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Political process in trouble - Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD in a keynote statement today has warned that the “political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.”

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has criticised Health Minister James Reilly for refusing to accept a key amendment to the Nurses and Midwives Bill which he, as Fine Gael spokesperson on Health in Opposition, had proposed in the last Dáil. Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“In the last Dáil the then Fine Gael Health spokesperson Deputy James Reilly proposed a key amendment to the Nurses and Midwives Bill seeking to ensure that ministerial appointments to An Bord Altranais agus Cnáimseachais (the Nurses and Midwives Board) would be subject to approval by an Oireachtas committee.

“I tabled an identical amendment to the Nurses and Midwives Bill today and the Government parties voted it down.

“This was the first opportunity for the new Government to ‘walk the walk’ after ‘talking the talk’ so much about proper scrutiny of ministerial appointments and proper accountability of State boards. They failed to live up to their rhetoric.

“It was also most disappointing that Health Minister James Reilly was not present in the Dáil to anchor the Report Stage of this Bill which is one of the most important pieces of health legislation dealt with by the Oireachtas in recent times. In the last Dáil, Deputy Reilly was one of the most vehement critics of the absence of former Health Minister Harney from key debates. For our part we in Sinn Féin will continue to hold this new Minister and Government to account.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley called on the Fine Gael/Labour Government to reverse the decision of the last Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government to impose a new tax on the owners of commercial vehicles.

Under the new rules, licence holders with commercially registered vehicles are penalised if they use their vehicle for purposes other than work. In order to carry out family or leisure tasks, they are supposed to have private vehicle tax.

Deputy Stanley has been inundated with complaints from across the State and has described the situation as a mess.

He said:

“One thing that has to be said about the last Government is that they demonstrated great ingenuity in inventing new ways to take money off people. There is absolutely no good reason that I can see for this new tax rule. Many small business people and indeed employees use commercial vehicles for purposes other than work. Indeed in many instances a commercial vehicle is the only means of transport that people have.

“The last Government in introducing this new tax and this Government in implementing it are targeting many people who are already finding things difficult. It has also imposed considerable extra burdens on the Gardaí who surely have better things to do than stopping workers in their vehicles and interrogating them on whether they are working or going to the local club match or dropping their mother to Mass.

“The Fine Gael/Labour Government must abolish this ridiculous tax.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin’s Sue Ramsey, who will join protesting staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital later this afternoon, has taken the opportunity to clarify Sinn Féin’s position on speculation regarding the McKinsey Report.
Speaking this morning she said;
“The McKinsey Report was commissioned at a cost of £330,000 by UUP Minister Michael McGimpsey.
The report has not been formally considered at Executive level.
Leaks of the report revealed that elements of the McKinsey Report were in line with a British Tory-like approach to public services.
This is not Sinn Fein’s approach and never will be.
Sinn Fein’s election manifesto calls for; “A new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all, free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general, fair and progressive taxation.”
Sinn Fein will again meet with Unions and discuss our concerns about cuts in the Health Service.
It is outrageous that health workers and other public sector workers feel under such threat from the Tory government that they are contemplating strike action.
The fact that McGimpsey refused to make public the recommendations of the McKinsey Report, while in office, is a clear indication that even the UUP realized it was a non starter.
We are opposed to the proposals contained within the report.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Fein Assembly Candidate for West Belfast, Jennifer McCann, has hit out at the latest price hike of 40 per cent by Phoenix Gas stating:

"Once again we are seeing a huge rise in gas prices locally.  Only last Friday  I attended an event organised by the Fuel Poverty Coalition which highlighted that stark fact that almost half the households in the north of Ireland are already living in fuel poverty. 

“This included 76 per cent of people over the age of 75 years and 90 per cent of cancer patients who cannot afford to heat their homes.  The harsh reality is that there is in excess of 1,000 deaths per year in the north of Ireland alone due to fuel poverty.

“While many people still rely on oil for heat there are an increasing number of people, particularly in social housing, that now use gas.  This 40 per cent hike by Phoenix Gas will have a major impact on the weekly household budget and will effect those who are already struggling due to low incomes and cuts in welfare benefits.

“I would strongly urge the Utility Regulator and Phoenix Gas to review this decision. I will also be pressing for, in the new mandate, that the Executive set up a Cross Departmental Ministerial Taskforce to prioritise and tackle the issue of fuel poverty as it is disgraceful that anyone should be dying because the cannot afford to heat their homes." 

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley criticised the cost, quantity and location of various buildings being rented by the State as part of the decentralisation programme.

Deputy Stanley said the Government has spent €12million renting offices in Laois in various unsuitable locations for the decentralisation project.

He said:

“I wish to discuss the important matter of the number of buildings the State is renting or leasing as part of the decentralisation programme. This is of particular concern in my own constituency of Laois/Offaly where there are approximately six buildings currently being rented or leased by the Department of Agriculture as part of the decentralisation programme.

“In October 2010 the then Government provided details of the premises leased in Portlaoise which accommodate 317 Agriculture staff, as well as Equality Tribunal Staff. Further information was provided to the effect that the State was paying €191,000 to rent the old Eircom building, €264,640 to rent the Grattan Business Centre and around €210,000 to rent units in the Gandon Court Fair Green. Some of these have 20 year leases.

“Some of these locations are in wholly unsuitable locations such as one over a chipshop, another over a pub, another is located over a supermarket, another is located in a warehouse in an industrial estate, and yet another is located in an old Eircom building.

“The office above the chipshop is in several small apartments and is totally unsuitable. This has led to a fragmentation in services and the operation of the Department is totally chaotic.

“We are all well aware of the penalties being suffered by businesses due to nature of upward only rent reviews at the moment. Will the Minister tell the House if this is the case for the State and if so, what he proposes to do about it? These rents are substantial. Has there been any negotiation regarding the rents?

“The Government has spent €12million renting offices in Laois for the decentralisation project. What moves have been made to secure permanent accommodation so that the State is not funding private landlords at the expense of the taxpayer when they have already implemented a severe range of cutbacks. It is unacceptable.

“Will the Minister also give a commitment to ensure that any project that is proposed will not be done using public-private partnership? This has been shown to not give value for money to the taxpayer.

“The previous Government stated that a new headquarters for the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise would take two years to build. An update needs to be provided on what’s happening with this.

“A site has been purchased for around €1m and now lies idle. Will the Minister provide an update on this?” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening Dublin Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said the Government is quite happy to sell off our natural resources whole failing to seek revenue to help those in fuel poverty.

Deputy Ellis was also described the decision of former Minister Pat Carey to issue an order for the last section of the Corrib gas pipeline on the day that he lost his seat as an act of disgraceful political cynicism.

He said:

“In February just gone, there was an Energy Action conference on fuel poverty. An Age Action speaker at this conference said that the inability to pay for home heating could be contributing to up to 2,000 winter deaths across the state each year. Older people are most likely to be affected and are generally at higher risk of fuel poverty. More and more are falling in to arrears on their utility bills and hundreds of thousands are entering in to payment plans – many of which they still can’t afford. Disconnections are commonplace. Deaths from the cold, while rarer, still are commonplace.

“That someone could be let die from the cold, in this day and age, because they can’t afford to heat their home adequately is a scandal. The government is quite happy to sell our natural resources off the coast of Ireland, while failing to seek revenue to help those in fuel poverty.

“The people of Ireland cannot take any more. The ordinary working people are hurting due to money going to gas companies. It is a disgrace. What Sinn Féin is calling for, is for natural resources to be put in to public ownership in order to realise profit for all the people of Ireland as per the Democratic Programme of An Chéad Dáil.

“Fianna Fáil’s Pat Carey issued an order on the day that he lost his seat and Fianna Fáil lost power for the last section of the Corrib gas pipeline. It was an act of disgraceful political cynicism. He had no political or moral authority to give the go ahead to a pipeline over which many concerns still exist even with the changes made following the Bord Pleanala ruling. The underhand manner in which this order was made proves that even in their dying days Fianna Fáil were doing favours for their friends from the Galway Races. Fine Gael and Labour, having allowed this to continue, have shown themselves to be no different.

“There are still questions to be asked about the conduct of that whole affair. Pat Carey said, before the people of Dublin North West kicked him out of office, that he had not signed the document on a whim, and that the whole process had taken eight months. Yet, the Green Party contradicted this when Eamon Ryan said he had not seen sight nor sound of the documents before he left office. Éamon Ó Cúiv, who replaced John Gormley was adamant that the documents had not come to him either. Perhaps this will be subject to a tribunal further down the road. At the time this was emerging, the then Labour TD Michael D Higgins condemned the action and called for full transparency on any communication between the Department and interested parties. I would hope that his party colleagues will heed his calls.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said that it is not too late to challenge the bad practice and bad decisions of the past which have given away the natural wealth of the state and for the taxpayers to benefit from our oil and gas resources.

Deputy Adams urged all TDs to set aside party political allegiances and to recognise that the Sinn Féin motion is seeking a better deal for the Irish people.

Deputy Adams said:

“During the last two decades there have been few more disgraceful examples of the corrupt relationship between business, the golden circle and the political system, than the manner in which a small group of politicians have given away our natural resources to multi-nationals.

“Decades of mismanagement and dishonest decisions by government has resulted in a handover of our natural resources to multi-national companies with little benefit to the Irish people, however it is not too late to right this wrong. It is not too late to challenge the bad practice and bad decisions of the past which have given away the natural wealth of this state.

“This Government, on behalf of citizens, should now move to acquire a majority state shareholding in our oil and gas. They should introduce an effective taxation and royalty regime that ensures that this state has the financial resources to get rid of the state debt, and regain our economic sovereignty by ending the involvement of the EU, IMF and ECB in our affairs.

“These proposals make sense and prove that there is a real alternative out there that does not involve slashing the pay of the poorest people or cutting public services.

“I am urging all TDs to set aside party political allegiances and to recognise that the Sinn Féin motion is seeking a better deal for the Irish people.”

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, speaking in the Dáil this evening on the Private Members’ Motion on the State’s oil and gas resources, said the fact that Ireland, under current arrangements, would receive just 3.6% of the value of the Corrib field is economic treason.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the Government will fail in its duty to almost 100,000 children living in consistent poverty in Ireland if it does not reverse the odious and treacherous deal that will see a multi-national corporation rob the Irish people of the natural resources that are rightly ours.

He said:

“Almost 100,000 children are living in consistent poverty in Ireland. These children are often quite literally hungry and cold.

“The government will continue to fail in its duty to provide for the income, housing, health and educational needs of these children if it does not reverse the odious and treacherous deal that will see a multi-national corporation rob the Irish people of the natural resources that are rightly ours.

“The deals entered into by previous governments and endorsed recently by this government amount to Economic Treason.

“That Ireland will have to buy back its own oil and gas at market cost is economic treason. That little or no revenues accrue for Ireland from Irish gas and oil extracted and sold is economic treason.

“That the Norwegian people will get more benefit from these Irish natural resources than Ireland is economic treason.

“That Ireland, under current arrangements, would receive just 3.6% of the value of the Corrib field is economic treason.

“That this government would forego the billions of euro that could potentially be raised from these resources and let Ireland’s children go poor is economic treason.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD has called on Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte to live up to his party’s election commitments and extend the current royalty regime to the Corrib consortium as part of a promised review of the terms and conditions governing oil and gas exploration.

Deputy Ferris also called on all parties to support the motion.

Deputy Ferris said:

“I am calling on all parties to support the Sinn Féin motion here tonight. It is designed to ensure that it these times of recession and economic mismanagement that our oil and gas resources are utilised to the best benefit of the Irish people.

“In the motion we set out the vision that my party and many others have of how our oil and gas resources, and indeed it could be expanded to include our fisheries and forestry and wind and wave energy, ought to be used to bring about a revival of enterprise and of spirit among our people.

“The Labour Party gave a commitment in their election manifesto, if elected to Government to extend the current royalty regime to the Corrib consortium as part of a promised review of the terms and conditions governing oil and gas exploration. Unsurprisingly this review has not materialised.

“I would appeal to Minister Rabbitte to implement the review promised by his party during the election and that the terms of reference for that review be the framing of a taxation and licensing regime that would ensure that this country benefits from the vast wealth that lies off our coast.”

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh