Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed the Exploring Enterprise II programme announced today to give unemployed people the opportunity and skills to become self employed.
Mr McElduff stated,
“It is important that people who find themselves unemployed are given opportunities to find meaningful employment.
“This initiative announced today will give 2000 people the chance to get the skills to become self employed through an accredited course over a three year period.
“Many people have the ability to become self employed but lack the knowledge and confidence and these courses are designed to give those people the ability to be successful in their own business or trade.
“It is however important that this scheme is rolled out in a way that will maximise the number of people who can benefit from it so I am calling on the Minister to ensure that it is properly advertised and promoted.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill, MLA, has today chaired her first North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh.
Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún has called on the Greek government to overturn its decision to detain Freedom Flotilla II ships bound for Gaza. The flotilla plans to take much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade.
"It is appalling that Greek authorities have bowed to pressure from Israel to 'outsource' this illegitimate blockade which has had far-reaching negative consequences for the 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children, living in the Gaza strip. The stiff restrictions placed on movement and commerce by the Israeli government have resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza. Given that the majority of the population (80%) depend so heavily on humanitarian aid, it is completely unacceptable that the flotilla should have been halted by Greece.
"I call on the Greek authorities to reconsider their ban on the flotilla setting sail from its ports and allow the activists to continue with their essential work, bringing desperately-needed aid to those who have been cut off from the outside world by this blockade.
"As the Israeli authorities are intent on placing a stranglehold on the economy of Gaza, I would be sceptical about assurances that the much-needed humanitarian aid will reach the Gaza strip through what they call 'existing channels'. If enough aid was getting through these channels then people of goodwill throughout the world would not be organising ships to bring the aid themselves."
Sinn Féin, Enterprise, Trade and Investment spokesperson, Phil Flanagan MLA (Fermanagh/South Tyrone) has said that the long-term solution to economic recovery and sustainability can be achieved by imaginative forward planning on an all-Ireland basis.
Phil Flanagan said:
“What is required is imaginative forward planning and attraction of alternative employment opportunities through both foreign direct investment and by assisting indigenous companies to find new markets and expand their workforce.
“Making political arguments against all-Ireland economic development only prolongs the difficulties that we are now experiencing. From any perspective, political or economic, duplication and replication of service provision is inefficient and cannot be justified. These redundant policies impose an unnecessary administrative and financial burden not only on the two governments but also on those wishing to do business in both jurisdictions.
"A single investment and job creation agency for instance, would eliminate this counterproductive anomaly of competition for inward investment, eradicate the waste of duplication and open wider opportunities to business throughout the island and generally contribute to growing the economy.
“Politicians throughout the island need to recognise a growing
all-Ireland economy already exists. The clear cost-effectiveness of this
new reality has long been recognised by the business community and the
island economy is becoming more interdependent and integrated every
year. Increased cooperation on an all-Ireland basis in relation to the
economy is the accepted way of the future. We should be getting on with
dismantling existing barriers and establishing a united approach to
attracting investment and job creation.
“Common Chapter commitments made under the GFA commits both governments to advance all-Ireland economic development through joint planning in nine specified areas. Energy, Communications, Electronic Commerce, Human Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Tourism, Transport, Environment, Education, Health and EU funding. These should be seen as only the beginning of a strategy for all-Ireland development in all facets of life and not a limitation.
“In building and strengthening the all-Ireland economy we should be striving to overcome obstacles to mobility, harmonising fiscal and business environments, and adopting and implementing proactive measures to ensure strong economic development. We will not progress in these areas by adopting a dismissive or insular attitude to opportunities for change.”
Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has today extended Sinn Féin’s support of the Bethany Home Survivors demand that Justice Minister Alan Shatter extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.
Deputy McDonald said:
“The previous Government’s decision to exclude the Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home from the residential institutions redress scheme was deplorable, however Fine Gael and Labour now have a real opportunity to right this wrong.
