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Sinn Féin Party Group Leader in the Assembly, Raymond McCartney has congratulated Alex Maskey on receiving a honourary doctorate bestowed upon him from LeMoyne College in Syracuse New York for his work on the peace process.

 Mr. McCartney said,

 “I would like to congratulate my colleague Alex Maskey on his award from LeMoyne College in New York.LeMoyne College is one of the leading Jesuit Colleges in the USA and it a huge honour for Alex Maskey to be selected for the international award for his work on the Peace Process.

“Alex is worthy of this award as he has worked tirelessly towards making the peace process a success.From being the first Sinn Féin Councillor elected to Belfast City Council where he was faced with hostility from Unionists he endured to become a well-respected Councillor by all parties and eventually Mayor.

“As Mayor of Belfast he opened up new ground in recognising all the traditions and helped built partnerships between the communities that still exist today.Alex has been central in working towards building a lasting peace in Ireland and has traveled to other parts of the world to share his experiences of peace building including the Basque country and the Middle East and is well deserving of the award.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has reinforced the importance of strong leadership in delivering high educational attainment in schools.

The Minister was speaking today as he presented certificates to graduates of the Professional Qualification for Headship (PQH) programme and to principals who completed the Professional Qualification for Serving Heads (PQSH).

Addressing attendees at the event in Belfast Model School for Girls, the Minister said: “Excellent leadership and good quality teaching are two of the most important factors in raising educational standards. It is crucial that our current and future leaders have the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes to effectively embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

“The qualifications achieved by the educationalists here today will help provide them with the tools and experience required to meet the many demands that face school leaders.”

The Minister continued: “There are now over 1,600 PQH graduates since the launch of the qualification back in 1999, and last year, over 70% of those appointed to headship for the first time, were graduates of the course – a measure of the high regard held for the qualification.

“I would like to commend all those involved in running both the PQH and PQSH programmes and congratulate the teachers and school leaders on achieving these valuable qualifications.”

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 Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey, who is also the chair of the Health Committee is alarmed at the staggering cost of hoax calls being made to the ambulance and fire services.

 Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

 “The fact that hoax calls to the ambulance and fire services reaches £3m pounds a year is staggering. This is diverting much needed resources away from the health service.

 “The cost however goes further than financial terms. By directing fire and ambulance services to hoax call outs it is endangering peoples lives. Obviously if an ambulance or fire crew is attending one of these calls they are not available to deal with real emergencies. This would have an even greater impact in rural areas.

 “The dark side of it is that 26,000 calls are made over the past 3 years clearly indicating that for some obscene reason too many people think that this is acceptable behaviour.

 “Those behind these calls must stop. I understand that the emergency services do deliver awareness courses to our schools however I would appeal for such information to be made available now in news papers, on TV and online to raise awareness of this issue. I would be certain in the belief that such calls are not carried out by any one age group."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has this morning outlined how Sinn Féin will scrap the household charge and how local government can be fully funded without any hidden charges or double taxation.

Speaking at a Sinn Féin press conference in Dublin today Deputy Stanley called on all TDs to support the Household Charge Repeal Bill which he will introduce to the Dáil this evening.

He said;

“This Bill aims to reverse the Household Charge and reimburse all those who have paid the charge. Sinn Féin will be introducing the bill this evening and it will be put a to a vote tomorrow night.

“We have campaigned against this charge since it was first introduced in last year’s budget. Despite the government’s best attempts to bully the public into submission, nearly 50% of households still have not paid the household charge. The Sinn Féin bill will give the opportunity to government and opposition parties to overturn the charge.

“We are delighted to have received support for the bill from UNITE, MANDATE, the Dublin council of Trade Unions as well as a number of community and campaign groups.

“The household charge was introduced because the Fine Gael/Labour government cut the funding to local authorities and redirected the money to bail out the banks. To raise the €160 million needed for local authorities a charge of €100 was imposed on people’s homes. Yet there are a number of viable alternatives to this charge including;

• The introduction a new third rate of tax of 48% on income earned by individuals in excess of €100,000 which raises €410 million;
• Abolish ‘Group relief’ availed of by companies to transfer losses to profitable companies and write down tax receipts which raises €450.3 million;
• Abolish legacy property reliefs to raise €341.8 million;
• Cap all public servants wages at €100,000 per annum saving €265 million.

