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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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At a selection convention held in Gulladuff this evening Sinn Féin have selected Mid Ulster MLA and longstanding party activist Francie Molloy to contest the Mid Ulster By Election when Martin McGuinness vacates the seat.

 Martin McGuinness said,

 "As you will be aware the party recently made a decision to end the practice of double-jobbing in the political institutions in the North.

 “In line with this new policy in the coming weeks I will resign my Westminster seat to focus on my duties as Joint First Minister.

 “It is a great honour for me to propose Francie Molloy and for Michelle O’Neill MLA to second him as candidate to contest the forthcoming Mid Ulster by-election.

 “Francie Molloy has been active in political and community life since his teens. He was one of the first people in his area to join the Civil Rights Movement and has been involved in local and national political life ever since, having first been elected in 1985. He was also Director of Elections for Bobby Sands.

 “Francie will make an exceptional MP and representative for the people of mid-Ulster.

 Francie Molloy added,

 “I am delighted to be selected to represent the party in the forthcoming by election in Mid Ulster.  The party has been represented by Martin McGuinness since 1997 and although he will be a hard act to follow if elected I will endeavour to serve the people of Mid Ulster with the same determination and fortitude in improving the lives of all the citizens of the area.

 “I would like to thank the local party for having the confidence in me to allow me to contest this election and organizing the convention tonight.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said today is the last chance for the Labour Party to live up to their promises.

Ó Snodaigh said "The government have imposed a guillotine on the Social Welfare Bill so today is the Labour Party's last chance to stop the cuts and PRSI hikes targeting low income families.

Various backbenchers have been vocal in recent days expressing concern around the cuts to respite care grant and child benefit in particular. Well today is the day that we will see whether this was anything more than lip service. Today is their last chance to act on their concerns, live up to their election promises and vote against the cuts."

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Tá an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh tar éis a rá gur chóir go mbeadh dhá aerphort láidir in Iarthar na tíre.

Bhí Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar ag labhairt le linn díospóireacht sa Seanad faoin tionchar a bheidh ag an gcinneadh Rialtais go bhfaighfidh Aerphort na Sionnaine neamhspleáchas ó Údarás Aerphort Átha Cliath.

“Is rud dearfach é go bhfuil níos mó neamhspleáchas dhá thabhairt d'Aerphort na Sionnaine mar ba léir nach bhfaighfeadh an Aerphort an phríoracht cuí faoi scáth an DAA agus tá tacaíocht an phobal áitiúil ag an gcinneadh seo chomh maith”

“É sin ráite, cé go bhfuil sé soiléir go bhfuil níos mó neamhspleáchais de dhíth ar Aerphort na Sionnaine, tá sruth ioncaim reatha buan ag teastáil chomh maith, go mbeadh an Aerphort in ann a múnla nua gnó a chur i bhfeidhm agus chun an aerphort a chur ar bonn níos seasta. Ach, ní chóir go mbeadh Aerphort Iarthar na hÉireann, i Cnoc Mhuire thios leis seo, ach faoi láthair seo cuid mór den phlean atá luaite leis an Sionann.”

“Is Aerphort éifeachtach í Aerphort Cnoc Mhuire atá á rith ag an bphobal agus teastaíonn tacaíocht an Rialtas uathu.”

“Tá 65 eitilt sa tseachtain ón Aerphort go dtí 28 ceann scríbe ar an sceidil acu agus tá an cuma air go sroichfidh líon na bpaisinéir do 2012 beagnach 700,000 duine.”

“Tá sreabhadh airgid de €12.5m aige agus níl ach glan-chailliúint de thart ar €0.39m. Fostaíonn sé 101 daoine go díreach sa phobal áitiúil agus tacaíonn go hindíreach le 900 post eile.”

“Ní chóir dúinn an bonn a bhaint dá dea-oibre, trí iad a chur in iomaíocht leis an tSionnain.”

“Ba chóir dúinn chomthromaíocht a lorg, go mbeadh an dá Aerphort in ann maireachtáil i gcomhair lena chéíle agus go mbeadh Iarthar na hÉireann in ann dhá aerphort rathúil idirnáisiúnta a bheith acu.”

