Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has announced the re-opening of the Farm Modernisation Programme (FMP) for applications from Monday 18 October.
Making her announcement, the Minister said: "Over 1,000 farmers benefited from Tranche One funding of the FMP last year, with over £4.3million provided by my
Department and a total investment of over £10.5m in the rural economy. I can now confirm that the wait is over for Tranche Two of the FMP, which will be open for
application for a six week period from Monday 18 October until Friday 26 November 2010.”
She added “There will be no repeat of the 'first come, first served' approach to this second tranche of funding under FMP. No funds will be allocated until the
application period is over. All applications received will be scored individually at the end of the application period and those awarded the highest marks will receive
funding from the £7million that I have made available for tranche two of FMP. I therefore urge anyone thinking of applying to take time to study the Explanatory Booklet
before submitting an application form.”
The Minister also explained that in order to support the greater use of online facilities to access DARD key services and schemes, farmers are being encouraged to submit
their applications electronically through the award of additional marks, although paper applications will continue to be accepted, by hand or by post.
Focusing on this element of Tranche Two of FMP, she said: "Understandably not everyone in the farming community are totally comfortable with using information
technology. However we have to realise that this is the way ahead for more rapid service delivery, reduced paperwork and less bureaucracy and a step-by-step guide
has been produced for the online application. In our Equality Impact Assessment Report for Tranche 2, I emphasised that our FMP delivery agent, Countryside
Agri-Rural Partnership will have a Helpline in place. This will offer down the line assistance for anyone who seeks help to either access the online process or for
“I have also arranged for the Rural Support Networks to open up their offices to provide broadband access for farmers who do not have this facility. DARD Rural
Enterprise Advisers will also make themselves available and the UFU and NIAPA will work with their members too. Indeed NIAPA is willing to take paper applications
and submit them online for farmers. I wish to thank all of them for their support on this issue, which will help ensure that all applicants have an opportunity to gain the
marks available for submitting an online application.”
Concluding her announcement, the Minister said: “My objective with this tranche of FMP is to target disadvantage by focussing on those farms within the Less Favoured
Areas, where a need for modernisation is great. FMP is about modernisation and those people who operate in difficult farming and environmental circumstances
everyday. My intention is to ensure that those farmers should receive that modernisation opportunity within this second tranche of the Programme.
“I hope all eligible farmers will consider what FMP can offer to them to modernise their farm. This could potentially represent an investment of over £15million in the
rural economy when the farmers’ contribution is also added. FMP offers some long-awaited good news to the sector in a difficult economic climate. I am already
looking forward towards a further tranche next year and considering how that might be focussed, possibly towards young farmers.”
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has attended the opening night of the Rainbow Centre in Newry.
Established for the benefit of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in Newry and the surrounding counties of Armagh, Down and Louth the centre aims to provide an informal setting for young people to meet and socialise.
Speaking about the event the Minister commented: "I want to congratulate all those involved with the Rainbow Centre here in Newry. We must celebrate diversity in our society and this centre gives people the chance to highlight the issues that affect them and ensure their voices are heard. The support and advice that is offered by centres such as these can also prove to be invaluable.
"As I have said before, the Government has a responsibility to ensure policy development considers the needs of all in our community, including policies for education. As Education Minister I take my duty to respect and treat all sections of the community equally very seriously. I am fully in support of the aims of the Rainbow Community in educating the wider population of the benefit of a vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered community."
Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast Fra McCann speaking after the release of information regarding the uptake of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) across the North of Ireland, said:
“The recent figures showing that there is a high degree of people across the north that are receipt of Disability Living Allowance are not as surprising as they may initially appear.
If we look at factors such as the legacy of the conflict, a traditionally higher level of disability within the north and patterns of social deprivation, all of these play a part in people’s quality of life and health levels.
The facts are that DLA is a benefit that needs medical approving before anyone receives it; there are various grades of DLA and those areas with the highest rates have in reality seen very little inward investment into their communities over a prolonged period of time.
DLA has already been proven to be the least fraudulent of any benefits that people are entitled to. We must get away from the stigmatisation of those in receipt of this important benefit.
What we need to see happen, instead of targeting those who are on benefits in a negative way, we need to explore in what ways we can address the needs of those in receipt of benefits.
