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Cháin BTR Shinn Féin agus ceannaire an pháirtí sa Tionól, John Ó Dubhda an DUP as rún a chuir os comhair an Tionól ag ceisitú luachar an Comhairle Aireachta Thuaidh-Theas.

Dúirt an tUasail Uí Dhubhda,

"Cuir Sinn Féin tús leis achainí imní chomh luath agus a chuaigh an rún seo isteach sa chóras. Ciallaíonn sé sin go bhfuil tácaíocht Shinn Féin de dhíth air sa Tionól agus is cinnte nach mbeidh an tácaíocht sin aici. Ba é seo an dara uair taobh istigh de seachtain, ina chuir Sinn Féin stad iomlán le iarrachtaí an DUP institúidí Comhaontú Aoine an Céasta a chaolú.

"Bíodh an DUP, agus daoine eile sa Tionól cinnte, go gcuirfidh Shinn Féin stad díreach le leithead de ruin cosúil leis an ceann seo.

"Ní anseo ach an DUP i mód toghchánaíochta. Oibríonn an Comhairle Aireachta Thuaidh-Theas ar mhaithe le saoranaigh fud fad na tire. B'fhearr don DUP bí linn ag oibriú na n-institúidí seo in áit a bheith ag scríobh rún nach bhfuil a' dhul áit ar bith." CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has today restated Sinn Fein's opposition to the introduction of the pension levy which puts the burden of Ireland's public finances on low and medium income public workers and lets the wealthiest off the hook once again. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Morgan challenged the Minister for Finance on the fairness of the public service pension levy noting that the "sliding scale in the levy discriminates against the lower paid."

Deputy Morgan said:

"Yesterday in the Dáil the Minister for Finance said that public sector workers paying the new pension levy will be able to avail of tax relief in the same way as those in the private sector do. However the fiscal reality is that tax relief favours high earners, and relief provided for pension contributions arising from the pension levy will result in almost the same percentage levy for earners on €20,000 as it does for those who earn €300,000.

"It is clear from the Government's pension levy plan that the sliding scale in the levy discriminates against the lower paid. The higher you go up the scale the smaller the increases in the levy become. And this does not include the fact that the high earners in the public sector will be able to claim most of this money back in tax relief for their pensions.

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on the government to make all discretionary tax relief schemes available only at the standard rate of tax, which would raise up to €1 billion for the public purse.

"Let us be very clear, it is nurses who will lose €2,250 from their salaries and Gardaí who will have thousands of euro taken from their incomes. Many workers will now have to take an effective pay cut of up to three thousand euro before paying the income levy, health charges and other unfair public finance measures imposed by this government." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will formally launch a drugs awareness and information pamphlet in Ballyfermot on Friday, 6th February. Mr. Adams will be joined by Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald and local Sinn Féin representatives, Councillor Louise Minihan and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, who produced the pamphlet. The launch will take place at Ballyfermot Civic Centre on Ballyfermot Road at 11am.

Speaking in advance of the launch Sinn Féin spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said, "This pamphlet is the first in a series of information pamphlets Sinn Féin will be producing for distribution to parents and community groups across the country.

"The pamphlet we are producing tomorrow is an introduction to make both parents and young people aware of the dangers of illegal drugs and the tell-tale signs of abuse. It also provides a list of contact details for local support services, addiction treatment centres, counselling services and the new Dial To Stop Drug Dealing free phone line.

"This pamphlet will be followed by further helpful pamphlets on alcohol abuse, gambling and dealing with personal debt." ENDS

Tomorrows launch will be one of a number of engagements Gerry Adams will be undertaking in the South of the City.

Schedule for Gerry Adams Friday 6th

11.00 Launch Drugs pamphlet with Aengus O Snodaigh and Mary Lou in Ballyfermot Civic Centre, Ballyfermot Road.

12.00 Lunch in Ballyfermot Leisure Centre

3.00 Community Activists meeting with local Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan - Irishtown Sports Stadium Ringsend Park

4.00 Visit Clanna Gael GAA Club, Seán Moore Road, Ringsend.

For further information please contact Michael Nolan on 087 931 6251

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Ag labhairt i bParlaimint na hEorpa, deir feisire eorpach Bairbre de Brún go gcaithfidh an tAE a chinntiú nach bhfágtar an mhonarcha phróiseála muc Vion ar an Chorr Chríochach le déileáil leis na hiarmhairtí mar gheall ar 4000 muc thruaillithe a ghlacadh isteach óna 26 Chontae le linn tréimhse na géarchéime ansin 1 Méan Fómhair - 6 Nollaig 2008.

Deir Iníon de Brún:

Chruthaigh an teagmhas bainteach le leibhéil arda dé-ocsaine i monarcha in Éirinn deacrachtaí móra eacnamaíocha d'fheirmeoirí sa tuaisceart agus sa deisceart. Is drochscéal ar fad seo sa tréimhse dheacrach eacnamaíoch seo.

Toisc gníomh gasta bheith déanta is leis an mhargadh bheith ar a suaimhneas go bhfuil muiceoil na hÉireann slán. Bíodh sin mar atá, níor chóir go mbeifí ag dúil go mbeadh orthu siúd, ar imríodh tionchar orthu, fágtha le déileáil leis na hiarmhairtí leo féin.

B'aidhm don Scéim Athghairm Muiceola (SAM) a d'fhógair rialtas na hÉireann i mí Nollag 2008 ná gach muiceoil thruaillithe na hÉireann a bhaint ar shiúl. Bíodh sin mar atá, ach níl an chuma ar an scéim go bhfuil sé ag freastal ar na 4000 muc thruaillithe a cuireadh chuig monarcha phróiseála muc Vion, ar an Chorr Chríochach, Contae Thír Eoghain, i mo dháilcheantar, le linn na tréimhse éillithe 1 Méan Fómhair - 6 Nollaig 2008.

Ar an dea-uair, is féidir linn a rá gan chuntar go bhfuil muiceoil Éireannach go hiomlán slán. Mura mbíonn an mhonarcha seo i dteideal cúitimh faoi scéim tacaithe AE, mar sin de, tá fíorbhaol ann nach mbeidh sí in ann leanúint ar aghaidh.

Caithfidh an tAE a chinntiú nach bhfágtar an mhonarcha phróiseála seo le déileáil leis na hiarmhairtí mar gheall ar 4000 muc thruaillithe a ghlacadh.

Mura mbíonn siad i dteideal cúitimh faoin Scéim Athghairm Muiceola a aontaíodh idir an Coimisiún agus rialtas na hÉireann, is gá scéim a aontú idir an Coimisiún agus An Roinn Talmhaíochta agus Forbartha Tuaithe sa Tionól i mBéal Feirste.

I spiorad dlúthpháirtíochta, ba chóir don Choimisiún Eorpach aontú leis an chomh-mhaoiniú den chúiteamh riachtanach dóibh siúd a ndeachaigh sé i bhfeidhm orthu. Beidh 2009 ina bhliain dheacair do chách - ná déanaimis dearmad ar na fíor-chúinsí speisialta a d'fhág cuid mhór san earnáil bia i gcruachás nár chruthaigh siad féin.

Soláthróidh Airí sa Tionól i mBéal Feirste agus i rialtas na hÉireann straitéis shláinte ainmhí uile-oileáin gan mhoill.

Tá gá le cur chuige uile-Éireannach a bheith againn a théann níos faide ná sláinte ainmhí agus a chuireann san áireamh cur chuige rialúcháin aonaraigh don oileán. Is é sin le rá gur chóir go mbeadh rialacháin AE bheith á mbainistiú agus á gcur i bhfeidhm ar bhonn uile-oileáin. Ghnóthódh gach éinne i gcás mar seo agus mhéadódh easpa dúblála an éifeachtacht lena ndéanfaí monatóireacht ar rialacháin AE.

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Commenting on revelations today in Westminster by the DUP MP Jeffery Donaldson that his party are in discussions with the UDA and UVF, Sinn Féin Assembly member for Mid-Ulster Francie Molloy said that far from this being a new thing, recent evidence at the Billy Wright Inquiry points to ongoing contacts between the DUP and loyalist gangs including at the height of their sectarian murder campaign.

Mr Molloy said:

"Today Jeffery Donaldson has indicated to a Westminster Committee that his party have been in discussions with both the UDA and UVF over the issue of arms. Mr Donaldson seems to suggest that this is a recent initiative.

"However it would serve everyone better it the DUP were at least honest about their engagement with loyalist gangs. Last week at the Billy Wright Inquiry it emerged that DUP MP Willie McCrea was meeting with sectarian killer Wright at the height of the loyalist murder campaign in the early 1990s. Mr McCrea has yet to make any public statement detailing what exactly he was discussing with the UVF at a time when they were murdering his constituents.

"The hypocrisy of the DUP on this issue is glaring. On one hand for years they refused to recognise the democratic mandate of Sinn Féin before being forced to U-turn on that issue while it has now emerged at the same time at least one of their MPs was directly engaged with the leader of the Mid-Ulster UVF." ENDS

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The Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry has stated that workers should not be the ones to carry the can for the current economic and financial crisis. Deputy Ferris was speaking during a Dáil debate this morning on the measures being proposed by the Government in relation to a pension levy on public sector workers.

