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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised Minister Alan Kelly for dismissing opposition amendments which seek to make the Taxi Advisory Committee which will regulate the industry more accountable. He made his comments following a meeting of the Oireachtas Select Sub Committee on Transport which debated amendments to new taxi legislation.

Deputy Ellis;
"I had hoped that new legislation would give the opportunity to correct many of the problems with the industry but the Minister has shown no interest in anyone opinion other than his own. He has rejected all of the amendments which would have enhanced accountability and given more of a voice for the people working in the industry.

“I submitted amendments which would have made it a requirement that the Advisory Chair would meet with the Oireachtas Transport Committee. This would mean policy would be regularly reviewed and explored avoiding the need for large one off reviews as was required for this new Bill. This was rejected without any real argument by the Minister.

“Other amendments, such as putting in place more positions on the Advisory Committee for representatives of ordinary taxi drivers, was dismissed in a similar manner. Ordinary drivers are suffering badly in this economy and their voices are an essential ingredient in what is needed to form a sustainable and fit for purpose taxi industry.

“The Minister has once again decided to continue down the path set out by Minister Varadkar in other legislation to totally disregard the his government’s responsibility to uphold and build on the principals of the Good Friday Agreement by discrimination against former political prisoners.

“This is not the way government should form legislation, This Bill has been delayed, it has been messily put together and now it seems it will be rammed through without any consideration for new ideas or opinions. This is not the kind of new governing the people voted for."

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD criticised the Labour and Fine Gael’s record on education since entering government and called on the Taoiseach to intervene in the growing crisis in second level schools.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Parents of secondary school students are deeply worried about the uncertainty now facing their children following the ASTI rejecting of the Haddington Road Agreement.

“We all know that no teacher wants to strike or engage in industrial action. Teachers want to teach, and deliver the best education for their students.

“Education is being damaged by your government’s austerity approach. Guidance services have been withdrawn, teachers are spending less time teaching due to extra administrative duties and there has been a loss of classroom teachers from schools.

“These are the actions that have disrupted and damaged the education of our young people in recent years – not the actions of teachers.

“Rather than address the concerns of parents, students and teachers Minster Quinn has charged in like a schoolyard bully and escalated the situation by threatening compulsory redundancies.

“Minister Quinn has presided over the chaos of SUSI, broken promises on student fees and is now considering increasing primary school class sizes.

“There’ll certainly be no stars on his copybook. So the question is, will you listen to the concerns of parents and intervene to resolve this latest crisis in education?

“This government’s record in education has been disastrous. They’ve continued with the slash and burn policies of Fianna Fáil.

“Government has entrenched educational inequalities and as we understand it are considering a further €100 million in education cuts in the forthcoming budget.

“The government must address the concerns of parents and intervene to resolve this crisis in second level schools before it is escalated any further.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Justice and Equality spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Government to reconsider the Sinn Féin Equal Status (Amendment) Bill 2013 tabled in July.

The Donegal North East TD was speaking after signing a pledge to support equality proofing of this and all future budgets.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said;

“Back in July Sinn Féin brought forward amending legislation which sought to increase the categories of people that are protected under the current equality legislation.

“Unfortunately the government did not support our legislation and it fell. The result of this decision means that there is no protection in legislation for thousands of citizens as we head into budget 2014.

“Over recent years vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of our society have suffered most from austerity and cutbacks. Political promises to protect them have been broken time and again.

“I am delighted to sign the pledge in support of equality proofing of budgets today at Leinster House and I would urge the government to reconsider the bill tabled by Sinn Féin in July.”

ENDS

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In an opinion piece in this morning’s Irish News, Sinn Féin MLA and Minister for Culture, Arts & Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín slams British Secretary Teresa Villiers for her partisan and unhelpful involvement in local politics.

The North Belfast MLA said that while the British Government had adopted a disengagement attitude to the Peace Process, the British Secretary of State had sought to involve herself in an unhelpful way in the flags issue, parading and in dealing with the past.

Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“ A benign interpretation of her remarks could be nothing more than the careless consequence of an administration and NIO, which has chosen to step back from its co-equal responsibility for guaranteeing the Peace and Political Processes.

“However, I don’t accept the benign in this instance. The alternative is that her interventions represent a policy change with regard to stewardship of the Process. 

“Her recent political interventions have been partisan, provocative and unhelpful. They represent a calculated attempt by the NIO to set the parameters and influence the outcome of the Haas talks to favour a unionist bias.  This is unacceptable.”

The Sinn Féin MLA also said that Teresa Villiers had been silent when it came to the Orange Orders insistence to parade at Ardoyne and at the same time attempted to exonerate British State forces from their role in the conflict.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

“I know what it is like to live and work in an area picking up the pieces from the Orange marching season and the on-going loyalist agitation on the interface at Ardoyne.  And this community knows very well the impact of the actions of those who were charged with the responsibility of ‘upholding the law’ during the conflict

“She has also directly interfered in the work of my own Department by attempting to use court injunctions to prevent the release of inquest papers to bereaved families.

“The British Government needs to clarify whether its priorities have shifted from entrenching Agreements, to acquiescing to extreme right wing unionism.” CRÍOCH/END

*Below is the full text of Carál Ní Chuilín’s article:

“The present difficulties in our Peace Process sit against a backdrop of British government disengagement over an extended period. 

Ironically in recent times Theresa Villiers has sought to involve herself in the flags issue, parading and in dealing with the past.  Her interventions have been as unhelpful as they have been partisan.

 A benign interpretation of her remarks could be nothing more than the careless consequence of an administration and NIO, which has chosen to step back from its co-equal responsibility for guaranteeing the Peace and Political Processes.

However, I don’t accept the benign in this instance.

The alternative is that her interventions represent a policy change with regard to stewardship of the Process.  If that is the case then she should come clean, and make that explicit.  Then we will all know where we stand.

Her recent political interventions have been partisan, provocative and unhelpful.  They represent a calculated attempt by the NIO to set the parameters and influence the outcome of the Haas talks to favour a unionist bias.  This is unacceptable.

It may be too much to expect Theresa Villiers to take a leaf out of the book of Mo Mowlam, the only other woman to hold the position of British Secretary of State.

 During her tenure at the NIO, Mo Mowlam built her reputation on her non-partisan approach and her commitment to inclusivity.

 Not so Theresa Villiers. Following nine months of countless, and often illegal, demonstrations by unionists against a democratic decision by Belfast City Council on the flying of the Union Flag over City Hall, and after the disgraceful scenes as loyalist bands blatantly breached Parades Commission determinations, playing music outside St. Patrick’s Church and after the violence of the Orange Order in Ardoyne, Theresa Villiers felt the need to politically ‘intervene’.  

 She told republicans to call off a peaceful commemoration in Tyrone, apologised for not being ‘tougher’ a year ago in response to a query about the naming of a park after Raymond McCreesh. She has also directly interfered in the work of my own Department by attempting to use court injunctions to prevent the release of inquest papers to bereaved families.

Like everyone, she is entitled to her views. But that doesn’t make them acceptable.  She is not entitled to lecture republicans on the need for sensitivity when planning a commemorative march in Tyrone and yet have nothing to say about the impact on the community of the insistence by the Orange Order to parade at Ardoyne.

At the British Irish Association in Cambridge she asserted that any agreement on flags and parades, which might emerge from the Haas talks would require approval of her government.  Then in a telling addendum, crudely she attempted to exonerate British State forces from their role in the conflict insisting that those who upheld the law can never be put at the same level as those who opposed it. 

I represent the community of North Belfast.  I know what this community has endured during the conflict.  I know what it is like to live and work in an area picking up the pieces from the Orange marching season and the on-going loyalist agitation on the interface at Ardoyne.  And this community knows very well the impact of the actions of those who were charged with the responsibility of ‘upholding the law’ during the conflict

 The British government and its agencies were party to and participants in the conflict, Theresa, they were not bystanders!  Throughout the conflict they organised, armed and directed the UDA and UVF in their murder campaigns against Catholics, Nationalists and Republicans. Dealing with the past includes addressing that reality.