That includes support mechanisms, service provision and improvements in preventative health measures.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Fein Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has said that Sinn Féin have raised concerns over an alleged assault on Lurgan man Colin Duffy in Maghaberry prison with the Justice Minister
Mr O'Dowd said:
"In recent days serious concerns have been raised by Mr Duffys legal team and his family over alleged assaults upon him by prison staff as he was moved from the prison to court. As a result of the concerns surrounding the treatment of Mr Duffy we have raised the matter with the Justice Minister.
"Anyone being held in prison deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. It is important that the Prison administration now act to ensure that Mr Duffy is being treated properly and that his human rights are being protected.
"The allegation of assaults upon Mr Duffy must be robustly investigated with no hiding place for anyone committing such offences against prisoners who are supposed to be in the care of the prison service."
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “a very disappointing backward step” the announcement by the Taoiseach Brian Cowen today in the Dáil that the Government is drafting alternative children’s rights amendment wording to that agreed by an all-party committee.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Government has clearly decided to break the all-party consensus on the wording of the children’s rights referendum. This is a very disappointing backward step. The committee, of which I was a member, worked extremely hard over many months, and with the best legal advice and participation from a wide range of views, to come up with a very considered proposed wording.
“We need the rights of children to be strengthened in the Constitution. A referendum to do just that is now overdue but is to be further postponed as a result of the government’s decision.” ENDS
Speaking during a private members debate in the Dáil this evening, the Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy, Martin Ferris TD called for urgent action to be taken on the issue of fuel poverty. He also called on the ESB, Bord Gáis and other energy suppliers to alter their policy on disconnections and to enter into agreements with people who find themselves in genuine difficulties.
Deputy Ferris said:
(Full text of Dáil speech)
“Recently released statistics show that the ESB is currently cutting off the electricity supply of more than 900 people a month with overall disconnections at a monthly rate of around 2,500. Gas disconnections have increased to something in the region of 600 per month.
“My party and others have for long pointed to the problem of fuel poverty in this country. It has been highlighted in official studies and various Government agencies and Ministers have from time to time recognised the problem and promised to take measures to alleviate it. Far from doing that however they recently facilitated an increase of 5% in the price charged to consumers for electricity. We called on the Minister to reverse the decision to impose the 5% levy but that call fell on deaf ears.
“Myself and I am sure every other member here has dealt with cases where people have found themselves in financial difficulties which have caused them to fall behind in paying their electricity and gas bills and in some cases have led to the threat or the actuality of their supply being disconnected.
“Unfortunately many of us who have made representations on behalf of such people in difficulties have noted the uncooperative attitude which the ESB has adopted towards struggling families who are attempting to make arrangements to pay their bills. Despite what the company says publicly there seems to be a rigid attitude and a refusal in many cases to come to an agreement on repayments. They even charge for the call out to cut people off. That is outrageous behaviour from a state company.
“The impact of the increases for domestic consumers has been particularly severe in many instances. The most recent report I can recall on fuel poverty was by the Institute of Public Health who conducted and published a study in 2007. Even then they found that fuel poverty in this country was at an unacceptably high level by international standards and they were supported in that by the World Health Organisation which said that it was shocked by the fact that 17% of households in this state were experiencing fuel poverty.
“That already bad situation has been exacerbated by subsequent price increases and the overall economic situation which has led to hundreds of thousands joining the dole queues. But even many people who are working have experienced cuts to their wages and living standards and are also finding it hard to make ends meet. The percentage of households in fuel poverty now is without doubt a lot higher than 17%.
“Families on marginal incomes, and particularly elderly people, are the most affected, sometimes to the extent of having to go into further debt in order to heat their homes, and it is estimated that there are in the region of 3,000 excess deaths per annum in the island of Ireland due to deficiencies in households being able to meet their energy needs.
“The most alarming aspect of studies on fuel poverty here is that rates of fuel poverty were increasing even over the years of highest economic growth and that the level of household income below which families were finding it hard to meet their energy needs was rising steeply.
“Indeed as the motion points out the majority of homes where gas is being disconnected at present are owner occupied. It is clear then that it is not a problem exclusively or even mainly associated with people on social welfare.
“The fact that the income threshold at which people find it difficult to pay their energy bills has risen is also an indication obviously that energy prices and the relative proportion of household income required to meet their needs has been rising at a faster rate than most other essentials. In the current economic situation that is a recipe for social disaster and a similar study on fuel poverty to that conducted in 2007 would undoubtedly make much grimmer reading.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has criticised the decision of the Department of Education to amalgamate of 29 out of the 33 VECs in the state.