“Each of these measures has the potential to raise far more than what is needed to reinstate 2011 funding for local government. But instead the government went for the lazy option of digging deeper in to the public’s pockets.

“I am calling on all TDs to back this Bill and on the government, particularly the Labour Party, to reconsider its position and support the Sinn Féin Bill. It is the only fair and common sense approach.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on arts, heritage, tourism and sport, Sandra McLellan TD, has welcomed the decision of the Irish football team to wear black armbands for their clash with Italy tonight in commemoration of the Loughinisland massacre.
The massacre took place this day 18 years ago in the Co Down village when the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), attacked a pub full of people watching the Ireland-Italy match during the 1994 World Cup.
Six people were murdered and five were wounded. No one has ever been charged with the killings and the families of the victims are still seeking confirmation of collusion between the RUC and the UVF.
“The wearing of the black armbands is a welcome move by the FAI. We must support the families of the victims of Loughinisland in their quest for truth and justice,” the Cork deputy said.
“Victims’ families have said that the anniversary of the massacre is always difficult but that this gesture will make this one easier. The FAI and UEFA are to be congratulated for their action.”
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Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD will be joined tomorrow by the regional secretary of Unite Jimmy Kelly, General Secretary of Mandate John Douglas and Louise Bayliss of SPARK (Single Parents Acting for the Rights of our Kids) for a press conference ahead of the introduction of the Household Charge Repeal Bill to the Dáil tomorrow evening.

The press conference has been called to appeal to TDs to back the bill when Sinn Féin introduces it during its private members time tomorrow evening.

It will take place in Buswells Hotel at 11am tomorrow morning.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann this morning submitted a petition to the Assembly Speaker from the ‘Help Us, Help Ourselves’ suicide awareness project in Poleglass.
Speaking from Stormont Ms McCann said;
“I was very humbled to submit this petition from the young people involved with the ‘Help Us, Help Ourselves’ project in Poleglass. They gained over five thousand signatures in the area in support of the work that they do in highlighting suicide awareness and promoting positive mental health.
The issue of suicide and subsequent trauma is one that affects many people and communities right across Ireland; it is an issue that the Assembly has committed itself to help tackle and also to raise awareness as of the issue as well as stamping out the stigma often associated with issues of mental health and emotional wellbeing.
We cannot but take hope from the young people involved with this project in Poleglass who, despite being from an area that has suffered so much, have shown such positive leadership in standing up and being heard.” CRÍOCH

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Responding to news reports that the Troika is considering extending the maturities of its loans to Ireland under the current bailout programme Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said “while any progress in dealing with the state’s unsustainable debt would be welcome it is clear that Ireland needs a debt write down rather than longer Troika loan terms.”

Deputy Doherty said:

“Today’s news report that the Troika is considering offering the Irish Government longer maturities on their emergency programme loans is an admission of failure. It implies, as Sinn Féin has been saying for some time, that Ireland will not be able to re-enter the sovereign bond markets in 2014.

“The reason for this is very clear – the state’s debt is unsustainable.

“Any progress on reducing this debt burden would be welcome. Whether extending the maturities on the Troika loans would achieve this is not yet clear. Would such a move mean the tax payer would still have to pay the toxic banking debt in full? Would the cost of servicing these loans be higher or lower?

“On the basis of the limited information available to us it would appear that the answer to these two questions is yes. If this is not the case the Troika and the government must make that clear.

“Unfortunately neither the government nor the Troika are addressing the real issue. Our debt burden is too high. Return to the sovereign bond markets will only happen if that debt is written down.

“We need a deal on the promissory note in which the debt is taken off the shoulders of the taxpayer and the state. This would do more to assist the government regain access to the sovereign bond markets than extending the maturities of current Troika loans. Unfortunately the Minister of Finance continues to rule this open out.”

ENDS

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Cathaoirleach of the Save Navan Hospital Campaign Peadar Tóibín TD said today that under no circumstances can the Hospital Campaign accept a reduction of A&E services in Navan.

He called on the Minister James Reilly to meet with him to guarantee the continued existence of the service. His comments came on the back of rumours that the A&E was in imminent danger of being closed.

Deputy Tóibín said;

“The context of this is that the Government and the HSE have the ultimate goal of closing the A&E in Navan. This has been stated time and time again in our meetings with both organisations. The only thing preventing the closure of the A&E is the overcrowding at Drogheda and the people of Meath through the Save Navan Hospital Campaign standing up for the hospital.

