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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




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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has cut the first sod of a new building for Gaelscoil Éanna, Glengormley.

The new accommodation will consist of three classrooms, resource space, offices, staff room and play areas and is due to be completed by April 2012 at a cost of nearly £500,000. The scheme will be managed by Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta (InaG), the Trust Fund for Irish-Medium Education and was initially announced by the previous Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, in March 2010.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister said: “I am pleased to be here to officially cut the first sod of new school accommodation for Gaelscoil Éanna. This marks a new beginning for all those involved with the Gaelscoil and is another chapter in Irish-medium education in Glengormley and the surrounding area.


“The Irish language is an integral part of our rich and shared heritage and I value the benefits that Irish-medium education offers children. This is an exciting time for everyone involved in Gaelscoil Éanna and I celebrate along with the rest of the Irish-medium sector the start of this new build.


“I would like to congratulate the Principal, Maighréad Ní Chonghaile, the staff, Board of Governors, Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta and of course the parents and pupils who have worked so hard to get to this stage.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said that two Unionist politicians and the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show need to hang their heads in shame after a witch hunt against a catholic Dundonald High School teacher has developed on the internet.

The MLA’s comments came after the Nolan Show carried a false story alleging that the teacher told a pupil to remove a poppy, something which was completely false and has now led to the witch hunt against the teacher.  

“Unionist politicians Jeffrey Donaldson and David McNarry along with the Stephen Nolan Show have added to and inflamed this injustice where a young teacher is now advised by the PSNI not to attend her work.

“The allegations made against the teacher were completely false and a school inquiry proved as much. I have spoken to the teacher involved and she is extremely upset and worried about her future at the school where she has enjoyed working for several years.

“The teacher has attended Remembrance Day ceremonies at the school over those years and has no political axe to grind. Unfortunately this cannot be said of Jeffrey Donaldson and David McNairy who have jumped on this poppy story and what appears a sectarian campaign against the teacher.

“The Stephen Nolan Show ran with the story without investigating the facts and now must accept its responsibility for sensationalising and creating a sectarian, poppy bullying campaign against the teacher.

“The teacher is now also the subject of a sectarian witch hunt on the social media while she cannot attend her work. The Unionists involved and the BBC need to immediately issue an apology to the teacher and the school needs to take action to make sure the teacher can work in a safe environment free from intimidation.” CRÍOCH/END 

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 Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has settled a High Court defamation case against the Sunday World in Dublin this morning (Thursday 10 November).

The case involved two articles published by the Sunday World in 1996 which accused Mr Kelly of being Chief of Staff of the IRA and responsible for ending the IRA ceasefire in 1996 and of having a liaison with US diplomat Martha Pope for “ulterior motives”

.An apology was read out in the court this morning on behalf of the Sunday World to Mr Kelly and an undisclosed sum of money was involved in the settlement.

Speaking afterwards Mr Kelly said:“This case could have been settled 15 years ago with a simple apology from the Sunday World but they consistently fought to keep the case from going to court.

“I felt I should pursue the case in order to combat the view in some elements of the media that republicans, and particularly ex-prisoners are fair game and easy targets.

“There is an onus on all journalists and news corporations to report in an honest and fact based manner.  To do otherwise, as was done in this case, is to do a disservice not only to the people involved in the story but to the public in general.”

Sunday World apology:

On 25 February 1996 the Sunday World published an article stating that Gerry Kelly was Chief of Staff of the IRA and had responsibility for ending the IRA ceasefire in February 1996.

On the 1 December 1996 the Sunday World published a story suggesting that Gerry Kelly had a liaison with a US diplomat Martha Pope for ulterior motives.The Sunday World acknowledges that both articles were wrong. 

The Sunday World accepts that Mr Kelly has played an important part in ending the violence in Northern Ireland and made a positive and significant contribution to the peace process.

The Sunday World apologises to Gerry Kelly for the upset that the articles caused.

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Commenting on the health element in the government’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016 programme, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

“While the government states that close to €2 billion will be invested in health capital spending in the 2012-2016 period, more could and should be done if the government did not continue to insist on paying Anglo-Irish Bank bondholders. The health capital spend for the next four years amounts to more than a billion less than the annual cost to the State of the Anglo-Irish debt.

“The capital programme for health is short on detail. The commitments to fund the National Children’s Hospital and to expand radiation oncology are welcome but there is no detail of how and where vital primary care centres are going to be provided.

“From the point of view of health service users this capital programme is undermined by the savage spending cuts that continue to be imposed. For example, the HSE is retreating from care of the elderly as shown by the closure of care homes in Abbeyleix, Dublin and Athlone in the past year. Much existing infrastructure – such as wards and beds in public hospitals – is going unused because of the recruitment embargo and spending cuts.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has called on the Housing Minister Nelson McCausland to inform people what his strategy is for the future of the Housing Executive.

Fra McCann said,

“There have been many rumours around the direction the Minister will take in deciding the future structure of the Housing Executive.

“A report delivered to the Minister some time ago recommended that the Housing Executive should be divided into separate organisations, one to deal with strategy and the other adopting the role of housing landlord, but it also mentioned the role of a possible regulator.

“Whilst the report gives broad headings on what should happen to the Housing Executive it lacked substance and was vague when scrutinised as to the future role of the organisation. 

“We believe the report lacks the substance to put flesh on the bones of the proposals being brought forward. Our concern would be that these proposals are gaining credibility with the Minister's department.

