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Sinn Féin welcomes decoupling of drugs and housing in Junior Ministerial announcement

21 June, 2007

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed the fact that the Drugs portfolio and the Housing Portfolio now each have a full junior minister. Deputy Ó Snodaigh however said that Sinn Féin has genuine concerns regarding the formulation of some of the new positions.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said today, "In looking at the list of junior ministerial positions announced yesterday Sinn Féin is not so much concerned about the numbers - for us the key questions is whether these positions allow for necessary additional focus on key areas of concern. In our view there is nothing particularly radical in what was announced by the Taoiseach.

"Sinn Féin welcomes the fact that the Drugs portfolio and the Housing Portfolio now each have a full junior minister looking after these important areas of social policy. We have long argued that these two portfolios needed a stronger focus and this should allow for that. However we have noted and are disappointed by the fact that the Minister for drugs is linked only to the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. We believe that a cross departmental approach including the Departments Community, Rural and Gaelteacht Affairs, Health and Justice is necessary for the development and implementation of a cohesive drugs strategy and we believe that the threat to our society posed by drugs warrants such an approach. We are calling for this approach to be adopted.

"I want to welcome the new position of Minster of State with responsibility for Integration Policy who has a cross departmental portfolio similar to the position Sinn Féin advocates for the Drugs portfolio. While we will judge Minister Lenihan on his performance in this role, we are however concerned that a TD, who in the past made racist comments in the Dáil, has been awarded such a position.

"I also want to welcome the appointment of a Junior Minister for Older People.

"Finally, we are concerned that tackling educational disadvantage has been dropped from the title of the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science. For Sinn Féin we are concerned that this is a signal that the incoming government will be putting a lesser focus on tackling educational disadvantage. If this is the case it is unacceptable to Sinn Féin." ENDS

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