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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin TD for Donegal South West Pearse Doherty has welcomed the commitment by Fine Gael Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to introduce legislation to guarantee that all bye-elections would be held within six months.

Deputy Doherty whose successful court challenge last year forced the previous Fianna Fáil Government to hold the long-awaited bye-election in Donegal South West called on the Government, in light of these new commitments to call off the farcical Supreme Court appeal on that case.

Speaking from Leinster House Deputy Doherty said:

“I welcome Minister Phil Hogan’s commitment to introduce legislation guaranteeing that all bye-elections are held within six months of the vacancy arising and I agree with his statements regarding “the farcical situation where political parties are forced to take High Court challenges to ensure bye-elections are held”.

“That fact that I had to haul the then Fianna Fáil Government kicking and screaming to the courts in order to give the people a chance to exercise their right to vote was indeed farcical, but what is equally farcical is the fact that this new Fine Gael Government is further wasting taxpayers’ money by appealing this decision to the Supreme Court.

“I would ask the Minister and the Government, in light of these new commitments to do the right thing and withdraw this appeal. It is a waste of money that in these times we simply can not afford.”

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Speaking today during a Dáil debate on the EU/IMF Support package Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD accused the Government of ‘an act of political fraud‘ and ‘slavishly supporting Fianna Fail’s failed politics of austerity’.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Throughout the General Election campaign Fine Gael and Labour told the electorate that they would make the renegotiation of the EU/IMF austerity package their number one priority if elected to government.

“Eamon Gilmore infamously told an election press conference that after February 25th it would be “Labours way not Frankfurt’s way”.

“Well, the wait is now over. We have the revised EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. And guess what? It remains, in letter and spirit, virtually identical to that agreed by Fianna Fail.

“The only support that this EU/IMF Programme contains is support for the failed policies of bank bailouts and austerity imposed by Brian Cowen in the dying days of his failed administration.

“This is an act of political fraud by a government on a scale unprecedented in recent history. They are slavishly supporting Fianna Fail’s failed politics of austerity

“The EU/IMF programme is based on the same failed economic logic as its predecessor.

“And the reason for this is simple. The EU/IMF/ECB are not interested in creating jobs in this state. They are interested only in shoring up our failed banking system, driving down the cost of wages and the level of public spending in a vain effort to restore the economies competitiveness.

“This is not a support plan it is a vicious programme imposing an internal devaluation on the Irish economy which will force more people into poverty, on to the dole and into debt while increasing the pressure on vital public services which in turn will have less staff and smaller budgets to cope with growing demand.

“All of this is evidence, if further evidence was needed, that the promises made by Fine Gael and Labour in advance of the general election are now long forgotten and that the policy of this government is no different from that of its predecessors.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD questioned the Taoiseach on his decision to tie the state to an EU/IMF deal that imposes vicious austerity measures on ordinary people and that will make investment in critical social housing infrastructure impossible.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny refused to outline what measures his Government would undertake to address the appalling housing conditions in communities where regeneration projects have collapsed.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The result of the EU/IMF Programme is real hardship, and in some cases squalor. Last night RTE’s Prime Time featured some of the communities in this State that have been abandoned and that are in need of critical investment in social housing. Sinn Féin has raised this matter in the Dáil time and time again. Our TDs and Councillors have been to the fore in working with residents in areas such as St Teresa’s Garden, Dolphin House, Croke Villas, O Devenny Garden’s and Dominick Street in Dublin, in the Limerick regeneration areas and elsewhere.

“There are now significant problems with new social housing stock built at the height of the boom by cowboy developers such as that in Balgaddy and Clondalkin. Despite only being completed in 2007, these new developments have many of the same problems as those dealt with in last night’s Prime Time Documentary.

“The Government could commit to delivering a Social Dividend from NAMA. Unfinished or unsold houses stock could be used to address the emergency situation people are currently living in. Housing Stock currently held by NAMA could be given to not for profit housing associations to take tenants off waiting lists.

“The Government must convene an urgent meeting with the relevant ministers Penrose & Flanagan to assess the total cost of bringing inadequate social housing up to acceptable standards and devise an appropriate mechanism whereby tenants concerns are addressed as a matter of urgency.”

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Speaking following the Bank Holiday weekend’s particularly bad spate of forest fires, Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD, called on the government to work for the introduction of an island-wide policy on the use of firebreaks to tackle forest and gorse fires.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“At the beginning of April, there were some severe fires within my constituency and I called upon the Government to introduce the use of firebreaks in that area to prevent the spread of gorse and forest fires. Over the weekend there were some severe forest fires in Louth and elsewhere, however the fire service worked with the Civil Defence and Coillte to create firebreaks (cleared pathways soaked with water in forest areas) which successfully prevented the spread of fires.
“Using this method ensured that fire damage was minimal and that this approach is highly effective. I am now calling on the government introduce an island-wide policy on the use of firebreaks. Forest-fires do not stop at the border, so it is essential that there is all-Ireland co-operation between fire services to guarantee that our forest, bog and gorse areas are protected.
“The Working Group on Land and Forest Fires, established by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food recommended that forest owners properly maintain firebreaks. It is now imperative that the Minister for the Environment acts upon this recommendation and introduces the regulations to make sure this happens.”

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The All-Party Cross-Border Elected Representatives Group who have worked tirelessly in support of the retention of all existing jobs in Quinn Insurance, and where those jobs have been located, have issued a supportive statement to that released last week by the Quinn Group Subsidiary Board Directors calling on those responsible for the recent disruptive actions at Quinn Group company premises to cease those activities immediately.

Spokesperson for the All-Party Group Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has appealed to those involved to recognise the “folly of your actions and the threat they represent in real terms to the very jobs you may well believe you are supporting”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said,

“On behalf of the All-Party Cross-Border Elected Representatives Group I fully endorse the statement issued last week by the Quinn Group Subsidiary Board Directors that called on those involved in recent damaging activities directed at Quinn Group company premises to cease those actions immediately.

“The All-Party Group appeals to those involved in these recent acts of sabotage to stop and to stop now.

“Please recognise the folly of your actions and the threat they represent in real terms to the very jobs you may well believe you are supporting.

“Whatever your motivation, please, please, stop now” concluded the Sinn Féin Dáil representative.

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Speaking today during a Dáil debate on distressed mortgages, Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that “Government policy will push thousands more families into economic hardship and mortgage distress” and has called for “urgent action to address the 80,000 plus families in serious mortgage arrears”.

Deputy Doherty said:

“There has been considerable media and political interest in the issue of distressed mortgages in recent weeks. However this problem is not new.

“The number of families struggling to repay mortgages bought at the height of the boom has been steadily growing for the last two years. Wage cuts, tax increases and rising unemployment have forced more and more people into mortgage arrears.

“As of December 2010 almost 45,000 households are currently in mortgage arrears for more than three months. 70% of these households have been in arrears for more than six months.

“When those households in receipt of Mortgage Interest Supplement are taken into account the total number of people in mortgage distress reaches a staggering 80,000.

“This represents a 50% increase in families unable to pay their mortgage since the end of 2009.

“Of course these figures hide the reality of the tens of thousands of families who are not in mortgage arrears but are paying an increasing proportion of their income on servicing boom time mortgages.

“The Fine Gael-Labour Programme for Government promises little more than longer moratoria –which simply pushed the problem further down the road- and bankruptcy legislation –the date and detail of which is not yet known.

“Indeed this government has signalled its intent to increase the financial hardship of tens of thousands of families across the state. The plan to do this by reducing tax credits, increased tax bands, introducing stealth taxes such as water charges and property charges at the same time as cutting the wages of low and middle earners. All of this will push even more families into mortgage arrears and distress.

“Sinn Fein welcomes today’s debate and will be supporting the motion but households experiencing mortgage distress need more than motions and political speeches, they need solutions enacted via legislation as a matter of urgency.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD asked the Taoiseach what cutbacks and taxation measures would be introduced to pay for the Governments Job’s Budget due to be announced next week.

Deputy McDonald said,

“It is jobs, not cuts, that must be the priority and tackling unemployment has yet to be put at centre stage by this Government.

“While the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance tie themselves up in knots over whether they will be implementing a ‘jobs initiative’ or a ‘jobs budget’, they continuously tell us that whatever it is will be revenue neutral. How is this possible? Tackling unemployment requires real investment. Yet Fine Gael and Labour are intent on pursuing the same failed policies of Fianna Fáil and the Green’s.

“It is difficult to understand why the government is following such a strategy when it had already been proven that the cutbacks culture had failed to stimulate economic activity and is hindering growth.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly Candidate in Foyle, Paul Fleming has described comments by a People Before Profit Candidate (PBP) following an incident in Nelson Drive as deplorable.

Paul Fleming said: "During an interview on Radio following an alleged attack on their canvassers in the Nelson Drive area of the Waterside a PBP Candidate commented that during the alleged attack they even 'told the attackers that they were not republicans' and the attack continued.

"PBP needs to clarify their position, do they by their comments believe that if it had been republican canvassers that the attack would have been justified.

"Sinn Féin is on record condemning any intimidation of canvassers regardless of Party allegiance and I find it deplorable that someone who is participating the the democratic process could find such attacks on any party as acceptable. These remarks are something that may be expected from the racist BNP not a party portraying itself as representing itself as a socialist party. I call on the PBP to disassociate themselves from these sentiments.

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Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Paul Fleming has welcomed the return of normal Election postal service following disputes at which previous elections which saw postal workers in Derry refusing to deliver election material.

Speaking as his party handed over 50,000 letters for the local electorate, Councillor Fleming commented: “In recent elections, Sinn Féin would not use the election freepost service in support of the workers who refused to handle election material because they were paid a lesser rate than their counterparts in other parts of the North.

“I am pleased that previous grievances have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Derry staff and Sinn Féin will be utilising the service in this election.

“In fact, we will be sending individual letters to almost 50,000 people in Derry. This includes every female elector and every elector living in the Waterside and Rural areas. We felt this was important to reflect the fact that Sinn Féin is the only nationalist party contesting the Assembly election who is fielding a candidate from the east bank. We are also the only party fielding a female candidate.”

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