On news of the death of broadcaster, wildlife filmmaker and former senator, Eamon de Buitléir, Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD said:
“I have been a fan of Eamon de Buitléir for a long time. I didn’t know him personally, but his pioneering work on the natural world and his wonderful television and radio programmes have been inspirational and educational to generations of Irish people, to whom he gave a new appreciation of our land and wildlife.
“His grá for the Irish language and his music shone through his work.
My thoughts are with his his wife, Lailli and his children, Aoife, Éanna, Róisín, Cian and Doireann.
Go ndéanfaigh Dia trócaire ar a ainm dílis.
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has described as "damning in the extreme" the revelations in RTÉ radio's 'This Week' programme that Health Minister James Reilly fast-tracked hospital upgrades in Wexford and Kilkenny at the behest of his cabinet colleagues Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan. Minister Howlin also specifically sanctioned €12 million for the Wexford project.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "The revelations on RTÉ's 'This Week' programme are damning in the extreme. Clearly this Fine Gael/Labour Government is copying Fianna Fáil with cabinet cronyism ensuring the fast-tracking of favoured projects in the constituencies of ministers."
Necessary hospital upgrades in Wexford and Kilkenny were fast-tracked by Health Minister James Reilly at the behest of his cabinet colleagues Brendan Howlin (Wexford) and Phil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny), ahead of other necessary upgrades and capital works on hospitals across this state.
Even more seriously, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin authorised the specific €12 million budget for the Wexford Hospital upgrade.
"Is it now the case that the fate of hospitals will be determined by the presence or absence of cabinet ministers in the constituencies where hospitals happen to be located? Minister Reilly promised to restore A&E services to Roscommon Hospital and reneged on that commitment when appointed to the cabinet. He made similar commitments to support Monaghan General Hospital and has not restored one service or one bed to the hospital. The downgrading of hospitals in Dundalk, Navan, Ennis, Nenagh and elsewhere has been allowed to continue by this Minister.
"Ministers Reilly, Howlin and Hogan must come into the Dáil this week and explain in detail their role in these matters and I will be demanding accountability from them when the Dáil resumes on Tuesday." ENDS
The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, said today that his party wants the government to get a deal on the €3 billion promissory note due for payment next month.
“We hope the government gets a deal. The negotiations are not concluded and, of course, all negotiations have their ups and downs. “That said, the government has added to the difficulties by spinning on an ongoing basis, usually without substance.
“The Taoiseach regularly has patronised everyone by talking about “complex technicalities” as if citizens could not understand the issue.
“The huge mistake the government has made, is not to ask for a write-down and the Taoiseach has compounded this by repeatedly asserting that we will pay our debt. This debt is Fianna Fáil’s legacy to the Irish people. It is not our debt. It is a hangover from the days of the golden circles.
“The main plank of our negotiation should be that we cannot pay the promissory note. That should be the basis of our negotiations with the ECB.”
The Sinn Fein delegates to the Constitutional Convention have welcomed the successful conclusion of the first substantive sitting of the deliberative body, calling the engagement “a very positive start”.
Senator David Cullinane, who is representing the party along with Senator Kathryn Reilly and MLA Caitríona Ruane said:
"We are pleased that the Convention has decided to take an expansive approach to the issues before it, using the full powers of its mandate, right from the outset of this process.
“For over a year we have been arguing for a broadening of the Convention’s scope and it is great to see that the Convention membership is up for this, and is not allowing the government’s pre-determined questions to limit either its deliberations or its conclusions.
“This is fully in keeping not only with the public appetite for comprehensive constitutional reform, but also with what the coalition parties promised."
Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane said: “It is significant and very welcome that the four participating northern parties all had delegates present and voting. I believe that this new type of intensive and robust engagement between citizens, elected representatives, academic experts and civil society advocates represents a working model for future public deliberation processes.’
The three Sinn Féin delegates voted in favour of reducing the voting age to 16 and reducing the term of the presidency from 7 to 5 years. The delegates also voted in favour of introducing citizen nominations for the presidency.
