Be part of building a new Ireland

Latest Statements


Toggle

The Assembly’s Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment will tomorrow (Thursday) hear from representatives of the main mobile phone companies, including O2, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile & Orange) and 3 network on roaming charges, coverage caps and the roll-out of 4G technology.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Deputy Chair of the Committee and Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan said:

"The Enterprise Committee recently took evidence from Ofcom on the issue of roaming charges following the publication of its latest Telecommunications Market Report in July 2012.

“That report indicated that consumers in border areas were paying up to £300 a year in inadvertent roaming charges and that around £11 million was being lost to the local economy as a result.

"It is unacceptable that companies such as O2, Vodafone and 3 network, which operate across the island of Ireland, continue to impose unacceptable roaming charges on unsuspecting consumers.

“These excessive premiums are simply profiteering as there is no additional operating costs incurred by the companies, as the majority of consumers roam onto a network that is owned by the same parent company as the home network provider.

"I will be seeking to very clearly send the operators a message that it is time they stopped ripping consumers off when it comes to roaming charges.

“This will also be a good opportunity for the committee to find out more about the planned roll-out of 4G technology across the north and the impact it will have on access to mobile phone and high-speed broadband coverage, particularly in rural communities, many of which currently have no access at present.

“The committee will also want to question the operators on any future planned infrastructure improvements and what efforts they are making to tap into the £150 Mobile Infrastructure Project, which is specifically there to deal with mobile blackspots.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said the party has organised white line/black flag commemorations this evening to give people the chance to remember the hunger strikers and those killed through shoot to kill and collusion.

The West Belfast MP said:

“The vigils from 5pm to 5.30pm are to give people an opportunity to mark with dignity and respect the hunger strikers and those killed through British state collusion and shoot-to-kill.

“People can with dignity and respect commemorate their loved ones, friends and neighbours who’s vision will live long after those that assisted in inflicting pain on our community and country are gone.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD today voiced her party’s opposition to the National Lottery Bill.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Minister Howlin has introduced a new legislative framework for the operation of the National Lottery. Whilst technically the government is not selling off the lottery, it is in fact doing so for all intents and purposes. It is all the more worrying that we have yet to set eyes on the proposed new 20 year licence.

“The government is radically changing the ethos of the lottery from one of public interest to a ‘for profit model’.

“Following the passing of this legislation the minister will no longer have any involvement in the national lottery company, will not hold shares in the company on behalf of citizens nor will she or he appoint its directors.

“The Bill establishes the office of a new National Lottery Regulator office creating an unnecessary layer of public administration facilitating the new for profit model.

“Government spin on the new lottery bill has focussed on the upfront payment they hope to secure from extending the licence to 20 years. We are told part of the upfront payment will go towards paying for the new National Children’s Hospital.

“If Fine Gael and Labour were serious about the Children’s Hospital project they would pay for it out of real capital expenditure and not the effective sale of a valuable state asset.

“Matching investment monies could be secured from the European Investment Bank or from the private pension sector.

“There is also the reality that the new private operator is not going to fork out hundreds of millions of euro in an upfront payment for the good of their health. Brendan Howlin has provided no legislative guarantees that the current levels of good causes funding will be maintained or that increased profits will benefit local communities.

“Local retailers also remain unsure if current sales margin of 6% will be at least maintained.”

ENDS

Toggle

Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has accused the government of, “abandoning vulnerable communities to climate change in Ireland and in Africa.”
Speaking at the Dáil Environment Committee following presentations from the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Kenyan Climate Justice Women Champions and Pastoral Women’s Council of Tanzania, Stanley said: “Today’s presentations were vital and gave us the opportunity to hear at first hand the effects of climate change in Africa. The consequences of climate change are being felt worst by those who did not cause it.
“The government’s light touch approach, letting the different sectors to set and reach targets will not work. It is only wishful thinking.
“It is vital that the forthcoming climate change bill has targets. This is the only way we will avoid a carbon cliff and further destruction in Africa. We have to meet our legally binding reduction in carbon emission targets for 2020 and a further 85% reduction in by 2050.
“Recognising Ireland’s agricultural sector will be critical. The government must ensure that the mitigation for agriculture and forestry is accurately measured by the EU and the UN.
“Unfortunately for Irish people, but in particular for African communities the government will not now be introducing the Climate Change Bill until 2014. This was confirmed with the publication of the Legislative Programme. The government are effectively abandoning whole communities to the drastic effects of climate change.
“Climate change must be priority for this government. The climate change bill must be introduced immediately.”
ends

Toggle

Sinn Féin MEP Martina has joined the European Alzheimer’s Alliance at the EU Parliament.

Martina Anderson said:

“I was pleased to accept the invitation to join the Alzheimer’s Alliance at the European Parliament. As someone with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to care for a family member – my mother-who is a sufferer of this debilitating condition I appreciate the work of the Alliance in bringing a focus to bear on its widespread occurrence.

“As a member of  the Committee dealing with Public Health at the EU Parliament I will take every opportunity to highlight the needs of those suffering  from Alzheimer’s and the predicament that those caring for them  find themselves in. I believe that much more public funds needs to be invested in research into conditions such as Alzheimer’s and I will be calling on the EU to do more to help in the search for appropriate treatment and cure.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has called for immediate measures to be taken to address the fodder crisis that is severely impacting on farmers due to rainfall last Summer and the bad weather of the past number of months.

Deputy Ferris said;

“I am disappointed with the response of the Minister for State when this was raised yesterday. He urged that farmers contact their local Teagasc advisors in relation to how to cope with a lack of feed.

“That is not good enough. Farmers do not have sufficient fodder, nor in many cases do they have the money or the credit to buy in feed.

“I would therefore strongly urge that the Minister release funds at his disposal as an emergency measure to avert what is an extremely serious situation.”

ENDS

Toggle

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD raised the unions’ rejection of the Croke Park II proposals.

She said: “Taoiseach, yesterday public sector unions dealt a body blow to Fine Gael and Labour’s austerity agenda when an overwhelming majority of unions said no to Croke Park II.

“They did so because it was an unfair deal – bad for public sector workers and their families, bad for the public services on which we all depend  and bad for the domestic economy.

She continued: “The idea that you could take €1 billion out of the public service and not hurt the schools that educate our children or the hospitals that care for our sick family members was always absurd.

“Equally absurd is Minister Howlin’s claim that he is going to run out of money before the end of the year. Anyone with the wit to read the NTMAs exchequer balance figures knows that this is simply not true.

“Tackling excessive pay at the top of the public sector, getting a real deal on generic introducing a third rate of tax on incomes and collecting a wealth tax are options for the minister.

“These alternatives would raise the revenue the government needs in a way that is fair and that would help our economic recovery.” ends

Toggle

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has called for the development of strategic rail links in the northwest to be prioritized as part of the establishment of a truly integrated all-island rail network. The call is contained in the party’s submission to the Department of Regional Development consultation into future railway investment up to and beyond 2035.

He said,

“Infrastructure imbalance has been a major contributing factor in keeping the northwest the most peripheral and economically disadvantaged region of Ireland. 

“This is why Sinn Féin is so determined that the A5 dual carriageway proceeds and this is why we are now calling for the development of strategic rail links in the northwest to be prioritized as part of the establishment of a truly integrated all-island rail network.”

“The northwest is the only region of Ireland without a rail network.  . While Sinn Féin acknowledges that it would not be financially viable to re-introduce the extensive rail network that existed in the region prior to its demise, the priority must be to develop strategic rail links in the northwest which are linked into the existing rail transport corridors on the island so as to create a genuinely integrated and sustainable transport system on the island. 

“Specifically we have called for the continuation of the line from Derry line through Strabane –Omagh- to link in with the existing network at Portadown and the proposed ‘Western Arc’ project would include a Western rail network extending through from Belfast through Derry, Strabane, Donegal,  Sligo, Knock, Galway to Shannon/ Limerick. This project would go a very long way to re-establishing an all-Ireland rail network. 

“Sinn Féin recommends that an all-Ireland rail network should be a strategic priority and would recommend that an independent feasibility study into the costs and likely routes should be commissioned. Ireland as a whole should be linking in more to the wider EU policy agendas such as Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the TEN-T programme.

