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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.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Dessie Ellis TD has condemned budget attacks on those receiving or seeking Rent Supplement.

He was speaking in the wake of announcements that the Department of Social Protection is imposing a 25% increase on the contribution single tenants make towards their rent, rising from the existing weekly contribution of €24 to €30 per week.

Deputy Ellis said:

“People on social welfare are already struggling everyday to make ends meet and have taken hits in other parts of this budget. They cannot afford this increase which to them will be a massive burden. Essential goods and services, such as heating, clothing and food will become a luxury they will have to choose between due to these kind of policies from Labour and Fine Gael.”

Deputy Ellis also condemned Minister Burton's mention of reducing the rent limits for people in receipt of Rent Supplement.

“A reduction of rent limits as the minister outlines would be a burden on the people seeking to find suitable accommodation. The government needs to tackle rising rents by negotiating with landlords as well as decreasing rental demand by providing public social housing. This will be especially damaging for single people who would be very hard pressed to find suitable accommodation under new limits.”

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Peadar Tóibín, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said today (Monday 5 December 2011):
“This budget is unfair, anti-jobs and anti-investment. The government already stated that it will cut capital budgets by €750 million, now it will cut an additional €1.4 billion from public spending.
“The government will shed 23,000 public sector jobs. They will take €1.6 billion out of expenditure in flat taxes. That will be €1.6 billion that will not be spent in shops, goods and services. It will cost jobs for our local businesses.
Over the past year, 1,800 businesses have been closed. In the last number of years 55,000 jobs have been lost in the retail sector. Since coming to power this government has stood over increased unemployment and emigration.
“A government that promised so much has now been reduced to relying on emigration to keep down unemployment figures. This government, like its policies, is not working.
“That is a shame and a disgrace. The government had choices to make. It was elected to deliver change. The government says that jobs are a priority yet they are spending over 150 times more on one year’s Anglo Irish Bank promissory note than on job creation or training. It has decided to side with the bondholders and not local business. It has decided to continue with the failed policies of the past.
“Sinn Féin has advocated a policy that would meet the deficit reductions and create growth and employment. The government could have brought forward progressive policies. Instead it has taken money out of the economy and undermined growth.

Le gach deá ghuí,

Peadar Tóibín TD
An Mhí Thiar

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation
Cathaoirleach of the Investigations, Oversight and Petitions Committee
Urlabhraí Shinn Féin ar An Gaeltacht
Sinn Féin representative on the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education

123 An Coillearnach,
An Uaimh,
Co na Mí

Gluais Fón: 087 2707985

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Describing the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform’s claim in today's estimates statement that there would be no cut in weekly social welfare rates, a "blatant lie", Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on social protection said the minister’s own speech exposed that lie.
“The rate for those on Disability Allowance has been slashed, as has the rate for those on Jobseekers’ Benefit.
“This is the most vicious attack I have seen on families dependent on social welfare and families on low pay who rely on child benefit to make ends meet.
Today the minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced swingeing cuts to a range of social welfare payments and supports for those in job training schemes such as FÁS, VTOS and Youthreach.
“A low blow was struck by the minister when he, along with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, cut Disability Allowance for young people under 21 by a whopping 47%. The cost of disability is no less at 23 years than it is at 25.”
On Fuel Allowance, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“The decision to cut the fuel allowance by €120 is scandalous and will cost lives. This cut will hit older people and those with disabilities worst. This follows cuts of up to 25% to fuel allowance and the household benefits package imposed by the government in September. And it comes at a time when fuel prices are increasing sharply.
“We know that up to 2,000 people die here every winter from the cold. These deaths are entirely avoidable if people are helped to buy their fuel. Minister Howlin just tolled the death knell for hundreds more.
Phase one of the Budget announced today targets the most vulnerable while those at the top continue to be protected. Older people, those with disabilities and children all face drastic cuts while cuts to top level pay are negligible.
By cutting Back-to-School Allowance, child benefit, payments for lone parents on CE and reducing the age cap to seven for One Parent Family Allowance, cutting the part-time jobseekers’ payments, increasing the tenants’contribution to rent allowance and by cutting CE supports, the minister is taking food out of the mouths of the poorest in society.
“Minister Burton is sucking €475 million out of local economies, which will lead to more job losses and so, more families depending on social welfare.
“Labour Party members have turned their backs on the most vulnerable, shame on them.”
ends

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Tá ísliú ceithre chéad seachtó cúig (€475) míle Euro ar caiteachas na Roinne Coimirce Sóisialaí.