 

Deputy Ferris said: “It is unfair that public sector workers, most of whom are on modest salaries, should have to bear the brunt of cuts in state spending. Many of those who are leading that call people who did very well out of the Celtic Tiger. There were many here who were happy to invest in the services sector, where wages have remained low even with the introduction of the minimum wage and in many of which working conditions and workers rights were undermined.

 

“And yet those who made large profits in those sectors, who were happy to charge consumers far more than they would have had to pay in other countries, are the first to demand that those who gained least over the period of economic prosperity be the ones to pay for it. And the same applies to those who were happy to push the price of housing and rents well above any other increases in the cost of living, and certainly above any increases in wages.

 

“That is why there is understandable resentment and anger among people who have lost their jobs and people within the public service who are being asked to take what is in effect a substantial pay cut. Not to mention the perception that this Government has in effect bailed out the banks and left those responsible walk away from the mess they created.

 

“Indeed a mess in which some of those involved were shown to have been engaged in practises which at the very least were underhand and unethical. And which it would appear were designed to allow themselves and their friends to continue to in effect gamble on the property and other markets. Not too many gamblers get their tab picked up for them by the state.

 

“There is lots of talk at the moment about responsibility and everyone taking their share of the burden. That is all very well but if that is to be seen to be more than empty rhetoric then it must be seen to be put into effect. However, where people can contrast the treatment of the bankers to public sector workers, then they will fail to be convinced. Many people this week are asking themselves why they should be the ones to take the hit when others are being let walk away.” ENDS

 

 

 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Regional Development and author of the Oireachtas Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Committee report ‘Awakening the West’ has today welcomed calls from Senators to debate the recommendations of the report which was adopted by the Committee last month.

 

The Donegal Senator said:

 

“This morning’s call in the Seanad for a debate on the recommendations of the ‘Awakening the West’ report is a good news story.

 

“I am particularly encouraged by the all-party consensus on the recommendations of this report. If we are to adequately address the needs of the West of Ireland it is imperative that we set aside party politics and work together.

 

“The committee’s adoption of the report last month was timely and is an important step forward for the region and its campaign for social and economic equality.

 

“If this report and its recommendations are properly implemented I believe that we will make serious inroads into addressing and reversing decades of economic and social inequality in the West.

 

“I would again thank the Senators for their support and look forward to debating the issues with them in the future.” ENDS

 

Note to editor: Some of the key issues affecting the west and recommendations included in the report follow.

 

Key issues affecting the West

 

  • Depopulation in rural communities is a major problem which is going un-tackled.  The movement of people from rural communities within the West to urban centres between 1926 and 2002 saw a decline of 40% of the populations of Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.

 

  • The structuring of state institutions and delivery of public policy have also contributed to the current inequity between the regions.  There is limited regional policy co-ordination and insufficient consideration of the goals of the National Spatial Strategy.

 

  • Across the Western region agriculture, forestry, fishing and construction amount to 20% of all employment.  Each of these sectors is undergoing serious difficulties.

 

  • In 2007 only 2,400 people were directly employed in fishing.  Three quarters of the entire fishing workforce is located in Counties Donegal, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Clare, and West Cork.  The total catch for these fleets has declined from 390,000 tonnes in 1995 to 210,000 tonnes in 2006.  The Irish fleet has declined by over 30% since 1993.

 

  • In 2007 just 8.1% of the 9,216 new IDA supported jobs were located in Counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Clare, Limerick or Kerry.  While Galway and Cork accounted for 21% of these new jobs they were concentrated in the gateways of Galway City and Cork City.

 

  • The retention of graduates is another serious problem. Only 38% of the western region’s graduates find their first place of employment in their home counties in comparison with 79.5% for Dublin.

 

  • The North-West has suffered a decline of 30% in overseas visitors since 1999. In 2006, Clare, Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal combined generated just 9% of the overall tourism revenue.

 

  • Of the 19 national road projects in construction at the end of December 2007, just two were located in the Western seaboard region, amounting to only 75 out of 458 kilometres of national roads.

 

  • The Western Rail Corridor is the only major inter-regional rail project for the western counties under Transport 21 and is now at risk due to government cutbacks. The Western Rail Corridor will cost less than €200 million, compared to the Metro North in Dublin, which is estimated to cost €3.7billion.

 

  • It is projected that by 2014 there will be a further 1,698 bed closures in public hospitals in the Western seaboard under its ‘Regionalisation Scenario’ and hospitals in Sligo and Castlebar are facing destabilisation and downgrading if the National Cancer Care Strategy goes ahead as planned.

 

  • Of the 396 applications from primary schools in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare, Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, only 72 (18%) have progressed beyond initial stages.

 

  • In 2007 one in eight jobs were lost in Údarás na Gaeltachta assisted companies.  The lack of employment and services in the Gaeltacht is adversely affecting the socio-linguistic environment of Gaeltacht areas.

 

Key Recommendations

 

The report sets out a lot of detailed proposals to deal with the key issues affecting the West.  The key proposals include the following:

 

  • A single Government Department should be given overall responsibility for Regional Development.

 

  • All State Bodies should be compelled by law to assess whether policies being developed would create regional imbalance and amend those policies accordingly.  A Regional Development Impact Assessment Framework should be established to facilitate this.

 

  • To address the clear imbalance in job creation along the West there should be regional and sub-regional job creation targets set out for Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and other Enterprise Support Agencies.

 

  • The report calls for the establishment of a self sustaining state agency with a property portfolio to promote entrepreneurial activity at local level in the South West, North West and Western Counties.

 

  • Forfás should carry out an immediate review of the capacity of the Western seaboard region to attract Foreign Direct Investment and the measures which need to be taken at a strategic level to improve its competitiveness and boost employment opportunities.

 

  • The National Development Plan 2007-2013 should re-introduce its policy of having a specific goal of achieving balanced regional development with set targets for each region.

 

  • The Western Rail Corridor is critical to the development of the west. It should not be subject to cutbacks but proceed as planned. There should be a review of the Claremorris to Collooney section as matter of priority.

 

  • The Atlantic Road Corridor, from Waterford to Letterkenny, should be a seamless dual carriageway built under public finance.

 

  • State financial support should be provided to pilot next generation broadband schemes in at least three towns in each of the 10 Western seaboard counties in which broadband infrastructure enables it.

 

  • The Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources should identify renewable energy zones on the Western seaboard region and bring forward proposals for the development of community and wider regional renewable energy projects.

 

  • The 1,700 public beds in the region’s acute hospitals which are threatened with closure under the HSE’s PA Report must be retained.

 

  • National Cancer Strategy should be revised to provide for a balanced regional approach, particularly in relation to surgery and radiology.

 

  • There must be a coherent strategy to maximise Garda visibility in rural areas.

 

  • There is a need for a clear Government policy in relation to the minimum number of post offices that are necessary. In order to save a number of post offices at risk of imminent closure, the Government should intervene in the form of a public service obligation order (PSO).

 

  • The government should bring forward a Charter of Rights, based on the needs of the individual islands, which would be guaranteed in law. These rights would form the basis of a strategy to re-populate the islands and encourage young people to stay.

 

  • All plans and statutory provisions for Gaeltacht areas should be integrated into a comprehensive and cohesive planning process which would include language planning, local and physical planning, education planning, structural planning and social planning including family support services.

 

 

 

 

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Supporting today's demonstration in Waterford, EU Candidate Toiréasa Ferris, called on the government to think imaginatively and find means to support the Waterford Crystal Workers. Toiréasa Ferris said: "I want to express my solidarity with today's demonstration in support of the Waterford workers. Local support for the workers shows just how critical it is to keep the company open for business." "This is a viable and possibly vibrant business. Workers have invested hugely in Waterford Crystal, both with their labour and their flexibility in maintaining the viability of the business. These workers are highly skilled and Waterford Crystal fits perfectly into the profile of highly skilled and export orientated businesses that the government says is the future of our economy." "The present crisis comes about while the government had their eye off the ball. I urge them to break away from their obsession with making cuts in people's wages and conditions. Waterford Crystal gives the government an obvious opportunity to show that they are serious about job maintenance. Developing and supporting Irelands indigenous export industries will bring about confidence in the wider economy and begin to halt the acute hemorrhage in jobs."

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has stated that Jim Allister's attempt predict the outcome of Sinn Féin votes before the votes even take place is a cheap way to score political points in his battle with the DUP.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"My record representing local agriculture and the agri-food sector is second to none. The only way Jim Allister can attempt to score cheap political points in his electoral challenge to the DUP is to issue statements predicting the outcome of Sinn Féin votes before they even happen.

"It strikes me that Jim Allister is just being as disingenuous as possible, attacking anything he can, in an attempt try and outdo the DUP in their electoral battle.

"It clear from his ramblings about climate change à la Sammy Wilson, that he has little to offer other than a worn out mantra." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has highlighted the importance of school leadership in driving improvements in education.

