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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Latest Statements

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The Sinn Féin group of TDs attempted to have the announcement by Bord Gáis of an increase in the price it charges for electricity raised in the Dáil this afternoon. Ten TDs tabled requests under Standing Order 32 to have the business of the day suspended in order to have a debate on the issue and to elicit a response from the Minister responsible for the sector Pat Rabbitte.

The issue was also raised in the Seanad today by Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly.

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy, Martin Ferris TD said “I would remind both of the parties in Government that they strongly criticised An Bord Gáis for energy price increases when they were in opposition. They also promised to introduce measures to help those who find themselves in difficulties with gas and electricity bills.

“So far, they have done nothing in that regard, nor do they appear to have any strategy to ensure that public companies like Bord Gáis take into account the wider social costs of such increases.

“This is a major issue and I would call upon the Minister to intervene to have the increase rescinded and to reject the application to increase gas prices. A public company which made profits of €120 million should not be allowed to inflict this further hardship on many thousands of struggling households. We also need to see serious attempts to address the overall problem of fuel poverty.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil this afternoon has called on the government to take urgent and immediate action to introduce ‘emergency legislation before the summer recess’ to protect low paid workers whose take home pay has been put under threat by last week’s High Court decision on JLCs.

He also disputed a claim by the Taoiseach that more time was needed to deal with this issue.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“In the absence of any functioning social partnership, it has become abundantly clear, particularly in light of Thursday's High Court findings in relation to JLCs, that the lowest paid workers and their families have been left in a very vulnerable situation.

“We need immediate action from the government to introduce emergency legislation before the summer recess to provide the protection needed in the short term to those workers who had enjoyed the protection of the JLCs.

“Workers and their families cannot be allowed to remain exposed to exploitation while the government is on holidays.

“In the longer term proper and adequate legislation needs to be introduced to sustain the JLCs and to address the issues raised by the High Court judgement.”

The Sinn Féin leader said “I do not accept the government’s assertion that it cannot bring forward emergency legislation to protect low paid workers.” ENDS

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Speaking in response to last night’s statement by the Eurogroup Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that ‘the Eurogroup is only focusing on half the problem.’ Deputy Doherty also accused the Eurogroup and the Government of ‘running scared of imposing losses on senior bondholders.’

Deputy Doherty said:

“Last nights statement by the Eurogroup demonstrates that the Eurozone Finance Ministers are only focusing on half the problem. Proposals to consider enhancing the flexibility of the EFSF and lowering interest rates are to be welcomed if they lead to a reduction in the debt burden of Ireland and other struggling economies.

“Unfortunately yesterday’s statement does not represent an agreement on either of these issues. Rather it only signals the group’s willingness to agree these matters at some unspecified point in the future. It also lacks any detail on how these changes to the current policy would actually work and whether they would lead to a reduction in Ireland’s debt burden. I am also concerned with what conditions may be attached to these measures.

“Considering the scale of the crisis now facing the Eurozone, with Italian and Spanish bond yields fast approaching unsustainable levels, yesterday’s Statement falls far short of the decisive action that is required.

“It is clear that the Eurogroup and the Irish government have yet to accept that the central problem for Ireland is the massive amount of private banking debt being carried by the taxpayer.

“Any reduction in the interest rate charged on the EFSF would be welcome. However the total saving to the state from a 1% cut in this rate would only reduce the states debt burden by a fraction of a per cent.

“The Government and the Eurogroup are running scared of imposing losses on senior bondholders. The Government need to put the issue of burden sharing front and centre in all discussions with the European Council and the Eurogroup. The only way for Ireland’s debt to become manageable is if the burden of private banking debt is taken off the shoulders of the taxpayer.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the current approach of the EU is not working. We need a new EU wide debt resolution programme which assists member states to reduce levels of debt one the one hand while assisting them to stimulate their economies on the other.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the admission by the HSE that Roscommon Hospital was not visited by HIQA, nor was a stand-alone report on the hospital conducted by HIQA, shows the folly of Health Minister James Reilly’s decision to axe the Emergency Department.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“It is now confirmed by the HSE that HIQA inspectors never visited Roscommon Hospital and that a stand-alone report on the hospital was never conducted. The mortality figures for Roscommon quoted by Health Minister James Reilly are also hotly disputed.

“Minister Reilly has used PR spin to cover the inadequate and cobbled together arrangements to replace the Emergency Department at Roscommon. It emerged at the weekend that the Minister himself pushed for the use of the term ‘urgent care centre’ to describe the minor injuries unit, medical assessment unit and planned – but not yet agreed – GP out of hours service. This only caused confusion as did the Minister’s erroneous statement that GPs would be operating a ‘drop-in centre’ at the hospital.

“The Irish Medical News this week reports the Minister as saying that wider plans to change the role of smaller hospitals have not yet been agreed but are being discussed by the Government. The Minister claims that further plans for reducing services in smaller hospitals have not been signed off by him and will not be before full consultation.

