Be part of building a new republic

Become a Sinn Féin Online Supporter

Top Stories

Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015

Some sights and sounds from the Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare on June 21, 2015. Main speaker Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD. During the course of her speech she talked about the need for a fair economic recovery north and south; demanded the British to come clean about collusion; and expressed solidarity with the people of Greece.

Martin McGuinness speaking at Stormont said that Sinn Féin's conditional support for the budget bill will create the space to resolve outstanding issues and ensure the executive has workable and sustainable finances and see the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.


Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan of taking the side of EU elite against people...



Latest Statements

Toggle

The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA MP, has condemned the ongoing attacks and intimidation which saw offices and homes attacked last night by loyalists.

Speaking today Mr McGuinness said:

“The attacks overnight are wrong and need to be condemned outright. There is no justification whatsoever for these type of actions.

“Beyond the scenes at Belfast City Hall we have seen two party offices targeted in arson attacks, a family home paint bombed and Alliance Cllr Laura McNamee still under threat. Further to this Gerry Kelly has also received a death threat.

“This is an attack on the democratic decision taken in Belfast City Hall by those who are democratically elected to represent the people of this city.

“Political unionism needs to accept that. They need to call for an end to these protests and for those involved to step back.”

Toggle

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the massive Budget cuts to be imposed on the Health services in 2013 will be devastating.

He said:

“The coalition is going to take a shocking €781 million out of the health budget in 2013.

“Fine Gael and Labour are destroying our health services.

“When they cut over €750 million out of Health for 2012, on top of the €1 billion cut in 2011, we said it was unsustainable and would cause huge damage to the health services.

“They then cut a further €130 million last August. And only this week Minister Reilly had to ask the Dáil for an additional €360 million supplementary estimate to prevent services collapsing before the end of 2012.

“Now Minister Reilly and his Cabinet colleagues are imposing a further massive cut – again unsustainable, again delivering hammer blows to our public health services.

“This government promised free GP care for all yet they are now planning to impose further restrictions on access to the medical card in 2013 so that fewer of even the most needy will have access to free GP care.

“This Government’s failed austerity programme has resulted in the savage cutting of 950,000 home help hours in 2012. Far from restoring these vitally needed hours to some of our most vulnerable citizens, the Fine Gael/Labour spending cuts in 2013 will mean more home help cuts, despite junior Minister Kathleen Lynch’s vague claim that there is a commitment to ‘restore’ these services.

“Anyone relying on a Labour junior Minister to deliver on that promise after this budget is living in cloud cuckoo land.”

ENDS

Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin's speech follows:

