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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has criticised third level institutions and landlords of purpose-built accommodation for charging students three months' rent in addition to a deposit at the start of the first college term.

Deputy Crowe was speaking after being contacted by a number of irate parents who are struggling to meet an initial payment of €2,500 or more at the start of the first college term, to cover their children’s rent and deposit fees.

Deputy Crowe said: “In these difficult times more families are struggling to make ends meet. It is unfair that many third level institutions and landlords charge students three months’ rent to cover the first college term. This is on top of the deposit and is hard to justify, particularly at a time when college fees are rising.

“This excessive fee is putting a huge strain on many low and middle income earning families. It is an issue that education minister Rúairi Quinn must address.

“Additionally, many landlords refuse to return the deposits of student tenants. Recent research by the USI found that without any justification, 40% of students had their deposit withheld and over 60% have had over €200 unfairly taken off their deposit.

“The deposit paid to cover potential damage to student accommodation is usually over the top anyway. In respect of campus accommodation, college authorities have many other ways of dealing with vandalism, including expelling students if they are found to have behaved inappropriately.

“This excessive charge on students seeking rental accommodation must be brought to an end as it is creating yet another barrier to low and middle income families accessing to third level education.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called on Ombudsman Al Hutchinson to resign without delay. The party’s Policing & Justice spokesperson was speaking after the release of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report.



Mr Kelly said:



“This is the third critical report into the Ombudsman’s Office and it is an indictment of the leadership that Al Hutchinson has shown,” said the North Belfast MLA.

“Sinn Féin believe in the Ombudsman’s Office and that it is a crucial mechanism to make sure we have accountable policing. However with the independence of the office being yet again called into question the credibility of that office is at rock bottom.

“The buck stops with Al Hutchinson and for public confidence in the Ombudsman’s Office to be repaired, he needs to go and go now. Any delay in his resignation, as he seems to be proposing, will only cause more damage to the office and the publics’ confidence in it.

“Only his immediate resignation followed by the implementation of recommendations made by Nuala O’Loan in 2007 will suffice.” Críoch/end

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for cuts to the public health services to be stopped after the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) figures show that there are now 1,947 public hospital beds closed.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“These INMO figures are truly shocking and confirm the damage done to our public health services in recent years by savage cutbacks. These cuts were imposed by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government and are being continued by the Fine Gael/Labour Party Government.

“The direct result of the cuts, including the recruitment embargo, is nearly 2000 public beds closed and patients facing overcrowding, longer waiting lists and less safe hospitals. The cuts have also led to the worst August figures in five years for patients waiting on trolleys.

“New Health Minister James Reilly has not reopened a single hospital bed closed by his predecessors; in fact on his watch the closures have continued.

“There must be no more health cutbacks if we are to avoid complete melt-down in our public health services. A programme of bed re-opening should be commenced and the recruitment embargo lifted.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, Sandra McLellan, has congratulated today’s All-Ireland winning hurlers from Kilkenny and Galway.

Speaking after watching the two finals the Cork East TD said:

“I want to extend my congratulations to the victorious Kilkenny senior and Galway minor hurling teams on their success today.

“Kilkenny’s achievement is remarkable. To come back after last year’s defeat to win their thirty-third title in such an intense display is a fantastic result for Brian Cody and his team. Eight All-Ireland winners medals for Shefflin, Brennan, Hickey, and Cody himself as manager, speaks volumes about the quality of this Kilkenny team over the last decade and more.”

“Likewise for Mattie Murphy’s charges in Galway. The success of underage hurling under Mattie’s tutelage continues unabated.” ENDS

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LABOUR PARTY members of Dublin City Council have been urged by their Sinn Féin colleagues to join them on Monday in voting down a proposal to privatise the capital’s waste collection service.

The privatisation of the public service is being proposed by the City Manager but Sinn Féin and some other councillors are opposing the move.

Sinn Féin Council Group Leader Larry O’Toole said that once the waste service is privatised it’s almost certain there will be no way back into public control.

He said:

“If waste collection is privatised then people will be at the mercy of commercial companies whose priority is profit rather than a good service for the public.

“Bin charges will just rise and rise.”

Councillor O’Toole added:

“This is an issue of protecting public services and Labour councillors – indeed all the councillors – need to stand up at the Dublin City Council meeting on Monday and vote against privatisation.”

ENDS

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Following questioning from Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD during today’s Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan admitted that there were “opportunities missed” during the negotiation of the EU/IMF austerity deal because it was “done quickly”. He also defended his role in “wrong-footing” the then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy Doherty said:

“It was important to challenge Central Bank Governor Patrick Hononan today on his role during the EU/IMF negotiations last December. I specifically asked him if he regretted his decision to speak publicly on Irish radio when the Government was negotiating with the EU and IMF and whether his intervention had a negative impact on those negotiations.

“The Governor’s clarification today that there were ‘opportunities missed’ because the deal was ‘done quickly’ and that he ‘wrong-footed’ the then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

“Sinn Féin remains convinced that there was a better way to handle the crisis in December 2010 than seeking support from the EU and IMF.

“At the time we were concerned that Governor Hononan’s public intervention was motivated by his membership of the European Central Bank rather than by his responsibilities to the Irish people.

“On hearing Governor Honohan today I am firmly of the view that this was the case. There is now a need for the Government to assert that his priority must always be to serve the Irish people first when conflicts of interest arise in his functions.” ENDS

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Speaking following exchanges with the governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan at the Oireachtas Finance Committee today Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said “more serious action is required to deal with mortgage distress than that proposed by the Central Bank governor.”

Deputy Doherty said

“Some of Patrick Honohan’s comments are a welcome step in the right direction. However I do not agree with his view that this issue should be left to the banks. Despite his calls for banks to do more and to act faster to assist those in mortgage distress, it is clear that this is not happening.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that an independent Distressed Mortgage Resolution Board should be established, equipped with adequate resources and legal powers deal with mortgage distress on a case-by-case basis. This body would seek to reach agreement between borrowers and lenders.

“In the first instance the body should aim to assist the mortgage holders maintain their primary family residence. However for those families will do not wish to remain in the family home or where such an option would not be financially sustainable a range of other options must be available.

“Government policy in this area must be driven by a commitment to burden sharing by mortgage holders, mortgage lenders and inter-bank commercial lenders. Sinn Féin will be launching a detailed series of proposals next week. We believe that the government must act urgently to address the needs of the 100,000 families currently in mortgage distress and prevent thousands more falling into a similar situation.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has called on Nelson McCausland to put the same effort into distributing unpaid benefit as he does into penalising the most deprived in our society.

Mr Brady stated,

“There is up to £350 million of unpaid benefits in the North and more needs to be done to ensure that people are getting their entitlement before we start to push individuals and families into severe debt by stopping their entire benefits.

“It would be more beneficial for the DHSS to become more efficient and ensure that people on benefit get their full entitlement and help those on benefit back to work through help and retraining.

“The stereotype of people living a life of luxury on benefits is untrue. More and more people are finding it impossible to live on benefits as the cost of living has risen drastically over the past few years and while I accept that there are a few who fiddle the system the vast majority of people on benefits do not wish to be there and would accept employment in the morning.

“Rather than penalise people on benefits it would be more prudent to give more opportunities to people on how they could subsidise their benefit while finding their way back into work.

“Mr McCausland needs to state whether he is purely on a cost cutting exercise or is he concerned about some of the most disadvantaged in our society getting proper benefit.

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Senator David Cullinane has today challenged the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation’s proposals to drive down wages of agency workers.

Senator Cullinane said, “The proposals of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation are another attempt to undermine the pay and conditions of workers.

“The National Implementation Body recommended that the Department of Finance and trade unions should engage on a new public service-wide deal that would conform with the EU directive on agency workers. This directive, to come into effect in December, states that agency workers should receive equal treatment to full-time staff.

“The minister claims that the derogation from this directive is in the interest of job creation and making the Irish economy more competitive. The truth is this government has failed miserably to stand over its commitment in May to create 100,000 jobs by 2015. In fact since the government's Jobs Initiative was launched unemployment increase by 30,000 with 980 jobs being lost per week. Minister Bruton is now attempting to shift the blame for this onto agency workers.

“The Minister would be better off taking initiatives to create real, sustainable jobs. Attacking agency workers, and driving down wages will further deflate an already flagging economy and have a negative effect on the retail and services sector. His actions will also create deep division within the work place as agency workers will be seen as under cutting permanent employees’ pay and conditions.

“In light of recent undermining of the Joint Labour Committees, today’s revelations will be a further embarrassment to the Minister’s coalition partners. Sinn Féin intends to raise our objections directly with the Minister and will be meeting with trade unions to see how we can work together to ensure the cabinet rejects these proposals.” ENDS

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