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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, a member of the Tallaght Drugs Task Force, has expressed alarm that a batch of heroin contaminated with anthrax might be part of a shipment of drugs that is bound for Ireland.

The Tallaght-based Deputy was commenting on a warning from the Health Service Executive (HSE) which has alerted drugs services and health staff to the anthrax danger.

Deputy Crowe said: “The warning from the HSE is in response to the hospitalisation of a drug user in Scotland suffering from the effects of anthrax poisoning. Irish heroin supplies are often closely linked to what is being used in Scotland and I would urge people to take heed of this warning and be aware of the risk.

“In 2000 eight drug users in Ireland died after injecting themselves with heroin contaminated with a separate bacterium. In 2009-2012 anthrax infected over 100 heroin users in Scotland who were poisoned by the same batch. Fourteen of them died.
It is thought that the contaminated drugs had been imported from Afghanistan via in Turkey, where it had been smuggled in containers which were disguised with infected goat-hide.”

Deputy Crowe urged those with close contact with heroin users to be aware of the signs of potential infection.
“The signs and symptoms for injecting drug users,” he continued, “include marked swelling and redness at an injection site, which may or may not be painful, abscess or ulcer at an injection site, and possible fever, headache or nausea.

“If the person has been smoking heroin they may develop a flu-like illness, which leads to breathlessness and they may also develop extensive skin lesions (often with swollen or blackened surrounding areas.

“Clearly there is a very real danger from contaminated heroin. The National Health Service in Lanarkshire, Scotland, where the affected user is from, has advised heroin users to avoid using the drug or to smoke it instead of injecting it.
“I would echo this advice and commend the HSE for giving this early warning and for preparing its staff to be on the lookout for Irish drug users displaying similar symptoms.”
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Commenting on the 40th Anniversary of the Claudy bomb, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said:

The deaths and injuries caused in Claudy on 31 July 1972 were wrong. The events of that day were appalling and indefensible and they should not have happened.

All of the deaths and injuries inflicted on totally innocent people in this quiet village forty years ago should motivate everyone in our society to ensure such terrible tragedies never happen again.

Today marks the anniversary of Claudy. It is also the 40th Anniversary of two unarmed young men from Creegan in Derry who were shot by the British Army. Last week it was Bloody Friday. Next week is the anniversary of the killing of nineteen people in Ballymurphy during internment week.

It is my firm view that we need to find a better way of dealing with the legacy of the conflict which goes beyond individual acts of commemoration or remembrance and begins to deal with the very real hurt that exists throughout our society.

All of the families of those who died or were injured deserve and are entitled to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones.

We must collectively increase our efforts to heal the deep hurt caused by the Claudy bombings and all of the suffering in 1972, and continue to build on the progress of our peace process.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has welcomed the Belfast City Council interim review of the emergency response to the flooding on 27th of June.

The South Belfast MLA said:

“As someone who was on the ground during and after the flooding I welcome this interim report. The area I represent has suffered both from recent flooding and prolonged periods of freezing temperatures.

“After the recent flooding Sinn Féin were in immediate contact with Minister of Regional Development and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson regarding the failure of the agencies responsible to adequately deal with the problem.

“We also submitted a review to the Executive detailing where we believe the agencies failed and how these could be overcome in the future.

“Obviously the commitment by the Executive to tackle these recurring problems with the £10m investment is welcome. However the lack of inter-agency communication can go to the root cause of the poor response and improving this could prevent many of the problems before they actually occur.

“Not all areas need the same extent of work done to prevent future flooding with some solutions as simple as having drains regularly cleared and maintained while others areas may need more substantial work.

“The bottom line is that inter-agency communication and organisation is crucial especially when many of the problems arising can be easily avoided or tackled more quickly when they occur.”

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has stated that the announcement by Danny Kennedy not to appeal the decision of discrimination in the Alan Lennon case is based purely on political expediency.

Speaking following the announcement Mr Murphy said:

“The decision not to appeal the findings of the Fair Employment Tribunal’s decision in a case brought by Alan Lennon is clearly politically motivated and way of scoring cheap political points at the expense of the truth.

“I understand that this political decision flies in the face of  legal advice from a number of sources which challenged the findings and stated that they should be appealed, all off which the Minister was aware of.

“And yet despite this advice Danny Kennedy has sat on this for 6 weeks and decided at the 11th hour that there will be no appeal.

“Further to this the glaring contradiction stands that my decision not to appoint Alan Lennon is sectarian yet Danny Kennedy’s decision to do likewise stands without any challenge.