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson
The members of the Coalition Government and all who support them in this Oireachtas should hang their heads in shame at the disgraceful Budget they have introduced.
For the members of the Labour Party in particular it is a day of shame. Where now are their claims to be the protectors of the vulnerable?
A leading member of the Labour Party and of Democratic Left and the Workers Party before that, once famously had a bonfire of documents in his back garden. Members of the Labour Party today must be regretting that they did not burn every one of the posters they put up all over the country in the last week of the 2011 General Election campaign: ‘Protect Child Benefit – Vote Labour’.
Even the political opponents of Fine Gael and Labour are shocked at the extent of their attacks on children, on the poor, on the sick, on the old, on the disabled and on financially struggling families.
Minister Noonan, with his talent for stating the blindingly obvious, said the Irish financial crisis could be summed up in one word ‘debt’. He then proceeded to pile more debt on household budgets that have already gone beyond breaking point.
The cuts to Child Benefit represent the single worst assault in decades on the incomes of families with children, hitting low to middle income families worst of all. And this in the wake of the Children’s referendum when Fine Gael and Labour claimed to be defenders of children’s rights.
I want to deplore the cynical spin from the Government – repeated by many media outlets – that the cut to Child Benefit is €10 per month. It is far worse – it is €10 per month for the first and second child, €18 for the third and €20 for the fourth and subsequent children. That’s a €58 monthly cut for a family of four and €98 for a family of six.
Have the members of the Government any conception of the impact of such cuts on struggling families? Tens of thousands of families rely on these payments to pay monthly bills that keep their children fed, clothed, in school and with a roof over their heads. And then, among the cruellest cuts, the Government imposes a reduction in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, severely punishing the most needy families. It was a children’s footwear tax that brought down a previous Fine Gael-led Coalition. Are there any brave souls among the Fine Gael and Labour deputies who will stand against these cuts?
These families will also be hit by the so-called Property Tax. It is not a Property Tax; it is a Family Home Tax. It is unsustainable debt piled on unsustainable debt for families across this State. I believe it will be resisted and opposed even more strongly than the Household Charge and I call on the Government, even now, to step back from the brink and not to proceed with it. I urge maximum opposition across the State to this cruel measure. Tax wealth not family homes.
There is a cynical but futile attempt at deception about the true impact of this Budget. That began with the withholding of the budget documents during Minister Noonan’s speech. It is being kept up across all Departments. And none is more farcical than the Department of Health.
Minister Howlin tried to give the impression that spending on Health would increase when the truth is that cuts of €781 million are going to be imposed in 2013.
Fine Gael and Labour are destroying our health services.
When they cut over €750 million out of Health for 2012, on top of the €1 billion cut in 2011, we said it was unsustainable and would cause huge damage to the health services.
They then cut a further €130 million last August. And only this week Minister Reilly had to ask the Dáil for an additional €360 million supplementary estimate to prevent services collapsing before the end of 2012. Next week we will have the bizarre spectacle of Minister Reilly coming into the Oireachtas Health Committee to address his supplementary estimate for 2012 just as he is planning to impose further unsustainable cuts for 2013.
Minister Reilly and his Cabinet colleagues are imposing massive cuts that again are unsustainable and will deliver further hammer blows to our public health services.
This Government promised free GP care for all yet they are now planning to impose further restrictions on access to the medical card in 2013 so that fewer of even the most needy will have access to free GP care. So much for the trumpeted so-called health reforms of Fine Gael and the Labour Party.
This Government’s failed austerity programme has resulted in the savage cutting of 950,000 home help hours in 2012. Far from restoring these vitally needed hours to some of our most vulnerable citizens, the Fine Gael/Labour spending cuts in 2013 will mean more home help cuts, despite junior Minister Kathleen Lynch’s vague claim that there is a commitment to ‘restore’ these services. Anyone relying on a Labour junior Minister to deliver on that promise after this Budget is living in cloud cuckoo land.
I want to describe the reality of those home help cuts with some examples. I cited them to the Health Minister in Committee last week and I do so again now.
In my own constituency people with disabilities and older people met last Saturday in Cavan town to protest at these cuts. One local example they have given me is a 94 year old man whose home help hours have been halved from 11 hours a week to five.
I have received a representation on behalf of a 99-year old man in County Mayo who is living alone and who has had his three hours home help per week cut to two.
In County Cork my colleague Deputy McLellan tells me of a woman aged 82 who lives alone, suffered clots on her lung earlier this year, requires oxygen on a 24-hour basis, takes medication for her breathing twice a day and is also on Warfarin. She had 1 hour home help 4 mornings per week and a half hour in the evening and also 2 night visits per week to help with oxygen. Her morning home help visits are being cut by 15 minutes per day and the night time visits are being cut altogether.
In Galway we have seen a mother completely robbed of her 5 hours a week home help as she tries to provide 24/7 care for her severely disabled 6-year-old son. This was done without any assessment.
It seems that parents of children with severe disabilities are being especially badly affected.
In Limerick another mother with a severely disabled son had her hours cut by half. I note that Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan has told the Limerick Leader that the cut to this family was not right. Where stands that junior Minister now in the light of this Budget?
Both Labour and Fine Gael vehemently opposed the prescription charges for medical card holders imposed by Mary Harney – now they have TREBLED those charges to €1.50 per item and increased the monthly maximum payment from €10 per month to €19.50 per month.
Health Minister James Reilly has failed to deliver the promised reductions in the exorbitant price of medicines in this State – instead he is passing the cost on to patients with higher prescription charges and the increase of the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €132 to €144 per month.
This latter cut is yet another attack on those families and individuals on the margins of poverty. These are people whose incomes are just above the threshold for qualification for the medical card. They must bear the full cost of GP visits and of medication – now up to €144 per month. They are facing the full range of cuts in this Budget – especially the PRSI increases and the Child Benefit reductions.
The health needs of older people in particular are attacked in this Budget. People over 70 with an income of between €600 and €700 per week will lose their medical card and will instead receive the GP-only card.
This Budget is a recipe for deeper poverty and poorer health, especially for low to middle income families with children and for older people.
We reject this Budget. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those who bear the brunt of its attacks and we will campaign and work ever more vigorously for a real alternative, a true Republic in this land and equality for all the people of Ireland.
ENDS

Toggle

During a visit to Brussels by 43 members of Sinn Féin Republican Youth, the European Commission announced its long awaited proposals on youth unemployment.

 Martina Anderson MEP said

 "While I welcome any attempt by the European Commission to put the issue of youth unemployment on the agenda, it looks as though recent EU statements about youth unemployment have been a distraction to divert attention from inaction on the issue - particularly inaction by governments."

 "The Commission is offering no new resources to tackle youth unemployment. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions - Eurofound - puts the overall EU cost of not integrating young people into the labour market at €150bn per year. Yet rather than investing in young people, the EU prefers to throw billions at failed and failing banks."

 Megan Fearon, MLA

 "The European Commission announcement of its youth unemployment package is a great disappointment. We know that young people are bearing the brunt of austerity across the EU. What we need is action and investment in jobs and growth."

 Donnchadh O'Laoghaire, Sinn Féin Republican Youth

 "During our visit we were presented with evidence EU member states that have a proper youth guarantee system in place have far lower rates of youth unemployment than those that don't. The government must now act to introduce a genuine guarantee of a quality job or further training to young people as is the case in Austria and Finland."

ENDS

Toggle

Sinn Féin’s Youth Affairs Spokesperson Kathryn Reilly has labelled yesterday’s sixth austerity budget as yet another anti-youth budget.

Senator Reilly who is the youngest Oireachtas member said:

“Yesterday’s budget will bring only disappointment to young people across Ireland and our young people abroad who were watching hoping for signs of change, signs of progress.

“What they heard unfortunately was another aggressively anti-youth budget. The cuts to the youth sector are extremely disappointing and short-sighted but the whole thrust of the budget is anti-youth and anti-youth jobs.

“No plan to tackle youth unemployment and another €250 increase in student fees mean that for another year Fine Gael and Labour have decided on emigration as a policy choice.

“Sinn Féin showed there could be another way. The government could have taxed wealth but instead went after all workers through removing PRSI exemption for the first €127. A real stimulus is needed to get young people working.

“Worst of all the cutting of jobseekers’ benefits to six months is a signal to young workers not only that they have no future here but that they should emigrate earlier.”

ENDS

Toggle

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has addressed the European Parliament on the Rights of People with Disabilities in crisis.

 Speaking after the meeting Ms. Anderson said,

 “The Rights of People with Disabilities in crisis has been ratified by 154 countries including 24 from the EU.  Tonight’s meeting is intended to foster a dialogue between Reps of organisation of persons with disabilities MEPS and EU decision makers.

 “While there has been much work done on the rights of people with disabilities there is still a lot of work to be done in order to bring equality to their lives.

 “I was truly staggered to find that in the entire of the Brussels city centre only TWO restaurants were able to offer disability access for both restaurant and toilet facilities

 “This hard to believe as we end the year 2012 that people with disabilities are still denied choice and access to many public places, we must ensure in 2013 that we open up our entire society so that everyone able bodied and disabled have equal opportunities and access to facilities.

 “It is an also incredibly worrying trend that the economic crisis is being used as an excuse to implement a series of savage austerity cuts often encompassing vital funding for persons with disabilities.

 “In the North of Ireland, Disability Living Allowances (DLA) are being sliced and diced with privately owned Assessment Centres removing much need income for people with disabilities preventing many living independently. Not only is the Tory Government intent on lowering the amount of money they pay to disabled people they are also intent in stopping access to many benefits.

 “It is essential that in times of economic crisis, and NOT in spite of, that we that we seek to ensure that the most vulnerable and often marginalised sections of society are protected and not targeted for cuts.

Toggle

Speaking in advance of Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly's appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Public Service Oversight and Petitions Committee Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has again criticised the Department of Health's decision, in late November, to reject the recommendation of the Ombudsman following an investigation into the refusal of an application by a young Donegal man for aid under the Motorised Transport Grant scheme. Deputy Ó Caoláin claimed the decision represents further evidence of a blatant disregard for the Equal Status Act.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"This episode is a damning indictment of not only the Department’s, but the Government’s, attitude towards those who rely on their support. It is clearly further evidence of a blatant disregard for the Equal Status Act.
"This was the second time in four weeks that the Ombudsman had a recommendation rejected by the Department of Health. On 24th October the Department rejected a recommendation that the Mobility Allowance scheme be amended to remove the upper age limit. This rejection was supported by the government.
"This case arose from an application by a severely disabled young Donegal man for aid under the Motorised Transport Grant scheme. Following an investigation into the HSEs refusal of his application the Ombudsman found that the HSE's operation of the Motorised Transport Grant reflected an approach to disability which is unduly restrictive, improperly discriminatory and fails to have proper regard to the Equal Status Acts." ENDS

Toggle

Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has said that the plans announced by Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, to provide a fund for the insulation retrofitting of buildings falls far short of what is needed.

