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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has said the Housing Executive needs to explain the rationale behind their intention to establish a Belfast City Centre housing waiting list.

The West Belfast MLA said:

“I have asked the Housing Executive what was the reason behind this change in policy and how it would impact on those already waiting on housing in areas of high demand like West and North Belfast

“Because of the severe shortage in housing in these areas, some families are doubling up in one house, which is a throwback to the 1950s.

“The Housing Executive have said that the city centre will be neutral in terms of allocation but this flies in the face of allocating on need.

“The Housing Executive have questions to answer, not least, was political pressure brought to bear to move to this position?

“The long waiting lists for housing can’t be ignored on a whim or for some political agenda. Equality and objective need has to be at the heart of any decision making process around tackling the housing waiting list.”

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has today met with the campaign group SPARK (Single Parents Acting for the Rights of our Kids).

Deputy Ó Snodiagh met the group as part of the consultation process for his report on the Single Working Age Payment for the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection.

Speaking after the meeting today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The Single Working Age Payment could be the single biggest change to our social welfare system in the history of the state.

“I am delighted to have been appointed rapporteur for the committee to compile a report on the consequences of amalgamating all social welfare payments into one single payment.

“I have been meeting groups that would be most affected by such a move including SPARK who have been doing great work on behalf of single parents throughout the state.

“It is important that all of those affected are afforded an opportunity to voice their opinion on such a fundamental proposal.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has again called for the release of Marian Price and Martin Corry from Maghaberry prison.

Both are being held after the British Secretary of State revoked their licences. Raymond McCartney said:

“Both Martin Corry and Marian Price are being held following the revoking of their license by the British secretary of state. This is unacceptable.

“If there is evidence against someone it should be presented and tested in a court of law. Sinn Féin have continuously raised this matter with the British Government and the Department of Justice including at meetings this week.

“We will also be making representations to the Life Sentence Review Commission when they come to examine both these cases in the coming weeks.”

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Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris TD was thrown out of the Dáil this morning during Leaders’ Questions for demanding the Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore answer questions on whether grants will be made available for remedial works to septic tanks.
Deputy Ferris said:
“The government is rushing through the legislation which will introduce septic tank charges. Fifty amendments have been tabled by all parties but the government guillotined the debate last night.
“This morning my party colleague Mary Lou McDonald challenged the Tánaiste to say whether or not there would be grant aid for people to upgrade their septic tanks. The Tánaiste refused to answer the question.
“It is absolutely shameful that the day after the government allows the hand over of €1.25 billion of taxpayers’ money to Anglo bondholders, yet another tax will be foisted on already struggling people.
“This is a bare-faced attack on rural communities and my party will fight it every step of the way.”

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Commenting on the report issued today by the Police Ombudsman into the use of Tasers by the PSNI, Sinn Féin MLA and Policing Board member Pat Sheehan said that Tasers are a lethal weapon and continued use by the PSNI will inevitably lead to someone being killed.

Mr Sheehan said:

“People will be rightly sceptical of any reports conducted by the Police Ombudsman’s Office under the leadership of Al Hutchinson. There is no community confidence in his ability to do this important job and he should go without further foot dragging.

“On the issue of Tasers it cannot be disputed that they are a lethal weapon and their continued use by the PSNI will inevitably lead to someone being killed.

“The PSNI need to be able to deal with public order incidents without resorting to lethal force, be it Tasers or plastic bullets.

“An acceptance of their use will see them used as an alternative to restraint and that is unacceptable. Those firing them do not know if the person they are targeting has a heart problem or any other illness which could heighten the chance of it being fatal.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has visited Holy Rosary Primary School where he officially opened a new outside play area.

Speaking during the visit, the Minister said: “I welcome the opportunity to visit Holy Rosary Primary School and unveil a plaque officially opening this newly installed play equipment.

“The pupils and parents of the school raised a substantial amount towards the cost of installing these facilities through various fund raising events and I wish to congratulate each and every one of them for this achievement. The different components chosen by the children and teachers will aid the development of motor movement skills of the pupils while also allowing them to have fun.”

