Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North/Limerick West has called on the National Roads Authority to release grit to local authorities to allow them to treat roads affected by the latest cold snap.
Deputy Ferris said:
"Stocks of grit held by local authorities are at a dangerously low level. This is impeding efforts to treat roads which have been subject to the latest snow and ice.
“In many areas roads are impassable and dangerous driving conditions are presenting a serious risk to both motorists and pedestrians.
‘It is vital the NRA immediately release grit and enusre as a matter of urgency that they access sufficient reserves to cope with any future bad weather."
“This truly is a community effort with all ages turning up to help. I would like to take this opportunity to remind people at these times to check on elderly neighbours to see if they need any help or just a bit of company as many are housebound due to the snow.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to immediately come clean on the implications of the new EU bailout fund for Ireland. She said ‘Ireland’s experience of this fund to date has been that they are screwing us with exorbitant interest rates. They are now threatening new, strict conditions being attached to future financial assistance’
Ms. McDonald said:
“In the course of the Lisbon Treaty Sinn Fein highlighted the fact that the self amending provisions of the Treaty would have far reaching consequences for this State and allow decisions to be taken by bureaucrats in Brussels. EU leaders are now using Article 48 of the Treaty to push through their new bailout fund and there are serious concerns about the implications of this approach for Ireland.
“The Taoiseach needs to come clean about what is envisaged here and to set out how the matter will be decided in this state – does he intend to have a Dáil vote? Or how does he intend to ratify this?
“But above all he needs to be clear about what the ‘strict conditionality’ clause means. Our experience so far with the EU bailout fund is that they are screwing us with their interest rates and forcing through an economic strategy that could bankrupt us.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLAs Martina Anderson (Foyle) and Sue Ramsey (west Belfast) have welcomed this evening’s announcement that the Executive are to begin a process of Inquiry into cases of historical child abuse.
Speaking this evening Martina said;
“The demand for an inquiry has been a longstanding one for victims and survivors of institutional child abuse.
Despite the harrowing nature of their stories I have no doubt that they will welcome this announcement. I would call now for the relevant institutions to play a full, open and honest part in the inquiry process.”
“I welcome this announcement by the Executive and am very conscious of the call that victims and survivors have been making for some considerable time now. Obviously this inquiry must be victim centred and led.
We will continue to engage with victim’s representatives and groups and ensure that their needs remain the focus.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Pottinger Representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has welcomed news from DRD Minister Conor Murphy MP that a number of measures have been taken as a result of his site visit to the Short Strand earlier this year.
Mr Murphy joined Niall and other community representatives Bernie McCrory (Short Strand Community Forum) and Patrick Devlin (Chair – St Matthews Housing Association) on a site visit to the Short Strand area to discuss a number of issues including traffic calming measures in parts of the district; the urgent need for a pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the Newtonards Road and the future use of the Translink bus depot.
Speaking today Niall said;
“I have received information from the Minister indicating that our request for a pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the Newtonards Road is to be added to the departments priority list for implementation which is good news for the community.
For many people, particularly elderly residents, who have to cross two very difficult junctions to access the doctors surgery at the City East building, this work cant happen soon enough and while acknowledging budget constraints on DRD, we would like to see this work completed urgently before someone is seriously injured.
Conor also confirmed that he hopes to see traffic calming measures implemented in both Bryson and Madrid Streets early in the next financial year. I have no doubt residents, especially those with young families, will be glad to see this work completed.
Another key issue of concern from residents and one that we raised with Conor and officials from his department, is the vast amount of Heavy Goods Vehicles using the Mountpottinger Road as a ‘rat-run’.
Conor has instructed Roads Service to meet with Translink to explore taking this issue forward in a way that won’t disrupt the current bus service. I also intend to meet with Translink to stress to them the very real concern from residents about the potential for injury as a result of the amount of HGV’s currently using the Mount.” CRÍOCH
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD has claimed that employers are already circling with intent on the wages of other low paid workers in the wake of the cut to the National Minimum Wage. He was referring to a formal request filed by IBEC to the Joint Labour Committee asking that a pay increase due on January 1st be deferred ‘pending the imminent review of Employment Regulation Orders which is part of the National recovery Plan, and in the light of the implications of the reduction in the National Minimum Wage.’