“Just last week Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh called for an investigation into the deaths of at least 219 children in Bethany Home in Dublin between 1922 and 1949.
“There is a need to investigate the fact that at least 219 children died in the years 1922-49 in Bethany Home in Dublin, and to further acknowledge the state's failure to save the children and especially the remaining survivors from the cruelty perpetrated against them.
“This Government failed to consider amending the 2002 Redress act to give recognition to the children who suffered unnecessary illness, neglect and death, due to indifference, incompetence, sectarianism, complicity of the state.
“Excluding Bethany Home from the work of the Magdalene Laundries inter-Departmental Committee would be yet another affront to the women and children who were so grievously wronged by the States neglect of Bethany Home’s residents.
“Justice Minister Alan Shatter must extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.” ENDS
Commenting on the delay in providing transport to 14-year-old Maedhbh McGivern which caused her to miss the opportunity of a liver transplant in London, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:
“Lessons must be learned fast from this incident so that nothing of the kind is allowed to occur again. The Minister for Health James Reilly should provide a report this week about where the system fell down, leading to this very disappointing result. I am calling on him to make a statement to the Dáil on the matter.
“Many questions arise, not least the discrepancy between the two accounts of the incident given by the HSE and the Department of Transport.
“It must be questioned also whether too many agencies are involved in this process – the HSE, the Department of Transport, the Coast Guard and the Emergency Medical Support Services.
“Another key question is whether any attempt was made to secure air transport from North of the border – Enniskillen is a relatively short distance from Ballinamore.
“I wish Maedhbh McGivern and her family well and fully support their call for this incident to be properly investigated and lessons learned and applied so that Maedhbh and other people who need emergency transport are not let down again.”
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has welcomed today’s opening of the Luas Citywest 4.2km extension that will serve existing communities and developments in Fettercairn, Cheeverstown (Brookfield and Ard Mor), Citywest, Fortunestown and Saggart.
Speaking after attending the opening of the new line, Deputy Crowe said it was important that people living, working and visiting Dublin City had access to a modern, safe public transport system.
“Passenger services started today at 12 noon and Luas Citywest will serve 5 new Luas Stops located at Fettercairn, Cheeverstown, Citywest Campus, Fortunestown and Saggart. To further encourage people to use public transport, Cheeverstown Stop will have a Park & Ride Facility with 312 spaces and the line will terminate at Saggart Stop.
“This facility will undoubtedly make a big difference in people’s lives and I welcome the opening of this important transport hub. I wish also to pay tribute for the work done by South Dublin County Council on this project and I have no doubt the new line will be a great success.
“This is a good news day for Tallaght and will undoubtedly help retain existing jobs in the immediate area and hopefully stimulate new investment along the route.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe joined members of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group this afternoon protesting at the cuts being imposed on Tallaght Hospital and the loss of services that has endangered the lives of patients.
Crowe, who lives in Tallaght, is a member of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group and has campaigned tirelessly for better services for the hospital which recent figures show is the busiest in the county.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Last week the Health Information and Quality Authority confirmed it is to launch an investigation into Tallaght’s Emergency Department following concerns about patient care. Today’s protest is a clear signal to the government that the people of Dublin demand a properly funded and functioning facility that can meet the healthcare needs of its citizens regardless of their social or economic background. For too many years, we have had to endure a two tier healthcare system that benefits the wealthy and debases the basic rights of ordinary people.
“Tallaght Hospital is in a state of crisis and this was clearly illustrated earlier in the year when a local man, Thomas Walsh, tragically died after being admitted to the hospital in what was later described as a ‘Virtual Ward’ – an area in a corridor awaiting a bed. The County coroner after hearing of the case, described Tallaght as being ‘a very dangerous place’ for patients.
“Today’s demonstration is about securing additional resources for Tallaght Hospital, as well as a solidarity protest in support of the staff working there, including the doctors and nurses who despite their dedication find themselves stretched to breaking point.
"This facility is funded to look after 350,000 people but in reality cares for 500,000, making it the busiest hospital in the country. It also dealt with 93,016 emergency presentations last year and its Accident & Emergency Unit is regularly overflowing onto its corridors with patients on trolleys.
“The current crisis in Tallaght mirrors the problems facing many hospitals throughout the state.
"Health care and its delivery should be an automatic right and not a privilege.
"People voted for change in the last election.
"Unfortunately they have seen very little of it when it comes to the rollout of a first class Health system that is fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of those who are sick and in need of medical care.”
The Sinn Féin party will this week place a motion before the Dáil in relation to the current crisis in the health services and the threatened closure of rural A&Es.
The motion calls on the Government to live up to their electoral commitments and ensure equal access to safe and efficient hospital services for all, without discrimination.
Speaking during a break in the party’s Ard Comhairle meeting Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:
“Our health system is at breaking point. We are facing an impending crisis in our public hospitals due to the shortage of junior doctors from 11 July.
“This is not news. We have known for years that the hospital system is totally over-reliant on junior doctors. Successive Governments have recognised this but have failed to address the problem and now it is looming again, worse than ever.
“We now look set to lose A&E departments in hospitals across the state. Fine Gael and Labour made repeated pre-election commitments to maintain services at smaller hospitals. These commitments have proved worthless as they impose savage health cuts because they value senior bank bondholders more than they value patients in our public health services.
“Our motion calls on the Government and all those TDs who made firm promises to their constituents that they would protect hospitals including Roscommon, Navan, Letterkenny, Portlaoise, Loughlinstown, Ballinasloe, Limerick, Clonmel, Mallow and Bantry, to stick by their word and stand up for the people who rely on these hospitals.
“We want the Government to stand by its electoral commitments and ensure equal access to safe and efficient hospital services for all, without discrimination based on income or geographic location.”
Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has expressed his disappointment at the Parades Commission determination allowing the Orange Order to march past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales on the 12th of July.
Sinn Féin’s Dáil Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe, has met with officials’ from the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland, (ASTI) including The Union’s Assistant General Secretary, Moira Leydon, and Diarmaid de Paor, the organisation’s Deputy General Secretary.
Describing the meeting as ‘useful and informative,’ the Tallaght based TD said he was determined to meet with as many Organisations and individuals working in the Education Sector as possible in order to ensure the rights and entitlements of teachers and students within the Irish school system are maintained and improved.
Deputy Crowe said “The meeting with senior personnel from the ASTI was an opportunity for me to hear at first-hand some of the many challenges and issues facing teachers working in schools across the Irish State.
“The loss of our economic sovereignty means we face increasingly challenging times.
“There is widespread agreement across civic society that if we are to generate future growth then we have to ensure a high standard of education that will produce a highly motivated, skilled and capable workforce.
“The resources available in schools and the support given to teachers are central to teaching our children effectively, and greater emphasis has to involve ensuring everyone, regardless of their economic, social or ethnic background has the opportunity to fulfil their academic potential.
“During the meeting with the ASTI a number of issues were discussed, including the Croke Park Deal; further possible cuts in teaching staff and the implications this would have for class sizes; the delivery of key subjects within the school curriculum and the challenges faced by teachers who will be central to implementing any future reforms to the Junior Cert examination.
“Sinn Féin shares a lot of commonality with ASTI on many of these issues.
“We support the rights’ of children and young people to avail of an inclusive well-resourced education system where classroom integration and access to a range of support services are available to assist teachers and their pupils.
“This Government needs to invest in the State’s education system and prepare today’s young students so they are well equipped to enter opportunities in the workforce while developing their full potential.
“It is essential even at this difficult economic time that we see the roll out of a progressive education system through the implementation of forward thinking polices.
“Investing in education, school infrastructure, teacher training and the resourcing of early intervention when a child is identified as having behavioural or learning difficulties makes short, medium and long term sense and will repay the investment many times over.” ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his deepest sympathy and condolences to family of David Dunseith.