The Minister was speaking at a graduation ceremony for 237 candidates who have achieved the Professional Qualification for Headship (PQH). The Minister said:

"A key challenge for us all is the need to equip current and future school leaders with the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly complex, accountable and demanding role. Today's graduates have shown their aspiration to advance the cause of educational leadership within the education sector.

"The importance of school leadership and the crucial role that it plays in all our children's futures cannot be underestimated, as it plays a vital role in schools in addressing the issue of educational underachievement and in contributing to the department's aim of "Every School a Good School.

"In today's uncertain economic climate, parents are understandably concerned that their children receive the best that our education system has to offer in order to give them a good start towards their future career. The professional commitment, drive and energy of our head teachers and other school leaders in addressing this and the other challenges that they face is to be commended.

"One of the measures of success of any qualification is whether it enables the student to obtain the necessary skills required to apply for and hopefully acquire the employment that they seek. In this regard, the PQH can be applauded as a real success story. Between one quarter and one third of the previous graduates are already serving head teachers and 50% of all newly appointed head teachers last year were either PQH graduates or were nearing completion of this qualification."

The Minister also outlined the range of reforms underway in education and highlighted the background leading to the issuing of Guidance for Transfer 2010.

The Minister said:

"I have always been clear that we need an education system based on equality for all children and young people. On two occasions I submitted my compromise proposals on Transfer 2010 to Executive colleagues, but parties refused to discuss them or put them on the agenda.

"My department has issued guidance to schools to inform Transfer 2010. I hope grammar schools choose not to step outside the system and have breakaway tests because Transfer 2010 offers the opportunity for them to make their excellent educational provision available in a fair manner for the first time.

"We now have the guidance to govern the admission to post-primary schools in 2010. I would ask all post-primary schools to consider this carefully and join with us in creating an education system to meet the needs of all our children. A system that treats all of our children equally." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has pointed out the loophole in the Pigmeat Recall scheme which is placing the future of the Vion factory in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone in jeopardy.

Speaking in a debate in the European Parliament, de Brún called for urgent action to support the workers and community in Cookstown.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Pigmeat Recall Scheme (PRS) announced by the Irish government in December 2008 was intended to remove all contaminated Irish pigmeat. However, the scheme does not appear to cater for the estimated 4000 live contaminated pigs that were sent to Vion pig processing plant, in Cookstown, in my constituency, during the period in question from 1 Sept-6 Dec 2008.

"I have spoken with the Vion plant in Cookstown and with the European Commission on the urgent need to address this anomaly which has left the plant at a considerable disadvantage compared to similar plants in the South of Ireland that are eligible for 100% compensation. If this plant is not eligible for compensation under an EU supported scheme, then there is a very real danger that it will not be able to continue.

"The EU needs to ensure that this pig processing plant is not left to deal alone with the consequences of receiving 4000 live contaminated pigs.

"If they are not eligible under the Pigmeat Recall Scheme agreed between the Commission and the Irish government, then a similar scheme needs to be agreed between the Commission and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Assembly in Belfast." ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil today during a debate on the governments public finance measures including the inequitable public service pension levy Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD charged the Taoiseach with causing irreparable damage to the public's confidence in his government.

The Louth TD said:

"The public and everyone on this side of the house were waiting for the Taoiseach to finally deliver a plan to deal with the real problems of our deteriorating economy. It is the economy that is the real problem, and it is through rescuing the economy that we can shore up our finance deficit.

"The unemployment rate is now at 9.2% and if we keep on losing jobs at a rate of 9,000 a week the so called two billion savings that the Government claims to be making will completely evaporate through the increased burden on our social welfare system.

"The Taoiseach had said this morning that it was an "old fashioned approach" to focus on job creation. Well if this is the case then why is it that every other country in the western world is engaged on kick-starting the economy and simply not kicking public sector?

"We are continuing to call for a coherent plan which focuses on job creation, job retention and finding the money to address the increasing national debt through getting the wealthy to pay their fare share.

"What is sickening about the Government's cut back plan is through all the talk of sharing the burden- once again it is our low and medium paid workers who are getting it in the neck.

"It is nurses who will lose €2250 from their salaries and it's Gardaí who will have thousands of euro taken from their incomes. Hard working people will now have to take effectively a pay cut of up to three thousand euro before paying the income levy, health charges and other measures through the actions of this Government

"What makes this even more difficult to accept is that the Brendan Drumms of this world who earn almost half a million euro of tax payers money between their salary and bonuses are continuing to get off scott free and have been allowed to go on wrecking the public service with their privatisation plans.

"The Taoiseach had said in the Dail today that he will seek 25% pay cut for banking directors- well that is the least he could ask for given that we are about to hand them €8 billion of tax payers money to bail them out for their reckless lending. We also still don't know when the beloved directors of Anglo Irish will finally pay back the €179 million of worth of loans that they now owe to the tax payer.

"A 25% cut will still leave our so called world class banking directors with salaries worth millions of euro and whatever about the banking directors nothing has been done about the vast number of public body CEOs who continue to earn up to €500,000 in the case of the ESB.

"It is clear from the Government's pension levy plan that the sliding scale in the levy discriminates against lower paid. The higher you go up the scale the smaller the increases in the levy become. And this does not include the fact that the high earners in the public sector will be able to claim most of this money back in tax relief for their pensions.

"In our pre-budget submission we had made the point that the government should have a standard rate relief which would have yielded almost a billion euro. They have continued to ignore on this and instead focused solely on cut backs.

"But apart from taxation and salaries of public sector CEOs we accept that there a number of other areas where tax payers money is being wasted. By ending subsidies to private companies operating in our public services huge savings could be made.

"But it is job creation that increases revenue and not cut backs.

"Governments approach must change. We need to see the frontloading of critical infrastructure projects. We need the fast tracking of business start-ups. We need to grow our indigenous export market. We need to develop and support a truly innovative culture. We need to rebuild the Irish economy.

"The Taoiseach will have to reengage and the Taoiseach will have to finally start listening." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today met with constituents and several campaign groups in Dublin, including the Liffey Valley Park Alliance in Lucan. Mr Adams was joined by local Sinn Féin Councillors and Representatives.

Mr. Adams said:

 “Today's announcement on job losses was the first topic of conversation for all of those we met.  The fact that unemployment figures have soared to 9.2% with a projected unemployment figure in excess of 400,000 expected by the end of 2009 is a very daunting reality for families to face. This coupled with increased taxes, cuts in public services and rising cost of living expenses is causing massive anxiety and is compounded by the government’s failure to provide clear leadership or spell out its strategy to get Ireland working.

“The economic challenges are sizable but they can be overcome with honest leadership and decisive action. The starting point must be stimulating the economy. This means putting in place measures to encourage economic growth, including economic strategies which invest in jobs, in people and in public services.

“Now is the time for new ideas, new thinking and real change.” ENDS

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South Dublin Sinn Féin representative Shaun Tracey has welcomed the announcement of a date for the by-election in Dublin South to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Séamus Brennan. However Mr. Tracey criticised the Fiann Fáil Party for failing to move the writ for the election to take place earlier.

Speaking this week after the Government Chief Whip Pat Carey announced that the by-election in Dublin South will take place on the same day as the local and European elections Mr. Tracey said, "I welcome the fact that we now have a date for the by-election to fill the seat left vacant by the sad death of Séamus Brennan.

"However, by the time the by-election comes around the people of Dublin South will have been under represented for almost one whole year. This is completely unacceptable. Fianna Fáil has had ample opportunity to hold the election and should have done so well before now.

"Of course everyone knows that the real reason that Fianna Fáil has failed to move the writ before now is its current popularity rating and the likelihood of them losing the seat. While this may be a genuine fear it is absolutely no excuse for denying the people of Dublin South their democratic entitlements." ENDS

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Ag labhairt dó inniu ag ágóid i neadán táillí ollscoile dúirt urlábharaí oideachais Shinn Féin Seanadóir Piaras Ó Dochartaigh gur chéim siar a bheas ann na táillí a thabhairt isteach athuair.

Dúirt an Seanadóir ó Dún na nGall,

"Ba lá dorcha don chóras oideachais na hÉireann é Buiséad 2009. chuaigh méid na ranganna Bhunscoile i méid, chomh maith le costais iompar scoile, laghdú tácaíocht óige do pháistí as ceantracha faoi míbhuntáiste, gearradh deontais do oideachais fa choinne daoine fasta, chomh maith le teicneolaíocht faisneise, ar a bharr seo gearradh tacaíocht fa choinne na coláiste samhraidh. Tharla seo uilig le linn timpeallacht deacair eacnamaíochta.

"Deireann an tAire O'Keefe gurbh é oideachais an rud is tabhachtaí do todhchaí na hÉireann ag is léir go bhaineann an búisead an bhonn den chóras céanna!

"Má thugtar isteach táillí arís beidh tionachar uafasach aige ar an chorás anseo. Tá sé doiligh a chréidbheal go bhfuil an Comhaontas Glas ag seasamh an fhod le Fianna Fáil i dtaca le seo.

"Bhí deireadh le táillí ina scéal fíormhaith tá chlainne na raibh in ann deontais a fháil. Thug sé seal do dhaoine ó gach cúlrá soisialta agus éacnamaíochta bheith páirteach in oideachais 3ú léibhéal.

"Anois tá an Comhaontas glas agus Fianna Fáil a rá linn ní amháin go mbeidh ar mac léinn táillí clárú a íoc ach táille eile idir 4,000 agus 8,000 euró ar a bharr.

"Tá Sinn Féin go hiomlán in éadán táillí a thabhairt ar ais athuair.

"Ba mhaith liom comhgairdeas a seoladh chuig Aontais na Mic Léinn in Eirinn agus iad ag troid in éadán plean inglactha an rialtais." CRÍOCH

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Speaking at today's USI rally held in Dublin against the proposed reintroduction of third level fees Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty told the thousands of students gathered in protest that “Sinn Féin does not support the reintroduction of third level fees be it by the front door of government policy, the back door of increased registration fees or the side door of a graduate tax as proposed by Fine Gael.”

The Donegal Senator said:

"Budget 2009 was a black day for Ireland's education system. Primary school class sizes increased, school transport costs nearly doubled, youth supports for pupils from disadvantaged areas were reduced, adult education grants were also cut, as was investment in information technology, supports for summer courses in Irish colleges were reduced
and the student registration fees were increased from €900 to €1,500. All of this is set against a background of job losses and increased taxation for working families.

"Yet despite this short term approach government continues to tell students they are the economy's future. Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe tells us that higher education will be one of the key drivers behind economic recovery. Of course the Minister is correct in his claim but rather than support Ireland's education system nearly every measure contained within the governments Budget 2009 will undermine it.

"The reintroduction of third level fees as mooted by Minister O'Keeffe for some time now will act as the final nail in the coffin of free education if realised, particularly in the context of a litany of cutbacks, unmanageable registration fees and an education system ravaged by
underinvestment. It is incomprehensible that the Green Party are standing side by side with Fianna Fáil on this issue.

"The abolition of fees had been hugely beneficial to low income families who could not have accessed the grant system. It had given rise to an increase in third-level participation by lower
socio-economic groups.  The proportion of school leavers going on to third level had risen from 36% in 1992 to 44% percent in 1998 and to 55% in 2004. Participation rates by children in families of skilled manual workers had almost doubled from 32% in 1998 to 60% in 2004.
Likewise, the children of semi-skilled or unskilled manual workers had increased from 23% to 33 percent.

"The Green Party and Fianna Fáil are now telling our students that not only must they pay the costly registration fee but also possibly a fee of anywhere between €4,000 and €8,000. However Fine Gael must also come in for some criticism. Late last year the party proposed a graduate tax, similar to the Australian model and described by the Australian
Education Minister Julia Gillard as being "at best complex and at worst anomalous, inconsistent and completely irrational". Let's all be clear on this. We are all here today because we believe that education is a fundamental right and not a luxury for those who can afford it. Sinn Féin will not support the reintroduction of fees in any form.

"The government needs to put together a comprehensive plan to adequately fund third level institutions and pull Ireland up from its current ranking of 30th out of 34 OECD countries in terms of education expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

"I want to commend USI for its work in representing students across the country in this fight against the reintroduction of third level fees." ENDS

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Responding to today's announcement that the number of people on the live register rose by 36,500 by the end of January Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has called on the government to deliver a job retention and creation strategy noting the need for such a plan has never been more urgent.

Deputy Morgan said:

"Never before in the history of the state was a job retention and creation strategy from government so desperately required. The Taoiseach's admission in the Dáil today that, with 327,861 people claiming jobseekers' payments, Ireland now has an unemployment rate of 9.2% was a stark confession, particularly for the hundreds of thousands of families across Ireland who are shouldering the burden of government's mismanagement of the economy.

"Sinn Fein believes the primary goal of the government's economic recovery plan must be to safeguard the livelihoods of low and middle income workers and the delivery a job creation strategy. This government walked the country into the current recession by making the public purse dependent on construction and consumption to the benefit of property developers, speculators and senior bank management. At no point over the last decade have they properly invested in sustainable job creation.

"Governments approach must change. We need to see the frontloading of critical infrastructure projects. We need the fast tracking of business start-ups. We need to grow our indigenous export market. We need to develop and support a truly innovative culture. We need to rebuild the Irish economy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the Government's cuts in the Childcare Supplement will have the effect of driving women out of the workplace, further depressing the economy.

He said:

"For a paltry 'saving' of €77 million the Government is cutting its already totally inadequate support for childcare. In doing so it will drive from the workplace many women who depend on the supplement in order to afford childcare and thus to continue in employment.