Deputy Ferris said:
“When the IMF recovery plan was published I pointed out that apart from cutting the minimum wage, the Government was also opening the door for employers to challenge wage rates set under Registered Employment Agreements and Employment Regulation Orders.
“This request from IBEC to the JLC proves that employers are not going to let the grass grow under their feet. This is clearly part of what will be a sustained attack on the wages of all workers in the private sector and it needs to be resisted by the trade union movement.” ENDS
Commenting after visiting the scene of a bomb alert in the Market area of Belfast local MLA Alex Maskey said;
“The reality here is people in the Market had their lives put directly at risk as a result of this stupid and pointless attack. It has caused unnecessary disruption and upset to many families in the run up to Christmas.
I would call on whoever is involved in these unwanted and ridiculous attacks to bring them to an end.” CRÍOCH
Speaking in Cork today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:
“Sinn Féin now offers the only real alternative to the failed conservative political consensus.
“A real programme of recovery needs to be underpinned by a number of broad principles:
· Regeneration of the economy
· Root and branch political reform aimed at producing a genuine republican form of Government which ends the notion of political elites and empowers Irish citizens
· The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources for the common good
· The protection and creation of jobs
· Ending the two-tier health and education systems
· Continued support for the Peace Process, the Good Friday Agreement and further outreach to the unionist community
“Obviously the political focus right now is on the disastrous policies of this Government.
“The Budget, cuts to social welfare and the minimum wage, the IMF/EU bank bailout — all would have been rejected by the people if they had their say.
“We need a General Election. But let nobody think that Fine Gael or Labour offer any kind of alternative.
“Both these parties are committed to implementing the Government’s cuts agenda. Both want to sack thousands of public sector workers.
“Only Sinn Féin proposes a better, fairer way to reduce the deficit and deal with the banks.
“Our alternative seeks to stimulate the economy, protect and create jobs and reform the tax system.
“We say any cuts should be targeted at the top of society — beginning with the salaries of Government Ministers, TDs, Senators and top civil servants.
“Here in Cork and throughout the state, people are responding in growing numbers to Sinn Féin’s message that there is a better way.”
Sinn Féin’s Seán Crowe today held a sample ballot among unemployed on the EU/IMF bailout in Tallaght. Councillor Crowe held the ballot to coincide with the passing of the Dáil motion on the deal today.
Out of 150 members of the public who voted 148 voted against the deal while just two people said they don’t know what it is about and spoiled their votes.
Councillor Crowe said:
“Judging by this sample poll the result would suggest that the EU/IMF deal would be overwhelmingly rejected by the people if they were given an opportunity to have their say.
“Contrary to what Government TDs such as Charlie O’Connor and Conor Lenihan have been saying there was and is a better way. We need to set the Irish economy on a new trajectory that seeks to stimulate economic activity, create jobs and gives confidence to the bond markets.
“This EU/IMF deal will actually bring a profit to many of the senior bondholder gamblers who contributed to our current difficulties.
“As it emerged last night, there will also be an additional 3% interest rate on European funds for Ireland as part of this deal.
“An extra add on to this deal is an obligation to bail out failed banks, the continued erosion of our economic sovereignty, massive interest rates and a succession of savage budgets that will target low and middle income earners.
“Those who voted for this deal will soon have to face the consequences from the electorate in an election that cannot happen sooner.” ENDS
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD strongly condemned the cut to the minimum wage and called for it to be reversed. He was speaking in support of a Private Members Bill in the Dáil this evening.
Deputy Ferris also called on Government TDs opposed to the cut to vote with the opposition and said:
“I was outside here at the protest of workers on the minimum wage last Friday and heard exactly what this will mean to them. I would challenge anyone in this House or anyone in IBEC or ISME or the Hotels Federation or any of those right wing economists and journalists who were advocating cutting the minimum wage to look these people in the face and justify this malicious attack on the working poor.
“We hear a lot about encouraging people to take whatever jobs that are going and god knows there are few enough of them. People on the minimum wage are people who went out and took hard low paying employment. This is the thanks they are being given.
“I would also like to refer to the claim by Deputies Gormley and Sargent that the cut in the minimum wage was forced on the Government as part of the IMF EU bailout for the banks.
“If you sell your soul to the IMF on the part of your banker and speculator and bondholder friends this is the price that will be paid. Not by the elite of course but by the person serving your meal, cleaning your office or handing you your groceries.
“Cutting the minimum wage encapsulates what bringing in the IMF actually means. In the starkest way possible it is a statement that even the lowest paid, the working poor, are to be forced to pay for the incompetence and gambling and let us call a spade a spade the corruption of a bankrupt elite.
“It also sums up in a nutshell the degeneration of the Fianna Fáil party. A party that came to power initially on a wave of popular opposition to the austerity policies of Cumann na nGaedhael is going to leave power and leave it for a long, long time I suspect, with a vicious, immoral and economically illogical attack on the sort of people who put it into power in the first instance and kept it there for many decades after that.
“A party that once attacked the banks and the unproductive wealthy as anti national parasites and speculators is going to end its days by taking €40 a week out of the pockets of cleaners and hotel workers to pay for the betrayal of their modern day counterparts.
“That is the way they will be remembered.” ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams this morning officially launched the An Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge funding body in Derry.
The fund, which amounts to £8 million, is part of the £20 million funding negotiated by Sinn Féin with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in February at the Hillsborough Talks.
An Ciste will provide capital funding for Irish language projects in the north.
Speaking at the event Mr. Adams said:
“Ba mhaith liom an Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge a mholadh agus gach duine a bhfuil baint acu leis agus ádh mór don todhchaí a rá.
Ag na Cainteanna ag Hillsborough níos luaithe i mbliana aontaíodh an aistriú cumhachtaí póilíneachta agus ceartais - agus bhí sé seo tábhachtach.
Tar éis comhráití dhian idir Sinn Féin agus Gordon Brown, d'aontaigh Príomh-Aire na Breataine £20 milliúin breise a chur ar fáil i maoiniú don Ghaeilge.
Chuaigh £12 milliún go dtí an Ciste Craoltóireachta Gaeilge don cheithre bliana eile tar éis dhá mhíle is a haon déag.
Agus bhí £8 milliún ar fáil mar mhaoiniú chaipitil do thionscadail Ghaeilge.
Cruthaíodh an Ciste Infheistíochta Ghaeilge leis an airgead seo a riaradh.
Is é an ról atá aige ná le forbairt phobail na Gaeilge a chothú agus cuidiú leis; le tacaíocht airgeadais agus maoiniú chaipitil do thograí a chur ar fáil le poist a chruthú.
Is scéal dea-scéala don Ghaeilge é inniu an seoladh seo.
An lá atá inniu ann tá spéis sa Ghaeilge ag fás agus tá go leor daoine óga Thuaidh agus Theas, ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a labhairt.
Mar sin, rinne sibh go maith, gach duine agaibh a bhí páirteach.
Tcífidh muid, le bunú an Chiste Infheistíochta Gaeilge tuilleadh dul chun cinn déanta i gcur chun cinn agus forbairt na Gaeilge sna blianta atá amach romhainn.
Ba mhaith liom rath agus bláth a chur chugaibh don todhchaí.
I want to commend An Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge and all those involved with it.
The Hillsborough Talks earlier this year agreed the transfer of powers on policing and justice - and this was important.
But so too was the progress Sinn Féin made in securing additional funding for the Irish language.
Following intense discussions between Sinn Féin and Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister agreed to provide an additional £20 million in funding for the Irish language.
£12 million went to the Irish Language Broadcast Fund for a further four years after 2011.
And £8 million was provided for funding for Irish Language capital projects.
An Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge has been created to administer this fund.
Its role is to sustain and assist the development of Irish language communities; provide financial support and fund capital projects which will create jobs, and to develop cultural hubs.
Today is a good news story day for the Irish language.
It is a vital step forward in the process of investing in and growing the Irish language across the north. And on the day that the draft budget is announced – and I want to commend those involved and especially Martin McGuinness - it is worth noting that this money is in addition to local revenue
And while this funding is very important and will make a huge contribution to the growth of the language, there remains much work to be done.
Today interest in the Irish language is growing and many young people North and South want to speak Irish.
The establishment of An Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge will see further advances made in the promotion and development of the Irish language in the years ahead.” CRÍOCH
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has cut the first sod of the new build project for Taughmonagh Primary School in Belfast.
Bairbre de Brún MEP has welcomed the new procedure for communities, organisations and individuals to put forward their issues on the EU level saying that "the citizens' initiative is a useful addition to the existing range of options which people have when trying to get the EU to deal with their issues or address their concerns"
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:
"The citizens' initiative is a useful addition to the existing range of options which people have when trying to get the EU to deal with their issues or address their concerns
"However, I am disappointed that some aspects of this proposal will still exclude people who ought to be able to participate. Participation is only open to those of voting age and holding EU citizenship.
"This sends a signal to non-EU citizens that the EU is not their concern and does not want their involvement or input.
"Similarly young people will not be encouraged to involve themselves in issues concerning the policy of the EU.
"The political concept of a "citizens Europe", which inspires the European Citizens' Initiative was never intended to be exclusive, nor to discourage non-EU citizens from engaging with the EU." ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey and spokesperson on higher education has called for the Education and Learning Minister, Danny Kennedy, to rule out any increase in tuition fees following the announcement of today's draft budget.
Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:
“There is no provision in the budget that would indicate an increase in tuition fees for students of third level education.The onus is now on the Minister to come forward once and for all and rule out, definitively, that any such increase is to take place within the north of Ireland
“Education must be based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.”
Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson has welcomed the announcement that Waterford-based firm Rigney Dolphin is to create 300 jobs in Derry.
Martina Anderson said:
"I have been quite critical in the past of Invest NI's role in the north west and in Derry in particular, and rightly so, but I do acknowledge the role they have played in bringing about this announcement.
"This will bring 300 jobs to the city, and that is very welcome, particularly in a week when we hear that unemployment across the North is continuing to rise.
“I continue to work with private and public investors both here and internationally to market our city as a good place to do business. We have a huge degree of potential here particularly in terms of our highly-skilled young people and I am hopeful of further such announcements in the future in spite of the economic recession.”
In light of today draft budget in which the Health budget was afforded some protectionSinn Féin health spokesperson Michelle O’Neill has stated that there is an onus now on the Minister Micheal McGimpsey to allocate his resources tofrontline services and those most in need.
Speaking today Ms O’Neill said:
“One of the strengths of the health service is that it is an integrated system where health and social care are delivered in tandem.They complement each other. If one were to lag in terms of investment the other will inevitably suffer.
“What the Health Minister must ensure is that Social Services are not the poor relation in any spending over the next four years.
“Within this draft Budget the Minister has the freedom to direct resourcesat those most in need. Social services are a key provider in this sector and must get adequate resourcing.
“Michael McGimpsey has been extremely vocal in calling for this budget. What needs to happen in the coming period is that the Minister must bring forward his proposals outlining his spending plans.
“I will be stating very clearly to the Minster that the focus must be placed firmly on the protection of all integrated health and social care services.”
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the adoption of Sinn Féin’s Plastic Bag levy proposals in the Budget announced today. Mr McKay recently introduced the Single Use Plastic Bag Bill to the Assembly which will place a levy on plastic bags.
Mr McKay said
“The adoption of the legislation that I put before the house by the Executive is something that I very much welcome. I proposed not only that a levy be placed on plastic bags but that the proceeds go towards the Green New Deal Housing Fund which would help to create 2-3000 jobs, make 100,000 homes more energy efficient over 4 years and help many vulnerable people who are living in fuel poverty.
“The fact that these proposals have been adopted by the Executive is very much an endorsement of the work Sinn Féin has done on this issue over the past 3 years. This levy will not only raise revenue for a programme which will improve energy efficiency, create jobs and assist those in poverty but it will also greatly reduce the problem of plastic bag litter in our communities."ENDS
Michelle Gildernew, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed her relief at reducing a 17% cut in the Nephrops (prawn) quota at the December Fisheries Council.
Speaking from Brussels after the Council ended in the early hours of 15 December, she said: “Before the Council the industry had made it clear that they opposed strongly the Commission proposal to introduce different management arrangements for Nephrops (prawns) in Area VII which would have limited the flexibility of our fleet to fish outside the Irish Sea. I am pleased that we succeeded in getting this issue off the table. However the Commission had proposed a 17% cut in the Nephrops quota which we resisted strongly.
