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Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, speaking in advance of tonight’s EU crisis summit, said in the Dáil today:

“Sinn Féin has seen a document detailing the European Council’s package of measures to be presented to EU leaders in Brussels tonight.

“The proposals include a number of significant treaty changes aimed at imposing austerity on EU member states. It also includes proposals for forcing member states to enshrine the same golden rules of austerity into member state law.

“Proposals being presented to EU leaders tonight in Brussels are bad for Ireland and bad for the European Union.”

The Louth TD went on to say: “The proposals seek to enshrine policies of austerity into EU and member state law. This will plunge us all into a lost decade of stagnation. It is bad for our economy and bad for our democracy.”

Ends


The full text of Deputy Adams’ speech follows:


Gerry Adams TD, PMB Speech on European summit
08-12-2011

Ba mhaith liom tacú leis an rún.

I want to support the motion from the Technical Group.

I thank them for bringing it forward.

Sinn Féin rejects any further loss of fiscal powers for the Irish people.

Sinn Féin has seen a document detailing the European Council’s package of measures to be presented to EU leaders in Brussels tonight. The proposals include a number of significant treaty changes aimed at imposing austerity on EU member states. It also includes proposals for forcing member states to enshrine the same golden rules of austerity into member state law.

The proposals also seek to give the European Commission and the Eurogroup far reaching powers to interfere with national budgets. They want to take decision making on crucial areas of economic and fiscal policy away from democratically elected politicians and hand them to unelected Eurocrats in Brussels.

These proposals are bad for Ireland and bad for the European Union. They seek to enshrine policies of austerity into EU and member state law. This will plunge us all into a lost decade of stagnation.

The proposals are bad for our economy and bad for our democracy.

The proposals also include a prohibition on any burden sharing aimed at reducing the unsustainable levels of debt held by countries such as Ireland. This week the Taoiseach ruled out a debate in advance of today’s summit.

He refused to circulate the Von Rompuy proposals to the opposition despite the fact that the report had clearly been given to sections of the media.

That is no way to deal with these vital negotiations.

It is reflective of the arrogant way the Government is treating the Dáil.

The Government should circulate the Von Rompuy proposals to the opposition now.

An bhfuil cóip de na moltaí agaibh ansin a Theachtaí Dála Rialtais?

Muna bhfuil cén fáth?

Tá cearta ag gach pobal a chaitheann vóta anseo, araon linn an freasúra moltaí Von Rompuy a fheiscint anois.

Last week speaking here the Taoiseach made clear his support for the idea of enforceable conditions and stronger governance for the European Union and the Eurozone.
This is a mistake.

Is léir óna moltaí seo go bhfuil deireadh le h-aon cumhachtaí fioscach á mholadh, rud atá i bhfad Éirinn níos mó ná leasuithe teoranta ar an gconradh.

Agus, bhí an Taoiseach mar chinnire ar Fhine Gael, mar bhall den EPP (European People’s Party) a thabharann le chéile páirtithe eile cosúil libh trasna na hEorpa.

Aontaíonn an rialtas le tuilleadh lárnú a dhéanamh ar an EU.

I Meán Fómhair 2009 d’iarr tú ar dhaoine vótáil ar son Conradh Liospóin le tuilleadh cumhachtaí fioscach a thabhairt don EU.

Ach, níl Enda Kenny ansin mar chinnire Fhine Gael nó mar bhall den EPP. Caithfidh sé a bheith ann ag seasamh ar son cearta Éireannaigh an stáit seo.

The reality is that what is being proposed goes far beyond limited treaty change.
It clearly involves the loss of any remaining fiscal powers.

In the last week the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed wide ranging changes to the EU treaties aimed at centralizing the control of the budgets of member states.

Last night it was revealed that they are proposing a new framework with the goal of creating a common tax base which would see an end to our advantageous corporation tax rate.

This may be nothing more than a negotiating ploy by President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel to frighten the Irish government into acquiescing on fiscal union in return for taking the corporation tax rate off the table.

Whatever the truth, for the government it is time to face facts.

The EU and the French and German governments want a strong and centralised fiscal union which requires this government to give away more of our economic sovereignty.

The message from Ireland must be a firm NO.

This is the only legitimate position for the Taoiseach to take.

It is also a position which will be favoured by citizens in all the member and Eurozone states, including Irish citizens.
Progressive citizens right across Europe are concerned at the loss of their rights.

Throughout this Euro crisis the French and German governments have taken upon themselves the role of European leaders – and keep getting it wrong!

The Taoiseach and the Irish Government so far have acquiesced in this.
Enda Kenny now needs to put on the Green Jersey.

He needs to act in the Irish national interest.

Sinn Féin is the only party in the Dáil which has been consistent in our position on successive EU referendums.

The latest developments show that what we warned against has indeed come to pass.

Sinn Féin argued that the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties were all steps in the transformation of an economic community of independent states into one big European State.

Is tionscnamh Frainceach, Gearmáineach é seo.
An é go bhfuil an rialtas tar éis glacadh leis nach dtabharfaidh said cead do dhaoine a vóta a chaitheamh i reifreann anseo san h-athbhliain.

An bhfuil faitíos roimh an rialtas roimh an bpobal bhreith a dhéanfar oraibh ?

One of our primary objections to this process was the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the union that was evolving.

The behaviour of the French and German leaders in recent weeks has demonstrated this very clearly.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s attacks on our corporation tax is clear evidence that these larger states are operating in their own interests.

During the most recent EU referendum campaign on the Lisbon Treaty Sinn Féin argued that a better deal was possible.

We also warned that the treaty would reduce Ireland’s say in Europe and would allow future changes to EU Treaties to be passed without a referendum.

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour claimed that passing the Lisbon Treaty would lead to more jobs in Ireland.

Just this week the number of people on the dole in this state jumped to 448,000 and 54,000 have emigrated since the election.

It is clear that Fine Gael and Labour are desperate to avoid a referendum.

This is in line with the behaviour of previous governments who ignored the views of the electorate following the rejection of the Nice and Lisbon referenda.

A Thaoiseach, ar mhaithe muintir an oileáin seo caithfidh an Taoiseach seasamh ar son cibé daonlathais atá fágtha ins an tír seo agus gan
tuilleadh cumhachtaí a thabhairt don Bhruiséal níos mó greim a bheith acu ar bhuiséad an stát seo.

Céim eile siar a bhéas ann muna dtarlaíonn sé seo.

Ba chóir don rialtas ráiteas láidir a eisiú inniu ag rá nach bhfuileadar chun géilleadh d’aon lárnú cumhachtaí fioscach eile don Eorap.

The Taoiseach needs to spell out clearly that the bigger states will not be allowed to encroach any further on what remains of Irish sovereignty.

He needs to stand up to them.

He has to remember that he is there as an equal in an EU that is supposed to be based on equality between states.

The Taoiseach needs to make it clear that the government will not agree to further centralization of fiscal powers in Brussels.

That’s not the way out of the current crisis.

I am calling on the Irish government to reject the proposals being put to the European Council summit tonight. The solution is a combination of sensible fiscal policies and a credible growth strategy.

It is clear that the austerity policies being implemented across the EU, but particularly in the so-called peripheral states, is failing.

A European-wide investment programme accompanied by debt restructuring is needed.
The Taoiseach needs to make this clear at the EU summit today and tomorrow.

ENDS

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Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed news that the Olympic Torch is to go to Dublin in June 2012.

The International Olympic Committee today confirmed that the torch will travel across Ireland and will be in Dublin on 6 June.

The Minister said: “I am delighted that the spirit of the Olympic Torch will come to all parts of this island. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of this island.

“The Olympic flame is a very iconic symbol of coming together in friendship to compete through sport. It is a flame which I think has the ability to inspire our young people to get involved in sport and I want everyone to be inspired by its history and purpose.

“The torch’s journey will promote Ireland to an international audience and will bring benefits to the tourism and hospitality sectors here – it has the potential to bring a timely and welcome economic boost to us in 2012.

“The torch’s journey will be broadcast via a 24/7 website. It will visit many areas of outstanding natural beauty and will also showcase our amazing built environment. From new iconic buildings in Belfast to the many ancient monuments and heritage sites that reveal the diversity of our shared history.

“ Concluding, the Minister said: “This event will build on the success of the MTV music awards and once again show people across the world that Ireland is the place to visit in 2012. In a few short months after the torch visits we will host the 2013 City of Culture in Derry and the World Police and Fire Games. The torch's iconic visit marks the start of an exciting period of intense sport, art and cultural activity. I call on everyone to join the celebration."

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The Sports Minister has welcomed badminton players from 37 countries to Lisburn for a London 2012 qualifying tournament.

The 244 athletes from around the world including Europe, Malaysia and China are competing in the Yonex Irish International Badminton Championship at the Badminton Centre in Lisburn which begins today Thursday 8 December. The tournament also allows players to compete for places at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Carál Ní Chuilín said: “It is an honour for Lisburn and indeed the north to host 37 countries over the next four days for this international competition, where athletes will also compete for places for the 2012 Olympic Games.

“My Department, through Sport NI has been working with the governing bodies of sport and local councils for some time, targeting teams and athletes to visit the north for events and training in the run-up to 2012. Many of those discussions are now bearing fruit, such as this prestigious event. We also had 33 countries take part in the CP ISRA Boccia World Cup a Paralympic pre qualifying event at the University of Ulster earlier this year.

“Events like this one organised by Badminton Ireland with support from Lisburn Racquets Club, Lisburn City Council, Badminton Ireland, supported by DCAL and Sport NI bring the Games alive on our doorstep.

“Badminton is a very popular sport. As well as being played in halls up and down the country there are 13,000 affiliated players in Badminton Ireland.

“In addition, this sporting event provides a boost to the local economy – hotels across Belfast and Lisburn have received booking with a total of almost 2300 bed nights booked as a consequence of this event.”

“As we prepare to welcome the Chinese Gymnastics team, the Australian boxing team and the Paralympics Ireland team for their pre Games training camps, I would encourage communities across the north to take up the opportunity to see both our home grown talent and the visiting International stars at the top of their game.”

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill today highlighted the need for greater feedback from the industry to help in the drive to simplify working practices.

The Minister was speaking during a visit to the flagship event in the dairy industry calendar - the Winter Fair held at the Kings Hall, Belfast.

Minister O’Neill said: “It is vitally important that the industry tell the Department about specific problems they are having in undertaking their administrative and statutory obligations. Where they think there is excessive paperwork or can think of a better way to implement a system while continuing to fulfil all EU requirements, I am committed to working with them to make the working day simpler.”

DARD is currently implementing the second year of their Better Regulation Action Plan which deals with the 10 most burdensome regulatory areas. The Action Plan covers the period up to 2013 and has shown so far to be reducing the hours which farmers spend on paperwork.

The Minister added: “Although the Better Regulation Action Plan has delivered some improvements, greater feedback from the industry would help us look at the areas that matter to farmers every day and where we can make further progress.

“I call on the industry to take this opportunity to work with us on this. If we can identify and reduce the amount of unnecessary or outdated systems they are asked to comply with, it may also lead to further efficiencies within the Department and at this time of austerity we can all benefit.”

DARD will be undertaking various promotional activities in 2012 in an effort to raise awareness of the campaign to help reduce any unnecessary administrative burden on the industry. An online feedback facility is also available through the Department’s website.

The DARD exhibit at the Winter Fair provided an opportunity for all those attending to discuss the particular issues which affect them in their own individual situation, with staff from CAFRE, Veterinary Service, Countryside Management and Quality Assurance.

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“The Government is not interested in any discussion on its budgetary measures, and in particular seems too embarrassed to even discuss the changes to Single Parents Allowance”, according to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
The Sinn Féin Senator from Galway called again today for a Seanad debate to be held with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, to discuss the cuts to the One Parent Family Payments, his proposal however was turned down for the second day in a row by Government Senators.
“The cuts and changes to the One Parent Family payments announced in this week’s budget will have a devastating effect and have created great concern among these families, many of whom are already facing a severe struggle financially. Many of these families are in a very vulnerable position and the reduction in the eligibility age level from fourteen to seven by 2014 and the resulting cuts in support will push many of these families over the edge.”
“In addition, the changes to the income eligibility thresholds will mean these parents cannot work part time, without jeopardising their supports and they are also excluded from participating in schemes such as Jobridge, which contradicts the governments supposed interest in supporting more people in their efforts to return to the workforce.”
“There is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty about these changes, and whether they will be revisited. Given that the Social Welfare Bill to bring these changes in is due to come before us next week I felt it was essential that the Minister come in to the Seanad immediately, to discuss the equity of the cuts being proposed. I think it is appalling that the Government representatives saw fit to vote against this modest request.”
“In my view, the Government is gagging debate. They wouldn’t facilitate a debate on these matters before the budget and they don’t want to discuss them afterwards either. This is probably because they will find these savage cuts so hard to justify when they had other options open to them.”
“I would ask people to question their local Government TDs and Senators, who were elected on a platform of change and of renewal, on this issue, and yet a few months later are following the same failed agenda, and victimising the most vulnerable, as we see with these cuts to Single Parent Family payments.”
Caithfidh an Rialtas na ciorruithe don Íocaíocht Tuismitheoir Aonair a chuir ar ceal - Ó Clochartaigh.
“Níl suim ar bith ag an Rialtas plé ceart a dhéanamh ar impleachtaí na socruite buiséid agus go háirithe is cosúil go bhfuil náire faoi leith orthu faoi na hathruithe atá molta ar Íocaíochtaí Teaghlaigh Tuismitheoir Aonair”, dar leis an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
D’iarr an Seanadóir as Gaillimh arís inniu go mbeadh díospóireacht Seanaid ann leis an Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí, Joan Burton, le plé a dhéanamh ar na ciorruithe atá beartaithe aici ar na hÍocaíochtaí Teaghlaigh Tuismitheoir Aonair, ach diúltaíodh don iarratas don dara lá as a chéile, mar gur vótáil ionadaithe an Rialtais ina choinne.
“Beidh tionchar tubaisteach ag na ag na hathruithe a fógraíodh an tseachtain seo do na hÍocaíochtaí Teaghlaigh Tuismitheoir Aonair agus tá imni mhór agus neamhchinnte cruthaithe do na clanna a fhaigheann iad, go leor acu atá i gcruachás airgid cheana féin agus atá ag strachailt le billí a íoc. Tá go leor de na clanna seo i staid an-leochaileach cheana féín agus má athraítear an aois cáilíochta ó 14 go 7 mbliana i 2014 agus má thagann na ciorruithe atá molta leis sin, beidh an dream seo fágtha in anchaoi ceart”.
“Sa mullach ar sin, ciallaíonn na hathruithe seo nach mbeidh na tuismitheoirí seo in ann oibriú go páirtaimseartha gan cuid dá gcuid liúntais riachtanacha eile a chailliúint agus freisin ní féidir leo páirt a ghlacadh i scéimeanna cosúil le Jobridge, rud a bhréagnaíonn ráitis an Rialtais go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh tacú le daoine atá ag iarraidh filleadh chun oibre”.
“Tá cuid mhaith imní agus míshuaimhnis faoi na hathruithe seo agus faoin seans atá ann go ndéanfaí athbhreithniú orthu. I bhfianaise go bhfuil an Bille Leasa Shóisialaí le teacht os ár gcomhair an tseachtain seo chugainn le feidhm a chuir leis na cinntí seo, mheas mé go raibh sé ríthábhachtach go dtiocfadh an tAire isteach sa Seanad láithreach le plé a dhéanamh ar chothromaíocht na gciorruithe atá beartaithe. Sílim go bhfuil sé scannallach amach is amach gur vótáil Seanadóirí an Rialtais ar fad i gcoinne an moladh réasúnach seo.”
“I mo thuairim sa tá an Rialtas seo ag tachtadh aon díospóireacht fhiúntach. Ní thabharfaidís cead na cúrsaí seo a phlé roimh na cáinfháisnéise agus níl uathu iad a phlé anois ach an oiread. Sílim gur b’shin de bharr go mbeadh deacracht ollmhór acu na ciorruithe damanta seo a chosaint, nuair a bhí roghanna eile ar fáil dóibh”.
“Bhéinn ag impí anois ar an bpobal a gcuid Teachtaí Dála agus Seanadóirí , a toghadh mar gur gheall siad cur chuige difriúil agus cothrom, a cheistiú go dian ar an ábhar seo. Cúpla mí ina ar aghaidh tá siad ag leanúuint an straitéis céanna a bhí ann rompu, ag bualadh cois orthu siúd atá thíos agus leochaileach, mar a fheiceann muid leis na hÍocaíochtaí Teaghlaigh Tuismitheoir Aonair seo.”
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
Seanadóir/Senator
Teach Laighean/Leinster House,
Baile Átha Cliath 2/Dublin 2
Éire/Ireland

[email protected]

(00353) 1 6184067
(00353) 87 2476624

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Speaking from the UN Climate Talks in Durban, Bairbre de Brun MEP said:

"As the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes into view, there is an urgent need to seek a second commitment period for, without it, the world is rapidly moving towards an extremely worrying 'limbo' situation.
 
"At a time when we should be pushing to further our ambition in the field of climate change and close the ‘gigatonne gap’ (the difference between what science says we must do to limit climate change beyond dangerous levels, and what is actually pledged), it is unnerving to think that a 'gap' between Kyoto commitment periods could seriously hinder any progress which has been made to date.
 
"There also needs to be a clear mandate and timescale for achieving a deal which will also include major players that are not party to the Kyoto protocol. Climate change is a problem which will affect us all, some more than others, and it is essential that we address this problem now. Nature will not wait for us to make up our minds. "Grenada's Environment Minister, Mr Karl Hood, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), has said: "We in AOSIS have not come here to negotiate ourselves out of existence, but this is what will happen if we give in to some of the proposals put forward in the last couple of days" ENDS 

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The government said that its objective was to stimulate growth and create jobs. However there is a deep contradiction between the words and actions of this government, according to Sinn Féin jobs spokesperson Peadar Tóibín TD.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“This government has found a way to operate outside the laws of physics and economics if it believes that taking money out of the economy, cutting capital spending and increasing costs will lead to growth or employment.

“The sad fact is that this government has settled on what they consider an acceptable level of poverty, unemployment and emigration. The government’s own figures, based on a now unrealistic growth figure, state that 400,000 people will be on the live register in 2015.

“The increase in VAT will hit low and middle income earners disproportionally pushing many into poverty. But the VAT increase will also have a negative consequence with regards jobs and small business.

“The minister said that 3% will not make a difference. Not to him maybe as he earns €170,000 a year, but to those living on low incomes every penny counts. Increases in VAT and carbon taxes will mean jobs being lost, businesses closing and will reduce tax receipts. The only long term solution to this is to seek tax convergence with the north, a policy that will find willing participants in Stormont.

“The only new initiative unveiled in this budget is €20 million for job training. 150 times more resources will be given to Anglo Irish Bank next year than supporting the long term unemployed.”

Full text of Deputy Tóibín’s speech below:

Micheal Noonan said that his objective was to stimulate growth and create jobs. Brendan Howlin said the budget was about jobs. The Taoiseach told us that this would be a fair budget.
However there is a deep contradiction between the words and actions of this government.

This Government has found a way to operate outside the laws of physics and economics if it believes that taking money out of the economy, cutting capital spend and increasing costs will lead to growth or employment.

Despite the claims of job creation being central the fact is that this government has settled on what they consider an acceptable level of poverty, unemployment and emigration.

The government’s own figures based on a now unrealistic growth figure state that 400,000 people will be on the live register in 2015.

This is a shocking indictment of this government that they has accepted this crisis level of unemployment as normal.
These figures may be acceptable to the well-insulated ministers in this government but they are not acceptable to our people, our businesses and our economy.

To add insult to injury the Finance minister told us yesterday that the labour market was flexible that 125,000 people had come off the register last year. The inconvenient truth being that under this government the levels of unemployed and long term unemployed has grown.
The budget that has been delivered over the last 48 hours has been a severe economic body blow to each of the 450,000 people unemployed, the 76,000 people forced to emigrate in the past 12 months.

But let’s look at what the budget actually will mean in terms of promoting economic growth, tackling unemployment and ending emigration.

As has been discussed by my colleagues the increase in VAT will hit low and middle income earners disproportionally pushing many into poverty.

But the VAT increase will also have a negative consequence with regards jobs and small business.

From a line from Dublin to Galway northward, retail industry will be hit by an unfair competitive disadvantage with their competitors in the north of the country.
The minister said that a 3% difference will not make a difference. Not to him maybe as he earns €170,000 a year, but to those living on low incomes very penny counts.
Increases in VAT and Carbon Taxes will mean jobs being lost, businesses closing and will reduce tax receipts.
The only long term solution to this is to seek tax convergence with the north, a policy that will find willing participants in Stormont.

The government talks jobs, however the only new initiative unveiled in this budget is €20 million for job training.
We have some initiatives that are to be welcomed, on R&D and export support.

However all the other initiatives such as the loan guarantee scheme and micro enterprise scheme are reheated policies that were first announced in the summer and that are still not in place.
Juxtapose this with the fact that this budget will take €3.7 billion out of the economy and the government has confirmed that a further €3.1 billion will be paid out on the Anglo promissory note next year.

150 times more resources will be given to Anglo Irish Bank than supporting the long term unemployed. It is obvious were this governments priorities lie.

We are told that the government will act to retain jobs but then the government cut capital programmes by €750 million which will lead to a further 7,500 people out of work.

For the whole of this year there are 5,000 Jobsbridge places to deal with more than 5,000 people who are emigrating and becoming unemployed each month.
In this budget public spending cuts and new taxation will cost in excess of 15,000 jobs this year. On the other side the government will create an additional 6,500 short term training places.

The government’s response to the crisis is grossly disproportionate to the scale of the crisis.

The budget also sought to revive the spectre of the property speculators.
It reduced the stamp duty on commercial property by 4% and gave a 7 year capital gains holiday to new commercial property purchases.

This is a jobs free pump priming of the speculative property market that could have been announced in the Galway Tent 5 years ago.

Your government also ruled out taking any action to end the crippling Celtic tiger rents.

Yesterday this government buried their dropping of their promise to reform upward only rents in the budget. Landlords and speculators must be rubbing their hands.
The retail sector has provided legal opinion that identifies ways to deal with the issue.

The government should publish the advice of the Attorney General without delay. Celtic Tiger era rents need to be reduced across the board to enhance our competitiveness reduce costs and secure jobs.

It appears that this government has sided with the speculators against small business.

This government pays our €53 million every year in rents that have upward only clauses. The government is paying at least €10 million over the odds for these rents.

What message has the government for the 50,000 workers in retail whose jobs are now in jeopardy?
What message has it sent out to our small business struggling to stay afloat and pay excessive rents?

And let’s be clear who will pay for this. It will be our retail sector, small businesses and the public purse.
The government did nothing to reform regressive rates. There was no investment in ICT infrastructure.

Indeed development in transport infrastructure has stalled. €18 million that will go into Enterprise Ireland next year is taken out of last year. There is now detail on enterprise development reform.
And all of this to buttress French and German banks from contagion.
In case Fine Gael and Labour hadn’t noticed you are democratically responsible to the people of this state, not to the bond holders and not to the German and French electorate.

In case you had not realised it but the mandate that you received last February calls for you to show leadership not try to outsource it to 2 of the 27 EU nations.

You were elected to show leadership not call for it elsewhere.

The European Union should be a common market and a partnership of nation states.

You should be defending this and not scurrying around looking at ways to serve up any remaining sovereignty to Merkel and Sarkozy.

A hand over of tax and budgetary powers to Brussels would cost thousands of Irish jobs and sentence this country to decades of cuts and austerity.

Misgovernance under democratic self-determination can be ousted out at election time. German and French centred governance oblivious to the Irish needs on the periphery cannot.

Sinn Féin has outlined costed alternatives in line with international best practice that prioritise and will stimulate growth, that would create employment, tackle the deficit and share the burden fairly.

Only through growth can we break the cycle of austerity, recession and unemployment.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on the environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, has accused the government of attempting to strangle local democracy and communities.

Speaking during today's Dáil debate, Deputy Stanley said:

“This budget will bring further stress and conflict to families and communities. It will further undermine the years of good work and investment in the community sector.

“Community based projects provide services which the private or public sectors cannot or simply will not provide. Those who have fallen victim to government cuts depend on these services that are already overstretched and under funded.

“This government is proposing a massive cut of 24% by the Department of Education to Drug Task Forces, cuts in Education Disadvantage by 20%, FÁS training by 43%, funding for Drug Task Forces, down 7%. The list is long and the cuts callous. Yet €83 million lies untouched in the Dormant Accounts Fund.

“The budget proposals announced by Minister Howlin on Monday, attempted to bankrupt local government.

“Local authorities depend on the grant from central government to provide services. This fund is essential but now that fund has been cut by a massive 84%. A cut from €203 million to a paltry €32 million. This cut is made even greater with the added cut of €4.5 million for local roads and cancellation of the local improvement scheme. This cut allows the government to introduce the draconian household charge.

“The capital budget for the Department of Environment has been cut by €287 million. This includes cuts in investment in water services by €65 million and in rural water programme by €10 million. There is no commitment to investing in water harvesting which aims to reuse rain water. This investment would not only create jobs but would also reduce our water consumption by a third.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, fisheries and the marine, Michael Colreavy TD, has criticised budget cuts which will impact most on lower income farm households.
In particular he drew attention to the changes that are being made to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme.

Deputy Colreavy said:

“The €30 million being cut from the Disadvantaged Area Scheme will have a devastating effect on a large number of lower income farmers. Changes to the stocking rate criteria will mean that farmers will have to have twice the stocking level currently in order to qualify for the grant. This is a regressive measure.

“The loss of that money will represent a significant blow to many farm households and in combination with the overall impact of the budget will increase the levels of hardship and poverty.

“Sinn Féin is also critical of the changes to Farm Assist which will hit already struggling farmers.”

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Speaking in the Dáil today the Sinn Féin spokesperson on justice and equality, Jonathan O’Brien, condemned the budget and said that it was an indictment of the government’s views of the least well off and demonstrated a complete disregard for their wellbeing and quality of life.

The Cork North Central TD said:

“The Comprehensive Expenditure Report reads as a litany of punishments for those who are poor, who are vulnerable, disabled, migrants, women, carers, lone parents – for those who received nothing during the years of the Celtic Tiger when Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were content to receive donations in the Galway tents. Those people, who are now on the very margins of society are the ones who are being forced to shoulder the burden of a budget that is specifically designed to protect the interests of the very people who are to blame for our broken and damaged economy.

“Even the most cursory reading of the budget will demonstrate how it is designed to punish the poor. The Minister for Finance was interviewed on Prime Time last night and said some very telling things with regard to this government’s attitude towards those less well off than themselves. He spoke of a mysterious group of “lobbyists” who went to the government seeking a reduction in the payments towards young people with disabilities – young people that the Minister had the audacity to refer to as “wayward children”. I would like to know who these people are and I am calling on the government to explain this to the public.

“This budget will cause untold damage to individuals, families and the very fabric of our communities. Labour and Fine Gael are to blame for this. It demonstrates a complete disregard to the wellbeing and quality of life of those who have little or nothing. They are the ones being punished for the economic illiteracy of this and previous governments.”

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has commended the decision of the family of Pat Finucane to launch a judicial Review against the British government for its decision to break the Weston Park Agreement.

He has also urged the Irish government to support the family in this challenge.

Mr. Adams said:

“Pat Finucane was shot dead at his home in February 1989. He was a human rights lawyer. In 2001 at Weston Park the British and Irish governments agreed to establish a number of inquiries into controversial killings in the north. Subsequently in 2004 Judge Peter Cory recommended that such inquiries should take place.

“The decision by the British government in October not to hold an inquiry is a clear breach of the Weston Park agreement. There is an onus on the Irish government as one of the two government signatories to support the Finucane family and demand from the British the establishment of the promised inquiry.

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Sinn Féin Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis has called on the government to row back on budget cuts which will cut funding for Community Employment workers from €1,500 to €500 per person in January.

Deputy Ellis said that this cut would mean that services like Finglas Meals on Wheels and countless others would not be able to operate.

The Deputy continued;

“Finglas Meals on Wheels employs 27 of its 33 staff from CE schemes, these people receive an almost nominal sum for the work they do but they do an excellent job which they take pride in. These jobs are going to be gone come January with this 66% cut to funding which amounts to €27,000 in the case of Finglas Meals on Wheels.

“The group serves 600 hot meals to the elderly and people with disabilities and mental health problems who cannot do so for themselves. They have been operating for nearly 18 years across the length and breadth of Finglas keeping the most marginalised and vulnerable nourished and warm. This is especially important in the wake of cuts to fuel allowance and other supports.

“Last Winter in the cold snap they delivered every meal and their workers pulled together and made a huge effort which saw many through that tough time. Now they are in danger, not from treacherous weather, but from Labour/Fine Gael cuts which pay no consideration to the damage they will do to our communities and the most vulnerable.

“I call on Minister Burton and her government to take this wonderful service into account, if needs be visit with their dedicated workers over this winter and they will see that these cuts are not only wrong and unfair but they will have massive negative consequences.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Jennifer McCann, has slammed those responsible for a nail bomb attack on a home in Poleglass. Following the attack, in which the device did not explode, over 100 people had to be moved from their homes in the Woodside area of Poleglass.

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

“This attack was completely wreckless and put all those in the vicinity at serious risk. Whoever is behind this attack needs to stop and take stock of their actions. Their only intention was to cause hurt to or even kill those who they targeted and in doing so have endangered all those families who live in this street.

“As a result of this attack over 100 people, including children, had to be moved from their homes to temporary accommodation causing major disruption. The residents did not get back to their homes until 4am.

“This was attempted murder and anyone with information should bring it to the PSNI. Those responsible cannot be allowed to endanger life again with such callous disregard for this community.”

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Wayward minister should be reined in
In the wake of admissions by the Minister for Finance on RTE’s Primetime last night that the cuts to disability allowance had not been properly thought through, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has again called on Minister Joan Burton to abandon those plans.
Ó Snodaigh said “The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has proposed to abolish Disability Allowance for 16 and 17 year olds and cut the rates of payment for those between 18 and 24.
“Even if the Domicilary Care Allowance were extended from 16 to 18 years, raising the age of disability allowance to 18 will see the income of households where a person between the ages of 16 and 18 has a disability drop by €440 per month.
“It will also exclude many from the Household Benefits package including the vital fuel allowances that they would otherwise potentially be entitled to. In addition the cut to the Disability Allowance payments from €188 to €100 for 18 to 21 year olds with a disability and to €144 for 22 to 24 year olds are draconian in the extreme. These are outrageous cuts by any standard.
“If the minister had any understanding of disability whatsoever she would not dream of even suggesting this cut. She seems to be operating under the completely false assumption that everyone on disability is some sort of a ‘wayward’ scrounger.
I will address this and the wider range of cuts of people with disabilities in more detail during my contribution to the debate on the Social Welfare Bill tomorrow.”
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin Whip and Spokesperson on Social Protection

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The stories about expenses claimed by Sinn Féin’s absentionist MPs, elected to the Westminster parliament, are old stories rehashed regularly and especially at election time in the North.
These reports only succeed in drawing attention to the fact that our elected representatives draw down only the average industrial wage and that Sinn Féin uses these expenses to deliver a first class constituency service.
We are abstentionist MPs. We are proud that we do not take an oath of allegiance to the English queen. We are elected on that basis.
Our Westminster vote has risen consistently and we are the largest nationalist party in the North because we deliver for citizens in our constituencies.
We do not attend Westminster and we do not receive MPs salaries.
As Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and ministers and as TDs, we receive only the average industrial wage, unlike the Taoiseach who earns over €200,000 and other government ministers who earn over €150,000 or TDs who take home almost €100,000.
ends

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Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, speaking outside the gates of Leinster House tonight, appealed for unity to fight the cuts and charges announced in today’s budget (6 December 2011).

The TD for Louth, having spoken to protestors from a Sinn Féin platform, joined other groups outside the Dáil to encourage them to unite in the face of the austerity budget revealed by government over the previous two days.

The protests, which had been going on outside the Dáil for most of the day, included people from the Occupy Dame Street movement, the Socialist Workers’ Party, various single interest groups and members of Dublin Sinn Féin.

The Sinn Féin president said that it was clear that a united front would be more effective in defence of working people than two demonstrations competing with each other. Members of various groups thanked him for his contribution before he returned to the Dáil to take part in votes on various budget-related resolutions.
ends

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Sinn Féin, spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, described the budget as a body blow to the unemployed, to our local businesses and to our economy.
Speaking in Leinster House today Deputy Tóibín said:
“Today Michael Noonan said he wanted to stimulate growth and create jobs. This government is living in denial if it believes that taking money out of the economy, cutting capital spend and increasing costs will lead to growth or employment. The government may fool itself but it will not fool the people.
“The budget is a severe economic body blow to the unemployed, to our local businesses and to our economy,” he said.
“This budget will take €3.7 billion out of the economy and the government has confirmed that a further €3.1 billion will be paid out on the Anglo promissory note next year.
“Today the government reduced stamp duty on commercial property transactions and failed to act on upward only rents which are crippling the retail sector. The outcome of this policy will reward landlords, fail tenants and continue to cost the public purse.
“This lack of movement on upward only rents and the increase in VAT will further undermine employment in the retail sector and within our local businesses.
“We have outlined costed alternatives, in line with international best practice, that would stimulate growth, create employment and tackle the deficit. Only through growth can we break the cycle of austerity and recession and unemployment. These choices will require leadership and courage.
“The government has failed to rise to this challenge. It will not be ministers, senior civil servants and special advisors that will feel the immediate impact; it will be our small businesses, our workers and those on benefits.”
ENDS

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Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Raymond McCartney has welcomed the report by the Police Ombudsman’s Office into the Castlerock murder case but said it also showed the shortcomings in the office’s powers to compel retired police officers to come forward as witnesses.

The Vice-Chair of the Justice Committee said:

“Sinn Féin welcome the fact that the PSNI fully co-operated with the investigation and provided all material requested in a timely manner.

“A concern is that two police officers who were senior detectives central to the Castlerock murder investigation refused to provide formal witness statements to the investigators from the Police Ombudsman’s office. (Paragraph 5.5)

“The report also states that the whereabouts of some information relevant to the Police Ombudsman’s investigation is ‘currently unknown’ – including the original crime scene examination notes from a scene of the crime officer and forensic evidence gathered at the scene. (Paragraphs 5.21, 5.23, 5.82, 5.84, 5.85)

“There are also broader implications for the powers of the Police Ombudsman’s Office. The report concludes that no mis-conduct recommendations could be made by the Ombudsman’s Office because the officers involved are now retired or deceased. Neither could the senior detectives involved at the very heart of Castlerock investigation, be compelled to attend for interview. Paragraph 6.2)

“These deficiencies must be rectified if the Ombudsman’s Office is to become fully effective and that is why Sinn Féin called upon the Justice Minister to take the necessary action in our motion before the Assembly on November 28th,”

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Sinn Féin senators have tonight voiced their opposition to the budget in the Seanad.

Senator Kathryn Reilly said:

“This is the wrong type of budget, by the wrong type of government with the wrong priorities for the people.

“We needed a budget that changed the direction of economic policy, that prevented the emergence of a lost generation, that changed course on cutting too far and too fast.

“This was not that budget.”

Full text of Senator Reilly’s speech:

A chairde, this is not a growth budget.

It is not a jobs budget.

It is a budget like the four the government parties had voted down previously.

It is a budget for more of the same.

It's hurting but it isn't working.

It's the wrong type of budget

The wrong type of budget, by the wrong type of government with the wrong priorities for this state.


Nobody voted for this deficit plan, least of all the voters who were told:

• There would be no increases to student college contributions
• There would be no cuts to child benefit
• There would be no cuts to social welfare

Next year, over one million families with low incomes will be down €1,000 a year.

The government should be ashamed of their broken promises.

They should be ashamed of the cost of living crisis they are imposing on the low and middle income families of this state.

But we were promised falling unemployment too.

And what has happened since the government announced the Jobs Initiative in May?

Over 5,000 more people are looking for work. Thousands more have emigrated.

And last week we were told 22,000 more people will become unemployed next year and 40,000 will emigrate.

To this government, just like the ones of the past, unemployment is still a price worth paying.

Because of this many people will wonder on what planet the minister is living.

In each electoral division in this state, 12 people are getting ready to leave.

One in five young people is looking for work.

Communities are seeing garda stations, army barracks and A&Es close.

Families are seeing their living standards squeezed.

Not just this year, but for the next four years under this government.

This budget was presented on the basis of three guiding principles: fairness, jobs and reform.
We agree that there is no easy way out of this crisis, but there is a fair way.
The fair way would have been to tax wealth.

It was not fair to cut disability allowance payments to young people, to cut the fuel allowance season, to make third level education unaffordable for swathes of people or to increase VAT.

Reform would have been leading by example. Reform would have been across the board pay cuts for yourself and your ministerial colleagues and for top level civil and public servants.

This government slapped reform in the face when they repeatedly broke their own pay ceilings for their ministerial advisors, on 14 occasions in all and when the Taoiseach insisted on a €37,000 salary hike for Fine Gael’s former Director of Communications.
Fragile consumer and business confidence will be crushed by the rise in VAT, the anticipated fall in public sector demand and the reality of falling incomes.

The economy has been starved of investment for the last number of years and we cannot begin the process of recovery in the absence of significant investment.

Without consumer demand and ability to spend, and without investment in capital spending, jobs will not materialise.

Before the election we said, like every party, we had to get our deficit down and that meant tough decisions on tax and spending cuts.

It wasn’t an argument about whether or not we need to see the deficit reduced.

It was a practical one, of how we best make it happen.
We said the National Pension Reserve Fund should be used for a stimulus programme- that the €5.3billion still left in the fund should be invested in job creation and not pumped yet again into the banks.
We said additional money should be drawn down from the European Investment Bank.
Sinn Féin set out the real benefits of a €7 billion stimulus plan over three years – where such an investment could protect almost 100,000 jobs and create 60,000 additional jobs.
Of course the government thought we were wrong. They still do. But the figures speak for themselves.
Your jobs initiative fell far, far short of the stimulus shock required to get the economy moving again.
And overall growth is being held back by the scale of shrinking domestic demand.

That is what has had a chilling effect on our economy.

At this stage growth should be powering ahead.

Unemployment should be falling fast.

But every month when unemployment is higher than it should be it stores up long-term damage.

Every month when growth is lower than it should be, it hits the future potential of our economy.

The problem is, instead of admitting it, this Government refuses to change course.

Is it not far better to change course and have a credible deficit reduction plan based on higher growth and employment, rather than a failing plan based on low growth and high unemployment?

Since 2009, the underlying deficit has shrunk by less than two per cent, falling from 11.8% to just over 10%.

€20.6 billion has been withdrawn from the economy since 2008 through a series of spending cuts and tax increases.

That suggests that the economic strategy of the previous government has been a failure.

While fiscal consolidation is required, the singular focus on cuts without consideration for growth has failed.

The package of cuts announced over the last two days is the first instalment in the government’s four-year plan that will see a further €12.4 billion taken out of the economy over the next four years.

But more cuts, in the same vein, affecting the same people, will not lead to a better outcome.

We needed a budget that changed the direction of economic policy.

We needed a budget that prevented the emergence of a lost generation.

We needed a budget that changed course on cutting too far and too fast.

This was not that budget.

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