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Some sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil December 10

Some of the sights and sounds of the Right2Water National Assembly outside the Dáil on December 10.  Includes Gerry Adams address to the crowd and Damien Dempsey's rendition of the ballad James Connolly

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has stated that government policy is making the richer even richer and the poor even poorer.


The passing of this motion, in conjunction with the passing of similar motions in Parliaments across the EU, is an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.



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Responding to the news that the government’s nominee to the European Court of Auditors has been rejected by the Budgetary Committee of the European Parliament Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokeswoman Mary Lou McDonald TD has criticised the government for not withdrawing its nominee despite widespread opposition to the appointment.

Deputy McDonald said:


“Citizens demand and expect full accountability from civil servants. The public deserve and expect transparency and accountability from those who are tasked by government to manage the peoples’ money.

“Like their ministerial counterparts those at the very top of the civil service continue to benefit from massive pay and pension arrangements at a time of soaring unemployment and savage cuts to public services.

“Handing out plum jobs for top dogs in the public sector even when they are clearly not the best person for the job is simply unacceptable.  

“Despite our economic realities Labour and Fine Gael continue to protect high earners’ and senior civil servants’ excessive pay and pensions whilst awarding massive salaries to their special advisors.

“This government promised us an end to political cronyism yet since coming to power ministers have barely tinkered around the edges of reform choosing instead to target middle and low income frontline workers across the public sector and in turn citizens who rely on public services in increasing numbers.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has asked the government to take the voices of the opposition, of civil society, and of the people in to account before deciding on next year's Budget.

 Speaking in the Seanad today, he welcomed the fact that a debate has been scheduled in the Seanad for next week to discuss the budget and alternative proposals to it.

 Senator Cullinane said:

 “I welcome the fact that a debate has been scheduled to discuss the budget and allow opposition parties and independent senators to put forward alternative proposals to the government’s.

 “The steady drip-drip of bad news stories about cut backs emanating from the various ministers and departments illustrate clearly the paucity of imagination which the government possesses, and the clear political choices which they seem set to make.

 “We have heard of cutbacks in capital projects which could have created countless jobs, we understand that the flat regressive Universal Social Charge is to be retained, that the Jobseekers' Benefit is possibly to be cut, that Rent Allowance is to be cut, third level fees to be increased, and a charge of €50 may be levied on the medical card.

 “This is a clear political choice. The government has decided to pursue regressive measures, which hit the least well off, low budget families and do nothing to create jobs, and has ignored the clear ability of high earners to pay more.

 “There is an alternative. Our Pre-Budget Submission proposes a €3.6bn adjustment, which is based on an additional €3.263bn in additional taxation measures, which are progressive and fair in nature and €837.25m in savings. We are also calling for a stimulus to be applied to the economy.

 “Economic recovery and solving the unemployment crisis is not possible without investment. We are proposing a stimulus of €7bn focused on ‘shovel-ready’ schemes which would get the maximum amount possible working as soon as possible.

 “Indeed we are not the only people with an alternative. I have received countless submissions from many voluntary groups, trade unions, business group and NGOs, many of which make excellent proposals worthy of serious consideration. Few of them fit with the Government’s strict adherence to austerity policies.

 “I am asking that the Government take next week’s debate, and any opportunities they have to engage with the public, as a serious opportunity to hear what the people are saying, and to hear how we can get out of this recession, without punishing the vulnerable.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to live up to the state’s commitments under the Good Friday Agreement to support the reintegration of former political prisoners and their pursuit of gainful employment.

 Deputy Ellis was speaking on his party’s amendment to the Road Transport Bill which would exclude convictions for politically motivated actions from obstacles to obtaining road transport operator licences or working for such licence holders.

 Deputy Ellis said;

 “The Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements which pushed forward the peace process committed the government to supporting former political prisoners in reintegrating into society, achieving educational qualifications and employment. Too many times legislation has been implemented since the agreement which has discriminated against former political prisoners.

 “These people are in most cases pillars of their community and are well respected and regarded. Despite all this, in many cases former political prisoners cannot obtain licences for certain types of business and an example is found in this bill in relation to Road Transport Operator licences.

 “Political prisoners took the risks to bring the peace process to where it is today they should not be penalised for this.” ENDS

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 North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Committee Daithí McKay has said that the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster “should have known better” and declared an interest with the Department that a family member owns land within project focus areas which a company has identified as being viable for drilling for gas in Fermanagh.

 He has called on the Minister to immediately declare an interest as members of the public expect Ministers to be transparent about such information.

 Mr McKay said:

“The Minister will remember how her party colleague Ian Paisley Junior did not declare his relationship with an applicant for a Visitors Centre at the Giants Causeway when she said in the Assembly that she was minded to approve that particular application. 

 “It was quite clear from that case that the public feel that politicians have something to hide if they are not up front about certain matters which they view as being a conflict of interest. The Minister should have learned from that episode that the public expect politicians to be totally upfront and transparent about such matters.

 “It is clear that the Minister should have at least informed the Permanent Secretary of her Department, especially given her strong views on the issue of shale gas exploration, of the facts of the situation as she speaks on the issue in her capacity as Minister.

“The Minister needs to declare this interest without hesitation as there is a public expectation that it is the right and proper thing to do.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, during Priority Questions today in the Dáil, called on the minister for social protection, Joan Burton TD, “to wake up to the fact” that the JobBridge scheme is open to abuse and to deal with the glaring conflict of interest that exists within the body she has appointed to oversee it.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh referred the minister to examples of exploitation and real job displacement to which he had drawn her attention six weeks ago in the Dáil.
“I urged her to acknowledge the fact that the scheme is a disincentive to job creation and facilitates slave labour. She dismissed the evidence and refused to take any action,” he said.
“The minister said she was satisfied because JobBridge is monitored by a steering committee chaired by the CEO of Hewlett Packard. I have since learnt that Hewlett Packard have at least eight free workers courtesy of the scheme. Does the Minister accept that this represents a clear conflict of interest? Does she think it is acceptable that the man charged by her with impartially monitoring JobBridge is actively benefiting from it?” he said.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh drew attention to Hewlett Packard’s record of not recognising trade unions, citing industrial action at the company for recognition by the IBOA and asked if the minister still stood over the appointment of the company’s CEO to the committee overseeing JobBridge.
He also questioned advertisements on the JobBridge website, which call for experience, when the scheme is supposed to provide experience to jobseekers.
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Sinn Fein assembly member and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly has congratulated those involved in an international multi agency operation involving the PSNI, the Gardai and the Greek Police, which has resulted in the seizure of £2million worth of drugs in Greece destined for here.

Mr Kelly said:

“Everybody should be delighted that this operation has seen £2million worth of drugs destined for Ireland seized in Greece.

“It is clear that this seizure has come about as a result of good police work and good co-operation between various agencies but in particular between the PSNI and the Gardai. I congratulate those involved for preventing these drugs getting onto our streets.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly members will be calling on the chairs of each committee to reschedule the Wednesday Committee meetings scheduled for the 30th of November so as to observe the strike action being taken by Public Sector Unions.

Speaking today Raymond McCartney MLA, Sinn Féin’s group leader at the Assembly said:

“Sinn Féin supports the right of the public sector workers to take strike action in relation to the severe cuts being imposed by the Tory led British government.

“The British government has, at the stroke of a pen, taken £4bn from the block grant and continues to impose further austerity and hardship as a result of other polices including the welfare reform bill,the increasing of fuel duties and other such measures.

“As a result Sinn Féin members will be calling on all Assembly committees who are scheduled to meet on the 30th of November to be brought forward to earlier in the week or postponed for another date.

“Sinn Féin members will be attending their local pickets and not be crossing any picket line.”

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Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams has described as “disappointing” the Taoiseach’s refusal to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry into the abuse that occurred in Lourdes Hospital Drogheda.

The Sinn Féin leader raised this issue during Leaders Questions this morning in the Dáil.

Speaking afterward Mr. Adams said:

“This is not good enough. The Cabinet moved quickly to order an inquiry into RTÉ. The victims of this alleged abuse have been waiting decades.

“Two years ago Fine Gael and Labour criticised the refusal of the then government to hold an inquiry and proposed a motion to the Dáil which was narrowly defeated by Fianna Fáil and the Greens. At that time the Taoiseach said ‘they were wrong to do this.’

“He was right but it is equally wrong for his government to do exactly the same thing.

“The victims of this alleged abuse have suffered as one delay has followed another. Decades later the state is no nearer taking the necessary steps to expose the truth, or reassure the public that the systemic failures in the health service have been corrected.

“The cabinet has the authority to authorise an inquiry and the Minister for Health already has that advice from the Attorney General.

“There should be no further delays.”

The Sinn Féin TD also asked the Taoiseach to “take urgent steps to ensure that Dignity for Patients, which has had its funding significantly cut, is provided with the core funding it requires to continue its crucial work on behalf of almost 200 victims of abuse.”

Text of Mr Adams remarks during Leaders Questions this morning:

“Taoiseach yesterday, the Cabinet acted promptly to establish an independent inquiry into a broadcast by RTE. That is to be commended.

“The patient support and advocacy organisation, Dignity for Patients, has been campaigning for decades for a Commission of Inquiry into allegations about the sexual abuse of boys and young men in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

“Taoiseach, you supported this demand in opposition. So did the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health. In July the Minister for Health committed to an inquiry.

“He accepted that many people have suffered as a consequence of not having this issue aired in public and he told the Committee on Health that he had the agreement of the Attorney General that there would be an Oireachtas Committee inquiry following the referendum.

“The referendum was not passed but the need and demand for an Inquiry remains.

“There are other issues that I could raise here today Taoiseach. Ministerial leaks about increases in prescription charges, the closure of nursing homes, cuts in child benefit and further attacks on what remains of our sovereignty by the bigger states in the EU. We will return to these issues.

“But the need to hold an inquiry into these allegations of sexual abuse must be dealt with by you today with the same urgency you dealt with RTE.

“How can anyone have any faith in a government if it refuses to stand up for these citizens and fails to reassure the public that the systemic failures in the health service have been corrected?

“Taoiseach will you establish an independent Commission of Inquiry into these events as you promised in opposition, and announce this before the Christmas recess”.

Mr Adams referred to a letter he had received from a victim of this alleged abuse.

“Taoiseach, I received a letter from a victim of this abuse.

“He implores that you do something about this issue as you had promised.

“He included a copy of an email he had sent to you a few years ago and your reply.

“In that reply you told him that Fine Gael and the Labour had tabled a motion in support of an inquiry which Fianna Fáil and the Greens voted down.

“You said, and I quote: ‘I know they were wrong to do this.’

“So, Taoiseach they were wrong then. I agree.

“But if you refuse to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry now you will be wrong.

“I want you to be right on this issue.

“Not for your sake or my sake but for the sake of the victims and to build confidence that justice is possible and that flaws in our systems can be corrected.

“I ask you again to announce before the Christmas recess a Commission of Inquiry and furthermore to consult the victims of the terms of reference.

“Finally, will you also take urgent steps to ensure that Dignity for Patients, which has had its funding significantly cut, is provided with the core funding it requires to continue its crucial work on behalf of almost 200 victims of abuse?”

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Sinn Féin Assembly members will be calling on the Chairs of each Committee to reschedule the Wednesday Committee meetings scheduled for the 30th of November so as to observe the strike action being taken by Public Sector Unions.

Speaking today Raymond McCartney MLA, Sinn Féin’s group leader at the Assembly said:

“Sinn Féin supports the right of the public sector workers to take strike action in relation to the severe cuts being imposed by the Tory led British government.

“The British government has, at the stroke of a pen, taken £4bn from the block grant and continues to impose further austerity and hardship as a result of other polices including the welfare reform bill, the increasing of fuel duties and other such measures.

“As a result Sinn Féin members will be calling on all Assembly committees that are scheduled to meet on the 30th of November to be brought forward to earlier in the week or postponed for another date.

“Sinn Féin members will be attending their local pickets and not be crossing any picket line.”

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Senator David Cullinane speaks to media