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Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language Derogation in Brussels

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language derogation in the the European Parliament while on language strike in Brussels.

The Minister has acknowledged the negative impact of zero hour contracts for workers, yet his proposals to address this are totally inadequate.  Sinn Féin's position on zero hour contracts is that they should be banned.


Sinn Féin TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has welcomed the climb down from Minister Michael Noonan on the introduction of a Mortgage Insurance scheme. The dropping of the proposal was confirmed to Deputy Doherty in a parliamentary reply.



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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to deal with the crisis in Shared Ownership mortgages. He spoke during a Dáil debate, called by the deputy, to discuss “a growing problem which will not just go away”

Deputy Ellis continued:
"By September there will likely be 70 shared ownership homes repossessed. About half of these have been surrendered, others engaged with the Council to attempt to solve the problem, but still lost their home.

With 30% of Shared Ownerships in 90 or more days of arrears and approximately 1,400 schemes in Dublin City Council area, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are 29 cases coming up that a Dublin City Council source has told me are people who are unable to pay and so will lose their homes. There are three repossessions happening in the Finglas this week. People are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on their payments which as part of the deal go up every year. The rent paid to the Council goes up by 4% every year.

This is a problem created by government policy and it must be solved by government intervention. The state failed to deliver enough houses for people who had a housing need as determined by the Local Authorities.
It failed because it did not believe it had a responsibility to provide housing. It was wrong to believe this and the consequence is evident now with desperate people, who needed a home, left in mire of unviable debt and negative equity.

I ask the minister to do something to help ease this problem, to meet with local councils and to encourage a process of engagement with the residents which will recognise when debt is unviable and begin a resolution process.
It should also be the case that those who give up the shared ownership should be allowed to go on the waiting list for housing again and not treated as voluntarily homeless. In many cases it would be appropriate for these people to be housed as tenants in the home they have surrendered and this must be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The Keane report does not do anything for Shared Ownership. The Minister needs to step up to this growing crisis and put a strategy in place to help those in trouble who only sought to put a roof over their heads. They were failed by the previous government who denied them sustainable housing and destroyed the economy. We cannot see this failure repeated."
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Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD described Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore’s assertion that austerity will deliver growth as absurd.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The news from Germany yesterday was that opposition to austerity and the austerity treaty is growing. The peoples of France, Greece, Italy and Germany are opposed to austerity. Politicians in some of those countries are now prepared to take a stand.

“The Bundestag has needed to abandon its plans for ratification of the treaty because Labour's sister party has done the right thing and called the treaty what it is, namely, a bad deal.

“There are divisions within Fianna Fáil over the treaty but there are also divisions within Labour and Fine Gael’s grassroots. Labour’s deputy mayor of Galway city opposes the Austerity Treaty describing it as anti-democratic. Another Labour Councillor has described the Treaty as a step too far. The Fine Gael Mayor of Longford has said speaking as a business person he is urging people to vote no.

“No doubt there are Deputies within the Labour Party who equally recognise that the Austerity Treaty is a bad deal. Is it not time for the Tánaiste to join the growing opposition to austerity across Europe and within his own party?

“The political sands are shifting and Labour's sister parties in the European Union, the trade union movement and, most importantly, the citizens of France, Greece, Italy and Britain have recognised categorically that austerity is not working.

“There is little sense in the Tánaiste throwing out red herrings such as funding or the absurd argument that austerity will deliver growth when it has patently failed to do so. There is a clear political shift away from austerity across the continent. Labour leadership cannot continue to blindly support a Treaty that is so clearly against the interests of this State and her citizens.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD called on the Tánaiste to deliver on the Programme for Government commitment to reform legislation on workers’ rights. The Labour leader failed to commit to a date by which the legislation will be delivered on.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The programme for Government contains a commitment to reform legislation on workers' rights to engage in collective bargaining to ensure compliance with recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

“The court has ruled that the accepted right to join trade unions includes the right to bargain collectively.

“At the time of the campaign on the referendum on the Lisbon treaty and in its manifesto for last year's general election the Labour Party made the commitment to legislate for collective bargaining and that is reiterated in the Programme for Government.

“Vulnerable workers now more than ever need their rights to collective bargaining enshrined in law and protected, yet Labour will not commit to a date by which the legislation will be published.” ENDS

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Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD said there is huge concern that the Austerity Treaty would give the European Commission new powers to force Ireland into an “economic partnership programme” which would allow the commission to dictate what is included in future budgets.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The first week of the referendum campaign has been dominated by the economics of the Austerity Treaty. However there is more to the Treaty than the additional austerity that we would have to endure after 2015 if we sign up to it. There are key questions in terms of loss of economic sovereignty.