Tá an gearradh siar ar shochar linbh don tríú agus ceathrú leanbh, ag teacht salach ar gealltanais An Lucht Oibre dar leis an Teachta Peadar Tóibín.

Dúirt an Teachta:

“Tá buille tubaisteach in ann do chúrsaí sláinte sa tír seo. Tá gearradh siar €543m ar an gcóras sláinte.

“Beidh titim 2% ar chaiteachas na Roinne Oideachais, roimhe seo bhí caiteachas na tíre seo faoi mheán an OECD. Agus anois tá sé ag dul in olcas. Beidh ardú €250 ar tháille sna coláiste tríú leibhéil.

“Ta gearradh siar sé sheachtain ar shochar breosla - laghdú 20%.

“Beidh €34 milliún sciobtha ón Roinn Post Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta thar 3 bliaina.

“Aréir dúirt an Taoiseach nach raibh muintir na tíre ciontacht as an gcúlú eacnamaíochta. Ach is cuma dar leis mar beidh mar daoine neamhchiontacha ag íoc as gach rud.

“Inniu in ainneoin gealltanais toghcháin a rinne an Lucht Oibre and Fine Gael deich mí ó shin beidh polasaí Fhianna Fáil á gcur i bhfeidhm ag an rialtas.

“Dúirt an rialtas go bhfuil cúrsaí fostaíocht chun tosaigh. Bhuel breathnaigh ar an méid airgid breise atá curtha isteach i gcúrsaí fostaíochta? Níl faic ach íslú le feiceáil sna figiúirí eisithe, agus tá na billiúin á gcur isteach sna bainc. Tá sé soléir nach bhfuil fostaíocht chun tosaigh in aigne an rialtais.

“Níl breis airgid curtha isteach i gcúrsaí fostaíochta sa bhuiséid seo. Aon sonraí atá curtha isteach acu tá sé fógartha cheanna ag an rialtas. Tóg mar shampla an Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme. Is é seo an tríú am atá sé fógartha ag an rialtas, sa clár rialtais agus i mí Samhain. Níl faic déanta fós.”

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Following today’s meeting between the German and French Premiers Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD said:

“Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel today made clear they seek a new EU treaty to centralize control of member states’ budgets. Such a Treaty would outlaw the burning of bank bondholders in the event of bailouts and severely limit the ability of member states to direct their own financial affairs in the interests of their citizens.

“Mr Sarkozy was quite blunt when he expressed both leaders’ desire that EU states embark on “a forced march” to save the Euro.

“The Irish Government must now act resolutely and clearly in the interests of this country and resist attempts at bullying the Irish people into a further surrender of sovereignty.

“Loss of fiscal powers for Ireland is now firmly on the agenda but the Taoiseach has so far refused to commit to holding a referendum so that citizens can have their say.

“If, as he claimed in his TV address last night, the Taoiseach wants to restore Irish sovereignty then he needs to state clearly now that he will not agree to the surrender of Irish fiscal powers to Brussels.”

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Sinn Féin health and children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the savage cut of €543 million in 2012 will devastate the health services. He also said the cuts to Child Benefit are “another attack on children in low income families”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The savage cut of €543 million from the health services announced by Brendan Howlin today will devastate healthcare provision in this State and will make patients suffer. This cut comes on top of the €1 billion cut from the health services in 2011.

“Our hospitals and other services are under enormous pressure and these further attacks will deepen the crisis.

“There are over 2,000 public hospital beds currently closed due to cutbacks. 3,100 nursing and midwifery posts have already been lost due to the recruitment embargo. Thousands more front-line posts will be lost over the next three years as a result of the savage cuts being imposed by Health Minister James Reilly and his Fine Gael and Labour colleagues.

“It is disgraceful that €50 million is to be cut from disability, mental health and children’s services. Services from hospitals to home helps, from primary care to mental health, from nursing home care to child services will be reduced.

“Minister Reilly’s confirmation this afternoon that more nursing homes will be closed in 2012 is terrible news for older people and their families across the country as we approach Christmas.

“Once again citizens are paying the price. The increase in the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €120 to €132 imposes yet another burden on the sick and on individuals and families who must struggle to meet the monthly cost of medicines.

“The reduction in Child Benefit for third and subsequent children is another attack on children in low income families. This cut comes as child poverty increases with the deprivation rate in this State up from 11.8% in 2007 to 22.5% in 2010. The abolition of the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance for 2 and 3 year olds attending pre-school and its reduction for older age groups speaks volumes of this Coalition’s so-called commitment to children in low income families.”

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Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has accused the government of targeting the vulnerable and low and middle income families with the same failed austerity budgetary measures as pursued by Fianna Fáil.

Hitting out at what she labelled the “budget of broken promises” Deputy McDonald said:

“Minister Howlin said that as a Labour Minister he never expected to have to make the announcements he made today. The more pertinent point is that he and the Labour Party led the Irish people to expect very different decisions and choices.

“Last night An Taoiseach told struggling families and working people that they were not responsible for the crisis yet today the government has begun to deliver a budget targeting these very same people for a crisis not of their making.

“Budget 2012 is totally at one with the last failed government. Fine Gael and Labour promised change. Today’s budget consigns all of these promises to the dustbin of two faced, sleeveen politics.

“The decision to cut fuel allowance by €120 is scandalous and will cost lives. By cutting fuel allowance, child benefit for 3rd and 4th children, payments for lone parents on CE and some job seekers’ payments the Minister is sucking €475 million out of local economies. This cut will hit older people and those with disabilities worst. Increasing the student contribution fee by €250 will make education the preserve of the elite. Cutting the disability allowance for 16 and 17 year olds is a scandal. The 2% cut to school capitation grants will be a real cost passed on to parents.

“Is ionann straitéis eacnamaíochta an Rialtais sea agus an straitéis a bhí ag Fianna Fáil agus na Glasaigh. Ta sibh go léir ag dul sa treo céanna – an bóther mícheart do mhuintir na hÉireann

“Tar éis olltoghchán bhí an pobal ag súil le athrú. Ach rinne tú feall orthu. Tá gach gealltanas caite at leathaobh agaibh.

“Rising unemployment, emigration, the collapse of our domestic economy and the misery facing struggling families are a damning indictment of Labour and Fine Gael’s record in Government.

“In government Labour and Fine Gael chose to protect those on sky high wages and pension pay-outs in the upper echelons of the public sector. There’s no chance of this government giving a ‘times are tough’ pep talk to judges, hospital consultants and former failed Taoisigh on big buck pensions.

“The budget deficit must be reduced. That is a given. There is no easy way out of this crisis. But there are different choices to be made.

“Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore insist that the State must pay out billions of euro to unguaranteed bondholders. The reality remains that this debt is unsustainable. The burden of private bank debt must be lifted from the shoulders of citizens. It is not their debt.

“Our economy could be turned around if Sinn Féin’s budget proposals for 2012 were implemented. If this government were serious about getting people back to work it would ramp up investment in infrastructure, not cut the capital budget by €750 million.

“The National Pension Reserve Fund should be used for a stimulus programme. The €5.3billion still left in the fund should be invested in job creation and not pumped yet again into the banks. Additional money should be drawn down from the European Investment Bank. Sinn Féin has set out the real benefits of a €7 billion stimulus plan over three years – such an investment could protect almost 100,000 jobs and create 60,000 additional jobs. But today’s budget will do more harm than good in job terms.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has welcomed the support for the motion calling on the retention of transport in rural areas for people attending hospital appointments.

Mr McMullan said,

“I raised a motion in the Assembly calling for support for the retention of transport for people attending hospital appointments from rural areas.  It is important that this scheme remains in place as many people in the rural community either don’t have their own transport or are unable to drive due to the illness they are suffering from 

“If this scheme is removed then many people will be faced with a financial hardship in getting to their appointments and this is especially so for people suffering from a chronic illness who need regular treatment.  It is important for both patient and the hospital involved that people attend their appointments.

“I welcome the support from the other parties and the commitment from the Minister Danny Kennedy to liaise with the Health and Finance Departments in order to preserve this much needed service for the rural community.”

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Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has said that she will do all in her power to protect days at sea entitlements for local fishermen.

A EU Regulation which would further reduce days at sea, has been withdrawn to allow the Fisheries Administrations here and in Britain, and the EU Commission to discuss its implications for the fishing industry.

Speaking ahead of a meeting this evening in Brussels with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, Minister O’Neill said: “I welcome the Commission’s decision to put the Regulation on hold to give time for further consideration. This was an important move and it demonstrates that the Commission is sensitive to our concerns. If we were obliged to implement the effort reductions specified in the Regulation, then our local fishing fleet would have been severely constrained and indeed the Irish Sea fishery may have faced closure.

“I have made it my priority to join DEFRA Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP and Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead MSP, in a face to face meeting with the Commissioner Maria Damanaki to try to secure a workable resolution to this difficult issue.”

Videos

Sinn Féin MEPs final report back to the Irish people of 2014.


Photos

Senator David Cullinane speaks to media