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Gerry Adams launches Sinn Féin proposals for 1916 Revolutionary Quarter

Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that 2016, the 1916 Centenary is marked in the most appropriate way possible, as a fitting popular acknowledgement of the past but also, and just as importantly, as a pointer to a better future.

Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms. We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers


 “The PSNI were on the scene but despite the gang committing a criminal offence and acting aggressively the PSNI failed to take any action.”



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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, has tonight called on the government, “to call a halt to the slash and burn approach to the community and voluntary sector.”

Speaking this evening in support of Sinn Féin's motion opposing the cuts to the sector, Deputy Tóibín praised the sector, saying,

“The services provided by this sector are the services which could not or would not be provided by the state or private sectors. These projects are the glue keeping families and communities together.

“The ongoing war of cuts being waged by this government and its predecessors is unacceptable. It is time the cuts imposed in recent budgets be reversed. In opposition Labour applauded and supported many these projects. But since taking office their silence has been deafening.

“Tonight's motion gives Labour TDs an opportunity to grow back bones, stand up and be counted. Do not let yourselves be hoodwinked like the previous junior partners in government.

“The government should recognise the potential the community sector has in delivering vital services and creating employment. Community based drug services, crèches, youth services, senior citizen support groups are all vital to the protection and development of our communities. In fact the current policies of austerity being pursued by this government make these services even more vital.

“The government should abandon their band aid solutions of An Tús and reinvest in the community and voluntary sector. Community Employment Schemes need to be expanded. Special CE Scheme places, employing 1000 people who are in recovery from drug addiction need to be increased to 1,500 and mainstream CE places increased from 22,000 to 40,000.”

In conclusion Deputy Toibín called on the government to “respond positively to the Labour Relations Court findings which recommend that the state has responsibility to those employed in the Community and Voluntary Sector. Legislation must be introduced to allow for collective bargaining and guarantee trade union recognition. Both these rights are being denied to over 50,000 workers in direct contravention of the UN Charter of Human Rights.”

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Following reports in the media today that the government intends to cut social welfare by €1 billion, Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald challenged the Taoiseach in the Dáil to reaffirm his pre-election promise not to cut social welfare.

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy McDonald said:

“Following today’s reports in the media of significant cuts to social welfare, the Taoiseach must address the issue of proposed cuts to rent supplement which keeps a roof over 95,000 households.

“The local authority housing stock is woefully inadequate and any cut to rent supplement would cause huge difficulty and suffering to people who are also struggling.

“The Government is keen to talk about social welfare fraud. What they mean is irregular payments, including departmental error. The Taoiseach might look at the extravagant salaries paid to special advisers which are sanctioned by the government and are in breach of its own caps. One special adviser to the Minister for Social Protection is in receipt of a salary of €127,796.

“In the absence of the published comprehensive spending review and with the Taoiseach refusing to give any affirmation to the House that he will not cut welfare, all we are left with conjecture.

“No one wishes to see any social welfare payment scammed, as the Taoiseach puts it. Equally, no one should cast aspersions on welfare recipients by constantly using the term ‘fraud’ when the correct term is "irregular payments" or in layman’s terms departmental error.

“The fact remains there is largesse for the Minister's adviser and cuts to very meagre social welfare payments. No one in the Oireachtas is living on the basic social welfare payment of €188 per week. That is reality, from which the Taoiseach seems sadly divorced.”

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Michael Colreavy TD today (Wednesday) commented the release of the EU Commission Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Reform legislative proposals.

Deputy Colreavy said:

“After months of speculation, waiting and various leaks, I am delighted that the Commission’s proposals have finally been released. At last we can finally get on with debating and negotiating.

“Upon initial inspection it appears there are some welcome proposals including the sharing out of the pillar one budget amongst member states. There are however some proposals which I am not entirely happy with, namely the greening of pillar one and the possible negative impact on the competitiveness of the agricultural industry.

“It is important now that we all work together, from all parties, from all parts of the island to ensure that our farmers get the best possible deal. They deserve no less.”

ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley urged the Taoiseach to seek to raise the EU’s target on reducing CO2 emissions from 20% to a more ambitious 30%.

Deputy Stanley also said the Government should support and incentivise the use of tidal and wind energy with a view to exporting sustainable energy to the rest of Europe.

Deputy Stanley said:

“I would ask that the Government seeks to raise the EU´s target on reducing CO2 emissions from a 20% to a more ambitious level of a 30%

“Studies have shown that such a 10% increase in the target would reduce Europe’s yearly oil and gas imports by €40 billion whilst simultaneously encouraging a much-needed uptake in green technologies.

“A legally-binding 30% target would inevitably encourage the move to cleaner renewable energy and subsequently increase fuel security, a move that, given our natural assets, would benefit Ireland greatly.

“As a small Island nation we have a wealth of potential sources of renewal energy in tidal and wind power. EU studies have demonstrated that we have more potential for these forms of sustainable energy than most other EU states.

“We need to support and incentivise the use of such energy. Research has demonstrated that through wind power alone Ireland could become an exporter of sustainable energy to the rest of Europe. However we need to get the investment and infrastructure in place.

“This type of energy could be trapped and used for the benefit of our industry and our people.

“An Taoiseach, these changes would have an impact not only on our economy but on our natural environment.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has today described lending restrictions placed on Credit Unions by the Registrar of Credit Unions as a “blunt instrument that will push families into the hands of money lenders.”

He made his comments during a Dáil debate on the Central Bank and Credit Institutions Bill.

Deputy Doherty said:

“More than 50% of Credit Unions across the state have had lending restrictions imposed on them by the Registrar of Credit Unions. These restrictions have been imposed without any clear rationale, criteria or consistency.

“As a consequence, financially sound Credit Unions are unable to extend loans to long-standing customers who, in the view of their local Credit Union manager should be granted a loan.

“These restrictions are a blunt instrument that risk damaging both the Credit Union movement and the many thousands of members who depend on their Credit Union loans throughout the year.

“The regulator has a responsibility to regulate. However his job must not descend into micro-managing the individual lending decisions of individual Credit Unions. Where lending restrictions are applied they must be based on clear criteria and be applied consistently.

“I am also concerned with some of the confusing information that has found its way into the public domain in recent weeks with regard to the Credit Union movement.

“Credit Unions provide an invaluable service to millions of individuals across the country. They are rooted in our community and in many cases allow families to manage their increasingly finite resources.

“Claims made by the Minister for Finance last week in the Seanad to the effect that Credit Unions were in need of recapitalisation funds of between €500 million and €1 billion has caused alarm are unhelpful. Such comments run the risk of unsettling credit union members and creating negative consumer confidence.

“I understand that only a very small number of credit unions will need financial assistance and will need to be dealt with immediately.

“The broader issue of restructuring and regulating credit unions must be left to the Commission on Credit Unions and the Oireachtas, without unnecessary interference from the Registrar of Credit Unions. The financial position of a very limited number of small credit unions must not be used by the regulator to impose an agenda on the credit union movement that is not in keeping with its community bond and not for profit ethos.”

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Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane called for the implementation of the EU missing children’s hotline in Ireland on an all island basis.

The Minister gave a commitment in the Seanad today to have the hotline up and running in 2012. Senator Cullinane said this commitment must be backed up with funding and met at the earliest opportunity.

Speaking in the Seanad Senator Cullinane said:

“Sinn Fein is please to co-sponsor this motion calling for the implementation of the missing children’s hotline.

“I personally call for this not only as a political representative but as a parent who is concerned at the states track record on child protection.

“The EU missing children’s hotline is now operational in 16 member states. The hotline is a specialised service which works very closely with the police in each member state, and the operators of the line would be in a position to offer advice and support to their callers.

“Ireland has a legal obligation to “make every effort” to ensure that this hotline was up and running as soon as possible. However, there is very little evidence of effort on the Government’s part.

“The ISPCC has been campaigning for the setup of this hotline for years, but their resources are overstretched as it is and they cannot afford to run the hotline without help.

“So it is apparent that we have the number, we have an agency with vast experience in the field ready and willing to operate the hotline, but we don’t yet have any commitment on funding from the Government.

“The cross border movement of sex offenders continues to pose a grave risk to the most vulnerable in our society. In theory, it is possible for a registered sex offender from the six counties or overseas to enter the 26 counties unimpeded and “lose” themselves, and vice versa.

“Child protection therefore is an issue which demands co-operation on an all Ireland basis, and also throughout Europe. We welcome the set up of the North-South Child Protection Hub but believe that the ethos behind this innovation needs to be pushed further.

“It would be entirely possible for a child to be taken in Dublin and brought to Larne ferry terminal and be removed from the country within three hours.

“The expedient setting up of the missing children’s hotline is a priority. It should not be delayed any further. Furthermore, the phoneline should be operated on an all island basis. This is the most practical way forward, and the one most likely to prevent the movement of a missing child across the island.” ENDS

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Describing the latest increase in unemployment figures released today as worrying, Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Conor Murphy MP, MLA (Newry/Armagh) said that more needs be done to reverse the trend.
 
Conor Murphy said:
 
“While there is no quick fix to the issue of unemployment there are measures that could be pursued more rigorously. While the official figures show a further increase of 500 unemployed I believe that the real increase is much higher. For instance these figures do not take account of those who chose to emigrate rather than sign on the dole.

"Instead of extolling the fact that numbers here may be less percentage wise than those in Britain or the South, Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster needs to focus on means of reversing the upward spiral in unemployment figures.

“For instance Banks are still not assisting local enterprise and individual business people quite as enthusiastically has they expected the taxpayer to help them.  Small to medium enterprises, despite their potential for job creation are finding it extremely difficult to access financial support. Local entrepeneurs are being frustrated in their efforts to create employment because they can't access financing and the focus is firmly fixed on Foreign Direct Investment rather than encouraging and expanding local enterprise. More pressure needs to be put on the financial sector to assist in job creation by relaxing the suffocating conditions placed on borrowers.

"Government departments such as DETI and Employment & Learning need to direct resources at assisting SME's to expand both locally and into export markets as well as equiping those who find themselves unemployed to acquire new skills and assistance to get back into the workforce. All Ministers should be instructing their Departments to look at their procurement practices in detail to see if there are measures that could be taken that would ensure that Public Contracts maximise opportunities for local employment.

"I believe that the official unemployment figures mask the fact that we are losing our best trained craftspeople and professionals to other economies. We need to prepare now for a recovery by ensuring that those who chose to stay have the opportunity of apprenticeships, retraining and up-skilling.

“It is clear thus far, that British government economic policy is not providing the impetus required to kick-start our recovery. British government economic policy is designed to grow the economy of the island of Britain - we, if taken into consideration at all are only peripheral to any policy development. We need the economic levers to design and develop our own economy in collaboration with the rest of the island. We need the transfer of maximum economic powers from London to the Assembly so that we can manage  our own economic destiny.

“In the meantime there should be better collaboration between the Executive and Dublin Ministers on joint procurement and delivery of goods and services to eliminate duplication and waste with the savings invested in an all-Ireland jobs creation strategy.” CRÍOCH

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