for Harbourgate.

“It would seem that there were no accountability mechanisms in place and I have serious concerns around bad management practices in regards to BTI and on how the department allowed this to happen”.

Paul Maskey concluded,

”The failure to get the project established was a significant loss to the local economy, as it had the potential to encourage a substantial level of development in this specialist sector. CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brun was one of the speakers at a cross-border forum held last Friday in Co Cavan to discuss the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Speakers at the event, organised by the European Parliament's office in Dublin and London, included IFA president John Bryan and UFU President John Thompson , Mairead McGuinness MEP and Dutch MEP Ester de Lange, as well as the President of Macra na Feirme, Alan Jagoe, and former MEP Neil Parish, currently chair of Westminster's Agriculture Committee.

  Bairbre de Brun MEP took the opportunity to set out the process, now underway in the European political institutions, to address the proposals produced in October by European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. After outlining the main elements of the package, she commented, "Much of what is contained in the present Commission draft will look very different by the end of the process. The European Parliament has co-decision in this matter, for the first time, and MEPs will be in a central position in what will be a lengthy and detailed negotation. So it is vital that we hear from the farming and rural organisations, such as those present here today. We need to hear not just their broad concerns about aspects of what is on the table, but also there is a need for constructive suggestions on what more workable alternative wording they would wish to see included, suggestions which will help simplify and improve what is there at the moment." Ms de Brun stressed that "The greening of the CAP, through the tying of direct payments to work to protect the environment, will happen, and what is needed is a discussion on how to have wording that will be of practical help to the environment while not adding to the bureaucratic and administrative burden on farmers". She also explained how MEPs here will work with farmers to ensure an adequate EU budget for agriculture and to ensure that CAP reform takes account of our particular culture of renting land through conacre. All the speakers stressed the need for good communication between the various stakeholders and their political representatives in Europe, and de Brun concluded, "by working together, and by building alliances with others across Europe who have the same priorities for the CAP as ourselves here in Ireland, we can do everything we can to achieve a fair and sensible outcome both for our agricultural industry and for the environment they love". 

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Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun has again signalled her concerns around the effects which any deal between the EU and the Mercusor bloc could have on the agriculture industry locally. Her warning comes after the publication of an impact assessment on any possible deal, carried out by the EU Commission’s Joint Research Council de Brun said”, The EU's impact assessments on Mercosur show that any deal would have devastating affects on our farming industry at a time when our farming industry is already under pressure. Allowing cheap beef imports which have limited traceability and do not meet the EU's animal welfare standards would be a disaster. European consumers expect the highest standards from their meat, and they expect it to comply with EU animal welfare legislation, and allowing a deal with Mercosur is both detrimental to farmers and deceitful to consumers. Outlining the JRC’s conclusions, she said “The finalised assessments of the possible impacts of an EU trade deal with the Mercosur bloc concludes that EU agri-food producers would face significant income losses, with estimates varying from 4.6 billion to 7.75 billion euros, according to different possible scenarios.The studies confirm findings in preliminary assessments that the EU's beef sector would be most severely hit, on the back of a sharp rise in Mercosur imports. Estimates for Mercosur beef imports range from 5000 tonnes in the case of an EU offer with no Doha trade talks deal in place, rising to as much as 524,000 tonnes with the Mercosur request post-Doha. In the latter case, EU beef production would drop by 280,000 tonnes with a loss valued at 4.6 Billion euros. The total loss to the meat sector under this scenario is over 5.8 billion, of which 0.8 bn falls on the poultry sector”. de Brun concluded "This impact assessment highlights what myself and fellow parliamentarians have been saying for some time, that this deal is of great concern to our beef sector, and that if it is to be allowed to go ahead the EU is doing a serious disservice to its farmers”. 

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Sinn Féin councillors last night opposed the draft budget 2012 at the annual budget meeting of Dublin City Council.

Speaking last night Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha said:

“Ní bheidh Comhairleoirí Shinn Féin ag tacú leis an Dréachtbhuiséad seo. Ní buiséad cothrom é, ní buiséad daonlathach é ach is céim siar mór é do saoránaigh na Cathrach seo.

“Dublin City Council met last night at its annual statutory Budget meeting in an unreal situation. We were asked to endorse a Draft Budget for 2012 without knowing what the City's funding from central government will be for the coming year. We know there will be a drastic reduction in central Government funding but we don't yet know the full extent of that reduction.

“We are being asked to buy a pig in a poke. We are being asked to rubber stamp a Budget that ultimately has been dictated by the Troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

“A year ago to the very day, on 28 November 2010, what remained of our economic sovereignty was signed away when the Fianna Fáil/Green Government agreed the punitive and disastrous austerity programme with the Troika.

“At the end of October this year the State's Exchequer deficit stood at €22.1 billion – but half of this figure – an incredible €10.7 billion – is money given by the current Government of Fine Gael and Labour to the banks since taking office - €3.1 billion of it to Anglo-Irish Bank.

“The result of this disastrous economic strategy – begun by Fianna Fail and the Greens and continued now by Fine Gael and Labour – is mass unemployment, further impositions on ordinary citizens, especially the most vulnerable, and the destruction of public services – including local government services.

