North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on the rural public to respond to the consultation on draft PPS21 (Planning in the Countryside). Speaking after chairing a public meeting on Rural Planning in Rasharkin Mr McKay said: "In November the Department of Environment published new proposals on Rural Planning (called PPS 21) which will replace the previous disastrous plans drawn up by British Direct Rule Minister Jeff Rooker. "Sinn Féin has worked hard to achieve progress on a number of key issues including: a relaxation of the replacement dwelling criteria including the removal of the current 'abandonment test; removal of agricultural need and the farm viability test with opportunities for additional dwellings on farms; more potential for 'infill' gap sites;replacement or conversion of traditional style farm buildings to dwellings; the reinstatement of Health and Personal circumstances; the reinstatement of Dispersed Rural Communities; and Groups of up to 14 social/affordable houses will be permitted in the countryside where there are identified areas of housing need. "But while these changes are very welcome there continues to be a gap which must be addressed. "Sinn Féin has lobbied continuously on behalf of the non-farming rural dweller and we believe that a mechanism can be devised through the work of the Independent Working Group set up to provide planning approval opportunities for this important sector of the community. “It is vitally important that members of the public respond to this consultation on PPS21 as it could detrimentally affect the sustainability of rural communities which will have a knock-on effect on rural businesses, post offices, GAA clubs, etc. “The consultation period ends on 31st March and I would urge rural dwellers to submit their views on the future of rural planning to [email protected] or by post to: Draft PPS21 Consultation, Planning and Environmental Policy Group, 12th Floor River House, 48 High Street, BELFAST, BT1 2AW.” ENDS
Sinn Féin EU East and local election candidate for Kilkenny City, Kathleen Funchion has described the Minister for Education's plan to end free third level education as an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education. She said Sinn Féin will oppose this attack on higher education at every stage. Ms Funchion said, "Sinn Féin stands shoulder to shoulder with the students of Ireland in opposing the reintroduction of third level fees. We will not accept the reintroduction of third level fees under any guise. We believe that education is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, nor is it a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it. In these times of economic hardship, imposing fees on third level students is not something that this government or any other party should even be considering. 'Kilkenny Sinn Féin is to the forefront in campaigning to have a university campus for Kilkenny as part of the South East University campaign. We need to offer our young people the opportunity of gaining their education close to home enabling the local economy to reap the benefits of an educated, skilled workforce'. "The minister's proposals amount to an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education and will be detrimental to the future of this economy with USI predicting that it will restrict the rights of some 40,000 to access higher education next year alone. 'The revelations that the Minister for Education and Science will bring forward his proposals for ending free third level education in the next two weeks have sounded the death knell for free education. This year's leaving certificate students, even at this late stage will not escape these planned fees as the plan is due to come into effect in 2010. "The Minister has been reckless in his behaviour and cannot see that Ireland's future prosperity depends on making education the centre of any economic recovery plan. In the current economic climate we should be encouraging participation in higher education and not reducing it. "Sinn Féin will not stand for this attack on higher education and will fight it at every stage."
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald MEP, Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD and Cllr. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn who is a board member of InterTradeIreland since 2007 today launched the party’s job retention and creation strategy document entitled ‘Getting Ireland back to work’. The document contains more than 80 proposals, which Sinn Féin believes are urgently required to retain existing jobs and create new ones, progress all-Ireland economic development, stimulate consumer spending, and maximize the benefits of education and training.
Sinn Féin will be presenting this document to the government and meeting with employers, workers, enterprise boards and groups across the country in the coming weeks to discuss the recommendations in the report. The party will also be publishing a public ﬁnance document outlining where we believe revenue can be raised and savings made and what is required in the longer term in relation to how the state raises ﬁnance. In addition, we will publish a separate Oireachtas report on the future of farming and ﬁsheries, and we intend to develop a separate set of proposals on the tourism sector, which directly and indirectly employs so many people in this state and last year was responsible for over €6 billion of GDP.
Speaking at the event held in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin Ms McDonald said:
“In January and February 1,000 people lost their jobs every day. Unemployment is spiralling out of control. The government needs a three-year plan to hold on to or create the 1,000 jobs a day that are being lost. This must include stopping job losses, creating new jobs, keeping people in education and stimulating consumer spending.
“In just over twelve months unemployment has increased by 184,061. The Government's budget last October did nothing to stimulate the economy nor protect and create jobs. As it now stands unemployment figures will far exceed the projected figure of 400,000 by the end of the year. This is a crisis that cannot continue to go unchallenged.
“As a result of the sharp increases in unemployment tax revenue is now €2 billion below estimates while spending on welfare and medical cards is €1.5 billion over budget. VAT receipts are significantly down as families batten down the hatches and are simply afraid to spend.
“We do need taxation reform. We do need efficiencies in our public finance spend. We do need to address wastage. However the government's sole focus on cuts is fundamentally undermining Ireland's economy. The number one priority should be retaining and creating jobs. It should be getting Ireland back to work.
“Ireland is a small open economy. While the economic downturn is a global phenomenon, the situation here is much worse than in other countries due to the poor management of our economy over the last decade.
“One of the key mistakes that the government made was to overinflate the boom by not regulating the banks and the building industry. The same government that over inflated the boom now wants to exacerbate the downturn by taking too much money out of the economy. The government got it wrong in the boom and is now getting it wrong in the downturn.
“Ireland needs a three-year plan to hold on to or create the 1,000 jobs a day that are being lost. This means quickly identifying viable companies that need immediate help, it means identifying where jobs are going to be created over the next 3-5 years and bringing together FÁS, VECs, colleges and universities to upskill the workforce. It means fostering a real innovation culture. And most critically quarterly targets need to be set and delivered.
“The economy can be turned around. Despite the difficulties there are still huge opportunities if the right plan is put in place and real leadership is shown. This is where the government is failing. And realistically the people that got us into this mess are unlikely to be the people to get us out of the problem. Different ideas require different people.” ENDS
• Establish a €300 million jobs retention fund to subsidise workers in SMEs struggling to keep on their employees. The fund should be time limited; and should be implemented in conjunction with increased Revenu and Labour Inspectorate.
• Set up a body to actively pre-empt job losses by going to companies where jobs are in jeopardy to trouble shoot and offer advice, similar to the functions carried out by the Irish Credit Corporation in the 1980s.
• The National Development Plan’s immediate priority should be providing essential, labour intensive infrastructure. We are calling for the fast-tracking of the school building programme, expansion of the national insulation programme to cover 100,000 homes by 2010 and 150,000 in subsequent years and broadband rollout.
• Fast track business start ups – there are two issues – businesses need access to credit and expertise. The banks need to start doing their job and we are calling for a re-deployment of staff within current job creation agencies to set up one-stop enterprise business points. These would bring together funding, expertise and advice for entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses.
• A new Sales Ireland strategy to help Irish firms access export markets and to help Irish firms looking to set up manufacturing businesses with the potential to compete with our largest imports. Currently 90% of exports from the south come from foreign owned multinationals. And foreign owned firms import over 86% of the maternials they use, bypassing Irish firms.
• Establishment within a calendar year of Eolas Glas Eireann, led by Sustainable Energy Ireland, with the core aim of developing Ireland as a world leader in green and alternative energy technologies.
FÁS, the VECs and third level institutions have a combined budget of almost €4billion. They need to have a joined up approach to ensure that we are training people for sectors that will provide jobs in the coming decade.
A rapid reaction price force to be established by the Minister for Enterprise to ensure price reductions are passed onto consumers, particularly in the areas of fuel and retail groceries.
Cost of proposals The below figures are based on recent government figures and where figures were not available on Sinn Fein’s estimates.
Financial implications for 2009 300m 6 months jobs retention fund 100m body to pre-empt job losses 65m broadband 200m schools 100m doubling insulation scheme 100m refurbishing and refitting existing housing stock for social housing 50m ICT for schools 100m economy of scale supports 200m R&D spend fast-tracked 100m retrofitting 200m dedicated business and science parks 200m childcare workers trained 200m CE schemes increased (increase sponsorship and money from current dept. spend) 200m cost of living package, to include ESB, transport and stealth charge reductions 100m increased MABS funding to tackle money lending Total: 2.215 billion
Cost neutral Country of origin labelling Legislation on debt repayment Use of Irish embassies to help business set up abroad Sell-by date regulation Air miles labelling Eolas Glas Éireann, using existing agencies Review €4 billion budgets for FÁS and VECs Increase school leaving age to 17
Policy direction change Change law on commercial property leasing Establish state bank – use banks already there and guarantee/recap scheme One-stop shops – using existing budgets of bodies mentioned Post-graduate training courses Examine use of tax credits for MNCs who buy locally Rethink and simplify existing R&D tax credits Tackle issue of low patent creation Allow households to negotiate from high fixed mortgage rates to lower fixed or variable rates Legislation to ban extortionate money lending Finance for these proposals will come from three areas; the National Pension Reserve Fund, borrowing for smart investment and increased taxation.
In addition Sinn Féin argues that entire allocation of capital spend for 2009 must used to ensure key infrastructure is delivered on. Currently €2 billion of the €7.9 billion agreed capital spend is still uncommitted by government departments.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended solidarity and sympathy to the family of Belfast Councillor Maire Moore who died this afternoon, Saturday March 21. Mr Adams and his wife Colette are life long friends of Ms Moore.
Gerry Adams said,
'Maire Moore was an outstanding Irish woman and a very sound republican.
She traces her republicanism back to 1942 when Tom Williams was captured after a shoot out with the RUC at her granny’s house. Maire, a young girl at the time, was in the house during the shoot out. Tom William was hanged for the killing of a police officer that day.
I first met Maire in the 1960s. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement in Belfast and in Sinn Féin. Maire was imprisoned for her part in women’s protests and she was particularly close to Máire Drumm, Vice President of Sinn Féin who was assassinated in hospital in 1976. Maire herself was shot by the British Army. In 1978 she was imprisoned again, on false charges along with the Belfast Executive of Sinn Féin and the staff of Republican News. The charges were later dropped.
Maire was a pivotal part of the network which was established with the political prisoners protesting in Armagh and Long Kesh prisons, particularly during the hunger strikes in 1980 and 1981. Prisoners from that period and their families will remember Maire with great fondness for her thoughtfulness, generosity and hard work.
She also served on the Ard Chomairle.
In 2000 Maire was the first Sinn Féin woman elected as deputy mayor of Belfast City Council.
She continued to serve the people of Belfast until her death this afternoon and she will be deeply missed by the republican people of this city and by many who would not share her politics but who found in her an outstanding activist for citizen’s rights and particularly the rights of women.
I extend solidarity to her daughter Eileen, her sons Brian and Ciaran and her grandchildren and great grand children and to her extended family.
I spent some time with Maire just a week ago, the night before going to the USA. Although Marie was obviously very ill, she was in great form and looking for scéal.
She remained very staunch in good times and bad. She was very supportive of me and I will miss her slagging and her craic as well as her activism.
Go ndéanfaidh Dia trocaire uirthi. Tá sí ar sli na fírinne anios.
Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on children and young people, Sue Ramsey, has welcomed the bringing forward of legislation that will allow for increased measures to ensure the safety and protection of children and vulnerable adults.
Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:
“Any legislation brought forward to safe guard our children and vulnerable adults is to be welcomed. I am glad that the Health Minister has made this a priority, as the protection of children and vulnerable adults is a paramount principle in any society.
“It is important that anybody working in this sector is checked to make certain that there is maximum safety for our children and vulnerable adults however with over 125,000 additional jobs becoming subject to assessment we must also ensure that the mechanisms for checking people are properly resourced and funded.
“Looking back on previous schemes such as Access NI, it was evident that this scheme was not properly resourced which led to massive delays in people being able to access their posts which ultimately affected the smooth delivery of services.”
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, today met with Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith TD at Farmleigh House in Dublin.
Today’s meeting was the 10th occasion that the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Agriculture sectoral meeting has been held. The Ministers discussed moves towards closer co-operation on a range of all-island animal health and welfare issues and welcomed successes so far.
Speaking at Farmleigh House, Minister Gildernew said: “This is the first NSMC of 2009 and I am pleased to report progress on a number of fronts. Following the contaminated feed incident at the end of last year, we have agreed to strengthen our cooperation in dealing with major incidents of this nature and requested our officials to review and if necessary, revise the existing arrangements.
“My officials continue to work closely with their counterparts in Dublin to finalise the All-island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.
“I am pleased to note the progress on the development of the strategy. I welcome the consultation with our key stakeholders that has taken place, and welcome the support of farming organisations North and South. We have agreed to convene a cross-border event later this year to bring together key stakeholders to discuss delivery of the strategy.”
Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has described as ‘hugely significant’ comments by Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories about preliminary evidence of war crimes during the Israeli assault on Gaza from December 27 to January 18.
Ms de Brún, who recently returned from a cross-party MEP delegation visit to Gaza, said that the reported comments contained in the report from the U.N. special rapporteur, which he is to present to the Human Rights Council on Monday next, echoed much of the evidence she had seen and heard during her visit.
Ms de Brún said: “Civil society representative told us of the importance that someone should be held accountable for what had happened to the civilian population and the basic infrastructure of Gaza during the recent assault in which over 1,300 Palestinians including hundreds of children were killed and many others were injured and maimed.
“They feared that if there was no mechanism for investigating the rights and wrongs of what had taken place during the Israeli air strikes and ground assault then the likelihood was that such action would be repeated.
“It is hugely significant that the UN special rapporteur Richard Falk has singled out for mention the issues which were highlighted to us, including the failure to distinguish civilian targets, the targeting of schools, ambulances and health facilities, and the nature of the attacks and the weapons used in a densely populated area where the civilians had no chance to flee because the border crossings were sealed.
“We must now ensure that there is an international investigation into evidence of war crimes” de Brún concluded. ENDS
In one the daily blogs written by Ms de Brún during her Palestine visit, she said:
“Young, committed, Israeli human rights campaigners talk to us from three different NGOs; B'tselem The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gisha the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement and the Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territories of Physicians for Human Rights. They underline many of the messages we have heard already, and it is good to see their commitment to international human rights standards.
They set out for us a number of the breaches of international humanitarian law in the last few weeks, and questions to be asked about the behaviour and policy of the Israeli forces, including the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians and the denial of emergency medical aid to the injured. They make clear their remit as Israeli organisations is to look at the actions of the Israeli forces. They stress that in most cases it is important to look at the policy and not just at the actions of individual soldiers. By now this list has become familiar to many of us but it shocking nonetheless to hear it re-iterated. And as always, just when I think I have started to grasp the enormity of it all I hear some new detail that horrifies me even more. Amnesty International has already released a report and Human Rights Watch is due to release a number of reports on Gaza. If these do not provoke an outcry then we have truly lost our ability to feel outrage at the wanton disregard of human rights.
The young Israeli human rights campaigners stop short of calling for Israel to be investigated for war crimes but the story they tell leaves me in no doubt that this needs to happen.”
Speaking in response to the huge 20% drop in the retail price index EU candidate Cllr Toiréasa Ferris said that the number one priority for any government at this point should be retaining and creating jobs. It should be getting Ireland back to work. Toireasa Ferris said: "This month thousands of people across Munster such as nurses, council workers, firemen etc will find their pay packets seriously reduced due to government levies and taxes. Across Tipperary alone there are 12141 men and women on the live register. Both groups of people are paying a high price for the failure of government. The reduction in income in both groups of people also represents a huge loss to the economy in the area, accounting for the record 20% fall in the retail sales index. " "We cannot tax our way out of this crisis. Even the Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has admitted that increasing the VAT rate last October was a mistake. The government cannot continue to deal with the situation by cutting services and increasing taxes. It is creating a destructive spiral where more and more money is being taken out of the economy leading to a reduction in spending leading to a further reduction in jobs and a further reduction in tax intake." "The haemorrhage of jobs is hitting revenue intake, increasing demand on social welfare and wasting the talents and ability of a whole generation. The number one priority for any government at this point should be retaining and creating jobs. It should be getting Ireland back to work." "Government should be developing a policy which will prioritise retaining jobs leading on to a three year plan to restore jobs and in the process stimulate consumer spending and revenue to pay for state services."
Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for all parts of Ireland to be opened to allow for Guantanámo Bay detainees to be given humanitarian access and has welcomed the Taoiseach’s commitment to allow some of the detainees to travel to the south of Ireland.
Speaking today Ms de Brún said:
“The detainees being held at Gauntanámo have had their basic human rights severely abused both thought he means in which they were held and the rendition process that led to them being held in the camp. These people should be freed and allowed to choose where in the world they now go.
“Obviously on humanitarian grounds many of the people who were held in Gauntanámo would not be able to travel to their homes for fear of further persecution. This leaves them essentially homeless and stateless.
“I believe that European countries should be open to allowing access for many of the Guantanámo detainees. I welcome the commitment by the Taoiseach to take a number of those held and would call for all parts of the island of Ireland to allow access for the cleared detainees.”
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today visited a Sure Start project in Downpatrick to discuss local needs with parents and staff.
Sure Start programmes work with parents and children to promote the physical, intellectual, social end emotional development of pre-school children to ensure that they thrive when they get to school.
Speaking at the programme in Downpatrick, the Minister said:
“Sure Start projects are unique and valuable, enabling the youngest children in our society to get a good start in their lives. Effective pre-school education in programmes such as these helps our children to improve their social and communication skills in an enjoyable learning environment. Sure Start programmes are not all the same as they are developed around the individual needs of the community they are serving.”
“My department allocates over £20million each year to help the Child Care Partnership ensure that Sure Start helps children and families. Children coming through Sure Start have already been given a boost in their educational and social skills by the time they start school. It is an example of the benefits communities can have when organisations come together for the benefit of society.”
The principles of Sure Start are to:
· Co-ordinate streamline and add value to existing services for young families in local communities;
· Involve parents;
· Avoid stigma;
· Ensure lasting support;
· Be sensitive to families needs; and
· Promote participation of all local families.
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty described the Minister for Education’s plan to end free third level education as an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education. He said Sinn Féin will oppose this attack on higher education at every stage.
Senator Doherty said, "Sinn Féin stands shoulder to shoulder with the students of Ireland in opposing the reintroduction of third level fees. We will not accept the reintroduction of third level fees under any guise. We believe that education is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, nor is it a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it. In these times of economic hardship, imposing fees on third level students is not something that this government or any other party should even be considering.
"Yesterdays revelations that the Minister for Education and Science will bring forward his proposals for ending free third level education in the next two weeks have sounded the death knell for free education. This year’s leaving certificate students, even at this late stage will not escape these planned fees as the plan is to due come into affect in 2010.
"These measures amount to an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education and will be detrimental to the future of this economy with USI predicting that it will restrict the rights of some 40,000 to access higher education next year alone.
"The Minister has been reckless in his behaviour and cannot see that Ireland’s future prosperity depends on making education the centre of any economic recovery plan. In the current economic climate we should be encouraging participation in higher education and not reducing it.
"Sinn Féin will not stand for this attack on higher education and will fight it at every stage." ENDS
Sinn Féin EU Candidate Echoes Calls for Clarification on REPS 4 Payments
Sinn Féin's EU election candidate for the North West Constituency Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Department of Agriculture to respond to concerns raised by farmer's representatives regarding payments under REPS 4.
Cllr Mac Lochlainn was speaking after the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) raised concern that some farmers appear to have received amounts which fall far short of what was anticipated.
Cllr Mac Lochlainn said
"The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has raised concerns regarding payments to farmers under REPS 4. According to the ICSA some farmers have received amounts of money which fall far short of what they had been expecting. This is a crucial payment which many farming families are reliant on and as payments slip with no explanation, farmers are bewildered by the shortfall in the payments. Farming families are already struggling due the deferment of payments under the Farm Waste Management Scheme and cuts such as those to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme.
"Farmers are getting very fed up with the government's attitude to the sector - a sector which deserves to be supported and which has a key role to play in our future economic recovery.
"The Department of Agriculture must respond immediately to the call from the ICSA for an explanation for payments under REPS 4 being lower than anticipated. Farmers receiving payments under REPS 4 should be given a clear explanation regarding the amount of the payment which they are receiving."END
Sinn Fein Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has welcomed today's announcement of two new programmes by DETI Minister, Arlene Foster, aimed at boosting local economic growth.
Speaking today Mr McLaughlin said: “I welcome the announcement of these two programmes aimed at stimulating economic growth. But I would have concerns about the ability of InvestNI who have been given responsibility for delivery to target areas of greatest enonomic needs. Based on its past record InvestNI have a history failing to target areas of high deprivation.
"Special attention, through stimulating the local economy through a focus on business start up and the export sector is a worthwhile goal but it must be directed on the basis of greatest need. “Sinn Féin has been very critical of InvestNI's track record. In the past the majority of its investment has been directed towards more affluent areas such as South Belfast while West of the Bann and Border Regions have ben ignored. “These economic stimulus programmes need to be directed alongside other initiatives aimed at boosting and supporting existing small to medium enterprises which employ over 90% of our local work force."
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will be attending a celebration of Conservation Volunteers and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust ‘DIG IT & EAT IT!’ project tomorrow, Friday 20th March at Presentation Primary School, Portadown. Pupils from Presentation Primary School, along with St John’s Primary School in Coalisland and St Patrick’s Primary School in Newry have been learning about healthy eating, care of the environment and outdoor physical activity. Pupils created a school food garden in each of their schools, and tomorrow Ms de Brun will help plant two apple trees as part of the celebration. Speaking ahead of the event Ms de Brún said: “Making the connection between healthy eating, outdoor activity, and tackling climate change can help our children make choices about what food they want to eat and also the importance of caring for the wider environment. “This project is exactly the type of initiative I wanted to see flourish when we brought forward the Investing for Health Strategy. Supporting young people to get active and to learn about food and the environment makes it much more likely that they will make good choices for the rest of their lives. “Pupils can be leaders in their local communities and can show how our lifestyles can affect our health and our environment. We can make a difference and we can tackle issues such as obesity and climate change if we all work together.” ENDS Note to Editors The project was co-ordinated by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, and funded by the Southern Health Board and the Southern Investing for Health Partnership, as an innovative approach to preventing the increase in levels of childhood obesity. The project was co-delivered by Conservation Volunteers and the SHSCT Dietetic service, delivered through a six week programme of gardening sessions and classroom based healthy eating advice. It also gave the teachers an opportunity to introduce topics such as climate change and lifestyle choices.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Alex Maskey today said if there is evidence against an individual then that person should be charged and that evidence put before the courts. If there is no evidence then that person should be released. Mr Maskey said that his party was opposed to the detention of people by the PSNI for questioning beyond the existing seven days.
Mr Maskey said:
“If confidence is to continue to be built in policing and the good work of recent years consolidated, then it is crucial that the PSNI demonstrate a willingness to uphold the highest standards of human rights protections.
“Regardless of who is involved or what they are suspected of doing, Sinn Féin have consistently opposed the detention of suspects beyond the existing seven days. We have repeated this position to the British government in recent days.
“If there is evidence against an individual then that person should be charged and that evidence put before the courts. If there is no evidence then that person should be released. That is the normal democratic standard and it is one which must be adhered to.”
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy Martin Ferris TD has called on the Energy Regulator to direct Bord Gáis to cut gas prices immediately. The Kerry North TD was speaking as many people received extremely large bills following several months of more than average cold weather.
Deputy Ferris said: "While the recent cold weather is clearly a factor in increased consumption and hence higher bills, we are also seeing the true impact of the huge increases imposed last year. As I have pointed out on several occasions, the subsequent fall in global fuel prices has not been passed on and is not being reflected in the charges being imposed on customers. It is imperative therefore that that is now done immediately." ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald MEP will tonight host a public meeting in Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin calling for action on Ireland’s soaring unemployment. UNITE Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly is the guest speaker and a lively debate is expected.
Over the coming days Sinn Féin will be launching its proposals on job retention and creation as well as public finance savings.
In just over twelve months unemployment has increased by 184,061. In January and February 1,000 people lost their jobs every day. The government's budget last October did nothing to stimulate the economy. As of now, unemployment figures will far exceed the projected figure of 400,000 by the end of the year. This is a crisis that cannot continue.
The state’s public finances are in freefall. The financial sector is collapsing. The haemorrhage of jobs is hitting revenue intake, increasing demand on social welfare and wasting the talents and ability of a whole generation.
The number one priority for any government at this point should be retaining and creating jobs. It should be getting Ireland back to work.
Sinn Fein’s proposals will be published next week in a document entitled ‘Unemployment is out of control – Time for Action’ which will contain more than 80 proposals, which Sinn Féin believes are urgently required. It will set out specific measures for:
• Job retention • Job creation • Stimulating consumer spending • Education and training
The party will submit its document to government and will meeting with employers, workers, enterprise boards and groups across the country in the coming weeks to discuss its recommendations. We will also be publishing a public finance document outlining where we believe revenue can be raised and savings made and what is required in the longer term in relation to how the state raises finance. We will also be publishing a separate Oireachtas report on the future of farming and fisheries.
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon called on the Taoiseach to publish the wording of the so called legally binding guarantees to be attached to the Lisbon Treaty when it is put before the people for a second time. Ms McDonald added “it is absolutely astonishing that Brian Cowen intends updating his colleagues in Brussels on the Lisbon Treaty and the development of guarantees for Ireland’, yet feels no compulsion to extend the same courtesy to the Irish electorate.”
Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) has held discussions in Boston with Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill and other senior Legislators seeking investment in the North West. Speaking from Boston after the meetings Martina Anderson said: "I had very worthwhile discussions with Tim Cahill and his Massachusetts Legislative colleagues. It is obvious that there exists a very strong willingness there to consider strenghening ties between the two Cities. I am aware of previous cooperation between the two areas but I believe that with the changed political climate this is an opportune time to build on our friendships and business contacts. "I spoke to Tim Cahill about the decisions by his New York counterparts, Tom DiNapoli and Bill Thompson to make State and City Pension Fund investment available for projects in the North of Ireland and encouraged him to take a similar approach. I will be keeping contact with him to guage future developments on this and other investment opportunities. "While in Boston I also met - along with Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams - outgoing US Peace Envoy Paula Dobrianski and Therese Murray President of Massachusetts State Senate, the First woman to hold this position." CRÍOCH
Sinn Fein MLA and deputy chair of the Health Committee, Michelle O’Neill, has welcomed today’s announcement that the breast-screening programme will be extended for women up to the age of 70 but stressed that there should be blanket screening from the age of 50 onwards. Speaking today Ms O Neill said: “This is very welcome news. The extension of breast screening to include women up to the age of 70, and not just to 64 years of age as was previously the case, will undoubtedly help save lives especially given the fact that cancer is the number one cause of death within the north of Ireland. “However the question remains, why stop the screening programme at 70 years of age? As the risk of breast increases for women above the age of 50, with the NHS stating that 80% of cases occur in post-menopausal women, it is evident that the risk of developing breast cancer continues to rise as women get older. “As breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer we need to see blanket screening from the age of fifty onwards, with age limit. “Ultimately most of us know of a friend or family member who has had an experience of breast cancer and we owe it to them to do all that we can to tackle this devastating disease”