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Budget 2015

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Sinn Féin Leas-Uachtarán and First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has offered her condolences to the family of Jim Fitzpatrick saying that the late owner of the Irish News made a huge contribution to Irish life and worked to advance peace and reconciliation.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the passing of Jim Fitzpatrick. I offer my sincere sympathies to his children, wider family circle and his many friends across the island who will feel Jim’s loss deeply.

“He made a huge contribution to Irish life and progress in our society as the owner of the Irish News, but also a quiet diplomat who worked to advance and influence peace and reconciliation across the political divide.

“I knew Jim personally over many years and we spoke by phone recently where despite his illness his mind remained sharp.

“I will remember Jim fondly as a man of great wisdom and integrity who leaves us with a rich and generous legacy.

“I offer sincere condolences on behalf of Sinn Féin to his family, colleagues and friends.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has stated that the findings of the UN investigation into the shooting of the American Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in the West Bank, in May, leaves no doubt, if there ever was to begin with, that Abu Akleh was murdered by Israeli forces.

The Wicklow TD said:

“I want to add my voice to that of the UN human rights office which has stated that they find it deeply disturbing that the Israeli authorities have not undertaken a criminal investigation into the shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh.

“Shireen was wearing a vest that clearly identified her as a journalist. There was no shooting in the area in which Shireen and her colleagues were positioned. There was no warning given by the Israeli security forces.

“Each of the several well aimed single shots were fired from the direction of a Israeli Defence Forces position.

“As was so often the case with extra judicial killings by the state during the conflict in Ireland, the state, in this instance Israel was quickly out of the blocks with a false narrative, claiming that it was Palestinians firing indiscriminately responsible for the death of Abu Akleh.

“The efforts of the UN human rights office to determine the reality of what occurred on the day, has debunked the Israeli falsehoods.

“A spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office stated categorically that all of the information and evidence which they gathered clearly indicated that the Israeli Security Forces were responsible for the shooting dead of Abu Akleh, and the wounding of her colleague Ali Sammoudi.

“Not only have the Israeli authorities failed to investigate Shireen’s murder, but they also deliberately and brutally baton charged mourners at her funeral.

“This is part of a shameful strategy on the part of the Israeli authorities who are attempting to suppress the capacity of Palestinian civic society to reveal to the world the extent of the violence and oppression that the Israeli state is visiting upon Palestinians.”

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Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey has called on Caterpillar to properly engage with its workers on strike rather than trying to pay off strike breakers with luxury hotel stays. 

The Sinn Féin MP said:

"I spoke to Caterpillar management from England today to raise my concerns that they are accommodating strike breakers and not negotiating with union representatives directly to get a resolution to the ongoing dispute. 

“These workers have been treated abysmally by Caterpillar who are squandering money by paying off hotel stays costing up to £850 a night for strike breakers.

“These divide and conquer tactics being used by Caterpillar are a disgrace and a distraction from tackling the real issues and engaging with the relevant Trade Union over workers’ pay.

“I have again called on management to enter meaningful conversations with employees and union representatives to get an agreement that works for all. 

“There was no commitment given but I have been assured they’ll respond to my request in the coming days.”

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Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has said the British government should focus on finding solutions with the EU rather than giving cover to the DUP to block an Executive.

Speaking after it was confirmed that the British government’s controversial bill will move to the next stage next week, the North Belfast MP said:

“The Protocol is working. Businesses are using the unique access to the EU and British markets to create jobs and attract investment.

“It’s clear that Boris Johnson’s government can’t come to terms with that reality as it remains hell-bent on breaking international law, undermining the Good Friday Agreement, and creating uncertainty and more instability.

“Boris Johnson wants to clutch onto power for as long as he can get away with it. The DUP and a faction of the Tories with whom they’re aligned want to squeeze from him what they can, while they can on the Protocol. 

“The Protocol is necessary, it’s protection from the hard Brexit the DUP and Tories championed, it gives the north unique access to both the EU and British markets which they are benefitting from when it comes to jobs and investment. 

“There is no cost to us being inside the single market, but enormous costs if we are not.

“Workers and families in the north are struggling with rising living costs and the fact that Diesel is now £2 per litre. They need an Executive now.

“The British government should stop giving cover to the DUP to block an Executive being formed and work with the EU in the negotiations to find solutions.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that Minister O’Brien "has completely lost control of the homeless situation", following the publication of the May homeless report, which revealed that single person homelessness has hit 5,000 for the first time.

The report also stated the number of children in emergency accommodation has passed 3,000.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

"The latest homeless report from the Department of Housing shows increases in adult, child, family and single person homelessness.

"For the first time single person homelessness has hit 5,000. There are also more than 3,000 children in Department of Housing funded emergency accommodation.

