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Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee, Paul Butler, has called on the Utility Regulator to bring forward proposals to reduce the high electricity prices in the business sector. 

Speaking earlier Mr Butler said:

“Many businesses have voiced concern that they are finding it increasing difficult to survive the present economic climate due to the high costs of electricity and energy. Energy bills in some cases up to 40% are being imposed on them by the Regulator and this could see business closures and job losses

“I welcome the announcement of the Utility Regulator to hold an inquiry into this matter but we need to see the Regulator bringing forward measures that are going to help reduce the costs facing the business sector in these difficult economic times.  This is a matter of urgency and the Regulator needs to take action quickly to help many businesses survive.

“In the longer term energy efficiency and renewable energy needs to be at the heart of the Executive’s planning in the time ahead to help our economy and businesses reduce their overall energy and electricity cost. It has already been shown that business can make savings by introducing such measures.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has tonight welcomed the release of Irish priest Father Sinnott who had been kidnapped a number of weeks ago in the Philippines. Mr Kelly had been in touch through intermediaries with both government officials and representatives of the MILF group.

Mr. Kelly said:

“The release this evening of Father Sinnott into the hands of MILF will come as a great relief to his family, his colleagues and his friends. I was contacted earlier this evening by the intermediaries who I had been dealing with to tell me of his release. I have spoken to Father Sinnott’s family and they are obviously delighted.

“Father Sinnott has spent many decades serving the poor and needy in the Philippines. He is hugely popular amongst those he ministers to.

“I would like to place on record my gratitude to both the Philippines government forces and the MILF forces who have both worked to secure Father Sinnott’s release as well as others outside of the country who have sought to use their good offices to help bring about this successful outcome.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Mid-Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill has said that SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone should explain to the public why he refers to the Policing and Justice debate as a ‘big yawn’.

Speaking this evening Ms O’Neill said;

“On his twitter page Patsy McGlone refers to Sinn Féin as 'the provies' on a number of occasions but most surprisingly yesterday afternoon he tweets: "Just out of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, gonna get a cuppa, then in for debate on policing and justice:-O(big yawn!)" and today he is thankful for being "Back to the real world after yesterday!"

“If Patsy finds a debate on policing and justice so boring, then why is his party making such a fuss about holding the Ministry? Why did his SDLP Assembly colleagues speak for three hours on it? And what do his constituents in Mid-Ulster think about it? I'm sure and certain they do not believe crime and anti-social behaviour is not part of the "real world", or that having an accountable police service and judiciary is a "big yawn!"

These types of attitudes expose clearly the SDLP's interest in policing and justice as being purely about selfish political ends. All they've done on the issue is attack Sinn Féin and even more strange is when one of their leading Assembly Members finds the whole issue so boring!” CRÍOCH

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Speaking after meeting members of the USI including its president Peter Mannion, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse has reiterated his call for immediate government action on the chaos that has been ongoing within VECs and County Councils in the distribution of student grants.

He said:

“This year has seen applications for the student maintenance grant skyrocket to an all-time high due to the fact that so many parents have been made unemployed or have had their wages slashed.

“The recruitment embargo, which bans local authorities and VECs from employing new and additional people to deal with this problem, the ban on overtime, which does not allow people to work in excess of the scheduled hours to deal with the backlog, and the fact that local authorities were of the view initially that they would not have to deal with this matter this year because the Student Support Bill would transfer the services to the VEC and the delay in making the applications available by the Department of Education have caused all the problems this year.

“Because many applications have yet to be processed hundreds of students have yet to be able to register properly or receive their payment. They are also left without access to many important facilities such as computers, libraries, laboratories and without a student card which is needed for many reasons including the sitting of exams.

“Most importantly those who have applied for their grant did so because they need it to survive in college. With the cost of books, course equipment, food, travel etc going to college does not come cheap. Who knows how many have had to defer going to college altogether or have had to borrow to pay their way.

“This government cannot say they did not know this was going to happen. The Student Support Bill is there ready to be enacted but that wasn’t done. This government disastrous policy of putting an embargo on recruitment and ending entitlements to sick leave and overtime is the direct cause of this fiasco.