“Sinn Féin is under no illusion about the massive financial investment a regeneration programme of this nature would involve. However, the Executive and the Irish government sees the solution in the implementation of long-term mutual transportation strategies. And there is much untapped financial assistance available at European level if the political will exists to present the project as an integral part of the Trans European Network.

“Given the certainty of ever-increasing road transport fuel costs in the years ahead, there is an over-riding need to invest in rail transport as a cost effective means of transporting freight and goods across the island. Investment in transport infrastructure in the most deprived areas in the west would also be a key catalyst to competitive growth and sustainable economic change.

“Such a project could form the basis for redressing the disastrous effects of the economic collapse of the banking and construction sectors throughout the island. The EU in its concern about the disastrous consequences of climate change is already considering radical proposals to reinstate rail as the preferred option for freight and passenger traffic in the future. 

Toggle

Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said the rejection by the three main teaching unions of the Croke Park II Agreement demands a radical rethink on the part of the government.
The Cork North Central TD was responding to the decision of the Irish National Teachers’ Union (INTO) to oppose the cuts that were part of the Labour Relations Committee proposals and the overall rejection of the deal by public sector unions.
He continued: “I am not surprised that members’ of the INTO adopted a similar position to the TUI and ASTI in overwhelmingly rejecting the Croke Park II Agreement which if implemented, would have resulted in further punitive cuts to teachers at primary and post-primary level.
“The government, and in particular education minister, Ruairí Quinn, needs to radically rethink the imposition of austerity measures that are destroying the morale and goodwill of teachers. Quite clearly, teachers are no longer able to absorb the cuts in pay and allowances which are happening at a time when the overall education budget is being decimated.
“Without the dedication of teachers, and the provision of adequate resources, it will be impossible to implement reforming measures such as those proposed for the Junior Cert Cycle and the development of the Literacy and Numeracy strategy.
“The changes to Supervision and Substitution (S&S) were a serious blow to teachers and smaller primary schools in particular as it would have been very difficult to manage the additional hours levied on staff as a result of what was being proposed.
“The unequivocal rejection of the Croke Park II Agreement by the main teaching unions is a massive vote of no confidence in Minister Quinn and it reflects the anger and hopelessness of teachers who have nothing left to give.”
ends

Toggle

Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has called on Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to resolve the issue of flooding on Downpatrick once and for all.

 Mr. Hazzard said,

“There is obviously a major problem with the sewage network in Downpatrick that is causing flooding at times of heavy rain and this needs to be addressed as a priority.

 “As the county town it is unacceptable that Downpatrick not only has to face constant traffic gridlock on a daily basis but also the threat of flooding every time we get wet weather.

 “The local council must also take some responsibility in keeping the drains clear and cannot afford to sit in their new multi million pound office looking over Downpatrick doing nothing while people are suffering from flooding.

 “Traders and households have again be left with large bills in order to remove raw sewage from their premises and I am calling on the Minister to instigate an emergency payment to these people similar to the level that was given out in previous flooding last year.

 “I will now be requesting a meeting with the Minister Danny Kennedy to demand that we find a permanent solution to this sewage problem once and for all so that the people of Downpatrick can find peace of mind during wet weather.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has given a guarded welcome to proposals contained in a leaked Draft of the transitional CAP Measures.

Martina Anderson said:

“A leaked Draft of proposed transitional CAP measures if confirmed is to be welcomed as it will relieve any uncertainty that farmers may have concerning the levels of payment for 2014/15.

“According to the leaked document  most key elements of the direct support system look set to be rolled over and paid on the current basis for the 2014 claim year.

“This would permit the Department  to continue paying at the 2007-2013 rural development budget rates  in 2014/15. The 20-page draft text, drawn up to avoid a potential legal vacuum on Jan 1, 2014 will allow a smooth transition for paying agencies to finalise their internal procedures in preparation for the new farm policy rules.

“The leaked proposals are due to be tabled by the Commission tomorrow  (April 18). If as expected, the new direct payment scheme is postponed by one year, the transitional arrangements will apply to the main elements of the existing rules for the 2014 claim year for Single Payment Scheme (SPS), Single Area, Payment Scheme (SAPS), coupled payments and  specific support granted under Article 68.

“I believe that this will be welcomed by most in the farming community as offering some degree of stability.

“Since the new basic payment scheme will replace the SPS from Jan 1, 2015, an extension of the SAPS for 2014 would also be necessary in order to prevent new Member States from having to apply the SPS for only 1 year, the draft adds.  This would have the effect of postponing the mandatory greening requirements for one year also - until financial year 2016.

“Commentators suggest that the final agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) agreed by EU Leaders on February 8th, may not now come into effect until the autumn - after the German elections (Sept 22).

“Existing rural development programmes would be extended until 2015, in line with rules already defined in the regulation.

“Until the adoption of the respective Rural Development programmes for the 2014-2020 period and to ensure the continuity of a number of measures involving multi-annual commitments, the Department could continue paying for existing Rural Development programmes from the 2007-2013 budget in 2014 & 2015. New projects could only be envisaged once the new CAP rules are finalised.”

Toggle

Galway Senator Trevor ó Clochartaigh has reiterated the demand made by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams at the party’s Ard Fheis in Castlebar last weekend for Labour to stop propping up the Fine Gael government in implementing Fianna Fáil’s austerity policies.

During his keynote address to delegates, Gerry Adams TD lambasted the current government’s adherence to austere economic and social policies and called on Labour to pull out of the coalition with Fine Gael. He said Labour should let them go into coalition with Fianna Fáil if they wish, to implement their failed economic model, but that he believed the current arrangement was not what ordinary Labour supporters want, or voted for.

In an appeal to local Labour representatives, ó Clochartaigh stated, “Local councillors rightly showed their unease with the Government by recently passing motions at council level calling for cutbacks to be reversed. They must follow that up with action and withdraw their support for this ‘Tory’ government immediately if they are to maintain their credibility as public representatives”.

“I am aware of many local grassroots Labour supporters who are fed up with the direction the party has taken since coming into government. A real Labour party, like that envisaged by James Connolly and Jim Larkin would not oversee the implementation of such cruel, regressive policies and would not be the common sense coalition partner for a party like Fine Gael”.

“This is not about political point scoring but a genuine belief that the direction currently pursued flies in the face of fairness and logic. Prior to the last general election, the Labour leadership spoke of equality and radical reform and were given an electoral mandate by the people of this State. Since that time, they have become Fine Gael’s political lapdogs and have abandoned any sort of left wing principal.”

“I say all this with an acknowledgment and an understanding of the dire economic realities of our time. However, I am also fully aware that an alternative economic model exists as proposed by Sinn Féin. Such a position shares much common ground with core Labour policy. But they are not seeing it being implemented and it is time to call a halt”.

“Over the course of the past week we have heard much analysis pertaining to the death of Margaret Thatcher. Although Thatcher is dead, Thatcherism is alive and well and lives on in the form of modern day Irish governance. I am calling on Derek Nolan TD and all Galway Labour councillors to recognise this grim reality and tell their party leadership to leave the Fine Gael coalition, or that they will withdraw their support.”

Preas Ráiteas – Le scaoileadh láithreach


Caithfidh an Lucht Oibre na Gaillimhe tarraingt amach as ár Rialtas ‘Tory’ seo – Ó Clochartaigh

Tá aird tarraingthe ag an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh ar an méid a bhí le rá ag Uachtarán Shinn Féin, Gerry Adams, ag an Ard Fheisa bhí ar siúl i gCaisleán an Bharraigh, an deireadh seachtaine seo caite, chun go stopfaidh páirtí an Lucht Oibre ag tabhairt tacaíocht d’Fhine Gael ó thaobh a bheith ag cur polasaithe déine Fhianna Fáil i bhfeidhm.

Le linn a óráide, cháin Gerry Adams an Rialtas reatha, ó thaobh cloí le beartais déine eacnamaíochta agus sóisialta agus d'iarr ar an Lucht Oibre tarraingt amach as an gComhrialtas le Fine Gael. Dúirt sé gur chóir do pháirtí an Lucht Oibre ligean dóibh dul isteach igComhrialtas le Fianna Fáil, más mian leo leanúint den múnla lochtacheacnamaíoch céanna, ach gur chreid sé nach é an socrú atá ann faoi láthair an socrú a sheas lucht tacaíochta an Lucht Oibre dó, ná ar vótáil siad ar a shon.

