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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



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Beidh meádú ins an costais éifeachtach de cursaí traenála Múinteoireachta Bunscoileanna, de réir an Seanadóir de chuid Sinn Féin, de bharr bharr cinneadh atá deánta ag an Roinn ceal a chur ar deontaisí a thugtar do Múinteoirí a bhíonn ag freastal ar na cúrsaí. Da tharraing an tSeanadóir Ó Clochartaigh an ábhar seo chun aird, I ndiaidh diospóireacht a bhí aige leis an tAire Stáit le freagracht do Taighde agus Nualaíocht, Seán Sherlock.

Tá costais de thart ar €637 ar na cursaí éigeantach seo, atá mar cuspóir acu feabhas a chur ar chaighdeáin Gaeilge ag Múinteoirí, agus go mbeadh na scoláirí I dteangmháil leis an Ghaeilge i coimhéics nádurtha, agus beidh ar gach scoláire nua íoc as an cúrsa iad fhéin, gan aon deontais.

De réir an Roinn Oideachais, tá ar gach Scoláirí Múinteoireachta freastal ar cúrsa sa Ghaeltacht de fhaid trí seachtaine, ag deireadh an cheád bhliain dá chuid traenála. Is cuid Éigeantach den chúrsa Traenála Múinteoireachta í seo.

Do cháin an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh an ciorradh seo , agus dúirt sé go gcuirfeadh sé as do chuid mhaith scoláirí ó cúlraí Ioncaim iseal tabhairt faoi cúrsaí traenála Múinteoireachta.

“Is ciorradh slítheanta, soiniciúil é seo, a bheidh an dhiaian ar chuid mhaith scoláirí. Ní cuid roghnach don chúrsa í seo, agus cuid éigeantach don chúrsa. Is meádú éifeachtach faoi thart ar €637 ar chostas cúrsa traenála múinteoireachta í seo.

“Cheana, tá tionachar a bheith ag na tuarastail iseal tosaigh, agus an fhaid ar a mbíonn ar múinteoirí múineadh gan buanacht, ar an cumas ag scoláirí ó cúlraí ioncaim iseal a tabhairt faoi an múinteoireacht, agus gach seans go cuirfidh an ciorradh seo as do tuilleadh scoláirí.

“Is ciorradh míchoir agus gan míchóir í seo, a léiríonn laghad meas ar tabhacht de caighdeáin maith Gaeilge I measc ár múinteoirí, agus laghad tuiscint ar na deacaireachtaí airgeadais atá idir lámha ag go leor scoláirí agus a chuid teaghlaigh.”
Do ghlaoigh an tSeanadóir Ó Clochartaigh ar an tAIre Oideachas dul ar ais an an ciorradh seo, agus ar a laghad scéim a chur in áit chun laghdú a dheánamh ar an tionchar a bheidh ag an cinneadh se ar daoine le ioncaim iseal.

“Caithfear na ciorraithe seo a bheith curtha ar ceal, muna bhfuil fonn orainn go mbeadh múinteoireacht mar proifisiúin nách féidir ach iad siúd atá faoi phibhléid tabhairt faoi. Is suimeanna mhóra iad seo, agus ní choir go chuirfearr teoireann ar féidreacht ár scoláirí chun tabhairt faoi cúrsa traenála múinteoireachta de bharr nách bhfuil said in ann íoc as na cúrsaí Traenála sa Ghaeltacht.

“Ar a laghad, ní mór do aire, mar cheist phráinne, scéim a chur ar bun, go bhfaigheadh daoine ó cúlraí ioncaim iseal roinnt cunaimh le freastal ar na cúrsaí seo. Beidh mé ag lorg cruinniú leis an Aire sna laethanta atá le teacht chun tabhacht an ábhar seo a phlé leis.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the environment, community and local government Brian Stanley TD has accused the government of ignoring the local authority loans crisis.

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Stanley said:

“Fine Gael and Labour have failed to keep their election promises and failed to implement their own Programme for Government. Not twelve months ago both Fine Gael and Labour had promised to provide mortgage relief for struggling households. We are now faced with a crisis situation whereby four out of ten home owners with local authority loans are in serious mortgage arrears.

“The government has failed to tackle this issue. This is my fourth time raising the issue in the Dáil and each time the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and now Minister Burton have all sat on their hands and simply wished the problem away. That is simply unacceptable. Families have lost their homes and more are threatened with eviction. We need an immediate action based response.

“We have had the Keane Report, election promises and programmes for government but what we have not had is action. I am urging the government to include local authority loans in the forthcoming Personal Insolvency Bill.”

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Commenting on the latest HIQA report on nursing homes for older people, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that it showed that the closure of nursing home beds by the HSE under its Service Plan 2012 will hit the quality of care for older people.

He said:

“This HIQA Report gives an overview of inspections of nursing homes and shows that higher standards have been applied and improvements have been made in many areas. However, it also shows that there is much room for improvement in the living conditions and rights of older people in residential care. In some cases the government and the HSE, rather than make these improvements, is choosing to close public nursing homes.

“For the Government and the HSE to put further pressure on the system of residential care for older people by closing between 555 and 900 public nursing home beds as threatened under the National Service Plan 2012 is totally unacceptable. The cuts in the availability of care would increase pressure on staff and residents, inevitably hitting standards of care.” ENDS

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on communications, Martin Ferris TD has questioned the decision by the communications regulator (COMREG) to take An Post to court on the grounds of alleged deficiencies in the service provided by the company. An Post has stated that it will vigorously contest the action.

Deputy Ferris said:

“I am highly suspicious of this move in the light of the clear desire on the part of certain sectors to bring about the breaking up and privatisation of the postal service. I pointed this out in the debate here on the legislation to take into domestic law the EU Postal Directive.

“While every company has its failings I have yet to receive a single complaint in ten years regarding a decline in service and indeed COMREG’s own surveys have shown a consistent improvement in service over the past 30 years. Will such a court case then be used as a Trojan horse to hasten the break up of An Post?

“I would also question COMREG’s enthusiasm for taking on the state postal service in contrast to its seeming impotency in relation to private companies’ abuse of, for example, premium rate phone numbers”.

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Speaking after it emerged that the cost of the garda presence at Bellanaboy Shell Refinery has cost over €14.5million since 2006, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien called on the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to immediately examine these exorbitant costs.

The Cork North Central TD said;

“These figures were supplied by the Minister for Justice in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Sinn Féin. In his response, the Minister blamed the high costs on the actions of the protestors.

“It is wholly unacceptable to blame these costs on a community who are exercising their democratic right to protest, and it is somewhat arrogant to suggest that the people engaged in such protests are there as a form of ‘self-indulgent’ ‘protest tourism’ – as if people would risk life and limb where there are extremely heavy handed gardaí present, for the craic. Time and again there have been questions raised regarding garda activity in Mayo and no adequate answers have ever been given.

“The fact that the state has paid this enormous amount of money to help Shell to build a pipeline against the wishes of the community is disgraceful, particularly when the minister and the Garda Commissioner are seeking ways to shut down rural Garda stations.

“It is our view that Shell should have to shoulder these costs and not the Irish taxpayer. The whole area of provision of gardaí for non-public duty activities at a significant cost to the Irish tax payer is one that should be reviewed immediately.

“The minister’s response to this question and the attitude he has displayed towards those protesting is typical of this government. Any form of questioning of the State is viewed as illegitimate as far as he is concerned. It shows a massive amount of disrespect towards those with legitimate and well-founded concerns.” ENDS

QUESTION NO: 78

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Peadar Tóibín
for ORAL on Tuesday, 7th February, 2012.


To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost to him of the Garda presence at Bellanaboy Shell Refinery, County Mayo, each year since 2006; the cost to date with a breakdown of the Garda ranks, the salaries paid including basic salary, overtime, transfer allowance and so on; the projected costs of this exercise; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Peadar Tóibín


REPLY.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the additional costs arising for the Gardaí from the policing operation of the Shell Refinery project at Bellanaboy from 2006 to December 2011 is €14,566,262. I am enclosing a detailed breakdown of the figures as a tabular statement with this reply. The figures do not include the basic salaries as these are incurred in the normal course as part of Garda rostered hours. It is not possible to further break down the figures into the various ranks without the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

I am further advised by the Garda authorities that they are not in a position to provide projected costs in relation to future policing operations at the Shell Refinery. Those operations arise from the need for the Gardaí to respond to protest action in the vicinity of the gas terminal in order to prevent public order offences, to enable persons to go unimpeded to and from their place of work and to enable the construction of the refinery and pipeline to be completed. The level of protest activity fluctuates and as such a projection of likely costs is not possible.

It is deeply regrettable that so much Garda resources have to be tied up at the North Mayo site. However this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors - many of whom are not from the area and who engage in a form of protest tourism - who have engaged in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated and the Garda presence is there to prevent it.

The House will appreciate that, at a time when many people are under severe financial pressure because of our very difficult economic circumstances, it is scandalous that some protesters behave in a self indulgent way that has no regard for the rights of others. In turn, this requires the expenditure of a substantial amount of taxpayers' money which could be devoted to far better purposes if it was not for the actions of many of those involved in the protests.

In addition, this type of behaviour runs completely contrary to the public and national interest and furthermore will act as a disincentive to inward investment and the development of our national resources.

An Garda Síochána have my full support in taking all necessary action within the law to deal with their activities.

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has stated that the DUP's Nigel Dodds needs to accept that soccer players in the North have a fundamental right to choose to play for either soccer team in Ireland at international level and that those who choose not to play for one or the other should not be disadvantaged.

The FIFA Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled that players from the North have the right to represent either of the teams on the island of Ireland.

Pat Sheehan said:

“This debate has been ruled on by FIFA's Executive Committee who very clearly indicated that soccer players in the north can choose to play for either international team on the island.

“Nigel Dodds cannot force people to play for one team or another just as he cannot force people to choose whether they choose to identify themselves as Irish or British.He would be better calling for talks between the two governing soccer bodies on the island in the hope of having one team represent Ireland.

“It’s a pity that soccer does not learn from other sports when one team represents Ireland in the likes of rugby, cricket and other sports. Having one team from Ireland has witnessed the entire county getting behind them with no mention of divisions North, South, East or West.”

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill and Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín met today to discuss broadening the appeal of the Líofa initiative in rural areas.

The initiative aims to encourage 2015 people from all walks of life across the North to sign up to becoming fluent in Irish by 2015.

Speaking afterwards Minister O’Neill said: “Having signed up to the initiative myself, I am aware how it has captured people’s interest across the north and I am particularly encouraged by interest shown in rural areas. I will do all that I can to ensure my Department helps promote the initiative to those living in rural areas.

“At today’s meeting I have agreed that DARD will help further promote and develop the Líofa initiative in rural areas by organising three further localised Líofa launches outside of Belfast and Derry. It is expected that these will be held in the coming months.

“In addition to these, the Líofa initiative will be promoted at this year’s Balmoral Show and also across the DARD Direct offices. I will also promote it to staff throughout my own Department and will also work to explore other ideas for its overall promotion.”

Minister Ní Chuilín added: “Since the Líofa initiative was launched last September there has been a hugely encouraging response. I have met people from all backgrounds and walks of life across the North, and seen how the Irish languages is a unifying force which is a vital part of our shared cultural heritage.

“Mar Aire, tá mé go mór i bhfách le tacaíocht a thabhairt do lucht foghlama na Gaeilge agus iad ag teacht ar an Ghaeilge agus á tuiscint. Cuireann sé ríméad orm nuair a thacaíonn comhghleacaithe Feidhmeannais leis an fheachtas agus tréaslaím le Michelle as a tiomantas do Líofamar Aire agus mar dhuine. Déanfaimid teagmháil i gcuideachta a chéile leo siúd i gceantair thuaithe leis an tionscnamh corraitheach seo a leathnú agus a fhorbairt.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has criticised the Taoiseach Enda Kenny for introducing a statutory instrument which awards Junior Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan €17,205 annually on top of her €130,000 salary for the simple privilege of attending cabinet meetings.

Deputy Doherty said the payment, which is more than one and a half times what social welfare recipients get, is unwarranted and a kick in the teeth to the thousands of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

He said:

“Enda Kenny signed the statutory instrument on the 31st of January which also continued an allowance for the same amount for the Chief Whip Paul Kehoe.

“The extra payment attached to the position, which is €326 per week on top of her minister’s salary of €130,000 per year, is because the super junior minister attends cabinet meetings.

“This is beyond a joke. There are thousands of families across the state struggling to get by. Children are going to bed cold and to school hungry as parents struggle with bills and mortgage payments.

“This payment shows how out of touch with reality this government really is. It is a kick in the teeth to the thousands of people who are struggling to make ends meet. It should be withdrawn immediately.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has warned that the government’s planned cuts to the Community Employment scheme will have a “grievous impact on many community based projects and services across the state.”
Deputy Adams was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday evening during a Private Members motion opposing the government’s cuts to the Community Employment Scheme during which he pointed to the “disastrous social consequences of the austerity policies of this government.”

Deputy Adams said:

“These consequences are evident every day in the cuts to essential public services; the numbers of young people leaving our shores; the cuts to DEIS schools; the slashing of school guidance counsellors; the attack on rural communities through the septic tanks debacle; stealth taxes; the crisis in our health service, and now the imposition of cuts to Community Employment schemes which will in effect see the end of many such schemes.

“At the same time the government hands over billions of taxpayers’ money to zombie banks – as much as €20 billion last year. Next month €3.1 billion – almost as much as the total cut in the budget – will be paid to Anglo-Irish.”

Deputy Adams continued:

“The attack on Community Employment Schemes is an attack on vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across the state and on the long term unemployed who are trying to get back to work.

“Community Employment Schemes provide essential services and should be protected against budget cuts.

“The savage cuts introduced in the last Budget means that CE Schemes are threatened with a massive 66% cut in their training and education grants, which means many schemes will not be able to function.

“If Labour Party TDs truly believe that these schemes play a vital role in communities in terms of providing services such as community childcare then they should support this motion.”

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