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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams has criticised the government’s decision to oppose the Sinn Féin private members motion on cochlear implants for profoundly deaf children in the Dáil today.

The Louth TD has challenged the Minister for Health to “do the right thing by the hundreds of deaf children and include provision for bilateral cochlear implants in the HSE estimates for 2014.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Today’s decision by the government to oppose the Sinn Féin private members motion on cochlear implants for profoundly deaf children in the Dáil is deeply disappointing.

“I cannot help but compare the government’s stinginess on providing funding for implants to help deaf children with their generosity with public monies when it comes to funding the bankers and financial elites.

“The government’s alternative motion is a fudge which provides no certainty for families of deaf children that this government will move positively on this matter.

“Every TD and Seanadóir I have spoken to on this issue or who has been lobbied by the parents Happy New Ear campaign says they believe the children should have bilateral cochlear implants. The campaign is non-party political – indeed it is an issue that is above party politics.

“These children cannot hear because they are profoundly deaf. The government does not have that disability.

“The business plan from Beaumont hospital on the provision of bilateral cochlear implants has been with the HSE and Department of Health for some time now awaiting clearance.

“The government’s response today provides for no action plan to implement a bilateral cochlear implant programme.

“There is no commitment to include this programme in the 2014 HSE estimates process.

“There is no time-frame for implementation of the HSE/Beaumont business plan.

“The Government needs to act now. The children and their parents are in a race against time to ensure that the children have the operation before they are too old for it to be effective.

“The reality is that unless these implants are connected in the early years of a child’s life that by the age of seven or eight the operation will be ineffective as the nerves will have died off.

“After that children born and raised in silence may never speak; something which will adversely impact on the rest of their lives.

“These young citizens have already faced a great deal of adversity in their short lives. They deserve the same rights and opportunities as every other child and every other citizen in this state.

“They have the right to hear; the right to be heard and to have a voice. The government has the duty and responsibility to deliver for these children.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government Brian Stanley TD has described Minister Hogan’s local government bill is another attack on local democracy.

Speaking at Leinster House today in response to the launch of the local government bill Stanley said;

“It’s been 12 months since the government launched their local government proposals, ‘Putting People First’. This bill has been a long time coming. But its publication is another let down for local democracy.

“It is another attack on local democracy and falls short of reform by any measure. Unfortunately this Fine Gael/Labour Party government, like its Fianna Fail predecessor, continues to take these powers from local councils and centralise them in the customs house.

“Sinn Féin has been to the fore in demanding real reform of local government. Current local government structures are not fit for purpose. Today’s proposals will do nothing to change that. We want to see maximum power devolved from central government to local authorities. These powers include economic planning, waste management, water & sewage and housing.

“It is our view that any reform of local government must ensure the efficient and cost effective delivery of services, have structures fit for purpose and have democratic accountability at its core.

“Sinn Féin reject today’s proposal to cull the number of councillors to 949. This is a drastic decrease and leaves the state with one of the lowest number of councillors per head of population than any of the OECD countries. We propose there should be a minimum of 1165 councillors. This is in line with the Reform of Public Administration in the Six Counties.

“Sinn Féin believes that, in order to do this, we need significant and far reaching reforms not the kind of window dressing the minister has presented with us today.

“Our priorities for local government are the establishment of local district councils, establishing local authority housing trusts to commence a state-wide building programme and the development of economic spatial plans. This will ensure power is devolved to local level; homes are built to meet the needs of the 112,000 on the housing lists and councils can plan for economic development that benefits the entire community.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson addressed a well-attended meeting of the Fishing community in Newcastle, Co Down on Wednesday morning at which she listened intently to their concerns and proposals for the protection of the industry.


Commenting on the outcome of the engagement, Ms Anderson said:


“Obviously my personal knowledge of commercial fishing and the needs of the industry and community are limited, therefore in was most enlightening and informative to participate in this engagement which for me was a listening and learning exercise.


“But that does not mean that I am unaware of the ramifications for the industry of the raft of legislation and regulation, affecting the industry emanating from Europe. And I can assure you that I don’t have to be an expert to recognise what is good for the industry and what could have a negative impact on it.


“Next week on Oct 23rd MEPs will be voting in Strasbourg on the Cadec report, the core issue of which is undoubtedly the on-going reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and I have been lobbied from a number of sources.


“Some of the arguments made to me state that the fishing industry could yield additional revenue of €3.2 billion each year and create substantial job opportunities across Europe if we restore fish stocks to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by setting appropriate catch quotas. The newly approved Common Fisheries Policy aims to restore fish stocks and make European fisheries sustainable and profitable again.


“The recent briefing "Unknown Waters" by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) makes a case based on claims that more than half our EU fish stocks have never been properly assessed - making it impossible to set appropriate catch quotas. It is estimated that 30-40% of the fish landed comes from illegal, unreported or unregulated sources.


“But it is being argued that this can only be addressed by assembling adequate data on fish stocks and the proper enforcement of laws that prevent overfishing. Those who make this case say that it’s vital the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund provide sufficient funding towards this data collection, control and law enforcement. Current funding for data collection, control and enforcement is currently only 1.5% of the value of landings.


“Tripling this amount to €302 million annually would be a small investment given the additional gains in jobs and food supplies that would accrue. Research shows that for every €1 invested in data collection, control and enforcement, there is a potential return of €10.


“After discussing these and other aspects of the Common Fishery Policy with those in attendance I am now better informed on what our fishing community would like to see delivered by this process of reform. I will do my utmost, to lobby support in Europe for Fisheries Minister, Michelle O’Neill’s representations on behalf of our fishing fleet.”

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During the Sinn Fein Private Members debate on bilateral cochlear implants, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien stood in silence for a number of minutes in the chamber in order to try and highlight to the government what life is like for profoundly deaf children who are denied these implants.

Speaking after this, the Cork North Central TD said;

“I stood in silence in the Dáil chamber today to try and make the government understand what they are doing to children who are profoundly deaf when they deny them a second bilateral cochlear implant.

“There are around 200 very small children who need these implants which would make a drastic difference to their future quality of life and it is a scandal that the government will not pay for this.

“I am calling on this Government to demonstrate some humanity and ensure the HSE introduce a programme to provide these children with the treatment they need so that they are not condemned to a life in silence."

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Sinn Féin’s Party Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD today submitted a substantial amendment to the government’s dáil reform proposals.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the government, despite past assurances, has failed to properly consult with opposition parties on how best to reform the Dáil and he also expressed concerns that without meaningful engagement their proposals would have only a limited impact.

He continued;

“Sinn Féin has made clear its criticism of the government for failing to engage in any meaningful way with opposition parties on their plans to reform the Dáil. Instead, their priority is in rushing through changes so they can be made during the Autumn Dáil schedule.

“There should have been a thorough engagement with all of the political parties to work towards building a consensus on the proposed changes. The proper platform to achieve this was the Oireachtas Dáil Reform Committee where time could have been set aside to carefully consider these important matters.

“The government’s political reform proposals are hardly radical and instead amount to a tweaking of the weekly schedule. Sinn Féin has put forward a number of progressive measures that if implemented would maximise a TD’s productivity whilst maintaining effective representation at a constituency level.

“We have also presented a radical programme for more extensive political reform in our document ‘Towards a new Republic’ which provides a framework that would ensure a complete overhaul of the political system in the 26 Counties.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the Health MinisterEdwin Poots to clarify, as a matter of urgency, whether or not his draft guidance on termination of pregnancy has been properly legally proofed.

Ms McLaughlin said:

“This morning’s statement by the DPPBarra McGroryhas cast doubt on the legal basis for some of the assertions within the guidance. The question now arises as to whether or not this guidance has been fully and properly legally proofed.

“As Chairperson of the Health Committee I intend seeking a meeting with both the Health Minister and the DPP to bring clarity to the matter.

“I will also be requesting that the Health Minister come before the Health Committee to discuss this matter and related issues and that Mr Poots makes available to the Committee the advice he received from departmental officials including departmental solicitors on these matters.

“There is an urgent need for clarity around whether or not cases of fatal foetal abnormality can be accommodated within the existing legal framework and whether or not the guidance reflects this.

“These are clearly exceptional and traumatic circumstances and the families affected and the healthcare clinicians who are dealing with them, require and are entitled to immediate clarification.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD accused the Tánaiste of delivering a deeply dishonest budget that breaks Labours commitment to protect core social welfare payments.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Budget 2014 is a deeply dishonest budget. It is littered with broken promises.

“The Programme for Government promised not to cut social welfare rates. Indeed Labour claims that protecting social welfare is one of its main achievements in government. But this week Labour broke that promise.

“Labour has cut jobseekers allowance for young people and the invalidity pension. These are core social welfare payments and Labour has cut them. Labour has broken its promise.

“When Fianna Fáil first cut job seekers for the under 25s in 2009 what was the response of the Labour Party? They said that the cut was ‘offensive’ and intended to ‘promote emigration’.

“Labour accused Fianna Fáil in 2009 of ‘putting the squeeze on young people’ and making them ‘pay for the recession’. Labour has certainly changed its tune and turned its back on the party’s core policies and values.

“Here’s the reality. There are simply not enough training places for young unemployed people. There are 54,000 young people officially out of work. That’s 18,000 more than when Labour took office.

“Official youth unemployment is at 30%. Many thousands more not captured in the official figures. Budget 2014 promised a paltry 4,500 additional places for these young people. Last year Labour promised 10,000 training places, but so far has only delivered 5,500.

“When Fianna Fáil cut young job seekers allowance back in 2009 they also claimed that it would encourage young people to take up training. Labour slammed Fianna Fáil for this decision as there were not enough training places to meet demand. The same is true today.

“This week the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced a package of job creation measures. Nowhere in the document does the Minister set out a strategy for getting our young people into decent paid full time employment.

“Budget 2014 is a dishonest budget. Labour has broken a core commitment and is now a cheerleader for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policy and values.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has congratulated the PSNI on recent successes on tackling crimes against farmers.

 Mr. McMullan stated,

 “I had previously called on the PSNI to set up a dedicated unit to tackle crimes against farmers as separate to rural crime.

 “Since this unit has come into effect we have seen several successes. I welcome the fact that over the past few weeks there has been the recovery of stolen livestock and farm machinery and several arrests.

 “In recent days two expensive tractors were recovered, one due to the vigilance of the public and the other because it was fitted with a tracking device.

 “The PSNI previously launched a marking scheme for farm machinery that helped farmers access this service at a discounted price.

 “I am now calling on the PSNI, Farming Unions and distributers of tracking devices to come together to instigate a similar scheme that will help farmers fit tracking devices to expensive machinery at discounted price.

“Not only will this help protect the machinery but also allow the PSNI to recover stolen equipment and disband the organised gangs that are preying on farmers.”

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Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill today officially launched the £2.6million South East Area European Fisheries Fund during a visit to the County Down fishing port of Ardglass.

The £2.6million programme of investment is provided through the European Fisheries Fund and is aimed at supporting projects and initiatives that focus on the sustainable socio-economic development of County Down’s fishing communities.

The fund will support a broad range of projects that focus on community development; business development and diversification; tourism and leisure; and, technical development support. The funding programme will be administered by the South East Area (SEA) Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) which comprises of representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors within the three council regions of Ards, Down, and Newry and Mourne.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said:

“This fund will provide meaningful benefits to the communities along the County Down coastline that continue to rely on the fishing industry for many of its job opportunities and wealth.

“The bottom-up approach used in developing the strategy to support the fund, which has drawn on the experiences gained from previous programmes of support, helps ensure that the available support focuses on addressing the needs of communities as they themselves have identified. I commend SEA-FLAG in delivering the required strategy and would encourage anyone with any project, or project idea, that is linked to community, business, tourism or leisure development to engage with the SEA-FLAG group to determine what financial and/or technical development assistance can be provided.”

The Minister added: “This funding represents one of the largest allocations awarded to any one Fisheries Local Action Group throughout Europe and should serves as a sign of confidence government holds in SEA-FLAG’s ability to deliver a meaningful programme of benefits.”

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Sinn Féin TDs Martin Ferris and Micheal Colreavy and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh have this morning launched a postcard campaign to reverse the cut to the phone allowance.

Speaking from Leinster House Senator Ó Clochartaigh said;

“This budget has hit older people particularly hard. One of the most cynical cuts is the cut to the telephone allowance.

“Older people rely on the telephone as an essential lifeline. They need it for their alarm, to keep in touch with friends and relatives and of course the health services and community groups.

“This cut comes on top of a range of cuts affecting older people, particularly in rural areas, such as the cut to rural transport, loss of services and additional costs such as prescription charges.

“We are call on people to ‘Press the Alarm for the elderly’. We have printed 25,000 postcards which will be distributed across rural Ireland which call on people to raise this issue on the local media, and to lobby their local government representatives to have this cut and other cuts reversed.

“Sinn Féin put forward proposals in our alternative budget that would have reduced the deficit in a fair way without putting the burden on the most vulnerable in society such as rural older people.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Party Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh has accused the government of shelving its Dáil reform commitments just a few short weeks after a referendum campaign which promised radical reform.

Speaking this morning Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;

“Only a few short weeks ago there were promises of no more guillotines, a new pre-legislative phase, and the earlier budget allowing a full debate on the Finance Bill and the Social Welfare Bill.

“Low and behold we are informed this week that another regressive Social Welfare Bill will be rammed through all stages next Thursday and Friday with it only being published two days in advance.

“So much for Dáil reform. So much for democratic reform. The government has shelved its Dáil reform commitments just a couple of weeks after a referendum campaign in which it promised radical reform.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection and Communities, Aengus Ó’Snodaigh TD, today condemned as a lie the claim by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, that core weekly welfare payments were protected in Budget 2014.

Deputy Ó’Snodaigh said:

“The Minister claimed again today that core weekly welfare payments are protected in this Budget. Just because you say something a hundred times doesn’t make it true. In fact it is a lie to suggest that weekly rates are not being cut. The weekly welfare rate for young jobseekers is to be €44 lower – what is that if not a core rate cut? The weekly welfare rate for 65 year olds who can no longer work due to disability is to be €36.80 lower – what is that if not a core rate cut? Social insurance benefits, including maternity, illness, invalidity pension and bereavement benefits are also being cut in this budget.

“The Fianna Fáil government caused the economy to crash and the current government have done nothing to protect or create jobs for young people. Youth unemployment does not even feature in the latest Government Action Plan for Jobs.

“Fianna Fáil were the first to cut young people’s jobseekers allowance. At the time the Labour Party opposed the cuts vehemently and on principle, claiming at the time that it was ‘abundantly clear that the real purpose of these reforms is to promote emigration’ and that it sent the message to our young people that ‘there is no place in Ireland for them at the moment and that they would be better off emigrating’.

“SIPTU have said this cut is an attempt to drive young people into jobs with low pay, no pay or out of the country. The Minister has reportedly indicated that the cuts are expected to affect 14,000. I would surmise that the true number is potentially higher and that far from discouraging social welfare dependence a new welfare trap is actually being created.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has described Billy Hutchinson’s assertion, at his party’s annual  conference last weekend,   that republicans are attempting to isolate loyalism as absurd.

Mr Maskey said:

“Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for positive leadership from within the unionist and loyalist community.

“Disharmony among the various shades of unionism has clearly contributed to the on-going political instability. Unionist politicians and paramilitaries are currently competing with each other on a negative and anti-democratic and sectarian agenda. The results of this are there to see for everyone, 18 months of street violence, a difficult marching season and increased polarisation.

“No section of the community should be marginalised and no section of the community benefits from the marginalisation of another. We need imaginative, constructive, and positive partnership and leadership right across the community on an equality and power-sharing agenda in the interests of everyone. Sinn Féin is up for such an approach and indeed have worked with all shades of unionism and loyalism to move the situation forward.

“We welcome the recognition of the PUP of the need for a progressive political agenda including the need to promote equality, tackle disadvantage and address housing inequalities and educational under-achievement in working class communities.  

“But fine words are easy.   The PUP, like all other parties are judged by their action and sometimes by their inaction. There is widespread acceptance that loyalist paramilitaries have orchestrated and been to the fore in attacks on the community and on the PSNI in recent months. Suspicions about the role of unionist leaders and political parties in this, acquiescent or otherwise, are high.

“We need to hear a clearer message from the PUP about this, what they intend to do to bring it to an end and how they intend to promote equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem for everyone.”

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Sinn Féin’s candidate for the EU Midlands North West constituency Cllr. Matt Carthy has described the budget cut to the Telephone Allowance as “a lousy act”. He said he was concerned at the impact of the cut to the Telephone Allowance will have, particularly on elderly isolated rural dwellers.

Carthy said

“The Government’s decision in yesterday’s budget to abolish the Telephone Allowance for the elderly was a lousy act.  I believe it was short sighted and ill thought through. 

“For many elderly people the telephone is a necessity, therefore this cut may as well be a reduction in the Old Age Pension. I know that in many rural communities isolation is an increasing problem particularly for the elderly who are living alone. This is an especially pertinent issue the midlands, border and western regions where local services have been decimated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments and where emigration is on the increase. Many of these people live in areas where there is little or no Garda presence and they rely on the landline for their personal alarm. For many their telephone is their link with the outside world, it is how they keep in touch with family members including those who have been forced to emigrate.

“This move will increase stress and fear for the elderly and that is unacceptable. Some will be left with a choice of disconnecting their phone or cutting back on other expenditures such as heating for their home. That is some legacy for Fine Gael and Labour to deliver to the elderly people of our communities. 

“The cut the telephone allowance was bad decision.  It needs to be reversed immediately.”

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Waterford senator, David Cullinane, has said he notes with great interest the part of Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan’s budget speech yesterday, where he said he will introduce an additional levy on pension funds at 0.15%.

“The minister said he was ‘doing this to continue to help fund the Jobs Initiative and to make provision for potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties.’

“The former Waterford Crystal workers took a case to the EU Court of Justice to seek compensation for the loss of their pensions. They won that case and now it is up to the minister to ensure that they get their pension entitlements.

“I am calling on Minister Noonan to include provision for the payment of the former Waterford Crystal workers in the forthcoming social welfare bill. They have waited long enough.”

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Sinn Féin MLA’s Caitriona Ruane and Chris Hazzard have said that the engagement today between Sinn Féin and the fishing industry in South Down addressed by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson was very worthwhile.

 Ms. Ruane said,

“Today we invited members from the fishing industry including fishermen, fish processors and representatives from Ardglass and Kilkeel fishing community to a working breakfast with Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson in order to listen to the concerns of the industry.

 “Martina was also able to outline what was also available through the EU in order to support the fishing industry.

“The aim of the exercise was to exchange information and set out a plan of action that we benefit the fishing community in South Down.

Chris Hazzard added,

“This was a great opportunity to meet directly with members of the fishing industry and hear at first hand some of the problems they are experiencing.

“The fishing industry is an important part of the South Down economy and it is essential it is supported and encouraged to grow.

 “While fishermen are aware of European guidelines in terms of quotas and other fishing matters they may not be aware of all the grants that are available through Europe.

“This meeting allowed an exchange of information that will benefit both the industry and Sinn Féin in protecting and promoting the industry in the future.”   

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Dessie Ellis TD has blasted the Environment Minister Phil Hogan for producing what he called a “wholly insufficient” solution to the pyrite contamination problem.

Deputy Ellis was commenting as it was announced that €10 million will be made available for reparations to pyrite effected homes and that no levy on the quarry or construction industry will be put in place.

Deputy Ellis said;

“There are at least 1000 homes which are in need of immediate attention. We have been told that the average cost of these repair works will be €40,000 per home.

“This means that approximately only 250 homes will be covered by this fund while many families have been waiting far too long already for work to commence as their homes crumble around them.

“Those responsible in the quarry and construction industry for the use of these contaminated materials leading to this scandal should share some of the burden. The state failed in its role to properly regulate against such materials being used but those who did not implement proper checks at an industry level should pay for that irresponsibility.

“The public should not have to pay in full for reparation work.

“I have been calling on the minister to introduce the levy system for some time. I was told as late as mid-September that this would happen before Christmas.

“This sudden withdrawal of that plan is disappointing and especially so when it has been replaced with a fund which will not meet the needs of the many thousands of people affected.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning, Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, slammed the Taoiseach for targeting young people out of work for the harshest lash in Budget 2014.

Deputy McDonald said that the legality of any measure, which discriminates on the basis of age must be questioned in light of existing equality legislation.

The Dublin Central TD said:
“Since Fine Gael and Labour took up the reins of government there are 18,000 less young people working in the economy.
“Some 1,700 people are emigrating from this state every week. The vast majority are young, educated and underemployed.
“Mothers, fathers and grandparents throughout this state watched yesterday’s budget, hoping against hope that government would provide some hope that their children and grandchildren will not be forced to join the lengthening queues at Irish airports.
“Instead Fine Gael and Labour has set out a range of brutal measures aimed specifically at the youth of this state, none more startling than the slashing of the Job Seeker’s Allowance for under 25s.
“Government has now very clearly decided that the youth of Ireland will carry the can for the mistakes of this government and the last.
“Having failed to create the environment within which our young people can flourish, Fine Gael and Labour now want rid of them. 
“Yesterday the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced a package of job creation measures. This was an opportunity for Government to put youth employment front and centre, yet they failed to do so. There is just one minor mention of young people in the measures committed to. 
“A cut of up to a third to the Jobseekers payment for people under-25 sends an unmistakeable message to young Irish people that this Government regards them, not as the future of this country but as a burden.

“The legality of any measure, which discriminates on the basis of age must be questioned in light of existing equality legislation. Did the government seek the view of the Attorney General on this cut before it was announced?
“Government needs to come clean you admit what is now obvious to all, that they just like Fianna Fáil before them, continues to embrace forced emigration as a policy choice?
“Labour and Fine Gael claim this measure is designed to incentivise young people to take up jobs or training as if those young people are on social welfare as a ‘lifestyle choice’. The question is: training for what? Where are the jobs? Where is the government’s plan to get the 66,163 young people currently on the live register back into decent paid full time employment?”

ENDS

 

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Responding to Budget 2014 Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn called on Minister Alan Shatter to “cut out the spin” and outline the specific details of the cuts within his Departments of Justice, Equality and Defence.

He said:

“We are totally in the dark as to where the €70 million worth of cuts in Minister Shatter's Department's will be made except that we are to anticipate staffing reductions across the whole sector.

“This is nothing but spin. Here we have the minister applauding himself for being able to maintain Garda strength at 13,000 whilst telling us that in order to do this he will be reducing staff numbers across the sector.”

“We welcome the reopening of Garda recruitment and additional staffing to the Garda Vetting Unit however we must be given specific details as to what exactly the minister is cutting to fund these measures.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing, Dessie Ellis TD, has condemned raising of the government for cutting Rent Supplement for couples in the 2014 Budget. The cut which comes in the form of a rise in the minimum contribution for couples by €5 on top of previous similar cuts will, Ellis says, put many people in great difficulty as rents rise due to a shortage of rental housing.
Ellis said:
“A cut to rent supplement, through a rise in the minimum contribution in 2011, led to people being made homeless, unable to afford their accommodation because of steadily rising rents. Focus Ireland reported that they had worked with many people who had either lost their home or were struggling week to week to hold on in the year that followed this move.
“Housing has seen massive cuts over the last five years with 1 billion euro being slashed from the overall budget. This budget cuts housing again by 10%. Homelessness is at an all-time high and any move like this as rents continue to rise is very dangerous and irresponsible.
“The government, through cuts like this, is putting people in danger of homelessness. Many people on rent supplement are struggling, far too many are making illegal extra payments to landlords who are putting them under pressure. “These couples are vulnerable to exploitation and the government is taking advantage this to make up the numbers in their austerity budget.
“We need a properly organised rent supplement system which will negotiate fair rents with landlords from a point of strength through local authorities. The government refuses to house people properly and perpetuates the poverty trap in the rent supplement system blocking people from work. Now they won't even take the care required to ensure that couple in the system do not lose their homes.”

 

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