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Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to 80,000 people from all across Ireland traveled to attend.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.


"If the DUP want to strip benefits from children with disabilities, from adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick; or push children further into poverty, then they need to explain and justify that. Sinn Féin certainly will not accept that approach." - Martin McGuinness 



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly to:

·         Come into the Dáil and make an urgent statement on his inclusion today in Stubbs Gazette over a €1.9 million debt

·         Clarify his relationship with the Green Hills nursing home

·         Address the concern of a potential conflict of interest between his role as a Minister for Health, taking decisions which affect the public funding of private health care and his investment in the Green Hills nursing home.

The Louth TD said:

“The inclusion of Dr Reilly’s name in today’s edition of Stubbs Gazette over a €1.9 million debt is unprecedented for a government Minister.

“It appears that his involvement in the Green Hills nursing home, along with several others, including former Fine Gael Councillor Anne Devitt, was an attempt to take advantage of a lucrative tax break.

“Earlier this year the High Court ordered Dr Reilly and four others to buy the nursing home for €1.9m. Thus far this debt has not been paid.

“According to media sources Dr. Reilly owns a 25% share in the nursing home. However, in a statement last night the Minister says that he has nothing to do with the ownership of the nursing home business on the property. Which is true?

“Recently the Minister of State for Health Roisin Shortall revealed that between January and May of this year 296 public residential care beds have been closed.

”At the same time there are over 600 public hospital beds occupied by people whose treatment is complete but whose discharge in being delayed because there are no public care beds or step down facilities for them. Public money is being used to subsidize private sector residential beds.

“The policy of the last government and of this is to encourage the privatisation of the health service, including private nursing homes and to cut resources to public nursing homes.

“The impact of this on my own constituency was evident earlier this year when the Dublin North East Regional Service Plan for 2012 set out the HSE’s proposed approach to ‘Older People Services’, including the provision of public nursing accommodation. The report stated that 105 public long term care beds will close. It also reported that ‘currently two of our twenty one public residential units are being considered for closure (St. Joseph’s Ardee and The Cottage Hospital, Drogheda – total 54 beds)’.  The report did not specify where it plans to close the remaining 51 beds.

“It is a fact that the Minister for Health is taking decisions which benefit private health care.

If the Minister has a personal investment in private health care provision the question must be asked is he a suitable person to be Health Minister?

“At the very least he has a responsibility to clarify the situation around his involvement with the Green Hills private nursing home. That can only be done satisfactorily with a statement to the Dáil.”

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on Health Minister James Reilly, on his return from Cyprus tomorrow, to make a full statement to the Dáil and to take questions from Deputies regarding his financial involvement in a private nursing home.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Very serious questions have been raised about the Health Minister's involvement in the private nursing home sector and the financial difficulties in which he has become embroiled as a result.

“This is in the context of the closure of nearly 300 public residential care beds between January and May 2012 and the threat of a further 300 closures this year. As these beds are closed the HSE is increasingly funding places for people in private nursing homes. Even if the Health Minister currently has no beneficial interest in such a nursing home, questions are raised about his suitability to make decisions on nursing home care, given his involvement in the private for-profit health sector.

“The least the Minister can do now is to make a full statement to the Dáil and to take questions from Deputies.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch said that it was an outrageous situation that British Secretary of State Owen Patterson had interfered with the release of Lurgan republican Martin Corey.

The Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA said:

“Owen Patterson’s interference in the judicial system was outrageous and this should never have happened. It is totally unacceptable that this fly-by-night British Minister, who is not elected by anyone in the North, can imprison someone without placing any evidence or proof before the court.

“The revoking of licenses on the basis of secretive evidence not available to the accused or his solicitor is damaging confidence in the justice system.

“Owen Patterson’s should now do the right thing and end this pointless legal appeal and allow Martin Corey to return home to his family.” CRÍOCH/END

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A Sinn Féin motion was passed last night at Cork City Council making it the first Local Authority in the State to support the introduction of same-sex marriages. It follows the decision by Belfast City Council recently to pass the same motion.

Sinn Féin Councillor Mick Nugent who proposed the motion said:

“I am delighted that Cork City Council unanimously supported my motion on same-sex marriage. I believe the majority public opinion across the country is supportive of moving from civil partnerships to civil marriages for same-sex couples with all the extra rights and benefits that would entail. I'm sure that approval of this motion will be a great boost for the gay and lesbian community in Cork and across the country in the on-going struggle for recognition from wider society and equality in all aspects of life.”

Full motion passed at Cork City Council:

This Council supports the same rights and entitlements to civil marriages for all  citizens of Cork City regardless of race, religion or sexuality.


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Sinn Féin Enterprise Spokespersons, Phil Flanagan MLA and Peadar Tóibín TD have welcomed the announcement by EU Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan Quinn of the final round of calls for proposals under the €8.1 Billion EU 7th Framework Programme.

Phil Flanagan MLA spokesperson for Enterprise at the Assembly said;

“In the last round of funding from the 7th Framework Programme, proposals from the North drew down the EU average funding and a low level of investment by SME’s in Research and Development (R&D). It is imperative that if we are to meet the targets of £300 million as laid out in the Programme for Government we need to match our potential by ensuring that SME’s are equipped with all relevant information and assistance.

“We have partner universities and SME organisations in the South who it is essential that we collaborate with to ensure maximum benefits across the island from the 7th Framework. We need a comprehensive and co-ordinated all -Ireland approach to promote R&D if we are to realise our potential to draw down funds and to promote economic development across the island.”

Dáil Enterprise Spokesperson, Peadar Tóibín TD, endorsing the all-Ireland potential of the Programme funding said;

“Investment in Research and Development is a key driver of economic growth. Across the EU the target was set for 3% of GDP to go into Research and Development.  The Department has recently confirmed that the 26 County state drew down just over half what is available and acknowledges that at current levels of investment it will miss the EU Target. This will lead to us falling even further behind other EU economies.

“Given the reduced funding for business support by the Labour/Fine Gael Coalition it is essential that we maximise the support from this EU programme. While this part of the island has drawn down funds there is room for greater improvement through fully developing an all-Ireland approach to these funding proposals.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Sue Ramsey has said that Transplant Awareness Week (9th – 16th July) should be used to get more people on the donor register.

Ms Ramsey said,

 

“At present there are over 300 people in the North waiting on a life saving organ transplant but due to a lack of people on the donor list many of these people will die.

 

“Transplant Awareness Week should be used to promote the transplant system and encourage more people to sign up to the donor register.

 

“The facts about organ donation are that you are more likely to need to receive an organ donation than becoming a donor so it is in everyone’s advantage to have as many people signed up as possible.

 

“In surveys carried out over 85% of people state they are in favour of organ donations yet only 25% are registered.

 

“I would appeal to people to sign up to the Donor register in one of the many ways available.

 

“You can join the register by phone, post, e–mail and now through Facebook so there is ample opportunity for people to sign up.

 

“I would also encourage people to talk to their family and outline their preference for donation so that the burden is taken off the next of kin in case of a tragedy.

 

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said that the only solution the Parades Commission has not tried is the rerouting of the unwanted Orange Order evening march pass Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales.

The North Belfast MLA said:
“The Orange Order have their celebrations throughout the day but the problem is their return journey which is unwanted by the residents of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales and is totally unnecessary.

“The only solution that the Parades Commission has not tried is the rerouting of the evening parade. Rerouting the return parade would not interfere with Orangemen enjoying their culture throughout the day.

“We think it was a mistake for GARC to hold a parade on the Crumlin Road. The issue here is getting fewer parades not more especially now that we have another protest parade planned by loyalists.

“The Orange Order have up to this point refused even to engage with the Parades Commission and the local residents in an attempt to resolve the issue. The long suffering residents of the area now face more parades pass their homes and the Parades Commission should hang their heads in shame.”

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Sinn Féin today welcomed the announcement by Máire Geoghegan Quinn of the final round of calls for proposals under the €8.1 Billion EU 7th Framework Programme.

Peadar Tóibín TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the Dáil said;

“Investment in Research and Development is a key driver of economic growth. Across the EU the target was set for 3% of GDP to go into Research and Development. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Dublin has recently confirmed that the figure for the state is only 1.7% and acknowledges that at current levels of investment it will miss the EU Target. This will lead to us falling further behind other economies.

“Given the reduced funding for business support by Labour and Fine Gael it is a priority to maximise the support from this EU programme. While proposals in this state have successively drawn down funds there is room for greater improvement through fully developing an all Ireland approach to funding proposals.”

Phil Flanagan MLA spokesperson for Enterprise at the Assembly said;

“In the last round of funding from the 7th Framework proposals from the North drew down the EU average of funding and a low level of investment by SME’s in research and development. There is a pressing need to up our game if we are the meet the targets of £300 million as laid out in the Programme for Government.

“We have partner universities and SME’s in the South that are essential for bids to the 7th Framework. We need a comprehensive and co-ordinated all Ireland approach to promote Research and Development if we are to realise our potential to draw down funds and to promote economic development across the island for the benefit of all our people.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has urged parents to make an early application for the Back to-School Allowance so as to avoid the lengthy delays that affected payments to families last year.

Deputy Crowe said

“I would urge parents to apply for the Back to School Clothing and Allowance early to ensure prompt payment. Last year there was a six-week delay in processing claims, meaning many thousands of families had to wait well into October before receiving their entitlements for school clothing and footwear.

“Last year the Department of Social Welfare only started dealing with the 66,000 applications received from the second week of July onwards, and they were only able to process 1,000 forms daily. This resulted in the system becoming overwhelmed and led to a serious backlog.

“Customers who are entitled to an automatic payment should have received their letters by the 20th June 2012 and those applying for the allowance can obtain a form from their local Social Welfare Office or by downloading one from welfare.ie or by texting FORM BSCFA followed by your name and address to 51909.

“The €150 available to parents qualifying for the allowance for children aged 11 and under and €250 for children between 12 and 22 is to assist with clothing their children for school. Many of the applications for the BSCFA are made on behalf of parents who are struggling to make ends meet and they clearly won’t be able to wait until October or November for this payment.”

ENDS

Videos

Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally


Photos

Sinn Féin Dublin South West