Speaking on the Bank Resolution Bill in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said:
“Sinn Féin fully recognises the need for a Resolution Bill to deal with failing banks. However it is not the model being proposed by this government. The banking and credit sector continues to make profits and pay exorbitant bonuses. They must begin to set aside funds in the event of failure. They must take responsibility for their own mess.
“What is being proposed is to allow a Minister of Finance to pour more taxpayers’ money into the restructuring of the banking sector.
“It provides a potential blank cheque again for banking and credit institutions.
“How can we expect these institutions to behave responsibly if we have already assumed to pick up the cost of banking failure?
“How can we expect them to behave in the interest of savers, if we underwrite their risks and lending practises?
“The Labour party has made much of their opposition to the Bank Guarantee Scheme and yet continues to support the pouring of tax payers’ money into failed banks. Next March, just as they did this March, this Government will pump €3billion into Anglo Irish Bank and will continue to put our money into Anglo every March till 2031 at a cost of over €75billion.
“In this legislation they are creating the ability for future Ministers to do what the Labour party has objected to in the past and has failed to end in the present. They will continue to bail out the banks and the taxpayers will foot the bill.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Policing Spokesperson Gerry Kelly said that any fragment of trust that the wider public may have had in Ombudsman Al Hutchinson is now gone following last night’s BBC Spotlight programme.
“Al Hutchinson’s former Chief Executive and member of the Ombudsman’s Office for over ten years Sam Pollock has now joined the voices of those calling for him to resign.
“While Al Hutchinson remains in charge this office is being further damaged and is losing all credibility as it fails in its remit of holding the police to account.
“The Special Branch was the main arm of the old RUC that was responsible for abuses of power in the past and this can not be allowed to filter down into the PSNI. There is now evidence that a ‘force within a force’ mentallity has now permeated Al Hutchinson’s office.
“Al Hutchinson is there to hold the police to account. In addition to three previous damming reports of his office, last night’s programme has revealed that Al Hutchinson has miss-led the Assembly Justice Committee, the Policing Board, the media, but most importantly, the relatives of the victims involved.
“Al Hutchinson told the Assembly Justice Committee that reports had not been changed. Last night’s programme produced the evidence that in fact a number of reports were indeed changed to reduce criticism of the police.
“Sinn Féin for our part will be supporting the families of those whose trust he has clearly trampled on and we repeat our call for his immediate resignation. The need for accountability is too important to leave Al Hutchinson in office a day longer than necessary.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Peadar Tóibín TD, has today called on the government to come out fighting for Aviva workers and ensure all expertise and resources are made available to the Unite trade union and the staff at Aviva.
Deputy Tóibín said that he will be raising the issue directly with Minister Bruton this afternoon in the Dáil.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“This morning I met with representatives of the Unite trade union and we agree that it is vital that this government become proactive in defending the 1,000 jobs that are under threat in Aviva.
“The government's approach so far is unacceptable. They have sleep walked through the crisis and now this morning 2,000 staff at Aviva go to work knowing that only half will have jobs this afternoon.
“The government's Pontius Pilot approach has failed these workers. I am now calling on the government, in particular Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton, to come out fighting for these jobs. It is essential that he makes all the resources and expertise at his disposal available to Unite as they analyse the company's business plan.
“Aviva Ireland is profitable, Aviva Europe is profitable. The company contributes €4 million a year to the FAI for Aviva Stadium. During restructuring Aviva Ireland took on the debt of the Aviva Europe. It is obvious that these jobs can be and must be saved. Aviva is the biggest insurance company in the Irish market.
“At a time when Aviva was shipping jobs to Bangalore they were recruiting senior management in growing numbers, but today we see it is the lowest paid workers paying the price for the company's mismanagement. It is time for this government to decide which side they are on.”
Responding to questions in the Seanad today by Senator David Cullinane, the Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter acknowledged that in 2011 there have been 126 public disorder type incidents in the Templars Hall Housing Estate with 21 arrests made. The offences relate to public disorder, assault, drink driving, possession of drugs for sale or supply and theft related offences.
Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Cullinane said:
“The residents of the Templars Hall Housing Estate have been living a nightmare for many years. Their estate is effectively turned into an entertainment zone several nights a week. Public disorder and loutish behaviour is caused by a minority of the estate student population. Over 80% of the houses in the estate are rented to students. The public disorder incidents range from large house parties, drinking in public places, shouting, smashing bottles and abusing residents and urinating on resident’s property.
“Many of the residents have children who find it difficult to sleep. The disturbances are affecting the physical and mental health of the residents. Children and parents are unable to sleep. It is unfair and disgraceful that residents are forced to live in such conditions. The primary responsibility lies with the minority of students’ hell bent on causing trouble and showing a complete disregard for their neighbours.
“I want to commend the Students Union for their efforts in trying to solve the problem. They are doing a first class job and are showing leadership. Local councillors and the Gardai are also supporting the residents. However the problem remains and it needs to be comprehensively tackled.
“The Minister’s figures show the true extent of the problem. In 2011 alone there have been 126 public disorder type incidents in the area. These figures only relate to complaints made and acted upon. Twenty-one people have been arrested for a range of offences relating to public disorder, assault, drink driving and drug dealing. It is not good enough that residents are living in such an environment.
“I am calling on the Minister to intervene and ensure that we have an appropriate Garda response. The Gardai need to be resourced and have the powers to deal with the full range of offences committed in the estate. It is incredible that a small estate has such a high level of incidences and its shows the magnitude of the problem. I commend the residents for taking a stand and demanding action and I call on the Minister to do all he can to assist.” ENDS
The Minister’s response follows:
I thank the Senator for raising this matter on the adjournment. I am speaking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, who regrets that he is unable to be present due to other business. The Minister shares your concern about incidents of anti-social behaviour in the Templar's Hall area in Waterford and is conscious of how distressing such incidents are for the local community.
The Programme for Government includes a commitment to attach a higher priority to community policing and, within available resources, a higher Garda visibility in the local neighbourhoods worst affected. An Garda Siochana operates a model of community policing which builds upon and enhances good community policing practice. Clear objectives are set, such as high visibility in the community, ease of contact by members of the public and enhanced support for crime prevention strategies such as Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert.
In its Policing Plan for 2011, An Garda Siochana has prioritised actions to achieve the maximum levels of safety for local communities and to provide a community policing service which meets the demands of the public. The Plan identifies a range of strategies to be deployed to counter anti-social activities, including targeted operations, high visibility patrols, deployment of appropriate resources to identified public order hotspots in respect of alcohol and drug related behaviour and youth crime and the full utilisation of existing legislation.
The Minister has been informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management in Waterford is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents relating to public disorder and other anti-social behaviour in the Templar's Hall area. In terms of a front line policing response, additional resources from within Waterford Garda District have been deployed in the locality by local Garda management, on days and at times identified as being when such behaviour is more likely to occur, to conduct additional patrols in this area and its environs. The area continues to receive a high level of priority.
Records indicate that to date in 2011 there have been 126 public disorder type incidents reported to An Garda Siochana in this area. These have resulted in around 21 persons being arrested for offences relating to public disorder, assault, drink driving, possession of drugs for sale or supply and theft related offences.
Members of the local Community Policing Unit, working with local residents, Waterford Institute of Technology authorities and the students' union, have developed an action and response plan to combat such behaviour. This approach has resulted in a reduction in anti-social behaviour in this area, and the local residents' association has acknowledged this. Local Garda management, through the Community Policing Unit, continues to work with all stakeholders in the area to address issues which arise and in response to complaints by local residents. I might point out that the Gardai advise that anti-social behaviour in the area is not confined to any particular grouping.
Local Garda management recently held a productive meeting with local residents, on 6 October, to discuss continuing issues of concern to the residents.
Speaking today during a special Dáil debate on the mortgage crisis Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty described the Keane report as a “deep disappointment”.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The Keane report is deep disappointment to the 100,000 families in serious mortgage distress. It does not provide anything close to a comprehensive solution to the issue of mortgage distress.
“The core proposal is to leave those in mortgage distress at the mercy of the banks and saddled with decades of unsustainable debt.
“Across the country tens of thousands of families were waiting to see if the Government was going to provide a credible route out of mortgage arrears. Instead they have been given minimalist response that will do little to address their distress.
“But then what can you expect from a group made up of 17 civil servants and 5 bankers?
“After three expert group reports produced over almost two years it is incredible that the reports main conclusion is to leave the resolution of this problem to the banks. Clearly the government has learnt nothing.
“The report explicitly rules out a number Fine Gael and Labours Programme for Government commitments. Increasing mortgage interest supplement is ruled out. Extending mortgage interest relief is ruled out. Transforming MABS into a personal debt management agency with strong legal powers is ruled out. There are also no proposals dealing with insulating mortgage holders from ECB interest rate rises.
“There is a better way. Sinn Féin has long argued for a strengthened Distressed Mortgage Resolution Process, with a stronger code of conduct for mortgage lenders. This process must be backed up with an independent Distressed Mortgage Resolution Board to ensure that decisions taken by lenders represent an appropriate response to mortgage distress.
“Where such a response is to be found wanting the Board must have the legal powers to enforce the right solutions and penalise the lenders for failing to act in an appropriate manor. Mortgage lenders must absorb a significant portion of the losses on the value of mortgage.
“Sinn Féin does not believe that the taxpayer should foot the bill for the mortgage crisis. Nor do not believe that it is necessary for the taxpayer to further compensate banks for the loss in value of their residential mortgage loan books. There is sufficient capital in the banks at present to absorb a significant proportion of these losses.
“Maintaining the family home; providing appropriate alternatives; ensuring debt sustainability; and sharing the burden fairly provide the basis for a solution to the causes of the mortgage crisis that is both fair and sustainable for borrowers, lenders and the taxpayer.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to introduce legislation to put a cap on variable mortgage interest rate increases.
Deputy Doherty was speaking after the Irish Banking Federation rejected a demand from Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield to prevent banks from setting their own variable mortgage interest rates.
Deputy Doherty said, “Interest rate hikes from the banks are putting enormous strain on already overburdened households.
“In the Programme for Government Fine Gael and Labour promised to ensure that domestic banks share the burden of European Central Bank interest rate hikes. That has yet to happen.
“We now have a situation where the banks are rejecting a demand from the Financial Regulator to halt interest rate hikes. This should not be allowed to continue.
“I am calling on the government to now legislate to cap the rate on variable interest rate mortgages to ensure that the 200,000 variable rate mortgage holders are not further penalised by the banks for the mistakes of others.” ENDS
“Where is the Labour Party?” – Ó Caoláin
Reacting to the decision of Health Minister James Reilly to put the management of University Hospital Galway and other hospital sites to private tender Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has asked ‘Where is the Labour Party?”
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The decision by Minister for Health James Reilly and his Department to put to private tender the overall management of University Hospital Galway, and other hospital sites, is the clearest indication yet of this Fine Gael-led Government’s real intentions towards our public hospital network. Where, once again, one must ask, is the Labour Party?” asks Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
“Minister Reilly must immediately explain this decision and clarify if it is yet another step in Fine Gael's unfolding privatisation agenda or a means to circumvent the terms of the Croke Park Agreement. Either way the decision should be reversed” stated the Sinn Féin Deputy.
Speaking following the publication of a series of HSE reports on serious incidents and deaths of children in care, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children, Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caolain called on the government to move immediately to address the gaps in child protection and services for children in the care of the state.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said;
“The ten reports published by the HSE today reveal that there have been 35 deaths and 16 serious incidents involving children in the care of the Health Service Executive or who were known to the organisation since March last year. These are children who died from drugs, suicides, and road accidents.
“Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and carers of these children in what must be a very difficult day for them. Professor Helen Buckley, the Chair of the National Review Panel has said that some of the children died in ‘tragic circumstances’ while also stating that child protection is complex and challenging.
“We of course acknowledge the need for the HSE to conduct reports in to deaths and injury of children in care, however it is now time for the Government to begin to implement the changes that are needed to make being in care safe for children. Children should only be placed in care when it is in their best interests to do so, however the State cannot provide for the best interests of these children when they are not providing adequate numbers of social workers or adequate resources to those that are providing care to children. It is unacceptable that children’s deaths result solely in more ‘key learning points for the HSE’ and ‘further recommendations’ which are not implemented.
“Sinn Féin is fully supportive of the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald’s intent to establish child welfare and protection services, however there are still massive inadequacies within the HSE for which they must be accountable. These reports are coming at a time when the Government is cutting back on social and health services, which harms already at risk children. The Government must ensure that the recommendations of these reports are implemented and not left to gather dust on shelves with previous reports that have been ignored by the Government and HSE.” ENDS
Sinn Féin TDs and Senators are calling on people to join them in a campaign to ‘Stop the Handover’ of billions of euros to Anglo bondholders. The first bond payment comes in 14 days and will cost €700 million. This unguaranteed senior bond will be paid out on 2 November. In January €1.2 billion will be paid out. This is against the backdrop of an austerity budget that will take over €4 billion out of the economy.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams announced details of a petition and urged the public to use their voice and tell the government parties to ‘Stop the Handover’. He also gave out the numbers of the Taoiseach’s and Tanaiste’s office and asked people to contact them.
Speaking from the launch Mr Adams said:
“On 2 November, this government will pay out a €700 million unguaranteed senior bond in Anglo Irish bank. This bond payout comes just one month before an austerity budget which will inflict hardship on children, on carers, on the disabled and on the working poor. In January a further €1.2 billion will be paid out – the 2 November is only the first payment of billions of taxpayers money.
“The government plans to take between €3.6 and €4 billion out of the budget. A €700 million saving could mean no household charge. It could mean no welfare cuts. Even the smallest cut has the potential to wreak so much damage. The cut of 200 Special Needs Assistants this year caused untold damage for families with special children and saved the state only €6 million.
“I am encouraging people to make their voices heard. People power can stop this outrageous payout. I am asking everybody to sign the petition and lobby the Taoiseach and their local TDs directly and tell them to ‘Stop the Handover’. The Taoiseach can be reached at 01 6194020 and the Tánaiste at 01 4780822.”
The ‘Stop the Handover’ petition can be accessed at the following link
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Seán Crowe, TD, has challenged Minister Ruairí Quinn to explain why the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at University College Dublin has been renamed and downgraded from Level 9 to Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
Deputy Crowe was speaking after he raised the matter with the Education Minister upon receiving representations from students who have already enrolled on the course and are angry that the exam’s designation has been changed.
He said: “I have asked Minister Quinn to explain the reasoning behind the decision to downgrade the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at University College Dublin (UCD) from level 9 to level 8 and why was this decided after students had already enrolled in the course and paid their registration fees.
“There can be no justification for the devaluing of this very important qualification and UCD must also explain when they were made aware of the Department’s plans and why were students not informed what was happening before they applied for the course under PAC in 2010 for entry in 2011.
“Students who have contacted my office believe they have been hoodwinked into enrolling for a course without being informed that the designation of the exam they were studying would be downgraded. This has implications for when they apply for teaching positions in what is a very competitive market and it may reduce their future pay scales and act as a barrier if they decide to gain employment outside of Ireland.
“The consensus amongst students is that this decision has been made for financial reasons and is an attempt to force those studying for the Diploma to stay on at University and gain an additional qualification. Minister Quinn must clarify the situation immediately.” ENDS
Sinn Féin’s Dublin City Council group leader Councillor Larry O'Toole, has today expressed, grave concern at the City Manager’s attempt to give away millions of Euros of Dublin City’s Council assets.
Speaking after last night’s special Dublin City Council meeting to discuss the privatisation of Dublin’s waste collection services, Councillor O’Toole said:
“For the third time in two months a full meeting of Dublin City Council has voted against waste collection privatisation. The first time was in September when Sinn Féin was the first party to put down such a motion. All parties and groups on the Council, except Fine Gael, are against this privatisation. Yet the City Manager is prepared to drive ahead. This is a travesty of democracy.
“Sinn Féin has very serious concerns about how this City Manager is operating. He has attempted to ignore the elected councillors of this city and has now ignored those employees providing the waste collection service. He is attempting to rail road through the privatisation of the City’s bin services.
“We predicted this would happen when bin charges were first introduced. Extra powers were given to the City Manager by Fianna Fail’s Environment Minister Martin Cullen to make him unaccountable and allowed him to enforce bin charges. We now see the sorry outcome of this decision. The City’s assets are being stripped and given away to a private waste collection service.
“The Manager aims to give away recycling plants and waste depots to a private company on December 5th. Waste collection is an essential public service. It must remain in public ownership if we are to provide a sustainable and efficient service to everyone in the city.
Councillor O’Toole explained, “City Council management has given a public commitment to privatise the bin collection service in this city by December 5th. This is unacceptable and we will continue to resist it every step of the way. We have met with IMPACT and with SIPTU. We will be seeking legal advice following last night's meeting.
“We believe that it is illegal for the City Manager to give away assets that belong to the public. He must understand that the Management are accountable to those of us with a democratic mandate.”
In conclusion Councillor O'Toole said, “We will be demanding answers to these serious questions from the City Manager. I hope the Manager sees sense and calls off his sale of the family silver.” ENDS
“Our rivers are not only a crucial asset in the life of any land but they are also something that brings great joy to those that use them for recreation including fishing and the tourism that also brings. We should make sure they are passed on to the next generation in the best possible condition.”
The Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has roundly condemned the system of checks and balances which allowed the uninhabitable Priory Hall to be built.
Deputy Ellis has asked for a Dáil discussion on the issue and speaking on it today warned that this could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of below standard housing given the green light during the boom.
Deputy Ellis said:
“Priory Hall was signed off on based on the word of contractors and insufficient visual inspections. Now 240 people, many young families, have been forced to evacuate due to the risk posed by the condition of the apartments. Dublin City Council are footing a €4,000 a day bill for emergency accommodation.”
“The developers, the contactors and the inspectors must be investigated and those who have been negligent or guilty of cutting corners must be held accountable. The families, who have been uprooted, who've had to live in these terrible conditions, who were betrayed must get justice.”
“I will be calling on the Minister for Environment to investigate the possibility of using NAMA controlled housing to securely house these people who have been failed by the State’s checks and balances.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has reiterated his calls for Ombudsman Al Hutchinson to leave his office immediately so that damage done to the reputation of the office can be repaired.
The Sinn Féin Police & Justice Spokesperson’s comments come prior to the screening tonight of a BBC programme in which former Chief Executive of the office Sam Pollock said he had ‘basically lost confidence in the direction of the office and the independence of the office in relation to very serious matters’.
Gerry Kelly said:
“Following three critical reports into the Ombudsman’s Office and this confirmation by the former Chief Executive that the office had lost its independence, it is clear that Al Hutchinson remaining in place will just further damage the reputation of the office.
“Sinn Féin believe in the Ombudsman’s office and that it is a crucial mechanism to make sure we have accountable policing. However with the independence of the office being yet again called into question the credibility of that office is at rock bottom.“Al Hutchinson carries full responsibility for this unprecedented damage. The rights of victims must be paramount and they have already stated that they’ve lost any faith in Al Hutchinson to investigate the deaths of their loved ones. The revelations in this programme will no doubt confirm their belief that Al Hutchinson must go now.”
Sinn Féin MLA Ó hOisín Cathal has welcomed the decision to transfer Shackleton Barracks to the Office of First/Deputy First Minister so that it can be used for business and community use.
Mr. Ó hOisín stated,
“This site comprising over 750 acres can be used for the regeneration of the entire region and although there are still some decontamination of the site to be carried out there is a large portion that can immediately used for regeneration.
“There are already facilities such as a lecture theatre, sporting facilities including pitches, and accommodation that can be utilised immediately for the benefit of the entire community.
“There are also large spaces that can be used for industrial and commercial development and we need to look at attracting a mixture of small medium enterprises as well as sourcing for bigger clients through foreign direct investment.
I will be calling on Invest NI to support this site in a way that can be the catalyst for the regeneration of the region.
“It is important that community and business groups now start to prepare business cases in order to meet the demands of the site. This is a huge opportunity and we must ensure that we get the correct mix of business and community use of the site to maximise its potential.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD will tomorrow launch a new campaign to stop the Government from handing over €700 million for an unguaranteed Anglo Irish Bank bond on the 2nd of November.
The campaign, called ‘Stop the Handover’, aims to bring public pressure on the Government to stop a payout of a €700 million unguaranteed bond with Adams claiming that the money should be used for the benefit of the people in the upcoming budget.
Deputy Adams will be joined by the entire Sinn Féin Oireachtas team for a press event on the plinth at Leinster House at 2pm tomorrow, 18 October 2011.
For more information contact Shaun Tracey on 0877735218.