Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has condemned the decision of the government to approve a new Household Charge of €100 as a pre-cursor to water charges and a property tax.
Speaking today after the cabinet approved the charge Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“By choosing to impose sweeping flat rate taxes on everyone the government is abandoning its pre and post election promises to protect the most vulnerable and families on low incomes.
“The implication of this charge will be that there is less money to spend in the local economy. This will further undermine the retail industry especially and lead to even more job losses in that sector.
“According to media reports today, Engineers Ireland have estimated that water meters will cost up to three times the government’s estimate of €500 million. Engineers Ireland are also reported to concur with my party’s assessment that if water meters are introduced it will take many, many years to even recover the cost of their installation and even longer to generate real savings.
“Instead of spending this money on installing meters the government should increase investment in the distribution and fixing the existing pipe network. This has the potential to save much more water and would pay for itself quicker. The money required to do this should be raised through progressive central taxation.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Policing Board, Gerry Kelly, has said there are serious concerns that the PSNI have a hands off approach when it comes to dealing with loyalists who are involved in rioting.
“I have raised this at the Policing Board on a number of occasions and I will be pursuing this matter at further meetings.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has called on the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, to ensure that Ireland is a moral leader driving the international response to the East African crisis that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
He was speaking after attending a meeting between the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee and the heads of three Irish aid agencies working in the region, Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“While the meeting agreed today that although Ireland's contribution of €7 million to this crisis, in proportion to our population, is to be commended, the international response has ranged from relatively poor to appalling.
“Much has been said of late about restoring Ireland's international reputation and here is an opportunity for Ireland to demonstrate moral leadership. Ireland and our wide range of aid agencies are respected across the world for being leaders in overseas aid and development. The recent visit by the former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to Somalia has shone a light on the path for our government.
“Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore must immediately engage with their EU and international counterparts to ensure that all countries contribute equally on a per capita basis to the US$1.87 billion target set by the UN. At this point, there is a shameful short fall of $850 million".
“There are serious questions about the commitment of the US and many EU countries to resolving this crisis and saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives. Furthermore, what of the G20 nations and gulf states who have been massively enriched by developments favourable to oil producing nations over recent years?”
“In the medium to long term, there has to be a focused intervention in this region by the UN and the EU aimed at conflict resolution in Somalia and political stability in the entire Horn of Africa region.
“As Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire pointed out today, it is not drought in itself that kills so many people but dire poverty and the vulnerability to drought. A good starting point for the UN and the EU is to heed the advice of aid agencies operating in the region such as Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland as well as the many other heroic NGO volunteers on the ground.” ENDS
How long and how hard is the way to recovery?
Politics is an adversarial occupation. Political parties motivated by differing ideologies and electoral competition challenge and criticise the views and policies of their opponents.
Those of us in opposition also have an important role in holding the government of the day to account.
Opposition for opposition’s sake is unhealthy, it is never enough simply to oppose. If we are not satisfied with the policies or legislation proposed by Government then we have a responsibility to put real and credible alternatives on the table.
So today I am going to resist the temptation to criticise the Government. Instead I am going to outline, in the short time available to me, what alternative routes are available to the course currently being pursued by the Government.
To answer the question of how long and how hard is the route to recovery depends on the route one takes. There are no easy solutions. There are certainly no short cuts. However there are other routes available and policies that if adopted will make the journey less perilous.
For all policy makers the challenge is to deal with the three D’s; the Destination, the Deficit and the Debt.
Before be set out on the journey to recovery we need to be clear on the desired destination.
For Sinn Fein that destination is a return to the international borrowing market at appropriate rates, the regaining of our economic sovereignty, reducing the exchequer deficit, and bringing our national debt to a sustainable level.
These objectives we share with government parties and others. However reaching this destination is not an end in itself. It must be a means to produce real and sustainable economic and social development in a way that addresses the enormous inequalities that exist in every aspect of our society.
Recovery must be more than fiscal targets and debt sustainability models; it must go further that Debt to GDP ratios.
This State is not a loan loss spreadsheet. Our citizens are not mere statistics or pieces of data. Rather they are real people, hundreds of thousands of whom are suffering real hardship.
