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Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the strides made yesterday for equality, but has highlighted the many other aspects of...

Latest Statements


Speaking in the European Parliament today on the EU proposed Work Programme, Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson branded it another lost opportunity.

Martina Anderson a member of the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament said:

“We look forward to making a constructive and positive input to the Work Programme 2013 proposals which have the potential to benefit the people of Europe.

“However taken as a whole, the work programme seems to be another missed opportunity.

“While there is much to think about in the Commission’s Programme, as always, the devil will be in the detail.

“It needed to come up with a radically new approach. It needed to put people's needs before profits and it needed to recognise thatausterity measures are particularly detrimental to women and children. Child poverty has increased substantially as a result of austerity.

“I listened carefully to what Vice-President MarošŠefcovic had to say about youth initiatives, but despite the upbeat rhetoric, measures to invest in jobs and growth are half-hearted and underfunded. They are rendered ineffective by the ideological attachment to the politics of austerity which has resulted in 25million unemployed across Europe.

“It is disappointing that the work programme doesn't address the failed policy of pursuing third world employment conditions in public services.

“We will not get out of the crisis by lowering wages and destroying jobs and public services and by cutting spending while pouring billions into failed banks.

“Following September’s State of the Union address by President Barroso I suggested that he needed to give his head a good shake. I respectfully suggest that Vice-President MarošŠefcovic needs to do the same.”


Commenting on the reported rift between Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Health Minister James Reilly on the location of the National Children’s Hospital, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the long overdue development of the Hospital must go ahead without further delay.

He said:

“The delay of many years in developing the promised National Children’s Hospital is a prime example of the paralysis in decision-making by successive governments. We now find that distrust of Health Minister James Reilly has become a factor, with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore reportedly undertaking his own research on the proposed locations for the hospital.

“Whatever the truth of the media spins coming from cabinet members, the fact remains that we are further away from the development of the hospital than we were when this coalition came to office. The decision of An Bord Pleanála to refuse permission for the Mater site plan was in February last. It is now almost November and we still have no decision on an alternative site.

“There is general agreement that there is a national need for a centre for tertiary children’s hospital services and that this facility should be located in Dublin. The primary consideration must be the provision of the best possible healthcare for the children of Ireland. This must take precedence over all other considerations.

“And, until the new hospital is built, government must continue to support and enhance existing paediatric hospitals which are struggling to meet the healthcare needs of children today.” ENDS


Commenting on the latest financial surveys indicating that the average family here exists on a disposable income of just over 50% of those in Britain, Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Daithí McKay has said it is time to demand maximum fiscal powers be transferred to the Assembly.

Daithí McKay said:

“Two survey’s just published by supermarket giant Asda’s ‘Income Tracker’ and Ulster Bank’s ‘Purchasing Managers Index’ (PMI) demonstrate once more the fact that economic policies created in London are not working for the population here.

“Asda’s Income Tracker shows that families in the North exist on an income of just over 50% of that of those living in Britain while the PMI shows a continuing decline in business performance.

“The lack of fiscal powers at the Executive limits our ability to address these trends and tackle the economic crisis.Without the necessary fiscal tools we are simply reduced to redistributing an ever decreasing Block Grant.

“We need serious commitment from the British Government to the transfer of these fiscal tools to the Assembly if we are to design fit for purpose economic policies for the benefit of our economy.

“This is the latest examples of the failure of British policies to deliver for our economy and strengthens the argument for greater economic control to be transferred into the hands of locally elected and responsible politicians. No British Government budget is about easing the burden of people in the north.

“The reality is that the Tory/Lib Dem British Government has slashed the Executive budget by around half a billion pounds on top of other cuts effecting programmes such as Social Welfare with a devastating effect on the most vulnerable in our society .

“The debate around transfer of maximum fiscal powers to the Executive involving all of the political parties needs to take place urgently. Parties that do not wholeheartedly support transfer of these economic levers need to spell out their alternative fiscal policies to mitigate against the Tory/Lib Dem austerity agenda. Without these powers how do we stimulate recovery and increase spending power.

“We are completely powerless to prevent the smash and grab tactics of the British government on our resources until we take control of our own economic destiny.

“The most effective way of controlling our economic destiny is by having the ability to generate finance and one of the essential tools to achieve this is through tax-varying powers. It is time to show self-confidence by taking responsibility for designing our own economic policies."


Speaking in advance of the PMB on statutory sick pay this evening Sinn Fein’s spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the government’s proposal to cut illness benefit by way of introducing a statutory sick pay scheme will cost jobs.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the government should instead raise more PRSI from those employers that can afford to pay it.

Speaking this afternoon Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“By passing an €89 million burden onto employers with no regard to their ability to pay some employers will be forced to close jobs, sick workers will see their pay-packets reduced and discrimination against those with disabilities or recurring illnesses will rise.

“The Fianna Fáil motion to be debated this evening rightly condemns the government proposal but they offer no alternative whatsoever. To be credible in opposition you can’t just say no, you must put forward alternatives.

“I am putting forward an alternative plan which would raise €91.5 million or €2.5 million more than the figure targeted by government. I am tabling an amendment to tonight’s motion proposing that the government instead increase the employers’ PRSI contributions paid by those employers that can afford to pay more without precipitating job losses or pay cuts for those on low and middle incomes.

“The government could do this by raising the employer PRSI contribution made on pay exceeding €100,000 to 15.75% which would raise €91.5 million without cutting the Illness Benefit Scheme or costing jobs.”