“There are those in Fine Gael who complain about these delays, but they must understand their policies mirror that of the current government of slashing public pay, banning recruitment and ending entitlements to sick leave and overtime, all of which have led to the current situation. For all their talk they really don’t offer anything but more of the same.

“I am reiterating my call on the government to immediately lift the embargo so that grants can be processed as soon as possible”. ENDS

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Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has called on the Enda Kenny to clarify the comments made by the Fine Gael Mayor of Limerick Kevin Kiely in which he called for the deportation of European Nationals who have been unemployed for a period of three months.

Speaking this evening Deputy Ferris said:

“The comments from the Mayor of Limerick are in line with the disgusting policies of the fascist British Nationalist Party.

“Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny must clarify his party’s position on this matter. Is the Limerick Mayor on a solo run or is this the old tradition of Blue Shirt fascism raring its ugly head once again in Fine Gael?

“If Enda Kenny does not agree with the comments of Councillor Kiely then he needs to state this publicly and distance himself from this type of bigotry.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Road Safety spokesperson, Cathal Boylan MLA, has welcomed the announcement of an initiative to educate 16 year olds in safer driving habits.

Speaking today Mr Boylan said:

“As a party, we have been calling for a long time for better education at a younger age in relation to the driving of vehicles and road safety. The announcement of the ‘a2om BTEC in Driving Science’, which will be an academic qualification equivalent to a GCSE, being made available to schools in the North is a major step forward in this area.

“The course is designed to make those who take part in it better and safer drivers, so that when they eventually do pass their test they will be above the required standard, fully informed and with a full appreciation of road safety from the outset. The BTEC is also being recognised by insurance companies and those who undertake the course will be offered reduced rates.”

The Newry and Armagh MLA concluded;

“Sadly, figures show that the highest percentage of casualties on our roads, are among males in the 17 to 24 years of age bracket. Another major contributor is the mindset and attitude of drivers. Anything we can do to reduce death and serious injury on our roads must be explored and encouraged.

“I hope schools will actively look at bringing this course into their class rooms and encourage their students to take part in what could be an important part of their education both during and after their school life. They will be able to carry what they learn throughout their adult lives and hopefully become safer drivers which will benefit themselves and other road users.”

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Sinn Fein MLA Carál Ni Chuilín has today stated that the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, cannot keep avoiding scrutiny. This follows the refusal of a number of motions being brought to the floor of the Assembly due to the excuse being given that the Minister would not be available to attend.  

Speaking today Ms Ni Chuilín said:

“Michael McGimspey as Health Minister has a responsibility to the Assembly and the people that the Assembly represents to have open, accountable, and transparent practices.

“However on four occasions in recent weeks health motions and adjournment debates have not been brought forward for selection at the Business Committee as we are told that the Minister will not be able to attend the chamber in order for them to be debated.

“These motions are dealing with key issues that fall under his remit such as the protection of children and vulnerable adults and the relocation of health services support staff from Armagh.

“The Minister cannot keep delaying and avoid facing scrutiny in the chamber. Only this week the UUP were stating that the issue of written questions to the Minister were costing excessive amounts of money.

“However when the Minister fails to appear in the Assembly chamber for debate and scrutiny, which costs nothing, we have to ask is it an issue of cost or a fear of transparency and openness that the Minister is avoiding?”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today launched his party’s campaign to have the Christmas Social Welfare payment restored. Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Dublin Mr. Adams said the cut by the Government was scrooge-like and will only have negative implications for the economy and society.

Gerry Adams said:

“The axing in April’s emergency budget of the Christmas Social Welfare payment (better known as the Christmas Bonus) is one of the meanest and most scrooge-like cuts I have ever witnessed. Not even during the harsh economic times of the 1980’s was this payment axed.

“Having sat on their hands while thousands of jobs were lost over the past year this Government now wants to make things even harder for ordinary families and pensioners dependant on social welfare this Christmas.