“Bheadh sruth ioncam níos inbhuanaithe agus níos neamhspleáigh ar fáil don Aerphort munar bhris an tAire an ceangal idir Aerphort na Sionainne agus Aer Rianta Idirnáísiúnta. Tá stair fada ag Aer Rianta sa tSionnainn agus cruthaíonn siad brabús de thart ar €30m sa bhliain.”

“Is cinneadh gearr-radharcach é an ceangail seo a bhriseadh agus cuireann sé an seans go bhféadfadh an Aerphort an plean forbartha atá acu a chuir i gcrích, i mbaol. Ba chóir don Rialtas an ceangal idir Aer Rianta agus Aerphort na Sionnaine a chaomhnú agus é sin a úsáid chun tacú le Aerphort láidir sa tSionainn a bhuanú, in ionad a bheith ag iarraidh gnó a bhaint ó Aerphort Chnoc Mhuire.”

“Sa bhreis ar sin, ní mór don Rialtas a bheith ag smaoineamh go doimhin ar pholasaí eitlíocht níos leithne agus Straitéis Náisiúnta Eitlíocht chomhtháite a chur le chéile. Níl i gceist le cás na Sionainne agus Cnoc Mhuire ach sampla amháin den bhealach gur féidir coimhlint mífholláín a chothú idir dhá aerphoirt nuair atá easpa cur chuige chomhtháite ann. Bá chóir don Rialtas measúnú a dhéanamh ar an ról atá le n-imirt ag gach Aerphort, ar bhonn uile Éireannach, mar chuid de polasaí eitlíocht níos leithne.”

Government should not pit Western Airports against each other

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has stated that it Is his opinion that there is room for two strong international airports in the West of Ireland

The Galway West Senator was speaking during a debate on a motion which had the effect of granting Shannon Airport independence from the Dublin Airport Authority.

Speaking today in the Seanad, Senator Ó Clochartaigh stated that while he welcomed this move, he had concerns as regards the future plans for Shannon Airport.

“We believe it is positive that Shannon is to be given more independence, and it was never likely to be given the appropriate priority under the Dublin Airport Authority, and this decision has been welcomed by the local community.”

“However, while it is clear Shannon needs more independence it also needs a secure revenue stream to put its new model into practice and to make a real drive for achieving a more sustainable setup. This should not and cannot be achieved at the expense of Ireland West Airport in Knock, however this is a substantial part of the current plan.”

“Knock is a well-run airport, community run airport, and is deserving of Government support.”

“It has 28 scheduled International destinations across Ireland the UK and Europe and over 65 weekly flights with passenger numbers for 2012 set to reach almost 700,000.”

2It has a turnover of €12.5m and a net loss of only €0.39m, employing 101 people directly in the local economy and supporting an additional 900 jobs.”

“We should not seek to undermine their good work, by pitting Shannon against Knock.”

“We should seek to strike a balance, where the airports can complement each other, and the west of Ireland can support two significant airports.”

“If the Minister had not separated Aer Rianta from Shannon Airport, it would have a much more reliable and sustainable revenue stream upon which to rely. Aer Rianta has a long history in Shannon, and makes a profit in excess of 30 million euro a year.”

“To remove this connection is short sighted, and endangers the ability of the Airport to live up to its plans. The Government should maintain the link between Aer Rianta and Shannon Airport, and use that as the means to create a thriving Shannon Airport, rather than seeking to take business away from, and undermine, the Airport in Knock.”

“We also believe that the Government needs to consider in greater depth aviation policy on the whole, and to put in place a cohesive National Aviation Strategy. The example of Knock and Shannon is only one example of how there can be conflict between one airport and another without a joined up approach. The Government needs to consider where each airport, on an All-Ireland basis, fits within a wider Aviation policy.”

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has said there are mounting concerns that increases to the pupil teacher ratios (PTR) for PLC programmes will result in teachers losing their jobs and courses being cancelled.

Deputy O’Brien said: “I am concerned that the increase in the Pupil Teacher Ratio from 17:1 – 19:1 for PLC Programmes announced during last week’s budget, will unfairly impact on marginalised learners.

“The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) have said that the increase in the PTR will result in the loss of 200 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts, which if correct will mean an excess of 400 teachers losing their jobs or the loss of a significant number of teaching hours.

“In my own county there are fears that 25 full time equivalent or 50 part-time teachers across the three further education colleges in Cork could be lost and specialised courses at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa might come to an enforced end.

“The Government has talked a lot about incentivising people to upskill and retrain in order to enhance their employment prospects but instead they implement cuts in income supports for people who are unemployed and attempting to participate in further/adult education and training courses.

“Increasing class sizes in this this sector is a short-sighted measure because the resulting job loses will greatly off-set any potential savings and it will undermine the quality of learning for second chance learners, particularly those who may not be well suited to mainstream education.”

“I have raised this matter with Minister Quinn and he needs to explain what impact study was been carried out in advance of this cut.”

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Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has stated that it is his opinion that there is room for two strong international airports in the West of Ireland.

The Galway West Senator was speaking during a debate on a motion which had the effect of granting Shannon Airport independence from the Dublin Airport Authority.

Speaking today in the Seanad, Senator Ó Clochartaigh stated that while he welcomed this move, he had concerns as regards the future plans for Shannon Airport.

“We believe it is positive that Shannon is to be given more independence, and it was never likely to be given the appropriate priority under the Dublin Airport Authority, and this decision has been welcomed by the local community.

“However, while it is clear Shannon needs more independence it also needs a secure revenue stream to put its new model into practice and to make a real drive for achieving a more sustainable setup. This should not and cannot be achieved at the expense of Ireland West Airport in Knock, however this is a substantial part of the current plan.

“Knock is a well-run airport, community run airport, and is deserving of Government support.

“It has 28 scheduled International destinations across Ireland the UK and Europe and over 65 weekly flights with passenger numbers for 2012 set to reach almost 700,000.”

“It has a turnover of €12.5m and a net loss of only €0.39m, employing 101 people directly in the local economy and supporting an additional 900 jobs.

“We should not seek to undermine their good work, by pitting Shannon against Knock.

“We should seek to strike a balance, where the airports can complement each other, and the west of Ireland can support two significant airports.”

“If the Minister had not separated Aer Rianta from Shannon Airport, it would have a much more reliable and sustainable revenue stream upon which to rely. Aer Rianta has a long history in Shannon, and makes a profit in excess of 30 million euro a year.”

“To remove this connection is short sighted, and endangers the ability of the Airport to live up to its plans. The Government should maintain the link between Aer Rianta and Shannon Airport, and use that as the means to create a thriving Shannon Airport, rather than seeking to take business away from, and undermine, the Airport in Knock.”

“We also believe that the Government needs to consider in greater depth aviation policy on the whole, and to put in place a cohesive National Aviation Strategy. The example of Knock and Shannon is only one example of how there can be conflict between one airport and another without a joined up approach. The Government needs to consider where each airport, on an All-Ireland basis, fits within a wider Aviation policy.” ENDS

Ní chóir don Rialtas Aerphoirt an Iarthar a chur in iomaíocht le chéile

Tá an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh tar éis a rá gur chóir go mbeadh dhá aerphort láidir in Iarthar na tíre.

Bhí Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar ag labhairt le linn díospóireacht sa Seanad faoin tionchar a bheidh ag an gcinneadh Rialtais go bhfaighfidh Aerphort na Sionnaine neamhspleáchas ó Údarás Aerphort Átha Cliath.

“Is rud dearfach é go bhfuil níos mó neamhspleáchas dhá thabhairt d'Aerphort na Sionnaine mar ba léir nach bhfaighfeadh an Aerphort an phríoracht cuí faoi scáth an DAA agus tá tacaíocht an phobal áitiúil ag an gcinneadh seo chomh maith”

“É sin ráite, cé go bhfuil sé soiléir go bhfuil níos mó neamhspleáchais de dhíth ar Aerphort na Sionnaine, tá sruth ioncaim reatha buan ag teastáil chomh maith, go mbeadh an Aerphort in ann a múnla nua gnó a chur i bhfeidhm agus chun an aerphort a chur ar bonn níos seasta. Ach, ní chóir go mbeadh Aerphort Iarthar na hÉireann, i Cnoc Mhuire thios leis seo, ach faoi láthair seo cuid mór den phlean atá luaite leis an Sionann.”

“Is Aerphort éifeachtach í Aerphort Cnoc Mhuire atá á rith ag an bphobal agus teastaíonn tacaíocht an Rialtas uathu.”

“Tá 65 eitilt sa tseachtain ón Aerphort go dtí 28 ceann scríbe ar an sceidil acu agus tá an cuma air go sroichfidh líon na bpaisinéir do 2012 beagnach 700,000 duine.”

“Tá sreabhadh airgid de €12.5m aige agus níl ach glan-chailliúint de thart ar €0.39m. Fostaíonn sé 101 daoine go díreach sa phobal áitiúil agus tacaíonn go hindíreach le 900 post eile.”

“Ní chóir dúinn an bonn a bhaint dá dea-oibre, trí iad a chur in iomaíocht leis an tSionnain.”

“Ba chóir dúinn chomthromaíocht a lorg, go mbeadh an dá Aerphort in ann maireachtáil i gcomhair lena chéíle agus go mbeadh Iarthar na hÉireann in ann dhá aerphort rathúil idirnáisiúnta a bheith acu.”

“Bheadh sruth ioncam níos inbhuanaithe agus níos neamhspleáigh ar fáil don Aerphort munar bhris an tAire an ceangal idir Aerphort na Sionainne agus Aer Rianta Idirnáísiúnta. Tá stair fada ag Aer Rianta sa tSionnainn agus cruthaíonn siad brabús de thart ar €30m sa bhliain.”

“Is cinneadh gearr-radharcach é an ceangail seo a bhriseadh agus cuireann sé an seans go bhféadfadh an Aerphort an plean forbartha atá acu a chuir i gcrích, i mbaol. Ba chóir don Rialtas an ceangal idir Aer Rianta agus Aerphort na Sionnaine a chaomhnú agus é sin a úsáid chun tacú le Aerphort láidir sa tSionainn a bhuanú, in ionad a bheith ag iarraidh gnó a bhaint ó Aerphort Chnoc Mhuire.”

“Sa bhreis ar sin, ní mór don Rialtas a bheith ag smaoineamh go doimhin ar pholasaí eitlíocht níos leithne agus Straitéis Náisiúnta Eitlíocht chomhtháite a chur le chéile. Níl i gceist le cás na Sionainne agus Cnoc Mhuire ach sampla amháin den bhealach gur féidir coimhlint mífholláín a chothú idir dhá aerphoirt nuair atá easpa cur chuige chomhtháite ann. Bá chóir don Rialtas measúnú a dhéanamh ar an ról atá le n-imirt ag gach Aerphort, ar bhonn uile Éireannach, mar chuid de polasaí eitlíocht níos leithne.”

“Sa bhreis ar sin, ní mór don Rialtas a bheith ag smaoineamh go doimhin ar pholasaí eitlíocht níos leithne agus Straitéis Náisiúnta Eitlíocht chomhtháite a chur le chéile. Níl i gceist le cás na Sionainne agus Cnoc Mhuire ach sampla amháin den bhealach gur féidir coimhlint mífholláín a chothú idir dhá aerphoirt nuair atá easpa cur chuige chomhtháite ann. Bá chóir don Rialtas measúnú a dhéanamh ar an ról atá le n-imirt ag gach Aerphort, ar bhonn uile Éireannach, mar chuid de polasaí eitlíocht níos leithne.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening during his party’s private members’ debate on a motion of no confidence in the government Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín gave a breakdown of how the budget will affect the people of Meath.

Deputy Tóibín also read into the record of the Dáil a very moving letter from a constituent outlining the effects of the budget on her life.

Full text of Deputy Tóibín’s speech follows:

The impact of this budget for people in Meath is that 36,475 families with children in our county lose in excess of €6.4 million in child support. The impact on the 62,000 homes across Meath will be €19.5 million in tax. All of which will be applied despite levels of income.

Tonight I want to relay a sample of the communications that I have received. This is an extract of a letter from a woman called Pauline from Oldcastle, Co Meath who addressed a letter to Fine Gael TD Damien English on the subject of the severe budget cuts. She copied the letter to me.

‘In case the message has not gotten through I would to share a few points.

‘I would like you to know that I, for one, am grateful to your party.

‘Grateful for the chance you have given me to learn to value every penny I haven’t got in my battered old purse.

‘I am grateful to be unemployed, as it has given me the opportunity to rear my own children and I rejoice in their brilliance. I am so grateful for you, as you are showing our young people what not to do it when they gain power.

‘I am grateful that we have no oil to heat our bedrooms as it draws our family around the open fire and improves communication among us.

‘I am grateful for the day that we ran out of bread, and had no money to buy any, because it gave me an opportunity to learn to bake my own.

‘I am grateful that the children’s allowance is cut by €30 for my family every month as it will motivate me to find more teaching work at night to keep the roof over my head.

‘And, hey, let’s not forget to be grateful for the property tax, because it reminds me that I am so, so lucky to have had the opportunity to earn a living for the past 35 years and be in a position to buy a house, a house which will give my son, who has a disability a roof over his head long after I’m gone, so he won’t be a burden on the state.

‘I am also grateful for what’s left of the respite grant, as it will pay for the property tax, not like last year, when it paid for a break for us all.

‘I am grateful for my car, as it helps me get my son to all his hospital appointments and for the hundred euros that I conjure out of thin air every week, as that is what it now costs me to keep my car on the road. I am delighted that, despite my lack of employment, I am able to contribute to the economy by paying the government 57 cent for every Euro I put in my petrol tank, and grateful for the retailers for bringing that to my attention, as I now feel I am more than paying my way.

‘I am grateful that I had enough petrol in my tank on Monday night to drive my son an hour’s drive to casualty when he fell for the seventh time that day, and for the lovely nurse and doctor who, despite their long shift, and awful working conditions, were able to staple him back together.

‘I am also grateful, our local mechanic, who, luckily, fixed my car only that morning and is letting me pay in instalments.

‘I am grateful that my home support hours, which were sanctioned again and again as necessary by every social worker that assessed us are now all gone, because if I was angry about it, it would blacken my heart and make me bitter and sometimes you have to accept the things that nobody is willing to help you with.

‘I am grateful for my good mental health, because most carers in our situation would have been institutionalised by now but I'm still standing.

‘I am grateful for my clear conscience as it means I can hold my head up high in my community despite my lack of employment etc.

‘I am grateful to my parents who are very proud to have reared an honest girl, and I can look them in the eye, knowing I am true to my word and haven’t lied to get to where I am today.

‘I am glad that I gave your party a vote, through you, at the last election, as now I am very clear on who not to vote for at the next one, and clarity can only be a good thing.

‘Finally, it would be helpful if you could take a minute to think about how the cuts your party has designed are going to impact on the vulnerable people of our society, because I can't guarantee that I will not be standing next year if something isn’t reversed and how much do you think the collapse of all the carers in Ireland will cost the state?’

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In a hard hitting speech on her party’s motion of no confidence in the government this evening Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald described the government as the a coalition of the heartless leading the gutless.

Deputy McDonald said;

“This Fine Gael /Labour coalition, is a coalition of the heartless leading the gutless.

“The self-righteous bleating of Fine Gael is rivalled only by the snivelling submission of the Labour party.”

Full text of Deputy McDonald’s speech follows:

On the first day that this Dáil met we were urged by two young, first time government deputies to hang out our brightest colours to welcome the election of Enda Kenny and Éamonn Gilmore as Taoiseach and Tánaiste, and to embrace the new ‘historic moment’ that the Fine Gael/Labour union represented.

The naiivité of those deputies is one thing. The calculated cynicism of their senior colleagues is quite another.

Twenty months in and two budgets on, that cynicism is writ large.

The promise of the democratic revolution was patent nonsense.

