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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North West Dessie Ellis has been served with a summons to appear at Court 16 at the High Court today at 2pm in relation to his participation in a picket at the Tesco distribution centre in Ballymun in support of the striking Eddie Stobart workers yesterday evening.

Five others were also served with summonses.

The court order was issued despite Deputy Ellis having called on the management of Eddie Stobarts to stop escalating the dispute with workers which caused stoppages yesterday and to meet with staff and their union to resolve the issues.

He was speaking after meeting with workers from Eddie Stobarts in Santry who have been involved in the stoppages over conditions and union recognition.

Deputy Ellis said:

“This is 2012 not 1913, it is unacceptable to not recognise these workers’ grievances or refuse to meet with their union. It is also unacceptable to attempt to use vulnerable non-unionised workers to break the dispute.

“These workers have real concerns over rest periods and work conditions. They have told me of the very long hours they work with little allowance for breaks. These are not well paid people and they are struggling in this climate, they need to be listened to and a resolution must be found.

“I call on the employer to meet workers and their representative through the LRC and call an end to the actions which have escalated the dispute.” ENDS

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Adams extends condolences to Minister Noonan on death of his wife

Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, has expressed his condolences to Minister Michael Noonan on the death of his wife Florence Noonan.
Speaking this morning the Sinn Féin leader said:
“My thoughts and sympathies are with Michael Noonan at this sad time. I also extend my condolences to their children at their great loss.
“Go ndeanfaidh dia trocaire ar a n’anam dilse.”
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The Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has accused the Government of “deliberately scheduling the Finance Bill committee stage debate in order to prevent adequate debate and scrutiny.”

His comments come following a vote during Order of Business this morning.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Government is deliberately scheduling the Finance Bill committee stage debate in order to prevent adequate debate and scrutiny. They are doing this in exactly the same way as Fianna Fáil did in previous years.

“There are approximately 115 amendments tabled for the committee stage of the Finance Bill to be debated over seventeen and a half hours. Controversially the Government had decided to squeeze 76 of these amendments into the first three hours. The remaining 39 amendments are being given fourteen and a half hours for consideration.

“It is no surprise that the 76 amendments being squeezed into a three hour debate deal with the most controversial sections of the Bill including the failure of Government to abolish property tax reliefs, the SARP tax break and the revisions of the tax code for pension funds in excess of €2.3 million. It also includes a number of important amendments dealing with issues of the Universal Social Charge, wealth taxes and income taxes on high earners.

“That the government is giving a mere 142 seconds for each of these important amendments clearly demonstrates that they do not want these important matters to be scrutinised in full public view.

“It is unfortunate that the Government pushed through a vote on this matter this morning during Order of Business. I am calling on the Government to reconsider its position and allow the Finance Committee themselves to decide the allocation of time to amendments to the Finance Bill to ensure proper consideration of the issues contained in that Bill.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD accused the Tánaiste of turning his back on Labours general election commitments to retain State assets in public ownership.

Deputy McDonald said:

“During the general election of 2011 the Labour party stated proudly its opposition to short termism privatisation of key State assets. Labour committed itself to the concept of public enterprise and its determination to ensure that semi-State companies played a full role in the recovery of the Irish economy.

“It’s less than a year since the general election and we have two Labour Party Ministers presiding over the sell-off of key elements of Ireland's energy companies, possibly of Coillte and of the remaining State stake in Aer Lingus.

“The government’s record over the past year has been deplorable. It has cut teachers from schools, nurses from hospitals, social welfare payments and CE schemes. Now Labour has turned its gaze to the peoples’ family silver.

“Just yesterday SIPTU leader Jack O’Connor described the government’s decision on State assets a sad day for the Irish people and a tragedy for the Labour Party. The union leader’s words reflect the disappointment of many people who voted for the Labour Party at the general election.

“Why are successful, self-financing State companies that are such a positive for the economy to be disposed of? How can the Labour Party claim that infrastructure, particularly relating to energy, is anything but strategic, necessary and a vital lever for the State and government in the economic recovery we all wish to see?

“Fine Gael Ministers have been mightily flattered by the Tánaiste and his party in government. All the goals in the net accrue to Fine Gael and the troika, in that order. If the Tánaiste was serious about investment in the economy and a finance stream to invest in jobs he would use the National Pension Reserve Fund to this end.

“Previous sales of State assets prove that the privatisation of utilities is not in fact the panacea of perfect competition. The Tánaiste knows well that these policy decisions are indefensible, short-term and reckless.” ENDS

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Speaking before the planned one-day stoppage by drivers at the Eddie Stobart distribution company, Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD said:
“There is a pressing need for dialogue on rest periods and conditions of employment between the workers and the employer in this case. The employer bringing in non-union replacement workers unnecessarily escalates the dispute.
“There is a concern that the actions of one employer in the supply chain could impact on the retail sector including large retailers such as Tesco.
“The onus must be on the employers to reach agreement with the workers if they are seeking changes to the terms and conditions of employment.”
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Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today met with local MEP Diane Dodds and representatives of Bairbre De Brun and the European Commission Office in Belfast.

This was the latest in a series of now regular meetings aimed at fostering good working relationships between local MEPs and DARD designed to maximize the benefit of all constituents in the north of Ireland.

Speaking afterwards the Minister said: “At today’s meeting I raised the crucially important issue of CAP reform and the need to achieve as good an outcome as possible for our local industry. Given the wide ranging nature of the CAP reform proposals, it is important for us to remain in contact during the negotiations, and as we go forward, I am happy to consider any suggestions our MEPs have for continued engagement with the European Parliament on this issue.”

In addition to CAP reform, discussion included CFP Reform and the timetable for the European Parliament dealing with the seven legislative proposals on the table for CAP reform and CFP reform and the best way for DARD to influence the rapporteurs. Disallowance, LPIS, Rural Development Programme and animal health also featured.

The Minster added: “Today’s meeting offered us an opportunity to not only discuss and share our views on key issues of strategic importance, but to also concentrate on considering how our MEPs are going to feed into the European Parliament process. This was crucially important in determining the timing for DARD to produce timely and practical amendments which will be to the benefit of our local farmers and fishermen.”

In conclusion, the Minister said: “I welcome engagement with the MEPS today and I look forward to ongoing contact with them as we move forward on these important issues.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Welfare, Mickey Brady, has welcomed the announcement that the Assembly's Executive Winter Fuel Payment scheme is to be released this week to those who qualify.

Speaking today Mr Brady said:

“The releasing of the Assembly's Executives winter fuel payment will be welcomed by many people who are finding it hard to make ends meet. Fuel poverty is growing and this will go some way to alleviating the difficulties faced by many people.

“The Tory led coalition cut this allowance yet given the circumstances locally the Executive decided it was necessary to rebuild this payment. They have not only reversed the cut but extended to others who were previously not able to avail of this scheme.

“The payment of this allowance this week is a clear indication of  local initiatives delivering for local people.”

Note:

Aprox a quarter of a million fuel allowance payments of up to £100 will be made this month.

Qualifying will be those who in the week 12 to 18 December 2011, were in receipt of:

· Pension Credit,

· Income Support

· Jobseekers Allowance Income Based or

· Employment Support Allowance income related.

Payments will begin to issue in the week commencing 20 February. Those in receipt of Pension Credit will receive £100, with all others qualifying receiving £75.

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Sinn Féin MLA, Alex Maskey, who is also the chair of the Social Development Committee at Stormont has raised the issue of the installation of several lifebelts on the Lagan foot bridge.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

“I have raised the issue of the installation of lifebelts on the footbridge at the Lagan.

“This follows the tragedy faced by the Murphy family when their son, Joby, fell into the Lagan and is now feared drowned.

“It put it to the Minister that as we await the health and safety review in regards to the site that there should be lifebelts installed along the bridge anyway disregarding the cost of such as measure.

“This is an issue of public confidence in the safety surrounding this well used bridge.”

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 Sinn Féin MLA, Alex Maskey, who is also the chair of the DSD committee at the Assembly has welcomed the extension of the Laganside Events Grant Scheme in relation to the amount of funding available to small groups.

 Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

 “The extension of the amount of money available to small groups under the reinstated Laganside Events Grant Scheme is to rise from £300 to £1000. Despite this not seeming like a huge amount of money, for small community and arts groups this will no doubt make a significant difference.

 “Previously the tiny amount of £300 excluded many groups applying to this fund by proxy as the time and effort that it would take to apply for such a small amount made it unappealing.

 “However with this increase in funding I would expect many more groups to uptake the opportunity to apply and play a vibrant role in the artistic life of this city especially in these harder economic times.

 “This isa welcome development as it is within this sector that some of the most imaginative and colourful ideas emanate from alongside the fact that these groups are working right within our communities.”

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