“Overall health spending in the HSE was reduced by €750 million in budget last year. The HSE chief executive Cathal Magee acknowledged himself that frontline services for patients would go. I also understand that the HSE is struggling to deliver proper services under such severe health funds cuts. As a result there has been budget over runs which Minister Reilly stated recently he will not tolerate.

“A number of senior medical professionals in Meath contacted me on Friday to let me know that they had heard that the A&E in Navan hospital was to close imminently. They told me that it was to be done under the pretence that there was insufficient governance overnight in the A&E. However some problems have existed for over 10 years and during this time it was never deemed necessary to reduce service at the A&E. They stated that not only would the closure of A&E be damaging to emergency services but it would also have a negative effect on other aspects of the hospital such as medical services, ambulance service and GP services amongst others.

“On Saturday night I contacted a senior member of the HSE who along with others has acted as a channel of communication between the HSE and the Save Navan Hospital Campaign. I was told that the HSE has no plan to close down A&E but that they could not allow problems to continue. They told me that existing resources would be used to try and prevent any part closure but that no new resources would be considered. They also told me that any change would be planned and timed in order to allow for safety. Today I have seen a HSE press statement that states that all options are being discussed. This last press statement does not create confidence.

“There is no way in my view, given the lack of capacity at Drogheda where between 30 and 40 people regularly wait on trollies, that closure or part closure of the A&E at Our Lady’s Hospital Navan can be considered. I am calling on Minister James Reilly to meet with myself and the Save Navan Hospital Campaign and guarantee the people of Meath that our A&E is safe.”

ENDS

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Addressing Sinn Féin’s annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, County Kildare, MEP Martina Anderson said the result of the recent referendum was “more the fear of the people than the will of the people”.

She said that while the Government said the Treaty would mean jobs, investment and less harsh budgets, it is already clear that German Government and others interpreted the result as an endorsement of austerity policies, adding that Fine Gael and Labour had failed to stand up for Ireland’s national interests.

Anderson told the large crowd gathered at the graveside of Wolfe Tone that Sinn Féin is working for the peaceful coming together of all the people in Ireland and that those who believe in Irish unity must reach out to unionists and engage them “in the all-important discussions around the nature and form of future structures on this island”.

The Derry native who recently replaced Bairbe de Brún as MEP for the Six Counties said a genuine national reconciliation process crucially involved increased understanding of those from the unionist tradition and Sinn Féin acknowledged and respected the attachment many unionists have to symbols and institutions such as the English Royal family.

“The United Ireland we seek to create is pluralist, where all the elements of the Irish nation are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity, including those Irish people who wish also to express a British identity”, she said.

Real reconciliation also meant dealing with the legacy of conflict and that this would “challenge everyone —Republicans, Unionists and Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential if we are to move from conflict resolution to a New Republic”, Anderson said.

ENDS

Martina Anderson MEP

Address to:

Sinn Fein Wolfe Tone Commemoration,

Bodenstown,

County Kildare

17th June 2012

Check against delivery

A Chairde.

We stand at the graveside of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the father of Irish republicanism and the leader of the United Irish Society.

Two hundred and fourteen years ago the United Irishmen launched a rebellion against British rule to establish an independent Irish republic based on the principles of equality for all.

Today, we honour the principles for which Tone gave his life; the men and women of 1798, and each subsequent generation of Irish republicans who struggled for those objectives.

The next decade will witness the 100th anniversary of seminal events in our history. The centenary of women's suffrage action in Ireland must be an important part of centenary commemorations.

100 years ago this month, the campaign of Irish women for full citizenship was stepped up. The campaign saw the first instance of hunger strike protests and force-feeding in Ireland. Many women involved in the campaign went on to play leading roles in the 1913 Lockout and the 1916 Rising. Significantly and appropriately, the 1916 Proclamation addresses itself to Irishmen and Irishwomen.

By the time of the 1918 General Election women had won the right to vote and helped to elect the First Dáil Eireann, which sought to implement the principles of Republicanism.

However Partition created a sectarian, one-party state in the North and a conservative state in the South dominated by corrupt political and business elites.

Both were the antithesis of the vision of Tone, and of the 1916 leaders. Their vision, Sinn Féin’s vision, of a genuine republic governed in the interests of its citizens, is shared by a growing number of Irish people.

Today, people across this state are suffering. Hundreds of thousands are unemployed, struggling to survive and young people are flooding out of the country to Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

This is the result of the failed policies of the previous Fianna Fáil-led administration and their successors in Fine Gael and Labour, implementing failed austerity policies written for them by their political masters in the EU and IMF.

Across Ireland, North and South, Sinn Féin is leading the political fight-back against austerity and in defence of Irish self-determination and sovereignty.

We are the leading voice of opposition in the South - advocating an alternative to the disastrous policy of making ordinary people pay for the crimes of bankers, developers, politicians and those financial vampires who sucked the lifeblood from our economy.

Sinn Féin seeks a society and an economy run democratically in the interests of Irish people.

In the North we have led the resistance to Tory cuts and worked to offset their effects on the most vulnerable. The Executive has prioritised frontline services, protecting those on lowest incomes and communities subject to decades of economic discrimination.

As we fight for the transfer of fiscal powers to the North, Fine Gael and Labour are surrendering to Brussels and Frankfurt what remains of this state’s economic sovereignty.

I want to acknowledge the work done by Sinn Féin activists in the campaign against the Austerity Treaty.

Sinn Féin TD Liam Mellows in 1922, speaking about another treaty which then, like now, sold Ireland short said:

“The people who are in favour of the Treaty, are not in favour of the Treaty on its merits, but are in favour of the Treaty because they fear what is to happen if it be rejected. That is not the will of the people - that is the fear of the people.”

Government scaremongering throughout the referendum campaign, the strong ‘No’ vote and the reluctance of a section of the ‘Yes’ vote all showed that the result was once again more the fear of the people than the will of the people.

The Government said this Treaty would mean jobs, investment and less harsh budgets. But it is already clear that they sold the people a pig in a poke. The German Government and others in Europe have since gone on record to say they interpret the ‘Yes’ Vote as an endorsement of EU austerity policies.

Labour and Fine Gael have failed to stand up for Ireland’s national interests and have failed our people.

As you know I have recently taken up the position of Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties. I want to pay tribute to our outgoing MEP Bairbre de Brún.

Over 30 years in the leadership of Sinn Féin, Bairbre served diligently in a variety of roles. She remains a senior figure in Sinn Féin and on behalf of everyone here I want to thank her and look forward to working with her in the future.

Bairbre was part of the SF leadership that was central the transformation of the North.

The Orange State that led to so much conflict and suffering is gone. We are confronting the damaging elements of sectarianism that remains across and within class boundaries.

Sinn Féin is working for the peaceful coming together of all the people on this island.

We are driving an equality agenda through government and, working with the representatives of Unionism, we are transforming a society emerging from conflict to a future based on partnership and equality.

Uniting Ireland is not just a noble aspiration. It makes social, political and economic sense.

Those who believe in Irish unity must reach out to unionists and to engage with them about the future of this island that we share.

In the Good Friday Agreement, the British Government repealed the Government of Ireland Act and agreed to legislate if a majority in the North want Ireland united.

As followers of Tone we believe in the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.

We do not believe that a United Ireland and a New Republic can be built without the involvement of the Unionist community.

In that context we must all engage in the all-important discussions around the nature and form of future structures on this island.

Currently Unionists remain isolated on the margins of the British political system where they make up less than 2% of the population.

In a united Ireland unionists would make up 20% of the population and exercise real authority, power and influence – as opposed to being bit players in the House of Commons.

Shaping a genuine national reconciliation process crucially involves increased understanding, respect and reaching out to those from the unionist tradition.

Let me state very clearly that Sinn Féin fully acknowledges the attachment that many within the unionist section of Irish society have to a sense of Britishness and to symbols and institutions such as the English Royal family – and we respect that.

The United Ireland we seek to create is pluralist, where all the elements of the Irish nation are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity, including those Irish people who wish also to express a British identity.

Real reconciliation on this Island also means dealing with the legacy of conflict. That will challenge everyone —Republicans, Unionists and Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential if we are to move from conflict resolution to a New Republic.

Sinn Féin is a party of the future.

We are expanding our party and leadership team throughout Ireland. The announcement last week at Stormont, of an end to double jobbing is an important component of that. It will see four new MLAs in addition to four fulltime MPs in each constituency.