"It is now patently clear that Minister O’Brien has completely lost control of the homeless situation. Despite a full year of increases in homeless levels, the Minister has no plan and no effective response to what is an ever escalating crisis.

"We are perilously close to hitting an official homeless figure of 11,000. When Eoghan Murphy was Minister and homeless figures breached the 10,000 mark there were calls for him to resign.

"Darragh O’Brien has presided over a shocking 41% increase in child homelessness in the last 12 months. 

"During the same period, overall homelessness has increased by 29%. 

"If the current trend continues, we could be at 11,000 adults and children in Department of Housing funded emergency accommodation by September.

"His position is becoming increasingly untenable.

"The Minister must outline an emergency plan setting out what measures he plans to put in place to halt and reverse the ever growing levels of homelessness.

"An emergency plan must accelerate the tenant in situ scheme; urgently implement the Focus Ireland Amendment and Simon Communities Homeless Prevention Bill; and crucially increase and accelerate the delivery of social homes."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has urged the government to deliver on their commitments to tackle violence against women and girls.

Speaking today, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Violence against women and girls, and the fear of it, is far too common and casts a dark shadow across the lives of women and girls. Violence against women is an epidemic in our society. It exists in our families, in our homes, in our communities and in our schools; right across society. We have the right to be safe on our streets and in our homes. Yet too often, we are not.

“Next week will mark two years since this government came to power. Despite their many promises, they have failed to show the urgency needed to implement real and lasting change in tackling this violence.

“In their programme for government, the coalition pledged to look at introducing paid leave for survivors of domestic violence. Despite this, they have failed to do so. I have written this legislation, brought it before the Dáil, secured cross party endorsement at Committee as well as from domestic violence services, trade unions and employers. The government must end their delay and work with me to progress this legislation so that women can access this urgent entitlement.

“I am deeply frustrated by the Government’s delay in finalising the Third Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. I am today urging the Minister to publish the updated Strategy.

“I am also concerned that the review into Domestic Violence Homicide Reviews, as is already in place in the north, still has yet to be completed. It was promised in 2017 under then Minister Charlie Flanagan but still has yet to be delivered.

“The long-term effects of coercive control, abuse and violence for women and their children is devastating. This lived reality is what makes the Government’s glacial pace of delivery on DSGBV commitments so enraging for victims, survivors, their advocates and services. Long-fingered announcements will not keep women and their children safe. We need to see a rapid step change from the Government not only on outstanding commitments but on its international obligations under the Istanbul Convention.

“Sinn Féin will work with all parties to ensure that key commitments on ending violence against women and girls are delivered.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs John Brady TD has welcomed the decision by the EU Council this week to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.

Teachta Brady said this represents both an important political statement of faith in the future of both countries within the European Union, and a recognition of the important work and democratic strides which are ongoing within Ukraine and Moldova to meet the standards required to qualify for EU accession.

The Wicklow TD said:

“I want to offer my congratulations to the governments of both Ukraine and Moldova following the decision by the EU Council to grant both countries candidate status for EU membership.

"When I hear discussions on the expansion of the EU, of the application for membership of countries such as Ukraine and Moldova, I am given to thinking back to Irelands application to join what was then the EEC, and the implications that this would have for the future of our country.

"At that time, we were the poorest country in Europe, a status now bestowed on Moldova. And while there are a great many problems which remain in this country, there is no doubt that the EU has contributed much to the economic growth of our country.

"I have no doubt that in the years and decades ahead that membership of the EU will offer the same opportunities to Ukraine and Moldova to experience similar growth.

"Earlier this year, I along with colleagues from the EU Affairs Committee travelled to Moldova and Romania.

"Where we met with Government Ministers and representatives, along with NGO groups. 

"I was particularly impressed with the efforts of both countries, despite the real challenges which their efforts place upon them, to provide whatever assistance which was asked of them for Ukrainian refugees attempting to flee the Russian invasion.

"Ambassador Larisa Miculet of Moldova and Ambassador Gerasko Larysa, of Ukraine have been regular visitors to Leinster House over the last few months.

"I want to offer my congratulations to both Ambassadors on their hard work here in Ireland to secure support for the campaign for EU membership.

"Again, I want to offer my congratulations to both Ukraine and Moldova, and state that I believe that this important political statement represents a statement of belief by the member states of the EU in the future of both countries."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today said the government should be focused on fixing the challenges facing the taxi sector, not promoting ride-sharing apps that could decimate the industry entirely.

The Meath East TD said:

“Since 2019, we have lost 2,562 taxis from the system, as drivers exit the sector because they can no longer make ends meet.

“The impact of this is now being felt, with people struggling to get a taxi, particularly at busy times.

“However, the solution to this is not to undercut a whole industry by introducing ride-sharing apps, an idea now being deliberately and consistently promoted by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and other Fine Gael representatives.

“The government’s focus should instead be on solving the problems in the taxi sector and making it a viable career, which will help attract and retain more drivers.

“Unfortunately, the Minister for Transport has buried his head in the sand and allowed things to deteriorate.

“Issues such as the ten-year rule and the lack of transferability of plates are causing serious problems for taxi drivers, coming after two years of little to no business during the pandemic, and on top of crippling fuel costs.

“Sinn Féin supports and has repeatedly called for an extension of the ten-year rule to help taxi drivers.

“Most vehicles got significantly less wear and tear over the last two years during the pandemic, as many were parked up for months on end. These cars will still need to pass the NCT and suitability tests, so there will be no compromise on safety.

“It is a common-sense solution that will give drivers breathing space and ensure we don’t lose even more drivers from the sector.

“In addition, to help address the shortage of taxis, particularly at night, the government should extend the operating hours of public transport. That would give people other options if they could not secure a taxi due to the current shortage.

“The government should be taking action to fix problems facing the taxi sector, working to make it a viable career for more people and not seeking to deregulate the sector, undercut thousands of workers and start a race to the bottom when it comes to terms and conditions.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, has announced the party will bring forward a motion in the Dáil next week calling for an emergency budget to deliver much-needed support to workers and families hit by the cost of living crisis.

Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:

“The cost of living crisis is hitting peoples’ pockets hard and families are struggling with rising costs. The price of rent, childcare, groceries, petrol, heating and back to school costs are all shooting up, while people’s wages stay the same. People are under real pressure to cover the price of basic essentials.

“The government has failed to act and deliver much-needed support to ensure that workers get a break. Their excuses are wearing thin and people need action now. Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion in the Dáil next week demanding that the government deliver an emergency budget immediately to address the cost of living crisis.

“It’s clear that people cannot wait until October for the Budget, people are at breaking point and they need help urgently now.

“The government cannot keep burying their heads in the sand on this issue. They need to wake up and realise the urgency of the cost of living crisis that people are facing everyday.

“Sinn Féin has brought forward detailed, costed and deliverable proposals to address the cost of living crisis. The government must deliver these policies.

“We must introduce a cost of living cash payment for people who need it. We have to cut rents and freeze them, including putting a month’s rent back into renters’ pockets with a refundable tax credit. We need to cut childcare costs by two thirds, as they are far too expensive for families. We must cut the price of petrol and heating, so that they are affordable. We must increase core social welfare rates to ensure the most vulnerable in society are protected from price rises.

“The government cannot keep ignoring this crisis and the huge pressures people are under. The time to act is now. I am urging all TDs to back Sinn Féin’s motion next week to introduce an emergency budget now.”

The motion is available to view here

Read and share Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015

Overall Balance Sheet

Tax income €1,701.70
Tax Spend -€1,053.00
Adjustment for partial year -€385.00
Savings €231.59
Departmental Spend -€495.29
Budget adjustment €0

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In Budget 2015 Sinn Féin will:

Put €800 million back into the pockets of ordinary workers through the abolition of the property tax and by stopping water charges.

Invest an additional €202.6 million in disability services and supports.

Help stop forced emigrationof our young people by restoring the Jobseekers payment for those under 26 over two years.

Invest €1 billion from the Strategic investment Fund to build an additional 6,600 homes over the next 18 months and create 8,000 jobs.

Prioritise investment in health and education to make back to school more affordable and recruit an additional 1,000 nurses and midwives.

Reduce salaries and allowances of high earners in the public sector and Oireachtas.

Tax

Easing the Tax Burden on ordinary families Costing
Save 1.8 million homeowners an average of €278 per annum by abolishing the property tax. Cost €500 million
Don’t introduce water charges. Cost €300 million
Take 296,000 people earning below €17,542 out of the Universal Social Charge. Cost €138 million
Keep 7% exemption USC rate for medical cardholders with an aggregate income below €60,000. Cost €115 million