Real and sustainable economic and social development can only take place if there is real and sustainable job growth. There can be no recovery with out jobs.
Unfortunately the governments updated Stability Programme predicts an export-led but jobless recovery. Indeed at the completion of the EU IMF programme by the end of 2013 unemployment is projected to be a fraction under 13%.
A recovery without jobs? That is a contradiction in terms.
The current focus on reducing our exchequer deficit is on cutting expenditure to meet income. In my view the primary focus should be on growing our income to meet our expenditure. There are of course significant savings to be made by eliminating waste and excesses in public spending. However the key factor to growing our income must be getting people back to work
With 443,400 people on the live register today, recovery for them must include the possibility of gaining meaningful employment. That number may rise if future cuts and tax increases are focused on the wrong areas, as has been the case in the past. Contracting the local economy by reducing the spending power of low and middle income earners and depressing consumer confidence can only lead to further job losses in the domestic sector.
While a package of tools must be employed to get people back to work, central to this must be state investment in job creation.
We simply cannot afford to have almost half a million people on the dole, and we cannot afford the social consequences of attempting to make it affordable.
So the route I choose, the one favoured by Sinn Féin, is to invest to save and create jobs, to assist small and medium sized businesses, to help hard pressed families and boost consumer spending.
This route proposes a jobs stimulus in the order of €2.9 billion over the next 12 months, with further injections over the following 3 years.
This proposal would use funds from the National Pension Reserve fund to fast track labour intensive infrastructure projects. It would also injected additional spending power into the economy in the form of a family stimulus package which would reverse some of the heavy burden on working families and those on social welfare by previous cuts and the increasing cost of living.
Today there is €14.7 billion available from the NPRF. Sinn Fein’s proposal would see us using less than half of this to invest in economic and social stimulus.
However even if the €10 billion from the NPRF due to go into the banks latter this week as part of the EU/IMF deal was no longer available there is still €4.7 billion left for investment.
Getting people off the dole and back into work can only be achieved through investment in the public and private sectors. In the absence of private sector willingness, the state must intervene. The state can create jobs.
Using funds from the NPRF does not increase our deficit by a single cent. The effects of such a stimulus will see a significant reduction in the exchequer deficit by reducing the social welfare spending; increasing tax revenues and reducing the amount that the state needs to borrow.
Taxation & Spending Plans:
Clearly our current deficit is unsustainable. A jobs stimulus package alone will not make it sustainable. There is a clear need for increased revenue raising and reduced spending. The key question is where to cut and where to raise taxes.
Last year Sinn Féin outlined €1.5 billion worth of cuts across a range of expenditures. We will outline similar plans later this year. The key issue must be to protect those who have the least and to protect the services on which they rely.
There is also a need for an honest debate about our tax system. We have consistently had one of the lowest tax takes as a percentage of GDP in the EU 27. We share this dishonourable position with states like Romania and Bulgaria. At 29% it is nearly 8 points clear of the EU average and 6 points below the OEDC ceiling for low tax economies. This has to change. While income tax, vat and business tax takes compare favourably with EU averages we fail when it comes to tax breaks, taxes on assets and social insurance.
If people want Romanian and Bulgarian quality public services then there is no need to change. But I believe people deserve better and there is a need to change. To deliver that change requires a programme of tax reform that would bring tax revenues up to 35% of GDP within a single term of government. Such reform could be carried out in a way that is fair, transparent and conducive to economic growth and social development.
Crucially it also provides one of the key elements of our strategy for dealing with the issue of debt, to which I will now turn.
Alongside this alternative route for addressing the unemployment crisis and reducing the deficit would be an alternative strategy for dealing with the growing debt crisis.
The focus of this alternative strategy would be to actively reduce the level of debt. Side issues such as interest rates or longer maturities would not be out main focus. The key issues would be to implement a plan to reduce the national debt from a projected €200 billion in 2014.
It is worth remembering that a over €64 billion of this €200 billion is not sovereign debt but private banking debt underwritten by the state, by bank recapitalisations and the infamous Anglo Irish promissory note.
