Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has welcomed today reports that the Government will move the writs immediately for the by- elections in Waterford and Dublin South if it loses its Supreme Court appeal.
He said that this development ‘makes any action taken by Fine Gael against the Government irrelevant’, as it will be the Supreme Court challenge against the High Court judgement in favour of Pearse Doherty that will determine the holding of by-elections in Waterford and Dublin South and not any subsequent legal action taken by Fine Gael.
Senator Doherty said:
“If the Government loses the Supreme Court appeal, the judgement will have implications for Dublin South and Waterford. The Government has stated that it will move the writs immediately for both constituencies.
“From the outset I have said my case would force the Government to hold a by-election in Donegal South West before Christmas and would also force a by-election in Dublin South and Waterford. The Government’s statement today clearly shows us that the court will leave no wriggle room for more delaying tactics on the other two.
“It is unfortunate the Government has chosen this path, however, I am pleased to hear that it has finally made a clear commitment to moving the writs if it loses its case.
“It is therefore evident that any further action by opposition parties will become irrelevant. The belated actions of the Fine Gael party to mount a similar court challenge will be seen by an increasingly discerning public as no more than an opportunistic media stunt.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on RPA Alex Maskey has welcomed this evening’s progress on the Bill from Dawn Purvis to bring an end to dual mandates.
Speaking from the Assembly this evening Alex said;
“Sinn Féin believes it is vitally important to bring this process to an end in a speedy and efficient fashion.
Once again the DUP showed either their inability or unwillingness to end dual-mandates, despite their promises to the public prior to the last election.
In recent days the DUP party leader is advocating a series of measures, as he says, designed to cutback waste and save money for the public purse; yet this evening in the Chamber when they have the opportunity to make their own contribution they still want to allow their MLAs to retain their Council seats until the year 2014.
So either the DUP cant deliver their commitment or they wont; they now need to explain why they were the only party in the Assembly to oppose this Bill.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin has criticized the SDLP for ignoring important centenaries such as the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and other important historical events and siding with the DUP in a vote to only fund events to mark the centenary of 1912.
Last week, at a special meeting of the Development Committee, Council officers proposed that £1million gets ring-fenced (£600k from existing budgets) for a range of commemorative events relating to 2012.
Sinn Féin, in the context of the uncertain economic climate and a lack of detail as to where the £1m would be spent, asked for deferment on this proposal until there were in-depth party briefings.
Sinn Féin argued strongly the need for an inclusive look at a Decade of Centenaries of intense political significance on this island including James Connolly’s role in Belfast prior to 1916, The Somme, the 400th anniversary of The Plantation and The First Dáil as well as other significant events in the time ahead.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Conor Maskey said;
“We felt that our party’s suggestions to have greater debate around spending rate payers’ money in such difficult times were perfectly reasonable. Not least we should be examining where this money will be taken from within existing budgets (e.g. what events will suffer to realise this spend?).
“Investment in heritage tourism needs to be done in a visionary and imaginative way which will maximise tourism and provide jobs, regeneration and celebrate our history.
“A more inclusive approach to this issue would enable all parties to make valuable contributions on behalf of their constituents as we move into a very important Decade of Centenaries.
“We feel that core principles need to be established to ensure balance around these events and to critically analyse their importance, not just simply celebrate and commemorate.”
“I find it bizarre that the SDLP councillors, in a heartbeat, effectively pledged £1m to 2012 events without agreeing to having in-depth party discussions and ultimately ignoring the need for a plan and principles to be applied around significant events. They are effectively joining with the DUP in taking a narrow issue-by-issue approach to these extremely important events.”
“We believe that the SDLP are being lead by the nose by the worst elements of the DUP on these and many other vitally important issues in Belfast City Council.”
“Sinn Féin will continue to inject realism into this issue and ensure that Ireland’s other politically significant centenaries are dealt with appropriately. We will continue to battle for an inclusive strategy to deal with the forthcoming Decade of Centenaries.”
Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Martina Anderson has said she welcomes the SDLP move to ‘come onto United Ireland ground’.
Speaking today Martina said;
“So at their conference over the weekend the SDLP have gone from a party who are happy to still swear allegiance to a British Queen, a party that believed we were living in a ‘post-nationalist era’ to now advocating a United Ireland.
From Sinn Féin’s perspective the more shoulders to the wheel the better.
At the weekend we heard a lot of talk from the SDLP about the economy but no actual proposals; on one hand they told us they would oppose cuts yet on the other hand they say the wish to form a ‘centre ground’ alliance with none other than the party aligned to the British Tories.
Sinn Féin has set out our proposals for the economy in the north, it is disappointing that the DSD Minister for example didn’t take the weekend to outline what he plans to do in the time ahead. Sinn Féin believes, for example, that his department could generate up to £250 million pounds through exploring greater borrowing powers for the Housing, it would be interesting to hear from the Minister what he makes of that.
Nevertheless, Sinn Féin welcomes this latest SDLP move and encourages more and more parties to see the benefits of a United Ireland and join with us in achieving it.” CRÍOCH
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD has challenged the Labour Party to state whether they stand with the Government or with the trade unions and community sector on the timetable and scale of proposed cutbacks.
Deputy Ferris said: “In recent weeks Labour has agreed with the Government on the timetable to reduce the deficit to 3% by 2014. ICTU, Sinn Féin and a number of economists including the ESRI have rejected this as impractical. Labour has also proposed pay freezes and cuts in social welfare. Again, ourselves and the trade unions have opposed this.
“Labour has also allowed itself to be bullied into accepting the austerity template to the extent where it has failed to put forward a coherent strategy for growth. As the ICTU budget proposal and our own budget submission make clear there are ways to both protect social provisions and to stimulate the economy and create jobs and growth. One of those means is to use the National Pension Reserve.
“At a time when this Government is preparing an unprecedented assault on the citizens of this state, those who claim to have a better way need to make a stand. That also applies to the Labour Party. Are they part of the consensus which agrees on the timetable and scale of cuts to facilitate the bondholders, or are they part of an alternative consensus that will protect the ordinary people of this state and find a way out of the current crisis through an imaginative strategy for growth. ” ENDS
Newry and Armagh MLA and Sinn Féin spokesperson on Welfare Rights Mickey Brady has hit out at the latest proposals from the Tory/Lib.Dem coalition on welfare reform.
Mr Brady said
‘The latest proposals from the Tory led coalition highlights their disregard and negative attitude to the unemployed and disadvantaged within society.
‘Rather than focus on the core requirement to kick-start the economy and create the jobs that people are crying out for this latest attempt to introduce the failed American Welfare to Work scheme targets the most vulnerable in society. The Tory ideology honed on the playing fields of Oxford rather than in the social and economic realities here cannot be allowed to be disguised as an attempt to aid economic recovery’.
‘Their proposal to make people work one week, 30hours, in every 4 weeks in order to maintain their benefits is another nail in the coffin of the welfare benefits system. That there is no incentive within this plan for those in receipt of benefits to work leaves people open to exploitation and potentially forced into carrying out humiliating work for no reward’.
‘While it may be laudable to attempt to foster a work ethic, this is not the correct way to do so, and is simply another attack on the most vulnerable’.
Mr Brady continued
‘What is required are real jobs with appropriate levels of pay and sufficient child care provision’.
‘There should be no doubt left in anyone’s mind that this Tory led government wants the end of the welfare state and this latest proposal is a continuation of the Tory onslaught on those who are benefit dependent through no fault of their own’.
‘These proposed changes need to be resisted now before more draconian legislation which will again target the most vulnerable comes down the line’. ENDS
Commenting on a report to the Policing Board, Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee today, Sinn Féin Board Member Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) said:
“Figures presented to the Committee today are deeply disturbing, particularly in the context of our present economic situation when we are facing an onslaught on public services by the Tory/Lib.Dem coalition.
“The costs of Bonfires and Policing Parades are an indictment of the irrational Parades Commission Determinations. One day’s cost around bonfires was £154,000 while the cost of policing parades on one day totaled £246,000 but the largest expenditure was policing parades over the 11th to 14th July at £2.5million.
“These costs can not be justified and in the absence of the Loyal Orders willingness to engage wholeheartedly on the issue of contentious parades it is irresponsible for the Parades Commission to put forward determinations that from experience it should know will only result in a pressurised and unacceptably expensive Policing situation.
“It is incumbent, particularly in the present austere economic situation that the Parades Commission takes account of not only the societal costs of their determinations but the financial costs also.
Speaking this morning after meeting with EU Commissioner Ollie Rehn Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said he had informed the Commissioner that Sinn Féin will not be part of a consensus to cut €6 billion from the economy next year.
Deputy Ó Caoláin told Commissioner Rehn that the 2014 target for cutting the budget deficit to 3% of GDP is completely unrealistic and that he should go back to Europe with that message.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“I and my colleagues Deputy Arthur Morgan and Mary Lou McDonald this morning informed the European Commissioner Ollie Rehn that Sinn Féin will not be part of any consensus that seeks to cut €6 billion from the economy next year hitting low earners and vital public services hardest.
“Sinn Féin has put forward a fairer, better way which seeks to stimulate the economy in order to create jobs and reduce the deficit in a more natural manner. We advocate the creation of a Consensus for Recovery.
“We informed Commissioner Rehn that the 2014 target for reducing the budget deficit to 3% of GDP is completely unrealistic and unachievable. Furthermore we told him that it is our belief that the Government parties along with Fine Gael and Labour know that 2014 is unachievable and are simply trying to create a bluff in order to instil confidence in the international bond markets.
“This approach hasn’t worked as each time the Government announces more cutbacks the interest rates on Ireland’s borrowing goes up.
“Commissioner Rehn should go back to Europe with the message that Ireland is serious about cutting its deficit but that it cannot and will not be done by 2014. The parties know it can’t be done and there is certainly no consensus among the people of this state for savage cuts to service a bluff that is destined to failure.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has confirmed that well-known musician and current ‘Donegal Person of the Year’ Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh is to sign his nomination papers as he formally enters the by-election race in Donegal South West. Senator Doherty will sign the election papers at 11.30am at the court house in Letterkenny.
Commenting on her endorsement of Pearse, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh said;
“I have signed nomination papers endorsing Pearse Doherty as a candidate in the by election for Donegal South West. I wish to state that I am not affiliated with any political party. I fully support however, the stand that Senator Doherty took in order that the people of South West Donegal would be represented in the Dáil. This by-election will give my neighbours and I a voice, a voice that has been denied to the people of Donegal for much too long.”
Senator Doherty said;
"It is a real honour to be nominated by someone like Mairead who has brought everything which is good about Donegal to venues around the world. Mairead was deservedly awarded the title of Donegal Person of the year as she is a fantastic ambassador for our county.
Note to editor
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh achieved world wide fame as a musician with traditional group Altan. Mairéad is also a founder member of 'Cairdeas na bhFidleiri', which began over twenty-five years ago to promote, develop and keep alive the richness of the county.
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described Fine Gael’s plan to reduce the number of workers in the public service by 30,000 as “a plan to lengthen the dole queues”. He also challenged the Labour Party to state if it would go along with such a plan.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:
“Fine Gael wants to lay off 30,000 public services workers while at the same time improving public services. There is room for huge improvement in the way services are delivered and there is a need to eliminate waste. But to imagine that you can take 30,000 posts out of the public service and at the same time improve delivery to the public is pure fantasy.
“For example, Fine Gael’s document talks of having local authority officers respond to problems raised by residents within two days. Already local authorities are under-staffed and working at full stretch. It is ludicrous to suggest that they can be further denuded of staff and expected to provide faster, more efficient services.
“Fine Gael wants to hand over the health services to what it calls ‘competing insurance companies’ and sell off semi-state companies such as the ESB.
“This is essentially a plan to lengthen the dole queues. It takes no account of the leading role the public services can play in reviving the economy.
“The Labour Party should outline its position on this plan from its prospective coalition partner. Would Labour go along with it?” ENDS
Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on Minister Mary White to back up her call for pensions to be protected by committing to vote against the budget if pension cuts are included in it.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh also called on the Green Party to state its position on Social Protection Minister Eamon Ó Ciúv becoming Fianna Fáil’s director of elections for the Donegal South West by-election at such a crucial time leading up to the budget.
“Minister White’s statement ruling out pension cuts can’t be trusted without a commitment to vote against the budget if pension cuts are included in it. Talk is cheap, only votes count.
“Last week the Green Party said they were in favour of holding all the by-elections but when push came to shove they voted against their own stated position. So they can't be trusted when it comes to pensions either.
“Sinn Féin wants to see pensions protected. However, unlike the Greens, we also want to protect children, the unemployed, students, carers, minimum wage workers and other vulnerable sectors of society and not for electoral purposes but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
“Sinn Féin is the only party to produce a fully costed pre-budget submission that provides for all social welfare schemes, including state pensions, to be maintained at their current levels. In addition we have sourced the funding necessary to return the Christmas bonus payment to pensioners and other social welfare recipients.
“I would like to know how the Green Party feels about Eamon Ó Ciúv swanning off to Donegal for the by-election when he has such a critical job to do in terms of the upcoming budget.
“How the Minister can claim to be working to protect the most vulnerable in society while he’s in Donegal heading up a by-election challenge is beyond me.” ENDS
Responding to news that Brian Ó Domhnaill has been selected as the Fianna Fáil candidate for the Donegal South West By-election Senator Pearse Doherty said:
“Brian Ó Domhnaill is a nice fella but he simply cannot remove himself from this government which did everything in its power to prevent this by-election from taking place. If Senator Ó Domhnaill was to be elected on November 25th the reality is that his first act as TD would be to vote in favour of the budget which is due to cause even further havoc to families, businesses and communities in Donegal.
“Donegal South West has been neglected by this government and by their predecessors. Even during the years of the Celtic Tiger we were ignored in terms of fair investment for infrastructure, education and health services.
“Today, as a result of Fianna Fáil mismanagement, this county has 21,333 people on the dole. Thousands of our young people have emigrated. Small businesses are struggling to survive and families are fearful for their futures. The government’s answer is to further cut funding for vital services. If elected Brian Ó Domhnaill will be supporting that agenda.
“This constituency deserves better than that. We need a TD with the policies, the energy and the vision to deliver for the people of Donegal and who will help create a better, fairer Ireland. I believe that I have a track record which proves that I can be that TD.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has described the Government’s announcement of free cheese for people in need at Christmas as absurd and highly insulting.
Speaking during a break in a meeting of party activists in Dublin yesterday Deputy Ó Snodaigh said social welfare rates need to be retained at current levels in the upcoming budget while the Christmas bonus payment should be restored.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“The Government is about to hit the poorest sections of society with the toughest budget the state has ever seen and somehow believes that a block of cheese will ease their worries.
“This is the worst example yet of how far removed the silver spooned
Government TDs are from the harsh realities of living on the breadline.
It is an absurd announcement and highly insulting.
“If the Government was serious about helping the poorest sections of society then it would implement Sinn Féin’s budget proposals which have shown how revenue can be raised to retain social welfare payments at current levels and to reintroduce the Christmas bonus payment.
“The reality is that people are being forced into the hands of unscrupulous money lenders simply to feed and clothe their families. A block of cheese is not going to keep the wolves from the door.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe has called for the full implementation of the Hayes Report on the delays in processing x-rays and GP referral letters in Tallaght Hospital.
Councillor Crowe welcomed the report today but said the threatened €1 billion cuts to the HSE budget will lead to more problems at the hospital.
Councillor Crowe said:
“I welcome the Hayes Report on Tallaght Hospital and call for its full implementation. Tallaght is a fine hospital and its staff and patients deserve full support.
“I warned more than two years ago that there was a shortage of radiologists at Tallaght but my calls fell on deaf ears. Then at the time of the crisis the Department of Health had the nerve to say that they were unaware of a problem.
“The report vindicates the problems I raised at the time. It shows that there were staffing shortages in the radiology department and delays by the HSE in approving essential posts. Proper systems were not in place to manage GP referrals and patients faced undue delays, on top of the general waiting list faced by all patients.
“Worryingly, it has been reported that 7million x-rays were audited in preparation for this report indicating that this problem may not have been confined to Tallaght Hosptial.
“While the issues at Tallaght are being addressed the Fianna Fáil/Green Government’s threatened €1 billion cuts to the HSE in the 2011 Budget will lead to similar situations here and elsewhere.
“Administration and filing may be more efficient but, with inadequate staff numbers to follow up on x-rays and GP referrals, patients will experience ever longer waiting lists for treatment.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has expressed shock and disbelief at the news that the Department of Education has yet to spend almost half of its annual budget for school buildings with less than 2 months left of this year.
Senator Doherty said:
“The Government tells us on a daily basis how cuts will have to be made to education spending, while it is clearly unable to manage the funds it doeshave at its disposal. This is an obvious signal that something is drastically wrong in the Department of Education’s management of funds.
“We are continuously told how cuts must be made to education, how teachers for special needs children are a luxury we can not afford and how there is no money left in the pot for language support. We now learn that the Department of Education, with two months left in the year, has yet to spend almost €340 million of this years capital budget allocated for school buildings.
“There are almost 1,200 applications for major capital works currently with the department; the use of prefabs is widespread with a projected €25 million to be spent on rental this year. This is at a time when plumbers, builders and brick layers are crying out for work.
“The Department of Education’s remaining monies for this year should be used for the construction of much -needed school buildings, stimulating the economy by getting people back to work in the process. That opportunity is being wasted.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the Hayes Report on the delays in processing x-rays and GP referral letters in Tallaght Hospital and has called for the report’s full implementation. However, he said the threatened €1 billion cuts to the HSE will lead to similar situations.
“I welcome the Hayes Report on Tallaght Hospital and urge its full implementation. Tallaght is a fine hospital and its staff and patients deserve full support.
“The report shows that there were staffing shortages in the radiology department and delays by the HSE in approving essential posts. Proper systems were not in place to manage GP referrals and patients faced undue delays, on top of the general waiting list faced by all patients.
“While the issues at Tallaght are being addressed the Fianna Fáil/Green Government’s threatened €1 billion cuts to the HSE in the 2011 Budget will lead to similar situations there and elsewhere. This time administration and filing may be more efficient but, with inadequate staff numbers to follow up on x-rays and GP referrals, patients will experience ever longer waiting lists for treatment.” ENDS
Speaking today after a briefing with the Minister for Finance on the Government’s planned fiscal adjustment of €6 billion for 2011, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Arthur Morgan said four successive budgets of cuts to public spending have shown that austerity has failed.
“The Government has unveiled a plan to cut spending, not a plan to cut the deficit. If spending cuts could fix the problem, the problem would be fixed by now.
“This Government has failed and it has failed utterly. The cause for these inflated figures is the Government’s approach itself. Our arrival at this point is a direct consequence of the Government’s incompetence. Cutting the economy to death will not make it grow.
“Last year we were told a €7.5 billion adjustment would be made in the economy up to 2014, now it will be €15billion. We were told €3billion would be taken out in 2011, now we are told it will be €6 billion.
“The medicine prescribed by the Government to fix the economy is that which is killing it.
“Sinn Féin has produced an alternative to this. We have shown that the deficit can be reduced, without castrating public services. The orthodoxy of austerity has failed. Four successive budgets of massive cuts to public spending have proved this.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has urged that Irish citizens living abroad, as well as Irish citizens in the Six Counties, should be given the right to vote in the 2011 Presidential election. Deputy Ó Caoláin is this evening (Thursday, 4 November) addressing a public meeting in the London Irish Centre on voting rights for the Irish in Britain.
“The Taoiseach Brian Cowen has sought to recruit well-known and talented members of the Irish Diaspora to assist in Ireland’s economic recovery. Surely it would add more meaning and substance to that effort if he recognised that Irish citizens living abroad should have a voice in national democracy.
“This is especially important for the Irish in Britain. It has new relevance given the new wave of young Irish people forced to emigrate.
“The question is ‘Will Ireland live up to its claimed respect for its world-wide Diaspora, including the Irish in Britain, and grant its citizens living abroad the right to vote in Irish elections?’
“On 13 October I raised this issue in the Dáil with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen. I asked him if any consideration was being given to widening the electoral franchise to Irish citizens living outside the jurisdiction of the 26 Counties.
“The Taoiseach stated that he was not aware of any such proposal and he went on: “I am saying the onus is on those who propose it to come forward with some case for consideration. It is not for me to build their case.”
“The case has, of course, been made many times and over many years. But I welcome this invitation from the Taoiseach to make the case and to build the case.
“The current Programme for Government, agreed in October 2009, makes a commitment to establish an Independent Electoral Commission. Among the tasks of that Commission, according to the Government Programme, is to “make recommendations on the feasibility of extending the franchise for Presidential Elections to the Irish abroad”.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister for the Environment John Gormley to press for this commitment to be fulfilled. We will also be campaigning energetically for voting rights in Presidential elections for citizens in the Six Counties.
“In this country we would like to see people from the Irish community coming together to raise the issue here, and to actively campaign on it. We are not seeking to monopolise this issue as a party. Other parties in Ireland should be welcomed on board this campaign.” ENDS
Senator Pearse Doherty welcomed today the setting of the Donegal South West by election date but said it was a disgrace that the Government would proceed to appeal the ruling of Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns to the Supreme Court.
Commenting this morning after the announcement that the by election is planned to take place on Thursday the 25th of November, Senator Doherty said:
It is an outrage that following the President of the High Court Judge Kearn’s clear ruling that this government would have the audacity to challenge the recommendations of that ruling.
The government should accept the court’s judgement and proceed accordingly. The decision to take the case to the Supreme Court will cost additional expense to the taxpayer in the government’s attempt to obstruct the democratic rights of the people in Dublin South, Waterford and Donegal North East. Let’s call a spade a spade. This move is about keeping the present government in power.
Thursday the 25th is the date set for the Donegal South West by election. Unfortunately the government has chosen a day that will discommode many students studying away from home and those who are working outside of Donegal. Given that, I would urge people to get registered as soon as possible. The election is only 3 weeks away. In order that we get the best possible turnout on the day, all those who want to change the pattern of politics in this country and have their voice heard via the polling stations should waste no time in registering. ENDS
Commenting on the trial of Vincent McAnespie and Gerry McGeough which continues in Belfast this week, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
“It is now over three and a half years since the arrest of Vincent McAnespie and Gerry McGeough and their subsequent charging. As I stated at the time, this caused justifiable outrage among republicans throughout the border counties and beyond. These arrests came on the very day of the count in the Six-County Assembly elections. Both men had lived and travelled openly in the Six Counties for years, yet elements within the PSNI chose to haul them before the courts.
“These arrests and prosecutions should not have taken place. Former prisoners convicted for actions which took place long after those for which these two men have been charged have long since been released under the Good Friday Agreement.
“Vincent McAnespie is a highly respected member of the community in Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone. He is the father of six children and his wife is former Monaghan Sinn Féin County Councillor Brenda McAnespie, a valued colleague of mine. Their home was raided and extensively searched by members of the PSNI on the evening of 8 March 2007 when Vincent was arrested. This brought further distress to a family that suffered the loss of Vincent's brother Aidan McAnespie who was murdered by a British Army sniper at Aughnacloy in 1988.
“The arrest of Gerry McGeough, a candidate in the Assembly elections, at the count centre, was equally outrageous. Like Vincent McAnespie, Gerry McGeough had lived openly in Co. Tyrone for years.
“Whatever the outcome of this case, its prosecution is indicative of a residual securocrat influence which should be ended.” ENDS