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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Séan Crowe has supported Minister Ruairi Quinn’s call for lower school book prices. Deputy Crowe has been lobbying the minister to force the publishers of school textbooks to reduce their prices and stop printing unnecessary revised editions.

He said: “Most of the cost of sending a child to school, which according to Barnardo's is between €350 and €805, is spent on text books.

“I welcome Minister Quinn’s efforts but publishers are saying they will only agree to a voluntary code of practice regarding prices and new editions of school books.

“Publishers should give discounts to schools making bulk purchases of textbooks and the practice of reprinting revised editions of books must cease. The Department of Education should look at best practices of schools with book rental schemes and use this as a template that can be applied in all schools.

“Low income families are suffering in the economic crisis and the cost of sending children to school must be reduced. It is unfortunate that Minister Quinn’s efforts get results have come too late to help parents with children who are about to start the new school term.” ENDS

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Commenting on the mounting concerns that many families who have applied for the Back to School Allowance may have to wait until late October before receiving the grant, Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Children, regardless of their social or economic background, have the right to attend school in comfortable fitting clothing and in this time of economic hardship it is essential that hard pressed families are assisted in preparing their child for school.

“The current debacle around the processing of the Back to School Allowance reflects a lack of planning and foresight on behalf of the government who should have had the personnel in place to deal with the increased number of applications.

“They could also have learnt from my party colleague, Caitríona Ruane, MLA, who when Minister for Education in the North’s Assembly increased the uniform allowance for parents in receipt of income support. By the end of August 2009, there were 24,135 successful applications for the grant with many more to follow and all of which were processed without undue delay.

“If Minister Quinn is serious about easing the financial burden faced by parents attempting to send their child to primary school then he must do all within his power to ensure the Back to School Allowance is paid on time. This is vital in order to help parents met the spiralling cost of sending their child to school at this time of year.” ENDS

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Speaking at today's Save Number 19 Bus protest on O'Connell Street, Sinn Féin's Daithí Doolan called on Dublin Bus to “stop ripping the heart out of Dublin communities.”

Doolan was speaking at a protest at the Dublin Bus Head Office. The protest, organised by the Save Number 19 Bus Campaign, was demanding that Dublin Bus reverse their decision to shut down the number 19 bus route.

Speaking regarding Dublin Bus management’s commitment to meet the campaign group Doolan said:

"I welcome today's development that the management has finally agreed to meet with the campaign group. The number 19 bus route serves communities and commuters right across Dublin, from Inchicore, through the south inner city and across to Finglas.

“Dublin Bus has no mandate to simply decide to shut down this service with the stroke of a pen. They have peddled myths and misinformation about this bus service. We have 11,500 signatures disproving their claim that the bus service is not viable.

“Dublin Bus must reverse the decision to shut down the number 19 bus route before any meaningful talks can begin. Communities and commuters deserve nothing short of a fully functioning service.”

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Speaking on the comments by the Minister for Justice following the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2010, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien said:

“The Minister has said the increasing number of prisoners being committed to custody is the greatest challenge facing the Irish Prison Service. The 2010 report shows that there were 17,179 committals to prison, which was an increase of 11.4% on the 2009 total. This is a fact and cannot be disputed.

“Minister Shatter’s citing of this as the cause for the increase of prisoners on temporary release is frightening. More people have been put to jail so therefore more must be given temporary release. This is truly the operation of a dysfunctional system.

“A huge amount of these prison committals relate to those sentenced for non-payment of a court ordered fines. 2010 saw an increase of 39% on the number of such committals from 2009; a jump from 4,806 to 6,688.

“In many cases such as these, alternatives to custody are more appropriate and a lot cheaper. The average annual cost of a prison space was €70,513 in 2010.

“Next month will also see a new situation where the courts will have to consider imposing a community service order for offences where a sentence of up to twelve months would be appropriate. Sinn Féin is in support of such alternatives particularly when they are served in offenders’ own communities to the benefit of the wider population at a fraction of the cost of incarceration.

“What we need is also the complete operation of the Fines Act 2010, which allows for the payment of fines by instalment. We are currently awaiting the necessary updating of the Courts Service ICT system. Legislation with no possibility of implementation is just the sort of solution offered in this state.

“The Minister must ensure alternatives to prison are put into practice for minor offences and that prisons remain a sanction for serious criminal activities.”

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has described a possible six-week backlog in the processing of Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance forms as ‘unacceptable’ and a serious set back to low income families with children who are attending school. Crowe said the Minister was dithering while families awaited their badly needed entitlements.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Today’s announcement from the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, that there could be a six-week delay in processing back-to-school allowance forms is simply unacceptable. With just days before the new school term commences, thousands of families who are already struggling to make ends meet could be forced to wait until well into October, or even later, before receiving their entitlements for school clothing and footwear.

“It is not good enough for the Department of Social Welfare to use the excuse of increased applications for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) to justify the delay in processing this payment. The Department only started dealing with the 66,000 applications received in the second week of July, and they are only able to process 1,000 forms daily, so clearly the present system was going to be overwhelmed.

“Internal memos circulated by Minister Burton’s department state that it could be months before the backlog is cleared.

“The €200 available to parents qualifying for the allowance for children aged 11 and under and €305 for children between 12 and 22 are to assist with clothing their children for school. Many of the 66,000 applications for the allowance are from people who are already in receipt of vital allowances like the Disability Allowance, Occupational Injury Benefit and Carer’s Payments and on those incomes, cannot afford to wait until October or November for this payment.

“The Minister needs to intervene and ensure additional resources are in place so that families can have quick access to this essential grant. She needs to stop dithering and address this matter urgently.

“There are enough unemployed people available and willing to work to process these applications.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe believes the growth in demand for Irish language courses at Universities across the country illustrates the importance of retaining the language within the school curriculum.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Despite the economic downturn, the demand for Irish language courses at Irish universities remains consistent. There has been little or no change in the number of points required for the numerous courses listed in the first round of CAO offers which have Irish as a joint subject or the primary language of instructions.

“There has also been a significant increase from last year in Irish language broadcasting and journalism courses and these figures reinforce the importance of retaining Irish as a core subject within the school curriculum.

“Having the opportunity to be educated through Irish should be a constitutional and legally enshrined right of every Irish citizen and we need to protect its existence for generations to come.

“These latest statistics show that rather than considering measures which will contribute to the dissolution of Irish, the state should be taking constructive steps to strengthen, support and encourage its growth.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has said that with the new school term fast approaching the Government is failing parents who are facing excessive bills for uniforms, books and other equipment.

Deputy Crowe said:

“At a meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee in July, Minister Quinn said that he would exam the viability of introducing book-lending schemes and cheaper uniforms in a bid to drive school costs down for parents.

“Minister Quinn met with the St Vincent de Paul charity and the National Parents Council, two organisations that deal with parents who are struggling to equip and cloth their children for school. Current estimates put the costs at almost €600 when a child is to attend Secondary school, a significant amount of money in these cash strapped times.

“Added to this burden are the voluntary fees parents are asked to pay, annual photocopying costs ranging between €40 and €80, and €100 to €300 for extra-curricular activities.

“There is no doubt that with the implementation of practical measures the financial burden being placed on parents can be eased. For example, the frequent changing of books on the curriculum, particularly the publication of revised editions, is a way of allowing publishers to continue to exploit the system.

“The purchasing of school uniforms is also an issue that Minister Quinn promised to address, particularly when schools advise parents they can only buy from specific outlets.

“Most parents have now bought the uniforms and no real change has been evident this year.

“The availability of school crests to parents doesn’t seem to have happened in the majority of schools.

“Many parents struggling with costs are asking what was the point of the Minister’s initiative.

“It is increasingly clear that Minister Quinn must do more than pay lip service to this issue and he must implement practical measures that will help reduce the unacceptably high costs being faced by families whose children will be soon attending school.” ENDS

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill said today that potato growers play a key role contributing to the success of the agri-food sector in the north.

The Minister was speaking after visiting Glens of Antrim Potatoes in Cushendall to view the company’s potato packing facilities and see harvesting of maincrop potatoes.

Glens of Antrim are supplied with a wide range of potato varieties by their growers for packing and distribution to major retail outlets across the island of Ireland.

The Minister said: “The total farm gate value for the local potato industry in 2010 was approximately £22.8million with some 187,000t of potatoes produced. These figures illustrate how important the potato sector is to the local economy and it is good to see Glens of Antrim contributing to the sector’s success.”

“In recent years, my Department has provided Glens of Antrim over £600,000 to invest in developing its facilities through the EU Processing and Marketing Grant. The funding support provided under this grant scheme is designed to help companies, such as Glens of Antrim, to continue the growth and development of our agri-food sector and improve the economic performance of a sector that has shown strong resilience during the recent economic downturn.”

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Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today met with Consumer Focus Post to discuss developments in postal services and the post office network in the north of Ireland.


At the meeting the Minister outlined her desire to support rural post offices and to ensure the needs of rural communities are fully considered as part of the future provision of postal services in the north.

Highlighting the valued contribution of post offices to local community life, Minister O’Neill said: “Within rural communities the local post office is more than just a service provider. It is a place to meet up with neighbours and catch up with local news. This opportunity for social interaction is of enormous benefit to some of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in rural areas and can help address feelings of exclusion and isolation.”

Referring to the challenging commercial market in which post offices operate, the Minister continued: “I am aware that in some areas the sustainability of the local post office is under threat due to an increase in the use of electronic services and online transactions. Doing business in this way brings benefits to those who can avail of it, but there are still many in rural areas who rely on the over the counter service traditionally provided by the post office.

“The Post Office local services initiative which allows postal services to operate from the property of an established village shop is currently being trialled in a number of locations throughout the North. However, I have concerns about the lack of privacy afforded to users under this model and the reduction in the range of services being provided in rural areas.”

She concluded: “This was a useful meeting with Consumer Focus Post and, like them, I am keen to see local communities getting more involved and taking the initiative in coming up with solutions to help secure the future of their local post office services. I am committed to doing what I can to assist this process and will be writing to the Minister for Postal Affairs highlighting my concerns. I have also asked officials to explore what support might be available to maintain a sustainable level of provision in rural areas.”

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