“As a direct result of this we are now being asked to endorse a City Council Budget based on household charges, waste collection privatisation, charges for fire service call-out and the dramatic reduction of capital spending – especially on housing.

“From January 2012 the unjust and inequitable Household Charge is to be imposed on citizens and this flat tax will form the basis of the Local Government Fund. Many citizens will be unable or unwilling to pay this further tax, thus depleting funding for local government. Once again central Government is shifting the burden onto the backs of citizens and reducing public services. The legislation to provide for this unjust tax has not even been considered yet by the Oireachtas – it will only be introduced this Thursday.

“Three times in the past two months the elected members of Dublin City Council have voted against the privatisation of the City's waste collection service. Yet the City Manager is proceeding with privatisation in defiance of democracy and the Draft 2012 Budget is based on the elimination of this service. We don’t even know at this stage to what extent – if any – or for how long people on low incomes will qualify for waivers of bin charges from the privatised service.

“This Budget also seeks to impose a charge on householders for calling out the Fire Service. This is a dangerous proposal which may deter some people from calling the emergency services. It is also inequitable given that people already pay such a charge as part of their insurance premium, even though the insurance companies do not pass payments on to the local authorities.

“We accept that Council staff at all levels have worked hard to maintain services with greatly tightened finances. The Draft Budget attempts to make the most of greatly reduced resources. However we cannot endorse a Budget that is the implementation at City Council level of a disastrously failed economic strategy and that will impose undue and unnecessary hardship on citizens.

“Sinn Féin nationally has presented an alternative economic strategy based on fostering jobs and growth, fair taxation and sharing the burden equitably. As Councillors we will campaign on the basis of those demands, representing our communities and standing shoulder to shoulder with those resisting the imposition of further hardship on citizens and the further erosion of both national and local democracy.”

ENDS

Contact: Cllr. Mícheál Mac Donncha 086 1021945.

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Speaking following the publication of the Retails Sales Index today, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs, employment and innovation Peadar Tóibín said that government inaction will lead to further job losses.

“Today the CSO published figures that substantiate our view that Irish high streets are failing. Every high street is now blighted with boarded up shop fronts.

“Aside from motor trades, the volume of business has reduced in October by 0.2%.

“Over the past year the volume of trades has reduced by 3.8%. Over the past 4 years we have lost 55,000 retail jobs with an additional 40,000 retail jobs in jeopardy.

“The response of this government has been to increase VAT by 2%.

“This will only increase costs for everyone, putting further pressure on small retailers and will ultimately lead to further job losses.

“There is no need for the VAT increase. Another way is possible to create jobs, grow the economy and tackle the deficit. However this will require new thinking, leadership and a comprehensive set of policies that put jobs and the national interest to the fore.

“To date this government continues to implement the failed policies of the past. They are failing to stand up for the national interest and to deliver a set of strategies to create and save jobs.”

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

Oliver McMullan said:

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

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

 

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called for Larne area to be treated as a stand-alone region in the Regional Development Strategy.

Mr. McMullan said,

“Larne is an important hub in terms of transport infrastructure and a gateway for tourism yet Larne is being treated within the strategy as part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan.

“In order for Larne and its natural hinterlands of the Glens and Carnlough to develop and attract inward investment it is essential that Larne is a stand-alone project 

“I am also disappointed that Larne has also has been removed as one of the 16 main hubs and given the fact that the strategy states that these hubs should be given first consideration in terms of inward investment it leaves the entire North East region at a deficit.

“While the port of Larne is obviously a focus it is also important that we build up a mix of industry and services to compliment the port rather than depend on the port as the only economic catalyst.

“Tourism is one area that is key to the region as the Glens and the Northern coast have the potential to deliver economic sustainability yet by not including Larne in a hub or as a stand alone project this potential will never be reached.

“I will be writing to the Minister of Regional Development Danny Kennedy in order to secure a meeting to discuss the future development of the Larne area.”

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Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey has slammed the Employment and Learning Minister for failing to assure the public that St. Mary's university has a secure and guaranteed future as a teacher training college stating that he is concerned that the minister is out to close St. Mary's by stealth.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

“The issue of teacher training is very clear. Stranmillis wishes to merge with Queens University, something which QUB wants to see happen and St Mary’s wants to maintain its autonomy. The respective teacher training universities are entitled to have their wishes respected.

“Under pressure from Peter Robinson and the DUP the minister is now blocking the merger of Stranmillis with Queens University while he undermines St Mary’s status as teacher training university.

"Furthermore the minister has announced a review of teacher training provision with a focus on St. Marys and Stranmillis while ignoring the other three universities in the north.

“St Mary’s has been a successful institution for over 110 years, delivering a first class educational service. In terms of delivering for student's needs it is highly successful, having the most graduates from any of the universities, in long term employment.

“Minister Farry is essentially allowing himself to be placed under pressure by unionist politicians who are opposed to St Marys continuing as a university in West Belfast.

"In doing so he is attempting to undermine one of this island's top performers in terms of teacher training.

“Mr Farry needs to reassess his approach to this issue. He could begin by accepting that St. Mary's requires certainty about its future and he should provide it."

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