New Tax Measures

Wealth and Property taxes Costing
Re-introduce the second home charge, increasing it from €200 to €400 per annum. Raises €144 million
Increase CGT to 40%. Raises €116 million
Increase CAT to 40% and introduce a 15% reduction in group thresholds. Raises €112 million
Increase once-off charge for establishing a discretionary trust by 1% and the annual charge from 1% to 1.5%. Raises €0.8 million
Reduce windfall tax to 41% for a period of two years to release land for housing. Raises €0 million
Stamp Duty and Excise duties Costing
Increase stamp duty on share transactions from 1% to 1.1%. Raises €29 million
A 20 cent increase in excise duty on a packet of cigarettes. Raises €29.4 million
Increase betting shop tax to be applied to the customer to 3%. Raises €50 million
Income tax Costing
Introduce new 3rd rate of tax of 48% on income earned in excess of €100,000. Raises €448 million
PRSI & USC Costing
Introduce a new employers’ rate of PRSI of 15.75% on the portion of salary paid in excess of €100,000 per annum. Raises €136 million
Retain 10% USC for self-employed over €100,000. Raises €123 million
Tax Relief and Tax evasion Costing
Reduce mortgage interest deductions against rent for landlords from 75% to 60%. Raises €57 million
Increase Revenue Commissioner activity to target tax evasion. Raises €70 million in first year
Standardise section 23 tax relief. Raises €4.5 million
Standardise Film Relief. Raises €37 million
Pensions Costing
Reduce the earnings cap for pension contributions from €115,000 per annum to €70,000 per annum. Raises €110 million
Standardise the relief at which tax back can be claimed. Beginning with a reduction to 28% in 2015. Raises €235 million

Spending

Raising Living Standards for the most vulnerable Costing
Increase Family Income Supplement by 10%. Cost €33 million
Increase the Respite Care Grant by €325. Cost €29.6 million
Over the next two budgets restore the maximum rates for young Jobseekers of €188. In Budget 2015 we would increase it by €40 per week. Cost €89 million
Add a telephone allowance of €9.50 per month to the Living Alone increase. Cost €20.6 million
Raise the One Parent Family Payment income disregard to €120. Cost €15.3 million
Introduce 4,000 additional Community Employment Scheme places. Cost €13.6 million
Increase investment in the Employability Service. Cost €1.5 million
Reinstate the Solas Training Allowance. Cost €6.7 million
Re-open the Diet Supplement Scheme. Cost €500,000
Increase Fuel Allowance by 3 weeks. Cost €23.9 million
Restore Farm Assist. Cost €3.4 million
A 10% increase in funding on emergency accommodation including women’s refuge centres. Cost €3.2 million
Increase funding for Traveller’s Initiatives. Cost €450,000
Increase funding to the National Disability Authority budget. Cost €230,000
Addressing the crisis in the health service Costing
Increase funding to disability services including but not limited to community physios, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. Cost €31.3 million
Put in place an additional 1,000 nurses and midwives posts. Cost €40.2 million
Additional funding for suicide prevention and awareness and for roll-out of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses and counselling in primary care and liaison nurses in A&E. Cost €18.7 million
Increased emergency ambulance cover – 2 additional ambulances including personnel for each of the four regions. Cost €6.67 million
As a first step in phasing them out, reduce the charge per prescription for medical card-holders by €0.50. Cost €25 million
Increase budget for discretionary medical cards. Cost €13 million
Extend the BreastCheck programme to women aged between 65 and 69 years of age. Cost €2.9 million
Back to School more affordable Costing
Put in place a fund to make a free pre-school year more accessible to children with disabilities based on the full 15 hours a week. Cost €12 million
Increase the number of resource teachers by 1,000. Cost €45 million
Increase the capitation grant to primary and post-primary schools. Cost €3.3 million
Increase the Capitation Rates for VTOS, YouthReach, BTEI, PLC and Adult Literacy. Cost €1 million
Increase Back to Education Allowance for under 26s to €188. Cost €3 million
Increase funding to school meal programme by 15%. Cost €5.55 million
Increase funding to school books grant by 30%. Cost €4.5 million
Increase the annual Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance by €50. Cost €15.5 million
Frontline Workers Costing
We are also proposing that €20 million be ringfenced to ensure frontline posts could be rehired or filled where necessity demands it. Cost €20 million
Irish language and Gaeltacht areas Costing
Increase capital budget of Údarás na Gaeltachta by 50%. Cost €3 million
Increase funding to Foras na Gaeilge. Cost €2 million
Increase funding for the implementation of the 20-year strategy on the Irish language. Cost €1.69 million

Savings Measures

Public Pay and Pensions Costing
Reductions in public sector pay and pensions, including 15% reduction in public sector salaries between €100,000 & €150,000 and 30% on income over €150,000. Saves €23.02 million
Oireachtas Pay and Allowances Costing
Reductions in Oireachtas Pay and Allowances, including Taoiseach and Ministers reduced by 50% of everything over €75,000, and TDs and Senators reduced to €75,000 and €60,000. Saves €3.88 million
General Government Expenditure Costing
Reduce Professional fees and general department spend on travel and training by 10%. Saves €27.2 million
Public expenditure Costing
End the State subsidy of private care in public hospitals. Saves €107.29 million
2% reduction in branded medicines. Saves €21 million
Phased withdrawal of private school annual state subsidy over five years. Saves €20.6 million
Wind-down JobBridge Scheme. Saves €10.3 million
Cancel Gateway Scheme. Saves €3.1 million
Greater use of JobsPlus. Saves €15.2 million