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Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language Derogation in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language derogation in the the European Parliament while on language strike in Brussels.

The Minister has acknowledged the negative impact of zero hour contracts for workers, yet his proposals to address this are totally inadequate.  Sinn Féin's position on zero hour contracts is that they should be banned.


Sinn Féin TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has welcomed the climb down from Minister Michael Noonan on the introduction of a Mortgage Insurance scheme. The dropping of the proposal was confirmed to Deputy Doherty in a parliamentary reply.



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I would like to extend to you all on behalf of Kerry republicans a Ceád Míle Failte to the Kingdom.

Apart from its many other attributes the county is of course the home of Sam Maguire who is now in temporary and short lived exile in Dublin. It is only right that they should get a look at it every twenty years or so.

While we are here for a weekend of hard work  I hope you will also find time to enjoy the town of Killarney and some of the local hospitality, although not too much of course!

It is fitting that we should be here given Kerry’s proud republican history and also the fact that the last Kerry republican TD elected -  prior to myself being sentenced to Leinster House - was the late John Joe Rice who was elected for the South Kerry constituency in 1957.

South Kerry would be regarded as relatively weak in comparison to the north of the county in more recent times but we have dedicated and committed activists here and the local election areas returned impressive returns for Martin McGuinness in last year’s Presidential election when he took 16% of the vote in Killarney itself.

Of course the whole of the county will be one constituency in the next general election and we are confident of returning two of the five TDs.

That will hopefully reflect the significant surge in support for our party in the past year. We achieved a magnificent result in the general elections last year and we are now polling at twice that according to some recent surveys.

That is a consequence not only of the work being done in Leinster House and the higher profile of the party throughout the country but also of course the widespread disillusionment with the three main parties.

Fianna Fáil was exposed for its role in bringing about the current crisis and the current government are following the same path despite promises to the contrary. In particular the Labour Party has let down the huge a number of people who voted labour in 2011 only to see the party adopt the right wing austerity agenda which they attacked during the campaign. Many of those people are now looking towards Sinn Féin and it is our duty to ensure that their faith is not misplaced.

The strong support for the party is above all, however, due to the hard work being done in every corner of the country by dedicated republican activists such as yourselves. That applies not only in areas where we are already strong and have elected representation but in places where Sinn Féin was practically non existent up until the recent past.

I am confident that that work will pay dividends in vastly increased representation in the next local and European elections and that that will provide a springboard for the next general election in this state. If indeed that has not already been called before then.

This Ard Fheis then provides us with an opportunity to debate and hone the policies which not only will form our manifestoes for future elections but which in the foreseeable future will form the centre of a programme for government throughout the island.

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Addressing youth unemployment in rural areas is a key priority for Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Pledging her commitment to tackling the barriers faced by young unemployed people in rural areas Minister O’Neill said: “With more than one in five young people in the north out of work, I am keen to ensure that unemployed youth in rural areas get the assistance and support they need to help them into employment. Through the Tackling Poverty and Social Isolation framework, my department is supporting two initiatives aimed at increasing employability and promoting entrepreneurship.”

Outlining the BOOST initiative which is supported by her Department and co-funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme, Minister O’Neill said: “Through participation in the BOOST Programme rural unemployed 16-24 year olds will have an opportunity to develop skills to increase their employability and improve their chances of securing a job. The level and quality of employability information offered and the interactive methods used to reach the target participants, make the BOOST programme unique in the marketplace.”

DARD is also supporting the Rural Youth Entrepreneurship (RYE) Programme which aims to develop business potential among vulnerable 16-30 year olds in rural areas.

Minister O’Neill explained: “The RYE programme will create the foundations for the development of future rural businesses through upskilling, networking, mentoring and sharing of ideas to stimulate business creation. “I am confident that these innovative initiatives will help reduce rural youth migration and increase sustainability of rural communities. I encourage unemployed young people in rural areas to make the most of the support available through these and other youth employability projects."

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Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said that the he shares the concerns of Disability Action over the process to be used in transferring claimants from the DLA to the new PIP (Personal Independence Payment) benefit system.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Welfare Rights said:

“At a presentation to the DSD Committee today Disability Action expressed grave concerns about the managed reassessment process that is to transfer claimants from the DLA to the new PIP benefit. Disability Action understands that the department intends to re-assess 1000 applicants per week.

“Surely logistically this will be impossible. It is also intended to use the same process and probably the same company as the Work Capability Assessment so obviously the same problems will occur.

“This follows on from the damning statement issued by the British Medical Association on the functioning of theWork Capability Assessment and its call for the immediate ending of the procedure.”

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister today congratulated the Armagh apple industry on the recent award from Europe for Armagh Bramley Apples.

The famous Armagh Bramley apples have become the third product from the north of Ireland to have been granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under EU law.

While in the Orchard County the Minister visited MacNeice Fruit to see apple growing and processing. Minister O’Neill also visited grower and packer Noel McAllister to discuss how the PGI for Armagh Bramley could be used. While at P McCann and Sons, a leading packer and processor, the Minister had the opportunity to see the impact of the considerable support provided through the Rural Development Programme’s EU Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme (PMG). P McCann and Sons have been awarded £1million since 2006 for the expansion and development of their fruit processing facilities.

Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The importance of the Armagh Bramley Apple to the region is reflected not only in the fact that up to 1,500 local people are employed in the industry, but also that traditional events still take place, such as Apple Week, and the Apple festival in October. Tourists can take tours of the orchards, complete with Armagh Bramley apple pies, washed down with Armagh cider.

“We are justifiably proud of the quality of our locally produced food and it is encouraging to have another of our products recognised internationally. PGI registration is good news for the local economy and will help local growers to market Armagh Bramley Apples domestically and further afield and protect against imitation. It will also build consumer confidence in this product by providing reassurance of its provenance.

“I would like to congratulate the apple industry who worked with my Department to develop their application under the Protected Food Names Scheme.”

PGI status recognises the regional importance and distinctive characteristics of products, and this latest award highlights the Armagh Bramley Apple, and the growing methods in the highly fertile, silt-loam or clay-loam soils of the ‘Orchard County’ region. It is added to a list of more than 1,000 products across the EU already protected other PGIs in the north of Ireland include New Season Comber Potatoes and Lough Neagh Eels.

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today visited Rossmar Special School in Limavady to meet with pupils, staff and governors.

The school caters for pupils with a wide range of learning difficulties from the ages of three to 19.

Speaking after his visit, the Minister said: “Rossmar Special School offers a very positive educational experience to its pupils, which is evidenced in the high levels of attainment they achieve. I am impressed by the leadership of the school Principal and his hardworking, committed and caring staff and by the support offered by the Board of Governors.

“I recognise that many of our schools, including special schools, are in urgent need of capital investment. Indeed, during my visit I had the opportunity to meet with pupils and hear their views on the accommodation at Rossmar.

“I fully expect the area plans, which will be consulted on later in the year, to reflect this need. Schemes emerging from the area planning process will be able to compete for any available capital funding. However, as I highlighted to the Assembly last week, I am looking at the reduced capital budget available to me and will be making an announcement shortly on the way ahead.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “I have recently visited a number of special schools throughout the North and I am always struck by their caring ethos and the invaluable role that they play in offering appropriate education and pastoral provision to some of our most vulnerable children and young people.”

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The Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee today received a presentation by the Human Rights Consortium.

The Good Friday Agreement committed the British Government to legislate for a Bill of Rights in the North, the development of an All Ireland Charter of Rights and the Irish Government to establish a Human Rights Commission in the South with equivalent powers to that in the North.

The Consortium outlined that British Government had failed to deliver a Bill of Rights, that the Charter of Rights remained outstanding and raised concern over the actions of the Irish Government under their commitments.

Speaking after the meeting Conor Murphy MP and MLA said;

“Fourteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the British Government has refused to legislate for a Bill of Rights for the North. This is a clear breach of their commitments and leaves citizens without the protections promised on Good Friday. A Bill of Rights would safeguard the rights of all sections of the community in the North and in particular those most vulnerable.”

Martin Ferris TD, added;

“While the British Government is clearly in breach of its commitments the Irish Government has allowed this breach to continue. Recently the proposals to amalgamate the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission in this state undermine the rights of our citizens and steps outside the GFA.

“In following this course of action the Irish Government is losing its moral authority to hold the British Government to account and providing succour to those elements of our society who are opposed to safeguarding the rights of our citizens.

“Sinn Féin has tabled legislation to enhance and safeguard the role of the Human Rights Commission in the south.”

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Following the refusal of the Ceann Comhairle to allow time for a Dáil debate on the issue of changes to child benefit arrangements which will impact on school-going children, Sinn Féin Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien, called on the government to urgently address the matter.

Deputy O’Brien said;

“I have lodged an official request with the Ceann Comhairle on six separate occasions to discuss the urgent matter of children who will turn 18 before the beginning of the next school year, and whose parents will no longer receive Child Benefit for them. These 18 year olds cannot claim a social welfare payment in their own right meaning that it will be difficult for them to return to school due to the financial pressure that their parents are now under.

“Many parents depend on child benefit payments in order to pay for books and uniforms and other necessities that are not covered by the Back to School Allowance. It highlights the need for proper and meaningful reform. The government must acknowledge the real costs that are entailed for low income families in sending children to school.

“The government has refused to allow time for this debate to happen and it raises serious questions about Ministerial accountability to not only members of the Dáil but the people that elected them.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin have congratulated the workers involved in the long running Vita Cortex dispute, and commended them for their resilience.
According to the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, David Cullinane, “the Vita Cortex workers have been an inspiration to us all, and have provided a superb example of how ordinary workers can fight for their entitlements.
“As they leave the plant today, on the 161st day of their occupation, I wish to commend the Vita Cortex workers for the way they have conducted themselves, and for what has been an impressive and remarkable campaign.
“They not only enlisted the support of countless celebrities and well known personalities such as Alex Ferguson and Noam Chomsky, they captured the imagination of the Irish public, which was behind them every step of the way. The workers only wanted what they were entitled to and what the employer had already committed to giving them. Sinn Féin is pleased to see that justice is done.”
The Waterford senator added that he hoped the government would learn from the Vita Cortex dispute
“The Vita Cortex workers difficulties in getting what was due to them contain a very clear message for the Government; we need legislation. Recent months have seen unprecedented amounts of redundancy disputes, including Lagan Brick, Game, La Senza and EBSCO.”
“Sinn Féin some weeks ago brought forward a bill to protect workers who had been made redundant, yet they voted it down. There is an onus on them to produce legislation, and it is up to them to ensure that no other workers have to go through what the Vita Cortex Workers went through.”
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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, has expressed alarm that third-level fees might rise dramatically over the next three years. Deputy Crowe was commenting on a report on funding for third-level education, being drafted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) that is likely to recommend the introduction of annual student fees of €6,000.

He continued: “Students already pay €2,250 in registration fees with phased increases likely over the next three years. This is preventing many from availing of a third level education.

“The HEA Report is likely to conclude that student fees will have to increase to between €4,500 and €6,000. This is partly in response to predictions of a dramatic rise in third-level student numbers with enrolments set to rise from 160,000 to 200,000, a trend that they estimate will continue for 10 to 15 years at least.

“There are growing concerns that Minister Quinn will do a u-turn on pledges he made before last year’s election and reintroduce third level fees.

“It is becoming clearer that students from low income families will find it increasingly difficult to access higher education courses should the recommendations of the HEA be implemented.” ENDS

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Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language Derogation in Brussels


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Mary Lou McDonald TD, Cllr Catherine Seeley & Francie Molloy MP