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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



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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Jonathan O’Brien, the Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson warned today of serious consequences if a lot of the gardaí elegible for retirement leave the force before next February to protect their pension rights.

Deputy O’Brien was commenting on the leaked internal garda report into the potential results of the retirements:

“The possible retirement of around 1,200 gardaí by next February would lead to a disastrous loss of capacity for the force. This problem is exacerbated by the government’s ban on garda recruitment as part of its deal with the EU/IMF.

“There would be a huge resourcing problem across An Garda Síochána: stations would be understaffed, some would have no permanent sergeant and specialist drugs, organised crime and fraud units would be set to lose experienced gardaí, with no replacements in sight.

“The Minister for Justice needs to offer solutions to this staffing problem; a problem, I can assure him, criminals will have no difficulty in exploiting.”

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Speaking today after the Dáil Finance Committee met the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said “the government has given up on the domestic economy”.

The Donegal South West TD accused the government of “foolishly putting all its eggs in the basket of export-led growth rather than investing in rebuilding the domestic economy.”

Deputy Doherty said:

“Both the ERSI and the government have announced that they are revising downwards their economic growth predictions for 2011 and 2012.

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the consensus for cuts being pursued by Fine Gael and Labour, and supported by Fianna Fáil, will delay social and economic recovery and is the reason hundreds of thousands of families are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

“Today the minister acknowledged that the government would have to revise downwards its growth projections for 2012. This is the second time it has been forced to do this, confirming what Sinn Féin has said all along, that economic growth cannot be achieved on the back of savage austerity.

“Meanwhile the government, just like its predecessors, tells us that the path to recovery rests in domestic austerity and export-led growth.

“It is clear that the government has abandoned the domestic economy and with it, the hope of reducing unemployment.

“It has foolishly put all of its eggs in the basket of export-led growth at a time when the global economy looks set to contract. Economists and government bodies in the US and Europe are bracing themselves for a second recession.

“The government needs to change its economic policy and start to invest in the domestic economy. It should do this by investing in jobs and by making those who have most pay more while protecting those he have least.

“Unfortunately, listening to Michael Noonan at the Finance Committee today, there seems to be little chance of this happening. Instead he looks set to return to the Dáil in October with a package of spending cuts and tax increases that will depress the economy and force more families into real financial hardship.” ENDS

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Speaking today following exchanges with the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty called on the government to establish a distressed mortgage resolution body with statutory powers.

The Donegal South West TD said that only such a body, equipped with appropriate powers and policies would be able to tackle the growing mortgage distress crisis.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The latest figures from the Financial Regulator on the mortgage crisis are truly shocking. At the end of June there were almost 100,000 households in serious mortgage distress. This means that nearly 700 families a week are falling into arrears now.

“This figure does not include those struggling to pay their mortgage at a time of rising prices and increasing government charges and at risk of falling into distress.

“Statements from the Minister for Finance this week demonstrate that the government does not appreciate the urgency of the situation and the need for firm government action.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that the government must move to create a new, time-limited, distressed mortgage resolution body. Such a body would be an independent arbitrator tasked with reaching resolution agreements for those in mortgage distress. While such agreements between lenders and borrowers should be on the basis of joint agreement, the resolution body should have the power to impose agreements.

“The remit of the body would be to assess each case of mortgage distress on its individual merits and recommend sustainable resolutions. Three principles would underpin a range of options available to the resolution body.

“In the first instance, to assist the mortgage holder maintain their primary family residence. Options to achieve this would include reductions in the size of the mortgage, which may be accompanied by mortgage lenders taking an equity share of the home.

“However for those families who do not wish to remain in the family home or where such an option would not be financially sustainable a range of other options would be available, including short selling, trade ups, trade downs and social and voluntary housing.

“Finally, underlying these two principles will be a commitment to burden-sharing by mortgage holders, mortgage lenders and inter-bank commercial lenders. Sinn Féin’s proposals will not only require mortgage lenders to absorb a significant portion of the losses on the value of mortgage. We also propose inter-bank lenders should absorb their share of the losses.

“Our proposals will deal with issues such as the impact of overall household debt on mortgage distress and the need for ‘fresh start’ reform of our bankruptcy laws.

“The full detail of Sinn Féin’s proposals will be launched next week. However we believe that the government must act urgently if they are to address the needs of the 100,000 families currently in mortgage distress and prevent thousands more falling into a similar situation.”

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Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has slammed the ESRI's accelerated austerity policy.

Deputy Tóibín said that ESRI was recommending a more rightwing approach to the economy than even the government, paving the way for Minister Noonan to hurt working people even more with the next budget.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Let's be clear - the ESRI has got economic forecasting hopelessly and dangerously wrong in the years preceding this deep recession.

“The Irish economy has already gone through some of the harshest austerity cuts ever seen in a western economy, leading to the crash.

“Nearly half a million are unemployed, up to 50,000 a year are emigrating and hundreds of thousands of people are being forced into poverty. The economy is cut to the bone. Any further cuts will have severe and long lasting effects.

“The health, the education and the living standards of a whole generation are being severely attacked. All this is happening on the basis of an ideological bias within this government and organisations such as the ERSI. The people making these recommendations are insulated from the disastrous effects of their policy pronouncements by their high salaries.

“Our government’s refusal to make the rich pay is out of step internationally and is the real problem. Progressive taxes must be marginally increased on those earning over €100,000 instead of the proliferation of flat taxes that attack the poor in society.

“To get the domestic economy growing there must be a focus on stimulating and investing in the economy. The national debt of the last generation was paid for through economic growth.

“The ESRI suggests that the money saved by a reduced interest rate, allowed by the EU after Greece forced renegotiation, should be used to write down the deficit faster.

“This ignores the fact that no matter how quickly we write down the domestic deficit, we are still carrying a debt burden level that is crippling the state's finances because we have taken on all of the private banking debts.

“Private debt must also be restructured. It cannot be paid for by strangling the economy, closing hospital services or reducing educational services.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has called on the Justice Minister David Ford to support the Consumers Council’s call for lower insurance by moving insurance disputes from County Courts into Petty Sessions.


Mr Boylan stated,


“The cost of dealing with these insurance cases through County Courts compared to Petty Sessions courts is astronomical due to the use of barristers and other legal representation needed in a County Court and these legal costs are helping to maintain high insurance premiums in the North


“In Britain all insurances claims are dealt through the Petty Sessions Court and this is reflected in cheaper insurance premiums in Britain.


“Overall drivers in the North of Ireland are paying an average of £300 more than their counterparts in the Britain and I will be supporting the Consumer Council in addressing the inequalities offered to drivers in the North.

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe has welcomed the announcement that the Department of Education will examine how €15 million in grants allocated annually to schools to run book-rental schemes is being spent.

The grant is worth €11 for each primary school pupil and €24 for second-level students. An additional €10 and €15 per child is offered at primary and second-level, respectively, for schools that cater for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Deputy Crowe continued: “I understand that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has asked his officials to find out which schools operate book rental schemes.

“If implemented properly rental schemes can significantly reduce school costs. Recent surveys have shown that the costs of text books are becoming too expensive for many low and middle income families.

“The Department of Education should use well-run book-rental schemes as a template that can be applied throughout the primary and secondary school sectors." ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD has claimed that, “the government's Jobs Initiative lies in tatters after today’s unemployment figures highlighted the deepening crisis facing our communities.”

Speaking after the Central Statistics Office released figures showing that unemployment increased by 1,600 in August, Deputy Tóibín said:

“Unemployment now lies at 469,713. Since this government launched their much hyped Jobs Initiative in May unemployment has actually increased by nearly 30,000 people. It is now clear that the government’s jobs initiative lies in tatters. The government, no longer part of the solution, is now part of the problem."

“The policies of austerity being pursued by this government are actually contributing to growing unemployment queues. They are forcing companies to the wall and people on to the dole.

“These increased unemployment figures come on the back of further revelations yesterday that banks are refusing to provide loans to businesses that are attempting to expand and create jobs. It is unacceptable that the government is pumping billions into the very banks who are refusing to invest in Irish jobs.

“Sinn Féin will continue to propose economic policies that would invest in the economy, provide jobs, increases our tax revenue and strengthen our public services.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has supported the Irish National Teachers’ Union (INTO) call that the law on absence from school should cover five-year-olds.

Deputy Crowe said figures released this week showed that 98% of the 67,000 children starting primary school will not be covered by the law covering absenteeism during their first term at school. They cannot be monitored by the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) until the new year, when most of them will have their fifth birthdays.

He said, “The current legislation only covers children and young people between the age of six and 16. Therefore, schools have no power to take action against parents of children under six who miss 20 days or more. This is unacceptable.

“NEWB statistics show that one-in-ten primary pupils miss at least 20 days of school each year. This is particularly damaging for a child who has just started school as the first couple of years in a classroom are vitally important in developing literacy and numeracy skills.

“Education Minister Rúairí Quinn must address this matter. Often absence from school is the first indication that a child is not being properly cared for at home. If there is no legal mechanism to deal with absence from school in very young children, the authorities have no means to intervene on their behalf.

“I will be raising this matter with Minister Quinn in the hope that he will address this anomaly in legislation. It is important that every child is given the best start at school and parents must be compelled to ensure their children attend school regularly.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the proposed closure of 59 hospital beds in Co. Mayo, including six in Swinford District Hospital where the Taoiseach, a Mayo TD, only opened new facilities in July.

The bed closures are signalled in internal HSE documents seen by Sinn Féin. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The HSE is proposing to close 59 in-patient beds in Co. Mayo. The internal HSE documents seen by Sinn Féin confirm that these closures are being brought about because of the ongoing recruitment embargo, with the HSE saying that the current number of beds cannot be sustained with current staffing levels.

“In July Taoiseach Enda Kenny officially opened new facilities at Swinford District Hospital. It is now proposed to close six beds at this hospital, a situation the HSE document describes as embarrassing.

“These closures will hit patient care in Co. Mayo, especially the care of older people. I challenge Enda Kenny to intervene to prevent the bed closures and to lift the recruitment embargo which is crippling the health services throughout the State.” ENDS

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