Senator Doherty said that given the track record of this government it would not be surprising if this ended up costing more than it is intended to save.
Senator Doherty said:
“This is a bad idea from a bad government. There is no evidence that this will save any money and given the track record of this government with regards to amalgamations, this could end up costing the tax-payers more money than it is supposed to save. The Minister should publish a cost-benefit analysis of this proposal before proposing any amalgamations.
“This move will also undermine democratic accountability. VECs are comprised of elected representatives, parents, staff and community representatives elected at county level. Amalgamations will mean that their input will be greatly diminished.
“This announcement comes on the evening before a long-awaited piece of legislation aimed at granting VECs patronage of primary schools. At a time when the government is proposing to increase the responsibilities of VECs, it is in fact decreasing their democratic accountability. It is because of that unique democratic accountability, that partnership approach that VECs should be entitled to become patrons of primary schools.
“We only need look at the health services to see how moving public services from county to regional administration leads to services being deteriorated. If anything VECs should be strengthened and made more accountable, not cut back.
“This is a bad move and should be stopped in its tracks. “ ENDS
South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has, this afternoon in the Assembly, announced that he is to step down as a councillor after 27 years on Belfast City Council. His announcement comes in line with the party’s policy of phasing out dual-mandates.
Speaking this afternoon Alex Maskey MLA said,
"In stepping down from the council I would like to thank the people of West Belfast who elected me from 1983 until 2001 and the people of South Belfast who elected my to the Council as their representative since then. I also wish to thank my family for their continued support as well as the party for giving me privilege to serve for such a long period of time.
“We in Sinn Féin are committed to ending dual mandates and my announcement today is indicative of that commitment.
“I will continue to work for the people of South Belfast in my role as an MLA and I look forward to working with my replacement on Belfast City Council who will be confirmed later in the week.
“This move will allow me continue in role as an Assembly Member for the people of South Belfast in the time ahead. It also underlines that we in Sinn Féin are committed to building a strong team of elected representatives within South Belfast and I am confident that this will see our vote continue to grow in south Belfast in the years ahead.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan, said there will be no surprise that the DUP want to cling on to their policy of ‘double-jobbing’ given all the perks they have availed of.
Speaking from the Assembly today Mr Boylan said;
“The DUP’s opposition to the Private Members Bill passing through the Assembly today which seeks to end the process of elected representatives ‘double-jobbing’ won’t really surprise anyone, given the controversy that surrounded that party during the recent expenses scandal.
Sinn Féin is committed to phasing out dual-mandates, as late as this evening my party colleague Alex Maskey announced his stepping down as a Belfast City Councillor. This will be followed by others very shortly.
The ending of double-jobbing will not only prevent elected representatives serving in various forums at one time but it will also allow greater opportunity for women and young people to enter into elected politics and bring all that that will entail along with them.
So I would call on the DUP to give the people an explanation as to why they object to ending double-jobbing.” CRÍOCH
Responding to the start of a planning process for the new National Children’s Hospital today Dublin South Central Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said many questions remain unanswered about the illogical decision to site the new hospital near the Mater Hospital.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh also said that today was a sad day for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and called on people to support Sinn Féin in its campaign to keep the hospital open.
Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“Many questions remain unanswered regarding the illogical decision to site the new hospital in the City Centre near the Mater Hospital.
“One of the original backers of the plan, Doctor Maurice Nelligan, who passed away sadly last week, had earlier this year come out against the plan to site the hospital at the Matter.
“And just last week the Chairperson of the new hospital’s development board Philip Lynch mysteriously resigned his position with the Minister remaining tight lipped on the reasons why.
“Today is a sad day for Crumlin Children’s Hospital but the campaign to oppose its closure will continue and I would call on the public to support the efforts of Sinn Féin and others who have been lobbying, campaigning and protesting in support of Crumlin for many years now.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described the curtailment of services in Cavan General Hospital as the result of the Government’s cutbacks – with worse to come.
“The slashing of services in Monaghan, Dundalk and Navan hospitals has put huge pressure on the already over-worked Cavan General Hospital and Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
“On top of these service cuts and the centralisation of services at Cavan and Drogheda we have the Government’s cuts in health spending and the ongoing embargo on recruitment in the health services.