“Danny Kennedy took essentially the same decision as I did not to appoint Alan Lennon to the board of NIW. He has not explained the rationale for this.

“I would challenge the Minister to do this and explain how my decision, which I stand over and have explained publicly, is deemed sectarian yet his is not?

“The Ministers response in relation to this has been muted at best and his decision today is one that does the integrity of the public appointments procedures no favours.”

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Do ghlaoigh Peadar Tóibín, Teachta Dála An Roinn Post, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta Sinn Féin ar an Rialtas inniu chun bheith ionraic faoi an slí ina bhfuil siad ag diúltú reachtaíocht chun deireadh a chuir le athbhreithniú ar ardaithe cíos amháin.

Dúirt Peadar Tóibín;

“Bhí sé soiléir ón ‘Sunday Business Post’ an méid stocaireacht a rinne tiarnaí talún agus forbróir maoine ar an Rialtas chun dul siar ar a réamh toghchán agus a ghealltanas maidir leis an gClár Rialtas a gheall siad chun reachtaíocht a chuir I bhfeidhm a chuireadh deireadh le athbhreithniú ar ardaithe cíos amháin.

“Ag an am, dúirt an Rialtas go bhfuair siad comhairle go mbeadh a leithéid a reachtaíocht dodhéanta, ach mar sin féin, tá siad tareis teip gach uair ar sonraí a sholáthar I dtaobh aon constaicí dleathach maidir leis an reachtaíocht. Tá gnóthaí miondíola, gnó agus vótálaithe, ar fad sáite leis an staid Kafkaesque seo ina bhfuil an Rialtas ag rá ‘no’ agus níl siad ag insint dúinn cén fáth.

“Ba choir go mbeadh sé soiléirithe go bhfuil tuairimíocht eile dlíthiúil tareis rá go bhfuil an reachtaíocht indéanta agus táim féin tareis bille a mholadh faoi seo.

“Tá cumadh ar go bhfuil an Rialtas níos mó buartha faoi riachtanais na Tiarnaí Talún agus forbróirí seachas na gnóthaí miondíola agus lucht gnó beaga atá ag teip de bharr na cíosanna iomarcach a bhí ann le linn an Tíogar Ceilteach. Tá na cíosanna seo ag tiomaint suas an costas don custaiméir agus mar sin tá poisteanna á chailliúint.

“Tá titim leanúnach ar díolacháin miondíol agus an Mhí seo chaite cuireadh 2648 lucht oibre díolacháin breise leis an beochlár. Caithfidh an Rialtas bheith ionraic go dtí na Mion díolaithe agus iad siúd atá di fhostaithe le déanaí ar cén fáth nár choimeád siad a ghealluint maidir le athbhreithniú ardaithe ar cíos amháin agus costais a ísliú don eacnamaíocht réadúil.”

ENDS

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Peadar Tóibín TD Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today called on the government to come clean on their refusal to legislate to end upward only rent reviews.

Peadar Tóibin said;

“The Sunday Business Post revealed the extent of the lobby by landlords and property developers to have the government retreat on its pre-election and Programme for Government promise to legislate to end upward only rent reviews.

“At the time the government said that it had been advised that such legislation was impossible however they have failed on every occasion to detail the legal obstacles to legislation. Retailers, business and voters are caught in the Kafkaesque situation that we are told no by the government but not why.

“It should be noted that other legal opinion has demonstrated that legislation is possible and I have proposed a bill to this end.

“It appears that the government is more concerned with the needs of landlords and developers than with the many retailers and small businesses that are going to the wall because of excessive Celtic Tiger era rents. These rents are driving up prices for consumers and costing jobs.

“Since June 2008 there has been a continuing decline in retail sales and only last month a further 2648 sales workers were added to the live register. The government needs to come clean to retailers and the recently unemployed on why it did not honour its promise on
upward only rents and reduce costs in the real economy.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle, O’Neill, who is also the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development has called on the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to outline to fellow Ministers whether he will lodge an appeal into the case of Alan Lennon as the deadline for doing so is the 31st July.

Speaking today Ms O’Neill said:

“I have raised this issue with the DRD minister Danny Kennedy due to the fact that the case has implications for all ministers in terms of public appointments.

“I have received firm advice from the Attorney General that the case should be appealed. 

“The deadline for lodging an appeal is tomorrow 31st July and Danny Kennedy had committed to inform ministers of his decision on the appeal before that date. 