“The Minister should immediately restore the Emergency Department at Roscommon and should come before the Dáil before the summer recess to explain fully what his and his Government’s policy is on the configuration of hospital services in this State, especially his plans for smaller hospitals.”

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A delegation of the Save Navan Hospital Campaign has secured a meeting with the Minister for Health James Reilly tomorrow, Wednesday. It will come immediately after a meeting between the minister and senior medical staff from Meath.

According to the Chairperson of the Save Navan Hospital Campaign Deputy Peadar Tóibín, the aim of the meeting from the campaign's perspective is to ensure that all existing services are fully maintained, including A&E, and that basic and intermediate level surgery is returned.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Our hospital has suffered a multitude of cuts over the years and if this trend continues we will have nothing more than a cottage hospital in the county. We were given a solemn promise before the election that elective surgery would be returned and that other services would be defended. We were also promised that a new regional hospital would be built in Meath within five years.

“Throughout the state there is enormous pressure coming from the HSE to close services. We have seen this in Mallow and Roscommon. We are determined that it will not happen in Meath. Its clear from the Denis Naughton affair that assurances given prior to the election are not water tight so we will be going to the Minister looking for proof and cast iron guarantees that our hospital is safe.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast Jennifer McCann has slammed those responsible for last nights riot at Broadway and urged young people not to get caught up is such behaviour.


Speaking today Ms McCann said:

"Last nights riot was caused by anti social element coming together at one spot in West Belfast, attacking the police and destroying the local area. There was clearly no rationale for gathering last night at Broadway other than the purpose of having a riot.

"Those behind it  are not welcome here and they are the very same people who are responsible for anti social behaviour throughout the year within west Belfast.

"They have left this community in shock. Children were terrified in their homes, people were  fearful that their cars might be hijacked, people were fearful that their homes might be attacked.

"When it is all done what we have is the local community having to pick up the pieces.

"I am appealing to young people who may be caught up in this behaviour and to stay away from Broadway, Ardoyne or anywhere else there may be a chance of trouble. The local community and residents are working hard to stop such activity and we will continue to do so."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said the controversy surrounding the closure of Roscommon Hospital Emergency Department has put the Taoiseach’s credibility on the line.

Mr Adams said it is clear that Enda Kenny has broken a personal commitment he gave to retain services at Roscommon Hospital.

Mr Adams said the Labour Party is also guilty of breaking election promises as its candidate in Roscommon gave a commitment on behalf of his party to retain services at Roscommon.

He said:

“The controversy surrounding Roscommon Hospital has now turned into an issue of credibility for Enda Kenny. It is clear that he has broken a personal commitment to retain services at Roscommon Hospital.

“The credibility of the Labour Party is now also on the line after its Roscommon based candidate and now Senator John Kelly gave a commitment to the hospital when he said:

‘If services are downgraded at Roscommon between now and the election, and Fianna Fail do not deliver, then Mr. Gilmore will speak to me after the election as the Labour TD for Roscommon, if I am fortunate enough to be given that mandate by the people.

‘I don’t think the position can be put any further – vote for Labour to secure the future of Roscommon hospital.’

“Less than five months after the general election, in which people thought they were voting for change, we are seeing a crisis in our hospital services brought on by a continuation of the policies of the previous Government.

“Citizens deserve better than that. The Taoiseach and Fine Gael should keep their election promises. Full A&E services should be restored to Roscommon Hospital.” ENDS

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Speaking at a protest at Tallaght Hospital today Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to honour his pre-election commitment to protect hospital services.

Deputy Crowe said:

“The Taoiseach Enda Kenny needs to honour his pre election pledge to the people and protect hospital services.

“Before the election the Government promised to protect hospital services. As we see from the Roscommon Hospital controversy it is clear that the Taoiseach was either making false promises or is suffering from a severe lapse of memory.

“Health Minister James Reilly also gave a commitment in writing at that time and the two local Fine Gael TDs also gave similar assurances to the electorate.

“The priority now has to be that the needs of the people served by this hospital be met and their Accident and Emergency service kept open.

“The axing of Roscommon and the withdrawal of vital resources and supports in other Accident & Emergency is motivated primarily by budgetary considerations and has nothing to with patient safety.

“Like the rest of the Fine Gael/Labour/IMF/ECB imposed health cuts, they need to be addressed urgently and reversed.”

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Energy, Martin Ferris TD, has called on the Energy Regulator to rescind a 10% increase in electricity prices which An Bord Gáis is to announce this week. He has also called on the regulator to reject a request from the company for an increase to gas prices.

Deputy Ferris said:

“While An Bord Gáis claims that it needs to increase prices because of the global market, the company has made substantial profits of late. An increase in energy costs now will push people further into fuel poverty and undoubtedly lead to an increase in the numbers of people in arrears and who are therefore in danger of disconnection.

“The energy suppliers themselves have recognised the obvious connection between price increases and failure to pay bills. That obviously impacts on the company’s income and so it makes no sense to impose further increases at a time when many thousands of people are already in difficulties. I am therefore calling on the regulator to rescind this increase and to reject the company’s application for an increase in gas prices.”

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