Deputy Colreavy said:
“Minister Howlin announced that he would make €35million available to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, to encourage the retrofitting industry. However, this proposal falls far short of what is needed to ensure that all homes and buildings are energy compliant, and to provide a much needed boost to the construction industry. Sinn Féin, in our Jobs Plan document released this year outlined what is needed for the area.

“In Sinn Féin’s document it was highlighted that there are 1.4 million houses in Ireland still in need of insulation retrofit and 130,000 non-residential buildings (according to the Construction Industry Federation).

“According to the Institute of International European Affairs (IIEA), approximately €14 billion of investment would be required to bring the residential housing stock to an average Building Energy Rating (BER) of C1.

“An investment of €10,000 per home would, according to the IIEA, save the average household approximately €1,496 per year. It would also help Ireland reach its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020.

“The extension of the carbon tax to cover solid fuel in today’s budget will place an extra burden on those trying to heat their homes. Due to the fact that so many homes have not been retrofitted for insulation will ensure that many will see their energy prices hike. It would surely have been prudent to ensure that retrofitting had been completed before extending the carbon tax. ”
ENDS

Toggle

Speaking after the launch of the Annual Policing Plan 2013 by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, Sinn Fein Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD condemned the confirmation from the Minister that 100 garda stations will be closed and 14 rural garda districts will be scrapped and remotely managed from urban centres next year. He described the plan as “a savage attack on rural Ireland”.
The Donegal North-East TD said:
“Today’s news that another hundred garda stations will be closed will be a further serious blow to rural Ireland as well as some urban communities who have already disproportionately suffered under the cuts regime imposed by this and the previous government. This savage attack will also see 14 rural garda districts closed in an effort to centralise the policing of huge swathes of rural Ireland in to urban areas.
“Both the Irish Farmers’ Association and the Garda Representatives Association, the representatives of rural Ireland and of the vast majority of gardaí, have repeatedly rejected these on-going station closures as they know the value of community policing. These are people who know rural communities unlike those who are in charge of drafting these proposals.
“The government are attempting to spin this reform of policing structures when we all know that is the austerity agenda at work here under the mask of ‘reform’.
“Sinn Féin put forward budget proposals this week demonstrating how the deficit could be closed without targeting frontline services. Rural communities should not have to suffer even more because of the fiscal ineptitude of the government.”
ends

Toggle

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has said today’s budget in an attack on working families. The cumulative effect of the cuts and tax increases on working families is worse than expected.

Deputy Doherty said:
"Today’s budget is anti-child, anti-family and anti-jobs. It is a budget that Fianna Fáil could be proud of.

"The decision to tax the family home is an inexcusable move at a time when so many families are struggling to pay mortgages. The charging of PRSI on all earnings if a worker earns more than €18,000 is unfair and will hit low and average working people hardest.

"The cuts to child benefit fly directly in the face of Labour’s pre-election promises. Even a small family will be hard hit by this decision. The increase in motor tax is another burden on families who need transport to get to work or school.

"Taken together these cuts and tax hikes could mean an average family could be hit with as much €1,600 and another €250 if they have a son or daughter in third-level education.

"Taken together all of these measures will push more families into financial hardship and poverty. It will also damage the local economy.

"Fine Gael and Labour promised to promote jobs and protect the most vulnerable. Budget 2013 will do the very the opposite. ”

Note to editor: Example below of a family with two incomes (both over €18,000) with three children.*
Child Benefit 456
PRSI 528.32
property tax 200,000 405
car tax 120
Student Contribution Increase 250
€1759
Child Benefit cuts of €10 each month on first two children and €18 a month on third child
Increase for both wage earners under new PRSI change.
Property tax on house valued at €200,000
Motor Tax increase on two band C 2009 family cars
Increase in student contribution €250
ends

Videos

Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015


Photos

Mickey Brady meeting anti-austerity campaigners.