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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.



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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has today called on Minister Howlin to end the practice awarding of up to ten added years plus special severance gratuity payments worth up to half a year’s pay to City and County Managers on retirement.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Like current Secretaries General, City and County Managers can retire early on a full pension and in addition can also benefit from a special severance gratuity payment of up to half a year’s pay on retirement. Figures released to me from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government show that over the last 12 years €1.3 million has been paid out to former City and County Managers in special severance gratuity payments.

“This month Limerick’s City Manager will retire on a full pension at just 58 years of age having been awarded 8.9 added years and a special severance gratuity payment of €91,222 on top of his other pension entitlements.

“It is simply unacceptable that those at the top of the public sector continue to benefit from the kind of excessive pension perk. The average annual pension for civil servants is €30,000 yet City and County Managers get awarded a special payment on retirement of up to three times this amount.

“Minister Howlin must revoke Article 78 of the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998 which legislates for the awarding of excessive pension entitlements unique to local authority City and County Managers.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein transport spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has criticised the Taxi Regulation Review Report for not dealing properly with the massive oversupply of taxis which is causing, precipitating or worsening many of the other problems which plague the industry. He was speaking following an Oireachtas Committee on Transport briefing on the report.
Deputy Ellis continued:
“There is at least 22% oversupply of taxis. The report recommends pricing people out of the industry and asking people to provide letters from other employment as well as arbitrary limits on the ages of cars. All this is to make driving a taxi too expensive for many hard-working, full-time drivers as well as encouraging others to not enter the industry.
“This is a very large problem which needs to be dealt with by stopping new licences being granted and making this a full-time only industry. The oversupply of part-time taxi drivers must be dealt with directly, making it not just harder to have a taxi on the weekends and a full-time job Monday to Friday, but to make it impossible.
“Anything less will not properly address oversupply and not considerably reduce numbers other than among full-time drivers who cannot afford new costly measures introduced as they are struggling in what is their only source of income.”
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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today said she was encouraged by recent statistics on brucellosis, where the disease incidence is at its lowest level since the 1990s.

She said: “The combined efforts of the farming community in the north and my Department have clearly achieved significant progress during these difficult times. I would like to thank the vast majority of farmers who are working positively and constructively with my veterinary staff to help eradicate the disease. Indeed we are on track to achieve the target in the Programme for Government to reduce Brucellosis confirmed annual herd incidence to zero by 2014.”

Despite the downward trend Minister O’Neill cautioned against complacency. She said: “We know that brucellosis can persist silently in cattle for months or even years. It can also flare up and spread explosively.

“I and my veterinary and enforcement colleagues are still concerned that brucellosis infected material could still be out there in the country.

“With the small number of outbreaks we currently have, each one is investigated thoroughly as to source. The strain type of the Brucella bacteria is compared to every other outbreak going back to the year 2000 and DNA material is gathered from the cattle at every point in the process. Anyone found engaged in deliberately introducing the disease into herds, or any other illegal activity, will have their compensation cut and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

For the next few years the Minister said it was vital that herd keepers adhere to the testing programme that their Veterinary Offices have deemed necessary for them. She added: “It is of paramount importance that farmers continue to report every cattle abortion to their local office. We will also continue to monitor bulk milk and cattle at abattoirs. The combination of all these actions should enable us to find the last remnants of the disease.

“When we achieve eradication, and secure EU Commission recognition of our Officially Brucellosis Free status, it will be possible to scale down the brucellosis scheme. Pre-movement testing will be phased out and herd testing and will be significantly reduced. This will benefit the entire Industry. Hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later. But we cannot afford to drop our guard. That is why I am again stressing the need to report any abortions or any suspicious activity.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government Brian Stanley TD has this evening accused the government of “banana republic economics” by selling off wealth generating, profitable state assets.

Speaking in support of tonight's Sinn Féin Dáil motion opposing the sale of state assets Deputy Stanley said:

“We only have to look into the not too distant past to see history repeating itself. The sale of Eircom proved to be a disaster for both shareholders and the general public. Following four years of public investment, which saw this state become a leader in the tele-communications sector, Eircom was sold off amidst massive controversy. Now Ireland lags 5 years behind competitor countries in terms of tele-communication infrastructure.

“Earlier this month the government announced its intention to sell off  €3 billion worth of state assets. Ironically this is the same amount of money this government are committed to hand over to Anglo bondholders in March. The sale will take place despite the Labour Party's commitment in their general election manifesto not to sell off Coillte or the energy networks. So brazen a u-turn in Irish politics has not been seen in for many years.

“Sinn Féin is in good company tonight opposing the sale of ESB, Bord Gáis and Coillte. Both SIPTU and UNITE, the two biggest Irish unions, have both come out and publicly opposed the sale. These sate companies continue to provide training, employment and pay dividends to the Irish state. These three companies have paid a total of €1.97 billion to the state in dividends over the last ten years. These dividends will be no more if this fire-sale government has its way.

“Future generations will reap a sorry harvest if this coalition has its way. The sale of state assets is fundamentally and economically wrong and must be stopped at all costs.”

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Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday in support of a Sinn Féin motion urging that commercial semi-State companies remain in public ownership and be used for job creation, Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin described the plan to sell off these assets as “monstrous”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated that the EU Treaty would tie Irish governments into such policies for many years and he welcomed the opportunity for the Irish people to vote against the Treaty when the Taoiseach and Tánaiste announced the referendum, earlier in the Dáil on Tuesday.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“The commercial semi-State companies – the ESB, Bórd Gáis, Coillte, Aer Lingus – were built up over many years by the hard work of Irish people and have been key pillars of the Irish economy. They have provided the essential infrastructure without which no economy can grow. Energy, natural resources, strategic transport links – all of these are indispensable assets which should remain in public ownership.

“The succession of Fianna Fáil-led Governments from 1997 began the process of privatisation of these assets. In the case of Eircom they were responsible for a huge debacle which should have been a lesson to the present Government – indeed in opposition both Fine Gael and the Labour Party repeatedly pointed to that reckless privatisation.

“In May 2005 Sinn Féin tabled a Private Members motion opposing the privatisation of Aer Lingus. Speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, Deputy Róisín Shortall said: “The experience of the privatisation fiasco in Eircom should sound alarm bells for us all.  Deputy Shortall was also correct when she told us then:“Privatisation really is the new religion...Privatisation puts such services and assets at long-term risk and we should not just abandon them at the ideological whim of the Coalition partners.”

"Perhaps the Labour deputies would care to tell us now if the same applies to the current Coalition partners?

"I have not yet heard of any events to mark the centenary this year of the establishment of the Irish Labour Party but I wonder how the party will square its support in Government for this fire sale of State assets to private profiteers with its claim to be the successors of James Connolly and Jim Larkin?

"And what of Fine Gael? We should not be surprised at their stance as they are clearly a party of the right and have championed privatisation almost as much as the Progressive Democrats. But Fine Gael also claims the mantle of the past – in their case of Michael Collins. Do they recall what Collins wrote in ‘The Path to Freedom’?

“Ireland will provide splendid opportunities for the investment of Irish capital, and it is for the Irish people to take advantage of these opportunities. If they do not, investors and exploiters from outside will come in to reap the rich profits which are to be made.”

"I have to say that in the case of Coillte I find it especially reprehensible that the Government would even consider selling the company’s harvesting rights. Coillte is the largest land-holder in the State and while it is not – at present – proposed to sell its land, the Government is selling access to that land and to its resources. If ever there was a strategic asset our forestry and forestry land are strategic - yet here we have a plan to abandon them to private interests with very serious long-term consequences for rural Ireland and for the whole island.

"This plan to sell off the family silver is as reckless as it is unnecessary. There is an alternative and we in Sinn Féin have set it out in our motion.

"The Government should retain the people’s ownership in these companies. The full potential of the companies has yet to be realised. Instead of proceeding with its plan for wholesale privatisation the Government should establish a Semi-State Strategy Group with responsibility for delivering a strategic job creation and training project.

"All annual dividends paid to the State by the commercial semi-State could be ploughed into this jobs and training strategy, thus making a major contribution to economic recovery.

"The path the Government is following with this privatisation plan and with its other austerity measures is the road to deeper recession and long-term stagnation of the Irish economy. I am glad that the people are going to have an opportunity, as announced today by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, to give their verdict on the latest EU Treaty which, if ratified, would lock this and all future Governments for many years to come into the austerity policies that are doing so much damage to our society and to our economy.

"The people have an opportunity to stop this futile strategy in its tracks and we in Sinn Féin are determined to ensure that they do so."