“The Housing Executive is an organisation that everybody agrees has done a good job over the past 40 years but if these proposals were accepted, it could disappear.

“This would leave a huge void in the creation and management of social housing where we are already facing a crisis and removing the Housing Executive would only exacerbate the problem.

“It is now time for straight talking and for the Minister to lay out his plans for the future of the organisation.”

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Speaking during the Sinn Féin Private Members Motion on the Anglo Promissory Notes in the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Jonathan O’Brien condemned the government for their payment of €74 billion to anonymous bondholders.

Deputy O’Brien said;

“It is worth restating again and Sinn Féin will keep restating it until Fine Gael and the Labour Party begin to understand that paying out €74 billion of public money to nameless, faceless bondholders for private debt is morally wrong. €74 billion, it should be noted, is a conservative estimate. Some commentators have stated that the final cost could be as much as €90 billion.

“This debt will cost every man, woman, and child in the State €16,157. It will effectively cost a family of four, €64,628. Put in very simple terms, we simply cannot afford this and when the government eventually realise this, a reality they will eventually be forced to face, there is no telling what type of Ireland we will have. Paying this toxic banking debt using the people’s money is the height of economic ignorance.

“If the Government had any sense at all, they would immediately declare the State’s inability to pay this debt and desist from continuing on this disastrous road. Subsequent to this, the Government must then immediately engage with the European Central Bank and their European Council Counterparts to negotiate the lifting of this burden from the Irish tax payer.

“Fine Gael and Labour went in to government saying that they would do things differently, however they are doing a pretty good job of carrying the torch that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party left for them.

“Make no mistake about it, the forthcoming budget that will take €3.8 billion out of the economy will destroy the hope that families still comfort themselves with. The people who gained absolutely nothing from the years of the Celtic Tiger are shouldering the burden of those who made a mess of the economy. This must end.”

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Speaking today after children’s charity Barnados made a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education, Sinn Féin education spokesperson Seán Crowe said:

“Our education system is being hit hard by cuts that are having the most telling impact on children with special educational and behavioural needs who struggle to meet the required literacy and numeracy standards.

“Today’s presentation by Barnardos, who do invaluable work with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, highlighted the extent of the problems we face.

“The Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) action plan was first initiated in 2005 and it was an attempt to improve the prospects of children who for a variety for reasons were being failed by the Irish education system. It proved essential in providing support for primary schools in areas of socio-economic disadvantage and presently 876 schools from urban and rural areas are included in the programme.

“A number of measures have been implemented under the DEIS action plan that have helped improve literacy and numeracy standards and a fairer more integrated education system. DEIS schools have played a pivotal role in tackling the disadvantages that are exacerbated when large proportions of pupils in school are from poor backgrounds.

“Despite their success in meeting the Department of Education’s principles of inclusion and meeting individual educational need, DEIS schools are being targeted by cuts in key services. The loss of Special Needs Assistants, Traveller Support Teachers and specialist language teachers have been accompanied by rising class sizes.

“Rising levels of poverty have resulted in an estimated 1 in 8 of children going to school hungry and this is reflected in the increased demand for school breakfast and after dinner clubs.

“In December we face what many believe will be the worst budget in history and there is a growing sense of anger within communities who have already been marginalised and never benefited from the so called Celtic Tiger. Education is essential if we want to break the cycle of poverty and underachievement. We cannot therefore abandon another generation of children who will face a bleak future if they don’t get the necessary support at school.”

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Speaking in response to news that Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland do not intend to pass on the recent ECB interest rate reduction to their customers, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that while the government is right in describing the refusal of the banks to pass on ECB interest rate reductions to their customers as pathetic, what is more pathetic is the failure of this government to act on this issue.

The Donegal deputy called on the government to “urgently bring forward legislation that will force banks to pass on interest rate reductions to struggling mortgage holders.”

Deputy Doherty said:

“Today’s news that Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland do not intend to reduce interest rates in line with last week’s ECB reduction is devastating news for mortgage holders and small businesses across the country.

“While the government is right in describing the refusal as pathetic, what is more pathetic is the failure of this government to act.

“Across the country hundreds of families are falling into serious mortgage distress every week. When in opposition Fine Gael and Labour criticised the failure of Fianna Fáil to take action to deal with the mortgage crisis. Now in office they are pursuing the same hands off minimalist approach as their predecessors.

“With more than 100,000 families in mortgage distress it is time for the government to act. They must introduce legislation as a matter of urgency to force the banks to pass on ECB interest rate reductions to struggling home owners. Failure to do so will cause serious financial hardship for thousands of homeowners.

“It is time for the government to match their tough talking with tough action.”

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Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD, today (Wednesday) received an answer to a parliamentary question, which detailed the amount of pensions paid to former ministers.

The response confirmed that 109 ex-ministers are in receipt of pensions, amounting to an €8.8 million payroll every year at taxpayers’ expense.

Thirty of them have pensions over €100,000 a year, including former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on €152,000, corrupt former minister Ray Burke on €103,000 and former Labour leader, Dick Spring on €121,000.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said:

“The fact that this level of payments is being paid to former ministers when we are facing into one of the harshest budgets in history is a scandal. Many of the people on this list are the architects of our economic downfall and of the hardships being faced by hundreds of thousands of Irish people today.

“Sinn Féin would suspend full pension payments for former ministers who have not reached pensionable age. We would ensure that former ministers who are employed by the state or by an EU institution would no be eligible to claim both their pension and their salary.

“And we would reduce their pensions in line with our proposals as published in our bill earlier this year.” ENDS

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