“The final proposal voted through was for a 3% cut. I pressed for a further reduction but the Commission would not move.
“On Herring I secured a 10% increase which will be important for the local pelagic fleet and processors. This is welcome given the work we have done with the industry to develop the science on this stock and I hope we can build on that in future years.
“The other main issues were on whitefish stock in the Irish Sea where the 50% cut on cod was reduced to 25% and a 15% cut on haddock was reduced to 10%. The scientific assessment of our whitefish stocks contains some concerns about their sustainability. The industry has been working with DARD and AFBI to reduce discards and we have demonstrated that in figures put to the Commission. We will want to ensure that these positive steps are taken account of in the review of the Cod Recovery Plan which is to take place next year which will have a fundamental effect on all Irish Sea fisheries.”
The Minister went on to say: “This was a very complex negotiation. I fully respect the need to have sustainable fisheries but I believe that within this approach there was scope for a lesser cut on Nephrops.”
Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, today provided an update on preparations for the predicted wintry weather.
The Minister said: “With a forecast for another cold period with a high probability of snow on Thursday, motorists are advised to plan their journeys and check the latest travel advice. Roads Service will continue to work around the clock with 300 staff, 120 gritters and 11 snowblowers to focus resources as agreed by the Assembly, in ensuring the main roads which carry 80% of traffic are salted.
“This is a massive logistical task involving staff working night and day to keep the main network open which is particularly important in the run up to Christmas when more people may be travelling on the busier routes.
“Roads Service provides at strategic locations, approximately 3,500 salt bins and 39,000 grit piles for use on a self help basis to help prevent the formation of snow and ice on pavements and untreated roads - and has been continually replenishing these during this cold spell.”
The Minister also gave advice to those wishing to help clear footpaths of snow or ice and said: “There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or business.
"I know this has been a concern and I want to reassure people that provided they clear snow and ice carefully they are unlikely to be held liable - this has been confirmed by The Attorney General.
"People should adopt a common sense to this task, for example do not leave mounds of snow or ice as an obstruction that others could trip over, or do not use hot water which can refreeze causing further slippery conditions.”
For further advice on clearing snow and ice visit: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/iceandsnow
In relation to the gritting of main footpaths in Council areas, the Minister added: “Under the proposals put forward by my Department, Councils, or groups of traders acting on their behalf, will have the same indemnity benefits as Roads Service. Roads Service continues to engage with NILGA and directly with Councils through our local divisions on the issue of gritting footpaths, to try and work with and encourage as many Councils as possible to sign up to the agreement.
“I recently met with NILGA to discuss and reaffirm the offer made earlier this year. Since then the department has received confirmation that seven Councils are working in agreement and that other Councils are now moving to take up this offer.
“Roads Service will continue to work with NILGA to attempt to address any concerns Councils may have and to work in partnership to deliver the necessary provision expected by ratepayers here.”
Speaking ahead of today’s Dáil vote on the EU/IMF ‘Bailout’ Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald described government’s commitment to accepting the monies as a decision that will buckle the state and its people. She also slammed the EU and IMF for behaving like loan sharks – extending credit at extortionate rates to pay back German, French and British bondholders.
Ms McDonald said, “What Fianna Fáil and the Greens are signing us up to is without precedent. The EU and the IMF are behaving like loan sharks – extending credit at extortionate rates to enable us to pay off the bondholders – German, French and British financiers. The EU and IMF efforts to force the Irish state to pump the last of its wealth and savings – the National Pension Reserve Fund – into its failed banking system is an international scandal.
“The government’s commitment to accepting and drawing down the EU/IMF monies will buckle the state and its people. Ireland does not need the EU/IMF loan; it needs a new government at the helm with a brand new vision. Bondholders need to be cut loose from the states sovereign debt. It’s not our debt to pay. Anglo must fall on its sword. AIB and Bank of Ireland must come under full state ownership and be amalgamated if necessary. The deficit reduction period commitment must be extended to 2016. Growth through job creation must become the top policy priority. And socially regressive measures such as using the National Pension Reserve Fund to fund bank bondholders, the cut in minimum wage and a dogged refusal by the political establishment to introduce a wealth tax must be reversed.” ENDS