Strabane Sinn Féin Councillor Jay Mc Cauley says has described the failed pipe bomb attack on Strabane PSNI station last night as a futile act.
“Throwing a pipe bomb at a fortified PSNI station is a totally futile act. The only affect of this act was to cause endangerment and disruption to the local community especially given the fact that it ended up so close to the local play park.
“Rather than putting their energies into causing disruption for the local community those involved should recognise the absolute futility of their actions and join with the overwhelming majority of people in this area who are trying to forge a better future for this community and in turn to adopt a constructive strategy towards achieving the objectives Irish republicanism.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA and Policing Board member, Gerry Kelly, has stated that the independence of the Police Ombudsman's office has been seriously compromised and that confidence can only be restored if Al Hutchinson resigns from his position.
Speaking today Mr kelly said:
“The Police Ombudsman’s Office is a crucial element of the new policing structures. It came about after much hard negotiation. Its independence and its ability to hold policing to account free from outside interference is key to securing and sustaining community confidence in policing.
“The report released yesterday by John McCusker shows clearly that this independence has been seriously compromised. This is a fundamental issue and cannot be ignored. This happened on Al Hutchinson’s watch and the responsibility rests with him.
“There is an urgent need to restore confidence in the Police Ombudsman’s Office. It is my firm view that this can only happen if Mr Hutchinson resigns from his position and allows new leadership to take over and repair the damage done in recent times.”
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has called for a review of the excessive salaries earned by of those working in Irish third level institutions.
He continued: “The figures recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Ireland’s seven universities and the Dublin Institute of Technology have more than 1,000 lecturers who earn six-figure sums.
“Some of these excessive salaries are being paid to a small minority of senior academics and are accompanied by lucrative perks and additional expenses. This results in significant costs to the taxpayer and must be reviewed by the Government who have been very quick to cap key services such as Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s) and cut traveller support teachers.
“The rate of actual pay, expenses and bonuses being paid to some senior personnel of third level institutions cannot be maintained in the current economic climate.
“I also understand that a number of people who are earning huge salaries are involved in management positions rather than lecturing and there must be a rigorous examination of these positions and a value for money audit has to be part of any review.
“The Minister has clear choices to make – he can cut services to vulnerable children or he can cut some of the more well-endowed salaries of people who are managing pretty well financially, despite the economic downturn.
“At the very least,” Deputy Crowe concluded, “anyone earning high salaries and benefiting from expenses should be independently assessed and evaluated and some of the excessive wages currently being paid must be brought into line with other countries.” ENDS
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has said he shares many of the concerns expressed by The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) who have highlighted the fact that Tallaght Hospital is not effectively managing the risks to patients requiring acute admission.
Deputy Seán Crowe who lives in Tallaght and is long time supporter of the hospital and member of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group said:
“Coming within a week of a damning assessment by Dublin City Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty, who in the inquest into the death of Kilnamanagh man Thomas Walsh described Tallaght Hospital as being a ‘very dangerous place’ the similar concerns expressed by HIQA must serve as a wakeup call for the Hospital Administration and the new Health Minister James O' Reilly.
“It is clear that the continual gutting of funding has severely impacted on services at Tallaght Hospital. The A&E Department is the busiest in the country yet it is understaffed and under resourced. It is unacceptable, that a hospital designed to originally cater for 350,000 people annually is now expected to cope with a catchment area of over 530,000 people.
“I welcome the fact that HIQA has published the terms of reference for its statutory inquiry into the safety and governance of care at the hospital’s Emergency Department. I understand that the terms of reference, the inquiry will assess the quality, safety and governance, and accountability for services provided to patients who attend the Accident & Emergency Department.
“This inquiry will also look at specific patient cases where appropriate and an examine if the hospital has been effective in managing risks to patients.
“The death of Thomas Walsh who attended the hospital with severe ankle pains, tragically exposed the extent of the problems at the hospital.
“The coroner’s report highlighted how he had been moved away from the emergency department to a so-called ‘virtual ward’, a corridor area with no real facilities like oxygen, monitors or life saving specialised equipment.
“This latest finding is a massive indictment on how this State’s Health apparatus treats its citizens whenever they become ill and need treatment.
“It also emerged that last year in the Emergency Department a patient suffered a cardiac arrest on a chair while awaiting admission.
“Despite the dedication of its overstretched staff, Tallaght Hospital is failing the people who depend on its services when presenting – the lack of resources means it is not currently able for the demands being place on the system.
“This Government needs to urgently address the problems of resources and key personnel in Tallaght as a matter of the utmost priority.
“If they don’t, then more and more families will face further heartbreak in what is supposed to be a modern flagship healthcare facility.” ENDS
The committee met and elected Dominic Hannigan TD for East Meath as chair and Joe O’Reilly TD for Cavan as chair and vice-chair repectively.
Deputy Ferris said:
“I welcome the fact that the committee’s work has begun. The committee has resolved to be a vehicle for reconciliation and to help those disconnected from the peace process to become connected.”
“It is hoped that the committee will visit the North and the Legislative Assembly in the course of its important work,” he added.
There will be a rally in support of Portlaoise Hospital this Sunday at 3pm at the County Hall in Portlaoise. Those in attendance will then march to the hospital.
Speaking in advance of the rally which is organised by the Local Hospital Action Group, Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly Brian Stanley said:
“People are angry at the potential downgrading of services. There are on-going discussions within the HSE regarding acute surgery and A&E provision at Portlaoise Hospital which deals with 41,000 emergency cases a year. These discussions have reached a critical stage. The people of Laois and surrounding areas cannot afford to have these services downgraded.
“During the general election campaign, Fine Gael and Labour told us they would protect public health services. Far from protecting services they have simply picked up where Fianna Fáil left off.
“Last year when he was in opposition, local Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan called upon the then Minister Mary Harney to accept that she was “accountable” to the Dáil, and went on to ask her to call a public meeting to clarify to the people of Laois and the neighbouring counties what her Department’s intentions were regarding Portlaoise Hospital. Deputy Flanagan also went on to say that he was “not prepared to stand by while hospital services in Portlaoise are removed by stealth”. I would ask Deputy Flanagan now that Fine Gael are in Government to demand that his party colleague Minister James O’Reilly clarify his intentions at a similar meeting in Portlaoise and not allow the hospital services in Portlaoise to be “removed by stealth”.
“A downgrading of services is completely against the wishes of the people of Laois and there is massive support for the continuation of services in the hospital. We are calling on people from all parts of Laois to take a stand and support the hospital by attending the rally.”
Speaking on the publication of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2011 today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Brian Stanley TD stated that while Sinn Féin welcomes the proposed provisions for the holding of by-elections in the Bill, there were serious problems also contained in it.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“The new provision in the Bill that states that a by-election must be held within six months is long overdue. This will put a stop to the practice of Governments not holding by-elections because of the fear that they will lose a seat.
“It is an affront to democracy to leave people unrepresented for months on end in that manner. This provision resulted from the fact a Sinn Féin TD had to take a court challenge in order to for a by-election to be held.
“However, we must take serious issue with the proposal to cut the number of TDs from the current 166 to a figure between 152 and a 160. In the absence of a massive overhaul and strengthening of local government structures, it makes absolutely no sense to reduce the number of TDs sitting in the Dáil. If this is a money-saving proposal we would prefer that the pay of TDs was reduced rather than the actual number of TDs.
“Furthermore, the hands of the Constituency Commission are still tied in that they cannot recommend anything more than three, four, or five seat constituencies. We are calling for proportional representation to be strengthened through the introduction of larger multi-seat constituencies.
“Increasing the number of seats per constituency would ensure a much more accurate representation of the public’s voting intentions based on their percentage vote, in contrast to the current system that favours the largest parties, especially in three-seat and four-seat constituencies.”