Please watch and share this exclusive interview below which tells a bit of her life story as a mother of two from a small village in County Tyrone, her work in politics and in the Executive, standing up for equality, respect and integrity in government and continuing the work that Martin McGuinness has done stretching himself for peace and reconciliation.
Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary Carol Nolan has said that the hypocrisy and sheer brass neck of Fianna Fáil on workers’ rights is staggering. Teachta Nolan was speaking during the debate on the Industrial Relations (Right to Access) Bill yesterday evening in the Dáil.
Teachta Nolan said:
“We had Micheál Martin stand up here in this house this very morning during Leader’s Questions and speak about the race to the bottom, terms and conditions for Bus Éireann workers and also the need for the Minister to engage with the unions.
“He waxed lyrical about the need to protect workers – to ensure they don’t bear the brunt of government policy.
“Yet now, when Fianna Fáil have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, to do something that will bring positive change to workers, to help stop that race to the bottom, the fake outrage and concern has disappeared, as has Micheál Martin.
“Fianna Fáil show their contempt for ordinary workers as they stand firmly behind the corporations that reap millions in profits on the back of the sweat and hard work of our people.
“The Bill simply gives trade unions the right to meet their members regarding official trade union business in the workplace.
“It seeks to limit the ability of employers to undermine trade union membership and the solidarity of workers.
“I am asking again that all deputies in this house stand with ordinary workers across this state and support this legislation.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed deep concern at the potential closure of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Sligo, which services large parts of the west & northwest.
Farming groups from around the north west protested at the Lab in Sligo today.
Matt Carthy, a member of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee said:
“I am deeply concerned at the potential closure of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Regional Veterinary Lab in Sligo, which services large parts of the west & northwest.
“Apart from the blow to workers at the lab, any closure would have a significant negative impact on farming communities in the north west.
“The situation again raises questions regarding regional imbalance in services and infrastructure.
“Any closure will mean that farmers in the North West will be forced to make lengthy journeys to avail of services to labs in other parts of the country.
“This lab performed over 3,000 post mortems on cattle and sheep in 2016 and tested nearly 30,000 samples from farmers. It is a vital service for suckler, beef and sheep farmers in this region.
“I will be in contact with the Minister for Agriculture to seek to ensure that diagnostic services in the north west, which are important in protecting the health status of the national herd, and which are important for the wider rural economy are maintained, and that this lab remains open.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the Minister for Housing for again not showing enough urgency in dealing with the housing crisis. Deputy Ó Broin was commenting on the allocation of a paltry additional €26m that will bring only 0.4% of the vacant properties across the state back into use.
Ó Broin said:
“The Repair and Leasing scheme is a good initiative. Since the pilot seems to be working well in Waterford and Carlow, I cannot understand why the Minister is not more ambitious for the roll out of the scheme.
“There are over 198,000 vacant properties across the state. This is more than enough homes to take people out of emergency accommodation and off waiting lists. Targeting only 800 vacant properties and providing only €26m in additional funding demonstrates how this Fine Gael led government has not got its spending priorities right.
“Having an ambitious plan in place that can facilitate the quick turnaround of the maximum amount of vacant properties is an obvious solution to the housing supply crisis in this state. The Minister says funding is not an issue. Therefore, he must demonstrate a clear sense of urgency regarding the statewide roll out of this scheme and adjust his target beyond an inadequate 800 homes.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD and junior spokesperson Denise Mitchell TD have urged all TDs to support the Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age Bill being debated this evening.
Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate, Teachta Brady said:
“One of the greatest challenges facing us as a country is sustaining the State Pension into the future. We know that pensions are continually referred to as a ticking time bomb.
“This Bill is about giving workers a choice when it comes to their retirement. That is the issue that TDs are being asked to vote on.
“And if this Bill is passed, it will do much more than simply abolish mandatory retirement. This Bill will end the scandal of 65 year olds being forced onto Jobseekers payments. It will allow those that have not reached the necessary 520 contributions for the State Pension an opportunity to continue at work and avoid a reduced pension payment.
“Financially from a Government perspective, workers continuing to pay into the Exchequer rather than receiving payments from it will save money.”
Teachta Denise Mitchell concluded:
“Minister Varadkar, as recently as last month, announced his intentions to make mandatory retirement ages illegal. This Bill provides him with the perfect opportunity to honour that commitment and do this.
“The abolition of mandatory retirement has been a long standing policy of Fianna Fáil’s and I urge them to support this Bill for the benefit of older workers.”
Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane TD has expressed alarm at the threat to psychiatric services at University Hospital Waterford. He said the threat by the Mental Health Commission to close 8 of the 14 acute mental health beds is a direct result of bad policy and underinvestment.
Speaking to a motion he submitted in the Dáil on the issue Deputy Cullinane said:
“It is without alarm that I learned of the proposal from the Mental Health Commission to reduce acute psychiatric bed capacity at University Hospital Waterford. It is all the more distressing given that the reason is due to their fears of the current system and a lack of capacity.
“The Mental Health Commission quite rightly point to a lack of staff, a lack of therapies and therapists, a lack of psychiatrists and a lack of recreational and physical space at the existing unit.
“However it is completely unacceptable that patients in Waterford and Wexford with mental health issues be punished for the failure by Government to invest.
“Today I received correspondence from a constituent who suffers from mental health issues.
“Her name is Antoinette Murphy. “She runs an organisation called Candles in the Dark and is campaigning for improved mental health services.
She sent me the following note:
“On Monday 23rd January I presented to the Emergency Department at University Hospital Waterford.
I was suffering from chest pains and was having a panic attack.
I was seen by a psychiatrist but was informed that due to a shortage of beds I could not be admitted.
I was turned away and I was left devastated.
The staff informed me that I was the fourth person to be turned away that night.
How is it allowed (she asks) that people with suicidal ideation are turned away without adequate supports.
I would have gladly sat on a glass floor rather than being sent home.
I was left at home and suffered multiple panic attacks since.
Do those in authority understand what it is like to suffer from mental health issues?
Why do they allow a grossly inadequate system to remain in place?”
“It is hard not to agree with the questions Antoinette poses.
“If beds are closed more people will be turned away and deprived of services. This cannot and will not be tolerated.
“The Minister failed to give assurances that beds will not be closed and services reduced. We cannot and should not tolerate any diminution of mental health services at UHW.”
Sinn Féin's Sinéad Ennis has said the planned closure of half of the First Trust bank branches in the north will hit rural areas particularly hard.
The South Down Assembly election candidate said:
"News that First Trust bank is planning to close half of its branches across the north will come as a shock to many.
"Bank branches provide a key service in many local communities for both small businesses and personal banking customers.
"The loss of these branches will be particularly keenly felt in rural areas with people having to travel longer distances to access a bank.
"The news will also come as a blow to bank staff who will be facing an uncertain future following this announcement."
David Cullinane TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson for workers rights, said this evening that it is inexplicible as to why Fianna Fail would block legislation designed to allow workers access to their rights.
Speaking after the Dáil debate on his Right to Access Bill, Deputy Cullinane said:
"There is nothing more intimidating than having an employer threaten you with the sack if you do not do as they say. Te reason why we have trade unions is to protect workers in this situation. And for that to happen they need to be able to meet their members.
"My bill gives a legislative structure to this balanced and reasonable right, and yet Fianna Fáil have said that they will vote against it.
"I fail to see how allowing trade unions meet their members is a threat to anyone except bad employers.
"For Fianna Fail, such a right is a right too far for working people.
"This morning, Micheál Martin stood up in the Dáil and voiced his support for Bus Éireann drivers.
"However, they blocked this significant legislation while Tesco workers are out on the picket line fighting for basic fairness.
"The message from Fianna Fáil to workers this evening is spoken with the forked-tongue of a party that is only committed to paying lip service to workers' rights.
"Tonight, Micheál Martin's party stated that it will block any attempt to give those workers a fair deal in negotiations.
"I applaud the other parties that have voiced their support for the Bill."
Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney has said sectarianism must be eradicated from society.
Speaking today following the launch of Sinn Féin’s proposals on tackling the scourge of sectarianism Party Chairperson Declan Kearney said;
“Sectarianism is a blight on our society which must be tackled if we are to move forward as a community.
“The reality of sectarianism and segregation impacts upon our society within education, sports, where we live and socialise, and in some cases, where we work.
“These barriers must be broken down. Citizens must be freed up to live their lives without fear of sectarian mind-sets and actions.
“Sinn Féin is proposing measures to tackle this blight on our society through a clear legal definition of sectarianism as a hate crime, entrenched within legislation and to be adopted by the Assembly and the Oireachtas.
“We are also proposing an island-wide campaign against sectarianism and segregation in all walks of life.
“This should be cemented by an anti-sectarian charter, incorporated in the pledge of office for all ministers and elected representatives; and the adoption of a dedicated strategy aimed at reconciliation and entrenched under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council.
“We would hope that all parliamentary bodies on the island, including those employed in these institutions, accept and incorporate these proposals; along with trades unions and employers.
“No one in our society can deny that sectarianism is a barrier to the well-being and growth of communities. For too long this has been a blight that has been an acceptable part of life for some people. This can no longer be the case.
“Sectarianism is a hate crime, just as racism is. There is no place for sectarianism in a modern society.”
Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd has said the decision by the DUP to accept a donation of hundreds of thousands of pounds from a mystery donor to back Brexit is going to paid for by workers and citizens across the North.
Mr O’Dowd was speaking after pharmaceutical giant Almac confirmed to a House of Commons committee they may be forced to move production from their Portadown plant to their newly acquired base in Dundalk because of the difficulties presented to them by Brexit.
“Almac is one of the North’s major employers and a significant employer in Upper Bann.
“Hundreds of families depend on the income jobs at the Portadown plant generate.
“Confirmation that their recent purchase of a base in Dundalk was in direct response to Brexit will cause concern to employees and beyond.
“When the DUP supported Brexit and were taking hundreds of thousands of pounds off mystery donors they put in jeopardy the jobs, hopes and aspirations of ordinary men and women.”
In conclusion Mr O’ Dowd said;
“It is not only current investors in the North’s economy who will look south for an EU base and production centres, it will also be prospective investors who will opt for the safe option of a base in the EU.
“The only way forward for the North to protect its economy and people's jobs is for the North to be granted Special Status within the EU, to give employers like Almac some certainty.”
Speaking today after a briefing from the ISPCC on cybersecurity for children, Sinn Féin’s TD for Carlow Kilkenny said that cyber-safety is a major child protection issue of our time.
“The dangers presented via the internet to children today have advanced significantly through the use of smartphones and what that brings it: easier access to predatory behaviour, cyber bullying and inappropriate content for younger children. We also know that technology advances at incredible speed, leaving many adults and parents naïve or ignorant to what is accessible to their children online.
“The ISPCC are calling on government and policy makers to take heed and direct some much needed attention to this child protection issue. Current legislative and policy provisions need to be modernised.
“I fully support their call for the immediate development of a National Strategy on Children’s Cyber Safety and for this to be made a priority by government. This should include key education measures regarding online behaviour such as:
1.Reform of the legal framework regarding children’s cyber safety
2.Establishment of an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner and a regulatory policy framework.
“The ISPCC’s recent research carried out in 2016 showed that perpetrators often groom many young people simultaneously and within a relatively short space of time, with An Garda Síochána reporting that children are being groomed in 3-4 interactions.
“This is terrifying information but valuable evidence that the risks to children online is escalating at a rapid pace and it further substantiates the need for government to tackle this growing issue immediately.”
Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion has condemned those responsible for a bomb attack at the home of a PSNI officer in Derry.
Elisha McCallion said:
"This bomb attack at the home of a PSNI office in the Culmore area of Derry was wrong and I condemn it.
"Thankfully no-one was injured in this incident but it must have been a frightening experience for people living in the area.
"Those responsible for this attack have noting to offer the people of Derry or the north.
"They do not represent the views of the city and they need to call a halt to these futile actions immediately."
Sinn Fein's Michelle O’Neill has said the British prime minister Theresa May’s crass attack on those bereaved by British soldiers and their agents, including elected representatives, has insulted the many victims of British state forces.
Her comments that “it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of dragging our brave troops through the courts” are dangerous and disgraceful.
Michelle O’Neill said:
"The verbal attack by British prime minister Theresa May on those who she claims have dragged British soldiers through the courts is dangerous and disgraceful.
"In the past we have had attacks, directed by the British government through its agents and proxies, on those who have campaigned to uphold the rights of victims and who have worked to hold the British state to account.
"We have witnessed the outworkings of such a policy, with murderous results.
"Last week we marked the anniversary of the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, who was killed by a unionist death squad, directed by agents of the British government.
"Those who work for human rights and who hold the British state to account should not be subject to this disgraceful attack.
"No one can be above the law and everyone should be held to account."
Commenting after the families of the victims of the McGurk's Bar Bombing spoke before the the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said;
"The McGurk families were very welcome to the Oireachtas today.
"Their accounts of the massacre of their loved ones in December 1971 and the treatment of the atrocity by the British government of the time and successive British governments is appalling.
"Fifteen people, including two children, died in the outrage.
"Within hours of the massacre the British government deliberately spread lies that the IRA was responsible for the bombing and that those who died were also involved despite the fact that an eye-witness gave RTE an interview, which was broadcast saying he saw the bombers fleeing the scene.
"These lies were based on reports from the British Army and the RUC willingly accepted and promoted by the British and unionist governments.
"A British Army scenes of crime assessor submitted a report to the British Army Headquarters in which he stated that the bomb was placed in the entrance to the bar.
"This contradicted the public account by the British government and the soldiers report was marked 'Not for PR'.
"The lie was publicly supported by Reginal Maudling, British cabinet minister, Brian Faulkner, the North's prime minister, John Taylor, unionist cabinet minister, Graham Shillington, RUC Chief Constable and Sir Harry Tuzo, British Army GOC among many others.
"The lie continued for decades until the families uncovered the truth themselves from the British government's own files in Kew Gardens.
"The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the police Ombudsman failed to find these files.
"The families are seeking justice and the truth.
"I support the calls they made today for a new investigation, a new inquest and the scrapping of the HET report into the massacre.
"It is time the families of the bereaved were given the truth after 46 years of lies and deceit."
The political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are unique. They were endorsed by the people north and south in referenda following decades of conflict, discrimination, division, and inequality.
The institutions provided a peaceful and democratic process for constitutional change, for reconciliation and for equality. They are part of the peace process. They do not operate like the Dáil, Westminster, Edinburgh, or Cardiff.
Sinn Féin entered the Executive on the basis of our mandate. We took our seats and since 2007 jointly led the Executive under Martin McGuinness because we believe in power sharing, we believe in equality and because we honour our agreements.
We were in the Executive because we wanted to be there and we wanted the institutions to work.
It is clear the DUP were only there because they had to be. They had no alternative and sought to undermine the agreements and institutions. They have been allowed to do this under the watch of the Tory and Fine Gael-led governments
Rather than embracing diversity and parity of esteem, the DUP chose to mock and pillory the Irish language and identity. The rights of Irish Speakers to a language act agreed at St Andrews, was dismissed and those making the demand likened to crocodiles.
They blocked marriage equality and repeatedly descended into racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes and actions.
They stood with the Tories on Brexit against the majority of the people and against the interests of the economy.
And their mishandling of the RHI scandal and the allegations of corruption associated with the scheme is what ultimately brought the institutions down. It is a cost that will be paid by a generation of our citizens and impact on the public services of all.
This is not an Orange and Green issue, this is an issue of integrity.
No government can expect to work without integrity. No administration can expect to enjoy public confidence and support if it isn’t underpinned by honesty and equality.
Sinn Féin has made it clear that we will not accept Arlene Foster back in office until the RHI inquiry has reported.
We have told the British and Irish Governments that there must be fundamental change if there is to be any return to the institutions.
When other parties ran away from their responsibilities, we took a stand and called time on the DUP's bigotry and arrogance.
The DUP promised a brutal campaign and from the outset have sought to sectarianise the election, to make it an issue of who would be First Minister despite the fact there will be no first minister without the support of Sinn Féin.
They want the election to be about the past.
They want the election to be about anything other than the waste that is RHI or the arrogance and contempt displayed to citizens.
The UUP and SDLP have attempted to present themselves as some alternative, parties, which cannot agree in opposition or even commit to a voting pact. If we get the votes and if the Executive is re-established, Sinn Féin will take our ministerial positions in line with the Good Friday Agreement and powersharing.
In contrast the UUP and SDLP are fighting this election to return to the safety of the opposition benches.
The old unionist one-party rule failed, direct rule failed, arrogance has failed. Power sharing on the basis of equality, respect and integrity can succeed, if there is the political will to fully implement agreements made.
This election and the negotiations, which follow, are about the future.
We are determined to rebuild the political process but it must be on the basis of genuinely progressive power-sharing where we work with one another in the best interests of everyone in society.
An agreement made must be an agreement implemented.
What we win in the time ahead, we win for all.
That is what I am asking the public to endorse when they go to the polls on March 2nd.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has stated following clarification on Túsla procedures that Túsla should be capable of identifying who was responsible for the file regarding false allegations of sexual assault in the McCabe case.
This follows questions put to Túsla officials, including Chief Executive Fred McBride, at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children & Youth Affairs this morning.
It also emerged from questions asked by Deputy Ó Laoghaire that Túsla is being investigated by the Data Protection Commissioner.
Although the committee members were unable to ask direct questions in relation to Sgt McCabe and the alleged smear campaign against him due to the ongoing Tribunal of Inquiry, many asked questions that alluded to the circumstances involved in that case.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire focused in on policies and procedures in line with Children’s First Guidelines in an attempt to establish further clarity, saying:
“Under section 7.2 in Children First Guidelines, it is stated that ‘It is essential that the HSE (now Túsla) and An Garda Síochána designate personnel at assessment/investigation and management levels who will remain involved with the case until the assessment/investigation is completed.’ So, it would be safe to assume that this protocol was followed.
“If it was the case that proper procedure was adhered to, Túsla would have had a designated person within their organisation, as well one individual as a point of contact within An Garda Síochána, who were responsible for dealing with the file of Sgt McCabe. This is required under Children First.
“It is then quite easy for Túsla to identify those individuals and seek further clarification as to what may have happened.
“If these protocols were not followed, there is a clear breach of Children’s First Guidelines, rather than an actual oversight, and this would again raise more questions than it would answer.
“I am also concerned that an administrative error of such a nature that led to a false allegation of sexual abuse should have been reported to the Data Protection Commissioner as a Data Breach. It was clarified to me today that this is normally the practice, however it has been reported that this did not happen in relation to the file held on Sgt McCabe.
“It was confirmed to me that the Data Protection Commissioner is undertaking an investigation in to Túsla on foot of recent concerns, and I hope if they can establish whether this failure is symptomatic of a wider systematic failure, or is an isolated incident.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said that the Minister for Transport Shane Ross must intervene in the crisis at Bus Éireann in order to avert a protracted industrial dispute at the company.
He said the Minister ‘needs to engage with all of the stakeholders immediately in order to prevent serious travel disruption’ and his aim ‘must be to ensure we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network.’
Teachta Adams said:
“I have been raising the difficulties at Bus Éireann with the Taoiseach for a long time now, and he has done has done nothing about it.
“The management of Bus Éireann have announced measures that threaten the rights of bus workers and passengers. By slashing overtime and Sunday rates and cutting pay, management is forcing the issue to an industrial dispute.
“This race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ pay and conditions is completely unacceptable.
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Transport say that rural Ireland is a top priority for the government. There is no evidence of that. They have closed Garda stations, post offices, hospitals and other facilities. Now they are attacking the public bus service.
“A huge amount of people, particularly in rural Ireland, rely on Bus Éireann services.
“It is possible with good management, by listening to transport users and workers to create a service which will attract more people to use public transport. That should be the government’s position.
“The Minister for Transport Shane Ross should ensure the future sustainability of Bus Éireann as a public service.
“There are a range of decisions he could take, including; a review of loss making routes on which private carriers currently operate, a review of the number of private licenses issued on these routes and there should also be an increase in funding for the Free Travel Pass - the amount allocated currently covers just 41% of the cost of the average journey.
“The Minister needs to provide clarity regarding routes and services including Dublin to Derry, Dublin to Clonmel and Athlone to Westport, which have been identified for potential closure.
“He also needs to engage with all of the stakeholders immediately in order to prevent serious travel disruption. His aim must be to ensure that together we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network.
“So once again, I would urge the Taoiseach to ensure that Minister Ross engages with all of the stakeholders, including the Department of Transport, the NTA, Bus Éireann and the unions, to find a resolution to the issues at Bus Éireann.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today raised the Pat Finucane case with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil.
He did so after the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed the appeal by the Finucane family against the refusal of the British government to honour its commitment on a Public Inquiry.
Speaking to the Taoiseach Gerry Adams called on the Irish government to bring the Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.
Teachta Adams said:
“I have to ask the Taoiseach what the government has done to implement the Weston Park agreement between the British and Irish governments in 2001?
This committed both governments to hold inquiries if a judge appointed to examine these cases recommended this. Judge Peter Cory concluded that four inquiries should be held. Three have taken place. But the British government has refused to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.
In October 2011 the British Prime Minister appointed Desmond de Silva to review the case files. The de Silva report was published in December 2012. It revealed a scale of collusion that is staggering.
It serves to reinforce the need for an enquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.
De Silva revealed that:
· 85% of intelligence that the UDA used to target people for murder originated from British army and RUC sources
· Agents working for MI5, RUC Special Branch and British Military Intelligence were participating in criminality, including murder.
· This issue was also considered extensively at British cabinet level and ministers were aware that the agents were being run without guidelines. The director general of the MI5 briefed Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
Pat Finucane’s murder by state agents was not a one-off incident - it was the norm. Collusion was a matter of institutional and administrative practise by successive British governments. It involved the establishing of unionist paramilitary groups; the systematic infiltration by the British of all unionist death squads at the highest levels; the controlling and directing of these groups; their training; and providing them with information on people to be killed.
The role of successive Irish governments in all of this has not been helpful, strategic or as consistent as it could be. That is why I urged the Taoiseach today to develop a strategy that will employ the full resources of our diplomatic service to raise this case with our international friends at every opportunity. This should include bringing the Pat Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, to the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.
A sea change is required to provide the necessary political stability to enable our economy to flourish, Michelle O'Neill has told business leaders today.
Speaking at the 'Five Leaders Five Days' event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the Sinn Féin Leader in the North said a series of DUP-linked scandals had undermined our potential.
"I take no pleasure in acknowledging the crisis in public confidence caused by a series of DUP scandals such as Red Sky, NAMA and of course RHI," she commented.
"Political stability has been a key factor when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment, creating jobs, growing our economy. And the surest route to political stability is an Executive based on respect and integrity – an Executive that is not constantly undermined by financial scandals. There needs to be a sea-change in the working relationships and the conduct of the Executive.
"I am determined to get that right. Because a properly functioning Executive is best placed to decide policy in line with local priorities, needs and circumstances. That is why we are working hard to gain control of Corporation Tax and harmonise the rate across the island. That is also why further powers such as Income Tax and Stamp Duty should be transferred.
"We should have the confidence and the courage to take responsibility for our own economic future and to work together for the common good. No-one has the luxury of working in silos."
Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights spokesperson David Cullinane will lead a Dáil debate this evening on his Right to Access Bill which seeks to ensure that Trade Unions have access to their members in the workplace.
Speaking today ahead of the debate Deputy Cullinane said;
“The right of trade union representatives to engage with its members in the workplace should not be feared but embraced. It is a right afforded to workers in many countries that are competitive and lead the way in terms of workers rights.
“Our Bill mirrors the Australian and New Zealand model. It is a model which works effectively and is supported by employers groups and trade unions in those countries. It is seen, rightly, as an opportunity to avoid conflict in the workplace and promotes harmonious relationships between a employee and their employer.
“Sinn Fein believes in strong, robust, fair and effective employment rights. We believe in the right of workers to organise, to join a trade union and to be represented by a trade union. We support the right of workers to collectively bargain and see this as inextricably linked to trade union recognition.
“The current voluntary system has worked for some but failed many. Some unscrupulous employers engage in campaigns of bullying, harassment and intimidation. They do so because they can.
“Decent employers should have no truck with such tactics. Those who value their employees have nothing to fear from strengthened labour laws. Those who seek to bully, routinely ignore Industrial Relations laws and ignore our industrial relations mechanisms do so to protect their interests over those of their employees.
“In my view a successful economy is one that values those who contribute to it. A successful employment rights infrastructure is one that operates on the basis of equality and a level playing field between worker and employer.
“A Republic is only a Republic in name if it does not vindicate the rights of citizens. And central to this has to be the rights of people in the workplace.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has questioned what the National Transport Authority (NTA) has to hide, in response to the refusal of the CEO of the NTA to carry out Deputy Munster’s request for a review of licences to private operators on public bus routes.
Speaking at a meeting of the Transport Committee today on the ongoing crisis in Bus Éireann, Deputy Munster requested that the NTA carry out a review of all licences issued to private operators on all bus routes, with a particular focus on routes that have been identified by Bus Éireann as being loss-making.
Deputy Munster raised this issue following the refusal by the CEO to accept that the NTA had a significant role to play in the current crisis, in that too many licences have been issued on some routes, leading to over-saturation and loss-making for the Expressway service.
The CEO said that such a review could not be carried out as the information sought was commercially sensitive, or it was not available to the NTA.
Deputy Munster said:
“I find that incredibly hard to believe. The CEO is saying that the NTA has not asked Bus Éireann which routes are making losses. The NTA and government refuse to acknowledge their role in this situation, and now the NTA claims it has no idea what is going on in Bus Éireann. The NTA is tasked with over-seeing public transport, so I am amazed that today its representatives are saying they have no idea what is going on in Bus Éireann in this time of crisis.
“I am very wary of the lack of information available to us here, and apparently, to the NTA. People’s livelihoods, the public transport network and the needs of many people in rural areas are at stake here. Given these circumstances, the attitude of the NTA is astonishing.”