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Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the Government’s publication of the drafts heads of Whistleblower Bill and has called on the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure the legislation’s speedy passage to the Dáil.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the drafts heads of the Whistleblowers Bill and now calls on the government to ensure the legislation progresses quickly to second stage.

“Extending the definition of employees as envisaged in the Bill to contractors, trainees and agency staff is a positive move. Sinn Féin would like to see Whistleblower protection extended to those within the public service and state agencies who report gross wastage of public funds as is currently allowed for in US legislation.

“Protecting Whistleblowers with robust legislation is an important element of a healthy democracy. Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the draft heads of the Whistleblowers Bill and now urges the government to bring legislation to the Dáil and Seanad as a matter of urgency.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions today, Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, raised the lack of transparency in the work of NAMA and pointed to senior figures within the agency who were senior members of the banking, financial and property sectors which caused that crisis.
He asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny for promised transparency, meaning that details of all non-performing loans acquired by NAMA would be available for public scrutiny on a public register, including names of creditors and the amounts paid by the taxpayer for loans.
He said 16 companies were identified by NAMA to advise them on loan sales in Europe and the US and that NAMA itself has confirmed that some of its senior management team have close links with those firms.

“The Dáil and the people should know how much NAMA has paid, with taxpayers’ money, for the property it controls,” he added, saying that the agency remains “cloaked in secrecy”, while billions of Euros worth of assets are being sold by NAMA.
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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the announcement by the government there will be a referendum on the austerity treaty.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Teachta Adams said: “I want to welcome the announcement. It marks another failure by the government which tried to avoid a referendum. The Tanaiste has acknowledged this and you failed and that’s a good thing. Now the people will have their say.
“Since the first drafts of this Treaty were leaked to the public last December Sinn Féin has argued that there is a democratic imperative to have a referendum.And I am glad that there is also clearly a legal case.
“I think the value of a referendum is that the people will have their say on a matter that is profound and will have long lasting importance.
“The question is: will the government accept the outcome? Are we going to have the usual re-run? Will the government phrase the question in such a way so the people will be able to have an informed debate as opposed to bullying tactics that have been used in the past?
“I think it is crucially important that the campaign be informed and informative, that the details of the Treaty and its implications for the people of this state and the island be fully discussed and debated.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the announcement but let’s be clear. It’s an austerity Treaty it will not help to regenerate the economy. On the contrary it will condemn the people, particularly those in lower and middle income brackets, to this government’s terrible austerity policy.
“It’s little wonder that Fianna Fáil supports this. Fianna Fáil, Labour and Fine Gael formed the consensus for cuts and we are going to see that replay again.
“You are the Taoiseach who has declared that you want to be able to take economic power back into this state. But with this Treaty you are taking what limited fiscal power remains in this Oireachtas and giving it to unelected and undemocratic officials in Brussels.
“So let’s have a good debate. Let’s have an informed debate. Sinn Féin is against this Treaty from what we know of it – we wait to see the question that will be put. We’re against austerity. We don’t think it’s fair. We don’t think it’s right. We don’t think it’s proper that working people have to pay the penalty for bad government and that this has to happen to pay off the golden circle, the big bankers and the bondholders and developers.
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Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty will tell British Secretary of State, Owen Paterson that the British government cannot rule out an Independent International Truth Recovery Commission when he meets him at Westminster today.

Speaking from London Pat Doherty said:

“Recent comments by Owen Patterson opposing a truth commission style approach to dealing with the legacy of the past bordered on the contemptible towards those who suffered throughout the conflict!

“I will make that clear to Mr Patterson when I meet him at Portcullis House, Westminster this afternoon. Any attempt to rule out an Independent International Truth Commission style approach to truth recovery is arrogant and completely ignores the fact that the British Government was a party to the conflict.

“Sinn Féin has put forward proposals to address truth recovery and dealing with the past insisting that any process must be victim centred and international, independent and inclusive of all participants including the two governments.

“Republicans have made it clear that we would participate in such a body. The British Government should accept that it was central to the conflict and make it clear that it would participate in such a process instead of prevaricating and attempting to portray itself as some sort of neutral referee between two warring factions. This portrayal is both dishonest and disingenuous and makes no contribution to dealing with the past on a basis of openness and transparency.

“I will also take the opportunity to challenge Mr Paterson on his government’s austerity policies and in particular its so-called Welfare Reform measures. I will be registering Sinn Féin’s continued opposition to these policies that are having a devastating effect on our communities and economy.”

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