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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



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Sinn Féin's Dublin North West TD and Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis has described his disappointment at the refusal of the Minister of State Alan Kelly to review his decision not to include a representative of single licence holders on the Steering Group of the Taxi Industry Review.

Deputy Ellis said;

“The Minister claims that they are represented but this is untrue. All of the taxi drivers on the group either hold multiple licences, are dispatch operators or have other jobs as well as driving a taxi.

“This does not represent the majority of taxi drivers. The ordinary full time single licence holder are the people suffering, struggling to make ends meet because of poor regulation, over supply and people driving taxi’s part time to supplement wages from other employment. Those chosen to represent taxi drivers on this group have no real interest in changing these situations and that is why the drivers have no faith in this review now.

“Alan Kelly says that he is genuine about bringing change to the industry and helping drivers who are struggling but he needs to back up his words with action. If he does not have representation for taxi drivers on this group then it has already lost all credibility. I have met with many drivers over the past two weeks since the announcement and the sense of disappointment and hopelessness at this move is palpable.”

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on all concerned to carefully study the report on the proposed National Children’s Hospital and its preference for the Mater site.

He said that while there were strong and differing views on the site of the Hospital, all are agreed that greatly improved paediatric services, including a national centre, are needed.

He said:

“The report of the review of the National Children’s Hospital deserves careful study by all concerned with this vital issue of healthcare in Ireland.

“There are strong and differing views on the best location for the National Children’s Hospital. Those views are sincerely held and supported by valid arguments. However, there will never be a perfect site. It is far more important that there should be a site and a definite decision to proceed with such a national centre.

“All are agreed that a national centre is needed and all concerned should press for the necessary capital funding to be made available by the Government in its September capital expenditure review.

“Equally importantly, continuing provision must be made to maintain services at Crumlin, Tallaght and Temple Street to a high standard, as all of these will be essential at the very least until the new National Children’s Hospital is fully up and running.

“In the case of Tallaght the report recognises that ambulatory and urgent care for children will continue to be required there.

“Sinn Féin rejects the current regime of cuts being imposed at these hospital sites.

“Greatly improved paediatric services are needed across our health system. At present paediatric services are being cut back. The latest cuts in my region, the North-East, are to services for sick children, with reduced Paediatric Out-Patient clinics and increased waiting times for appointments from approximately 16 weeks to 32 weeks.”

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA has confirmed the finding of Dickeya solani in seed potatoes imported from the Netherlands.

Dickeya solani causes an aggressive form of the “blackleg” disease in potato crops. Following the 2010 detection of Dickeya solani in a local ware potato crop also grown from imported seed, the Department implemented a policy of testing all high risk imported stocks of seed potatoes for the presence of this potentially damaging disease.

Discussing the discovery of infected crops, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA said: "Following a meeting with the importer and growers we have ordered the immediate destruction of the infected crops and subsequent restrictions on the use of the land for potato production.

“While the discovery of any crop disease is always a worrying development for growers, I wish to re-assure the local industry that actions are being taken to ensure that this outbreak can be fully contained. The growers of the infected crops are aware of the situation and are working with my inspectors to put measures in place to ensure that the disease does not spread."

Highlighting the need for close co-operation in fighting the disease the Minister continued: “I would remind growers, merchants and seed importers that they should carefully consider the risks of introducing seed from areas known to have Dickeya solani. The continued freedom of the local industry from this damaging bacterial pathogen will maintain the competitiveness of our ware and seed industry. It will also enhance our reputation as a source of healthy seed potatoes."

In conclusion she added: "I wish to reassure the industry and general public that this situation is under control and I want to recognise the success of the surveillance and monitoring programme implemented by my quality assurance inspectorate that resulted in the early detection of this disease."

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Youth club facilities across the north play an integral role in the learning and development of local young people.

That was the message from Education Minister, John O’Dowd, as he visited Omagh Youth Centre and Omagh Boys and Girls Club today.

Speaking about local youth services, the Minister said: “As children and young people grow and develop, it is vital that they have the opportunity to engage in educational, positive and enjoyable activities outside the school environment and which help them build their self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Youth clubs right across the north of Ireland deliver this important service, in both statutory and voluntary settings, to over 152,000 children and young people aged from four through to 25.

“By having an organised setting where they can meet, make friends and take part in structured activities in a safe environment, young people can gain a range of skills and attributes that can improve their employment prospects and complement their learning in school. This is why my Department commits around £30million each year to funding youth services in 1,900 settings across the north.”

The Minister added: “Both Omagh Youth Centre and Omagh Boys and Girls Club have been a central part of the community for many years. The organisations provide a range of positive and educational activities, including community relations projects, schemes for young mothers and advice on issues of concern such as drugs awareness, suicide prevention and sexual health.

“I commend the management, staff and everyone connected with both clubs for the hard work they put in through the year for the benefit of local young people. I would also pay particular tribute to those who volunteer their time, especially the junior leaders who have passed through the clubs and now help with younger members. They set an excellent example and provide inspiration to young people and staff alike.”

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Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín today attended an open day at the River Bush Salmon Station.

The open day is an annual event which allows the public access to the salmon station to see the research work undertaken into the dynamics of the wild salmon population.

Speaking during her visit the Minister said: “Last year over 500 members of the public visited the River Bush Salmon Station. Visitors get an insight into the life cycle of a salmon and how the station records salmon migrations and cultures them on site.

“The Salmon Station carries out valuable work on the dynamics of, and influences on, the River Bush salmon population and data gathered here informs Departmental policy on salmon conservation. This also contributes to the assessment of salmon stocks at international level.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “My Department is proactive in working to rationally manage salmon stocks for the enjoyment and leisure of all in the north of Ireland. As well as home to a research facility, the River Bush is a firm favourite with anglers who appreciate the angling quality and stunning scenery that this part of the north of Ireland offers.”

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Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has congratulated Team Ireland who have enjoyed tremendous success at the Special Olympics in Athens.

The team have arrived home after winning a total of 107 medals at the summer games.

Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I had the privilege of meeting some members of the team and their coaches and families before they travelled out to Athens. Their success at the Special Olympics is an inspiration to us all and is down to talent, hard work and the dedication of all involved.

“Many of the team also recorded personal best records at the games and the 19 local athletes enjoyed success with a total of 41 medals. Their achievement can serve as motivation and encouragement to all of us. I applaud each and every member of Team Ireland on their fantastic success.”

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Sinn Féin Assembly Agriculture Committee members accompanied by Minister, Michelle O’Neill today met with a group of Sinn Féin TD’s and Senators at Leinster House to discuss agricultural issues common to all regions on the island.

Speaking following the meeting Michelle O’Neill said:

“Issues, difficulties and working conditions in the Agriculture sector are the same no matter where in Ireland you are situated. I believe that it is to the benefit of everyone involved in agriculture that we design uniform policies and strategies of best practice throughout the island.

“It was with this in mind that the Sinn Féin all-Ireland Agricultural grouping of MLA’s, TD’s, Senators and European Department met today in the Dáil to discuss common agricultural issues and to identify practical ways to address them in order to deliver better outcomes for the farming community.

“Among the issues covered were, Cap Reform 2013, the National Ploughing Championships, Review of Less Favoured areas, all-Ireland marketing and labelling and freedom of movement of farm animals throughout the island.

“The discussions were very worthwhile and identified a number of areas in which we will be able to develop a programme of work that will assist our approach to many of these issues.

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Sinn Féin MLA and chair of the Social Development Committee, Alex Maskey, commenting following a meeting with the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland on the issue of the Red Sky intervention said:


“At the meeting I advised the Minister that there were a number of issues of serious public concern that needed addressed

“I asked the Minister to explain the basis of his intervention on behalf of Red Sky and if he has any personal or party political interest in the company.

“The Minister stated that there was no relationship either politically or personally.

“The Minister has stated that his intention is to ensure that contracts are fulfilled and properly managed and complied with.  In this regard the Minister would have the committees full support.

“However I did advise the Minister that any observer would consider the reinstatement of Red Sky to fly in the face of this objective.

“The Minister has declared that while he remains in discussion with the Housing Executive he as not made any final decision on this issue.

“I have issued a report of this meeting to all members of the Assembly committee and I have advised them that I will keep this matter under close review.”

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Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toíbín TD was today unanimously elected as Cathaoirleach of the newly established and influential Dáil Committee on Investigations, Oversight & Petitions. The Joint Committee was established as part of the Programme for Government.

Speaking after the vote, Deputy Toíbín, said:

“I am delighted to be elected as Cathaoirleach of this committee. This committee has the potential to hold the powers that be accountable, something that has been absent from public life for a long time.

“The establishment of a petitions system in the Dáil is an important development for democracy in this state. This will give individuals and organisations an opportunity to raise relevant concerns regarding public policy and legislation. Through its oversight role, the committee can provide an opportunity to enhance the accessibility, openness and accountability of public services. It allows the public to have their grievances heard and responded to. I intend to learn from other parliament's experience and ensure we have international best practise brought to bear on accountability and transparency in Ireland.”

Deputy Tóibín explained, “The power of investigation for the Committee depends on the government holding its promised referendum to reverse the effects of the Abbeylara judgement. We intend meeting with Minister Howlin to ensure we have a progressive, robust proposal brought before the people as soon as possible. I believe that it is important that the government hold their promised referendum as soon as possible to amend the Constitution which will allow this committee to carry out inquiries into matters of public concern.

“This committee has the potential to start a new era in Irish politics, a more open, accountable and transparent era. I intend to work with all political parties to make sure we reach that potential.”

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