Reducing this debt burden must start with separating out the real sovereign debt from the private banking debt. To date €18.4 billion has been spent recapitalising the banks. €15.4 billion of which was injected during the lifetime of the previous government while over the next number of years it is proposed to inject a further €45.9 billion into them beginning with €18 billion latter this week.
Paying back this huge debt means investing less in public services and job creation. It means more pain for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.
Our National debt is unsustainable. Repaying the interest on this debt is equivalent to half the total income tax take for every worker in the economy. This means that every cent of tax you pay working Monday, Tuesday and half day Wednesday is going to repay the interest on this debt.
Reducing this debt requires negotiating a loss sharing agreement with the ECB on the €30 billion Anglo / Nationwide promissory note the full cost of which will exceed €45 billion when the interest is included. The ECB must acknowledge its role in creating the Eurozone crisis, through its failure to adequately enforce its regulatory authority on inter-bank lending at the height of the boom. In doing so it must accept the need for it to shoulder part of the burden of resolving the crisis.
There is also the issue of the €60 billion of senior bonds held by the six banks. While €20 billion is currently covered by the blanket banking guarantee, the remaining €40 billion is not. Of this €20 billion is also unsecured. The tax payer should not pay these private sector debts.
Last week European leaders accepted burden sharing as part of the solution for Greece. It must be part of the solution for Ireland.
The Other Alternative:
Politics is about choices. Governments always have alternatives. The real question is whether they have the political will to make the necessary policy changes.
Sinn Féin wants to build an Ireland that is prosperous, supportive, sustainable and equal. We want a model of social and economic development that supports all individuals and all communities to live bigger and better lives. We favour equality of condition over equality of opportunity.
The policies of the last Fianna Fáil government not only bankrupted this state but also left a legacy of deep inequality. They fostered an economy that was greedy, ugly and unsustainable.
The policies that drove that government continue to frame Government policy today in the form of the Programme for National Recovery and the EU/IMF austerity programme.
These policies will prolong the recovery and place an unnecessary degree of hardship on the most vulnerable in our society.
The road map that I have outlined may have its own twists and turns that will require careful negotiation, however the prize the destination is much greater.
This is the route that our government should travel - all of us together - proudly wearing our green jerseys.
Some may dismiss this as unachievable just as they dismissed my calls for our EU partners to stop profiting on the loans that they are making available to us. Telling us that a 0.6% reduction was the best that we could achieve until the markets reaction to Spain and Italy forced an end to EU profiteering on these loans.
The sooner this Fine Gael and Labour government abandon its current route the better for us all. If and when they do they will have the support of Sinn Féin. If they do not we will continue to oppose and expose their broken promises, but most importantly of all, we will continue to promote credible and radical policy alternatives, in the hope of leading our country back on the road to equitable and sustainable social and economic recovery.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Padraig Mac Lochlainn has extended his sympathies on behalf of the party to the people of Norway.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“I wish to extend my deepest sympathies on behalf of Sinn Féin to the people of Norway.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those who tragically lost their lives in this horrific attack and also with those who are injured.
“The people of Norway and indeed the world are in shock at the events that unfolded yesterday. On behalf of my party I want to extend my condolences to the Norwegian people and assure them that they are in our thoughts.”
After visiting seriously ill prisoner Brendan Lillis in Maghaberry Prison today Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has again called on for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
The West Belfast representative, accompanied by fellow MLA Fra McCann, was on her second visit to the prison this month and said that both MLAs were shocked by the deteriorating condition of Brendan Lillis.
“I had just received a reply from Justice Minister David Ford before going into the prison that he does not consider this a case for release on compassionate grounds which goes against what is in the public interest.
“Brendan Lillis’s licence was revoked on the grounds that he was a danger to the public yet the courts have deemed him too sick to stand trial. How can someone be a danger to the public when they are unfit to attend a court?“David Ford, the Parole Commissioners and the British Secretary of State Owen Paterson need to use a bit of common sense here. The continued imprisonment of Brendan Lillis does not serve the public interest and he should be released immediately on humanitarian grounds.”
With industrial action threatened at Cavan General Hospital and at St. Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s health cuts, as well as HSE mismanagement, are provoking strikes in the health services.
“Nurses at Cavan General Hospital are at the end of their tether with the hospital totally over-stretched. The failure to increase capacity at the hospital following the downgrading of Monaghan General Hospital, together with the recruitment embargo, have resulted in enormous pressure on staff and patients at Cavan's Emergency Department. Patients are spending up to four days on trolleys and chairs, and this at the height of summer when demand is usually lighter than in winter.
“It is no surprise that the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Executive has authorised the serving of notice of industrial action in Cavan General Hospital. I raised this directly with Health Minister James Reilly and HSE Chief Cathal Magee at the Oireachtas Health & Children Committee on Thursday.
“At St. Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, the Psychiatric Nurses Association has served notice of industrial action on the HSE which is closing the male and female admissions unit at the hospital from 31 August.
“The closure of the 48-bed admissions department at St. Ita’s was confirmed by the Minister for Health James Reilly in a reply to my Dáil Question. The HSE has promised to ensure that alternatives will be available after 31 August but has not set out what these will be.
“This is gross mismanagement by the HSE. Promised upgrading work at St. Ita’s has not been completed, resulting in the Mental Health Commission closure order. This upgrading work was supposed to be a temporary measure, pending the development of the long promised psychiatric unit at Beaumont Hospital. But work on that unit is not due to begin until the end of this year.
“Minister James Reilly must intervene, ensure that the necessary works at St. Ita’s are completed and that the Beaumont development is speeded up. After all, one of the reasons for the long delay of that project was when the site intended for it was earmarked for one of Mary Harney’s ‘co-location’ private hospitals. It was Minister Reilly who quite rightly ended that ill-conceived scheme.
“Fine Gael/Labour Government cuts and HSE mismanagement are provoking strikes in our health services and further industrial action is inevitable if this Government proceeds with its plans for even more severe cuts.” ENDS
Speaking after meeting recently with firefighters stationed in Tallaght, Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has written to the Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government Michael Hogan requesting information on when work will start on extending and upgrading the station.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The inadequate state of Tallaght fire station, which was built in the early 1980s, needs to be upgraded and extended. Last year an accident occurred in which a firefighter was electrocuted and left badly injured in an incident that illustrated the extent of the problems there.
“In March, 2010, under the National Development Plan, 2010 – 2013, the then Minister for Housing and Local Services, Michael Finneran, TD, announced a capital funding package of €18 million to support fire and rescue services across the State.
“Its aim was to maintain and enhance the capacity of fire crews throughout the country so they would be better able to protect local communities by making them more efficient.
“As part of this announcement, the Minister approved the commencement of design work on an extension to Tallaght fire station yet over a year later no work has started on this important project.
“Tallaght has one of the busiest fire stations in Europe and its crews cover 250,000 people across 220 square kilometres of heavily built-up residential and industrial land. This is reflected in the thousands of callouts they respond to annually and the crews stationed in Tallaght save countless lives.
“The Government needs to upgrade and extend Tallaght fire station and also implement plans that would site emergency response crews in the station whose role would be to respond to incidents across three counties.
“The fire fighters who operate out of Tallaght and who risk their lives saving people deserve nothing less.”
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described plans to increase tolls in motorways across the state as “a licence to print money.”
Deputy Crowe said:
“If recent reports are correct, within the next three years motorists could be forced to pay additional tolls on many of our major roads. I understand that the National Roads Authority (NRA) is to hire consultants to examine the potential for "new tolling arrangements" which really means giving the government a licence to print money.
“It is estimated that the nine existing tolls have raised almost €2.2 billion since 2006, a huge sum of money that must be met by hard pressed motorists. Now the NRA are recommending eight new toll locations as well as an extension of tolling points on the M50 in Dublin in a scheme that would raise an extra €62 million annually.
“The Traffic Management Study is proposing tolls that would include two toll plazas on the N20 Cork-Limerick road at Croom and Mallow as well as the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork. Other locations being considered are the Dundalk bypass on the M1, the Ennis bypass on the N18 and the Tuam bypass on the N17/N18; the Arklow bypass on the N11 and the Carlow bypass on the N9.
“Minister Varadkar is looking at proposals for the M50 toll station, which currently generates a yearly average revenue of €100m, to see if it would be suitable for multi-point tolling whereby motorists would pay a toll on the distance they travel on the motorway.
“The facts are that over an 18 year period motorists paid for the construction of the M50 motorway many times over with money that went to National Toll Roads (NTR), a private company that taxpayers continue to subsidise.
“The benefits of having an improved road network will be negated if motorists can’t afford the expense of driving on our country’s primary routes. This short-sighted policy is not only unfair, it will damage our competitiveness and impact the Government’s ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It will dramatically increase the cost of road haulage, which is essential to our export trade and force large lorries to travel on secondary roads and through small towns and villages.
“To compound matters even further, the money raised from hard pressed taxpayers will not go to funding better roads, or maintaining them, but instead will line the pocket of the private companies operating these roads.
“These punitive and excessive hikes in tolls will have serious implications for people using our road network and the Government must relook at its plans.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty described this evening’s agreement at the European Council as a missed opportunity and said that it will do little to reduce the state’s growing debt burden.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The deal agreed at tonight’s European Council meeting is a missed opportunity for Ireland and for the Eurozone. Despite all the hype it fails to deal with the real problems underlying the Euro debt crisis.
“Enda Kenny is claiming that a 2% interest rate reduction on future EU loans could save the taxpayer between €600 million and €800 million. The details of the deal on offer are not yet clear. However today’s statement only refers to the EFSF loans which would only amount to a €350 million per year saving if a 2% reduction in the interest rate was applied to future and past borrowings from this month.
“While any reduction in the interest rate is welcome this does not represent a significant gain for Ireland. With our national debt set to exceed €200 billion by 2014 this interest rate reduction will do nothing to address our national debt. The only way to reduce this debt is by burden sharing with senior bondholders and loss sharing with the ECB.
“Unfortunately these issues are explicitly ruled out for Ireland in this evening’s agreement and it seems that Enda Kenny, by signing up to this agreement which rules our any type of private sector involvement in Ireland’s debt crisis, has ditched any attempts to impose losses on senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank as announced by the Finance Minister on his recent trip to Washington..
“The Government is set to inject €19 billion into the four covered banks in the coming days that will be spent paying off senior bondholders. In the coming two months more than €4 billion will be spent on bondholders in the banks.
“The government and our European partners need to stop burying their heads in the sand. Continued austerity coupled with unsustainable debt will lead to default. The European Council acknowledges as mush today in their 2nd bailout for Greece.
“While the Government will attempt to present as positive a spin on tonight’s deal as possible unfortunately it changes very little and does not address the core problems underlying the Eurozone debt crisis.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Louth and East Meath TD Gerry Adams has given a cautious to the commitment by the Minister of Health James Reilly to hold an Oireachtas inquiry into the Michael Shine Affair if Oireachtas Committees are given such powers.
Mr. Adams said:
“I cautiously welcome the commitment by the Minister to hold an inquiry into the Michael Shine Affair if Oireachtas Committees are given enquiry powers. We need to see the detail of the Minister’s proposal.
“The victims and their families have campaigned for many years for truth and justice over allegations of sexual abuse by consultant surgeon Michael Shine.
“An inquiry should proceed speedily.
“Shine, a Consultant Surgeon in our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, was struck off the medical register after being found guilty of professional misconduct.
“This decision was taken after the Medical Council found that Michael Shine had abused his position by sexual abusing a number of patients.
“Having taken this decision the Minister should move now to hold a further inquiry into the scandalous use of symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals.” ENDS
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, Sandra McLellan, has criticised the Government's decision to stall plans to restore the Ulster Canal between Clones and Lough Erne.
Deputy McLellan was speaking in relation to a question she tabled to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, calling on him to confirm his commitment to ensure the restoration of the canal in line with commitments at a North South Ministerial Council meeting in 2007 and in light of the project's important economic potential for the region.
“I am very disappointed with the government’s failure to prioritise this project and ring-fence funding. The Minister’s response that ‘all options will be explored within current constraints’ is a far cry from the commitments given in 2007. While I appreciate that 2007 was a very different time than today in economic terms, the outstanding merits of the Ulster Canal restoration project still stand.
“It is a singularly important project for the region and holds enormous potential to open up the area. It would return a major social, economic and peace dividend and would have a huge impact on the towns and villages in the canal corridor, leading to significant regeneration and benefits due to increased tourism, business development and prosperity in general, not to mention the many construction and ancillary jobs which would be created.
“Similar projects elsewhere have shown a significant return, not only for the economy, but for people in the entire catchment area, with increased numbers of visitors, including recreational visitors, walkers, cyclists, canoeists, etc. In failing to commit funds to this important project the government has failed communities all along the route. They have missed a fantastic opportunity to prioritise investment in regional and rural development and to improve our tourist product.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor for Ardoyne, Gerard McCabe, has stated that those who left a viable mortar bomb in a garden in Etna Drive have recklessly endangered local residents.
"There is clear and realistic way to achieve a united Ireland. This is not the way. These groups are without mandate or strategy and represent no one. They have yet to produce a viable explanation of why activities such as this continue and what they can achieve.”
Sinn Fein Spokesperson on the Environment Deputy Brian Stanley today proposed an amendment to the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that would have banned incineration if supported by the government.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“We fully acknowledge that Ireland faces a waste management crisis, this is a global problem not unique to Ireland. But we have an opportunity to make the right decision for Ireland by supporting this amendment.
“When we tackle the waste crisis we must also tackle the causes of the crisis. We cannot simply continue to produce waste and then simply burn the problem away. Building a mass burning incinerator similar to that proposed for this Dublin’s Poolbeg Peninsula is far from the solution.
“In fact a closer look at incineration will show that incinerators are part of the problem. The incinerator proposed for the Poolbeg Peninsula has the capacity to burn more waste that this city even produces. So the choice for the operators, Covanta, would be to either import waste or to encourage government policies that produce waste, more rubbish to burn, more profits for the owners.
“EU directives, quite rightly, are restricting our land fill options, so to simply turn to burning or waste is not the solution. We need to adopt a Zero Waste Strategy similar to the New Zealand model. We need to drastically reduce the waste we produce, this is done by reducing the packaging, we need to reuse products, reintroduce glass bottles, invest in glass recycling.
“The fact that this state has no glass recycling is a damning indictment of our failed waste management policies. We also need to invest in our fledgling recycling industry. If the millions used to fund the huge PR operation in promoting incinerators was used to promote and invest in recyling that industry would be in a much better and more sustainable position than it is today.
“This amendment would allow us to pursue a waste management strategy that is based on reducing, reusing and recycling. This is an opportunity to right the wrongs of failed government policies since 1999, where incineration was the corner stone of waste management. Sinn Féin will continue to work with campaigning groups to ensure the future is incineration free.” ENDS
Speaking after attending a meeting of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee with the heads of seven African Missions in Ireland, Kenya, Ethiopa, Nigeria, Lesotho, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa, Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn called on EU Countries including Ireland to do more to help the crisis in East Africa.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“Oxfam has reported that several rich governments are wilfully neglecting the aid effort to avert a catastrophe in East Africa.
“This is not only reprehensible but absolutely disgraceful.
“Given the history of colonialism of many of the EU Countries there is an onus on them to help out now more than ever by pledging aid to East Africa.
“I am calling on EU Governments, including Ireland to step up to the plate and do more to ease the situation in East Africa.” ENDS
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson has urged the Government to fast-track measures that would help parents meet the cost of paying for school uniforms.
At a meeting this week of the Education and Skill’s Committee, the Dublin South West TD urged Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, to introduce a number of measures that would help combat the spiralling cost of sending a child to school.
Deputy Crowe said: “This is a crisis that is hitting many families hard as they struggle to make ends meet in these difficult times.
“A recent a survey of 1,000 people by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) found that on average, €400 will be spent annually on each individual child attending school. This outrageous figure, combined with additional expenses such as paying for books and voluntary contributions to school funds is proving impossible for more and more parents to meet.
“When I raised this matter with the Minister he agreed to consider a number of initiatives including standardising the design and colours of uniforms and providing an option for parents to sew on school crests. This would allow families the opportunity to shop around for better deals and not be forced to rely on a select number of retailers who can charge outrageous prices for uniforms.
