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A Fair Recovery Is Possible

Sinn Féin has launched a state wide campaign for a Fair Recovery. The campaign will involve a series of public meetings and the distribution of close to one million leaflets door to door.

This campaign is about setting out some of Sinn Féin’s priorities and to start a debate about the future, about what type of country and society we want to live in, about equality, and the type of recovery we want.

Visit our special web section A Fair Recovery Is Possible here

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Some sights and sounds from the Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare on June 21, 2015. Main speaker Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD. During the course of her speech she talked about the need for a fair economic recovery north and south; demanded the British to come clean about collusion; and expressed solidarity with the people of Greece.


Martin McGuinness speaking at Stormont said that Sinn Féin's conditional support for the budget bill will create the space to resolve outstanding issues and ensure the executive has workable and sustainable finances and see the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, is scathing in his response to the budget cut by the government to the Senior Alert Scheme, which has been reduced by over 50%.

Stanley said “This sneaky cut is one of the most callous, mean and petty by this government so far. This scheme provides funding to local community groups to purchase panic alarms for vulnerable or disabled elderly people to alert neighbours, fire, gardaí or ambulance services during an emergency.

“The provision of this equipment is essential given the recent increase in burglaries and brutal attacks on elderly citizens around the country. I have been involved in one of these schemes and I have seen at first hand the enormous benefits of it. Improving home security for elderly persons living alone and having an alarm to alert neighbours gives huge peace of mind to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. This is even more vital now with the policing cutbacks and the closure of rural Garda stations. Last week a 96- year-old woman in Donegal used one of these alarms to alert a neighbour following an aggravated burglary.

“Local Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes are doing excellent work on a voluntary basis to enhance community safety. For this overpaid government to slash this important grant by 55% to save a miserly €1 million is a disgrace and they seem to be hell bent on attacking the most vulnerable. It is not overstating the case to say that this cut could be a matter of life or death for some elderly person in future.”

In conclusion Stanley said “As an opposition Spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government I intend pursuing Minister Hogan and the government on this and to do everything possible to have this important funding restored.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said that the Unionist forum that met today will not solve the problem of mutual respect for people’s national identity and culture.

The Upper Bann MLA said:

“Unionists talking to themselves will not solve the problem of mutual respect for people’s national identity and culture.

“That can only come when representatives from the whole community sit down together. There needs to be an open discussion on how people’s Irishness and Britishness can be respected and valued.

“Equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect needs to be at the core of any move forward on identity and symbols.

“Unionism needs to face the reality that the North has changed and will continue to change. Any attempts to hark back to a one-sided past will only sow more confusion among unionists and loyalists.”

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Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the HSE Service Plan 2013, approved today by Health Minister James Reilly, as a plan for slashing our public health services.

Describing the cutting of 40,000 medical cards as an “attack on people on low incomes”, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This plan implements the savage cuts to public health services imposed by the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition in Budget 2013.

“It is not a service plan – it is a plan for slashing services.

“Of the total of €721 million in cuts in this plan a massive €323 million is cut from primary care. This makes a mockery of the government’s so-called reform programme with primary care at its centre.

“Minister Reilly has signed off on a plan that will deprive some 40,000 people of medical cards in 2013 and many more thereafter as the income criteria for receiving a medical card are changed. This is a further attack on people on low incomes.

“It is scandalous that the plan imposes a cut to disability services (1.2%) which is four times what was expected by the sector (.3%). This will severely affect disability services that are already reeling from cuts in previous years.

“The plan also implements the increase in the medical card prescription charges and the reduction in the monthly subsidy for medicines under the Drugs Payment Scheme.

“This plan will deepen the staffing crisis in our public health services. The plan itself admits that given the level of staff reductions in recent years and 4,000 more staff due to be cut this year, planning for services is ‘particularly difficult in 2013’. This is an understatement and the staff crisis will be compounded by the Government/HSE decision to attempt to introduce a cheap labour scheme for nurses which has already been rejected by the nursing unions.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD, has said the failure of Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) to process outstanding third level grant applications is resulting in significant hardship for students.

He was responding to reports that students who had yet to receive their grants have had to survive on food parcels in order to remain in college.

Describing the situation “as completely unacceptable”, the Cork North Central TD said his office was being inundated with complaints from students who are still waiting to have their grant applications processed and paid.

He continued: “Nearly two weeks into the new year, the SUSI debacle has yet to be resolved and thousands of students are suffering real hardship as a result of a system that has failed utterly.

“It is all very well that today we have the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn reminding students an additional €3 million has been allocated to the Student Assistance Fund but more importantly, he needs to ensure adequate resources are provided to ensure the remaining backlog in third level grant payments are made immediately.

“It is scandalous that students are being forced to live on food parcels as a result of being denied payment of their maintenance grants through an online awarding body that was supposed to greatly improve what existed previously.

“From the start SUSI was under-funded and poorly resourced and as a consequence thousands of students have been living without a grant for over four months.

“Minister Quinn has serious questions to answer about this unmitigated disaster and I will be attempting to have this matter debated when the Dáil returns from recess next week.”

ENDS

Note for Editors:

Deputy O’Brien has submitted the following for Topical Issues’ Debate:

To debate the on-going hardship being experienced by students arising from the failure of Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) to process outstanding third level grant applications.