“The cutbacks are making service curtailments such as those in Cavan more likely in the months ahead – with worse cuts to come on the December budget.
“Patients are suffering with the deferral of all elective cases and medical clinics at Cavan so far this week.
“In June we had the closure of the Emergency Department at Louth County Hospital in Dundalk and the removal of both the Rapid Response Vehicle and the Patient Transport Ambulance from Monaghan to Castleblayney. Thirteen surgical beds and a ward at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan were recently closed.
“This is the reality of Fianna Fáil/Green Government health cutbacks, with the North East region being among the worst hit and least well placed to cope.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Fra McCann, has called on Social Development Minister to explain to those who live in the private rented sector why he is opting for a soft touch approach to mandatory registration of this sector.
Speaking today Mr McCann said:
“Sinn Féin have for some years been calling for a mandatory registration scheme attaching strong compliance powers.
“A recent consultation carried out by the Social Development Minister’s department, with a several exceptions, have called for a strong registration scheme. In fact all the indications were that a strong action should be taken against this unregulated sector which gets upwards of £80 million per year in housing benefit.
“If this was the community sector then the department would be requiring that every penny was accounted for and yet some within this sector has been involved in providing poor housing, using illegal evictions, threats against vulnerable tenants, retention of deposits when people leave, charging more than the housing benefit rate plunging people into debt, and on occasions several agents have charged by the calendar month to get the extra several weeks in the year.
“We in Sinn Féin recognise that the private rented sector are an essential part in the provision of rented accommodation. Many provide good quality accommodation but many do not.
“We have stated that the rules which guide the rest of the housing sectors such the Housing Executive and the housing associations should apply. Self regulation does not work and a light touch mandatory registration scheme will fail because it will lack the teeth to ensure landlords treat their tenants with respect and comply with the scheme.
“Sinn Féin demand that a mandatory registration scheme with strong regulatory power be legislated for immediately. The Minister needs to spell out publicly why they have abandoned those who seek help in this sector.” ENDS
Sinn Fein has said they are opposed to any increase of tuition fees for university students. Sinn Fein spokesperson on Further Education Paul Butler MLA said the Minister for Employment and Learning Reg Empey should, “reject the British government’s report into the review of tuition fees carried out by Lord Browne.”
Mr Butler said;
“This report if implemented in the north’s universities would lead to increased debt for students and their families and would deter many from disadvantaged and low income backgrounds from taking up higher education. Browne’s report transfers the responsibility for paying for higher education from the government onto student’s graduates and their families which would burden them with huge debts for many years.”
Paul Butler continued
“It is totally unacceptable that the ability to pay for higher education has now become the benchmark for accessing educational opportunity. The University Campus should be a learning place not a market place. We believe that education is a basic right. If the Browne report is implemented it will lead to the introduction of the marketplace into our universities and a two-tier third level education system.” CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the ESRI’s new Social Charge proposal is regressive and should be rejected by the Government.
Speaking this morning Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“This proposal from the ESRI would yet again punish the low paid and drive more people into poverty. Of course the Government should be looking at the tax net but only progressive taxes should be considered.
“The Social Charge, as proposed by the ESRI, is regressive and should be rejected by the Government. Under the proposal high earners would see a benefit while low earners would be punished. Equally concerning is the thinly veiled suggestion that contributions under the new charge should not give rise to entitlements.
“After letting the highest paid civil servants off the hook on the pension levy the introduction of this form of social charge would add insult to injury for the low paid.
“The Government needs to take its focus off the low earners in our society and concentrate on the wealthy and those who can afford to pay more.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that his party will not be part of “a consensus designed to facilitate savage cutbacks and shield the Fianna Fail/Green Government from the political consequences”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“For the past week we have witnessed efforts to pull all the political parties in behind the Fianna Fáil/Green Government’s plan to slash and burn the Irish economy in order to reach a 3% budget deficit by 2014.
“Already the so-called main Opposition parties - Fine Gael and Labour - have signed up to that strategy. Sinn Féin will have no part in it. We are proposing a different way forward which will be outlined in full in our forthcoming pre-budget submission.
“Green Party leader John Gormley says he wants to meet the other party leaders. I am open to such a meeting but one thing is very clear - Sinn Féin will not be joining any false consensus designed to facilitate savage cutbacks and shield the Fianna Fail/Green Government from the political consequences.
“What is needed is solidarity with the people who are suffering because of the recession, not a conspiracy among political parties to cause further hardship.
“Fianna Fáil and the Greens have no mandate to impose savage cuts on the people, no mandate for the bank bailout, no mandate for NAMA and no mandate to continue in office.
“Fine Gael and Labour should set out their stall. They claim to be the Government in waiting but what is their joint programme? Will it include cuts to health and education and social welfare? Will it include water charges? Will it end the recruitment ban in the health services and other front-line public services?
“The next step must be to call a General Election and let the people decide.” ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA this morning hosted a visit to west Belfast by New York City Comptroller John Liu as part of his fact-finding visit to Ireland.
Mr. Adams met the Comptroller in New York two weeks ago. He also met the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and discussed investment opportunities.
Speaking after this morning’s event in Conway Mill during which John Liu met civic and community leaders in west Belfast, Gerry Adams said:
“Our effort is to secure additional investment for the north, over and above the pension funds already invested here.
For 30 years the Comptroller’s office has ensured that US companies locating here have an equality agenda.
While the focus of the Comptroller is to add value to the Pension Funds, and to protect his pension fund holders, there is a clear connection between investment and tackling inequality and disadvantage in the north.
Comptroller Liu made clear his firm commitment to advancing this work through his investment decisions.
Location, access and strong contractual language are key to delivering real change for those that have suffered decades of discrimination and neglect while also generating the necessary returns for the pension funds.
The twin aims of building the economy and promoting equality are now increasingly recognised by business leaders across the globe as complementary and directly linked. Building a fairer and more equal society is necessary to delivering a more sustainable economy that grows. This is good for the pension funds, good for workers and good for business. Investment has to be about ending discrimination and disadvantage by addressing the issues of location and access.This means we need investment directly into areas such as West and North Belfast, west of the Bann and Derry." CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin by-election candidate Senator Pearse Doherty has hit out at Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Dara Calleary’s use of the government jet to fly back from Brussels in order to vote against having the by-election in Donegal South West.
Senator Doherty said:
“This is not just a disgraceful waste of tax-payer’s money but it also confirms what we all thought – that Fianna Fáil will stoop to any level to make sure that this by-election does not go ahead.
“We have been subjected to claims by government that the country cannot afford a by-election, we have to ask if we cannot afford a by-election why can we afford to spend €9,000 to fly a minister home for a vote? Why could the Minister not take a commercial flight or better yet give us our by election?
“At a time when families are having their electricity cut off because they can’t pay the bills, when homes are being repossessed while banks are bailed out to the tune of billions, for the government to fork out €9,000 to deny democracy to the people of Donegal South West is a smack in the face.”
“Next week will see the government waste yet more tax-payers’ money in defending their refusal to hold the by-election before the courts. It does not have to be this way; the government can avoid a costly legal challenge by calling the by-election. If not, I’ll see them in court.” ENDS
Speaking this evening at a Sinn Féin selection convention that nominated Senator Pearse Doherty to contest the Donegal South West by-election, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said Fine Gael and the Labour Party were now involved in a cosy political consensus with what was probably the most unpopular Government in the history of the state.
He said only Sinn Féin offered an alternative way forward.
Congratulating Pearse Doherty on his selection, Adams told several hundred delegates gathered in Gortahork that the Sinn Féin Senator was “part of an emerging, young and dynamic leadership of Sinn Féin in the 26 Counties constructing a radical republican alternative to the failed politics of the establishment”.
“Probably the most unpopular government in the history of this state is now implementing policies for which it has no mandate”, Gerry Adams said.
“This Government is now putting the final touches to a budget focused primarily on making up the exchequer deficit by cutting public services. This will only make the country’s current difficulties worse.
The Sinn Féin leader said that those who led Ireland into the current economic crisis are not the ones to lead people out of it.
“This tired Government has no vision for Ireland’s future. It is a discredited administration, no longer fit for purpose”, he said, adding:
“Fine Gael and Labour will make the exact same cuts to public services and infrastructure spending that the current government is planning. Someone needs to shout stop.”
Adams said Sinn Féin offered a political alternative to the cosy consensus that now exists between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, all of whom think it is a good idea to cut €3billion from public expenditure in December’s budget which he said would merely deepen the recession and lead to further job losses.
He said Sinn Féin would launch budget proposals next month as an alternative to the Government’s policy of “slash and burn”.
“We are arguing for a stimulus package to create jobs and help ordinary people.
“Sinn Féin is also calling on people across Ireland to take to the streets of Dublin on 4th December to pressurise the government in advance of the budget.
“It is time to make a stand”
See full text of speech below:
This country needs a change. We are in the midst of a deep economic and social crisis. Ireland is at a crossroads.
Probably the most unpopular government in the history of this state is now implementing policies for which it has no mandate.
Half a million people are unemployed. Health services are being shut down across the state. The Government has now planned drastic cutbacks to social services and supports.
Meanwhile, billions of euros of public money — your money — is being pumped into the banks that brought about the current economic disaster. The estimated cost of the bank bailout is now a staggering €50 billion.
This Government has no plan to get Ireland back to work or to begin an economic recovery.
Meanwhile the crisis deepens, the dole queues lengthen and the numbers of people emigrating grows by the day.
County Donegal knows all of this only too well. This is a county that has been abandoned by government.
For decades the policy in Dublin has left the entire western region under-developed and under-resourced
Donegal felt the recession long before it hit anywhere else. Even during the ‘Celtic tiger’ era, Donegal continued to experience unemployment levels far higher than the rest of the state.
Successive governments have failed to deliver for Donegal. Their legacy includes:
· Over 20,000 people unemployed
· Destruction of the textile and manufacturing industries
· An exodus from farming and fishing
· Local schools badly in need of extensions and refurbishments
· The vast majority of graduates unable to find employment in their home county
· A 30% decline in overseas visitors since 1999
· The closure of local post offices
· Uncertainty over the future of the rural transport scheme
· A decline in island populations
· Closure of regional hospitals and reduction in services
· No rail services whatever in the county
Donegal has never been properly serviced by infrastructure or public services.
The Government is now putting the final touches to a budget focused primarily on making up the exchequer deficit by cutting public services. Things here can only get worse.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs have never stood up for or delivered for the people of Donegal.
The Labour Party has no record of standing up for rural Ireland.
Fine Gael and Labour will make the exact same cuts to public services and infrastructure spending that the current government is planning.
Donegal cannot afford this. Someone needs to stand up and shout stop.
If the people of this constituency elect Pearse Doherty to the Dáil he will be that person.
Pearse Doherty has an exemplary record of standing up for Donegal.
As a Sinn Féin Senator, Pearse has used the Seanad to raise various issues of concern to the people of this county.
Pearse is one of the few people in the Oireachtas to bring forward a vision for the west in the report he produced entitled ‘Awakening the West’.
He is currently battling to force the Government to hold the Donegal South West by election and has brought them before the High Court on this issue.
That by-election is hugely important. Along with voters in Waterford and Dublin South, the people of Donegal South West will be given a unique opportunity to give their verdict on this government, on their mismanagement of the economy and on their response to the unemployment crisis.
The same people who led us into the current economic and fiscal crisis are clearly not the ones to lead us out of it. The reality is that this tired Government has no vision for Ireland’s future. It is a discredited administration, no longer fit for purpose.
Sinn Féin’s record, during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era of highlighting the mistakes that were being made and the wrongs that were being done to our economic base and our social infrastructure is there for all to see.
Over those years our Dáil team has been to the fore in challenging the Government about the effects of their policies in fuelling the property bubble and the dangers of the overdependence on revenue related to construction and consumption.
But Sinn Féin is not interested in merely saying ‘we told you so’. What we are interested in is getting this country back on it’s feet. And let there be no mistake — there is a better way. Together we can change Ireland. Now, in this time of crisis, we can start building support for a better, fairer Ireland.
Sinn Féin offers a political alternative to the cosy consensus that exists between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. These other parties all think it is a good idea to cut €3billion from public expenditure in December’s budget. But this will merely deepen the recession and lead to further job losses.
What we need is a stimulus package to create jobs and help ordinary people.
Jobs can be created. The solutions do exist.
Sinn Féin believes that the creation of jobs must be at the core of any economic recovery plan.
We have outlined proposals for the creation of jobs across the agri-food, tourism and IT sectors.
We want to ensure that would-be entrepreneurs and existing businesses are facilitated in accessing credit.
The major costs facing households must be tackled.
This includes the amount which those on low and average incomes pay on mortgage repayments.