Indeed so many of the promises made during the last election and on the formation of government, have been dumped as Labour and Fine Gael adopted the failed policies of their predecessors.

We now realise that this government is actually Fianna Fáil, in all but name.

Different personalities but the same bad political choices, different voices but the same message.

‘We will not have the word defaulter written across our forehead’ – so said Enda Kenny. So the bondholders are paid in full, banks and bankers are propped up, no deal on the debt, no deal on the Anglo promissory note.

The government of tough decisions meekly submits to the will of the big boys at EU level, and the Troika.

High rollers in the public sector, high earners across the economy, the wealthy are all unashamedly, unapologetically protected. Same old same old Fianna Fáil.

The middle classes have been abandoned by this government; left struggling with unmanageable debt, loss of income, loss of hope. The government it seems couldn’t be bothered to shape policy and budget decisions in favour of middle Ireland.

The low paid fare no better. The changes to the PRSI income disregard in the latest budget screams out the government approach. Protect the rich and screw the rest. Same old same old Fianna Fáil.

Deficit reduction is to be achieved by hammering citizens of modest means, by cutting the meagre supports that are afforded to the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the children.

This is toxic stuff – maladministration. It is incompetent, it is the Labour and Fine Gael echo of Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin moved this motion of no confidence in the government because confidence in this administration has now run out.

You should go.

Never mind the re-shuffle signalled by an Taoiseach – just reshuffle yourselves out of office and allow a fresh election in which the electorate have a chance to return a government that will actually protect the common good, defend the collective interest, stand up for citizens and lead from the front.

Twenty months in office and it is clear that you are incapable of any of this.

The government slaps itself on the back for dealing with the economic crisis in ‘as fair a manner as possible’ – to borrow the words of the self-congratulatory amendment you have tabled to our motion.

Last night Ministers Howlin and Varadkar extoled the virtues of their government, it was pretty nauseating stuff. The two boys are clearly not in touch with reality.

The truth is that this government is not interested in fairness. That’s what all the evidence tells us.

The government lives in a bubble, occupies a parallel universe, has a distorted sense of reality.

This Fine Gael /Labour coalition, is a coalition of the heartless leading the gutless.

The self-righteous bleating of Fine Gael is rivalled only by the snivelling submission of the Labour party.

Senior ministers make all the noises about fairness, about understanding the hardship endured by carers and the pressures that parents are under and the rights of children. Joan Burton was at that last night as she introduced her welfare cutbacks. All noise, empty rhetoric, meaning nothing.

When it comes to it you have no problem punishing carers – you will rush through a cut to their respite grant. When it comes to it, all the solemn promises made to children mean nothing – you cut child benefit again, you cut the back to school clothing and footwear allowance again.

The family doesn’t really matter – not to bleeding heart Labour or conservative Fine Gael. Protecting families and family values can be invoked and dispensed with as you see appropriate and as you deem politically advantageous. That’s how you operate.

We are on to you now.

Let me tell you the parents, the carers, the mothers, the women of Ireland see you as you really are now.

And it is not a pretty sight.

A grey, cabal of pompous ego trippers, who beat their chests and lecture us about all the tough decisions you have to take.

People with no clue of what it takes to care for and love a chronically sick child or a profoundly disabled child. With no respect for carers. With no regard for what a loss of €325 means to a carer.

People who cut jobseekers, tax maternity benefit, cut services, heap charges on the ordinary citizen and brazenly defend the very well off.

People who are not worthy to govern because you are so hopelessly out of touch.

Last Friday I thought of the last crowd in government – the utter disgust and despair that they engendered.

They came to my mind as I listened to the parent of a child with spina bifida. A mother who cares for that child 24/7, who tends to that beloved child, who does a service to her family and the state.

That mother cried on the steps of this parliament. Bitter tears of frustration, of impotence, of anger.

When the mother of a spina bifida child is reduced and degraded to tears outside this place then that is the clearest evidence that you must go. This far and no further, enough is enough.

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Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that volunteers in Credit Unions should not be barred from being members of the board in local Credit Unions.

Speaking today Senator Reilly said;

“I tabled amendments today in the Seanad asking the government to allow volunteers serve their community through membership of their local Credit Unions. There is no logic in ruling out volunteers from sitting on the board of their local Credit Unions. I am disappointed by the government’s rejection of my amendments. The effect of that rejection will be extra pressure on local Credit Unions to find capable board members from outside the area.

“There is still time for the government to change the Bill and reverse this nonsensical exclusion. There is a limited pool of skilled and willing people capable of contributing to their local Credit Union and this extra burden is one our Credit Unions could do without.

“Government Senators should explain to our local Credit Unions why they voted against my proposal today.”

ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the Social Welfare Bill Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said this government cherishes CEOs over children and accused the Labour Party of breaking its commitment to protect core social welfare rates when it agreed to cut child benefit.

Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin’s speech follows:

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health & Children

Who were the winners in Budget 2013? The Government pretends there were no winners. But the reality is that the most highly paid, the wealthy elite, escaped yet again and those struggling on the edge of poverty suffered most.

The more you have the least you lose. Winner takes all. These are the mottos of Fine Gael, the big political winners in this Budget. They beat the Labour Party hands down.

Labour boasts that they protected the core social welfare payments. It is a false claim. They claim to have fought the good fight in cabinet and pushed for a 3% increase in the Universal Social Charge for those earning over €100,000. They lost. Michael Noonan rejected them and instead took his lead from the bosses of multinational corporations.

Don’t take my word for it. Minister Noonan has admitted it: “The people who were advising us not to do it were the multinational sector in the country...”

He said it was down to the pay packets of multinational chief executives.

That sums it up. This is the government that cherishes all the CEOs equally. The children are left out in the cold.

I deplore the cuts to Child Benefit in this Budget. They are possibly the most far-reaching of all the cuts. This IS a core payment and it has been slashed, contrary to Labour Party claims and Labour Party pre-election commitments.

The incomes of households with children were already falling further and faster before this budget. The Central Statistics Office Survey on Income and Living Conditions demonstrates that the incomes of households with children fell five times more than the incomes of childless households between 2009 and 2010, the latest figures available.

Households with children are three times more likely to be in debt arising from ordinary living expenses than households without children.

The Social Protection Department’s own value-for-money review of Child Benefit published in 2010 demonstrates the dependence of middle income families on this payment. Its analysis found that households in the 4th and 5th of ten income brackets fall below or onto the poverty line after paying their taxes and it is Child Benefit that then lifts them onto and over the line respectively. These are the families that pay for everything and are entitled to nothing.

The Child Benefit cuts come on top of other penalties and obstacles being encountered by struggling families. In November the Minister informed us that working families who are in poverty and who applied for Family Income Supplement in June of this year may be waiting as long as until April next year for a decision on their claims.

Child care and after school care are extremely expensive. In terms of affordability this State has almost the worst child care and after school care provision in Europe. Working families with young children are spending up to 41% of their income on child care.

According to the Energy Regulator families with children are having the most problems falling into arrears on their energy bills.

Despite Programme for Government commitments, basic healthcare for children is extremely expensive. According to a report by the European Observatory, published at the end of November this year, this is the only State that does not offer universal coverage of primary care. The average cost of a GP visit here is €51 compared to €22 in France. We are one of only three states to charge individuals for essential prescription drugs and common medicines are many multiples more expensive to purchase in Ireland than elsewhere. We are one of only six countries to charge for attending hospital emergency departments. The hospital charge is much higher here than elsewhere – €100 compared to only €2-€30 in the other countries that charge.

And now families who face Child Benefit cuts must also face higher charges for medicines, through the trebling of prescription charges for medical card patients and the increase of the Drugs Payment Scheme monthly ceiling to €144. The reduction of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is another heavy blow to those least able to sustain the hit.
I have no doubt that this Social Welfare Bill, in combination with the Health cuts, will damage the health of children.

It would be fairer, simpler and economically sounder to introduce a third rate of income tax on all high earners. But Fine Gael and Labour Ministers have set their faces against fairness. Will all members of their parliamentary parties follow them?

ENDS

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Gerry Adams