“I am calling on the DRD minister to immediately launch an appeal.”

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Tallaght-based Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe shares the concerns of St Vincent de Paul that a hike in gas prices will force more people into fuel poverty.

Deputy Crowe commented after An Bord Gáis applied to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CNR) to increase the cost for residential gas customers. The CNR have two weeks to consider the request.

Deputy Crowe said: “Bord Gáis provides gas to 70% of Irish residential customers and this increase would raise the average yearly gas bill by €65.

“Last year the St Vincent DePaul Society spent €7 million helping families pay energy bills. Elderly people, in particular, are being placed at risk as they struggle to heat their homes. Many face impossible choices as they decide whether to heat their homes or pay for food and clothing.

“Since 2009, calls to the Society of St Vincent de Paul have risen by 83 per cent. Almost a quarter of all calls the SVP received last year related to appeals for help in getting food, while a further16 per cent sought assistance with bills and energy costs.

“The average amount for electricity bills recorded by the organisation's regional offices in 2011 was €563, while the average for gas bills was €510.

“If Bord Gáis is allowed to increase its charges the lives of some older people will be put at risk as they struggle to heat their homes.”

“With the bad summer many people had to keep their heating on. This is more likely if the person is elderly or ill. The proposed gas price hike, if agreed, will be disastrous for many of these families and individuals.”
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Thug Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams dea-shuí agus gach beannacht leis na h-aclaithe Éireannacha go léir.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his best wishes and good luck to all of those athletes from the island of Ireland taking part in the London Olympics.

Mr. Adams said:

“The Olympics games are the ultimate test for athletes, all of whom have been preparing for their events for years.

"It is the culmination of determination, individual courage and team spirit.

"I want to extend my best wishes and good luck to all of those from the island of Ireland who will be participating in events over the next two weeks.

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has stated that the reported coming together of the Real IRA, RAAD and a number of other micro-factions will not achieve anything.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“The coming together of several dissident groups is not surprising given the fractious nature of those who are behind such groupings. They have over the past number of years come and gone, split and reformed on an ongoing basis.

“What is very clear from this move is that it is further evidence that they have no strategy and their aims are as clear as mud. RAAD for example have claimed to be an anti-drugs group who have now joined a larger dissident group with different aims.  This latest move appears to be more to do with ego’s and personal fiefdoms than anything else.

“That is not to say that they cannot be dangerous. They have in the past killed people, the majority of whom have been from the nationalist community. However these actions can take us nowhere. Meanwhile they are happy to risk the lives and liberty of young, impressionable people to achieve nothing.

“There is no community support for these groups. They need to desist, and they need to realise that they cannot achieve a united Ireland in this way.

“There is a political strategy in place which the vast majority of Irish republicans and nationalists, along with the overwhelming majority of the people on this island, have endorsed.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has accused AIB of abandoning rural Ireland after it was announced today that the state owned bank is closing 67 branches across the state.

Deputy Doherty also criticised the bank’s decision to increase its mortgage interest rate by half a percentage point just weeks after the ECB reduced its rate and AIB refused to pass the cut on to its customers.

He said:

“Today’s news will be a serious blow to communities throughout the state particularly rural communities that are already suffering from a lack of investment and a withdrawal of services.

“In my own constituency, Bundoran, Falcarragh, Gweedore, Raphoe, Lifford and Dunfanaghy, will all close during the first half of 2013 meaning more job losses in an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

“AIB is a nationalised bank. The people own it. Yet it is being allowed to abandon rural communities across the state and to hike up its interest rate putting its customers under more financial strain. This is just weeks after the bank refused to pass on the ECB interest rate cut of half a percentage point to its customers.

“The government needs to show its commitment to rural Ireland. Its action plan on jobs means nothing to people in rural communities where more and more jobs are being lost and more and more services are being cut.

“This government was elected on a promise to create jobs yet again and again we hear of major job losses and the live register stands at nearly half a million. Its action to create jobs has been pathetic and subservient to its commitment to pump billions into zombie banks.

“Unfortunately the government’s record in rural Ireland is no better than its job creation record.” ENDS

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Thug Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams dea-shuí agus gach beannacht leis na h-aclaithe Éireannacha go léir.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his best wishes and good luck to all of those athletes from the island of Ireland taking part in the London Olympics.

Mr Adams said:

“The Olympics games are the ultimate test for athletes, all of whom have been preparing for their events for years.

“It is the culmination of determination, individual courage and team spirit.

“I want to extend my best wishes and good luck to all of those from the island of Ireland who will be participating in events over the next two weeks.

“I am sure they will give 100% and be proud and exemplary ambassadors for Ireland. Go n-éirí go geal libh go léir.”

ENDS

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“This decision of the EPA could well mean that Ireland loses its name as a GM free country. GM food does not make environmental or economic sense for Ireland. Agriculture is extremely important for the Irish economy. Our agriculture trades off its clean, green image and any move to disrupt this image could have serious consequences for the agricultural industry.

“The European Commission Special Eurobarometer indicated that 66% of consumers in the EU consider genetically modified organisms as a worry. GM free food labelling has massive popular demand in Europe and is also the fastest growing food label in the US.

“There are also environmental concerns regarding GM food. Evidence from the food industry and farming experiences worldwide shows that the cultivation and trade of GM crops have far reaching impacts which are not covered by the EU's legal framework for genetically modified organisms.

“Contamination incidents make up a major part of the costs of GM crops. As of January 2011, there were more than 300 reported cases of contamination incidents worldwide. This move by the EPA could be a cause of much worry for farmers.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, has welcomed this week’s announcement that 14 new patrons are to be appointed to new post-primary schools across the State but said that the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn or his department are not responding quickly enough to the demand that exists from parents for an education choice for their children.

School patronage refers to the control and ethos of a school and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has made clear he wants to see the divestment of a number of schools under the patronage of the Catholic Church.

Deputy Crowe said;

“I welcome the announcement of 14 new patrons for post-primary schools including the decision that the multidenominational patron, Educate Together, will take responsibility for the running of a school in Blanchardstown. This is a first for Educate Together which will also share patronage of a school in Drogheda with the Co Louth Vocational Education Committee (VEC).

“Eight other schools will also be under the care of VECs in Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Meath and Cork. Gaelscoileanna body An Foras Pátrúnachta will become patron to two schools, and the Church of Ireland and Le Chéile Schools Trust will have responsibility for one school each in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Mulhuddart, Dublin 15, respectively. All 14 of the schools will be Co-Educational.

“In welcoming this announcement I recognise the disappointment of other schools that missed out when they had their applications for patronage turned down.

“There has been a campaign to secure a multi-denominational Primary School in the Portobello area of Dublin where there is clearly a demand for a school that can meet the diverse needs of families living within that locality. Others that missed out include the Loreto Education Trust, which applied to open a school in Ashbourne, Co Meath, and the Marist Education Authority, which sought patronage in Dundalk, Co Louth.

“What this highlights is the growing demand from parents for choice in different secular/non secular education and it is clear that Minister Ruairí Quinn and the Department of Education and Skills are not responding quickly enough to the many applications that are being made.

“Similarly, the 2011 Census showed that the number of Irish speakers in Ireland has risen by 7.1%, so there is a growing demand for the opening of local Gaelscoileanna. The issue of school patronage is essential for the development of the language and is something the minister and his department need to fast track and prioritise.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has welcomed the comments from the special rapporteur on child protection and child law Geoffrey Shannon who this week criticised the State’s refusal to accept responsibility for the Magdalene Laundry issue.

Deputy Crowe said: “Geoffrey Shannon’s scathing criticism of the Government for failing to accept responsibility for the plight of the women of the Magdalene Laundries is a timely reminder of the State’s failings to protect its citizens.

“It comes a week after the passing of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill when Sinn Féin amendments calling for the establishment of separate redress boards for the Magdalene Women and the survivors of Bethany Home were rejected by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn.

“I fully agree with Mr Shannon’s assessment of the women and girls in the Magdalene Laundries whose treatment can be constituted as slavery as defined under the 1930 Forced Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation, which Ireland signed in 1931.

“There should also be a criminal probe into the Magdalene Laundries; an unequivocal apology on behalf of the State and a properly resourced system of redress to compensate and help the surviving women.

“The Government’s failure to act on this issue contrasts with what many Labour and FG TD’s said when in opposition and this is contributing to the hurt and suffering of the survivors of institutions like the Magdalene Laundries.

“In view of Geoffrey Shannon’s criticism it is time for the Government to act now and help those who were treated like slaves in places that were supposed to be safe havens and places of care.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has welcomed the National Sheep Associations report ‘The Complementary Role of Sheep in Less Favoured Areas’.

Mr. McMullan said,

“On Monday I attended Greenmount Agricultural College to hear the report on the benefits of sheep production in rural areas.  These benefits include environmental protection, wool production, breeding stock and high food production.

“The hill sheep diet consists of rough grazing with little use of concentrate feed therefore the meat produced is high in Omega 3 content which has great health benefits. What makes this presentation unique is that we usually only hear about lowland sheep farming now at last we have a detailed report on the role of sheep farming and its benefits in less favourable areas.

“I would like to thank the Regional Chairman Maurice McHenry and the Regional Manager Edward Adamson for their invitation and to congratulate them on an excellent report.

“The importance of hill farming cannot be underestimated, at present hill ground and all less favourable areas cover nearly 50% of all agricultural land in the North.

“Recently the Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced his plans for National Parks this is one subject that could have a big effect on hill farming especially with the possible restrictions that could come with any Park status.

“At present there has been little or no consultation with the farming community and this need to change. I will be raising these issues with the Minister when the Assembly reconvenes in September.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has reiterated his call for the PSNI to set a separate category of crimes against the farming community after the theft of over 200 sheep from a farm in the Loughgiel area.

Mr. McMullan said,

“There needs to be a separation between crimes committed against farmers as opposed to crimes committed in rural areas so we can see the total cost of crime against the farming community. 

“We now have seen the biggest case of the theft of livestock ever from a farm in Loughgiel and this will undoubtedly cause extensive hardship to the farmer concerned.

“It looks like these sheep were stole to order and probably have been slaughtered already.  There is obviously unscrupulous slaughterhouses that are prepared to put farmers at risk by accepting stolen livestock for a quick profit.  These need to be identified and closed down and the owners brought to justice.

“For too long crimes against the farming community have been included in with other rural crime figures so we have a distorted view of the total amount this is causing the farming community. Whether it livestock or farming machinery this crime needs to be costed so that the appropriate countermeasures are made available to combat this growing sector in the crime industry.

“I am also calling on tighter regulation at slaughterhouses so that all animals can be traced to their original owner.  This would be a huge deterrent to those who are intent in stealing livestock for a quick profit”  

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Dessie Ellis TD has called on Minister Varadkar to work with the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Transport, Unions and CIE to develop a strategy to improve public transport across the state, making it sustainable, high quality and good value for both the state and the public.

Deputy Ellis made his comments following a statement from Minister Varadkar that despite emergency funding being put in place public transport fares might be raised further.

Deputy Ellis said;

“The Minister admits that fare increases are discouraging people from using public transport and that this is in part responsible for the need for emergency funding but he still thinks it might be necessary to raise fares. This makes no sense. If higher fares are part of the problem because they discourage use of public transport then raising fares can obviously only hinder attempts to save services.

“The use of public transport needs to be encouraged by the Minister and CIE. Fares are a big part of this. People will not be willing to pay more for potentially worse service.

“The Minister needs to work with the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and others to develop a strategy to promote public transport and make it a desirable option for the Irish people, urban and rural and well as visitors.

“This should be done by making the service more accessible, varied and affordable. Raising fares is directly against the interests of public transport and given the fact the Minister is considering tenders for Public Service Obligation routes over the summer it draws into question his commitment to public transport entirely.”

ENDS

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Speaking tonight at the MacGill Summer School in the Glenties, Donegal Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD argued that growth is the only game in town but the government has so far remained on the side lines.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Last week the Government gave itself a 94% success rate on delivery of measures in the second quarter of its action plan on jobs. And yet, all the key economic indicators, as the guide to this discussion points out, are negative. 

“In June 2011, unemployment was 14.4%. In June 2012, we had an unemployment rate of 14.9%. Since the start of this year, 740 businesses have gone into insolvency – 155 in the month of May alone. 

“It seems to me that the Government’s action plan on jobs is ticking all the boxes, bar one – creating jobs. 

“To be fair to the Government – they have already acknowledged this. In the same week as patting themselves on the back for achieving their own unambitious targets, they unveiled a €2.25 billion six year stimulus plan.

“When Sinn Féin first proposed the idea of a stimulus in December 2008, we were told that it was not needed. Subsequently we were told it would not work. After that we were told - including by members of the current Government - that there was no money for a stimulus. 

“Perhaps the Government’s stimulus announcement is best described as stimulus for slow learners – because while the premise is now accepted, the scale of the stimulus required appears to be sorely misunderstood and the broad contours of other government policies run against the grain of stimulating the economy. 

“Indeed we have the bizarre situation where the Government that has axed capital spending yet claims kudos for introducing a stimulus package.  Let’s not forget the real net gain of the announcement is a mere €800million euro to be spent over a five to six year period. 

“We have a deficit problem in this state that must be addressed. There are a range of taxation and savings measures that can be used to do this. However we differ, radically differ, with the Government on what those measures should be, and we all agree on the end game of deficit reduction. 

“Sinn Féin has always pointed out the need for growth and how a stimulus could kick-start this. This has been the over-riding theme of all our economic publications for the last four years and will be again in our jobs recovery programme to be published this September and our pre-budget submission later in the year. 

“The state does have the capacity to introduce a substantial Government-led stimulus, supported by the private sector and backed up by other measures which do not require financial input but can make it easier for businesses, entrepreneurs, co-ops and state enterprises to create jobs. This has to be complemented by deficit reduction measures which do not deflate the domestic economy and drag out the slump in consumer spending. 

“The Government’s net stimulus of €2.25 billion over six years can only be described as a drop in the ocean. It has to be seen against a sustained attack on capital investment spending. Fine Gael and Labour intend to cut the capital budget by at least €1.4 billion over the lifetime of this Government. 

“Austerity will not cure the deficit. Growth is the only game in town but the government has so far remained on the side lines.” ENDS

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Responding to the publication of the NAMA annual accounts today, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, said that given the potential liability to the state from NAMA, the government should be raising it at the negotiations around banking debt in Europe. He said today's profit was against a backdrop of a loss of €1.1 billion in 2010 and also seemed to come largely from tax credits according to blog speculations. He added that more transparency is needed from the organisation and the Government on its operations.

Deputy Doherty said:
“When NAMA acquired its original €74 billion worth of loans, it did so for €32 billion. It is now reckoned that on the open market those loans are worth €26 billion. By 2020, NAMA has to ensure that the bonds it used to buy these loans are redeemed in full and there is no guarantee that the agency is going to break even.
“In the face of this, it is beyond belief that this government has not seen fit to raise the issue of NAMA at the negotiations around banking debt in Europe. This was confirmed to me in a parliamentary question response from Minister Noonan last week. The headline today is about NAMA making a profit, but this compares with a loss of €1.1 billion in 2010.

“Much of this profit seems to come from a tax credit, according to blog speculation, but I have yet to study the accounts in detail. I would have queries around NAMA's accounting practices, specifically how they calculate future interest received and how they are estimating the fair value of their loans.

“The publication of the NAMA annual accounts today is welcome, because it shines a light on the operations of this organisation which the public know little or nothing about. There are many people, myself included, who feel that NAMA operates at times under a shroud of secrecy, only allowing out as much information as it wishes the public to hear. This is astonishing considering the amount of taxpayer money invested in the body. Several months ago I introduced legislation that would have brought NAMA under the Freedom of Information Act, but Fine Gael and Labour have refused to move the issue on.

“Since the start of the year I have submitted hundreds of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Finance on NAMA and while some have been revealing, others have been less than forthcoming. In the last few weeks, the majority of my questions have been met with the response that everything would be answered in this set of annual accounts. From an initial examination of the accounts, I believe there are still answers needed. We don’t have the luxury to allow NAMA provide us with good news stories while hiding the more worrying aspects of the agency from view. Full transparency is needed from the agency and the government about what is going on and we need this government to start taking the taxpayers’ investment in NAMA seriously.”
PQ below


PQ - “Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance in view of his recent statements regarding on-going negotiations of the State’s bank debt with the EU; the consideration that has been given to seeking to limit the cost of any potential overall loss at the National Asset Management Agency; if he will confirm that the State's exposure to NAMA forms part of the on-going negotiations.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: NAMA has been tasked with maximising its return on behalf of the Irish taxpayer. NAMA recently reaffirmed its expectation that the Agency will recoup for the taxpayer the Senior Bonds in issue as well as recovery of its carrying costs and the working and development capital advanced to debtors in the course of its business.

NAMA’s Annual Report for 2011, which will be published this month, will make extensive information available on the Agency’s operations and will chart the substantial progress that NAMA has made towards achieving its core financial objective. NAMA has also, as the Deputy is aware, announced a significant programme of asset development and enhancement in Ireland over the period to 2016 and the availability of €2billion in vendor finance for prospective purchasers of commercial properties controlled by its debtors and receivers. A number of other initiatives are being progressed by the Agency. These activities provide strong evidence of the measures being adopted by NAMA to ensure that it will meet its objectives under section 10 of the NAMA Act.

NAMA’s position is not under discussion in the context of the State’s current discussions on bank debt.”
ends

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