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Sinn Féin launch a 'PEOPLE'S PACT'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to...


Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.



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Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch has said that the Blind Penalty Kick competition held in Stormont highlighted some of the difficulties facing the blind and partially sighted.

Mr Lynch said,

“Being blindfolded and attempting to do something that I would have taken for granted highlighted in a small way, what blind and partially sighted people faced everyday of their lives.

“I felt totally isolated and insecure with the blindfold on yet there are people who spend their entire lives without sight but society as a whole does not make allowances for them and take it for granted they can cope.

“Whether it crossing a road, shopping or working blind people face a range of difficulties from physical obstacles to noise that disorientates them and hides dangers that have to be overcome. 

“I congratulate the RNIB for organising the event for highlighting to me and others some of the problems blind people face.

 I will be looking at ways in which we can help people who are blind or partially sighted by finding out what is needed so that they can participate fully in society”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD, said in the Dáil that: “it was time Labour stood up for those who elected them and voted yes to overturn the household charge”.
Introducing the Sinn Féin bill to repeal the Household Charge, Stanley said:
“The household charge is grossly unfair and should be repealed immediately. The millionaire pays the same as the pensioner and the Taoiseach pays the same as a lone parent who has had their benefits cut.
“The household charge ensures the public pay three times for local services. Firstly, through their taxes. Households then have to pay again for services including waste collection, call out charges for the fire brigade, septic tank charges, management fees and soon water charges will be added to the list.
“And now the government wants the same households to pay an added household charge.
“By introducing this bill, the Local Government, Household Charge, Repeal Bill 2012, Sinn Féin, with the support of opposition and hopefully government TDs, will reverse the Household Charge and reimburse all those who have paid the charge.
“In opposing this charge Sinn Féin is also careful to put forward solutions. The government could have made other choices. The introduction of a new third rate of tax of 48% on income earned in excess of €100,000 would raise €410 million. The abolition of ‘group relief’ availed of by companies transferring losses to profitable companies, and write down tax receipts, would raise €450.3 million. The abolition of legacy property reliefs would raise €341.8 million, while the capping of all public servants wages at €100,000 per annum would save €265 million. Any of these choices would have provided adequate funding for local government.”
In conclusion, Deputy Stanley said: “I would urge those TDs on the government benches to exercise their conscience and vote yes to this bill.”
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Today at Committee stage of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) 2012 (No.3 Bill) Sinn Fein TD Peadar Tóibín, spokesperson for Enterprise Jobs and Innovation, tabled an amendment that would safeguard Sunday premiums for low paid workers. Fine Gael and Labour TDs voted against the amendment.

Speaking at Committee Peadar Tóibín TD said:

“In July last year I tabled legislation to safeguard the rights of workers in the JLC scheme. Sinn Féin, in partnership with the Trade Union movement campaigned for legislation to be enacted.

“The Government has stalled this legislation and nearly a year has passed since my original legislation. While there are positive aspects to the Fine Gael-Labour legislation it fails to balance the rights of low paid workers with the demands of employers and ends the payment of a Sunday premium.

“We are not talking about well paid staff that can choose to work Sundays. We are talking about low paid workers who need every cent to survive. Many of these people only work weekends and as a result will take a major wage hit. Many are women. Many have no choice and should be adequately compensated.

“The legislation produced by Fine Gael and Labour will result in reduced wages for already low paid workers.

“Without changes to strengthen the rights of low paid workers Sinn Féin will oppose this legislation and seek its replacement with the Bill that we drafted and submitted in consultation with the Trade Union movement.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today sought the assurance of the Taoiseach that no parent will have their Domiciliary Care Allowance payment cut before the Department of Social Protection concludes its review of the scheme.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Parents from the Domiciliary Care Allowance warriors today travelled to the Dáil to once again raise the issue of allowances for the families of children with disabilities.

“The current review process that has been instituted by the government is simply not fair. It places parents under undue stress that could and should be avoided. The fear is fed by the unfairness and lack of transparency in the system.

“Last year 403 reviews were carried out on individual Domiciliary Care Allowance payments. In the six months from September 2011 to March of this year 213 reviews resulted in the withdrawal of Domiciliary Care Allowance payments.

“This allowance is a gateway payment so its withdrawal quickly precipitates the loss of carers allowance and associated benefits where these were also in payment.

“Minister Burton last month announced an urgent review of this process. The Taoiseach needs to give a commitment that no parent will have the DCA payment cut-off until that review is completed.

“The withdrawal of the Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Respite Care Grant is an automatic loss of €5,408 per annum for families.

“In other cases a carers allowance is also lost – this can be the principle social welfare payment of a household. It is absolutely vital that the review process be fair, impartial and thorough.

“Sinn Féin has also called for reform of the scheme so that if the Domiciliary Care Allowance is to be withdrawn from a family as a matter of course there would be a face to face meeting between the family and the relevant official so the reality of the circumstances of that family are clear before any final decision to cut the payment is made.” ENDS

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Sinn Fein’s EU Spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has said the Irish government needs to reject any so-called macro-economic conditionality being placed on the EU’s future structural funds spending.

Senator Reilly was speaking after it emerged that a number of EU countries are pushing for a change in the rules that would allow for a suspension of future EU structural funds if any country fails to meet certain strict economic criteria in-line with the rules contained in the Austerity Treaty.

She said;

“This change, if it comes to pass, will be another retrograde step by the EU. The structural funds are designed as instruments of solidarity and also benefit the entire EU by boosting the size of the market. EU funding should not be used as an instrument of punishment. This step is another potential mechanism by which a single, failed economic policy can be forced upon others and the Irish government needs to stand up and reject it.

“There are many projects up and down the island which can only operate because of EU money be it through the ESF or PEACE or other funds. This move could see those projects and their workers thrown into jeopardy for something completely beyond their control. These projects need certainty. There are already very stringent rules which can see funding suspended if there are questions of fraud or misuse and that is only right. These new proposals are purely political however and should be thrown out.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has highlighted the hypocrisy of UUP MLA Tom Elliott for his failure to seek the removal of Union flags, which have been erected across Enniskillen over the last week.

Phil Flanagan said:

“Immediately prior to Easter this year, we had the annual call from Tom Elliott for Irish flags to be taken down from the Cornagrade Road. These flags were erected and taken down within a very short period of time as was agreed.

“In stark contrast to this custom is the erection of a significant number of Union flags across Enniskillen, with no indication of a timeline when these flags will be removed nor has there been such a call from unionist representatives.

“There is no justification for the erection of these flags, which has taken place a full month before the 12th of July, and many local people are certain that, as with previous years, these flags will remain up right through to the autumn when they become very torn and tattered.

“Many of these flags are in the Chanterhill and Cavanaleck areas, where there are a number of mixed housing developments and public facilities including the MOT test centre and St Fanchea’s College.

“I have previously called for the establishment of a taskforce to deal with the issue of contentious flags and emblems in Enniskillen. Such a group would consist of representatives of each political party as well as local business and community leaders.

“To date, Unionist politicians have been consistently silent on the issue of Union flags and I am calling on them to work with me and others to agree a flags policy for the greater Enniskillen area.

“Our town centres should be neutral areas; free from flags, as should public property while anyone wishing to erect flags for any occasion should be mindful of residents and businesses, with a clear and definitive timeframe for flags to be removed.”

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Sinn Féin Party Group Leader in the Assembly, Raymond McCartney has congratulated Alex Maskey on receiving a honourary doctorate bestowed upon him from LeMoyne College in Syracuse New York for his work on the peace process.

 Mr. McCartney said,

 “I would like to congratulate my colleague Alex Maskey on his award from LeMoyne College in New York.LeMoyne College is one of the leading Jesuit Colleges in the USA and it a huge honour for Alex Maskey to be selected for the international award for his work on the Peace Process.

“Alex is worthy of this award as he has worked tirelessly towards making the peace process a success.From being the first Sinn Féin Councillor elected to Belfast City Council where he was faced with hostility from Unionists he endured to become a well-respected Councillor by all parties and eventually Mayor.

“As Mayor of Belfast he opened up new ground in recognising all the traditions and helped built partnerships between the communities that still exist today.Alex has been central in working towards building a lasting peace in Ireland and has traveled to other parts of the world to share his experiences of peace building including the Basque country and the Middle East and is well deserving of the award.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has reinforced the importance of strong leadership in delivering high educational attainment in schools.

The Minister was speaking today as he presented certificates to graduates of the Professional Qualification for Headship (PQH) programme and to principals who completed the Professional Qualification for Serving Heads (PQSH).

Addressing attendees at the event in Belfast Model School for Girls, the Minister said: “Excellent leadership and good quality teaching are two of the most important factors in raising educational standards. It is crucial that our current and future leaders have the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes to effectively embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

“The qualifications achieved by the educationalists here today will help provide them with the tools and experience required to meet the many demands that face school leaders.”

The Minister continued: “There are now over 1,600 PQH graduates since the launch of the qualification back in 1999, and last year, over 70% of those appointed to headship for the first time, were graduates of the course – a measure of the high regard held for the qualification.

“I would like to commend all those involved in running both the PQH and PQSH programmes and congratulate the teachers and school leaders on achieving these valuable qualifications.”

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 Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey, who is also the chair of the Health Committee is alarmed at the staggering cost of hoax calls being made to the ambulance and fire services.

 Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

 “The fact that hoax calls to the ambulance and fire services reaches £3m pounds a year is staggering. This is diverting much needed resources away from the health service.

 “The cost however goes further than financial terms. By directing fire and ambulance services to hoax call outs it is endangering peoples lives. Obviously if an ambulance or fire crew is attending one of these calls they are not available to deal with real emergencies. This would have an even greater impact in rural areas.

 “The dark side of it is that 26,000 calls are made over the past 3 years clearly indicating that for some obscene reason too many people think that this is acceptable behaviour.

 “Those behind these calls must stop. I understand that the emergency services do deliver awareness courses to our schools however I would appeal for such information to be made available now in news papers, on TV and online to raise awareness of this issue. I would be certain in the belief that such calls are not carried out by any one age group."

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Sinn Féin launch a 'PEOPLE'S PACT'


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Sinn Féin Dublin South West