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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

A Fair Recovery is Possible logo

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 Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has this evening warned against Minister Howlin’s intention to rush the pre-legislative scrutiny stage of the General Scheme of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2012.

Deputy McDonald welcomed and invitation from the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform for submissions on the draft heads of the Bill.

Deputy McDonald, a member of the committee, said:

“It is critically important that citizens be given the opportunity to engage with the Oireachtas Inquiries legislation in advance of its publication. The Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform will play an important role in the public scrutiny of the legislation.

“Minister Howlin’s determination to rush the pre-legislative scrutiny stage of the bill is deeply disappointing, particularly in the context of last years failed Oireachtas Inquiries referendum. We welcome this bill however there is nothing to be gained but suspicion and discord by rushing through the public engagement stage of the legislative process.

“An invitation for submissions from civic society is to be welcomed however the reality is the Minister has called on the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee to rush the consultative phase of the legislation. It is also worth noting that Minister Howlin is making this demand of the committee during budget time which is the least appropriate time of the year to make such a request of a committee that deals with finance and public expenditure.

“I wrote to the Committee Chair earlier this month asking that adequate time be given to public scrutiny of the drafts heads of the bill and that those who were most critical of the Oireachtas Inquiries referendum be given an opportunity to discuss the new legislation with the committee. It is my intention to raise this concern again with both the committee chair and Minister Howlin.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, today met top Irish Aid officials to discuss the misappropriation of €4 million of its aid money in Uganda.

Deputy Crowe met the officials when they came to give evidence before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Speaking afterwards Deputy Crowe said: “The meeting with Irish Aid officials at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade was very useful and informative.

“The misappropriation of Irish Aid money sent to Uganda is a very serious issue and it was important that the officials publicly articulate the financial and audit systems that they have put in place, which will ensure that such misappropriations will not happen again.

“To maintain its current support Irish Aid must continue to work towards being one of the most accountable and transparent government aid programmes in the world.

“The revelation that €4 million of Irish Aid’s money to the Ugandan Government was diverted into unauthorised accounts is definitely worrying and a negative news story for the Irish Aid programme.

“The assurance today that the money will be fully returned to the Irish Government is to be welcomed. There are positives to be taken from this controversy. The fact that the misappropriation was noticed by Uganda’s own Auditor General, whose office is strongly supported and up-skilled by Irish Aid, shows that Irish Aid’s anti-corruption policies in its partner countries are effective.

“The controversy has also renewed focus on the programme and it is clear to see that Irish Aid, along with other donors, has helped significantly reduce poverty in Uganda since it became a partner country of Irish Aid in 1994. In fact poverty has halved in the country over the last two decades, there are now 5.8 million more students in primary school since 1997, and the HIV prevalence rate has been reduce from 18% in the 1990s to 6% today.

“Irish Aid needs to ensure it continues to work on its oversight procedures and its report on the controversy, when it is released in the coming days, will hopefully clarify most of the questions that Irish people have in relation to the misappropriation of Irish taxpayers money.” ends

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the Taoiseach’s acceptance during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today that the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is in crisis and that the current situation is not acceptable.

The Sinn Féin leader also welcomed the additional resources announced by the Taoiseach but warned that many students will still not have had a response by Christmas. Given the scale of the problem more resources are needed.

Teachta Adams pointed out that some of the 9000 applications that have been refused will undoubtedly appeal and this will create an additional stress on an already stretched system.

The Sinn Féin leader also expressed concern at the restrictions being imposed on some students by universities and he called on the Taoiseach to instruct the Minister for Education to contact the Higher Education Authorities to ensure that universities and Institutes of Technology do not unfairly penalise students who have not received their grants.

Speaking during Leaders Questions Mr Adams said:

“Students and their families are facing significant financial hardship arising from the failure of the new Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) to properly process student grant applications.

“This morning, at the insistence of Teachta Jonathan O Brien, the head of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee was before the Education Committee. She claimed that ‘The system is working.’

“This refusal to acknowledge the crisis is insulting to students.”

The Sinn Féin leader quoted the experience of one student who is still being assessed by SUSI, and in an email reflects the frustration and anger of many students.

He says: ‘Anyway it is irrelevant now. I’m leaving the education system now. I’m leaving a course I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m leaving my goals and dreams. And I will most likely be leaving Ireland very soon.’

“The young citizen who sent the email explained his plight very well; ‘My dream is over. My goal of education and self -improvement is over. My life of poverty as it has been for the last few weeks is just not a viable option anymore. I will have to look to alternatives now, most likely emigration.’

“SUSI has caused me a great deal of stress from the start. I was one of the first to apply to the system in June and despite sending back documents as early as possible I still await an answer.’

“It is very likely that as a result of the current debacle many students will still not know the outcome of their applications before Christmas.

“The new SUSI on-line system was introduced and sold by the minister as a means of making the process of applying for a grant more efficient and easier. It has done neither.

“There are serious flaws in the system that have resulted in delayed payments, poor communication and inadequate responses to applications and document submissions.

“The impact of this on students and their families is considerable. The minister brought in this new system and the minister has responsibility to ensure that the system meets the goals and targets set for it.”

ENDS

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Speaking after meeting with the Credit Review Office at the Jobs Committee, Peadar Tóibín TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said:

“Today at the committee we heard from the Credit Review Office and the Irish Banking Federation that in the last two years there has been a reduction in the amount of loans.

“Since being established the Office has dealt with 175 applications by SMEs for credit that was refused by banks. Of these, the CRO recommended that 55% be overturned and credit released to the business. There remains a significant disconnect between the credit experience of Irish business and the government response to it.

“We also know that loans are more expensive for business here, than the Euro average, providing a significant barrier to access to finance. This is despite the government ploughing €64 billion of taxpayers’ money into the banking system.

“It is clear that a significant amount of healthy businesses are being dragged down by legacy property debts that are not being parked, written down or refinanced for the long term. This is costing indigenous Irish jobs.

“The banks are refusing to listen to the government whether the issue is dealing with home loans or businesses. It is time for the government to get to grips with the banks and use their major shareholder status to direct them. It is time that the money injected into the banks was put to work on behalf of our people and economy.”

Notes to Editors
The Credit Review Office, was established following the December 2009 budget to be a simple and effective review process for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), sole traders and farm enterprises that have been refused credit from banks participating in the NAMA scheme, and to examine credit policy to assist the Minister.

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Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin spokesperson on social protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, said:

“Despite the rising unemployment and long-term unemployment in particular and despite a glowing report on the efficiency and effectiveness of CE published last month by the department – there are currently 712 fewer people participating in the CE scheme than this time last year. That’s a drop of three per cent.
“The fall in participation has not been evenly spread. The Minister [Joan Burton TD] provided me with figures in a written response to my parliamentary question last week which clearly demonstrate that the cuts she has made to CE have disproportionately targeted people with disabilities and lone parents.
“These are two groups exceptionally prone to poverty and exclusion for whom CE is being closed off as an option because the Minister has made it unaffordable for these groups to participate.
“While participation on CE overall has fallen by 3% since this time last year. The number of CE participants in receipt of Disability Allowance has fallen by 24%. And the number of CE participants in receipt of One Parent Family Payment has fallen by 32%.
Dublin has also been disproportionately hit by the cut in participation rates. There are five per cent fewer participants in Dublin than one year ago.”


Question No: 185 Ref No: 49111-12

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants on community employment programmes on 1 October 2012 and 1 October 2011, nationally and specifically in counties Dublin and Cork; the number of participants in receipt of disability allowance and also the number of community employment participants on one parent family payment on the above dates nationally and in counties Dublin and Cork.

- Aengus Ó Snodaigh.


* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 8th November, 2012.


R E P L Y


Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):

Statistics for Community Employment are compiled at the end of each month.

At the end of September 2012 there were 22,636 (participants and Supervisors) engaged on Community Employment (CE); at the end of September 2011 there were 23,348 (participants and Supervisors) engaged on CE.

Specifically in the Dublin counties at the end of September 2012 there were 5,822 (participants and Supervisors) engaged on CE, the corresponding number for the end of September 2011 is 6,135. In County Cork at the end of September 2012 there were 2,106 (participants and Supervisors) engaged on CE, the corresponding number for the end of September 2011 is 2,115.

The number of CE participants in receipt of Disability Allowance at the end of September 2012 was 1,416; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 1,865. The number of CE participants in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment at the end of September 2012 was 3,060; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 4,508.

Specifically in the Dublin counties at the end of September 2012 there were 620 CE participants in receipt of Disability Allowance; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 775. In County Cork at the end of September 2012 there were 179 CE participants in receipt of Disability Allowance; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 206.

In the Dublin counties at the end of September 2012 there were 1,306 CE participants in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 1,834. In County Cork at the end of September 2012 there were 217 CE participants in receipt of the One Parent Family Parent; the corresponding number at the end of September 2011 is 346.

The statistics are detailed in Summary Table below.

Summary Table : Participation on CE
September 2012 September 2011
Participation National 22,636 23,348
Dublin Counties 5,822 6,135
County Cork 2,106 2,115
Disability Allowance (DA) National 1,416 1,865
Dublin Counties 620 775
County Cork 179 206
One Parent Family Payment (OFP) National 3,060 4,508
Dublin Counties 1,306 1,834
County Cork 217 346

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 Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson along with the other two Northern MEP’s will appear before the Committee of OFMdFM tomorrow (Wednesday 14 November) to apprise the Assembly of opportunities and implications of EU Programmes.

Speaking before attending Martina Anderson said:

“I intend to inform the OFMdFM Committee mainly of the opportunities available through direct engagement with European Institutions but I will also apprise them of areas of concern such as when I received the New Code of Conduct for MEPs. This code in my view encourages a Culture of Corruption where lobbyists can buy support/votes by providing MEPs with holidays in €300 a night rooms and flights which do not have to be declared.

“I also have much concern about the direction being taken as the EU Ruling class drive forward a Europe regulated by the financial market where we are witnessing a flight from democracy as the politics and polices are driven by the dictatorship of the bigger member states like Germany. In the rush to save toxic banks, democracy is being gradually eroded with increasing numbers of decisions being taken in Council, Summit or Commission.

“Although there is much that needs fixing in the EU there are many opportunities that could assist in economic recovery. There are some 400 funding streams in Europe – of course we cannot access all of them but we need to identify those that we can and utilise them for maximum benefit. “R&D, SME’s, Universities and CAP are just some of the areas that should be explored and developed with a view to assisting local business and reinvigorating our economy.

“A close examination of Research and Development drawdown shows that the southern authorities have secured in the region of €700 million for R&D while the North secured a mere €42 - €50million over the same period.“I am meeting with Commissioner Maire  Geoghegan-Quinn's adviser next week in Strasbourg to ascertain how our SME’s and Universities can better access funding opportunities from what is available and also looking ahead to the 2014 – Horizon programme.“I have already met with University of Ulster and DETI officials and am assured that all are working at achieving the target set by the Executive of a 20% EU funding drawdown.  I intend to follow up with meetings with InterTradeIreland to inform myself on how it brings key researchers from specific sectors together.

“A major conference to be held in May next year on Tele-monitoring, linking EU/Belfast/Boston will present business in the North West with opportunities to exploit projects such as CTric, Derry/ Boston initiative, Magee and Project Kelvin Telehouse links. These will just be some areas that I will be bringing a focus to.”

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Sinn Féin West Belfast Councillor Jim McVeigh has slammed those responsible for the attack on a member of the Falls Residents' Association following him speaking out against anti-social elements in the lower Falls area and has commended the Residents Association for their determination to continue their work.

Speaking today Cllr McVeigh said:

“The attack on Robert McClenaghan's house, a member of the Falls Residents' Association, by anti-social elements is to be condemned outright.

“I must commend Robert and the Falls Residents Association for the hard work they are carrying out trying to make this community a better place for everyone and for not being deflected from this work.

“The new PSNI operation is a positive start to addressing the serious levels of anti-social behaviour in this area. It will hopefully prove fruitious but it is not a stand alone answer.

“What we need to see is the other relevant agencies step up to the mark. The DSD need to invest in a local environmental improvement scheme, Belfast City Council should move the St. Comgall's project forward and we need to see enhanced training opportunities for youth in our area.

“However most importantly there is an onus of Youth Justice agency, Social Services and the Probation Service to deal with the issue of repeat offenders  and the core element of those involved in continuous  anti social behaviour."

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Sinn Féin Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Michaela Boyle MLA, (West Tyrone) has welcomed the publication of the Audit Office report into the management of the Central Government Office Estate (CGOE) properties.

Michaela Boyle said:

“I welcome the publication of this report. In the present climate of economic stress it is particularly important that we ensure that all public funds being spent are done so very judiciously to ensure value for money.

“We will study the report very carefully and take on board any recommendations that we find offers a way to eliminate any waste that may have been identified.

“CGOE properties are spread across the 6 counties with control exercised by relevant Departments.  I concur with the observation in the report that more ambitious and strategic planning and efficiency targets need to be set and sharing of floor space between Departments must be given serious consideration in order to maximise value for money potential.”

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"The public consultation onthe next round of EU funding for Peace and Interreg programmes in Ireland isnow taking place and we must ensurethat future funding makes a positive difference to the lives and living conditions of those most in need", said Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, as she submitted her party's contribution to the consultation on the new programmes for the 2014-2020 period.
Speaking in Belfast at the offices of the SEUPB (Special EU Programmes Body), she reiteratedSinn Féin's call on the British and Irish governments to ensure a Peace IV programme. Martina Anderson said:"Much remains to be done, and the governments need to ensure a well-funded programme from the European Commission. The regulations allow for a Peace IV fund, so we must all work together to ensure this happens.A Peace IV programme should be funded directly from Europe and not taken out of the allocation being handed down to the two governments to finance any other EU programmes."

On Sinn Féin's submission to the SEUPB consultation currently under way, Anderson said,

"EUROPEANfunding must be about tackling objective need. Funding should not be skewed towards groups or communities on the basis of anecdotal stories of feeling left behind, or left out. Objective need is the criterion which clearly sets out with no ambiguity those who are most in need of help."

She continued, "We welcome the injection of funds to the North, and to the border counties of the South, which EU cohesion policy provides, and we must work to ensure that it continues and produces maximum benefit. Something of an industry of largeorganisations well able to navigate their ways through the complex application procedures, to receive funding has emerged - but too often for projects which result in little or no tangible benefit to local communities.

"The criteria must be simplified to allow small, local groups to apply and the procedures for assessment of applications must also be streamlined and considerably accelerated to produce results on the ground. Our party submission "EU Funding - Making a Difference" outlines Sinn Féin's thoughts on these and other matters on the operation of the new programmes".

Videos

Sights and sounds from Bodenstown 2015


Photos

Palestinian minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addressing the hearing in Brussels.