“As well as the hardship it will mean for those directly affected, the axing of Christmas Bonus makes no economic sense. It will result in millions of euros being taken out of local economies putting jobs at further risk.

“But what does it say about society here in Ireland? Sinn Féin believes that the measure of any society is in how it looks after its most vulnerable people. This Government clearly does not share that priority with us.

“Between now and the Budget Sinn Féin will be doing everything we can to put pressure on the Government to restore this payment.”

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Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD today launched the party’s campaign to have the Christmas Social Welfare payment restored.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh warned that a failure to restore the payment would push those struggling to get by further into poverty and into the arms of ruthless moneylenders. He said the cut would restrict the spending capability of thousands this Christmas further contracting the economy and increasing unemployment.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“This is one of the meanest cuts introduced in decades. Families with children use this money to cover the costs of Christmas and there is a real danger that without it people will be pushed into the hands of ruthless money lenders.

“Elderly people use this additional payment to help cover the costs of fuel over the winter and as a result of this cut will undoubtedly go without sufficient heating this year.

“Many of the people who will be affected by the removal of the Christmas bonus are as yet not aware of the fact. The people affected don’t have savings to cope with this unexpected reduction in their income – unlike the golden circle that this government panders to, the people affected by this cut don’t have nest eggs tucked away or overseas bank accounts that they can turn to.

“The scrooge like nature of the cut, introduced in April’s emergency budget, symbolizes the extent to which this government is willing to throw the least well off overboard while protecting a wealthy elite.

“Not only has this cut dire consequences for those directly affected it is also bad for small businesses and retailers. By taking money out of local towns it will depress local economies and put businesses and retailers who rely on the Christmas trade under further pressure. It will restrict the spending capabilities of thousands this Christmas further contracting the economy and increasing unemployment.

“Sinn Féin is demanding the restoration of the Christmas Social Welfare payment and we will be stepping up our action on this issue in the coming weeks putting pressure on the Government to act.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has today hit out at the government for failing to implement a job creation and retention strategy after the news this morning that 250 jobs are to go at the Glaxo-Smith-Kline pharmaceutical company in Sligo.

He said:

“This is yet another devastating blow to the north-west which will see 250 more people on the dole queues in Sligo, it’s surrounding areas and in my own constituency in south west Donegal.

“Our first thoughts are with the workers and their families. There is never a good time to lose your job but to lose it in the run up to Christmas time is a cruel blow.

“Today’s announcement shows that no industry is safe and comes as a further blow to the north west which is already well above national average in terms of unemployment rates.

“While some people are of the opinion that nothing can be done and this is a sign of the times, we have different view. This government needs to follow the model Germany and other countries have introduced and that is by introducing a job retention scheme. This not only makes business sense but financial sense.

“Such a scheme, as we in Sinn Féin have illustrated in our ‘Getting Ireland Back to Work’ document would aim to subsidise workers in SMEs struggling to keep on their employees. It would be time limited and be implemented in conjunction with an increased Revenue and Inspectorate. The subsidy would apply to each individual job and will be no greater than €200 or 20% of the wage and will be reviewed after 6 months.

“Something needs to be done. This government must immediately implement a job retention plan in order to curb the ever-increasing unemployment rate”. ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and west Belfast MP Gerry Adams this morning accompanied the family of Harry Holland at a meeting with the British Attorney General.

Speaking after the meeting in Belfast Mr Adams said;

“It was and is our view that the PPS did not handle the Harry Holland case properly.

There is huge public concern about this.

The Holland family made a compelling case to the British Attorney General about the inadequate way the PPS dealt with this case and in particular the way in which the charges against two of those involved were reduced.

The British Attorney General and PPS agreed to reflect on the points put to them by the family and to come back to them.

They also accepted the need for greater transparency within the judicial system and in particular how it engages with victims and their families.

We intend to follow up on this.” CRÍOCH

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Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called on the Government to immediately restore the Christmas Social Welfare payment.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said failure to restore the payment would push thousands of people into the hands of ruthless money lenders this Christmas.

He said:

“The cut of the Christmas Social Welfare payment will cause untold hardships for families and irreversible damage to local economies throughout the state.

“Most low-income families shop locally and many will be forced into the hands of unscrupulous money lenders should these cuts be made. It is paramount that the government prioritises the needs of those who are already in financial difficulty at this particular time of year.” ENDS

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Commenting on the serious outbreak of the C Difficile hospital-based infection in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that current and further proposed cutbacks in hospital services, as well as hospital centralisation, would make the battle against the infection much more difficult. He said:

“There is great concern in the North East region and across the country at the situation in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. For over a week now this serious infection outbreak has seen three wards and 70 beds closed, most ambulance and GP referrals sent to other hospitals and a bar on visitors. The coroner has been notified of four fatalities in which C Difficile may have been a contributory factor.

“The Lourdes is the largest hospital in the North East region covering Counties Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan. It is already greatly overstretched, not least because of the removal of acute services from Monaghan General Hospital last July, resulting in greater pressure on the Lourdes and on Cavan General Hospital.

“This situation is set to worsen with the planned removal of acute services from the Louth County Hospital at Dundalk at the end of the year. Overall, the Government and HSE policy of centralisation of hospital services, as well as current and further proposed cutbacks affecting staff and other resources, will make the battle against hospital-based infections much more difficult.

“In the Dáil last week Health Minister Mary Harney admitted the inadequacy of the hospital system to address C Difficile, MRSA and other hospital-based infections because of the lack of single rooms in which to isolate patients. This need was raised many times with the Minister and her predecessor, including by myself, but no effective action was taken when the resources were there. Now they plead lack of resources.

“It is long past time that this Minister and this Government stopped playing Russian roulette with citizens lives. I call on Brian Cowen, Mary Harney and company to restore our hospital services across the North East, to restore patient safety to its deserved importance, to abandon their co-location and privatisation agendas and, by these actions, help restore public confidence in our public health system.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has said that it is unacceptable that the PSNI have again failed to supply the coroner with a copy of the Stalker report although ordered by the Senior Coroner John Lecky.


Ms Anderson stated,


“Senior Coroner for the North John Lecky ordered the PSNI to supply a copy of the Stalker Report to the inquest of six men killed by the RUC in ‘Shoot to Kill’ operations in the early eighties. The deadline set by the coroner expired yesterday and as yet the PSNI have failed to comply.


“The inquests into the deaths of these men cannot proceed without the Stalker Report and the last inquest had to be abandoned due to the RUC refusal to hand over the report.


“At the Policing Board last week Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris stated that the PSNI would hand over Stalker-Sampson report by November 9th. It is unacceptable in that not only have the PSNI refused to hand over the Report but they have also misled the Policing Board.


“Sinn Féin intends to raise the issue as a matter of urgency as we will not allow bad practices of the RUC to be carried through into the PSNI. We are demanding that the Stalker Report is given to the Coroners office immediately so that these inquests can proceed as soon as possible. CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has hit out at the targeting of Republican Sean Hughes and his family by the London based SOCA organisation. Mr Hughes home and that of a number of relatives were raided by the PSNI this morning.

Mr Murphy said:

“Sean Hughes is a sound Republican. He has spent his entire adult life engaged in the struggle for Irish unity and Independence. He has championed the peace process and the campaign to end political policing. There have been numerous attempts over the years to smear Sean’s character.

“The raids today on Sean’s home and those of a number of his relatives have caused deep anger in South Armagh. There is no justification for the deliberate targeting of Sean and his family today.

“Sean has been charged with nothing. Neither have any members of his family. It is unacceptable.

“Undoubtedly many people will see a more sinister hand behind the SOCA operation this morning. SOCA is based in and run from London. As in the past when political unionism gets itself into difficulties, as the DUP have in recent weeks, the faceless opponents of Irish Republicanism who are still in prominent positions will seek to come to their rescue with operations like we have witnessed today.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the party’s Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD will be joined tomorrow by Santa Claus for the launch of a campaign to have the Christmas Bonus Social Welfare payment restored.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh will outline the effects of this cut on struggling families, the cost for local businesses and the economy and the potential for people to fall into the hands of ruthless money lenders.

