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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described as “disgraceful” revelations that Mr John Browne TD has been receiving a Ministerial pension despite being a sitting TD.

Deputy Adams has called on Mr Browne to make a full public statement in the Dáil on the issue.

“This money needs to be repaid to the exchequer immediately. People across the state are suffering real hardship and were shocked at the extravagant pension arrangements for former Ministers revealed last week.

“It is disgraceful that a sitting TD is in receipt of a Ministerial pension that he is not entitled to.

“There also needs to be a thorough investigation into how this situation arose and was able to continue undiscovered for nine months.

“Had Sinn Féin not submitted our PQ on ministerial pensions this situation could have continued indefinitely.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has welcomed the news of a new initiative by the Library services in the North in which library users can now download eBooks.

Cathal Ó hOisín said:

“This is a welcome development and keeping in step with the advances of modern technologies. Library members can now download almost 25,000 eBook items in the Libraries NI catalogue to most eBook readers and handheld devices, including some mobile phones as well as to personal computers.

“There are thousands of titles now available and they can be downloaded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This free service is open to library members across the North.

“There is also the added bonus that there are no reservation fees and no fines, with the books automatically expiring when the loan period finishes. This service will appeal to a wide range of people who may not be able to pop down to their local library on a regular basis or live those that live in an area that hasn’t a regular library.

“If people are not already a member of their local library I would encourage them to go along and join up today. It’s important that we support our library services and ensure that as many people as possible get access to the wide range of services on offer."

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has welcomed the announcement of 100 new jobs by Prometric in Dundalk.
Deputy Adams described today’s announcement as “a welcome development.
The Sinn Féin TD said: “Dundalk and County Louth have suffered badly as a result of the current economic crisis. Today’s announcement is a welcome development with the potential of more jobs to come in the years ahead.”
ends

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Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has called for the rationalisation of mobile roaming charges across the island of Ireland.

Speaking ahead of a motion tomorrow Phil Flanagan said:

“While I welcome the work done across Europe to lower the roaming charges, we still have a disparity across the border region of Ireland where businesses are being disadvantaged due to expensive data and phone roaming charges.

“It is important that we create a level playing field in attracting new businesses and the creation of the all Ireland tariff would help attract high tech industries to the North.

“According to the most recent Ofcom report in 2007, inadvertent mobile roaming alone was costing people in border areas as much as £11m per year. This was at a time before the proliferation of smart phones and a massive surge in the amount of data being used on mobile phones, so it is anticipated that the total amount lost to the local economy is far higher than previous estimates.

“I am particularly concerned at the cost of roaming data charges being applied across the border as these tend to be very expensive for businesses trading in border areas. 

“While the price of telephone charges have dropped considerably over the years, data charges have remained high and with the onset of e-commerce it is critical that companies along the border areas are given the opportunity to compete on an even basis.”

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What: Launch of Sinn Féin Submission to Budget 2012
When: Tuesday 15th November, 11am
Where: Georgian Suite, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street
Who: Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Peadar Tóibín

Sinn Féin’s Submission to Budget 2012, ‘The Route to Recovery’, will be launched in Buswells Hotel tomorrow, Tuesday 15th November, by Party President Gerry Adams, Vice President Mary Lou McDonald, Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty and Enterprise Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín.

For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.

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Speaking ahead of tomorrows pre-budget submission launch Sinn Féin’s Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has sharply criticised Labour and Fine Gael for appointing party insiders to a myriad of State agencies since entering Government.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Cronyism and self-interest has dogged Government since the inception of the State. Nowhere is this more evident than in the appointment of board members to State agencies. Since the time of Lemass party insiders have been gifted board memberships over and above those best qualified for the job.

“Fine Gael and Labour promised the people root and branch reform in advance of the election, the Programme for Government uses the word reform 65 times. But as today’s reports of recent government party insiders being appointed to State boards reveal, Fianna Fail kicked cronyism into the field but Labour and Fine Gael have now run with it.

“Under successive Fianna Fáil Governments the number of State agencies established rose by 60%and despite numerous reports calling for improved oversight and management of State agencies nothing changed.

“In the party’s pre-Budget submission Sinn Féin has called on Government to commit to a considered programme of reform, delivered within a 12 month period that incorporates proposals for enhanced governance, output measurement, reporting, shared services, and a reduction in pay at the top. A simple cull is not the answer, but the number of agencies must be reduced through amalgamation, shared services, shared personnel and if necessary the closing of those that serve no real purpose.

“Immediate reforms should include a reduction in board membership to no more than seven and remuneration awarded to all commercial and non-commercial State agency board member’s should be cut by 25%.

“Transparency must be introduced to the system of State agency board appointments.

“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform should compile a public ‘State Agency Database’ of all commercial and non-commercial state agencies, board membership and accompanying remuneration. This information should be readily available on the Government’s website. In addition the Department should compile an additional database of potential board appointees selected on the basis of their capabilities.

“Cronyism has fundamentally undermined our system of Government and it can no longer be tolerated.” ENDS

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos to discuss the CAP Reform proposals.

This was a joint meeting with the Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman MP, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead MSP and Welsh Deputy Agriculture Minister Alun Davies AM. Minister O’Neill also attended the November EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

Speaking after the meeting the Minister said: “I have maintained from the outset of the CAP reform process that it will be important for our views to be put directly to the EU Commission. During this meeting, which covered a range of reform issues, I emphasised to Commissioner Ciolos the sheer complexity of the proposals and the difficulties this would pose for both farmers and paying agencies, particularly in the areas of active farmers and greening. I was able to share with him some of our own analysis and stressed the need for an effective and workable definition of an active farmer which would make it clear precisely who was eligible for support. I am deeply concerned that the Commission’s current approach will fail in all of these points.”

The Minister continued: “I also share the concerns already being raised by stakeholders on the proposals to green Pillar 1. I highlighted the difficulties that greening would cause in a region such as the north of Ireland, where an already small cereal sector could shrink further, thereby reducing diversity of production and habitats, as well as the potential for some of the greening proposals to undermine our agricultural competitiveness.”

The Minister concluded: “These were very beneficial discussions but we are at an early stage of the CAP reform process and much more work needs to be done in order to obtain the necessary improvements to the reform proposals. I will continue to promote our local interests in Europe robustly and am keen to receive the input of stakeholders to our recently launched consultation to assist me in this process.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the North had lost a satirical genius with the passing of Sean Crummey.

“I send my deepest sympathy to Sean’s family and friends at this sad time. His satire and humour was always very pointed but never vicious.

“As a political satirist Sean Crummey was at the top of his field and his ability to, not only mimic those involved in politics, but also to make comedy of the latest political goings on - was legendary.”

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Sport, Cork East TD Sandra McLellan, has extended her best wishes to the new women’s league in soccer which gets underway this weekend.

Speaking ahead of the first round of games on Sunday Deputy McLellan said:

“This is a particularly special weekend for soccer in Ireland with the result of the senior international team in Tallinn and the launch of the new women’s league.”

“Many would have watched with interest as Peamount United competed against Paris St. Germain earlier this year and showed the high standard of women’s soccer here.”

“The new league which is made up of six teams from Castlebar, Cork, Peamount, Raheny, Shamrock Rovers and Wexford, is funded as part of the UEFA women’s football development programme (WFDP) and provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop the women's game here.

“It will allow players, including those currently playing at schoolgirls level, to progress and develop their skills in a first class set up. I want to encourage all fans of the game here to support the new league.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described the 14 Irish human rights activists from the Irish ship to Gaza, the MV Saoirse, who are presently arriving home, as “inspirational”.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn condemned the Israeli government and armed forces for their “illegal kidnap and imprisonment” of Irish citizens on a mission of peaceful solidarity and aid to the beleaguered one million Palestinian citizens of Gaza.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn also thanked the staff at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Irish Embassy in Israel for their unrelenting work on behalf of the 14 Irish citizens to ensure that their rights were defended and that they were released from Israeli detention.

He said:

“I am immensely proud of these 14 Irish human rights activists. They are an inspiration. At a time when Ireland’s international reputation has been sullied by corporate greed and selfishness, these men and women have reminded the world of the best of Ireland, our noble tradition of defending human rights and oppressed people across the globe.