Dúirt Ó Clochartaigh, is é ag impí ar ionadaithe poiblí an Lucht Oibre, “Chun an ceart a thabhairt do Chomhairleoirí Áitiúla an pháirtí, thaispeáin siad a mí-shásamh leis an Rialtais le gairid ag leibhéal comhairle, ag impí ar an Rialtas na ciorruithe a iompu ar ais. Níor mhór dóibh anois beart a dhéanamh de réir briathar agus tarraingt siar láithreach as an tacaíocht don Rialtas ‘Tory’ atá againn, má tá siad chun creidiúint a choinneáil mar ionadaithe poiblí”.

‘’Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil roinnt mhaith do lucht tacaíochta an Lucht Oibre atá tinn tuirseach leis an treo atá an páirtí ag dul ó chuaigh siad i mbun Rialtais. Ní chuirfeadh fíor Pháirtí Lucht Oibre, ar nós mar a shamhlaigh James Connolly agus Jim Larkin é, suas le polasaithe uafásacha mar atá dhá chur i bhfeidhm anois agus ní bheadh siad mar chéilí leapain i Rialtas le Páirtí ar nós Fine Gael na linne seo”.

“Níl baint dá laghad aige seo le pointí pholaitiúla a scóráil, ach go bhfuil sé soiléir nach bhfuil ciall ar bith leis an treo atáthar dul i láthair na huaire agus níl sé ceart ná cothrom. Roimh an Olltoghchán deiridh labhair cheannasaíocht Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre faoi chomhionannais agus athchóiriú agus thug muintir na tíre seo údarás toghchánach dóibh sin a chuir i gcrích, ach theip orthu. Ó shoin i leith, tá siad mar a bheadh peata madra ag Fine Gael agus tá bunphrionsabail na heite clé caite i dtraipisí acu”.

“Táim á rá seo agus tuiscint mahith agam faoin drochbhaill atá ar chúrsaí eacnamaíochta i láthair na huaire. Ach, tá fhios againn go rímhaith go bhfuil roghanna eile curtha chun cinn ag Sinn Féin. Roghanna atá comónta go maith le polasaithe an Lucht Oibre. Ach, níl a lucht tacaíochta dhá fheiceáil go bhfuiltear á gcur i bhfeidhm agus iad ag cailleadh tacaíochta dá réir”.

“Le seachtain anuas tá anailís cloiste againn maidir le bás Margaret Thatcher. Cé go bhfuil Thatcher ar shlí na fírinne, tá ‘Thatcherism’ beo beathaíoch go fóill - go háirithe ó thaobh polasaithe Rialtais in Éirinn le blianta beaga anuas. Táim ag impí ar an Teachta Dála Derek Nolan agus ar Chomhairleoirí an Lucht Oibre i nGaillimh aghaidh a thabhairt ar an bhfírinne seo agus a rá le ceannairí an pháirtí eirí as an gcomhrialtas le Fine Gael, nó go dtarraingeoidh siad siar a dtacaíocht féin dóibh’’.

Toggle

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has moved an Amendment Bill in the Dáil that would allow survivors of symphysiotomy seek legal redress for the injuries they suffered during what is described as a "barbaric act" in Irish hospitals when they were giving birth to their children.  Deputy Ó Caoláin expressed his hope that the Bill would be supported by all members of the Dáil.

He said, "The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

"When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say, "The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

"Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

"These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession."

He said, "The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance."

Appealing for cross-party support for the Bill he said, "This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

"What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.

"Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil."

Full text of speech follows:

I formally move the Second Stage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013.

I want to begin by welcoming once again here to Leinster House many of the women who suffered the barbaric act of symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals. They have come in such numbers that the public gallery has not been sufficient to accommodate them all. Fáilte romhaibh uile anseo.

More than once in the past these women have left Leinster House feeling disappointed and let down by the political system. I sincerely hope that is not the case again tomorrow night and at the very outset of this debate I appeal individually to each and every Teachta Dála, regardless of where they sit in this chamber, to support these women by supporting this Bill.

I believe that the appeal of the women is now being heard by Government and that it will allow passage of Second Stage of this Bill.

Such a decision would be a step towards justice and truth for the survivors of the barbaric act of symphysiotomy.

This would mean that the Bill would pass Second Stage in the Dáil and be referred to Committee.
There should be no question of shelving the Bill at this stage. I urge that Committee Stage be scheduled as soon as possible and that the Government should facilitate its passage there also, with amendments if required.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill is brought forward in a non-partisan, non-party political way. It arises directly from the work of the All-Party Oireachtas Support Group for Victims of Symphysiotiomy which has cross-party and non-party support and participation.

When I published this Bill last week I acknowledged the significant and sincere contribution of TDs and Senators of all parties and Independents in support of the campaign of the victims of symphysiotomy for justice over recent years. We have worked hard and well together and it is my earnest hope that we will see this critically important piece of legislation safely across the line to be fine-tuned, as required, by Government in the Committee, Report and final stages of its passage.

At the press conference last week survivors of symphysiotomy again spoke movingly and harrowingly of their ordeal. The physical reality was put starkly and simply by Rita McCann: “If the linchpin of your body is broken, everything else falls apart.”

She said no-one in the hospital where she underwent the ordeal made any attempt to tell her about the operation she was having.   “I was taken in and abused,” she said.

And of course, like all the survivors, she lives to this day with the severe physical pain and discomfort and the deep emotional trauma caused by this barbaric operation.

We could fill the entire three hours of this debate in private members time with identical accounts and it would still not suffice to convey the enormity of what was done to these women.

It is estimated that some 1500 women suffered this form of abuse in Irish hospitals between the 1950s and the 1980s. In many cases it was long years later before they realised or were made aware of exactly what had been done to them. They had to live with the pain and the trauma without any explanation. Even today women are still coming forward, hearing the stories of fellow victims and realising that this too is their story.

The surviving women are now advanced in years. Most of the victims, around 1300 women, have passed on, some only in recent weeks. To their families and the families of all deceased victims of symphysiotomy we extend our sympathy and solidarity. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanamacha.

We owe it to them, the deceased survivors of symphysiotomy, as much as to the estimated 200 living survivors, to act now as legislators in this Oireachtas to support them, as we are empowered to do, by opening the way to truth and to justice.

The Bill before us is necessary because the bar created by the Statute of Limitations sets a time limit of two years in initiating actions in personal injury cases. While in other jurisdictions judges retain inherent jurisdiction to allow cases to proceed where justice demands, Irish legislation provides no discretion whatsoever to the courts in determining whether cases may advance.

The State's refusal to deal with this abuse has left survivors with no option but to seek redress through the courts, although it has taken them several decades or more to amass sufficient knowledge to do so. A small number have never sought legal advice. Lifting the statute bar - unanimously recommended by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in June 2012 - would obviate procedural battles and ensure unfettered access for all to the courts. Judges here have no discretion in relation to the statute bar, as they do in other common law jurisdictions.

The overwhelming majority of those subjected to symphysiotomy or pubiotomy were young women having their first child and whose knowledge of childbirth was extremely limited.

Many did not realise that the injuries they suffered were other than the normal effects of childbirth. Nor did they understand, for many years, and in most cases decades later, that these horrendous consequences were the result of childbirth operations that had been performed on them without their knowledge or consent.

These were, in effect, clandestine operations, which were concealed from them by sections of the medical profession.

As a consequence of this lack of knowledge, some survivors have never initiated proceedings, nor even sought professional advice, while others only did so, in very many cases, decades after the wrongful acts to which they were subjected were committed.

The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 will allow those women currently excluded from taking legal action, to do so if that is their choice.

The Bill is based on the precedent of the Statute of Limitations Act 2000, which lifted the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse victims of residential institutions. The wording of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 mirrors the wording of the 2000 Act section by section.

The Bill does not establish any new cause of action - rather, it lifts the limitation period for bringing proceedings in respect of existing wrongs. Over 75% of these wrongs were committed in private hospitals who were insured at that time and who are liable for those injuries.

This outstanding issue of truth and justice for women who were mutilated in the Irish hospital system is just as grave as the scandal of institutional child sexual abuse or the ordeal of women in Magdalene laundries. In all of those cases the injuries and wrongs done to the women and children concerned was compounded by concealment, lies, denials, decades of silence from the State and then inaction or long delayed action or inadequate action by the State when the reality was exposed.

What was, in effect, a conspiracy of powerful and unaccountable men in the medical profession made the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy possible in Irish hospitals, with no protection for the women concerned from the health system or from any other arm of Government. They were simply abandoned to their fate.
Let us not compound these crimes– for crimes they were – by further neglect in this Dáil.

We must act now as legislators first, not Government or Opposition or political parties, but as law-makers who have a duty to represent these women and a duty to ensure that they have a clear path to justice and truth.
This is a test of our political system’s ability to act on behalf of the people in acknowledging wrongs and putting them right.

I appeal once again to each and every Dáil Deputy to support this Bill.

If passed at Second Stage the Bill can then go to Committee and the Government can amend it, if amendment is required, providing, at last, a way forward for these women.

I appeal to the Government to facilitate the passage of the Bill’s Second Stage by not dividing the Dáil in a vote tomorrow night.

It is the least that we can do in response to the surviving women’s appeal.

It is the least that we can do in memory of all the deceased victims of this barbaric act.

Let us together show, and proudly, that politics and politicians do care and can and sometimes do act in harmony in the interests of truth and justice.

Toggle

Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, has today demanded the government provide increased staff for the Private Residential Tenancies Board to deal with the extra 20,000 tenants from voluntary housing bodies.
Speaking during a presentation from the PRTB at the Dáil Environment Committee, Stanley said: “The Private Rented Tenancies Board will have to deal with the additional 20,000 tenants from voluntary housing. These are due to come under the remit of the board this year.
“Staff numbers have been reduced by over 50%. There was 70 staff employed in the PRTB during a period when there were fewer tenants, that is set to be reduced to 33. Staff numbers are being greatly reduced yet the sector continues to expand.
“According to Threshold, the private rented sector has grown by 50% in the last five years. One in five households lives in private rented accommodation, yet the government is cutting resources to the PRTB. This flies in the face of reality.
“Tenants will face lengthy waiting lists to have concerns addressed. The average waiting time is ten or eleven months. This is set to increase with the growing number of rented properties and the serious reduction in staff. Issues of anti -social behaviour and repairs will not be tackled. This is unacceptable.
“The government must provide the PRTB with adequate powers and staff to regulate the private rented sector. The board must be able to provide tenants and landlords with a speedy and effective dispute resolution mechanism. ”
ends

Toggle

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Housing Dessie Ellis TD has called on the Minister to work to develop a binding code of conduct to avoid rental tenants be evicted in the event of repossessions. He made his comments during a debate requested by him in the Dáil today.

Deputy Ellis continued:
“Across the state and especially in Dublin we are facing a crisis within a crisis. This is the problem of landlords who are not paying their mortgages and in doing so are jeopardising the housing of potentially thousands of people.

“In the last few weeks I have personally dealt with five families in Dublin who are facing eviction due to the repossession of their rented homes. The lenders want to sell and wash their hands of the property, in some cases forcing the landlord to evict the families before they take over.

“I spoke to Emma, a mother of two from Drimnagh: 13 years on waiting lists afraid to leave her home to go to speak to the council because she might come home to find that she has been evicted.

“The long term solution is to provide sustainable public housing which is not endangered by the whims of the market, lenders or profit driven landlords. The more immediate solution is to force lenders to enter into a code of conduct in relation to tenants, especially those with an assessed social housing need who are particularly at risk of homelessness in the event of eviction.

“Banks need to honour tenancy agreements in conjunction with a strategy from Local Authorities to ensure that no tenant is left homeless. As we face increased repossessions due to government policy this will only become worse if nothing is done.”
ends

Toggle

SIPTU members’ rejection of Croke Park II is a body blow to the government’s austerity agenda, according to Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD this afternoon.

SIPTU is the tenth union to reject this deal. There is a growing momentum in opposition to it. While we do not yet know the final outcome of other unions’ ballots, if the deal is rejected by a majority of unions, the government needs to go back to the drawing board.

“Workers have signalled loud and clear, that these pay cuts are not fair, and that those on lower and middle incomes simply cannot afford to take any more. They have taken a stand against austerity, and I commend them for that.”

“Sinn Féin has always argued against cutting the pay of low and middle income workers. If the government is serious about reform of the public sector it should deal with runaway pay at the top and eliminate wasteful spending.

“Brendan Howlin now needs to understand that his bullyboy tactics have not worked. Any effort to impose across the board pay cuts through legislation will be opposed, and rightly so.”

Toggle

The reported Government decision not to oppose the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 has been welcomed by its proposer Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson.
He said: “The reported decision of Government not to oppose the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 would be a step towards justice and truth for the survivors of the barbaric act of symphysiotomy.
“This would mean that the Bill will pass Second Stage in the Dáil and be referred to Committee. There should be no question of shelving the Bill at this stage. I urge that Committee Stage be scheduled as soon as possible and that the Government should facilitate its passage there also, with amendments if required.
“I pay tribute to the heroic women survivors of symphysiotomy, to tireless campaigners on their behalf and to those Oireachtas members who have worked together in recent years to advance their cause.” ENDS

Toggle

Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has welcomed the decision today by the Assembly Business Committee to accept a motion submitted by Sinn Féin on marriage equality.

 Ms. Ruane said,

 “Following the decision at the Conventional Convention in Dublin at the weekend to endorse a change to the Irish Constitution on the issue of marriage equality I am delighted that the Assembly have now accepted a similar motion on the issue.

“Sinn Féin ethos is built upon equality and following the success at the weekend we have chosen marriage equality as a motion for the Assembly.

 “The debate will take place on the 29th April and this will be a opportunity for all parties who purport to support equality to show where they stand.  It is important that every citizen is equal under the law regardless of creed, colour or sexual orientation.

 “I was disappointed that no member of the SDLP were present at the weekend debate and that many members of their party were absent the last time this came before the Assembly so I hope that they take this opportunity to unequivocally support marriage equality.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin MEP Martina has joined the European Alzheimer’s Alliance at the EU Parliament.

Martina Anderson said:

“I was pleased to accept the invitation to join the Alzheimer’s Alliance at the European Parliament. As someone with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to care for a family member – my mother-who is a sufferer of this debilitating condition I appreciate the work of the Alliance in bringing a focus to bear on its widespread occurrence.

“As a member of  the Committee dealing with Public Health at the EU Parliament I will take every opportunity to highlight the needs of those suffering  from Alzheimer’s and the predicament that those caring for them  find themselves in. I believe that much more public funds needs to be invested in research into conditions such as Alzheimer’s and I will be calling on the EU to do more to help in the search for appropriate treatment and cure.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA, Daithí McKay has welcomed suspension of consideration of the Private Member’s Bill, tabled by Jim Allister MLA, designed to exclude political former prisoners from holding positions of Special Advisors to Ministers.

Daithí McKay said:

“I welcome this development and hope that the Member recognises the folly of allowing his anti-republican prejudices to colour his political judgement.

“Jim Allister is not requesting suspension of consideration of this Bill because he has all of a sudden accepted the discriminatory nature of it but because he has no other recourse. In his haste to introduce a Bill that was specifically directed at excluding republican political former prisoners from holding positions of influence in the Assembly he failed to examine the competency of his proposed Bill.

“The fact that Jim Allister, did not check to see if his Bill came under the competency of the Assembly to enact, brings into question, his political judgement .

“The Bill is now in serious trouble. The Speaker should immediately clarify whether the Bill is legally competent and within the remit of the Assembly. If it is not then I call on the Speaker, William Hay to rule it incompetent and Kill the Bill.

“This Bill was in contradiction of both the letter and the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement  and it was particularly disappointing to see the SDLP - a party to the Agreement- supporting the main thrust of a Bill of exclusion brought forward by the Traditional Unionist Voice.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose any attempts to bring forward legislation that is designed to discriminate against not just former prisoners of the conflict, but any section of society. The days of discrimination, exclusion and second class citizenship are gone and Sinn Féin will not allow them to come back.”

Connect with Sinn Féin

Photos

IMG_8466

An Phoblacht Ad

Videos

1916 Lost Leaders March


Like us on Facebook

Sinn Féin Shop