Santa Claus is set to lend his voice to the campaign at a media doorstep tomorrow afternoon at 1pm at the Kildare Street Entrance to Leinster House.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA will launch an Irish Language report of his visit to the Middle East on Wednesday evening in the Central Hotel, Exchequer Street Dublin at 6.30pm.

Mr. Adams will outline Sinn Féin’s view of the next steps needed in the peace process in that region.

The event will also hear from Aengus O Snodaigh TD.

There will be a discussion after the launch of the report.

Colm Ó Snodaigh (from Kíla) and Cormac Breatnach will be playing a newly composed tune on Palestine. CRÍOCH

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Seolfaidh Gerry Adams Uachtarán Sinn Féin FP BTR leagan Gaeilge ar thuairisc s’aige ar chuairt a thug sé ar an Mheánoirthear sa Central Hotel, Sráid Exchequer Baile Átha Cliath ar 6.30in Oíche Déardaoin.

Tabharfaidh an tUasal Adams dearcadh Shinn Féin ar na chéad céimeanna eile atá de dhíth sa phróiseas síochána sa réigiún.

Cluinfidh muid ag an ócáid ó Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD fosta.

Leanfaidh díospóireacht seoladh na tuairisce.

Beidh Colm Ó Snodaigh (ó Kíla) agus Cormac Breatnach ag seinm fonn nua-cumtha s'acu ar an Phalaistín. CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has today stated that the DUP must accept that the time has now come for the transfer of policing and justice powers and that they must show leadership on this issue.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“Peter Robinson stated in America that once the financial package was achieved then there was no obstacle to policing and justice powers being transferred.

“Martin McGuiness and Peter Robinson achieved a package of over a billion pounds in what can only be described as the most difficult of economic climates.  That sizeable package will not, I’m sure be on the table forever.

“Instead of an ever growing wish list what we need from the DUP is leadership.

“There is no excuse for further delay or preconditions. The issue of funding is now resolved. The only thing remaining is for the DUP to show leadership and accept that the time has come for transfer of policing and justice and get on with the job that everybody, bar the TUV and some members of the DUP, want to see happen.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and deputy chair of the Health Committee in the Assembly, Michelle O’Neill has stated that confronting strains on the health budget will be met by targeting inefficiencies that are away from frontline services and opening up an all Ireland health system, not by making the Health department exempt from efficiency savings.

Speaking following an ammendment being forwarded for todays Sinn Féin motion which calls for the health department to be excempt from the effeciency savings Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Michelle O’Neill MLA said:

“The amendment assumes that there can never be any efficiency savings made within the health service which is clearly misleading, all Executive departments are duty bound to ensure services are delivered in an efficient manner.

“Efficiency means more resources are made available for services to the public including frontline health services.

“Sinn Féin acknowledges that health does have financial pressures, we supported in our response to the Executive Budget a call for more resources being made available to health, when available.

“To exempt health from efficiency measures means other departments have to re-double their efforts which in fact means a cut to public services elsewhere.

“Are the sponsors of the amendment suggesting the way to promote good health is to cut back for example  on education, cut new housing, cut back on investment in community projects and road safety and public transport.

“All these services promote good health and inclusion which in turn lessens the demand on the Health service, if we follow the logic of the argument that health is about simply treating the ill then we as a society will never reverse the high levels of ill health

“The Investing for Health Strategy introduced by former health Minister Bairbre de Brún was a realistic proposal to tackle ill health by confronting poverty, poor housing, social exclusions and unemployment. All these are factors that lead to ill health and until they are tackled the Health Service will continually be under pressure.

 Concluding Mrs O’ Neil said;

“The greatest efficiency saving which could be made is the ending of the running two health services back to back on Island of six million people. The border is a barrier to a truly efficient health service.

“Sinn Féin’s position is clear. We support frontline services and the Investing for Health Strategy. Efficiency savings can be made in a way which protects the health service and frontline jobs.

“The Minister must live up to his promise to protect frontline services and examine what exactly he spends his money on. “

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