“It is about time that the government, and in particular the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, came clean about the consequences of handing away such power to the European Commission and European Court of Justice - what will it mean for taxation policy, for the ownership of state assets, for the delivery of public services, for the household budgets of hundreds of thousands of people across the country?

“It is shocking that any state would voluntarily sign up to the loss of economic sovereignty and many people are asking have they even thought through the consequences of their actions.

“Articles 5 through to 8 deal with the enforcement of the Treaty’s draconian deficit and debt rules and the punishments that can be meted out to any state deemed to be in breach of the rules.

“Article 5 places a legal obligation on member states, who are deemed to be in breach of the deficit rules, to enter a programme of so called structural reform. The content of that programme, deceptively called an economic partnership, will be determined by the European Commission. The programme will be detailed, and in effect will look very much like the detail of the current Troika memorandum of understanding.

“The programme will be backed up with the possibility of legal action whereby one Member State acting at the request of the European Commission can take another Member State to the ECJ. The punishment will take the form of a fine of up to 0.1% of GDP which on the basis of 2011 figures would be in the region of €160 million.

“Taken together these articles will significantly undermine the control that future Governments will have over budgetary and fiscal matters. The excessive deficit procedure will become automatic requiring a qualified majority to block it; the Commission will have extensive scope to impose detailed policy prescriptions on Member States; and the ECJ will act at the enforcement mechanism.

“The Government, and in particular the Minister of Finance Michael Noonan needs to clearly spell out the consequences of these articles.

“The Austerity Treaty means more power for the European Court of Justice and European Commission. It means less power for the Oireachtas and the citizens to control our own economic affairs. On May 31st we have an opportunity to defend the right of citizens to decide our own future by voting No to the Austerity Treaty.”

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"Honouring our Legacy: Keeping Ireland at the Heart of Global Justice"

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pádraig MacLochlainn TD today presented his party's submission to the Review of the White Paper on Irish Aid at Leinster House. The submission was compiled by Deputy Mac Lochlainn and the party's advisor on Foreign Affairs, Kaniah Cusack.

He said:

“It is heartening to learn, in research undertaken by Ipsos/MRBI last month, that there remains overwhelming support amongst the Irish public for overseas aid to the global South. I hope that our party submission contributes positively to the review of Irish Aid being conducted this year.

“It is vital that any paper which focuses on the development agenda, such as the Review of the White Paper, considers a wide range of issues and that it addresses the root causes of global poverty, not just the symptoms. The need for fair trade policies, the involvement of civil society, the role of parliamentarians in oversight and the enshrining of human rights into the development agenda must all become part of the overall plan in order for aid delivered from Ireland to be truly effective.

“Sinn Féin sees the eradication of poverty, one of the prominent Millennium Development Goals, as the underpinning issue for all other development priorities. The right to food and water and the rights to education and health are basic human rights, not needs. Gender equality, good governance and the protection of human rights all stem from the primary critical goal of the eradication of global poverty.

“Poverty is a multi-faceted problem. Therefore, the elimination of poverty and the development of sustainable growth in the global south will best be achieved when economic, environmental and social issues are addressed in a comprehensive way, and when international aid and private enterprise are coordinated and directed toward the needs of poorer communities, not at the price of them.

“Unfortunately at the moment we are witnessing the undermining of development policy by European trade policy. Ireland should be playing a positive role at European level as a champion for global trade policies which prioritise and support the needs of poorer countries.

“In this way we believe that trade can benefit countries every bit as much as aid and development.”

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Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has given what he called "cautious welcome" to news that Shannon Airport is to be set free from D.A.A. control and allowed to operate as an independent airport.


Deputy Ellis continued;
"This is certainly what local campaigners wanted to see happen and Shannon can now go forward and attempt to grow without being saddled with the €100 million debt that had hung over it under DAA control. I also welcome the fact that the airport remains in state control.”

“All Stakeholders and public representatives from the region must work together to map out the role of the airport and how it plays into the strategic local infrastructure project aimed to redeveloping the economy of the mid West. I am hopeful that if this happens this move will be a help to the region.
This is by no means the end of Shannon Airport's or the Mid west region's difficulties but with hard work and planning this move could be a helpful move in the right direction."
Limerick City Councillor Maurice Quinlivn also said;
"Limerick City and the Mid West in general have suffered disproportionately over the last few years and what is needed is investment in infrastructure and the creation and retention of jobs. Shannon Airport has a crucial role to play in the creation of jobs in this area. We need to also understand the challenge we face as the government will expect that any loses at Shannon airport will be borne locally, we need Shannon to become viable again and we stand the risk of the losing the Airport and its facilities altogether should this not happen.”

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Thirty-five Oireachtas members, including independents and deputies and senators from all political parties and groups in the Dáil and Seanad have signed their names to a petition calling for an immediate response to the ongoing mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Tomorrow a cross party group of TDS will attempt to raise the matter in the Dáil under "Topical issues".

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has welcomed the show of political unity. He said:

"Official figures show that over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have embarked on a hunger strike in protest against their conditions and Israel’s use of administrative detention. The majority began their protest on April 17th, but there are several who have been without food for much longer. Two individuals, Bilal Diab and Tha'er Halahlah, are in severe medical danger having both been without food for over 70 days.

The prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, states that 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (and as high as 40% of the male population) have been arrested by the Israeli authorities. There are currently 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and around 300 of these are being held in administrative detention. Administrative detention is a military practice that allows authorities to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial and without presenting any evidence against them.

The conditions imposed on prisoners and detainees are shocking. It is usual for prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and frequently denied visits from their family. Those in solitary confinement are held in a cell no larger than two and a half square metres, and which contains only a mattress and blanket. Detainees are permitted only one hour of sunlight and fresh air per day, and have their legs and hands cuffed during this time. In one of the most reported cases, Abdullah Barghouti has spent nine years in solitary confinement"

He continued:

"Acknowledging these factors, the 35 Oireachtas members call for an immediate response to the Palestinian non-violent protests. The current situation of Palestinians in Israeli jails is unacceptable. We call on both the Israeli government and international actors to recognise the following demands of prisoners:
1) That International Law and its provisions with regard to administrative detention are respected.
2) That Israel ends its policy of administrative detention.
3) That Israel ends its policy of keeping prisoners in solitary confinement.
4) That prisoners are allowed to see their families."

The Oireachtas members who signed the petition are:

Gerry Adams TD Senator David Norris
Minister of State, Joe Costello TD Minister of State, Jan O Sullivan TD
Richard Boyd Barrett TD Olivia Mitchell TD
Robert Troy TD Thomas Pringle TD
Mary Lou McDonald TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Gerald Nash TD Senator Katherine Zappone
Maureen O Sullivan TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Michael Colreavy TD Senator Ivana Bacik
Seán Crowe TD Pearse Doherty TD
Finian McGrath TD Senator Terry Leyden
Dessie Ellis TD Martin Ferris TD
Senator Susan O Keefe Sandra McLellan TD
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD Jonathan O’Brien TD
Patrick Nulty TD Joan Collins TD
Brian Stanley TD Peadar Tóibín TD
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Senator Michael Mullins
Senator Jim Walsh Senator Kathryn Reilly
Senator David Cullinane

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Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, will be in Carrick-on-Shannon tomorrow, (Thursday 10 May 2012) with Deputy Martin Ferris to meet community groups which are bearing the burden of the attack on rural Ireland by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government.

Later in the day the Sinn Féin leader will be joined by other party members: Michael Colreavy TD, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Michelle O’Neill MLA and minister for rural development and agriculture in the North.

The team will address a public meeting at the Landmark Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon and will take questions and comments from the floor.

Sinn Féin is inviting submissions that will go toward forming a comprehensive plan for the future of Rural Ireland.

All individuals and groups are welcome to submit these and the meeting tomorrow night is open to the public.
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Speaking against the government amendment to the motion tabled by the Dáil’s Technical Group on Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA), Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Social Protection said that far from being fair and transparent, the application process is flawed.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
“The current application, assessment and review processes for Domiciliary Care Allowance are not fair and they place parents under undue stress that could and should be avoided.
“The level of confusion and fear to which these reviews are giving rise is something which I think the Minister needs to take heed of and respond to. The fear is fed by the unfairness and lack of transparency in the system.”
He went on to say that the minister has failed to address the fact that some Domiciliary Care Allowances are being ended, while a review being still in progress.
He challenged the minister to ensure, “at the very least, that absolutely no payment should be cut-off in advance of the completion of a review”.
Pointing out that the guidelines used to determine eligibility are problematic and need to be changed, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
“Diagnoses are categorised into lists as being ‘more likely’ and ‘less likely’ to qualify and this leads to unfair presumptions by the deciding officers.
“Minister, despite denying to me, in a parliamentary question reply, that the guidelines were unfair, in a tacit acknowledgment of a problem, you recently moved classic autism from the ‘less likely’ list to the ‘more likely’ to qualify for the DCA list.”
“We don’t want another Labour Party type review with pre-determined outcomes we want urgent action from the minister to allay the fears of families dependent on the DCA and the associated Carers’ Allowance that they will be treated fairly and not arbitrarily cut off, from their lifeline.” ends

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Liadh Ní Riada highlights Irish Language Derogation in Brussels


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Mary Lou McDonald TD, Cllr Catherine Seeley & Francie Molloy MP