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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Speaking in the Dáil today on the issue of suicide Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe, a patron of phone counselling and awareness service Teenline, said the system in place to support vulnerable children in some schools is not working.

Deputy Crowe also raised the need for chill out rooms in hospitals to take patients away from the bedlam in accident and emergency units.

He said:

“Last year a young lad from a neighbouring constituency took part in a play as part of a suicide awareness programme. Having taken part in it, one would have expected him to realise the pain and suffering his family, friends and colleagues would go through, but he ended up taking that path.

“On his first anniversary another kid from the same school took that path. Support is available in that school. I asked one of his schoolmates how he felt and how he was affected. He told me support was available but that if they wanted counselling, they slipped a note under the door of the school principal. Then they were called out of class.

“If one is not a hard chaw – many of these kids are not – they will be asked why they were called out and the principal wanted to see them. Young men and boys do not want people to know that they need counselling or help. The system in place in that school does not work.

“I know of a volunteer worker who was involved in counselling and came across a young girl of 15 years who talked about taking her own life. As there was no adult at home, she was brought to the accident and emergency unit. Having built up a relationship with the girl, the volunteer who acted as advocate could not remain with the girl because there was no family link.

“The accident and emergency unit was bedlam at a time, but the girl had been brought in on her own. If there was a chill room as part of the hospital system, an advocate could remain with the person concerned. There is a need for the system to realise that when people are vulnerable, they need to sit outside the madness of the accident and emergency unit. We all know such stories.

“We must set targets. Other speakers referred to the number of deaths on the roads and the amount of money spent in tackling that problem. There is no urgency in tackling this issue. We must set targets to reduce the figures.” ENDS

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Jeffrey Dudgeon (Unionist TCD Seanad candidate) and Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Fein NUI Seanad candidate) are holding an evening of discussion on Irish politics, North South relations and the future of the Seanad. The debate will take place on Tuesday 19th April at 7pm in the Georgian Suite, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. The meeting is open to the public.

Speaking in advance of the debate, Mr Dudgeon said:

“The freedom granted by the 1998 referendum in the south, when the claim to Northern Ireland was dropped, allows me to debate with Sinn Fein and test their politics, and most importantly, their historical justifications. As someone who has researched and written about the origins of 20th century Republicanism in Belfast, I am well qualified to take up any challenge posed by Eoin Ó Broin.

“With a decade of centenaries looming, not to mention imminent state visits, and the collapse of so many of Ireland's icons, there is no better time for the Seanad to have more dissenting members, even a liberal unionist. I am not opposed to its university representation being retained, so long as the franchise is extended to all graduates. Senators from Trinity have served Ireland and its minorities well. A counter balance is needed to the Dail, but not a replica.”

Speaking in advance of the event Mr Ó Broin said:

“Sinn Féin has long called for the abolition of the Seanad in its current form. However we also believe that there is value in creating a completely new upper house of the Oireachtas, elected by universal suffrage, the aim of which is to provide a platform for all sections of society to scrutinize government legislation and policy and hold the government to account. Such a forum should aim to provide representation from civil society organisations, sectoral interests, minorities and those too often excluded from mainstream political debate. Next week's debate with TCD Seanad candidate Jeffrey Dudgeon is taking place in this spirit, where a republican and a unionist can discuss our differing views of the future of Irish politics, north south relations and political reform.”

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The all-party cross-border group of Oireachtas and Assembly members dealing with the crisis in Quinn Insurance Ltd has described itself as “absolutely stunned” by the developments announced today. Convenor of the all-party group, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said in a statement:

“The all-party group met today with workers from the Quinn Group as well as Concerned Irish Businesses and Concerned Irish Citizens, all of whom are campaigning to save the jobs in Quinn Insurance Ltd..

“A petition of 90,000 signatures in support of these jobs was addressed to Finance Minister Michael Noonan and accepted on his behalf by Fine Gael members of the all-party group Deputies Frank Feighan, Heather Humphreys and Seán Conlan.

“Immediately prior to the receipt of this massive petition the members of the all-party group learned in disbelief of and were absolutely stunned by the announcements of this morning. These include the designation of the Anglo-Irish Bank/Liberty Mutual proposal as the preferred option for the future of Quinn Insurance Ltd. and the decision of Anglo to take in charge the Quinn family shares across the Quinn group and all its manufacturing entities.

“There is understandable concern among the all-party group that the decision of Minister Noonan to postpone our meeting with him, scheduled for yesterday, 13 April, was not because of his meetings with the IMF, as had been claimed, but was in anticipation of this morning’s announcements.

“We have scheduled an emergency meeting of the all-party cross-border group of elected representatives for tomorrow morning when we intend to discuss and agree the key steps we must now take, including preparation for the rescheduled meeting with Minister Noonan here in Dublin next Wednesday.

“We are anxious to establish from Minister Noonan the extent of the consideration given by him and his Department officials, and others, to the Quinn Group proposals for the future of Quinn Insurance Ltd. We fear that the decisions announced today have been taken without due regard to the proposals presented by the Quinn Group representatives. This is a matter we will raise with Minister Noonan next Wednesday.

“Despite today’s shock announcements, the cohesion of the all-party group will be maintained in the context of our shared commitment to the retention of all existing jobs in Quinn Insurance Ltd and where they are currently located.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin today launched its proposals for Social Development and Housing as part of our series of policy document launches in the run up to the Assembly Elections.

The social development and housing proposals outline key areas and issues that Sinn Féin will focus on in the next Assembly term.

Carál Ní Chulín (north Belfast) said: “Sinn Féin will ensure that proper funding and support is provided for the development of the community and voluntary sector, on the basis of objective need.”

“Our proposals include protecting frontline services, tackling fuel poverty, inserting social clauses into public sector contracts and opposing the welfare reform cuts agenda introduced by the tories."

Fra McCann, Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson said: “Our housing proposals state that everyone should have access to decent affordable housing. We will ensure that measures are put in place to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“We include proposals to have a mandatory registration scheme for landlords in the private rented sector, as well as a deposit retention scheme to protect tenants from landlords who withhold deposits.”

“Our proposals will focus on tackling the inequalities in the housing sector and also tackling dereliction in our town and city centres.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin TD for Donegal South West Pearse Doherty has said that the Government is taking the wrong approach to the Irish Speaking Scheme.

An announcement yesterday by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs states that the Scheme will now be discontinued.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Government is taking the complete wrong approach to the Irish Speaking Scheme.

“Sinn Féin agrees that the scheme should be reviewed in order to benefit both native Irish speakers and those who want to become fluent in the language. We do believe, however that the decision to discontinue the scheme entirely is the wrong approach to take.

“What we need is root and branch reform of the scheme so that it enhances and enriches the use of Irish among native speakers and those who want to become fluent. It is widely acknowledged that the scheme at present is not enabling that.

“I would appeal to the Government to take on board the recommendations of the Staidéar Teangeolaíochta ar Usáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht with regard to this scheme. We do need reform. We do not need ill-thought-out decisions such as that announced yesterday.”

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Commenting on the fire at Belcamp College in Coolock, Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor for the area, Larry O'Toole, said:

“Belcamp College was an historic building and its destruction by fire is a major loss. After it was closed as a school it was taken over by a developer, Gannon Ltd. and had lain unused since, ending up in NAMA with other Gannon properties.

“This fire raises major questions for Gannon and NAMA. Why was this building not secured better? Was security increased after previous break-ins?

“This also raises public safety issues for other properties held by NAMA in this area and elsewhere.

“Belcamp College had a long history as an educational institution and was associated with Countess Markievicz who used the estate as a youth camp in the early 1900s.

“I will be pressing the authorities to prevent further destruction and anti-social behaviour at the site of the fire and at other vacant properties in the area.” ENDS

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Dúirt TD Shinn Féin i nDún na nGall Thiar Theas, Pearse Doherty, go bhfuil cuir chuige an Rialtais go hiomlán mícheart maidir le Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge.

D’fhógair an Roinn Pobail Comhionnanas agus Gaeltachta níos luaithe inniú go bhfuil deireadh a chuir leis an Scéim.

Dúirt an Teachta Doherty:

“Tá cuir chuige an Rialtais go hiomlán mícheart maidir le Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge.

“Aontaíonn Sinn Féin gur cheart athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an Scéim sa dóigh go mbeadh sé tairbheach do chainteoirí dúchaise agus dóibh siúd atá ag iarraidh a bheith ina gcainteoirí líofa Gaeilge. Creidimid, afach, go bhfuil an cineadh seo deireadh a chuir leis an Scéim mícheart go huile agus go hiomlán.

“Seard atá de dhíth ná leasú iomlán ar an Scéim chun feabhsú agus saibhriú a dhéanamh ar úsáid na Gaeilge i measc cainteoirí dúchaise agus fosta cuidiú leo siúd atá ag iarraidh líofacht Gaeilge a bhaint amach. Tá sé aitheanta go leitheadach nach bhfuil an Scéim ag déanamh seo faoi láthair.

“Glaoim ar an Rialtas dul de réir na moltaí atá sa Staideár Teangeolaíochta ar Úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht maidir le Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge. Tá leasú riachtanach cinnte agus ní cinneadh gan machnamh mar atá déanta ag an Rialtas seo inniú”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty has welcomed the Government’s commitment to reverse the cut to the Minimum Wage.

However Deputy Doherty also warned that Fine Gael are using this promise as a political cover for wage cuts on the lowest paid.

Speaking at Leinster House this evening Deputy Doherty said:

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to reverse the cut to the Minimum Wage. It comes after much pressure from Sinn Féin, Trade Unions and other campaign groups.

“However Fine Gael have also made clear their intention to cut the wages of hundreds of thousands of low paid workers. The European Commission and IBEC are pressurising the Government to force down the cost of labour by slashing the wages of the lowest paid – those covered by the Joint Labour Committee agreements and Registered Employment Agreements.

“The JLC and REAs cover more than 300,000 of the very lowest paid workers in our society. They are based mainly in services industries, hospitality and trades, many of whom are part-time and the majority of whom are women. Many of these workers are living on or below the Governments own poverty line. These are the people who Fine Gael, supported by IBEC and the European Commission, want to target in their quest to drive down wages.

“It is very clear that the reversal of the minimum wage cut, although welcome is being used by Fine Gael as political cover for wage cuts on the lowest paid. It comes as no surprise that Fine Gael would want to take attack this section of workers. However they can only do this if supported by the Labour Party. Workers have a right to know where Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore stands on this issue and I would ask him to make his position known.

“Driving down the wages of the lowest paid will push thousands of families further into poverty. It will also create poverty traps and in some cases a disincentive to work. Crucially it will also damage the economy, as people will have less money to spend in the local economy, resulting in even more unemployment.

“If Fine Gael are serious about protecting the low paid they will not only reverse the cut to the minimum wage but will also protect the wage rates agreed under the JLCs and REAs. However if they proceed then it is up to the Labour Party to stand by working people, do the right thing and stop the race to the bottom in terms of wages.

“For our part Sinn Fein will continue to campaign alongside trade unions and other campaign groups to make sure that the already poor wages and conditions of low paid workers are protected from further attack.”

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Sinn Féin Communications Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has, speaking this evening as the Communications Regulation Postal Services Bill 2010 was passed in the Dáil, accused the Labour Party of facilitating a Fianna Fáil led piece of legislation which was designed to liberalise the postal services and could lead to the privatisation of significant sections of An Post.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The Communications Regulation Postal Services Bill 2010 was a Fianna Fáil led Bill designed to liberalise the postal services and could lead to the privatisation of significant sections of An Post.

“This evening we witnessed the shameful sight of the Labour Party lining up alongside both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to secure the passage of this Bill through the Dáil.

“This Bill could lead to the closure of many rural post offices, the loss of hundreds of jobs and the loss of vital postal services for thousands of rural citizens while private companies cherry pick the profitable sections of the postal services for themselves.

“The Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the right wing conservative parties on this issue.” ENDS

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Lynn Boylan MEP