Unlike others who disappear to Westminster, Pat, Michelle, Conor and Paul will not be disappearing. That will be evident in the workload which builds around them in the coming period. They are all significant political figures in our leadership and will continue to be so.

They will take the lead in the Uniting Ireland project in both Britain and Internationally and drive party building efforts throughout the 32 counties.

We are building the Ireland of the future. But we need the help of everyone — young and old, male and female, rural and urban, North and South.

Sinn Féin’s message is being heard by ever-greater numbers of people. There are more republicans now than at any time since 1919. We want more people to become politically active, to use their potential constructively as part of a movement to change Ireland.

Sinn Féin seeks to change Ireland for the better. Young people need to be part of achieving that change. Sinn Fein is waiting for you. We want your ideas and your energy. We want you to join Sinn Féin

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Following recent flooding in residential areas across South Belfast, Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has been in contact with NI Water today following heavy consistent rain in the area.

"Earlier this week many residents in the constituency experienced flooding in their streets causing severe disruption and in some cases damage to property. 

"Much of the worst incidents occurred in the Lisburn Road and Finaghy areas. 

"I have been in contact with NI Water this afternoon to ensure that they are taking all necessary precautions to deal with any further incidents of flooding. 

"The staff have assured me that they have the appropriate levels of staff ready to deal with any further flooding. 

"I have also scheduled a meeting with the Minister Danny Kennedy for early next week to explore how he can bring forward the essential remedial work which would greatly reduce the potential for flooding in these areas. 

"Should any residents need to report flooding they should contact the NI Water helpline on 0845 744 0088."

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that NITB should market the North Coast as a single tourism product. Speaking whilst questioning the Chief Executive of NITB Alan Clarke at a meeting of the Assembly's Enterprise Committee being held at the Giant's Causeway.

Mr McKay said:

"I recently watched adverts on RTÉ aimed at the southern market to attract more tourists to the north and in my view it disappointed from a north coast perspective.

"We have an area here of great natural beauty with a rich offering of attractions that sells itself and I think that it should be marketed as a product itself and NITB should consider reviewing how the north coast is marketed. Rathlin for example and it's bird sanctuary is not promoted enough across the rest of the island.

"If Ballymena Council can air an advert focusing on that district surely NITB could do the same for the North Coast."

Mr McKay was also taken on a tour of the new Giants Causeway Visitors Centre which is due to open in a couple of weeks by the National Trust:

"It has been a number of years now since I unveiled the connections between the DUP and private developer Seymour Sweeney in the Assembly and challenged the DUPs intentions to approve that application. I am glad to see that the Trust has done a great job of the new centre and has provided local employment in doing so. I have spoken to a number of tradesmen, builders and stonemasons here today from the Ballycastle area who have benefitted directly from the project.

"There will be opportunities to create further employment with the new golf development at Runkerry and that needs to move ahead as it will see the introduction of more sustainable jobs on the north coast for locals. The opposition to it now from the Trust is very late in the day and will only result in unnecessary delay. Tourism has the capacity to be a major job creator on the north coast over the coming years and we need to do all we can to facilitate that with the caveat that it does not impact adversely on the environment. Runkerry will complement the tourism infrastructure being put in place with the Marine Hotel re-opening, the potential of a second hotel in Ballycastle and the opening of a new Visitors Centre here at the Causeway. I don't believe that the Trust has the support of the public in blocking this application and they should reconsider."

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Responding to the Bahrain appeals court verdict which today convicted nine doctors for their role in last year's pro-democracy uprising, the Sinn Féin spokesperson for foreign affairs and trade Padraig Mac Lochlainn said that the judgement was “completely unjustifiable.”

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“All twenty health workers who received their verdicts today were arrested last year by masked gunmen without warrants; tortured; forced to sign confessions under duress and were given an unfair military trial.

“In one of the most deplorable cases affecting the medical community in Bahrain, the orthopaedic surgeon who trained at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland in Dublin, Dr. Ali Al- Akri, was abducted from the operating room at Salmaniya Hospital while performing surgery on March 17th 2011 and like all others arrested, was imprisoned and tortured. Today he received a sentence of five years imprisonment.

“Over the past 16 months tens of thousands of Bahrainis have been brutally attacked by government forces. International Organisations such as Human Right Watch, Médecins Sans Frontières, Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International have all unequivocally condemned the Bahraini Government’s actions over the past year.

“The verdict of guilt passed on nine of the original twenty medical staff arrested is disturbingly wrong.

“The RCSI needs to do more than express 'deep concern' now. The situation has moved well beyond sympathetic noise. Accountability must come first. Irish-trained doctors are being imprisoned in Bahrain for speaking out against a regime which punishes those who call for the respect of human rights.

“The Tánaiste now needs to call for all sentences to be dropped. All violations of humans rights, kidnapping and mistreatment especially torture need to be investigated as do those who were directly involved. And finally, all medics should be reinstated to their jobs and fairly compensated.

“I am calling on the Government to take urgent action now.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, has announced details of a Sinn Féin “Back the Bill” day of action this Saturday, June 16th.

Speaking in Leinster House Deputy Stanley said:

“Next week in the Dáil Sinn Féin will introduce a Bill to repeal the Household Charge and reimburse all those who have paid the charge.

“Supporting this Bill on June 20th will consign the Household Charge to the rubbish bin of history.

“A day of action in support of the campaign will take place this Saturday. There will be events in every city and town across the state. Over 100,000 leaflets will be distributed at stalls, pickets and protests. Sinn Féin will be joined at these events by trade unions, community organisations and campaign groups. We will be urging all local TDs, from both the government and opposition to support the bill next week.

“There will also be a ‘Back the Bill’ rally outside the Dáil at 5pm on Wednesday June 20th to coincide with the vote that evening.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has said that Minister Stephen Farry is taking a regressive step in removing the grants offered to students from the North studying in the South.

Mr McElduff said,

“Many students, particularly those in border areas would like greater opportunity to study in institutions in the South due to the proximity of these colleges and the range of courses offered.

“Rather than encouraging students to maximise their education this move will discourage people from pursuing their education.

“Sinn Féin believes that access to education should not be based on an ability to pay but simply on the ability to learn.  We have opposed fees North and South in fact our Ministers moved to block any increases to these fees in the Executive. 

“In a joint report recently published IBEC and the CBI highlighted the low level of the mobility of students across the island as a major obstacle to economic growth and prosperity  yet rather than address this issue Stephen Farry has exacerbated it by adding further hurdles.

“Rather than putting up hurdles Stephen Farry needs to be working towards integration of the two systems on the island by ensuring Leaving Certs and A Levels are equal and that career teachers are skilled up to present the options across the island.

“I see this is a violation of the North South co-operation outlined in the Good Friday Agreement and Sinn Féin will be raising this matter within the Assembly at the earliest opportunity.”

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The decision by the HSE to keep open St Brigid’s care home for the next three years has been broadly welcomed by Dublin South West Sinn Féin Councillors Máire Devine and Cathal King.

Cllr Devine recently led a delegation from St Brigid’s Action Group to the Dublin Mid Leinster Health Forum to seek clarification from the HSE on the future of the nursing home. The delegation had expressed their frustration at the Health Forum for failing to progress the matter and they presented the HSE with a cost analysis that clearly showed the ludicrous and wasteful practise of retaining patients in acute care at Tallaght hospital at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately €1,000 per day as opposed to €280 per day at St Brigid’s.

Cllr Devine continued: “Seven months ago the Fine Gael/Labour Government issued a closing order on this unique facility which caters exclusively for elderly, frail and high dependency female patients.

“Following months of pressure and the passing of Sinn Féin motions to the Health Forum on behalf of myself and party colleague Cllr Cathal King a three year reprieve was granted.

“Sixty-six beds will remain in the newly upgraded lower units of St Brigid’s and it will be possible to use these units in the short term while complying with the current HIQA standards. This is a victory for everyone who campaigned so determinedly for this important healthcare amenity to remain open and it is a victory for common sense.”

Both Councillors pledged to work with their party colleague Seán Crowe TD and the formidable Action Group to secure the long-term future for this much needed public health facility.

Cllr King said: “Work is in progress to upgrade the facility and it should return to full capacity in the near future.

“I am delighted that the HSE has seen sense on this matter. It is the right decision economically and it is the right decision for the women of St Brigíd’s.

“This is only the beginning though, and Sinn Féin will continue to do everything within its power to ensure the long term future of the home.”

ENDS

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Sinn Fein’s spokesperson on Youth Affairs, Senator Kathryn Reilly, has said the CSO’s figures on emigration are “incomplete” and need to be improved.