Sinn Féin’s amendment to this evening’s private members’ motion:

To delete the below paragraph:
- That an additional taxation burden on employers will drive many SME’s out of business, damaging the economy and generating more unemployment.
and substitute the following:
- That an additional taxation burden on employers imposed without regard to ability to pay will drive many SME’s out of business, damaging the economy and generating more unemployment.

And after “scheme” where it finally occurs insert the following:
“, and
• instead increase the employers PRSI contributions paid by those employers that can afford to pay more without precipitating job losses or pay cuts for those on low and middle incomes by raising the employer PRSI contribution made on pay exceeding €100,000 to 15.75% which would raise €91.5 million without cutting the Illness Benefit Scheme.


Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has been reacting to the release of a report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. ( )

Speaking this afternoon Senator Reilly said;

“Today’s report shines light on the absolute ineffectiveness of this government’s attempts to tackle youth unemployment. Ireland has the second highest NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) rate in the Eurozone – higher even than Greece. This is an unacceptably high level. Moreover this tells us that while other countries are acting to tackle this crisis the Irish government has no plans to intervene or to come up with new ideas.

“Another very worrying aspect of today’s report is the confirmation that almost 50% of young unemployed people have been out of work for more than a year – that’s twice as many than only a few years ago. The longer a young person goes without work the more difficult it is to find a job so we are looking at a grave long-term scenario here.

“If we consider the number of young people leaving Ireland every year for want of jobs we should realise that we are facing a situation nearly as bad as any in Europe yet this government has not woken up to this reality at all. Sinn Féin has proposed measures to reverse this appalling situation and will expand on these measures over the coming weeks.”


Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today met with Gerry Adams TD and representatives from the Irish Farmers’ Association and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Discussions covered a wide range of issues including animal health, the sheep trade, agri-environment schemes and falling commodity prices affecting the farming industry.

Speaking afterwards, Minister O’Neill said:

“I welcome the opportunity of meeting with Mr Adams and the farming representatives to discuss key areas affecting the farming industry, especially in the border area.

“I share the concerns of the industry with regard to the current prices which beef producers are receiving and appreciate that farmers, like everyone else, are operating in difficult times. I would hope that prices will recover in the coming months as we all want to see a profitable and sustainable local beef industry.

”The Minister added:

“I was also grateful for the opportunity of hearing, at first hand, the views of the farming representatives and to discuss areas such as co-operation on animal health issues on the island of Ireland which has the potential to help reduce and prevent the spread of animal disease, facilitate trade and improve the sustainability of farming.”


Sinn Féin MLA and Chair of the Health Committee Sue Ramsey has helped launch NI Association of Mental Health’s (NIAMH) guidance on stamping out stigma.

Ms Ramsey said,

“NIAMH is one of the largest charities here providing support services for people affected by mental ill health providing counselling, supported housing, day support and advocacy.

“During Mental Health Week we held an event, which was a fun way of raising awareness around mental health issues. It seems to me that momentum is growing and that finally we are beginning to talk about mental health in an open and honest way.

“The stark reality is that 1 in 4 of us will be affected at some point in our lives by a mental health issue. So mental ill health is common - we will either suffer from it at some stage or a member of our family will, or one of our friends.

“However, there is still a stigma associated with mental ill health. This stigma can act as a barrier for people affected coming forward and seeking help. It can also make recovery more difficult when people experience negative reactions from family, work colleagues or neighbours.

“These negative views and stereotyping lead to people being isolated and discriminated against and it is therefore essential that we all work towards breaking down these barriers and putting an end to the silence.

NIAMH “Stamp out Stigma” campaign will help address some of the issues highlighted and allow people with mental heath issues the confidence to come forward and get the proper treatment to lead a normal life again.”


 Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, who is also the chair of the Justice Committee, has stated the comments made by the Attorney General, John Larkin, cast doubt over the ability to ensure his personal opinions do not interfere or cloud any assertion he makes in regards to legal issues arising from the ongoing debate on abortion.

Speaking today Mr McCartney said:

“The Attorney Generals comments were in my view totally wrong and wholly inappropriate.

“While I understand these comments were made before he took up his current position, they will inevitably cast doubt over whether or not he has the ability, on this particular issue, to ensure his personal opinions do not interfere or cloud any assertion he makes with in regard to legal issues arising from the ongoing debate on abortion.

“Prior to the media reporting of these earlier public comments by Mr Larkin, the Justice Committee were considering whether or not it would be appropriate to take up his offer to act as counsel to the Committee when they meet with the representatives of the Marie Stopes Clinic. This intervention would not be appropriate.

“The opening of the Marie Stopes clinic has generated controversy.  It has also generated a  wide debate about many important issues. Comments such as those attributed to Mr Larkin do not help the debate.  What we need is to continue to debate these important issues in a calm and reasoned manner and ensure that the rights of everyone involved are protected in the best possible way.”


 Sinn Féin MLA for South Antrim Mitchel McLaughlin has slammed those behind an attack on Glenavy Orange Hall.

Speaking today Mr McLaughlin said:

“The attempted burning down of the Glenavy Orange hall is nothing but a sectarian action which is to be condemned outright.

“It is the fourth attack on this hall in a number of months and serves no purpose but to heighten tensions and attempt to damage the good community relations in the town.

“I would call on anyone who saw anything suspicious  in and around the Orange Hall to bring that information to the PSNI.”


Sinn Féin the only party in the North firmly opposed to austerity - McGuinness


Senator Kathryn Reilly, Mary Lou McDOnald TD & Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD