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Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the strides made yesterday for equality, but has highlighted the many other aspects of...




Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the recent disclosures by the BBC into the management and running of the NI Fire and Rescue Service

 Mr. McMullan said,

 “It is becoming abundantly clear that the senior management of the Fire and Rescue Service are lurching from crisis to crisis as the latest revelations of grievances against the Fire and Rescue Service shows.

 “Before this there was the issue of returning monies to the Assembly while fire stations and the Red fleet needed upgrading and senior personnel moonlighting in businesses similar to their duties.

 “The Minister needs to immediately implement an independent review and report of the ability of the senior management to maintain and provide a vital service to the public.

 “This investigation must be carried out by an outside agency such as the audit office and get to the core of what is a major management problem, and have the ability to restore confidence back into the Fire Service.

 “I also hope the unions will now back a call for an investigation as the service has over the years been blighted with public stories but this recent disclosure has clearly shown enough is enough.”

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Speaking in response to today’s Central Bank quarterly bulletin, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, said that calls for wage cuts are “misguided” and will “further depress consumer demand, economic growth and job creation”.

Deputy Doherty said:
“The Central Bank is wrong to suggest that further cuts to wages in the public and private sector will assist economic recovery. Their claim that wage cuts will boost competitiveness and in turn assist recovery is misguided. Any such move would further depress consumer demand, economic growth and job creation.

“The domestic economy is still in recession. Consumer spending continues to fall. The only thing that further wage cuts will achieve is to further damage the domestic economy. Such a move would lead to more unemployment and act as yet another obstacle to social and economic recovery.

“It is ironic that the Central Bank made this recommendation on the same day as they revised downwards their growth projections for 2012 from 0.7% to 0.5%. The primary reason for this decline is the policies of austerity being imposed by the Government.

“While clearly there is an argument for reductions for highly paid public sector workers and extra taxes for very high earners, there is simply no justification for across the board wage cuts. This would push more families into financial hardship and poverty and damage the economy.”
ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on social protection, Aengus ÓSnodaigh TD, today congratulated his colleagues in the North for their stance on the Welfare Bill being placed before the Assembly next week.
Echoing the words of Sinn Féin assembly member and the Department of Social Development committee chairman, Alex Maskey, the Dublin Central TD said:
“The Welfare Reform bill is an attempt to impose Tory welfare cuts on people here as part of the austerity policies of the Tory-led coalition.
“Our position North and South, is to stand up for low-income families and those depending on social welfare who are being targeted by many of the measures contained in this bill.
“Sinn Féin will be bringing forward a proposal to the Assembly on Tuesday to defer the Welfare Reform Bill until significant amendments are made to it.
“The fact that these measures are being brought forward by the Tory government and being imposed here is a direct consequence of the Assembly not having the necessary fiscal powers.
“Sinn Féin is calling on the government here to support the transfer of fiscal powers to the North giving the institutions the ability to impose taxes and to set social welfare payments.”
“Sinn Féin will press for fundamental changes to this Bill to ensure the maximum protections for those on benefits and in low-paid employment.”
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Commenting the continuing political reverberations from the Shortall-Reilly controversy, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

"While the Labour Party leadership struggles to defend the indefensible Minister for Health James Reilly, the savage health cuts continue with not a whimper of protest from Labour.

“The HSE has now confirmed that it will impose cuts of €8 million on home help services. The HSE claims that no current recipient of home help will be without a service. This leaves the way open to cuts in hours for current recipients and leaves a question mark over whether new applicants will receive services at all.

“With home care services also under attack, the Fine Gael/Labour cuts to services for some of our most vulnerable citizens are continuing apace while the Labour Party leadership props up a discredited Health Minister."

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries, Martin Ferris TD has given his support to the Kilmore fishing skipper, Jimmy Byrne who yesterday gave away free monkfish instead of dumping the fish at sea. In doing so Byrne placed himself in danger of prosecution for over-fishing.

Deputy Ferris said: “I assume that the SFPA will not pursue this legally as they initially threatened to do. Jimmy Byrne’s actions have highlighted the absurdity of the fishing regime applied to Irish waters and to Irish fishermen. They would prefer dumping fresh fish at sea to the danger of breaking EU imposed regulations.

"The fact is that the Common Fisheries Policy as applied to Ireland has been a disaster. Irish fishermen have a tiny proportion of the quota and yet are made appear to be the authors of the disaster.

  “It is clear that the only solution is a total reform of the CFP and the reclaiming of Irish sovereignty over our fishing waters. That would allow us to be increase the quota for Irish fishermen and to vastly reduce the overall catch by imposing strict limits on non-Irish fleets.” ends

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Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis has today supported calls for legislation to protect emergency workers from assault. Speaking on the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill Deputy Ellis said he supports the motivation of the Bill but not the measures included in it.

Deputy Ellis said;

“While my party cannot fully endorse the Bill as it stands I do think that it deserves to be passed here and to go to committee stage where it could be amended in a manner that would satisfy all sides and address the need to come down hard on those who attack Emergency Service workers.

“Unfortunately this is an issue that requires addressing in the light of attacks on members of the Emergency Services. It is also particularly topical in the run-up to Halloween when such attacks tend to increase.

“Members of the Fire Service are particularly vulnerable to attack when arriving to deal with bonfires that are out of control or are in locations where they are likely to lead to serious injury or to damage property. I know from my own area that bonfires are sometimes built too close to schools and other premises including people’s homes.

“Unfortunately, however, not all of those involved in such attacks on the emergency services are children and that is why legislation such as this is required.

“Some adults involved in anti-social and criminal behaviour see members of the emergency services as fair game and will sometimes entice them to bonfires and other incidents with the intention of attacking them. That has led to several serious incidents which might well have led to extremely serious injuries and even deaths.

“Those engaged in such attacks need to be punished but we believe that mandatory sentences are a crude measure. We, and indeed many others including legal experts, believe that applying such mandatory sentences does not allow for a court to take into account all of the nuances of a particular offence.

“There is also research to show that mandatory sentencing in other jurisdictions for various offences has not been effective.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor for Ardoyne Gerard McCabe has slammed those who left an explosive device in the area.

Gerard McCabe said:

“Not only have those responsible endangered local residents but they have also forced over 30 families to leave their homes while the device was dealt with.

“Ardoyne has been through enough in recent times without these micro groups bringing further fear and disruption to peoples lives. Thankfully no one was injured and those evacuated have returned to their homes.

““There is no support for this and the community rejects these groups whose actions are outdated and will not further any political agenda or benefit those who they claim to be representing.

“The Irish people have clearly and overwhelming endorsed the peace process and it’s about time this futile activity ceased and those responsible caught up with the rest of the people.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has said she is expecting Environmental Minister Alex Attwood at Narrow Water tomorrow to announce that planning permission has been granted for the proposed bridge.

 Ms. Ruane said,

 “I am expecting the Minister to announce tomorrow that planning permission has been granted for the Narrow Water Bridge.

“This would be wonderful news in the campaign for the construction of the bridge to connect Co. Down and Co. Louth.

 “I am also expecting Bord Pleanála to make their announcement in the next few weeks and hoping that they too will also grant permission to the project to proceed to the next stage.

 “Sinn Féin has campaigned for this bridge since its inception and only last week unveiled a banner calling for the bridge to be built.

 “I will now be looking at funders to come on board and allow this bridge to be constructed in the coming months.”

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Sinn Féin’s Agricultural spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the news that the European Commission has recognised the North’s pigs are free from Aujeszkys disease.

 Mr. McMullan said,

 “The announcement by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that Irish pigs North and South have been given disease free status from Aujeszkys is good for the industry.

 “Aujeszkys disease is an highly infectious disease that affects pigs and can cause production and welfare problems and it has massive trade implications for pig farmers.

 “I recently attended a meeting of pig farmers at the Ulster Farmers Union with Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson in which the produces stated it would be a great help if the Minister could get Irish pigs the all clear.

 “Todays announcement is therefore great news for the pig farming community and will allow for trade of pigs across the entire island of Ireland and a massive boost for the pig industry.”

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Sinn Féin the only party in the North firmly opposed to austerity - McGuinness


Photos

Senator Kathryn Reilly, Mary Lou McDOnald TD & Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD