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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



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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has condemned those responsible for today's bomb attack in Omagh.


Speaking this afternoon Mr Adams said;

"Firstly I want to condenmn what happened in Omagh this afternoon.


While not all of the infromation has yet come to light in relation to this incident it is understood that a young man has lost his life. I want to send my condolences to his family at this hugely traumatic time.

Sinn Féin is determined that those responsible will not set back the progress of the Peace and Political Process'." CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has accused the Labour Party of reneging on their election promises after they refused to introduce burden sharing and committed to pumping a further €24 billion of Irish taxpayers’ money into failed banks.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh was campaigning in Dublin today against the Universal Social Charge.

He said:

“On Wednesday evening Labour Party TDs voted against a Sinn Féin motion to abolish the Universal Social Charge yet on Thursday they committed to putting €24 billion more into failed banks.

“There is no talk of burden sharing with the gamblers who caused the mess yet they expect ordinary struggling families to continue paying a regressive charge.

“The Labour Party has reneged on their election promise to introduce burden sharing with bondholders. In voting against our motion to abolish the Universal Social charge they have turned their back on the communities from which they have traditionally received most support.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the Universal Social Charge and the pouring of billions of euros of Irish taxpayers’ money into toxic banks.” ENDS

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Speaking following the announcement by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that the government are planning to review the decision to build Thornton Hall, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD said the review was to be welcomed and this presented an “opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy.”

Deputy O’Brien said,

“Fianna Fáil in government spent millions on a badly thought out idea. By December 2010, spending on the prison had reached €43.3 million for purchasing additional land, surveys, landscaping, professional fees and security. When it came to this project the previous Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, threw money around like snuff at a wake so the decision to review the Thornton Hall plans are to be welcomed.

“I intend to contribute to this review and urge Minister Shatter to use this opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy by acknowledging that creating a couple of hundred extra cells is not a sufficient mechanism to tackle the prison crisis. What is really needed is a strategy to deal with increasing rates of imprisonment.

“There have been massive increases in prisoner numbers over the past few years. Justice policy must acknowledge the causal factors in these increases – poverty, embedded disadvantage, inequality and addiction – and address them accordingly. Sinn Féin is also calling on the Minister to improve prison conditions of the existing Mountjoy prison. The chronic over-crowding has created serious health and safety issues. Such overcrowding is dangerous and inhumane.

“I would urge the Minister, in the context of this review and all justice policy, to look at ‘what works.’ Unless proper drug and rehabilitative supports in prisons are resourced, alongside educational facilities, and other steps to address recidivism are focused on, we will simply be ignoring what actually needs to be done.”

ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil after the Minister for Finance announced that there is to be a further €24 billion pumped into the defunct banking system Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that it is the ordinary people who are suffering for the failings of Government to deal with bank debt.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It beggars belief that this so-called alternative Government is to pump another €24 billion into the defunct banking system.

“This open-ended commitment to cover bank losses plainly exceeds the fiscal capacity of the state. The losses of the banking sector have become the losses of the taxpayer. Bank debt has become sovereign debt. And that is the problem and it is the ordinary citizens who are suffering for these failings.

“The reality is that this Government is continuing on with the reckless policies of the previous Fianna Fáil Government. Like Fianna Fáil they have placed more priority on bailing out bank bondholders than bailing out ordinary people trying to make ends meet.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are fighting for their survival. Nearly half a million people are unemployed. 50,000 of our young people are leaving our shores each year. A growing number of people face eviction. Families struggle to feed their children and provide warmth. These are the people Fine Gael and Labour want to foot the bill for the banks.

“The Government has not acted in the interests of the people today; it has acted purely in the interest of the banks.

“There should be no choice: you need to impose aggressive burden sharing on unguaranteed bonds. You need to go after bondholders.”

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Worrying trend developing in Tallaght Live Register figures – Crowe

Sinn Féin’s Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said that there is a worrying trend developing in the Tallaght Live Register figures.

Deputy Crowe made his comments after CSO figures revealed that the number of people signing on nationally rose by 1,100.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Unemployment in this state has reached crisis point.

“Since the election over 1,000 people nationally have signed on. The increase here in Tallaght, although small does indicate a worrying trend in unemployment figures and it shows that action has not yet been taken.

“The increase in unemployment and those signing on is a national emergency that warrants swift, decisive Government action. What we have got instead is a promise of a Jobs plan and budget after the first 100 days.


“Given that ESRI figures state that 50,000 people will emigrate this year, that means that roughly 13,000 people will emigrate while they are waiting for the new government to publish their plan.


“In our pre-election proposals, we in Sinn Féin put forward a document entitled Let’s Get Dublin Working which, if implemented, would create 50,000 jobs in Dublin while at the same time retaining a further 45,000.


“This document included proposals to support local businesses and entrepreneurs, a ‘Jobs not Dole’ fund to support struggling small businesses, schemes to boost tourism through the development of cultural and historic quarters as well as developing a much needed labour intensive essential infrastructure programme.


“People cannot wait any longer for Government intervention. The Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation needs to present the Jobs Plan as a matter of urgency.”


ENDS

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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams is demanding that the Government stand up to the EU/IMF and honour its commitment on reversing the cut to the minimum wage introduced by the Fianna Fáil/Greeen Party Government.

Mr Adams remarks follow the Taoiseach’s admission yesterday that any change to the Minimum Wage requires the approval of the EU/IMF.

Mr. Adams said:

“The commitment to reverse the cut to the minimum wage was a key promise in Fine Gael’s election campaign.

“Yesterday in the Dáil I raised the example of the five workers in the Davenport Hotel who had their wages lowered without their consent. The ensuing dispute went to the Labour Court, which found in favour of the workers.

“This happened because the previous Government cut the minimum wage, which sent the signal to employers that they could do what they wanted on wages.

“When I asked the Taoiseach when the minimum wage will be put back to what it should be, he said that ‘This is a matter that is not merely budgetary. It may well require legislation and will require the approval under the programme of the IMF-EU deal and I cannot give the Deputy an exact date as to when the implementation of the reverse can become a reality. Those are the parameters of the situation.’

“This is an outrageous and unacceptable situation. It is an admission by the Taoiseach that the Government is bound by EU-IMF diktat regardless of the consequences on the people.

“The minimum wage must be restored to its previous level and the government must make it clear to employers that they cannot behave as the Davenport Hotel did and that workers’ rights will be protected.” ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Communications Martin Ferris has claimed that the Postal Services Bill before the Dáil will if passed lay the basis for the breaking up and selling off of An Post. The Kerry North/Limerick West TD was speaking during the debate on the Bill which was introduced by the former government and has been reintroduced by Fine Gael and Labour.

Deputy Ferris said: “This Bill is, as I said when I spoke on this before the break up of the previous government, a charter for the breaking up and the ultimate privatisation of postal services throughout the EU. That has already been proven by what is taking place at the moment in Britain.

“The danger of privatisation of course has significantly increased since the adoption of the IMF/EU austerity programme. The Memorandum of Understanding that underpins the programme contains a clear statement of intent with regard to the selling off of state companies.

“The Government has already committed itself to selling off €2 billion in state assets. They have said that these will be ‘non strategic assets’ but that means very little. The simple fact of the matter is that the only assets that private companies will be interested in buying will be profitable ones.

“In the case of An Post that will mean that when the company is divided up and if it is put up for sale then obviously private operators will want to buy those parts that are profitable and that will mean the off loading and or running down of non profitable parts including rural postal deliveries.

“The government has also said that it will be guided in its assessment of which state companies or parts of state companies are to be sold off by the report of the review group on state assets and liabilities which was chaired by Professor Colm McCarthy.

“That report seems to have been delayed for some reason with one suggestion being that this had to do with the down grading of An Bord Gáis debt rating. Clearly then the report has closely examined the financial state of state companies with a view to how and when they might be sold off.

“An Post is one of the state companies that has been subject to the review so it will be interesting to see what Professor McCarthy has to recommend in relation to it. Going by his An Bord Snip Nua report we may expect that this report will take a similar right wing view in relation to the state sector.

“It is vital then, as I have said before and as I have requested in questions to the Minister for Finance that the report is made publically available as soon as it is received by the government and that we have a full debate here and involving the workers representatives in those companies likely to be affected on its findings and recommendations before they are acted upon.

“Given that An Post is one of the companies subject to the review by the McCarthy report, it is possible that we are debating this bill not knowing the full picture. It is possible indeed that this legislation if passed might be over ridden by the report if it recommends as it might very well do, a breaking up and selling of An Post.

“That is something that Deputies on all sides need to bear in mind as we debate this bill and I would particularly ask that members of the Labour Party do so given their commitments to the postal workers that they would protect jobs and services.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the reiteration by Health Minister James Reilly of the Government’s commitment to the promised radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. Deputy Ó Caoláin said the Minister must now press Northern Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to reverse his decision to postpone the development of the centre which is vital for cancer care in the entire North-West of Ireland, on both sides of the Border.

Minister Reilly, replying to Dáil Questions tabled by Deputy Ó Caoláin and Donegal North-East Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, says he is “happy to reaffirm the Government’s support, both practical and financial”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“The decision by the Health Minister in the Assembly, Michael McGimpsey, to postpone the development of the long-promised radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry was a retrograde step for cancer care on this island. His decision has met with widespread and cross-community opposition on both sides of the Border.

“Minister Reilly’s reiteration of the Government’s support for this vital project is welcome. However, he must go further. He must press Minister McGimpsey to reverse his postponement decision immediately and allow the radiotherapy unit to proceed.

“The development of the Altnagelvin radiotherapy unit is essential given the glaring gap in cancer care provision on this island, north of a line from Dublin to Galway. This is principally because of the flawed plan for radiotherapy centres introduced by the last Government under Health Minister Harney. The new Minister must revisit this plan.

“I note that in his reply Minister Reilly states that ‘Irish patients will comprise roughly one third of the number of patients who will attend the new centre’ at Altnagelvin. By this I presume he means patients who live in this jurisdiction. It is unacceptable for the Minister and his Department to suggest that those living in the Six Counties are not Irish.” ENDS

31.3.11


QUESTION NOS: 127 & 116
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Dr. James Reilly )
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 30/03/2011


* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if he has discussed with the Minister for Health in the six counties the decision to postpone the development of the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry; if he will press for the reversal of this decision; if he has considered the implications for cancer care in this jurisdiction, particularly in the north-west, if this decision goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 30th March, 2011.

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if he will reaffirm his commitment to co-funding the Radiotherapy Unit at Atnagelvin, Derry and if he will proactively engage with the next Minister for Health in the Northern Executive after the impending elections to ensure that this vitally important initiative is delivered.

- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 30th March, 2011.


REPLY.
The Government is committed to ensuring a high-quality radiotherapy service for the entire population of Ireland, including close collaboration with Northern Ireland, for services in the North West. I am happy to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to this vital radiotherapy project at Altnagelvin, which will benefit cancer patients on both sides of the border, and I have written to Minister McGimpsey confirming our support, both practical and financial, in this regard.

The Irish Government will work in partnership with our Northern Ireland counterparts on the development of this new facility. It is estimated that Irish patients will comprise roughly one third of the number of patients who will attend the new centre for radiotherapy services and therefore our contribution will equate to approximately one third of the full cost of the radiotherapy facilities.

The proposed development at Altnagelvin is substantial in scale, with high capital costs and revenue costs, because of the highly specialist and complex nature of the services which will be provided there. I recognise that the matter is being brought forward through the usual business case process within the Northern Ireland Health Services and my Department will continue to provide all the information needed to help the planning process to continue. I look forward to continued collaboration on this and other projects of benefit to patients in both jurisdictions.

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Speaking today in advance of the stress tests results, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Finance Pearse Doherty has set out his party’s position.

He said:

“Already today Anglo Irish bank and Irish Nationwide have been paid over €3 billion in promissory notes and this evening we will find out that tens of billions more is being shovelled into the State’s banks.

“The Government needs to put three objectives at the core of the Government’s response to this banking crisis. We need to reduce the liability to the State, to ensure that there is a functioning banking system and the Government need to restore confidence in the Irish economy.

“The Government can’t solve the State’s debt problem by creating more debt. Up until now it has been the taxpayer but now the Minister needs to ensure that at a minimum €21 billion of unguaranteed bondholders take a share of these losses.

“While the Minister claims this will draw a line in the sand and this will be the final figure, this is a guarantee he cannot give. There are now serious questions as to whether the criteria for the stress tests have been adequate.

“After today, each working person in this State will be shouldering the burden of €39,000 of bank debt. This needs to stop. This is unsustainable. The Government needs to act today in the interests of people, not banks.”

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh