Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP today met former US President Bill Clinton in Derry this afternoon.
Speaking after a meeting with the former President Mr McGuinness said;
“Today’s visit by President Clinton is a welcome move that will help add to the attempts at bringing greater economic investment to the north. It comes ahead of the economic summit for the north due in Washington next month. It also comes after our meeting yesterday with the British Chancellor George Osborne.
The Executive's agreed Programme for Government states that we must develop the economy in a way which promotes equality and targets objective needs.
Now, more than ever, that is our challenge.
To this end we have the shared objectives of building the economy and tackling disadvantage. We need to ensure that those most in need benefit from economic growth.
The lack of fiscal powers at the Executive limits our ability to tackle the economic crisis. Without the necessary tools we are simply reduced to redistributing a smaller pot of money.
We have good friends in the US administration who are willing to aid us in building the economy.
We need movement from the British Government to secure investment and the fiscal tools to promote recovery on an all-Ireland basis.” CRÍOCH
Commenting after the rejection of the appeal by the PSNI Chief Constable today to provide the relevant Stalker/Sampson Report papers to the families and legal teams of those killed in the 1982 shoot to kill cases Sinn Féin spokesperson on Truth Francie Molloy said;
“It is now time for the legal wrangling to end; the PSNI must accept the latest court ruling and provide the relevant Stalker/Sampson papers to the families legal teams.
As we approach the 28th anniversary of these shootings it is past time that the loved ones of those murdered have their inquests completed.” CRÍOCH
Speaking after attending the rally outside Leinster House today in opposition to cutbacks Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh said Sinn Féin is the only voice in the Dáil that is opposing cutbacks with both Fine Gael and Labour signed up to cutting €3billion out of the economy annually for the next three years.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh also announced that he had a motion passed at the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection this morning which called on the Minister not to cut disability or one-parent payments for CE scheme workers in the upcoming budget.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“Sinn Féin TDs and Senator today joined with thousands of others protesting outside Leinster House at the billions being pumped into Anglo Irish Bank and the programme of cuts which the Government is planning to introduce in the budget.
“As the Dáil returns today Sinn Féin is the only opposing to the policy of cutbacks as both Fine Gael and the Labour Party have signed up to cutting €3billion out of the economy, not just this year but for the next three years up to 2014.
“During this Dáil term we will continue to give voice to those who will be the target of this Government’s cutback policies. Just this morning I had a motion passed at the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection which calling on Minister Ó Cúiv not to cut disability or one-parent payments for CE scheme workers in the upcoming budget. I hope the Minister will take heed of this motion.
“Sinn Féin does not buy into the rhetoric that there is no other option but to slash and burn our way out of recession and we have shown how billions of euros can be raised to invest in an economic stimulus plan that would reduce the deficit while building sound economic foundations for the future.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Arthur Morgan TD has said the drop in the live register figures announced today is a reflection of the Government’s emigration policy rather than a serious attempt to create employment.
Speaking today Deputy Morgan said:
“Unemployment is the true barometer of economic success and the labour market figures tell their own story. Unemployment is rampant and in the absence of jobs being created people are being forced to leave Ireland in search of work.
“Today’s decrease in the live register by 5,400 people is a reflection of the Government’s emigration policy rather than a serious attempt to create employment.
“It is no surprise that emigration is rampant and that our graduates are looking abroad for meaningful employment as Ireland is one of the few countries in Western Europe trying to get out of recession without an economic stimulus package.
“The Government will commit to put in whatever capital is necessary for splitting Anglo in two and its subsequent recapitalisation, but the economy outside the banks is being grossly neglected.
“Where are the resources for job creation? This Government will announce jobs plans and initiatives but they will not invest the resources that are necessary to actually create the jobs. People cannot come off the Live Register or stay in the country on the back of a jobs announcement.
“The Government may take today’s figures as a positive turning point as we enter a new Dáil term, but today’s figures are the reflection of the Government’s strategy of exporting its people.” ENDS
Speaking at the return of the Dail, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the Government was out of ideas and out of time and should call outstanding by-elections.
He announced a major Sinn Féin rally in Dublin on 4th December to pressurise the Government in advance of the budget.
Gerry Adams said:
“This government has no mandate for what it’s doing. Half a million people are unemployed, health services are being shut down across Ireland. Despite serial announcements there is no strategy to get Ireland back to work or begin economic recovery.
“This government is out of ideas and out of time. They need to stop running away from the people and to call the three outstanding by-elections.
“It is time we got rid of this terrible government. Sinn Féin won’t let them off the hook. Pearse Doherty takes the government to court on October 18th to demand that the Donegal South West by-election goes ahead.
“We will keep them under pressure in the Oireachtas.
“Sinn Féin is 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’s time to make a stand.” ENDS
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has opened a series of walking routes within the forests of west Fermanagh.
DARD Forest Service and Fermanagh District Council, two of the main partners in the development and operation of the Geopark, have been working together for the past two years in developing the new walks.
Speaking at the event the Minister said: “When I introduced the Forest Service ‘Recreation and Social Use of Forests Strategy’ last year I was keen to realise the full potential that forests offer. I asked my Department to develop working partnerships to secure a more diverse range of facilities and attractions for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
“One year on, I welcome what has been achieved, with walking trails now in place in forests such as Ballimtempo, Carrigan, Belmore, Big Dog as well as Ely Lodge along the shore of Lower Lough Erne. All of this is consistent with the aspirations of the new Forestry Act 2010 and, in particular, the duty to promote and encourage recreation in our forests. Key parts of the Act, including this general duty, became law earlier this month.”
The Minister concluded by saying: “Evidence shows that using forests for walking and relaxing contributes to people’s physical and mental wellbeing and it’s not just for the committed walker. There is also great scope for educational visits and I know that this is a key component of the Geopark ethos. It is also important that such facilities are developed in the West, ensuring equality of treatment for rural communities.
“This will encourage a wide range of people to make use of our forests ranging from young people to tourists. I want everyone to enjoy the fantastic environment that we have all around us. This development does not stop today. Forest Service and Fermanagh District Council are currently developing a further nine walks and I hope to see these completed by next year.”
Fermanagh District Council chairman, Councillor Stephen Huggett added: “The successful completion of these walks is the result of effective partnership working between Fermanagh District Council and the Forest Service. Forest Service is a key stakeholder in the operation of the Geopark and we look forward to working with them on future initiatives. We hope that schools, youth groups, communities and individuals take the time to explore these walking routes and, through our interpretation, also learn a bit more about the unique and amazing landscapes that form the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.”
Speaking before leading his Oireachtas colleagues back into Leinster House for the resumption of the Dáil and Seanad, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that economic recovery requires the removal of the Fianna Fáil/Green government and of their policies.
“The priority of the Sinn Féin Oireachtas members in this new term is to rid the country of this totally discredited Government. Having bankrupted the public purse, Fianna Fáil and the Greens are now politically bankrupt. They are running out of road.
“In the weeks ahead they are planning more savage cuts to public services – and for what? Not to balance the books but to continue to bail out Anglo-Irish Bank. What we need is investment in jobs not in zombie banks.
“While they impose their savage cuts they are depending on a rump of backbenchers whose only concern is the retention of their jobs as TDs. The jobs that should be concerning this Government are jobs for the 455,000 unemployed in this State.
“Two years after the crash the Taoiseach has unveiled a very belated jobs plan of sorts – but it’s all targets and little substance. It’s on a par with the promise they made, and have yet failed to fund, to supply IT equipment to every classroom in our secondary schools.
“We are challenging the Government in the courts on their failure to hold a by-election in Donegal South-West that is now outstanding for well over 15 months. All three outstanding by-elections should be held this autumn.
“People are on the streets today protesting at the Anglo-Irish Bank bail-out and the cuts. We urge more of them to take to the streets in the weeks and months ahead to oppose the cuts and demand a fair and effective way forward to economic recovery. Recovery requires the removal of this Government and of their policies.” ENDS
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy Martin Ferris TD has called on the energy supply companies to introduce changes in their policy regarding the disconnection of supply to customers who have arrears. The Kerry North/Limerick West TD was speaking at a committee meeting addressed by the major gas and electricity supply companies and a representative of the Energy Regulator.
Deputy Ferris said:
“Figures released by the ESB and Bord Gáis illustrate the dramatic rise in disconnections as many people find themselves in arrears. I am already on record in opposing the steep increases of recent years, which I argued were out of line with global energy costs. I have also raised the issue of disconnections.
“With regard to people who do find themselves in financial difficulties the companies ought to enter into negotiations and come to an arrangement short of cutting off supply. While there are undoubtedly cases where that is justified, in the vast majority of instances we are talking about people who are in genuine difficulty. Often they are attempting to budget from low incomes over a wide range of payments including accommodation and energy.
“I am calling on the companies therefore to immediately implement a change in policy which takes into account all of those factors and which will prevent many people finding themselves without the means to heat or cook for themselves over the winter.” ENDS
Minister Conor Murphy today presented Ministerial bursary awards to 10 university students at an awards ceremony held at the Department for Regional Development.
The students from both Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster received their bursary awards, which aim to assist them with their studies in the fields of engineering and transport.
Speaking about the awards scheme, the Minister said: “This bursary awards scheme is about investing in tomorrow’s leaders in the disciplines of engineering and transportation.
“This is the second year I have awarded bursaries and I have no doubt, especially in these financially difficult times, that investing in these transport and engineering students and facilitating them to take forward their individual research projects will be worthwhile.
“Our young people need to be encouraged and provided with opportunities to develop the necessary skills so that they can play a full and meaningful role in improving our society. My department is bringing forward many projects in key infrastructure sectors and the development of skills is essential to ensure that these projects are delivered efficiently and in the most sustainable ways, taking advantage of modern technologies and techniques.
“I applaud all of the students who took the time to apply for the bursaries. The applications were of a high standard and we had some difficult choices to make to come up with the final list of successful candidates. I offer my congratulations to all the students selected on their well-deserved success.”
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has opened the 21st Annual General Meeting of the Women’s Aid Federation.
Speaking at the event at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast, the Minister said: “I welcome the opportunity to meet with you all and to join representatives from other organisations here to show our support for the vital work that Women’s Aid provides across the north of Ireland.
“Domestic and sexual violence ruins lives and is a blight on our society that must be eradicated. For children, domestic violence can restrict their participation in education and their ability to develop personal ambitions, skills and talents. Barriers to learning such as the distress caused by domestic violence must be tackled proactively to give children the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
“It is thanks to the work of Women’s Aid and other organisations in the public and voluntary sectors that women and their families know where they can turn to for help. However, we must also educate our society that any form of violence is totally unacceptable. There should be zero tolerance of violence against women and children.
“My Department and the wider education sector have an important role to play in educating the adults of tomorrow. Teachers, in partnership with organisations like Women’s Aid, can educate our children that violence inflicted on them, or by them, or witnessed by them, is wrong.
“To deliver these programmes to as many pupils as possible right across the north, my Department continues to fund Women’s Aid £60,000 in the year 2010-2011 to devise a training programme for primary school teachers to develop their capacity to deliver the revised Helping Hands Programme to their pupils.”
The Department of Education is supporting the development of a training package which Women’s Aid trainers will deliver to primary school teachers, to allow them in turn to deliver the Helping Hands programme to their pupils. This will result in the programme being delivered to more primary school pupils than it presently reaches.
The Minister concluded: “I want to congratulate Women’s Aid on the work that it carries out together with the statutory and voluntary sectors to tackle the issue of domestic violence in our society. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers in all of the Women’s Aid groups across the north and wish them well in the very valuable work and support they provide.”
The Sinn Féin Dáil Team, led by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, will be joined by party president Gerry Adams today as they set out their priorities for the new Dáil term.
Deputy Ó Caoláin will address the media on the plinth at Leinster House today at 12 noon today.
Gerry Adams and the rest of the Sinn Féin Team will then join the ICTU supported demonstration at Anglo Irish Bank at 12.30.
Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe has expressed shock and concern at the prospect of up to 200 job losses at UTC Fire and Security in Tallaght.
Councillor Crowe said the job losses ‘would be a devastating blow to the community and the local economy that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.’
“It is imperative that the company engages in dialogue with the workers’ representatives with a view to saving as many jobs as possible.
“These job losses would be a devastating blow to the community and the local economy that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
“As I have said before, the Government must bring forward as a matter of urgency, a strategy for dealing with unemployment black spots such as Tallaght.
“While Brian Cowen today announced his job creation plan the reality is that people are continuing to lose their jobs as a result of his Government’s inaction up to now and there is no confidence in the community here that his strategy is anything more than yet another PR exercise that will once again amount to nothing.
“It is time for this Government to go.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said the cuts in the HSE West must be opposed. He said the crisis needs a political solution and Fine Gael and Labour have no credibility complaining about these cuts when they themselves have committed to cutting €3billion out of the economy each year till 2014.
Senator Doherty said this evening:
“The cuts in the HSE West region must be opposed. Services in the region are already at breaking point as a result of cuts already imposed by this Government. These further cuts can only lead to further hardships and unnecessary deaths.
“This issue needs a political solution that involves opposition to the cuts agenda of this Government. Neither Fine Gael nor the Labour Party can have any credibility in complaining about these cuts when both of those parties have committed to cutting €3billion from the economy each year till 2014.” ENDS
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has led a picket at the EU Commission Office on Dawson Street at an event to mark the 1st Anniversary of the passing of the Lisbon Treaty.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh criticised Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens for promising jobs if the Lisbon Treaty was passed and accused all of those parties of once again jumping to the EU tune by agreeing to the proposal to cut €3billion from the economy every year till 2014.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“This time last year Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens were trumpeting the line that we should all vote yes for jobs yet here we are now with nearly half a million people on the dole. The EU said jump and all of these parties said how high.
“And this year once again all of these parties are jumping to the EU tune by agreeing to cut €3billion from our economy each year till 2014.
“Sinn Féin is the only party offering an alternative. We warned that the promise of jobs was a red herring that was part of a scare mongering campaign by the yes side and we were right.
“And now we are the only party that is offering an alternative way to deal with the recession that does not include cutting billions and punishing the most vulnerable in our society.
“We have shown how money can be raised to stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit in a more appropriate manner.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA and welfare spokesperson Mickey Brady has stated that all must be done by the Social development minister to ensure that under the Welfare Reform Bill the most disadvantaged are not impacted negatively upon.
Speaking at today motion in the Assembly Mr Brady said :
“The welfare reform bill is one of the most significant changes to the benefit systems since its inception in 1948.
The legislation will have far reaching consequences for those in receipt of benefits and there are strong concerns that it will most definitely attack those most vulnerable in society who rely on benefits to survive or as a safety net. This includes lone parents, those suffering from mental illness or learning difficulties, those caring for an aging relative or the long term unemployed.
What we need to see in regard to the north of Ireland is that, in the formation of this legislation due regard is given to the special social and economic realities of the north, in order that the proposed welfare reforms do not have a disproportionately negative impact.
While we have assurances from the Minster for Social Development, Alex Attwood, that he will attempt to stretch the flexibility of parity to the limit’ this is inadequate if it is legislated in such a way that disallows this.
What we need to see is a stronger and more robust approach by the Minister in order to ensure that there are protections and safeguards that take into account the economic and social circumstances that we face locally, on daily basis.
If this line of action is not carried through by the Minister it would be doing a gross disservice to those who society should protect , the most vulnerable and this cannot be allowed to happen. “ CRÍOCH
Sinn Féin Social Inclusion spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has urged people to come out in large numbers to attend the ICTU-sponsored rally marking the resumption of the Dáil tomorrow (Wednesday).
“People should come out in large numbers to send a very clear message to the Fianna Fáil/Green Government that they are not prepared to stand by while vital public services are savagely cut and the dole queues are lengthened in order to continue to bail out Anglo-Irish Bank.” ENDS
The rally begins at 12.30 on Wednesday 29th September outside Anglo-Irish Bank on St Stephen’s Green.
Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has called on the Government backbenchers who have been critical of the Government’s refusal to hold by-elections to back up their words with actions this week by supporting the motions put forward by Sinn Féin to move the writs for each of the outstanding by-elections.
Speaking today Senator Doherty said:
“There are a number of Government backbench TDs including Willie O’Dea and Seán Power who are on the public record criticising the Government’s delay in holding the three outstanding by-elections.
“This week they have the opportunity to do something about it. They can back up their words with actions this week by supporting the motions put forward by Sinn Féin to move the writs for each of the outstanding by-elections.
“It’s now time for each of these TDs to put up or shut up.” ENDS
Sinn Féin will picket an event at the EU Commission Office on Molesworth Street at 5.30pm this evening to mark the 1st anniversary of the passing of the Lisbon Treaty.
Activists will have posters from the yes side which call for a yes vote to support jobs in Ireland.
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh will be available to speak to the media at the event.
Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan, as part of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, launched a report in Leinster House today on what is required to expand employment in the agri-food sector.
Deputy Morgan was the rapporteur for the report launched today by the Committee and which contains 51 recommendations that would boost the sector and create jobs.
Speaking at the launch in Leinster House, Deputy Morgan said he was delighted to have been able to present the report to the Oireachtas All-Party Committee and to have received endorsement for the range of measures outlined in it that he believes are necessary not only to secure the future of the sector, but to create badly needed jobs.
Deputy Morgan said:
“The creation of new employment opportunities using indigenous resources should be the main focus of this Government, including actions to develop new rural enterprises and promote the development of new products and processes.
“We need to make the agri-food sector a real option for employment and job creation. The agri-food industry is indigenous in nature, has a regional focus and is international in orientation. The reality is that we need to grow our way out of recession and we need to prime the economy.
“Given the regional spread of the agri-food sector, it plays a significant role in the spatial distribution of development and employment across the country. Unlike other sectors of the economy, the agri-food sector is multi-faceted with growers, producers and farmers at farm level complemented by primary processing and added-value ancillary services and industries.
“This report is the product, not only of extensive background research, but of a broad consultation process with a wide range of people and groups involved in the agri-food sector. The adoption of this report by the Committee is particularly important in the context of the current economic situation and the critical need to place more emphasis on the indigenous economy.
“This report presents practical solutions to the crippling unemployment that faces this country. It is time Ireland embraced the natural resources bestowed upon us to realise our competitive advantages internationally and this agri-food report positions us to do that.” ENDS
Some of the main recommendations of the report:
• The establishment of a regulatory impact analysis process for the agri-food sector that looks at the burdens being placed on enterprises by excessive regulation, with a view to creating efficiencies within the regulatory system
• The need to press for the inclusion of a requirement to indicate the origin of primary ingredients in finished food products.
• A set of guidelines, rooted in legislation, needs to be established so that terms like “Irish food” can only be used after specific criteria are satisfied.
• The tariff nomenclature needs to be extended to distinguish agri-food products subject to “substantial transformation”.
• Co-operation, partnerships and network formation among producers and other related and supporting groups should be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities in terms of enhanced knowledge and contacts, easier access to markets, reduced costs, increased bargaining power and greater competitive advantage.
• Promote regional networking, partnerships and branding across the whole country.
• A network/association of suppliers/producers should be set up to negotiate a fair trading regime on behalf of suppliers.
• An export credit insurance state-supported scheme should be introduced by Government.
• Development of a comprehensive programme for preferential assistance to micro-enterprises (those with those than less that 10 employees) and small enterprises (those with between 10 and 49 employees).
• Government should deploy funding to set up and support central production hubs for SMEs involved in the agri-food sector, so that they have access to advice, support and most importantly infrastructure and equipment perhaps not available to early stage start-ups.
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Labour Party of propping up Fianna Fáil. She said: “This is an incompetent, useless government and they need to be put out of office. But this week the Labour Party made it clear they were more interested in playing politics with Fine Gael than in forcing this government out of office.”
Ms. McDonald said:
“At a time when this government is on the rack everything that can be done should be done to put them out of office.
“People were stunned this week that the Labour Party stepped in to prop up Brian Cowen and Mary Coughlan. If Mary Coughlan was that interested in addressing the Dáil, she could have asked the Taoiseach to re-call the Dáil a few days early. It is insane that in the midst of an economic crisis the place effectively shuts down for almost 12 weeks.
“The fact is that we have an incompetent, useless government and Fine Gael and Labour are equally bad.
“The Labour Party let the people down this week. It was clear that they were more interested in trying to outmanoeuvre Fine Gael than they were in bringing down this government. And even worse they were cosying up to Fianna Fáil.
“Sinn Féin will do everything that we can to put this government out of office. We are dragging them kicking and screaming before the courts on October 18th to demand they hold the by-elections. We will continue to put them under pressure in the Dáil and Seanad throughout this term and right up to the general election.” ENDS