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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



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew said that Health Minister Edwin Poots is wrong by continuing with a life time ban against members of the gay community donating blood.

The Chair of the Health Committee said:

“This decision is wrong and Edwin Poots needs to reverse it. The minister is bringing his own prejudice into play here and has taken this decision without consultation with the Health Committee. This is just feeding into the discrimination that people from the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual community already suffer.

“It goes without saying that we need to have robust screening of blood, whoever it comes from. I don’t believe the minister’s views are shared by everyone in the DUP and this act of discrimination against people within our community, who in the end of the day are prepared to give blood which would be used to save lives, needs to be reversed immediately.”

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has tonight criticised the Labour party for turning its back on its own policy with regards to the semi privatisation of the ESB.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The ESB is self-financing, has paid 4.3 billion euro in taxes and dividends to the State over the last ten years and is an international leader in the energy sector.

“It can borrow substantial amounts on the markets to fund reinvestment in the company, a point of fact which makes it even harder to understand why any Government would sell off in part or in whole a stake in one of the States success stories – particularly in light of the Government’s own failure to re-enter the money markets.

“This is something Labour Minister Joan Burton acknowledged last year in an interview with Business and Finance where she said; ‘It seems to me an extraordinary proposition at a time when Ireland is doing so badly in terms of bond spreads that we would seriously want to sell into a depressed market State assets which themselves have a fund-raising capacity in terms of their own needs’.

“Minister Burton singled out the ESB for particular mention noting, ‘Given the difficulties that we are in at the moment with our bond spreads, it seems to me to be unwise to remove this strategic capacity.’

“There are other big questions to be asked as to how this fast-buck approach to selling off a stake in the ESB. The ESB committed to paying a dividend of €77 million to the Exchequer for 2010, despite reporting a pre-tax loss of €89 million.

“Does the Government really believe that such dividends will still be paid out to the State when the company is facing losses. Is the Labour party so naïve that it believes privateers’ raison d'etre is to ensure, above all other considerations, that the public purse gets its fair share of the pie?

“Extolling the virtues of the ESB and its achievements within the current ownership arrangements is all fine and well but everything will change and change absolutely if this Government sells off a stake in the company.

“Eircom has taught us that privatisation does not deliver first world infrastructure. Forfás tells us that Ireland is lagging at least three to five years behind competitor countries in terms of rolling out infrastructure capable of high speed next generation broadband.

“Serious questions have been raised across Europe on the effectiveness of policies based on liberalisation or privatisation measures in relation to investment measures. The EU has recognised this by changing its state aid rules to facilitate joint public-private investment in broadband infrastructure.

“Many European countries such as France, Germany and Belgium still retain sizable shareholdings in their national telecommunications companies for this very reason.

“Ironically it is the ESB that could best address the State’s broadband deficit through its existing infrastructure.

“Telling the people that the proceeds of the sale will be used for investment or job creation is to sell the people a pig in a poke. Even if the government secures the agreement of the troika to do so – it will be a fraction of the sale value. Real growth through job creation and a significant write down of bank debt is the only way forward.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Brian Stanley said any sale of the government stake in the ESB will bring an end to the many valuable social projects supported by the company.

Deputy Stanley also questioned the government’s intentions for other state assets Bord na Móna and Coillte saying that both of these companies have huge potential to create badly needed jobs while addressing our energy requirements.

Speaking on a Sinn Féin motion opposing the sale of the government stake in the ESB Deputy Stanley said:

“The ESB has supported social projects that have benefited the most vulnerable in our society. Suicide projects, homelessness projects, local sports events, regional charities, research bodies and local community and parish based initiatives have all received support including in Portarlington.

“Will private interests really be happy to unquestionably extend financial support to communities and away from shareholders? The suggestion by Ministers Rabbitte and Howlin last night that they intend to find caring sharing privateers who will put the public good ahead of shareholders is the stuff of daydreams, well-intentioned but a million miles away from reality.

“Two of the other companies referred to in the McCarthy Report are Bord na Móna and Coillte. The recommendation was that Bord na Mona be sold off and that Coillte dispose of the forestry under its control.

“The Government is committed to merging them as part of New Era. However, as others have said, it will be interesting to see whether that gets off the ground given the IMF and EU hostility to the notion of public investment in job creation.

“If New Era does not proceed then the issue of what happens to Bord na Móna and Coillte will be thrown open once again.

“It is vital in my opinion that they and the land and forestry under their responsibility are retained in public ownership. In my own constituency of Laois/Offaly there are massive tracts of cutaway bog that needs to be utilised for example in the whole area of alternative energy.

“As the Government’s own proposal regarding New Era recognises, there is huge scope for the development of renewable energy sources and both Bord na Móna and Coillte could play a key role this which would have massive potential both in terms of addressing our energy requirements and creating badly needed jobs. In Laois/Offaly for example the number of unemployed is heading upwards toward 17,000 people. Utilising these resources can provide part of the solution to this.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, met with Unite this afternoon to discuss the threat to 700 jobs in Aviva.

Speaking after the meeting in Leinster House, Deputy Tóibín said, “The redundancies at Aviva are in no way a done deal. A review of the operation here in Ireland commenced in February and is currently being studied by the company. Any cost cutting measures must be done in consultation with the management, the union and must involve Minister Richard Bruton.

“There is most definitely a role for the government in ensuring that the jobs are saved. Minister Bruton can not simply wash his hands and hope all will be ok. The economy simply cannot afford to lose another 700 jobs.

“Immediate government action can be taken to reduce costs. Aviva is locked into an upwardly only rent lease. This is a shackle around the neck of many businesses and needs to be addressed by the government as a matter of urgency."

“If you do the maths, 700 more people in receipt of Social Welfare will cost €14,000,000 to the tax payer a year and €26,600,000 lost in wages plus the 12.5% lost in PRSI. We simply can not afford to lose these jobs.

“I will continue to work with Unite to save these jobs and raise the issue with Minister Bruton and with An Taoiseach at every opportunity.” ENDS

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill has promised to be a strong advocate for local farmers in the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Publication of the CAP reform legislative proposals from the EU Commission is expected on 12 October.

Speaking at a joint reception with Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, Minister O’Neill said CAP reform will have major implications for the agricultural industry.

She said: “This reform is hugely important and I can understand the concerns of our farmers faced with an uncertain future, but I assure them I will be a strong advocate for them. Many major issues will be up for discussion and the outcome will be crucial for the agri-food industry.

“The EU Budget proposals for the period 2014 - 2020 were published back in June and although a budgetary freeze on CAP expenditure at 2013 levels was perhaps better than could have been expected a year or two ago, it still represents a significant reduction by 2020 in real terms.

“I’ll not be supporting any calls for a reduction in the EU agriculture budget and I will not support any suggestion of a longer term move to a single EU flat rate payment – there is simply no justification for this and it’s certainly not about fairness.”

The Minister explained: “Once the CAP reform legislative proposals are published next month, I will want to engage closely with stakeholders throughout the negotiations. I will be working closely with Simon Coveney on those issues where we have common interests, engaging with our MEPs to factor a ‘Team Ireland’ approach and I also intend to consult personally with the Defra Minister, and with the Ministers of the Devolved Administrations to set down my priorities.”

The joint DARD - DAFF reception at the National Ploughing Championships which this year marks its 80th anniversary, was attended by ploughing association officials from both north and south, representatives from local farming unions and rural bodies, government and agency representatives, members of the ARD committee and exhibitors on the DARD stand.

Completing a two-day visit to Ireland’s largest outdoor trade exhibition which annually attracts more than 150,000 visitors, Minister O’Neill described the event as an impressive showcase for agriculture. She said: “This is the first time I have attended the exhibition and it underlines for me the importance of the agricultural industry to our economy, both now and in the years to come. It also serves as a reminder, if ever we needed one, that we must work hard to ensure that the viability of this industry is never undermined.”

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, has today challenged An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to “stand up and defend Irish jobs at Aviva”.

Speaking this morning, Deputy Tóibín said:

“Under the guidance of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny this economy is haemorrhaging jobs on a daily basis. The latest crisis at Aviva comes hot on the heels of the Talk Talk disaster.

“Minister Richard Bruton has once again side stepped the issue claiming it is only a rumour of a problem. This response is wholly irresponsible. We need immediate action from the highest level of this government. I am calling on the Taoiseach to meet the workers of Aviva and to assure them of his total support in defending their jobs.

“Protecting these jobs must be a priority for this government. Anything less is unacceptable.

“These job losses are a direct consequence of the government’s policy of shrinking the economy with cuts. We need to re-inflate the economy with investment.

“Platitudes from the government are simply not good enough. We need them to get directly involved in resolving the issues at Aviva. I have contacted UNITE and I intend to meet with representatives of the employees this afternoon to discuss how best we can work together to save these jobs.” ENDS

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Ní mór don rialtas tréan iarracht a dheánamh an méid is mó postanna gur féidir a choinneáil in oifigí Aviva i nGaillimh agus ar fud na tire.
Agus é ag caint ar ráflaí go gcaillfear tuarim is 500 post mar thoradh ar athbhreithniú ar ghníomhaíochtaí domhanda Aviva, dúirt an Clochartach;
‘‘Is ábhar imní iad na ráflaí go bhfuil postanna d'ardluach in oifigí Aviva i nGaillimh agus ar fud na tire i mbaol. Is tréimhse deacair é seo do na hoibrithe agus a dteaghlaigh agus téann mo chroí amach dóibh.’’
Dúirt sé freisin;
‘‘Ní mór don rialtas, an IDA, agus eagraíochtaí fiontar eile gach ar féídir leo a dhéanamh chun na postanna seo a chaomhnú.’’
‘’D’iarrfainn ar Aviva chomh maith an chaighdeán ard de na hoibrithe atá ag obair san earnáil airgeadais in Éireann, in éineacht le na buntáistí uile a bhaineann le gnó a dhéanamh I nGaillimh agus in Éireann a thógáil san áireamh in aon chinneadh a thógann siad.’’

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Sinn Féin Justice and Equality Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has today introduced a Bill to the Dáil to strengthen the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) following the Government’s proposal of a merger with the Equality Authority.

Deputy O’Brien, speaking in the Dáil today said:

“This Bill would increase the remit of the Irish Human Rights Commission and give it the protections and status it deserves as a crucial element of the human rights provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“I think it is somewhat hard necked of Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to speak today at an IHRC event organised to celebrate its 10th anniversary while at the same time he plans to merge it with the Equality Authority and water down both bodies.

“The proposed merger is simply a cover for cuts and both of these organisations are already chronically under resourced.

“The Government proposal can only lead to a loss of focus and expertise in two distinct fields.

“I don’t know where the Labour party are in relation to these changes. They were very vociferous in opposition to a similar merger proposal when it was made by the previous Fianna Fáil led Government

“The Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore at the time accused that particular government of ‘trying to turn back the clock on the equality agenda’. He deemed such a merger an ‘ominous’ proposal.

“Obviously things are different now for both the Tánaiste and the Labour party.

“The IHRC was a very important component of the Good Friday Agreement, an international agreement between the Dublin and London Governments.

“The Government’s proposal would undermine the Good Friday Agreement as a whole by sending a message to any party to the agreement that the possibility exists to hollow it out one component at a time; and have no doubt there are those who would wish to do so.

“I call on all members of the Oireachtas to read the Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill 2011, to support it and to oppose the retrograde merger proposals of the Government.” ENDS

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 Sinn Féin Spokesperson, Pat Doherty MP, MLA, Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Agriculture Minister has accused the Ulster Unionist Party of continuing its subservient alignment to the English Tory Policy on CAP reform rather than act in the best interests of farmers here. Pat Doherty said: "Once more the Ulster Unionists subservient adherence to Tory Party policy takes precedence over the best interests of our Agriculture industry. The UUP is suggesting that we align ourselves with the Tory Government's policy on CAP reform, which wants to see the phasing out of the Single Farm Payment (SFP) altogether. This would spell disaster for the farmers of the north, many of whom, without the financial support coming from the SFP simply would not survive. The British government's approach to negotiations on CAP Reform is as with all of its other economic policies, designed to benefit those on the island of Britain. The interests of the people in the North of Ireland whether it be farmers or any other sector are peripheral and do not factor into its planning.  "Fortunately the British overnment's approach to CAP reform is finding little favour with most other European member states and could find itself  isolated in these negotiations. "Michelle O Neill is taking the right approach in building allies with the South and elsewhere who have the same policy approach to us on CAP reform. The fact that the Irish government, may have the Presidency of the EU at a key point in the negotiations process means that it could be in a very strong position to influence the negotiations outcomes. "Minister O Neill should continue working with her Southern counterpart, Simon Coveney TD and all 15 of our MEPs to achieve the best possible outcome for our agricultural sector. To follow the path suggested by the Ulster Unionists and align herself with Tory anti EU policiies would see the ruination of Irish farming - North and South. 

"To compound the approach of the UUP and the Tories, the British Government's intention is to drastically cut the Agriculture budget which would further erode the already dwindling funds reaching our farmers and rural areas.

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