North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed High Court decision to uphold the restrictions on the Ballymaconnolly parade in Rasharkin this evening.
Mr McKay said
"The attempt to overturn the Parades Commission determination on this parade would have resulted in a huge procession taking place in the village this evening with 44 bands.
“The original decision by the Commission to limit the number of bands to 25 is a step in the right direction and came after another year when the band refused to engage with local residents in Rasharkin.
"Residents here want this evening to pass off peacefully and to see the Ballymaconnolly band take meaningful steps to enter into engagement with residents rather than have this situation develop year after year."
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has welcomed a proposed 25 per cent cut in the fees barristers charge for government work, as well as the proposal to introduce a more transparent pricing system that will hopefully reduce legal fees to the State.
Describing the changes as “long overdue”, Deputy Crowe said that plans by the State Claims Agency to cut legal charges by up to 25 per cent in a new system which will set maximum fee limits for specific elements of work performed by barristers must be implemented without delay.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The State Claims Agency, which deals with personal injury and property damage claims against 54 state bodies aims to have in place a scheme which would reduce the pay of barristers by mid-November. This follows a similar initiative two years ago which the agency claims will cut fees by between 20 and 25 per cent.
“The massively excessive fees paid to barristers and solicitors over the past decade and beyond should have been capped by the previous governments. The tribunals into planning and corrupt payments to politicians became a “gravy train” that cost the State and tax payers hundreds of millions in legal fees. We know from a breakdown of the fees paid out, that it also made multi-millionaires of many people working in the legal profession.
“One of the worst examples of this flawed system was the money that was paid to the legal profession under the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which was established to compensate the survivors of residential abuse. In 2010, €157m had been paid in legal fees to barristers and solicitors who worked on behalf of the victims of institutional abuse which was more than 15% of all the money paid out as part of the Redress Scheme for thousands of people who suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse in Industrial Schools and other Institutions.
“This was never what the Redress Board was supposed to be about.
“The millions spent in processing claims while many victims got a pittance added to the sense of hurt and should have gone directly to the victims and their families.
“I hope these changes signal a new approach and will ensure that the excessive amounts of money paid to barristers in the past from the state purse will never again be repeated.”
Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has called on the University of Ulster to immediately clarify to individual students whether they have or haven’t been offered places at the campus.
His comment follows the revelation that more than 400 students were told via e-mail that they were getting a place at the university only to have the offers withdrawn hours later.
Mr McElduff said,
“Not only has this caused immense disappointment amongst the students but also created uncertainty and confusion as to who is actually going to be offered a place at the university.
“The University of Ulster needs to clarify to the students immediately at to which offer is genuine and make sure this will not be allowed to happen again.”
The Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín, who is the cathaoirleach of the Save Navan Hospital Campaign, has stated that “essential services at hospitals in the HSE north east region will not be viable if new government cuts go ahead.”
According to Deputy Tóibín it has come to his attention that “the HSE aims to strip hospitals in the north east of all agency staff working at the hospital. This is the latest blow to our own hospital in Navan which was just two weeks ago reeling from the announcement by the HSE that it sought to cut overnight A&E at the hospital, a cut which is being opposed by over 100 local doctors.
“Although Our Lady’s Hospital Navan is not the only hospital which will see its agency staff cut, it will suffer greater proportionally. It is my understanding that a significant number of permanent staff at Navan Hospital have been transferred to Drogheda over that last few years and have been replaced by agency staff in Navan. Agency staff cost the state 1.8 times that of a full time staff member.
“Between 80 and 100 nurses and midwives will be cut over a six week period, not to mention speech therapists, cardiac technicians, laboratory technicians and many others. None of these will be replaced unless the moratorium on employing staff in the health services is lifted. This is being planned at a time when Drogheda has the biggest trolley waiting list in the state.