The Haas talks will present another opportunity to resolve some very difficult issues. This is a huge challenge to us all.  We need to approach these talks with an open mind and in listening mode, 

Standing faithfully by agreements that have been made, as Theresa Villiers claims her Government intends to do, requires equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem for all. Regrettably, we see no evidence to this effect from either her or her government.

Nevertheless, if we could agree these as underpinning principles for the all-party talks, we could be more confident of success than ever before.

 In the meantime the British Government needs to clarify whether its priorities have shifted from entrenching Agreements, to acquiescing to extreme right wing unionism.

Theresa Villiers could usefully address that key question when she next decides to make a political intervention.” CRÍOCH/END 

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Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann today launched ‘Bright Start’ - the Executive’s programme for affordable and integrated childcare.

Speaking at the launch the West Belfast MLA said:

“Good quality childcare which provides positive experiences and promotes children’s opportunities to develop is a starting point for lifelong achievement. 

“With rising costs and tough economic conditions many people are experiencing financial pressures.

“Bright Start and the key first actions, aim to address the need for a programme of affordable and integrated childcare.

“Work is a sure path out of disadvantage and we want Bright Start to help as many people as possible to take that path.  We have listened to parents and childcare providers to enable us to identify the priority needs of people living here.

“The first actions will include the creation of 3,000 places for school age childcare targeted at families in need and 2,000 places in the school estate. 

“It will also support a rural child-minder package to create an additional 1,000 places in rural locations, and develop the scheme, improving outcomes for disabled children.”

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Chris Hazzard MLA has called on the SDLP to explain why they voted with a DUP motion last night, which was designed to prevent the targeting of social need within our education system.Mr Hazzard said:                                  

"The SDLP have unfortunately taken the decision to abandon the principle of objective need as they have supported the DUPs attempts to sectarianise the issue of educational underachievement and support their  stance that free school meal entitlement is not an indicator of poverty.                                                                                           

"For some time now the SDLP have been telling us that they were advocates of using objective need when utilising resources to tackle the effect of poverty on our pupils learning experience, but last night they have apparently reneged on this fundamental principle of progressive politics.                                                                         

"In supporting this motion the SDLP have demonstrated their willingness to buy into the sectarian myth peddled by the DUP that mitigating the effects of social disadvantage can be analysed through the lens of community background – and that the community in most need is the Protestant community.                                                     

"This stands in stark contrast to the facts of the matter, indeed multi-deprivation figures regularly illustrate that while the effects of poverty are evidenced across all sections of our community, it is within predominantly Catholic wards that the effects of poverty are most keenly felt.                                                                               

"A recent Labour Force Report examining economic activity based on community background identified the local Catholic community as suffering from higher levels of economic inactivity, higher levels of unemployment, higher levels of single parent families and lower levels of home ownership.                                                             

"Sinn Féin remain committed to targeting social need regardless of creed. We want to give additional resources to schools regardless of the religion of the pupil and we will do that on the basis of need, not creed.                                                                                                

"The SDLP must come forward and clarify their position. Surely they could not have abandoned the principle of objective need and indeed the Catholic and Protestant working class all in one night."

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Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has revealed that figures from the Court Service have been brought to his attention, confirming that over 38% of garda summons issued by the courts from January 2009 to December 2012 have not been served.

Out of a total of 1, 688,349 Garda Summons issued, 646,509 were not served. Deputy Mac Lochlainn has written to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, seeking urgent clarification.

He said:

"John Wilson, one of the two whistle blowers who brought their concerns about how penalty points were being terminated by senior gardaí in to the public domain, has received the data from the Court Service and brought it to my attention.

"At first read these figures make startling reading. This will be a matter of real public concern. I have now written to the Minister for Justice seeking urgent clarification".


Court Service data on garda summons issued and summons not served

Year No. of Garda Summons Issued No. of Summons not served

Jan to Dec 2009 493,635 205,088

Jan to Dec 2010 472,932 183,357

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has criticised the lack of political leadership by Peter Robinson as First Minister.

Speaking in the Dáil today during Taoiseach’s Questions the Sinn Féin leader was scathing in his criticism of the DUP.

Teachta Adams said:

“These have not been good months for the political process. It is clear that there is a crisis within political loyalism and Unionism. We have seen months of organised sectarian violence on the streets of Belfast. The mayor of Belfast was attacked and assaulted while carrying out his civic duties. Hundreds of members of the PSNI have been injured.

“When Martin McGuinness stood shoulder to shoulder with Peter Robinson and the chief constable after so-called dissidents killed PSNI officers and British soldiers, he was leading in an assertive, robust and clear manner.

“Why has Peter Robinson not stood shoulder to shoulder with Martin McGuinness and done exactly the same thing?

“The reneging on the programme for Government commitment to the development of the site of the old prison in Long Kesh, as set out in the infamous letter from the USA, is clearly a big problem.

“There are many issues. There have been some recent arrests. I have done my best to brief the Government privately on all of these matters. The interventions of the British Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, over the summer months were most unhelpful.

“Obviously, we have to do a great deal of work to encourage unionism in all of its manifestations to be part of this process for change.  The Government, as a co-guarantor, has a duty and an obligation to make sure the British Government keeps to its obligations too.

“I commend to the Taoiseach the need for the Government to be very alert and vigilant. It needs to be reasonable and clear about how we proceed. There is an international agreement and the Government has a responsibility to ensure it is upheld.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said today’s decision by the Central Bank not to refer any further information to the Gardaí or Director of Corporate Enforcement goes against the public interest.

Deputy Doherty said:

“This summer public opinion was shocked by the nature and tone of the Anglo recordings. Only a small sample of these was released to the public but their effect was electric. Clearly the public expected something to come of the scandal and for further reports to be sent to the Gardaí and Director of Corporate Enforcement.

“I will be asking Governor Honohan tomorrow in the Finance Committee why the Central Bank has chosen not to send any further reports to the authorities. We must recall that the Central Bank has known about these tapes since 2009.

“The public expected to see action taken after the Anglo tapes. It seems the Central Bank have decided to let the storm blow over. That is an unacceptable approach and is clearly not in the public interest. There seems no reason why reports could not have been filed.

“This attitude from the Central Bank shows too why Anglo must not be allowed to be exempted from the remit of the Banking Inquiry.”

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has said the announcement of a reduction in state aid to disadvantaged areas is a bombshell and a snub to the hopes of the South East.

Senator Cullinane was speaking after Minister Richard Bruton appeared at the Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Committee.

He said;

‘The minister today has dropped a bombshell that state aid supports to the most disadvantaged areas will be reduced. The economic downturn has impacted differentially across the state.

“Areas such as the South East have the highest levels of disadvantage, highest levels of job losses and the lowest rates of investment. The IDA continually fails to meet their own limited region target of having 50% of investment outside of Dublin and Cork.

“This is a snub to the committee’s recommendations and the hopes of the South East. It will impact on disadvantaged areas. The minister needs to stand up for these regions and put in place supports to ensure that regions such as the south east can deliver economic and jobs growth.”

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Speaking in the Dail on the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said that the austerity policies of the Fine Gael/Labour Government are perpetuating huge levels unemployment, emigration and poverty among rural communities.

Mr Adams said that austerity was stripping rural communities of schools, guidance counsellors, hospitals, post-offices and Garda stations. He added that new taxes and charges such as the property tax, VAT increases, motor tax increases and septic tank charges have increased the pressure.

“In marked contrast to the positivity evident at the Ploughing Championships, the social fabric of rural Ireland is being undermined with a growth in isolation, loneliness and suicide. The second biggest numbers for suicide are among those working in agriculture”, he said.

Asking the Taoiseach whether his Government’s plan for rural Ireland was merely more cuts, he urged him to introduce measures such as a jobs retention fund for small businesses, incentives to local producers and specific initiatives to provide young people with job opportunities and to give emigrants a reason to return to Ireland.

Mr Adams said the forthcoming Budget was an opportunity to support rural Ireland by introducing measures which would retain and create jobs, tackle unemployment and emigration and said rural Ireland urgently needed a break from the devastating impact of austerity agenda.

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has called on Minister Simon Coveney to implement the most radical redistribution of farm payments allowable within the parameters of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.

Deputy Ferris, in a Dáil question, pointed out that there was no evidence to justify the discrepancy between payments on the basis of farm productivity.

Deputy Ferris said;

“Statistics on stocking density prove that there is very little difference between livestock farmers on less than €5,000 a year, and the small number of recipients on over €50,000. I would hope therefore that the Minister ensures that there is the greatest flexibility on behalf of the vast majority of those on low payments, rather than the 2% of farmers at the upper end of the scale.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin's East Derry MLA, Cathal Ó hOisín has challenged Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to explain his reluctance to seek additional fiscal powers for the Assembly.

Cathal Ó hOisín said:

"In response to a question that I put to the Finance Minister it was disappointing that Mr Hamiliton failed to show any ambition or self-confidence when he declared that in his opinion it would be 'unwise to seek devolution of any other substantial tax'.

"Commenting on recent research by NIVCA using the Scottish and Welsh approach to identify the potential of enhanced fiscal powers for the North, Mr. Hamilton was dismisive claiming that 'Financial accountability' has been a major focus for Scotland and Wales whilst in contrast we have, 'unapologetically, taken an economic focus thus far'.

"Can the Finance Minister please explain how you can separate 'economic focus' from 'financial accountability'? It appears that DUP Finance Ministers are incapable of showing any imagination or ambition when it comes to plotting our economic future. Only when we take responsibility for as much of our own finances as is possible will we be able to design economic policies fit for the special circumstances pertaining here.

"We cannot continue to administer decisions taken by mandarins in Whitehall who have no understanding of the needs of our economy. It's time that we become what the people elected us to be - governors and legislators and not mere administrators."

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Speaking at The Ploughing today, Sinn Féin's EU candidate for the North West and North Leinster, Cllr Matt Carthy said:

“It is great to see that the Ploughing continues to be such a marvellous success, despite the difficulties being faced by the rural population at present.

“Walking around here today, talking to people who work in agriculture and to those who live in rural Ireland and work outside of agriculture, I am struck by their similar worries about how the countryside is being stripped of services.

“The District Veterinary Offices are gone, the Teagasc offices are fewer, the post offices are being closed and even the garda stations are shutting down. People feel forgotten and neglected.

“Older people and those living alone are particularly vulnerable and do not feel secure in their own homes.

“Sinn Féin is standing with communities fighting to retain services in health and education and to propose alternatives to the harsh austerity measures of the coalition government. We need to protect services, create jobs and protect our rural communities. Sinn Féin's alternative budget will

put forward ways to do this without targetting those who have already suffered enough in this recession.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has today said that new figures on homelessness and rough sleeping from the Simon Community give lie to the government's claims they are committed to ending homelessness by 2016. He made his comments as The Simon Community; a leading charity dealing with homelessness, released figures that show rough sleeping has gone up by 88% in just one year.

Deputy Ellis continued;

"This is another in a spate of recent figures released by housing organisations, which show levels of homelessness at a record high and growing. The last figures released on rough sleep showed just less than half the level of growth these figures show which highlights the alarming rate at which things are getting worse.

The government may have made much of their commitment to the very realisable goal of ending homelessness by 2016 but all of their policies indicate they are not serious about dealing with the problem at all. Homelessness is not going to be solved by organisations like Simon, great as they are. It will be solved a by dedicated government policy which provides necessary services and support as well as the most essential ingredient secure, adequate housing.

This government have slashed the housing budget and cut homelessness services and they intend to do so again in the upcoming budget. To end homelessness we need real investment which would not only tackle this terrible stain on our society but also create jobs and in the long run save money. The cost of homelessness is much greater than the cost of ending it."

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Sinn Féin’s Party Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has Fianna Fáil’s proposal to retain directly appointed Senators in the Seanad shows that they are not interested in real reform.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said Fianna Fáil is clearly intent on continuing its abuse of the Seanad for its own political ends.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;

“One of the biggest problems with the Seanad has been the abuse of the Taoiseach’s nominees.

“Bertie Ahern used the Taoiseach’s nominees as handy gifts for his political cronies.

“For example, Fianna Fáil General Secretary Seán Dorgan was appointed to a Seanad that sat for just one day and he got paid €5,000 for it. He was not the only one.

“Fianna Fáil rewarded friends and allies with Seanad seats. They were the biggest abusers of the nominees process and it seems they are set to continue that abuse as their proposals for ‘reform’ of the Seanad include a proposal for eight Seanators to be nominated by the government.

“This shows that Fianna Fáil is not interested in real reform. They are proposing to retain the most undemocratic method to fill Seanad seats and attempting to dress it up as reform.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Sports, Sandra McLellan TD, has commended the organisers of the Big Issue Homeless Leagues, and has called on the Government to consider hosting the Homeless World Cup in future.

Deputy McLellan was speaking after taking part in an awareness raising football match yesterday evening, between Parliamentarians and Leinster House staff, which was won by the Parliamentarians.

“The Street leagues and the Homeless World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for people who have been marginalised by society, to compete, and bring pride to their communities and their families. We have seen the performances of Irish teams in the Homeless World Cup improve year on year, but at a local level, these leagues do tremendous good, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to support these competitions this evening.

“Particularly in this time where homelessness is as big a problem as ever, it is timely to consider how much those who are homeless can offer our society.

“I have previously made the point that hosting the Homeless World Cup would send out an excellent message of inclusion to the homeless community in these difficult times. Ireland is more than capable of hosting it, and I again call on Minister Ring to consider supporting such an initiative.”

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Sinn Féin MLA’s Bronwyn McGahan and Declan McAleer have called on rural stakeholders to have their say on the new Rural Development Programme.  The two MLA’s have organised a public consultation next Thursday evening 3rd October in Kelly’s Inn, Garvaghey at 7pm.

 Ms. McGahan stated,

 “DARD has already hosted a number of public consultations across the North but given the population and rural nature of County Tyrone, we strongly felt it would be necessary to facilitate an additional opportunity for the public to have their say.  We jointly lobbied the Department of Agriculture to send officials to this meeting and they acceded to our request.

 “The consultation event will enable stake holders to have their say on the shape of the new programme so that it delivers the best outcomes for everyone living or working in rural areas.

 Declan Mc Aleer MLA added

 “The new programme has been developed in line with Europe 2020 strategic objectives and the EU’s rural development priorities, which includes recognition of the importance of measures to tackle poverty and social isolation in rural areas.

 “The consultation will also involve an open discussion with senior DARD officials and a report will be compiled and submitted to the Department as part of the consultation process. 

 “The Rural Development Programme is one of the most important strategies influencing the development of rural areas.  It is essential that we get it right so we strongly encourage everyone who has an interest in the future development of rural areas to come along’,

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Responding to the annual ‘What's Left Survey’ published by the Credit Unions this morning Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh said social welfare must not be cut and more should be done to promote decent wages.

Ó Snodaigh said;

“The credit union ‘What's Left Survey’ shows that 1.18 million adults have €50 or less left in their bank accounts after bills are paid each month, half of all adults are struggling to pay bills on time and growing numbers are cutting back on essentials such as food.

“It’s clear from the survey that the government must not cut social welfare again.

“In addition the government should do more to promote decent wages for those in employment. Schemes such as JobBridge and JobsPlus will have a lasting impact on wages in the jobs market. Jobsbridge displaces paid work by making thousands of workers available to employers for free for 18 months at a time. And the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed has expressed concerns that the JobsPlus supports are tied to fairly low wages.

“The current PRSI system for which the Labour Party Minister Joan Burton is responsible incentivises employers to split jobs into part-time positions in order to avail of lower PRSI rates.

“The Credit Union report is a stark warning to government. They must insulate the incomes of those on social welfare and those in low paid employment from any cuts in the upcoming budget.”

ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann will launch the newly re-named charity Brain Injury Matters today.

Speaking ahead of the launch the West Belfast MLA said:

“Brain Injury Matters supports over 120 people weekly through counselling, support and rehabilitation services and a further 130 every year through training and information.

“I commend the charity for its work and for the extensive range of support services it provides to local people.

“It provides everything from music therapy and counselling to the unique Young People's Network, which gives young survivors opportunities to improve their confidence in coping with an acquired brain injury.

“Brian Injury Matters bring help and hope to those whose lives have been so disrupted by these devastating injuries”

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