Sinn Féin’s alternative involves reducing the social welfare bill by creating jobs rather than by cutting welfare payments. Pushing people into poverty will not lift us out of recession.
The rural economy including the agri-food sector must be at heart of Ireland’s economic recovery. Sinn Féin’s alternative involves protecting rural life including vital rural services such as bus services, post offices, Garda stations and primary schools.
Cronyism and the existence of a ‘golden circle’ was a key factor in the failure to regulate the banks and the development of a property bubble.
Government policy was designed to help developers and speculators to make huge profits for which the ordinary people are now expected to pay.
Sinn Féin is determined to end corruption and get rid of the golden circle.
Ninety years of partition has been detrimental to our country in a myriad of ways. The negative consequences of partition have been felt acutely here in Donegal.
Uniting Ireland is at the heart of everything that Sinn Féin does.
Donegal needs an all Ireland economy – it needs Irish unity. We need Sinn Féin Ministers in the North’s Executive working with Sinn Féin TDs for the betterment of Donegal and its people.
Donegal South West needs a strong, principled voice in Leinster House.
It needs a TD who will argue for a United Ireland, for increased and accelerated all-Ireland integration, the creation of employment opportunities and infrastructural development in Donegal; who will defend local health services and who will put forward imaginative, realistic and constructive solutions that will enhance the tourism and agriculture potential of this beautiful part of the world.
Pearse Doherty can be that voice.
Pearse Doherty is part of the emerging, young and dynamic leadership of Sinn Féin in the 26 Counties who are constructing a radical republican alternative to the failed politics of the establishment.
He is an important member of our Oireachtas team who will maintain the pressure on this terrible government in the days and weeks ahead.
Sinn Féin’s priority is to get rid of this government as soon as possible.
The Government is running scared of the electorate. and have denied democracy by refusing to hold the three outsanding by-elections.
Pearse Doherty is keeping the Government under pressue by taking it to court again on October 18th to demand that the Donegal South West by-election goes ahead.
In November Sinn Féin will launch a budget alternative to the Government’s policy of slash and burn. We are arguing for a stimulus package to create jobs and help ordinary people.
Sinn Féin is calling also on people across Ireland to take to the streets of Dublin on 4th December to pressurise the government in advance of the budget.
It is time to make a stand.
We can best do that by getting Pearse elected.
Senator Pearse Doherty, currently involved in a legal challenge against the government’s refusal to hold the Donegal South West by-election has been nominated as the Sinn Féin candidate in the constituency.
Accepting the nomination in Gortahork this evening Senator Doherty said:
“I wish to thank my Sinn Féin colleagues for this nomination. It is an honour to represent the party in the county and I hope that I will do them proud.
“For too long Donegal has been abandoned by politicians, government and big business.
“To add to that abandonment, the government has refused, for over a year now, to grant full political representation to the south and west of the county.
“For a political party to suspend democracy on the basis of opinion polls that don’t suit them is a scandal.
“For this reason that I am proceeding with my legal challenge to force
the government into giving us our election.
“My message to Brian Cowen is this – call the date or I’ll see you in court.
“Donegal never experienced the boom times and is suffering not just from the current economic crisis but also because of decades of underinvestment.
“With over 21,000 people unemployed in Donegal our young talent have been left with little option but to emigrate.
“Government cuts are forcing local hospitals wards to close, home-help hours are being slashed.
“Our schools are waiting years for repairs and new buildings.
“Our Gaeltacht is under threat.
“Public transport is virtually non-existent and our roads are in a poor state of repair.
“But it does not have to be this way.
“I’m a proud Donegal man. I love my county and I know the strength and potential of its people.
“I know we can turn this county and the indeed the country around.
“It’s time for people to make a stand and make those in power take notice.
“As a Sinn Féin TD I will campaign for a job creation and retention plan to protect jobs and to get our unemployed back to work or into training.
“Unlike those in all the other parties I will not sign up to cutting €3billion out of the economy, primarily from the pockets of those who can least afford it.
“The way to sort out our economic problems is through a stimulus package, investment in jobs, public services and our most valuable resource – our people.
“It’s time for people to demand their rights and stand up to government cuts.
“In this by-election we can show the establishment that Donegal people are a force to be reckoned with.
“I will go into the by-election to win it and I look forward to the challenge.
“Thank you again for the nomination.”