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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



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Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Poverty, Francie Molloy MLA (Mid-Ulster) has called for the issue of fuel poverty to be addressed as a matter of urgency across the board but in particular amongst our elderly population.

Speaking in the wake of a motion on the in the Assembly yesterday Mr Molloy said:
“It is ironic that a day after the Assembly debated the need to address the issue of fuel poverty that we have the announcement by Firmus Energy that it intends to increase its gas prices by a whopping 35% on October 1st.

 

“This will impact more harshly on the elderly, cancer sufferers, low-income families and the unemployed.

 

“In fact, recent research by MacMillian Cancer support showed that patients receiving treatment for cancer are twice as likely to suffer fuel poverty as are those without the disease.

 

“But fuel poverty across society here is more acute than in the rest of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, because the gas and electricity companies here do not provide a cheaper tariff for cancer patients.

 

“Neither do they provide a cheaper tariff for those on low-incomes. Again this flies in the face of the experience in Britain and the South, where social tariffs were introduced to compel energy companies to redirect some of their vast profits towards reducing bills for those least able to pay.

 

“We need to see a similar approach taken here. Recession or not, all the energy companies are still making huge profits and it is unacceptable that they are doing so when fuel poverty in the North is as high as 40%.

 

“While energy prices are higher here, wages are lower, yet social tariffs have not been introduced. 

 

“The issue of fuel poverty is one that has been persistent for the past number of years and has been exacerbated by increasing cost of living and rising unemployment.

“While the average price for 900 litres of home heating oil is £531.11, the basic rate of state pension is £102. The maths is very easy – it costs pensioners over five week’s pension for one tank of oil.

“The last two winters have been exceptionally severe. If this trend continues there is no doubt that elderly people within our society will die as a result of the cold.

“This issue is not just about the cost of fuel but about the effects that increasing fuel prices have on the entire economy of this region. Increasing fuel costs to manufacturers, retailers and services are also passed on to the consumer. Fuel poverty related illnesses also result in increased cost to our health service and cold related deaths. We need to identify ways to alleviate increasing Energy costs including the demand for the introduction of social tariffs to assist those most vulnerable in our society.CRÍOCH

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Commenting on an SDLP motion coming before the Assembly on Tuesday 20th September calling for a new draft Programme for Government (PfG), Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Conor Murphy said:
 
"Even the SDLP should know that governments plan projects and project spending a number of years in advance. To suggest that a Budget that was only approved by the Assembly a little over six months ago is no longer applicable to the present economic conditions shows that political party’s naivety in the extreme.
 
“Hokey Kokey politics may suit a party that has no coherent economic policies but suggesting that those of us committed to delivering good government to the people should adopt its approach is just not realistic.
 
“All Ministers in the Executive – including the SDLP – agreed the Budget which was then voted on and ratified by a majority in the Assembly. Within the budget process there are regular Monitoring Rounds where all unspent Departmental monies are surrendered and redistributed to those Departments most in need. Therefore there is already a mechanism built into the budget process which allows flexibility in changing circumstances.
 
As for the new draft PfG once more the SDLP is being disingenuous with its call in the full knowledge that the 2008/2011 PfG is due to expire and a new one is presently being formulated.
 
“Rather than seek cheap headlines with no substance, the SDLP would better serve the people of the North by acting responsibly as a partner in government rather than in a semi-detached manner that plays no positive role in delivering for the people.

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Enhancing all-Ireland co-operation on education is key to ensuring that all our children reach their full potential, Sinn Féin education spokesperson Daithi McKay has said.

Mr. McKay was speaking ahead of a North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) sectoral meeting on education, to be held in Armagh on Wednesday.

He commented: “I welcome the fact that Sinn Féin Education minister John O’Dowd and his Dublin counterpart Ruairi Quinn will be discussing a number of issues which are crucial to the future of education on this island and the ability of our young people to reach their full potential.

“The ongoing work of the NSMC is vitally important in helping to break down barriers and disseminate good practice throughout the island and that is particularly important within education.

“Every young person right across this island has the right to leave school with the skills and qualifications, especially in literacy and numeracy, that are crucial to their life prospects – and to the success of our economy.

“We must eradicate whatever barriers that exist towards achieving that aim and the NSMC will be exploring a number of areas, including the difficulties faced by young people in terms of accessing higher education opportunities on the other side of the border.

“The problems faced by young teachers when it comes to securing employment in the other jurisdiction will also be discussed and both Ministers will move forward to the next stage of the Joint study on Education Co-operation which will indentify practical measures to enhance North South co-operation in a way which will help us deliver the kind of world-leading education service across this island which our young people deserve.”

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West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has welcomed news that Tesco has agreed to take the new superstore on the Opportunity Omagh development on the town’s Derry Road.

The local MP said:

 "I have been engaged in ongoing negotiations with the developer for over 3 years and am confident that the decision of Tesco to locate will be a catalyst for other end users to base themselves on this site.This will result in hundreds of additional jobs across all sectors.

"Tesco's decision ushers in the real prospect of progress on the Strathroy Link Road and the knock on this will have in terms of re-connecting communities and providing a linkage into the shared educational campus at Lisanelly is hugely important for the future development of Omagh.

"This is an excellent news story, especially given the dire economic climate that we are currently in and is a huge vote of confidence in the area and proof that Omagh and west Tyrone is a place to do business in.

Council Chairperson, Sinn Féin Couincillor, Frankie Donnelly added:

 “This is a major step forward for a massively important project for Omagh. The importance of the immediate boost and jobs for our local Construction sector from this £350m project, combined with the longer term sustainable job creation and infrastructure provision are vital to ensure that Omagh continues to grow and develop as a place for our people to live and work" CRÍOCH

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The Sinn Féin Dáil team have published a Private Members' motion on the Labour/Fine Gael Government's decision to sell a stake in the ESB.

The motion recognises the success of the ESB, its strategic importance to the State and calls on the Government to rescind its commitment to a programme of state asset disposals.

Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate Sinn Féin Deputy Leader and public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald said:

"The government's decision to sell off a stake in the ESB is an unnecessary and damaging fiscal measure. It is driven by an agenda of privatisation, supported by government and enforced by the EU/IMF Programme.

"Selling off a sizable chunk in the ESB will over time weaken investment in the network, increase prices and undermine the State’s strategic ability to manage its own energy needs.

"The ESB is self-financing, has paid €1.2 billion in dividends over the last nine years and contributed €2.2 billion to the Irish economy through purchases from Irish suppliers, taxes, rates, wages and dividends in 2010. This is not small change.

"Commercial semi states built up industry in this State and can again be used as a vehicle to foster and deliver sustainable innovation, training and job activation measures during the recessionary period and beyond.

Selling off the States most valuable assets to make a quick buck to pay off private debt is a gross mismanagement of the State’s remaining wealth.

"IMF programmes and EU policy-making promotes widespread privatisation of state companies and public services yet this agenda does not result in a positive outcome for citizens."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, Sandra McLellan, has today congratulated the victorious senior footballers of Dublin and minor footballers of Tipperary on their all-Ireland success.

Speaking in Dublin after watching the games Deputy McLellan said:

“I think today’s finals will go down as the most memorable in recent years, with fantastic skill and effort on display and dramatic late comebacks in both games. The climax in the senior game was sensational with a last minute point from goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton securing the first senior all-Ireland in sixteen years for the Dubs.

“Tipperary’s victory in the minor final marks a fantastic return for the efforts of the football community in the county. Both teams, their managers and staff, and of course their fans deserve every congratulation. Comhghairdeachas.”

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Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has slammed Minister Michael Noonan’s announcement that the government will not implement burden-sharing with senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank.
Deputy Doherty said:

“Today’s announcement that there will be no burden sharing with senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank is a further smack in the face to taxpayers who are already struggling to cope.

“As a result of this decision taxpayers’ money will be used on 2nd November to pay out €700 million to an unsecured, unguaranteed senior bondholder in Anglo Irish Bank.

“While I welcome the Minister’s stated intention to seek negotiations with regards to the bank’s promissory notes, it is clear from its record that this is a government that talks the talk but does not walk the walk.

“Today’s decision by the government has resulted in them abandoning the only financial policy that differentiated them from Fianna Fáil. It is clear now that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have sold taxpayers down the river and condemned us to debt for generations to come.

“Citizens should not be forced to pay for the debt of private banks. Sinn Féin would not put one cent more into Anglo Irish Bank and would ensure that the bankers and the bondholders shoulder their fair share of the burden. Public money should be used for social and economic recovery. I am appealing to Fine Gael and Labour to stick by their electoral promises and stand up for ordinary people, not financial speculators.”

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Several leaders of Batasuna, the Basque pro-independence party, have been imprisoned for periods of 8-10 years by the Spanish National Court. The trials under the ‘Parties’ act were overtly political. The legislation and the prosecutions arising from it aim to prevent Basque activists from organising politically in support of their political objectives.

One of those imprisoned to 10 years is Basque leader Arnaldo Otegi.

Sinn Féin has been involved for several years with Batasuna activists in relaying to them the party’s experiences of peace building in Ireland. Sinn Féin MLA's Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey along with Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún have been directly involved in this. Commenting on the trials, in a joint statement with Raymond McCartney, Sinn Féin’s Assembly spokesperson on International Affairs, they said:

Democratic rights must prevail

“Arnaldo Otegi’s credentials as a peacemaker are unchallengeable. He is to be commended. He and his senior party colleagues have been central to the painstaking rebuilding of the peace process in the Basque Country. This has advanced significantly over the past two years as a result of the unilateral actions taken by Basque activists and the intensive political work conducted by Batasuna which created the conditions in which this could happen. That is a unilateral, permanent general and verifiable ceasefire by ETA and a commitment by Basque political activists to an exclusively peaceful and democratic strategy in pursuit of political objectives.

“Today, after being sentenced. Otegi reiterated his support for these approaches and urged all others to do likewise.

“Regrettably the authorities in Madrid have failed to step up to the plate in respect of their responsibilities. They have refused to grasp the enormous opportunity for lasting peace created by Otegi, his colleagues and others. Madrid needs to reverse this negative, irresponsibleand politically debilitating approach. Democratic rights must prevail. Basque political activists must be accorded their democratic right to organise politically. The electorate must be accorded the right to vote for parties and candidates of their choice. Otegi and his colleagues must be released."

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