Speaking after a series of parliamentary questions to the Taoiseach contained in their replies admissions that the CSO doesn’t provide anything less than annual figures or show which counties were suffering more under emigration Senator Reilly said:

“In the Minister of State’s replies the government admits that the CSO does not publish emigration on a quarterly or even half-yearly basis. Furthermore, they admit that they cannot accurately measure to where people are emigrating. Instead we are told “emigration is estimated by broad destination. We are also told that mapping emigration by county is not possible.

“It is imperative if we are to maintain contact with our emigrants and for our own economic planning that the CSO steps up to the mark and provides more detailed and accurate information on the extent of emigration. It is a sad indictment of the current system that the Australian services can provide, in some cases, more detail on Irish emigration than our own services.”

ENDS


PQs:

QUESTION NO: *157
To ask the Taoiseach his plans to instruct the Central Statistics Office to compile data on emigration on a quarterly or six months rather than the current annual basis in view of the need to gather regular and up to date information on the numbers of persons emigrating from Ireland to inform policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.

QUESTION NO: *158
To ask the Taoiseach the reason the Central Statistics Office does not collect data on the destination of emigrants leaving Ireland; his plans to collect data on the destination of Irish emigrants and the numbers to each country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.


REPLY.
Annual information on migration (immigration and emigration) is published in the Population and Migration Estimates release which issues in September each year.
The principal source of information for the estimation of annual migration flows published by the Central Statistics Office, incorporating both emigration and immigration, is the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS); the published estimates are classified by sex, broad age group, origin and destination, and nationality.
Because of the underlying seasonality and variability of all migration flows the CSO does not publish these estimates on a sub-annual basis e.g. six monthly or quarterly.
Data on emigration is estimated by broad destination. The provision of emigration data at a more detailed level, such as country of destination, is not currently possible due to measurement issues associated with sub-populations, sample sizes and other practical issues in sample surveys such as the QNHS.
The estimates are published on an annual basis in September of each year. The next publication in September 2012 will cover the period April 2007 to April 2012.

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his support for the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge linking south Down and County Louth.

An Bord Pleanála is meeting this week in the Four Seasons in Carlingford as part of its process to determine whether Narrow Water Bridge should receive planning permission.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Narrow Water Bridge makes economic and commercial sense. It would provide a vital infrastructure connection linking north and south which would assist economic, and especially tourism development in an area which desperately needs new investment for jobs and growth.

“There is widespread political and public support for the development, including from local councils and the two governments.”

ENDS

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Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has accused UUP leader, Mike Nesbitt of running away from the issue of his Party’s commitment to power-sharing.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

“Mike Nesbitt has called an extraordinary meeting of the UUP policy making body to affirm its position on gay marriage. There would be no need for such an extraordinary meeting if the UUP would just commit itself to the principle of equality for all.

“I challenged Mike Nesbitt to address the issue of power-sharing on the basis of equality followingoffensive sectarian remarks by his party colleague, Antrim Councillor Adrian Watson. To date the UUP leader has avoided the issue. Will he now take the opportunity at this extraordinary policy making body meeting to affirm his party’s commitment to power-sharing, including at Local Government level on the basis of equality? I am sure that many in our society will be interested to hear Mr Nesbitt’s position on equality.”

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The decision to cut resource teaching time for special needs pupils by 15 minutes per week, is short sighted and will fail many children in the long run, according to Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane.

The Waterford Senator, speaking in the Seanad today, said that in making such a cut, the government has clearly shown where it’s priorities lie.

He said:

“It’s often said that the measure of a government is how it treats its most vulnerable members. If that is the case, then this government does not measure up to the task.

“The primary criteria for what supports special needs children should receive is educational need, and budgetary concerns should be a distant second.

“We have been told that resource teaching time is to be reduced by 5%, or 15 minutes per week. This would be bad enough on its own however it comes on the heels of a 10% cut, or half an hour last year. Special needs children will now have 45 minutes less resource time than in 2010, and this is no small amount.

“To add insult to injury, we are told that this has come about as a consequence of the government’s desire to meet Troika targets, and the cap of 9,950 SNAs. It is very clear, to my mind, where their priorities lie.

“Many parents are very concerned that their children will not be getting the support they need. It is not acceptable that these children go without the appropriate support to see them through their education.”

ENDS

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