“Parents should also be encouraged to pass on their school uniforms which often have to be replaced annually as children quickly outgrow their clothes. They could be reused by other children at a fraction of the cost.
“When we consider that on average, it costs €470 for a second-level student and €320 for a child attending primary school then we need to do everything possible to ease the financial burden on parents. Charities like St Vincent De Paul are doing their best to meet these rocketing costs and the Government must do likewise.” ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has said that the Minister for Social Protection’s latest proposal for a big brother style monitoring of bank accounts is a further attack on the unemployed and other social welfare recipients.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said that not only is it a violation of people’s privacy, but it will put social welfare recipients at risk of theft and blackmail.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“This latest nonsense from the Minister for Social Protection on monitoring unemployed people’s bank accounts is offensive and repugnant and is a further attack on people who have lost their jobs.
“The Department of Social Protection already have extensive access to social welfare recipients' bank records but the new Labour Minister is now proposing to actively monitor their bank accounts. You really have to ask where will this all end?
“The Minister clearly wants people on the dole to live a certain lifestyle - a lifestyle of abject and demonstrable poverty.
“The Minister claims that she is examining proposals such as this in an effort to tackle welfare fraud but what she fails to recognise is that tax evasion and avoidance constitute a far greater financial loss to the state than welfare fraud. Would this government even contemplate extending the same forms of intrusion on the bank accounts of the wealthy?
“Bank accounts contain an extensive amount of sensitive personal data. Especially since the introduction of laser cards, bank accounts now contain significant information on a person's movements and purchases. There have already been cases of criminal misuse of data held by her department and the proposal to monitor bank accounts will put social welfare recipients at risk of theft and blackmail.
“This proposal should be rejected outright.”
Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson Sean Crowe has urged the government to fastrack measures to help parents pay for school uniforms.
At a meeting this week of the Education and Skill’s Committee, the Dublin South West TD urged education minister Ruairí Quinn TD, to introduce measures to help with the spiralling cost of sending a child to school.
“This is a crisis that is hitting many families hard as they struggle to make ends meet.
“A recent a survey of 1,000 people by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) found that on average, €400 will be spent annually on each child attending school. This outrageous figure, combined with additional expenses such as books and voluntary contributions to schools, is proving impossible for more parents to meet.
“When I raised this matter with the minister, he agreed to consider initiatives including standardising the design and colours of uniforms and providing an option for parents to sew on school crests. This would allow families shop around for better deals and not be forced to rely on a select number of retailers who can charge outrageous prices for uniforms.
“Parents should also be encouraged to pass on their school uniforms, which often have to be replaced annually as children quickly outgrow their clothes. They could be reused by other children at a fraction of the cost.
“When we consider that on average, it costs €470 for a second-level student and €320 for a child attending primary school then we need to do everything possible to ease the financial burden on parents. Charities like St Vincent De Paul are doing their best to meet these rocketing costs and the government must do likewise.”
Speaking today in the Dáil Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty called for an adjournment of the Dáil to discuss the imminent injection of €19 billion of taxpayer’s money into the banks.
Deputy Doherty said:
“This morning I called for an adjournment debate on the imminent injection of €19 billion of taxpayer’s money into the covered institutions. This money is due to be given to the four covered banks without any Dáil debate or scrutiny.
“It is simply outrageous that the Government refused to allow the debate. That they the did so by hiding behind the procedural judgement of the Ceann Comhairle shows just how embarrassing this refusal is to the Government.
“Given the fact that €10 billion of this injection will be taken from the National Pension Reserve Fund with the remainder being borrowed at very high interest rates it is unacceptable that the transfer of these funds into the four banks will take place when the Dáil is not even sitting.
“This injection of €19 billion will be used primarily to pay senior bondholders, many of whom are not covered by the blanket banking guarantee. At least €4.3 billion will be paid to senior bond holders between now and the end of September, a figure close to the €4 billion public spending cuts and tax increases expected to be contained in December's budget.
“Again these payments will be made without any Dáil scrutiny or debate. Considering that the €19 billion is 39 times greater than the total cost of the so called jobs initiative, which was debated over three days in the Dáil there is a clear need for a debate in this house on the €19 billion injection into the banks.”