The ECB rejection of the government's preferred plan to deal with the Promissory Notes is a "massive blow" to the taxpayer.
"I am alarmed
at today's news that the ECB have rejected the government's preferred option in
dealing with the Promissory Notes.
"The next due payment from the IRBC promissory notes falls due in only a matter of weeks. We hear today that the government has failed to convince the ECB that their preferred solution is acceptable.
"This is a
massive blow for taxpayers. Despite weeks of positive spin by the Government it
appears that a deal on this year’s €3 billion payment to Anglo is now less
"It is totally unacceptable that the Irish people have to hear about these negotiations from news sources. After all it is the taxpayers who are being asked to foot the bill.
"It is time
for an end to dealing behind closed doors and spinning these critical talks in
a dishonest way.
"Sinn Féin wants to see a sustainable way found to deal with Ireland's debt. We don't want see the taxpayer paying a cent for the wreckage of the former Anglo-Irish bank. The government must now inform the Dáil of where we stand in these talks and what the true situation with our debt talks really is." Ends
"Our whole community is in shock. This is a close-knit community where everybody knows each other. This Garda was admired, trusted and respected by all in the locality. He and his young family are part if the daily life of the area. We want to express our heartfelt sympathy to the Garda's family, friends, colleagues and neighbours at this sad time.
Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, has called again for the release of Marian Price following the death of her sister, Dolours, yesterday.
“Marian Price should not be in jail, she is ill and now she is grieving. That she should be considered a security risk is frankly ridiculous. She is unjustly and wrongfully incarcerated and I call for her release immediately.”
“I also call on the Irish government to fulfil its responsibilities and obligations.”
Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved family and friends “and Dubs and Gaels everywhere” at the death of Dublin footballing legend, Kevin Heffernan today.
“It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of Kevin Heffernan. While his prowess on the field is well known, it is as the manager which brought the Dublin footballers to glory in the seventies and eighties that he will be best remembered.”
“During some dark days in the North, the joy of watching or listening to those battles between the Dubs and Kerry brought excitement and joy to many football fans.
“I send my sympathy to his wife Mary and daughter Orla and to the Dubs and Gaels everywhere who are mourning his passing
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.
Speaking in Donegal today, following his meeting with Asst Garda Commissioner, Kieran Kenny, Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Padraig MacLochlainn TD, called on justice minister Alan Shatter to instigate emergency talks with organisations representing gardaí to address the crisis in policing.
His call came as the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (ASGI) withdrew from talks on the extension of the Croke Park Agreement saying it would not tolerate further cuts in pay.
“Along with the Garda Representative Association, the ASGI has expressed concern at cuts in garda numbers, shortage of garda vehicles and the closure of garda stations.
“Speak to gardaí in any part of the state and they will tell you they fear they can no longer provide a service to the public. Both representative organisations recognise the seriousness of the situation.
“I asked to meet the Assistant Commissioner today to discuss policing in Donegal where attacks on old people in their own homes have caused devastation in their lives, worry and stress to their families and in some cases have forced older people to leave the homes they have lived in all their lives.”
“I have been reassured that the Garda Siochana has taken steps to combat these attacks in Donegal. A specific operation, LEAH, has been put in place, providing extra personnel and resources to the area. The Asst Commissioner reported that 11 arrests have been made on both sides of the border and some stolen property has been recovered.”
"However, this kind of garda operation should be the norm, rather than the exception, all over the state and it should not take a crisis as happened in Donegal for gardaí to be properly resourced."
Sinn Fein spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD announced today that Sinn Féin will introduce a climate change bill next week in the Dáil.
Deputy Stanley said: “This government gave a commitment to introducing a climate change bill in their Programme for Government, but two years later it has done nothing on the issue.
“Earlier this week, in response to my questions, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, tried to hide behind a spurious 'low carbon bill'.
“The Sinn Féin bill is a redraft of a bill produced by the Climate Change Sub-committee in 2010. This bill was supported by the Fine Gael and Labour parties.
“There is no reason why, in government, these parties cannot support this bill.
The effects of climate change can be seen globally and felt locally. To do nothing is not an option.
“It has become clear that we cannot leave it up to the government to introduce a bill. This Climate Change bill is comprehensive and can be the cornerstone for Ireland's low carbon, sustainable economic growth.
“The bill will see the introduction of five year carbon budgets. These will assist in the management of Ireland's reduction of carbon emissions.
“It will see the establishment of the Climate Change Commission. This will be independent of government and will prepare an assessment of the potential impact on the state of climate change and it will review on an annual basis the progress made. It will advise An Taoiseach on steps to be taken to meet agreed targets.
Current government ministers Phil Hogan and Dinny McGinly supported this bill in 2010. We now urge them to do so again and take the necessary steps to make this bill law.
Speaking in advance of the meeting of the Constitutional Convention tomorrow and Sunday, Sinn Féin senator, Kathryn Reilly, said:
“There is a proposal to lower the voting age to 17, to be discussed tomorrow. In fact, Sinn Féin supports lowering it to 16 years, on the basis that people can work and pay taxes at that age. The party will also be supporting the reduction of the presidential term to five years.
“Sinn Féin also believes that the Convention should be looking at constitutional protection of the extension of the franchise more generally, to enable all categories of citizens to exercise the vote.
“Likewise, for us the key issue regarding the presidency is not the length of the term or alignment of the elections, but constitutionally protecting the right of all citizens to vote for the president regardless of where they live: in the south, in the north or in the diaspora.”
The Sinn Féin party will be represented at the meeting by Senator David Cullinane, Senator Kathryn Reilly and MLA Caitríona Ruane.
Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, has called on Health Minister James Reilly to address the Dáil at the earliest opportunity, on the issue of the pay and conditions of junior hospital doctors, which she said “has become a health and safety issue as well as one of workers’ rights”.
“In the same week when graduate nurses protest at the proposal cut their salary by 20%, we are hearing stories of the effects of excessive working hours on the health and work performance of junior hospital doctors.
“There is a serious problem here which must be addressed by the minister, not only for the workers but for the patients in their care.
“While those on the lower pay scales are in crisis, those on the higher pay scales, such as consultants, receive bonuses for taking on extra duties, for example, €46,000 for taking on a clinical director’s role.”
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly pointed to the need to curb excessive salaries and calls on the government to cap pay at top of the public sector as one of the ways to prevent more damage to frontline services.”
Sinn Féin MLA and chairperson of the Social Development Committee, Alex Maskey, has welcomed the bringing forward of a benefit uptake programme by the Department of Social Development.
Speaking today Mr Maskey said:
“I welcome the announcement that the Department of Social Development will be initiating a three year strategy aimed at benefit uptake.
“There are literally millions of pounds that are unclaimed when it comes to benefits in the north. The benefit system is designed to ease the burden on the vulnerable in society and many different forms of benefit exist, some that many don’t even know about or if they are entitled to them.
“Given the current economic climate even the slightest of increases in benefit payments to those who are entitled to them can make a world of difference.
“Under the strategy announced today the Department aims to generate a minimum of £30 million for 10,000 claimants over the next three years.”
Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has welcomed the bringing forward of legislation that will make it much easier for those who suffer from cancer to receive benefits that that will certainly ease the burden of dealing with the illness.
Speaking today Mr Brady said:
“The easing ofcriteria for assessing cancer sufferers in relation to the access to benefits is a campaign that has been spearheaded by MacMillan Cancer Support and the Social Development Committee and follows a consultation by the Department of Social Development with stakeholders.
“To see it come to fruition is welcome news for both those affected by cancer and those campaigning for additional support for patients and their families.
“The legislation, which will come into effect from the end of January, will increase the categories under which a cancer sufferer and the numerous debilitating effects of treatment will be considered as affecting the ability of those affected to engage in work related activity.
