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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



Latest Statements

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Meath TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín today met with workers from Spicers Bakery and called on the Department to act to support of these jobs.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I along with my colleagues Cllr Joe Reilly and Cllr Caoimhe Ní Shlúain have met with the staff of the business today and I hope to meet with management in the next 48 hours. Already 27 jobs have been lost in the last few days and the remaining jobs are hanging on by a shoe string.

“I am calling on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to intervene to help analyse cost reducing measures and ensure that this business is supported to safeguard jobs.

“Spicers bakery has been a mainstay of the Navan and Meath since it opened its first flour Mill in 1834 and first bakery in 1880. Today the bakery industry faces substantial pressure due to the crushing of domestic demand, lack of credit, increased unemployment and the evaporation of disposable income.

“Since its establishment Spicers has provided jobs and delivered a service to the people of Meath. It is a both a local producer and employer. It is a central part of the heritage of the town and county. It represents the type of industry that is bearing the brunt of the failed policies of this government. It is the type of indigenous industry that should be the priority for support.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said that the party’s message to the Troika today is that, “a change of direction is urgently needed if jobs are to be created and a second bailout avoided.”

His comments were made in advance of a Sinn Féin delegation meeting with the Troika at 4pm in the Department of Finance. The delegation included TDs, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn and their advisors.

Deputy Adams said:

“Austerity is not working. Every available social and economic indicator confirms this. We want to discuss the details of Sinn Féin’s alternatives with the Troika today.

“We need a change in direction that provides for investment in job creation, retention of jobs and a return to economic growth if we are to avoid a second bailout.

“We believe that even within the framework of the current programme there are choices which would enable the Government to meet their EU/IMF commitments without punishing low and middle income families.

“This is Sinn Féin’s central message to the Troika today. The government must abandon austerity and bank bailouts. They must pursue a new strategy. This would involve investment in jobs to return the economy to positive growth and the removal of the burden of the Anglo Irish promissory note from the taxpayer.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has asked how many homeless families could have been housed with the public money wasted by the significant and substantial failings at the Helm Housing Association.

His comments came after the release of a report into Helm Housing Association which reported ‘significant and substantial failings’ by the senior management team and a failure of the Board at the housing association.

“Public money has been wasted while families on the waiting list in North Belfast and elsewhere have to put up with living in substandard or overcrowded housing, or having no home at all.

“Some of those responsible for these failings have reportedly left Helm Housing before this report was published, avoiding accountability for what was a complete waste of public money.

“It is homeless people that are losing out and especially here in North Belfast where there is such a lengthy waiting list. This is not only a case of bad practice and failure by Helm but also a lack of effective oversight from the office of the DSD.

“The DSD Minister should act immediately and target public money directly at addressing the local housing crisis in North Belfast. The homeless and those living in below standard and over-crowded housing should not suffer any more because of Helm’s failings.”

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Sinn Féin Junior Minister, Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) has welcomed the announced changes to Contract Management Procedures in the Procurement process by Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson today.

Martina Anderson said:

"Over two years ago I called for stringent new measures to ensure that small businesses got access to government jobs and that sub-contractors received prompt payment for work carried out.

"I therefore welcome todays announcement by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson that new Procurement Guidance will shortly be announced that will provide protection to sub-contractors and ensure prompt payment. Certificate of Unsatisfactory Performance will be issued to contractors who persistently fail to deliver on key contractual requirements.These will be defined in the contract and will include fair payment to subcontractors.

"The new protocols will also enforce compliance with social clauses reinforcing the Executive commitment in the Programme for Government to have Social Clauses included in all public procurement contracts. This was a key issue on which Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned.

"Both these steps will contribute to assist in creating and maintaining local jobs. I will be monitoring the situation to ensure that the terms of contracts are being shared right along the supply chain as envisaged in these new protocols and that the social clauses are strictly adhered to. I urge the CPD to ensure that these protocols are properly implemented.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed the commitment of Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín to maintaining library services across the North.

Mr McMullan stated:

“I understand that due to financial constraints libraries have been under pressure but I welcome the commitment from the Minister to maintain the number of libraries across the North. 

“Rather than close a number of libraries the Department has opted for rearranging opening hours to save the number of libraries.

“While this is not the ideal scenario the restructuring of opening hours will prevent a substantial number of libraries from closing and therefore maintain local services which will benefit local communities.

“Libraries are an essential part of local communities and provide a range of services that cannot be replicated by other providers.

“Apart from books, libraries now have services such as computer suites, music and video and photo copying services to mention but a few.  

“Local communities also have a role to play in protecting library services and should maximise the use of their local branch to ensure their long term future

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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey said she is very concerned that, 48, 751 children and young people in North contacted Childline over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and Young People said:

“It’s very concerning that nearly 50,000 children and young people in the North contacted ChildLine over a two week period at Christmas and the New Year and that this figure has increased 50% from last year.

“It’s clear that a time of year which should be a joyous and a happy occasion for many children, is in reality not the case.

“Increasing numbers of young children are trying to cope and deal with the aftermath of domestic violence and binge drinking in the family home.

“Often this is hidden away from the public eye and the only source they can access for help is the likes of Childline.

“It is really important that these children have someone to talk to. Organisations like Childline play a vital role in helping youngsters who feel they have no one else to turn to.

“We need to ensure that children know that there is help out there and such services are available. I would urge all schools, youth clubs and sporting organisations to have the numbers of the likes of Childline on their notice boards.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the HSE National Service Plan spells misery for health service users and staff in 2012. He accused Health Minister James Reilly of making an elaborate show of tinkering with a plan that is based on the savage Budget 2012 cuts which to which he signed up.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This HSE National Service Plan implements the savage cuts to health spending imposed in the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s Budget 2012. The plan spells misery in 2012 for people who use our health services and the staff who have to deliver those services.

“The budget reduction of €750 million comes after the €1 billion reduction in 2011. Health Minister James Reilly’s claim that front-line services can be preserved through greater efficiency is contradicted by the Plan which states that ‘the bulk of the reductions that the HSE is required to deliver in 2012 will impact increasingly directly on frontline services’.

“We face the loss of nearly 600 beds in public nursing homes – a devastating blow. I am certain that communities will increasingly resist these cuts of beds and threatened closures of homes across this State.

“The Service Plan confirms the projected departure of 3,000 staff from the health services in 2012 and states that the Plan itself will have to be reviewed later in the year depending on the numberss going – in other words more cuts.

“Again the Plan contradicts the Minister’s repeated assurances that front-line care can be protected when it says that ‘efficiencies will not compensate for the loss of frontline healthcare delivery staff in such large numbers’.

“Over Christmas Health Minister James Reilly made an elaborate show of tinkering with a Service Plan that is based on the savage Budget 2012 cuts which to which he signed up. The Plan is every bit as bad as signalled and he and his Cabinet colleagues bear full responsibility
“This Plan confirms that the health and welfare of the Irish people is to be sacrificed by the Fine Gael and Labour Government in pursuit of a failed economic strategy that is destroying public services, employment and economic growth.” ENDS

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The privatisation of Dublin City Council's domestic waste collection service which begins from Monday 16 January is happening because "Fine Gael and Labour at council and at government level have allowed it to go ahead", according to Sinn Fein’s Cllr Micheal Mac Donncha.

He said:  "Householders across Dublin City are only now receiving notice of the privatisation of their waste collection service from Monday. They face a bill for their annual charge of €100 which must be paid within 30 days plus a requirement for payment in advance for bin lifts. They also face increased lift charges from July. Low income families and individuals who have waivers are only covered for this year. People who fall below the income threshold for the former waiver will have no scheme to apply for.

"This privatisation of our city's waste collection service was opposed in three City Council votes at the end of 2011. However, Fine Gael and Labour councillors supported a City Council Budget based on the privatisation of the service. They complained of the legislation which allows the City Manager to impose privatisation while endorsing his action by their support for the budget.

"In government, Fine Gael and Labour have continued the policy of privatisation and have done nothing to introduce either the promised national waiver scheme or to repeal the Fianna Fail legislation which gives City and County managers the power to privatise.

"This is a shameful end to a City Council service that has been provided for over a century. It is a sad day for democracy in Dublin. Sinn Fein wll continue to oppose privatisation and to defend public services." ENDS

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Wicklow Sinn Féin Councillors John Brady and John Snell are today taking part in ‘The Big Push’ to save the Accident and Emergency Department at St Columcille’s Hospital Loughlinstown.

Beginning in Arklow at 11am an Ambulance will start a symbolic journey and travel to St Columcilles Hospital in Loughlinstown. It will stop in towns along the way where a hospital trolley will be pushed through the towns by members of the campaign group.

Speaking about the plans Sinn Féin councillor John Brady said "As the campaign to save the A&E in St Columcilles hospital, Loughlinstown intensifies it has been decided to hold a symbolic ambulance run from Arklow to the Hospital in Loughlinstown. We have called it ‘The big push to save our A&E’ we will also be pushing a hospital trolley through the main towns on route to the hospital.

“The purpose of ‘The big push’ is to again highlight how critical the A&E is for Wicklow. People from across the county depend on the service and closing it and forcing people to rely on an already over stretched St Vincent's Hospital will have a detrimental impact on all residents in Wicklow.”

Councillor Brady continued “The 24 hour A&E will close in Loughlinstown shortly unless there is Government intervention. The 21,000 people who use the service annually along with all other residents in the catchment area for the hospital deserve investment in the hospital and not a downgrading.

“The closure of the A&E is not about providing a better service, it is simply a cutback dressed up to look like it’s a reconfiguration that will remove people from the hospital trolleys in the corridors of Loughlinstown. The opposite is the case. Cutting the A&E in Loughlinstown will simply compound the problems currently being experienced in St Vincent’s and will ultimately result in a deterioration in the level of service for patients and possibly deaths.

“We are calling on everyone interested in saving the A&E in Loughlinstown to get involved in ‘The Big Push to Save our A&E’. Time is running out as the HSE, supported by Wicklow’s five TD’s, are hell bent on push through these cuts.

“However people power can ultimately stop this going ahead. We are asking people to come along today and walk with the group which will be led by an Ambulance and followed by the trolley push.”

Sinn Féin county councillor John Snell continued “The big push is a symbolic act to show that people from Arklow and further depend on the A&E. We will be starting in Arklow at 11am, then onto Wicklow Town for 1pm before going to Bray at 3pm. We will then move to the Hospital where after the lengthy journey a symbolic coffin will be delivered at the hospital gates.

“We will be encouraging as many people as possible to join in the big push along the way even if it is just through one of the towns, it is important that we stand shoulder to shoulder in an attempt to save the A&E.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media