“I have written to all the government TDs in the county to ask them to stand with the hospital campaign in preventing the overnight A&E closure and the culling of critical agency staff. Government TDs voted for a €750 million cut to the HSE budget last December which is directly leading to these cuts. They will be asked by their Ministers to vote for similar cuts again this December. The actions of the government TDs directly determine whether we have a functioning hospital in Meath or not. I am asking them to make that choice now and stand up for Our Lady’s Hospital Navan.”
Responding to an Irish Independent report on the attendance in the Dáil of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said:
“The Irish Independent’s figures
relate only for the period from January to June. The paper ignores July when
the Dáil sat 11 days and the Sinn Féin leader was present for each day.
“So far this year Gerry Adams
has attended 62 out of the 79 sitting days. This is a 78.5% attendance record
on sitting days. On at least one of the days Gerry Adams was in attendance but
did not sign in.
“The Sinn Féin President – who
is the leader of the only all-Ireland party - has also attended the Dáil on 16
non sitting days, which makes a total of 78 days, to carry out his Dáil and
“In his first year as a TD Gerry Adams fulfilled the requisite number of attendance days and according to KildareStreet.com, Gerry Adams has spoken in 249 debates in the last year — well above average among TDs, and has received answers to 852 written questions in the last year — well above average among TDs.
“While Mr. Adams fully carries out his Dáil duties in holding the Taoiseach to account, the Sinn Féin President makes no apologies for taking time to travel to constituencies across the state – in particular in rural Ireland - to meet with those communities and citizens suffering as a result of this Government’s policies of austerity.
“Mr. Adams was also involved in
the Referendum campaign.
“This combined with days when he
was unable to attend due to bereavements and several days when he was off due
to personal injury account for his Dáil attendance figures.
“With regard to Leaders’
Questions it has become the norm for the Deputy Leader of all parties to take
this debate on a Thursday, with the Taoiseach generally being replaced by Eamon
Gilmore. Our own Deputy Leader Mary Lou
McDonald has played an effective role in this regard and has provided strong
opposition during these debates.
“Gerry Adams is an effective
Dáil and constituency representative for the people of Louth and East Meath and
party leader for Sinn Féin.
“The success of this work and the effectiveness of Sinn Féin’s alternative policies can be seen in the strong support for Sinn Féin and for Gerry Adams as party leader in Opinion polls since the last general election.”
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has said the decision by the children's Charity Barnardos to close its offices and services in the State for a week highlights the difficult financial pressures being experienced by Advocacy Groups and Charitable Organisations.
Deputy Crowe said:
“I understand the decision taken by Barnardos to close its offices for a week was made in late 2011 as a drastic cost saving measure to protect their services to children and families. This drastic measure was in response to increased financial pressure following cuts to Barnardos statutory income and a decline in voluntary contributions. While all of Barnardos services are closed this week, the Charity's seven shops will remain open.
“The suspension of Barnardos services comes at a time when there are increasing demands being placed on all groups dealing with poverty and disadvantage. It reflects the growing hardship being experienced by families who are struggling to cope in the face of rising unemployment, falling wages, cuts to benefits and increases in the cost of living.
“Organisations like Barnardos are on the frontline when dealing with these issues and they are often the last resource available to people who are experiencing the worst effects of the recession.
“It is a tribute to the commitment of their workers and highly commendable that the Barnardos staff voluntarily suspended their salary costs for a week to ensure services could continue. This important measure is more evidence of the staff’s commitment and dedication to the important work they are carrying out every day.
“Clearly however, the funding shortages being experienced by Barnardos are not sustainable and are compromising the important work they carry out with children and families and it is an issue that this Government must urgently address.
“With the rise in those at risk or already living in abject poverty and in the face of falling donations, it is essential that Barnardos and other charity organisations receive the necessary support that allows them to fulfil their important role in helping and supporting people who are most in need.”
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said threats by an armed vigilante gang in a reported dispute over bonfire material in Derry stands in stark contrast to the work carried out in the city by community groups offering positive alternatives to bonfires.
The Derry MLA said:
"People will find it incredible that a number of teenagers from Creggan have been issued with a death threat and ordered to leave Derry in 24 hours in a reported dispute over bonfire material. There is a lot of anger and frustration in the area about the actions of these self-appointed armed groups.
“This stands in stark contrast to the outstanding work carried out right across the city in the last few weeks by community organisations offering positive alternatives to bonfires.
"The seriousness of this situation cannot be understated and I condemn those behind these latest death threats. The local community is demanding that these armed gangs, no matter what umbrella or names they operate under, disband and lift the atmosphere of intimidation hanging over the Creggan community.
"I repeat our party's call earlier this year to anyone involved with vigilante groups, who has any concern for the people of Derry and wider area, to stop and examine the negative impact of their actions.
"They should walk away from those who are directing this community intimidation before they inflict further hurt on their own people.”
Sinn Fein's Welfare Rights spokesperson Mickey Brady has appealed for people to respond promptly to the Department of Social Development's consultation on benefits assessments.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said:
"Many of us working in the welfare sector would have concerns about the processes of the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) and its impact on our most vulnerable citizens.
“Therefore I am appealing to groups and individuals, particularly within the disability/mental health sectors and those that have already fallen foul of the system to bring that evidence forward and help us challenge and change this system.
“The Social Development Minister has launched a short consultation on the Work Capability Assessment process which closes on September 14th and its vital evidence is presented by those that know best such as advice workers and clients.
“There is no doubt that within our communities people are fearful of the whole Tory welfare reform agenda and through using our influence and presenting the facts we are seeking to protect those worst affected.
“I've written today to a range of groups in the sector appealing for them to avail of this opportunity and demonstrate the negative impact being experienced by many people undergoing this assessment process."
The document is available at:
Responses should be sent to:
The consultation runs until 14/09/2012
Commenting on the threat of legal action against people who have not paid the Household Charge, Sinn Féin Local Government spokesperson Brian Stanley TD said the charge is both unfair and a failure in terms of revenue-raising and should be abolished.
“The threat of legal action against hundreds of thousands of people for non-payment of the Household Charge only goes to show what a massive failure this unfair charge has been. The Local Government Management Agency, at the behest of Minister Phil Hogan, is now attempting to frighten people into paying by sending further warning letters and raising the prospect of legal action. How much is it going to cost to haul such a huge number of people before the courts?
“This unjust charge has been a complete failure in terms of revenue raising, yet the Fine Gael/Labour government has made local government dependent upon it, fully realising that major cuts in services will result.
“The Household Charge should be abolished once and for all and a fair taxation strategy put in its place, ensuring that those on higher incomes pay their proper share and that real wealth is taxed.”
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on the Government to reduce the 23% VAT rate on electronic school books so that the saving can be passed on directly to students and their parents.
The Dublin South West TD was supporting calls from the Irish Education Publishers’ Association (IEPA) who claim that the 23% rate means parents and schoolchildren are not getting the full benefit from e-books.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The cost of school books rises as children pass through the education system, with parents being charged on average between €50 and €100 for books for a junior infants pupil and over €250 for a first year pupil. Another factor is the high cost and constant changing of books used in the school curriculum system. Unless more and more schools implement a book rental scheme many parents will continue to struggle to meet payments for their children's education.
"We also know that the volume and weight of schoolbooks has impacted negatively on the health of children and has become an increased problem in recent years for students of all sizes and ages. The problems of their weight has been raised by Irish educators, parents groups and teachers representatives in various fora and education conferences down through the years.
"The Minister Ruairí Quinn and the Department of Education needs to show initiative and greater imagination when addressing the issue of books and e-books and their long term impact on Irish students.
“Over one third of Irish schools use an electronic version of a book which imposes an initially high cost on parents when paying for a table computer to read them on. This is supposed to be off-set through the use of e-books which are meant to be cheaper in the long-term with costs down to between 20% – 35%. However, if claims by the Irish Educational Publishers Association (IEPA) are correct, then the 23% VAT rate being charged on electronic books means any potential savings are being cancelled out.
“It is simply not good enough for Finance Minister Michael Noonan to rule out reducing the VAT on e-books by blaming EU laws which require all digitised publications to be treated as a supply of service. Electronic school books are essential to a child’s education and they should be exempt from the excessive VAT rate of 23%.
"I fully support the IEPA in its call for a reduction in the VAT rate, Finance Minister Michael Noonan needs to wake up to the negative impact this unfair tax is having on Irish parents and encourage the greater roll out of e -books in the Irish education system."
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that the latest Farm Modernisation Programme will open on the 4th September.
Mr. McMullan said,
“The Farm Modernisation Programme is used to help farmers utilise the latest technology so farmers can make their farm more efficient and safe. It is crucial that our agriculture industry is at the forefront of technology so it can compete in the global market that farming has become
“It is also important that we improve safety by having good reliable, modern equipment on the farm.
“Since the introduction of the scheme nearly 3000 farmers have benefited and this tranche will make another £5.5million available so other farmers can also upgrade their machinery.
“The Farm Modernisation Programme has proved popular with farmers in the past so I would appeal to all farmers whether large or small to apply before the closure date of the 19th October 2012 in order to qualify for a payment.”
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan, who is the Deputy Chair of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee, responding to the latest increase in unemployment figures, said:
“The release of the latest unemployment figures and the realisation that we are a long way from a turning point in this recession is a startling drop back to earth after the very positive mood of the last few weeks as a result of the success of our top sports competitors.
“Arlene Foster is right when she says that ‘it is time for a renewed and robust strategy to tackle unemployment.’ If she is genuine in her approach, then she will have my full support.
“However, this must include exploring any and all possibilities which are available to grow our economy and create jobs; flippantly refusing to co-operate on an all-island basis on our two key target industries, agri-food and tourism is not acceptable.
“If we are to have a renewed and robust strategy then this must include a proper economic analysis of the benefits of greater cross-border integration in these areas.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard has congratulated everyone on their efforts to achieve top A-Level results.
Mr Hazzard said,
“I believe that we will see record grades when the A-Level results are announced and I would like to congratulate everyone who have worked hard to achieve this.
“As more and more students opt to stay and apply for Universities closer to home the number of students applying has increased immensely.
“I would also like to say that those people who do not get the grades they were expecting not to panic but to talk to their local teachers and to the universities they have applied for in order to find the correct course or alternative option.
“I am however concerned that although we will see more young people receive top grades less and less will be able to take up the option of third level education due to the huge costs involved.
“It is important that third level education is accessible and affordable to all members of society and Sinn Féin will continue to work to ensure that this is the case.”
The Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has congratulated all those students who sat the Leaving Certificate and received their results today.
Deputy Crowe also commended the fall in failure rate in maths as well as the 11 per cent increase in those taking higher level Irish.
Deputy Crowe said:
“I wish to congratulate all those who sat their Leaving Certificate this year. This is a difficult and challenging time in every young person’s life and students should rightfully be commended for their hard work throughout their time in school. A whole new host of challenges now face these young people who are entering a new chapter in their lives.
“I want to draw special attention to the fall in the number of those failing maths and also the increased uptake in those taking higher level Irish.
“Last year I called on the State Examinations Commission and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to seriously assess the criticism levelled at the maths curriculum and take steps to improve the content and fairness of the exam. The 20% fall in failure rates is to be welcomed, as is the increase in students taking the higher level maths paper. However with the number failing maths still relatively high at 4,000 it is clear that more now must be done to deal with this issue in the coming years.
“I also want to commend the increase in those taking higher level Irish. This has been attributed to the new marking scheme which awards 40 per cent for the oral exam. Sinn Féin supported this measure when it was first introduced by Mary Hanafin in 2007 and has long been supportive of measures to reform the Irish curriculum to place a greater emphasis on the spoken language. This now seems to have paid off with an 11 per cent increase in those taking the higher level paper. This is very encouraging and should be built upon.
“With the first round of CAO offers coming out next Monday those students hoping to enter third level education will have a lot of challenges ahead of them. The points race will be difficult with points for courses such as science, technology, engineering and agriculture expected to increase.
“For now however I want to wish the class of 2012 all the very best for the road ahead which will be full of new challenges and experiences. Comhghairdeas libh uilig.”
Tá fáilte curtha roimh Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann go Contae an Chabháin ag Teachta Dála Shinn Féin Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (An Cabhán agus Muineachán). Chuir sé fáilte chomh maith roimh an Seastán Ghaeilge atá ag Sinn Féin ag an Fleadh den chéad uair. Dúirt an Teachta Ó Caoláin:
“Arís i mbliana tá an féile cheoil is mó sa tír anseo i gContae an Chabháin agus tá fáilte mór roimh Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Molaim an Coiste as an obair iontach atá déanta acu le blianta anuas chun Fleadhanna den chéad scoth a eagrú i mBaile an Chabháin.
“Cuirim fáilte speisialta roimh Seastán Gaeilge Shinn Féin atá ag an Fleadh den chéad uair i mbliana agus go hairithe roimh Oifigeach Naisiúnta Ghaeilge an phairtí Liadh Ní Riada. Tá eolas á chur ar fáil aici roimh aidhmeanna agus spriocanna an phairtí ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Léiríonn sé seo an obair atá ar siúl ag an páirtí chun an teanga a chur chun cinn.
“Gúim gach rath ar Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2012 agus tá a fhios agam go mbainfidh na céadta míle cuairteoirí taitneamh as.”
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the additional restrictions that have been placed on the Ballymaconnolly parade in Rasharkin this Friday night. The parade has had the number of bands allowed to participate reduced for the first time from 44 down to 25 bands.
The Sinn Féin MLA said:
"Clearly the additional restrictions on the Ballymaconnolly band parade are to be welcomed and the reduction in band numbers is a step in the right direction by the Parades Commission. Ultimately though the determination should have gone further and the only way this contentious parade can be resolved is through dialogue between local residents and the Ballymaconnolly band.
“The determination issued makes a clear reference to that and also the fact that the band's stance on engaging with residents is unacceptable.
"For the first time the Commission has said that only a limited number of flags can be unfurled along the most contentious part of the route.
“While I would have preferred that UVF and UDA flags had been banned from the parade altogether, there is an onus on the organisers to ensure that these are not unfurled as the Parade Commission have specified and there is also an onus on the PSNI to ensure that this is the case.
"This parade has caused significant damage to community relations in this area and it will again cause significant disruption in the village this Friday night. The invitation of loyalist paramilitary bands into a small village like this with a mainly Catholic population is clearly sectarian and it must stop.
“The Residents Association has made it clear that they are willing to accommodate unionist parades that are of an acceptable size and which are not intimidating or sectarian in nature. That is a reasonable position. Rather than cause further division the band needs sit down and talk with the residents now."
Sinn Féin comment on NIO consultation
Commenting on a statement from Owen Patterson announcing a public consultation into issues affecting the Assembly, Sinn Féin assembly Group leader Raymond McCartney said:
"Any agreements on the future operation of the Assembly will be reached by the local political parties.
"This is the second time in the past number of weeks that Mr Patterson has made clumsy attempts to make himself relevant to politics here.
"Sinn Féin will not tolerate any attempts by Mr Patterson or anyone else to undermine the power sharing and equality provisions which lie at the heart of the successful operation of the political institutions."
Sinn Féin has expressed concern at the news today that an examiner has been appointed to Cappoquin Poultry Ltd.
The chicken processing company employs 130 people in the West Waterford community.
Sinn Féin County Councillor for the area Brendan Mansfield has stated that the examiner and local representatives must do all in their power to ensure that the jobs are maintained.
Councillor Mansfield said:
“The news today that an examiner has been appointed to CPL is deeply worrying. Cappoquin has long been associated with the poultry business and the sector has provided much employment in the area over the course of many years.
“It is my view that this is a viable company and I would call on the examiner to ensure that the jobs are maintained. The loss of these jobs would be devastating, not only to the individual workers, but to the community in West Waterford as a whole.
“West Waterford has already been badly hit by unemployment, and as Senator David Cullinane has regularly highlighted in the Seanad, Waterford’s unemployment rate is already well in excess of the national average. Local representatives, and in particular Government representatives, need to do all in their power to ensure that these jobs are not lost.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has demanded that the Labour Party clarify its stance in relation to comments made by the Labour Party’s former General Secretary Brendan Halligan at the Parnell Summer School.
Halligan criticised Ireland’s requirement to hold referenda on EU treaties because he feels the chances of a referenda being lost is “unacceptably high”.
The former Labour Party Oireachtas member proposed that the Constitutional Convention examine ways of “expressing Ireland’s political commitment to membership of the EU as an enduring policy choice” so as to avoid the necessity for future referenda.
Pearse Doherty described the proposal as “outrageous” and “fundamentally undemocratic.”
“That the Chairperson of the Institute of International and European Affairs and key Labour Party member would make such comments is outrageous.
“Not only are Mr Halligan’s views fundamentally undemocratic but he is also engaged in blatant scaremongering.
"Mr Halligan alleges that Ireland’s EU membership is being put ‘on the line’ by subjecting EU treaties to ratification.
“It is a fundamental democratic right for the Irish people to decide on changes to their constitution, particularly those as far reaching and significant as recent EU treaties.
“Successive governments have consistently eroded Irish sovereignty be that by surrendering key decision-making powers to the EU and IMF or by attempts to avoid referenda on EU treaties.
“The fact is that Ireland’s place in the EU is secure. Allowing the people to have their say on EU treaties does not change that. Those pretending otherwise are being mischievous.
“It has long been clear that the Labour Party is clearly more concerned with kow-towing to the diktats of an elite political group in the EU rather than listening to the views of the Irish people.
“Mr Halligan is a longstanding and key member of the Labour Party in terms of policy making. Labour now needs to make it clear to the people whether Mr Halligan’s view is also the Labour Party’s view.”
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has said that the drastic cuts to ambulance services in Dublin City, County and its hinterland will inevitably put lives at risk and lead to longer response times from a vastly reduced service.
Crowe was speaking after being informed that the Tallaght area was to be short of an Ambulance at Airton Road this evening (Tuesday) between the hours of 7pm and 7am. Deputy Crowe said that this was “gambling with people’s lives.”
Deputy Crowe said:
“Last night the Swords area was without a HSE ambulance between the hours of 7am and 7pm. This evening the traditional HSE ambulance cover from Airton Road in Tallaght will be missing.
“This reduced service is the result of official strategic decisions on the part of the HSE and is happening because of funding cutbacks. Traditional HSE ambulance service coverage in areas like Maynooth, Kildare, Balbriggan, Baltinglass and Arklow are also going to be reduced in the coming days.
“This will place additional pressure on existing services and will make response times even longer. It also comes in the wake of a reduction of the working week from 40 hours to 39 hours which has resulted in the loss of ambulance cover leaving one Dublin fire brigade ambulance operating out of the Belgard Road when normally a second ambulance is available.
“The HSE will claim that the fire brigade service or a first responder car with one individual in it can provide adequate cover.
“As an elected representative I am asking what I believe is a reasonable question - is the service that they are leaving behind sufficient or able to cover the growing population of Dublin and its hinterland?
“In my opinion the HSE are gambling with people’s lives.
“How can anyone concerned about safety claim that this policy won’t lead to seriously injured or ill people being left without assistance.
“This roster cut and the gamble involved will inevitably lead to the loss of someone’s life
“Ambulance staff are now not being covered if off sick or on annual leave. This is also putting additional pressure on the limited service.
“I have written to Health Minister James Reilly on this matter and have called on him to immediately convene a meeting of the HSE to discuss this life and death matter.”