Concluding the Minister said: “This school also plays an important part in the community. A Home School Association has been formed consisting of parents working with teachers to raise funds while enhancing the school community. It provides an excellent opportunity for parents to get to know the school and become active in school activities.”

The Minister also visited Oakwood School and Assessment Centre where he met with teachers and pupils. The Minister had the opportunity to view the facilities of the school and hear first-hand about the good work being undertaken there.

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Sinn Féin Social Protection spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodiagh TD has accused Minister Burton of misleading the public on cuts to CE Schemes. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the minister’s announcement of a review of the cut before Christmas was made simply to get her own party back-benchers off her back.

He said:

“The cuts announced by this Labour Party Minister are decimating the Community Employment Scheme and attacking the communities who depend on them.

“You decided to cut the CE training and materials Budget by 66% in Budget 2012. Under severe pressure you announced a review before Christmas leading many of those affected to believe they had been saved from the cut. But that was not the case at all. The cut was made earlier this month. Do you accept that you announced the review and misled the public simply to get your own party’s back-benchers off your case?

“Do you agree that the fact that you are now conducting a review also demonstrates that you had not bothered to assess the impact this cut would have when you decided to make it?

“You also made a commitment that no CE project would be allowed to close in advance of the conclusion of the review. Rather the projects experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the 66% cut are to go cap in hand to the department and beg for some emergency funds.

“Last week an angling park for people with disabilities employing 23 people gave notice of imminent closure as a consequence of the cut. In the eleventh hour you reduced their cut from 66% to 25% until the conclusion of the review. Do you agree that this is a very shabby way to do business and to treat people?

“In the Budget you announced a cut to the Community Employment Programme of €41.5 million. You have determined to make a cut in region of €27.5 million to the training and materials funding. In essence, have you not decided on the outcome of your review before it even got underway?

“You promised that no community employment project would be let close in advance of the conclusion of the review. Will you be forcing the closure of projects afterwards?”

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Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe believes clarity is needed from the government over whether it is serious about reversing the threat of budget cuts to teaching posts in DEIS and other schools.
The Dublin South West TD was commenting after challenging education minister, Ruairí Quinn TD on the matter during a meeting of the Dáil’s Education Committee.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“In response to my questions regarding what the review into cuts to DEIS schools hoped to achieve, Minister Quinn again gave vague answers that failed to convince.
“There are serious concerns arising around the substance of the review, particularly in relation to the possible loss of 428 pre-DEIS legacy posts.
The terms of the review are unclear, causing concern that DEIS schools will be forced to compete with one another in order to retain their current staffing levels.
“I sought assurances that the review would not recommend cuts across other key services in the primary school budget but his responses did not inspire confidence that this would be the case.
“At today’s meeting, Minister Quinn came under close scrutiny and there is growing scepticism that the government is serious about protecting schools that are to the fore in tackling educational disadvantage. The growing descent amongst the government back-benchers shows just how badly the minister has handled this matter.
“The current confusion over what is happening is demoralising for teachers, parents and children. Clarity is needed and we need a clear commitment from the minister that DEIS and other schools, which have a proven track record, are protected from budget cuts.
“The minister has already admitted to making a mistake in how he has dealt with this issue. He must not make matters worse by prevaricating after making the decision to hold the review. He needs to realise the gravity of the situation and the impact these cuts will have on some of our most vulnerable children. It is their right to a decent education and a good start in life that must be the priority. Anything less is unacceptable.”

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill warmly welcomed the increase in agricultural income for 2011, indicated by DARD figures published today.

Commenting on the figures, the Minister, said: “It is encouraging to see a rise in overall farm income, which shows that the agricultural industry is continuing to do well in these difficult economic times.”

The Minister added: “However, the continuing high costs of inputs, such as feed, fertilizer and fuels, and weakening euro will continue to challenge the industry.

The Minister continued: “It is also encouraging that in 2011 farm income was greater than Single Farm Payment (SFP). However, SFP still represents 87% of farm income which underlines the importance of the forthcoming negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“There is no doubt that we need a strong, well funded CAP that provides support and fosters improved competitiveness without overburdening us all with red tape and I am committed to fighting for these outcomes in the ongoing CAP reform negotiations.”

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Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media