“Israel has again been shamed by the dignity and integrity of peaceful activists but it poses the question: why do ordinary citizens have to risk their lives and liberty again and again on this issue when the vast majority of world opinion is behind justice for the Palestinian people? Why have the US, the EU and the UN failed to hold Israel to account?

“It is clear from the recent vote at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to accept the full membership of Palestine that the overwhelming weight of international opinion supports the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, dignity, justice and freedom.

“I long for the day when no more Irish citizens have to take the risks that the heroic Gaza 14 have taken yet again. But the only way this can happen is for the Irish Government and their European and International partners to finally deliver justice for the Palestinian people.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his “solidarity and congratulations to President Michael D Higgins on his inauguration as Ireland’s 9th President.”

Mr Adams is in the USA to attend the annual Friends of Sinn Féin dinner in New York and to participate in the Boston-Northwest Golden Bridges conference in Boston.

Last night – Thursday – Mr Adams addressed 800 Irish Americans in the Sheraton Hotel in New York.

The Sinn Féin leader praised the positive contribution of Irish America to the peace process. He said this positivity can also be harnessed in the effort to regenerate the Irish economy. Mr Adams urged Irish America to actively participate in the Constitutional Convention that the Irish government is proposing to hold next year.

Mr. Adams said:

“As the inauguration of Michael D Higgins takes place it is important that we support the right of Irish citizens living in the north of Ireland and others in the diaspora who hold Irish passports, to vote in future Presidential elections.

“The Irish diaspora has been an indispensible supporter of the peace process. It has a vital contribution to make as we seek to reshape and reimagine Ireland in 21st century. As the centenary celebration of the 1916 Rising and of the Proclamation approaches there is a role for Irish America in commemorating these events.

“The diaspora also should be involved in the Constitutional Convention that the Irish government proposes to hold next year.

“Ireland is an island in transition; in part because of the peace process but also because of the economic crisis. There is an opportunity to build a new Ireland – a new Republic, and the diaspora can play a positive and constructive role in that.”

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Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún has written to the Commission to raise constituency concerns surrounding the use of the controversial gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' as it is more commonly known.

In April of this year four new licenses were granted in the north of Ireland allowing gas and oil companies exploratory fracking rights.

de Brún said,

"Given the major environmental impacts fracking could potentially have on the local area it is imperative that Environmental Impact Assessments are taken before exploration commences and I have written to the Commission in this regard."

"In America, the use of fracking has been reported as the cause of heavy contamination of drinking water with dangerous gases and chemicals which is clearly a serious concern for public safety and agriculture for any possible projects in Ireland."

"Furthermore, it has been stated by seismologist experts that two earthquakes which happened earlier this year in the northwest of England were connected to the fracking exploration which had begun in the area."

"It is extremely worrying that governments are permitting potentially very dangerous and environmentally unsound gas exploration to take place without full environmental impact assessments and at a time when we should be investing our efforts in searching for clean, safe and renewable energy sources."


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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has spoken of his deep concern at media coverage in recent days concerning the wearing of poppies at a local school.

Reports earlier in the week had claimed that pupils at Dundonald High School had felt compelled to remove poppies following comments made by a teacher.

Commenting on the coverage, Mr O’Dowd said: “Earlier this week, a local media organisation devoted extensive coverage to claims that pupils at this school had removed poppies following comments from one teacher. This was despite the fact that the claims had not been backed up.

“Later the same day, the school completed a thorough internal investigation which concluded that there was no evidence found to substantiate the claim.“Unfortunately, however, the damage had been done. Poor journalism had thrust individuals, and a wider school community, into the limelight on the back of a baseless story.

“As Education Minister, my top priority is the pupils and staff in our local schools. These are learning environments where children in their formative years are taught and guided by teachers of the utmost integrity. Complaints, such as the one which arose earlier this week, should be dealt with by teachers who are professionals in their field and best placed to deal with such issues. Dragging a school community through a political debate on the airwaves is no way to handle such a sensitive issue.

“We must never forget that at the heart of this are children. I am very concerned at the impact this coverage has had on Dundonald High School and its teachers and pupils who are left, when the media move on, to pick up the pieces.

“I would ask and expect that in future media organisations, and those wishing to comment on such matters, would reflect with maturity before chasing quick headlines.

“The impact on our pupils and staff is my top priority – and I would expect others with influence across our community to feel the same.”

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Sinn Fein Councillor Micheal Mac Donncha has strongly criticised the decision of Dublin City Council management to appeal the ruling of the High Court that requires the Council to address the accommodation needs of the evacuated residents of Priory Hall. He said:
 
"The residents of Priory Hall have been through a terrible ordeal through no fault of their own. It is disgraceful that City Council management should now seek to over-turn the ruling of the High Court which requires the Council to ensure that they are supported in the provision of emergency housing. This appeal should not proceed.
 
"It is long past time for the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan to intervene directly in the Priory Hall situation. He has yet to meet residents' representatives and should do so without further delay. This situation requires a comprehensive approach involving the Government, the City Council, the residents and the lending institutions. The Minister should be co-ordinating this. He should ask the Council not to proceed with its appeal and provde the resources to ensure that the Council can comply with the existing High Court ruling." ENDS

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A Monaghan County Councillor has called on the Minister for Social Protection to examine why such a high proportion of Domiciliary Allowance applications are being refused by her department.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has written to Minister Joan Burton after he has dealt with a number of applicants who applied for Domiciliary Care Allowance which is a monthly payment to the carer of a child with a disability so severe that the child requires care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. In the cases cited by Councillor Carthy, the decision by the department was subsequently overturned on appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Councillor Carthy claims that anecdotal evidence from parents and support groups suggests that the rate of refusals has increased since the allowance was moved from the auspices of the HSE to the Department of Social protection.

In a response to a Parliamentary Question by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Minister Burton confirmed that of the 8.015 applications for the allowance in 2010 and the first six months of 2011, 4,294 were refused representing 54%. Of the 1,222 appeals relating to these refusals which have been processed, 462 (or 38%) have been awarded.

The Monaghan Councillor explained that the refusals can lead to much disappointment and anguish for the families of children who require full time care due to disability.

Councillor Carthy said:

“It is clear from speaking to families affected and support groups that there is a feeling that the department is purposefully making families fight for this payment.

“It is an imperative that the Minister examines this issue especially considering the high rate of appeals which have been successful. The appeals process can be a long and drawn out affair that only adds to the stress encountered by these vulnerable families and places additional strain on department resources” he concluded.

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Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West, Seán Crowe highlighted GP shortages in his constituency and issues to do with Tallaght Hospital.
Deputy Crowe said: “Many people cannot access the General Medical Services Scheme because of the exclusivity of the current arrangements.
“Some within the medical profession want to see the retention of the status quo. This is untenable as there are too few GPs and too few GPs who have access to GMS contracts which allow them to treat medical card patients.
“Today, the health minister James Reilly announced a series of new initiatives to reform and modernise the governance structures of Tallaght Hospital.
“Whilst I welcome this announcement, the Minister must address the under-resourcing of Tallaght Hospital. It has constantly advised the HSE, of the staffing and other resources required to rectify imbalances and any restructuring of the management structures at the hospital will make little or no difference if money is not found to ensure the hospital functions properly.
“Recent HSE figures show that Tallaght Hospital sees more people in its emergency department, treats more inpatients and sees in excess of 30 per cent more patients in the outpatient department than the next busiest hospital. “Despite this, it has the fewest numbers of consultant doctors of the four Dublin teaching hospitals and there is also a shortfall on the requisite number of consultants.
“In a review of the hospital conducted by Dr Maurice Hayes in September 2010, he reported that, relative to other Irish hospitals, ‘the degree of understaffing in Tallaght Hospital in 2009 was substantially greater than in the other sampled hospitals’.”
“A breakdown of Dublin hospitals’ annual financial allocations yields startling figures: its allocation is €176 million, compared with St James’s €220 million and €200 million at St Vincent’s. This equates to €800 per person in St James’s, €727 in St Vincent’s – and €350 per person living within the catchment area of Tallaght Hospital.
“Clearly there are tremendous challenges facing Tallaght Hospital and this is exacerbated by the shortage of GPs servicing local communities comparative to other similar areas. Galway and Tallaght have similar populations of more than 70,000, yet Galway city has more than 40 GPs, compared to 26 GPs for Tallaght.
“Added to this is absence of an out-of-hours GP on-call system which means people have nowhere else to turn except the hospital’s emergency department. We have the added pressures that will result from the closure of the St Brigid’s Residential Care home in Crooksling, which provide highly specialised care for high-dependent patients,” he said.

