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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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Speaking from Tullamore in County Offaly today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said it is clear that the government is trying to negotiate its way out of a referendum on the Eurozone treaty which was forwarded to the government overnight.

Mr Adams said despite the thumbs up from the Troika yesterday the government’s austerity programme is having a devastating affect across the state.

He said:

“The government knows that a Eurozone Treaty which enshrines harsh austerity measures has little chance of ratification from the Irish people. Rather than fighting the case on behalf of the Irish people it is clear that the government is attempting to bypass the electorate by negotiating its way out of a referendum.

“Despite yesterday’s thumbs up from the Troika, the austerity programme being implemented by the government is having a devastating affect across the state as all economic indicators show.

“Unemployment and emigration continue to soar causing huge distress to the families affected. The comments from Minister Noonan yesterday regarding emigration have caused huge hurt particularly as his government’s policies are compounding the problem rather than relieving it.

“It is high time this government began standing up for the Irish people rather than capitulating to the diktats from Europe.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Padraig MacLochlainn has reacted angrily to the comments of Finance Minister Michael Noonan on the issue of emigration.

Speaking today Deputy MacLochlainn said the Minister’s comments have caused huge hurt throughout the state and that he should issue a public apology immediately.

He said:

“Minister Noonan’s comments regarding emigration being a lifestyle choice are a disgrace and he should issue a public apology immediately.

“Regardless of whether or not his comments were taken out of context the minister must recognise that comments such as these are causing huge hurt throughout the state as thousands of families have lost loved ones to forced emigration.

“His comments, coming at a time when the government has recommitted itself to its austerity programme, add insult to the injury as this policy will continue to force our young people to leave the country.

“Minister Noonan should apologise immediately.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has said there is growing alarm that the government is determined to introduce measures that would force the closure of small rural schools.

The Dublin South West TD made his comments after challenging Education Minister Ruairí Quinn during yesterday’s sitting of the Dáil.

Deputy Crowe said: “The OECD has acknowledged the importance of small schools in the sustainability and regeneration of rural Ireland. It drew attention to the important role of many small schools in isolated rural communities and emphasised that ‘educational quality and not school size per se’ should be the ‘main criterion’ for rationalisation.

“The new staffing schedules for small schools that were announced in December’s budget are, I believe, an underhanded attempt by the government to force the closure of many rural schools. The changes fail to take into account the needs of pupils, their parents and the wider community. The views of teachers working in these schools have also been ignored.

“I challenged the minister to explain what plans were in place should schools decide to amalgamate. Is there cooperation between the government departments to ensure new school buildings will be in place to accommodate increased numbers? Have problems such as multiple classes in one room, space issues and logistical problems been considered?

“Alternatives to closures and amalgamations should be considered and the possibility of repopulating existing schools rather than constantly expanding already larger schools, often with unsuitable temporary accommodation, should be considered.

“Schools of minority denominations and Irish medium schools should be treated with particular sensitivity. It is important that schools in Gaeltacht areas and those specialising in the teaching of the Irish language are protected.

“Any evaluation of small schools cannot be based on cost alone. Other criteria such as the quality of the educational experience, ensuring stable enrolment trends, the financial position of a school, accessibility and maintaining strong links with the community must all be considered.

“I have asked Minister Quinn to recognise the importance of small schools in rural Ireland and that any viability assessment must have a greater remit than just short-term savings.

“Financial concerns, taken in isolation, may present a potent argument for some who are in favour of closing small schools but this must be counterbalanced by many other considerations. These should include the adverse impact on the child who is being bussed to a different environment, the importance of the rural school in maintaining community cohesion and its role in the preservation of local history, culture, and folklore.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein EU spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has today said that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has effectively admitted that the government is negotiating a way-out of a referendum by asking for the word “preferably” to be added to the draft fiscal treaty.

The original version of the Treaty stated that the new rules “shall be transposed into constitutional law or equivalent” in countries taking part.

Speaking after a meeting of the Oireachtas European Union Affairs Committee today Senator Reilly said:

“Today, under pressure from Sinn Fein, the mask slipped and we can see as clear as crystal that the Irish government’s tactic in negotiations is simply to slip in a way of avoiding a referendum. Adding the word ‘preferably’ can only be done for one reason – to avoid the need for a referendum.

“Eamon Gilmore says he trusts the Irish people but we now know that behind closed doors in Brussels the mandate of the Irish negotiating team is to make sure that a referendum can be weaselled out of. The Tánaiste has effectively admitted this today.

“One must ask how much this has to do with the tighter connection between the European Stability Mechanism and any future bailouts. Austerity and Troika-inspired, FG and Labour implemented cuts are not producing anything except hardship for citizens. This treaty further enshrines these cuts as compulsory government policy and rather than fighting to resist them we see this government’s only concern is making sure the people don’t get their say.

“Sinn Fein will stand with the people and fight politically and legally if necessary to make sure the Irish people get their say on this austerity pact.” ENDS

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Sports and Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín today launched the 2012 NI Volunteers Bursary Scheme for local people volunteering at the 2012 Games in London.

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “Being a Games Maker will be a once in a lifetime experience. It will give local volunteers an opportunity to play their part in delivering the world’s largest sporting event."

The Minister continued: 

“I want everyone who wants to participate in the London 2012 Games to have the opportunity to do so. “I am launching this bursary scheme today to support local people with costs which may otherwise be a challenge to them accepting an offer to become a 2012 Games Maker. My Department has committed £30,000 to the scheme and other local partners have been invited to contribute to the fund to ensure that our Games Makers can take up this wonderful opportunity.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly, has stated that the BBC interview with a former RUC member, where he outlined how he was recruited with a lack of transparency and could not be held accountable under the mechanism in place for the PSNI vindicated clearly the position of Sinn Féin that this process has been ongoing within the PSNI  for a number of years.

Mr Kelly has called on the Chief Constable to urgently work with the Policing Board to address this serious issue.Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“The interview with the former RUC member has vindicated what Sinn Féin have stated now for a number of years. The PSNI have bypassed Patten in the recruitment of former members of the RUC who were in receipt of the generous Patten redundancy package and in doing so have actively undermined the Patten recommendations.

“The testimony of this former RUC member indicates that this is clearly not an isolated case.

“We have seen members of the RUC leave with huge payouts and, in some cases, be back working for the PSNI within weeks outside of the accountability mechanisms. The aren’t answerable to the Policing Board, the Ombudsman and do not have to an oath or abide by the PSNI code of ethics.

“Beyond this the way in which ex RUC members have been headhunted and recruited with no transparency raises further questions. It smacks of an old boys club approach by the PSNI.

“The PSNI have consistently stated that they did not have accurate figures on the number of ex RUC members who had been rehired in this way. These figures are now public.

“It is high time, with this issue finally reaching the headlines, that the Chief Constable and senior levels within the PSNI work with the Policing Board to ensure and end to this practice and the end to the active undermining of the Patten recommendations.”  

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced continuing support for local agri-food groups by awarding them almost £120,000 for the promotion of quality local food.

The funding has been allocated under the second tranche of the 2011/12 Regional Food Programme and will support 10 projects through to June 2012. As well as promoting local quality produce, the programme brings together several trade bodies in cross-cutting promotional activities and includes a pigmeat promotional campaign, activities at IFEX 2012, a school based agri-food challenge, food activities at Balmoral and county shows.

Commenting on the awards Minister O’Neill MLA said:

“This funding will help promote quality regional food and increase its consumption in Ireland and further afield. Previous projects funded through the Regional Food Programme have led to increased sales opportunities and new markets for many local producers and I believe this can be continued.”

The Minister added: 

“Whilst I recognise that the industry has proven to be resilient in the current economic climate and was one of the few sectors in any national region to exhibit growth last year, we need to remain focused on building future resilience and sustainability right across the agri-food supply chain. Promoting our quality produce is an integral part of this focus on food and all of this year’s successful applicants to the Regional Food Programme are to be congratulated on their efforts.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called on Health Minister Edwin Poots to outline what measures are being put in place to alleviate the problems at the Accident and Emergency Unit at Antrim Area Hospital.

Mr Mullan  stated,

“It is obvious that the closure of Whiteabbey and Mid Ulster Hospital has created a circumstance where the Antrim Area Hospital Accident and Emergency unit cannot cope despite the best effort of the staff there.

“I welcome the fact that the Minister has now acknowledged that waiting times at the unit are unacceptable and has promised measures to alleviate the problem. 

“It is unacceptable to both staff and patients that they are forced into the conditions that currently exist in the A&E at Antrim Area Hospital

“I am calling on the Minister to publically state exactly what measures he is proposing and the time frame in which they will be implemented. 

“I also believe that there needs to be a review of he recent closures right across the North so that the experience suffered by Antrim Area Hospital is not repeated in other hospitals.

“I have already tabled a motion in the Assembly to the Minister as what he intend to do to reverse the recent crisis in Antrim Area Hospital that has had an enormous impact on the morale of staff and the effectiveness of Accident and Emergency ambulance cover.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly, has stated that the BBC interview with a former RUC member, where he outlined how he was recruited with a lack of transparency and could not be held accountable under the mechanism in place for the PSNI vindicated clearly the position of Sinn Féin that this process has been ongoing within the PSNI  for a number of years.

Mr Kelly has called on the Chief Constable to urgently work with the Policing Board to address this serious issue.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“The interview with the former RUC member has vindicated what Sinn Féin have stated now for a number of years. The PSNI have bypassed Patten in the recruitment of former members of the RUC who were in receipt of the generous Patten redundancy package and in doing so have actively undermined the Patten recommendations.

“The testimony of this former RUC member indicates that this is clearly not an isolated case. 

“We have seen members of the RUC leave with huge payouts and, in some cases, be back working for the PSNI within weeks outside of the accountability mechanisms. The aren’t answerable to the Policing Board, the Ombudsman and do not have to an oath or abide by the PSNI code of ethics. 

“Beyond this the way in which ex RUC members have been headhunted and recruited with no transparency raises further questions. It smacks of an old boys club approach by the PSNI. 

“The PSNI have consistently stated that they did not have accurate figures on the number of ex RUC members who had been rehired in this way. These figures are now public.

“It is high time, with this issue finally reaching the headlines, that the Chief Constable and senior levels within the PSNI work with the Policing Board to ensure and end to this practice and the end to the active undermining of the Patten recommendations.”

Videos

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


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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media