“The new method of assessment will ease the passage for cancer patients in seeking support and will hopefully prohibit the need for any Work Capability Assessments to be carried out.”
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has said today’s comments from NTMA chief executive, John Corrigan at the Oireachtas Finance Committee show that the “revolving door” mentality between the Department of Finance and the banking sector is alive and well.
“The revolving door between the Department of Finance and the banks is obviously still prevalent. This mentality was a major contributing factor to the disaster in Irish banking and to the lack of regulation.
“In recent days a member of the Shareholder Management Unit in the Department of Finance, seconded from the NTMA, has resigned.
“Michael Torpey, has been appointed as a chief executive in the Bank of Ireland. Where he worked until last week, the Shareholder Management Unit of the Department of Finance, dealt with the sale of €1 billion of Capital Contingency Notes held by Bank of Ireland. This happened during Mr Torpey’s time as head of that Shareholder Management Unit.
“Employees of the NTMA are being seconded to the Department of Finance. There they are privy to sensitive commercial information. For them to shift straight into banks which, they were overseeing only weeks earlier, creates a potential conflict of interest. They also bring knowledge of competing banks.
“The NTMA is clearly acting in a shadow-zone where it is not subject to the normal code of conduct for civil servants yet is dealing with billions of taxpayers’ money.
“At today’s committee, Mr Corrigan also failed to rule out bonuses being paid to NTMA employees for 2012 which shows a detachment from reality. The pay scales of NTMA staff often are way above the civil service cap with 11 employees earning over €250,000. Clearly, the NTMA needs to be held to account.
“These attitudes are not acceptable. The NTMA and its staff must be held to account and abide by the same rules as everybody else.”
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has given his backing to a European legal campaign to have the name ‘Waterford Crystal’ attached only to glassware made in Waterford.
He commended the UNITE trade union in taking a test case, which could force the current owners of Waterford Crystal to repatriate manufacturing of the brand to Waterford.
Speaking today, Senator Cullinane said:
“Sinn Féin has, for many years, raised the issue of branded Irish products being outsourced with the consequent loss of jobs. Waterford Crystal closed in 2009 with the loss of 600 skilled jobs. Waterford City and County is suffering at the moment with one of the highest levels of unemployment in the state.
“While some crystal items are again being made in Waterford, the vast majority of manufacturing has moved away from Ireland. It is sad to pick up Waterford Crystal products in stores and see 'made outside of Ireland' on the package.
“I commend UNITE for its positive legal and commercial action against the making of products in other regions. Just like Champagne in France and Parma ham in Italy, the brand Waterford Crystal should mean this product is made in Waterford.
"I wish them well in taking this case to the Registry of Trade Marks in Alicante, Spain, and I sincerely hope they are successful.”
Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on communications, energy and natural resources, has said that local concerns must be addressed before the construction of new wind turbines.
Speaking following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by minister for communication, energy and natural resources, Pat Rabbitte TD and British Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, Deputy Colreavy said:
“Local concerns must be addressed before any plans to erect new wind turbines are finalised. It is the aim of the British government to source new energy supplies from Ireland for its own domestic market. The concerns of local residents in Ireland must not be swept aside to satisfy the demands of British consumers.
“There needs to be a national strategy to address properly the issue of wind turbines. While Sinn Féin strongly supports the development of renewable energy, the welfare of local residents cannot be sacrificed. What must be developed is a proper system that allows the interests and concerns of all to be aired prior to the erection of wind turbines in an area.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance (LFACA) will be paid early.
Mr. McMullan said,
“The announcement today by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that the Department will begin to pay Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance in February is to be welcomed.
“Farmers in Less Favoured Areas have to work hard to make a living off the land and given the terrible year faced by farmers in terms of the weather it is important that these payments go out in time so that they maintain a cash flow.
“The Minister and the Department have worked hard to make this payment early this year and have to be congratulated on the effort to ensure that this and the Single Farm Payments have gone out on time.”