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Ar son foireann Sinn Féin san Oireachtas agus sa Tionól sa Tuaisceart ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Uachtarán na hÉireann, Máire Mhic Giolla Íosa, as an sár-obair atá déanta aici le ceithre bliain déag anuas.

Inniú an lá deireannach in oifig ag an Uachtarán agus is maith an rud go bhfuil an ómós seo a thabhairt againn dí agus dá fear céile Martin.

On behalf of the Sinn Féin Oireachtas members and our party representatives across the island of Ireland I want to express our gratitude to the outgoing President Mary McAleese for her 14 years of service as Uachtarán na hÉireann. Today is her last day in office and it is fitting that we should mark the occasion with some words of thanks here in the Dáil.

Mary McAleese will be remembered as a President who made a very significant, long-term and consistent contribution to the building of lasting peace and true reconciliation in Ireland.

She came to office in 1997 when the Peace Process was at an early and very delicate stage. The Good Friday Agreement was yet to be negotiated.
When that Agreement was reached it was followed by months and, indeed, years of delay and doubt and, at times, despair. Many doubted that it could be made to work. However, through persistence and patience it did work and it has been implemented and huge advances have been made - away from conflict and inequality and towards lasting peace and equality. Society in the Six Counties has been transformed and the whole of Ireland has benefitted.

If the Peace Process could be compared to a tapestry one of the brightest threads running through it would be the role of President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin McAleese.

They consistently championed the potential of the new dispensation on this island. They worked in a very special way for reconciliation between the diverse traditions in Ireland. They undoubtedly made a significant contribution to mutual understanding. They helped to make dialogue a reality, encouraging communities in the North to engage as never before.

Because she came from the North, President McAleese brought an understanding and a personal commitment to the work of peace and national reconciliation.

She was a President of the Irish Nation – as defined in Article Two of the Constitution. That Article states:

“It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and territorial seas, to be part of the Irish Nation...”

During the presidential election there were some who lost sight of that article. For them, a permanent mist has descended on a part of our island and of our Nation. There were some who continued to display the type of mindset that, in 1997, called the presidential candidate Mary McAleese a “sectarian time bomb”.

The outgoing President and her husband proved them wrong a thousand times over in a presidency that encompassed all of our island and all of our people.

President McAleese embraced the marginalised and the discriminated against, she learned and used the Irish language while in office and she represented the nation abroad in an exemplary fashion.

As son sinn uile gabhaimíd búiochas léi agus guímíd gach rath ar obair an Uachtaráin nua, Mícheál D. Ó hUiginn.

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Sinn Féin's environment spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has described the Infrastructure & Capital Investment cuts as a wasted opportunity to invest in the green economy, jobs and sustainability.

Deputy Stanley said:

“The slash and burn politics of this government is highlighted in their massive cut to environmental infrastructure.

“This is a time when the government should be investing in our green industry to boost the economy and provide jobs. The capital budget to the Department of Environment has been cut by €287m. This includes cuts to investment in water services by €65m and to the rural water programme by €10m.

“There is no commitment to investing in water harvesting which aims to reuse rain water. This investment would not only create jobs but would also reduce our water consumption by a third. There is however a commitment to water rates. Today’s plan commits the government to ‘deliver high quality competitively priced water services to customers.’

“One of the biggest omissions in this programme for cuts is the lack of commitment to alternative energy. Ireland has one the highest rates of oil consumption in the world. Investment in wave and wind power and other alternative sources of energy must be a priority. The planned removal of the energy efficiency grants is lazy and badly thought out. At a time when 1.4 million homes are in need of retrofitting the government should be redoubling their efforts to encourage insulation and upgrading.

“SEAI reported that ‘every euro spent on Better Energy Homes delivers a net benefit of €5 to society through energy, CO2 and other pollutant savings. The analysis shows that investments in home energy upgrades will be fully repaid through energy savings within eight years.’ Despite this our government is committed to phasing the grant scheme.

“Clearly this programme was written by those who have no interest in growth, sustainability or developing a green economy.”

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Sinn Féin enterprise spokesperson Peadar Tóibín TD has said the government’s capital expenditure cut is proof that the bailout of private bondholders and its associated austerity is the biggest threat to the Irish economy today.

Deputy Tóibín said today’s announcement will cost a further 7,500 jobs.

“The government’s capital expenditure cut is proof that the bailout of private bondholders and its associated austerity is the biggest threat to the Irish economy today.

"The government will reduce capital spend by €750 million resulting in a further 7,500 people being made unemployed.

“What we are witnessing is a debt-for-competitiveness swap where vital national infrastructural projects are being mothballed and the Irish economy is being physically weakened, because this government has decided to payoff unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders.

“This will result in higher costs to our citizens. It will make it harder for local businesses to survive and it will make Ireland less attractive to Foreign Direct Investment. Our future competitiveness and therefore our options for recovery are being significantly weakened by this government.

“Projects such as the Metro North, the A5 motorway to Derry and Donegal, the Dart underground and the Navan to Dublin railway would have significantly increased competitiveness and trade both in the mid-east and north-west region. The government’s commitment to build 40 new schools falls short of what is needed.

“There can be no recovery in this state without job creation. Capital investment in education, transport and technology create jobs immediately but also lead to increased competitiveness. Sinn Féin’s budgetary proposals to be launched next Tuesday will give detail to our investment programme.” ENDS

Responding to the publication of the Capital Investment Programme, today (Thursday) spokesperson for the No Water Charges campaign Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD condemned the wave of cuts to water investment.

“We know that it is not the householder, but the water distribution network, that is the biggest culprit when it comes to water waste, but the government is announcing a series of cuts which mean that the network will not be updated.

“Capital investment in water is being cut from almost €435 million in 2011 to €331 million in 2012. That’s a cut of €100 million or almost 25%. It’s a cut of nearly €200 million on the 2010 allocation, with more cuts planned until the budget is just €266 million.

“Our water distribution network is antiquated. A decade of under-investment means that in some local authority areas more than half the water is leaking away. The big freeze last winter and repeated flooding has caused more damage to the network, which urgently needs renovation.

“This government is gearing up to impose water charges on householders. The government claims that water is a precious resource but refuses to spend the money required to protect it. It’s expected that environment minister, Phil Hogan will shortly announce the introduction of meters and charges while overseeing an inadequate system,” he concluded.

ENDS

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Speaking following the announcement of the capital allocation to the Justice Sector for 2012, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice Jonathan O’Brien called on the government to increase the allocation to the Prison Building Service in order to address the issue of prison overcrowding.

The Cork North Central TD said;

“The €24.1m that has been allocated to the Prison Building Service is wholly inadequate. This represents a 30% reduction in the capital allocation to the Prison Service.

“The level of overcrowding in prisons is at chronic levels. The prison and courts services will be forced to use early release in order to address the overcrowding. If anything, this funding should be increased.

“The Minister for Justice must take a new approach to prison policy. The majority of people in prisons are there for very minor offences and non-payment of fines. These should not result in custodial sentences. Changing prison policy and introducing sentencing guidelines should be part of an attempt to address overcrowding.

“While we welcome the 2012 capital allocation for the in-cell sanitation project in Mountjoy Prison, we disagree with the Minister’s views that this will ‘radically improve’ conditions in the prison.

“The Department is aiming for 317 cells in Mountjoy prison having in-cell sanitation by the end of 2012 – this is only 60% of the cells in the prison, meaning that 40% still will not have in-cell sanitation and the practice of slopping out will continue. There is no mention of Cork prison, where hundreds of men are slopping out on a daily basis. This must be addressed by the Minister.

“None of the allocated budget to the prison building services addresses over-crowding. There will still be 6 or 8 to a cell in some prisons with people living in the most inhumane and Victorian of conditions.

“I have submitted a series of Parliamentary Questions in order to get more information on the allocated budget to justice.”

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