"The Government deliberately created the impression that the entire Childcare Supplement was going to be axed. This was designed to wrong-foot opposition to the cut announced by the Taoiseach on Wednesday.

"The reality is that it is women on lower incomes who depend on the Supplement to make childcare affordable. I believe many will now be forced out of the workplace and into dependence on social welfare - thus costing the State far more than will be 'saved' by this regressive cut." ENDS

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Ag labhairt i bParlaimint na hEorpa i Strasbourg inniu, deir an feisire eorpach Bairbre de Brún nach bhfuil ach deis bheag fágtha againn dul i ngleic go héifeachtach leis an athrú aeráide, agus go bhfuil an chreatlach dhlíthiúil ann anois do thíortha chun an t-aistriú a dhéanamh ón ngeilleagar salach agus aghaidh a thabhairt ar thodhchaí níos glaine

Deir Iníon de Brún:

"I ndiaidh blianta d'obair chrua cuirim fáilte roimh an tuarascáil chinntitheach chríochnúil ón Uasal Florenz agus ón choiste um Athrú Aeráide.

"Ba chóir go gcuirfeadh fairsinge na saincheisteanna sa tuarascáil seo muid ar airdeall faoi chastacht na ndúshlán atá romhainn chun iarracht a dhéanamh stop a chur le hathrú aeráide. Tá athrú aeráide ag tabhairt dúshláin dár ndearcadh maidir le hiompar, le húsáid talún, le bainistíocht dramhaíola agus le húsáid fuinnimh.

"Níor chruthaigh an domhan i mbéal forbartha na coinníollacha atá ár dtarraingt i dtreo damáiste dho-iompaithe ach is iad féin is mó atá ag fulaingt mar gheall ar an damáiste seo. Caithfidh an Eoraip a bheith ina gceannródaithe agus dul i gceannas ar na bearta réadúla riachtanacha ar bhonn idirnáisiúnta. Caithfidh ár mbeartas bheith bunaithe ar cheartas aeráide don domhan i mbéal forbartha.

"Rinne fórsaí nach bhfuil comh forásach sin iarracht an laghdú eacnamaíoch a úsáid mar leithscéal gan na gealltanais aeráide riachtanacha a chomhlíonadh. Tá seo gearrbhrathnaitheach ar fad.

"Ar an drochuair i dTuaisceart na hÉireann tá an tAire Comhshaoil Sammy Wilson mar dhuine de na ceannairí polaitiúla gearrbhrathnaitheach seo gan tuiscint ar na réaltachtaí eolaíocha agus praiticiúla a théann le hathrú aeráide. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh an tAire ar a chiall agus go dtabharfaidh sé faoin cheist, rud atá an chuid eile don Eoraip ag brú chun tosaigh cheana féin. Mura n-éiríonn leis sin a dhéanamh fágfar ár ngnóthaí beaga agus ár méanghnothaí ar an trá fholamh sna blianta atá romhainn.

"Tá an chreatlach dhlíthiúil ann anois do thíortha chun an t-aistriú a dhéanamh ón ngeilleagar salach agus aghaidh a thabhairt ar thodhchaí níos glaine.

"Níl ach deis bheag fágtha againn dul i ngleic go héifeachtach leis an athrú aeráide - agus beidh an deis sin ag cúlú uainn go gairid. Caithfear fíorghealltanas a bheith ann; beidh athruithe móra ag teastáil sa chóras déantúsaíochta, sa chóras ina ghinntear an fuinneamh agus i gcóras maireachtála an daonra.

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de Brún welcomes Palestinian President
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the address by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the European Parliament.

Ms de Brún said:

"It is hugely important that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the European Parliament at this difficult time for all his people. The fact that the European Parliament has invited Mahmoud Abbas to address it is also a symbolic assertion of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

"For Palestinians, President Abbas has an important role to play in bringing about inclusive negotiations supported by the broadest possible range of political opinion in Palestine.

"As an international observer in the elections in 2006 to the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority, I saw democracy in action; I saw a free and fair election. Later this month I will be part of a cross-party delegation of MEPs visiting Israel and Palestine. I will be making the case for an end to Israeli aggression, the immediate implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, and for all obstacles to the distribution of emergency aid and the restoration of basic services to be lifted immediately.

"In such a situation of crisis, words of welcome by the European Parliament to the Palestinian President are important and symbolic, but they are not enough. The European Union is duty bound to exert political and economic pressure on the Israeli government to bring them to respect basic human rights. Any notion of upgrading EU-Israel relations should be dropped until Israel meets its obligations under international law.


"I hope that today's visit by President Abbas will mark the beginning of a new commitment by the EU to meet its obligations in this regard." ENDS

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