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Sinn Féin Justice and Equality Spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has expressed outrage at news that the government has halved the budget for personal security alarms provided to the elderly to enable them to live independently.

The vital importance of the alarms was proven once again in recent days following the robbery and attack on 96 year old Margaret Lilly in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, only 100 yards from Deputy Mac Lochlainn's home. It is believed that Ms Lilly may not have survived the attack had it not been for the fact she activated her personal alarm.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“This is a shocking and mean spirited decision by the government. It is an attack on some of our most vulnerable citizens and must be reversed immediately.

“This government will close 143 Garda stations. They have slashed Garda numbers and reduced the number of Garda vehicles. And now they halve the budget for personal security alarms for the elderly.

“These alarms give security assurance to our senior citizens and they also allow them to live independently, safe in the knowledge that support in the event if an emergency is only the press of a button away.

“The Seniors Alert Scheme has operated successfully over recent years and that is why all of the organisations who represent the elderly have condemned this decision.

“The shocking attack on my 96 year old neighbour, Margaret Lilly, has demonstrated the life-saving importance of these alarms and this scheme. The government needs to increase the budget not halve it.”

ENDS

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Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey said the joint statement by unionist councillors regarding the lowering of rates was a disgrace and an abdication of their responsibilities.

The South Belfast councillor said:

“Once again unionist councillors have used the intemperate language of ‘tearing’ down a flag and also washed their hands of all responsibility to do with the flag protests. That is a disgrace and an abdication of their responsibilities.

“The blame for traders poor return at Christmas lies at the feet of the protestors and those who stoked up tension around the democratic decision taken by the council.

“Sinn Féin have proposed a zero rise in rates which along with inflation actually means a cut in rates, would actually be the first such move in 20 years by the council.

“Unionists now advocating a setting of the rates at a minus need to explain to people where the cuts are going to come from to pay for this.

“This would affect the investment package announced by the council and would have a knock on affect on creating new jobs. Services would also be affected

“What services do the unionist councillors calling for this want to see cut; the investment package for those areas suffering from deprivation and the jobs that will come from this, community grants, Parks & Leisure, tackling flooding etc?

“ Sinn Féin would advise traders against withholding their rates as has been reported. What is needed now is for the ending of all protests and Belfast’s positive image to come to the fore.

“Business leaders can help by adding their voice for an end to these futile protests that have damaged the image and trading within the city.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has this afternoon welcomed the Minister for Justice and Equality’s commitment that he intends to publish the Magdalene Laundries inter-Departmental Committee report within the next four weeks, and has called on Fine Gael and Labour Ministers to provide survivors of the Magdalene Laundries with the same apology and supports they called for when in opposition.

Deputy McDonald said:

“It is of course disappointing that the report will not be concluded until next week however we welcome the Minister for Justice & Equality’s commitment that he intends to publish the final report within the next four weeks. Whilst this is a step in the right direction what the women urgently need is an apology and redress.

“Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries have literally waited their whole lives for a mere acknowledgement of the wrong perpetrated against them by the state and religious orders. The bottom line is that they should wait no more. Fine Gael and Labour Ministers spoke fine words of support for the women when in opposition, now they must act on them.

“There are a number of immediate measures the Government could take in the interim that would provide much needed respite to these elderly women. A State funded helpline is desperately needed and could easily be put in place to offer support to the women.

“There are a number of women who currently cannot access pension and health related entitlements despite having worked in the Laundries for long numbers of years. Religious orders did not pay the women during their incarceration nor did they submit employee related returns to the Revenue Commissioner. The relevant Government Ministers can and must come together to ensure survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, most of whom are elderly women, can access their full health and welfare entitlements.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that new training college for the Police and Fire Service will have huge economic benefits to the Mid Ulster area.

 Speaking today Mr. McGuinness said:

 “Todays announcement that full planning has been granted for the training complex is the culmination of a lot of hard work from myself along with other Executive colleagues and local representatives.

 “This college, which is already attracting the interest of other police and fire services has the potential to become a centre of excellence in setting the highest standards in both the fire and policing service.

 “Not only is there the potential for establishing a world class training facility but there is also the possibility for increased economic activity right across the Mid Ulster area.

 “It is however crucial that from the beginning new recruits are instilled with the new policing ethos of community policing with a strong human rights approach being central to this, as demanded by the Good Friday Agreement.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has said that the decision by the British Tory government to cap all benefit increases to 1% will only force more families into the poverty trap.

 Mr. Brady said,

 “To cap benefits rises to 1% is in effect a decrease in real terms as inflation is growing at an average of 2.8% and this will plunge more people into the poverty trap over the next few years.

 “Not only will this have an impact on people solely on benefits but also people who work but are on low incomes. 

 “Benefits have always been linked to inflation and this break will undoubtedly signal the end of providing a benefit system as a method of keeping people out of poverty.

 “The proposed Tory Welfare reform act has nothing to do about tackling poverty but is about more about tackling the poor.

 “The Tory cuts disguised as reform will put many more people into the poverty trap and needs to be opposed. Sinn Féin are the only party that has brought alternative measures to the table in offsetting some of the most draconian measures and will continue to work to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.”  

Videos

Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015


Photos

Gerry Adams