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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 Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that communities across the country will resist the HSE plans revealed today (Christmas Eve) to close up to ten publicly run community nursing homes and 900 beds in its 2012 service plan.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“On Christmas Eve comes the leak of the HSE's 2012 service plan with the prospect of ten publicly run community nursing homes being closed down, 900 beds closed and 4,500 medical staff cut. This eviction notice is the Christmas present from the Fine Gael/Labour Government to the old and the ill in Irish society.

“Any attempts to close further nursing homes will be resisted by communities across the country. When nursing home closures were announced earlier this year we warned that the Government and the HSE now had an unwritten policy to close down public provision of nursing home care for older people.

“If this HSE service plan is implemented then older people will be removed from their homes in 2012. None of this plan should be implemented before the resumption of the Dáil which should have the opportunity to debate and vote on it. In the meantime I urge communities to get organised to resist the threatened closures.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Deputy Peadar Tóibín has said he fears the government legislation published today to underpin the Joint Labour Committees may have the effect of reducing workers’ wages.

Deputy Tóibín said the protection of premium rates for Sunday and anti-social hours should be written loud and clear into the legislation.

“As a result of the High Court judgement which removed the protections for JLC workers, last July I brought about legislation which would have safeguarded the pay and conditions of this significant section of workers in the state. Our legislation has been put on hold in committee stage by government TDs on the promise of government legislation that would resolve these issues.

“However we have significant fears that the Government Bill will have the effect of reducing wages. We believe that it needs to be written loud and clear in the bill that premium rates concerning Sunday trading and anti social-hours are fully protected. The government should not allow employers exit from their responsibilities through loose derogation clauses.

“The government talks about trying to increase competitiveness. However it refuses to tackle Upward Only Rents, regressive rates and energy costs because of vested interests linked to their parties. There is ample evidence that threatening the living standards of the lowest paid section of Irish society will also further dampen retail demand consolidating the downward spiral within the domestic economy. We in Sinn Féin will continue to work with the unions in order to ensure that workers get a fair wage for a fair days work.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Phil Flanagan has condemned those behind last night's act of destruction at the staff canteen of the Quinn Group in Teemore when a lorry was driven into the property causing massive damage.

Mr Flanagan said:

"I would condemn the actions of those behind this destruction; these people have no regard for the current employees of the Quinn Group and any attempt to portray this as an action on their behalf will simply not wash.

"This type of activity, along with the previous attacks, have no support in the local community; the people in this area want to see the existing jobs within the Quinn Group retained and this ongoing campaign of destruction will not help that in any way.

"Not only was a lorry destroyed, but a facility used by members of staff from all levels of the Quinn Group was targeted; those responsible really need to take a good long look at the consequences of their actions and they must stop such activity immediately."

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Minister Michelle O’Neill has today welcomed the issue of the Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Stakeholder Group’s Reduction Strategy and Action Plan.

The Strategy and Action Plan, “Efficient Farming Cuts Greenhouse Gases”, has been developed in partnership with a number of agriculture, food and forestry stakeholders including DARD. The strategy focuses on measures that have the potential to reduce costs whilst lowering Greenhouse Gas emissions per unit of food produced and the action plan sets out the practical measures farmers can adopt. It will provide a framework that will enable the sector to grasp the challenge of meeting market needs for food whilst minimising the environmental impacts.

The Minister said: “I recognise that the land-based sector has a key role to play in the reduction of greenhouse gases and that caring for the environment is and will remain, part and parcel of production.

“This strategy and action plan will play a key role alongside other sectoral approaches in the move to a lower carbon economy where resources will be constrained by many factors outside our control.”

The Minister added: “I congratulate the agriculture and forestry sectors on their partnership approach. My Department will remain fully engaged to jointly deliver the action plan through CAFRE and by providing scientific evidence to further develop and refine mitigation measures through AFBI. The flexibility of a voluntary approach to implementation will be important in helping accommodate the inevitable changes to farming systems in the future.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has approved the establishment of a twenty-six place part-time nursery unit at Orchard County Primary School, Portadown.

The Minister had initially turned down a proposal to establish the new unit. Explaining the reasons for his revised decision, he said: “The original analysis of the development proposal suggested that the existing provision in the area was sufficient as it was above the Department’s target level and, if approved, the additional places offered at Orchard County would therefore have had the potential to displace good quality pre-school provision already in existence.

“My officials have, however, reviewed the information originally presented to me in relation to the development proposal and have regrettably discovered an error in the statistical data used to calculate the existing level of provision in the area.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of my Department to the Principal and staff of Orchard County for any distress which may have been caused as a result of my original decision which was based on incorrect data.”

The Minister continued: “Normally my decision concludes the development proposal process, however, it is incumbent on me to reconsider the proposal based on the correct information and the amended calculation presents a much lower level of provision for the area, and therefore significantly impacts on the proposal. Having considered this and taken legal advice on the process, along with all of the other pertinent facts, I have now approved the establishment of a new part-time nursery unit at Orchard County Primary School.

“Every time that I approve a development proposal for a statutory nursery school, it creates extra pressure on the front line schools’ budget programme. However, I am legally bound to make a decision on any development proposal presented to my Department and in doing so I consider each proposal on the basis of all the information pertinent to the individual case.

“Whilst the Department is committed to providing a pre-school place for each child in their immediate pre-school year, research has shown that there is no discernible benefit to children of a longer daily pre-school session. In this instance I have therefore amended the proposal and have given approval for the establishment of a twenty-six place part-time unit. This approval is conditional on the school ceasing the practice of admitting children to its reception class and that the school reaches a minimum enrolment of 20 pupils in their immediate pre-school year in September 2012 (the first year of the establishment of the unit).”

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha has said that the Priory Hall evacuees cannot be made to bear the cost of repair of the Priory Hall apartment complex, now estimated at €7.3 million.

He said:

“The evacuees from Priory Hall cannot be expected to bear the burden of repair, or any part of it, which is now estimated at €7.3 million by Dublin City Council. A solution involving apartment owners, Dublin City Council and the mortgage lenders will have to be found and the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan must take a hands-on approach.

“Minister Hogan and his new Minister of State for Housing Jan O'Sullivan can begin by meeting the representatives of the Priory Hall residents, something Minister Hogan has doggedly refused to do to date.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has described the government’s decision to bring forward its plans to introduce a property tax as another attack on low and middle income earners.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the government should have considered his party’s proposed wealth tax which would bring in €800million while ensuring that only those who can afford to pay are made to pay.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The introduction of the government’s property tax will be yet another attack on low and middle income earners as it is those who will be hit hardest.

“A property tax based solely on the value of the property without taking account of the owner’s ability to pay is unfair.

“The government is planning to introduce this charge at a time when thousands of homeowners are struggling to make ends meet and face the prospect of losing their homes.

“This is the type of policy that ultimately ends with people living on the streets. It is immoral and irresponsible to introduce it in the current climate and in the format proposed.

“The government should have considered Sinn Féin’s proposed wealth tax which would bring in €800million while ensuring that only those who can afford to pay are made to pay.” ENDS

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Fermanagh & South/Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the decision by the High Court to reverse the cut to the North’s Community Pharmacy budget.

Her comments came after the Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) won a judicial review against the cut of £38m.

Michelle Gildernew said:

“I welcome this ruling for community pharmacies. Sinn Féin were concerned the impact the cuts would have on pharmacies in rural areas and those of high depravation.

“The Deapartment need to appreciate the good work that community pharmacies are doing throughout the North.

“Community pharmacies provide a crucial service to people most in need and we need to protect this vital service to patients.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor for Pottinger Niall Ó Donnghaile has slammed those responsible for firing shots at a house in Madrid Street.

Speaking from the Short Strand this morning Cllr Ó Donnghaile said;

"This attack on a family home in the run up to Christmas must be totally condemned - anyone with any information should bring it forward to the PSNI without any hesitation. The family in question weren't the only ones put at risk but also the many family homes in this part of the district.

"The community in the Short Strand are good people who will stand against anyone seeking to bring this kind of reckless danger onto their streets."

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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media