Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said the party had a robust meeting with the PSNI in Derry about concerns over a recent police search in the city in which a 14-year-old child with special needs was arrested.
The Foyle MLA said:
“We had a robust meeting with the PSNI to raise concerns about reports of heavy-handed policing during a recent police search in which a 14-year-old child with special needs was arrested.
“We challenged the PSNI directly on the impact this has had on this vulnerable child and how they carry out policing operations in the Creggan area.
“Sinn Féin will continue to follow this up to ensure these concerns are addressed and that we don’t see a repeat of what happened to this 14-year-old child.
“We also raised the issue of the scandalous anti-social and anti-community behaviour in Galliagh over recent days and the inadequate police response to it.
“The public rightly expects the very highest policing and human rights standards and we will hold the police to account when their actions fail to meet those standards.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called for much stronger prevention and control measures for high risk workplaces, in light of the announcement of regional lockdown implementation. He also said that HSA inspections and testing needs to be stepped up.
Teachta Cullinane said:
"The outbreaks in Kildare, Offaly and Laois show that much stronger and more robust prevention and containment measures are needed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
"Regular inspections by the HSA and rolling testing in high risk workplaces, congregated settings, and workplaces where cases have been recorded are needed.
"Up to early July there had been no on site inspections in meat factories.
"How many have been conducted since? What was reported? Has rolling testing been put in place? Are we doing enough to prevent and contain outbreaks in high risk areas?
"We also need to make sure that creches, schools, and shops are safe for workers and families. We cannot afford an outbreak in these areas.
"Sinn Féin has been calling for months for more inspectors and more inspections. It needs to be demonstrated that everything that can be done is being done.
"If we don't contain the virus in these settings, there is a very high risk of overspill into the community as NPHET has warned. This is very concerning as it would lead to wider restrictions, and we need to be moving in the other direction.
"We need very robust enforcement of the back to work protocol and more inspectors on the ground in high risk areas.
"There needs to be rolling testing in all food factories and any workplace there is a high risk of transfer. These are hotbeds for the virus.
"We have been here before and warned that aggressive testing and tracing was needed. If we fail to do that we will see more spikes
"This is a blow for businesses in these counties. We need to be putting in place bespoke support measures for the local economies of locked-down counties. This could come in the form of grants as my colleagues Louise O'Reilly and Pearse Doherty have advocated for."
Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney has repeated his concerns about a controversial link road through three Randalstown estates following a serious accident at Castle Avenue, Randalstown on Wednesday night.
Declan Kearney said:
“I am very concerned about the serious accident at Castle Avenue on Wednesday night when a car left the road and crashed into the home of a local resident, resulting in substantial damage to that property.
“Only for the lateness of the hour when the house holders were in bed, and thankfully no pedestrians in the vicinity, there could have been even more serious consequences.
“I have made representations over an extended period on behalf of residents about the prospect of this controversial link road being opened between Castle Avenue, Ashdale and the Meadows estates, and the risk it would potentially pose for the safety of local residents and their families, unless adequate road safety and traffic calming measures were put in place.
“There has been real fear among local residents that any increased flow and speed of traffic using this link road as a ‘rat run’ could have serious consequences, especially for children playing in the street.
“This unfortunate accident brings all these long standing concerns sharply back into focus.
“I have already been directly in contact with the Roads Service traffic management team to reiterate my concerns and those of local residents about this incident, and also to seek reassurance that the traffic calming measures installed are fit for purpose and sufficient. We have agreed to review this situation again in the coming week.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the establishment of a taskforce by the Executive to look at enhancing and improving high streets in our cities, towns and villages.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
"The establishment of a high street taskforce by the Executive to look at enhancing and improving cities, towns and villages is a very positive initiative.
"Our towns, cities and villages have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of people using them has been much reduced over recent months. This has been hugely damaging to our local economy.
"Our high streets in cities, towns and villages have also changed over recent years as consumer behaviour has changed, and there is a need to respond to that and to plan for transformation.
"There is work going on involving departments, councils, business organisations and chambers of commerce across the north looking at the issues impacting high streets and their changing use.
"This taskforce will bring together relevant departments and partners to coordinate the work to develop and revitalise cities, towns and villages.
"It is important that we respond to the changing use of our cities, towns and villages and plan for the future, as well as the need to ensure the safety of all those working or visiting town centres as the economy and society reopens and recovers from COVID-19."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers' Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has called on the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Sisters of Charity to recognise and adhere to the Labour Court Recommendation and attend the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for talks in relation to St Mary’s Nursing Home on Merrion Road.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The recent High Court appointment of a liquidator to St Mary’s Nursing Home on Merrion Road is a seriously worrying development for the 54 residents and their families, as well as the 65 staff employed at the centres.
“What is equally concerning is the failure of the HSE and the Sisters of Charity to comply with a recommendation from the industrial relations machinery of the state.
“The Labour Court issued a recommendation inviting all three stakeholders, the HSE, the Sister of Charity, and the liquidator, to the WRC for talks.
“However, there has been radio silence from the HSE and the Sisters of Charity to this invitation.
“The livelihoods and entitlements of 65 staff, 20 of whom contracted Covid-19 while working on the frontline in recent months, are at stake here, and the HSE and the Sisters of Charity are ignoring their responsibilities.
“This is not the first case of this nature to arise in recent weeks; similar situations exist regarding St Mary’s (Telford) and St Monica’s nursing homes.
“Staff in all these centres need to be treated fairly and in a way that’s consistent with their colleagues in Caritas Convalescent Centre, and elsewhere in the public service.
“The staff in St Mary’s Nursing Home on Merrion Road cannot continue to live in suspense because the HSE are failing in their duties.
“The HSE and the Sisters of Charity need to adhere to the Labour Court recommendation and attend talks at the WRC as a matter of urgency.
“Their current conduct in leaving workers in the lurch in the middle of a pandemic is nothing short of shameful.”
MacManus welcomes new blow to CETA agreement
Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, has welcomed the Cypriot Parliament’ rejection of CETA last week.
“What we seen last week in Cyprus was democracy in action. The deal was reviewed and rejected, on the basis it posed a grave threat to small and medium businesses, particularity in the agricultural sector.
“This is in stark contrast to what happened in Ireland. In 2017, after CETA was rejected in the Seanad, the Government blocked requests for a Dáil debate.
“Instead, it decided to go ahead and implement the agreement, saying we would vote after seeing its effect. This was a complete departure from democratic norms.
“I believe CETA is a bad deal for Irish farmers. Some say the 50,000t allocation of Canadian beef would not sink the market, but this must be viewed as a piece of the puzzle.
“A few months ago a 99,000t allocation was granted to the Mercosur counties, and we have an upcoming agreement with New Zealand, where more concessions will be made.
“Collapse of the EU agricultural sector by a number of small periodic blows does not change the devastating outcome. The COVID 19 pandemic has demonstrated why local production and supply chains must be protected.
“Sinn Féin believes trade is essential to our future but it must be fair. Key sectors such as agriculture must be protected from over exposure. A failure to do this not only hurts our farmers but the network of rural communities that depend on them.
“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose any trade deals, which risk the future of our family farms and our rural committees”. ENDS
Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has called on Health Minister Robin Swann to bring forward legislation to protect mothers breastfeeding in public.
The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP said:
“This week marks annual Breast-Feeding Awareness week and worryingly continuous reports have shown the North to have the lower breast feeding rates than Britain and the 26 Counties.
“It is crucial that we use this week to send a clear and unambiguous message that breastfeeding is both natural and normal.
“Breast feeding has been recommended to mothers by the Public Health Agency in the North and the World Health Organisation.
“Studies have shown that breast feeding has benefits for both the mother and babies, including reduced risks of certain infections.
“In 2017, my party colleague Michelle O’Neill as Health Minister tasked her department to bring forward legislation to ensure mothers have a right to feed their children with confidence and without interruption in a public place.
“Unfortunately, due to the collapse of power sharing this legislation was not brought forward.
“With the restoration of the institutions, I am calling on Health Minister Robin Swann to carry on the work of Michelle O’Neill and to bring forward this legislation to protect mothers breastfeeding in public.
“I would also ask the Department of Health to investigate enhanced ‘code monitoring’ arrangements and other measures to curtail aggressive marketing policies by the formula industry in legislation.
“We all have our part to play in challenging the stigma attached to breast feeding, it is crucial that the Health Minister plays his part.”
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has welcomed the opening of a COVID-19 testing unit at St Mary’s Primary School in Newcastle, Co.Down.
The South Down MP said:
“In recent days we have unfortunately witnessed a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases in the Newcastle area.
“Councillor Willie Clarke and I immediately requested that the Public Health Agency take a proactive approach to this cluster and establish a testing unit in the town. I welcome that this has now been done.
“I am encouraging anyone in the Newcastle area who has developed COVID-19 symptoms to avoid contact with others and to urgently get tested for the virus.
"I am also appealing to local residents and those that are visiting the town to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, practise good hand hygiene and wear a mask where appropriate in line with the public health advice.
“Sinn Féin will continue to work in Newcastle and across this island to ensure that communities receive the maximum amount of support and protection from COVID-19.”
“Arts sector is criminally undervalued by government” – Chris MacManus MEP
Sinn Féin MEP believes former Arts minister’s ‘Get a real job” attitude is unacceptable
Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus has branded comments made by Minister Heather Humphreys as “unacceptable”.
“It’s beyond belief that a former Arts Minister could use such demeaning language about a sector that provides us with so much.”
The Sinn Féin MEP was reacting to comments made by former minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys. In relation to the Arts sector Deputy Humphreys had stated that ‘It is best that we help people to reskill, retrain and look at other jobs they can take up.’ whilst also stating that “some jobs will not come back and there is no point in waiting for the never never.’
MacManus said for someone to suggest Artists should simply change careers or retrain for a new position is highly insulting and shows a lack of understanding in the difficulties faced in trying to carve out a career in the creative fields.
MacManus said: “For the majority of people the elevation to professionalism in any career is usually through four or five years of college or an apprenticeship or through specific on the job learning, but for many people who work in the arts their unique mastery is crafted over decades often without any real road map and with limited income in those formative years. For someone of Minister Humphrey’s experience to utter such careless and uninformed rhetoric is quite frankly beyond belief. By employing the ‘Get a real job’ attitude, she is furthering the outdated stereotype of Artists being hobbyists waiting for a lucky break when in reality we have a thriving sector that now needs support because of an unprecedented pandemic.”
“These ministers are often the first in line for photographs at openings and launches at various Arts events across the island yet when the Arts community seeks supports in a time when their sector has been obliterated they are faced with this callous attitude from government representatives.”
The Sligo based MEP said there is often a basic lack of understanding in terms of the bigger picture when we assess the value of the Arts in Ireland. “I think governments often think of the Arts purely in terms of the tourism it can attract but it’s infinitely more important than that. Yes it’s arguably the primary generator of tourism in Ireland, but the quality of life the Arts brings in social terms is what attracts direct foreign investment too. It’s often a deciding factor in multinationals headquartering here in Ireland. “
“It’s a driving force for everyone’s productivity, whether it’s a TV show at the end of a long day or music on the radio on your lunch break or the trip to your local theatre at the end of your working week or that book you just can’t put down. The Arts community provides us with the moments we live for.”
“The Arts is pivotal in the management of our citizens’ mental health. Great Art helps us process everyday difficulties. It offers us new perspectives and arms us with the tools to not just survive but flourish. Likewise it’s the mainstay in the development of our children and young people.”
“Picture an Ireland without Joyce, Yeats, Kavanagh or Becket. An Ireland without U2, Thin Lizzy or The Dubliners. Picture an Ireland without Art Galleries or libraries or public sculptures or Cinemas. Imagine not being able to enjoy TV Dramas like Love/Hate and Normal People or comedies like Derry Girls or Young Offenders. Time and time again our creative communities have proven that we are the world leaders.”
“Successive governments have treated the Arts as some kind of peripheral afterthought when in actuality it should be front and centre in our decision making on how we create a better Ireland. “
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded that those who commit to a career in the Arts should be valued and supported especially in these difficult times.
“These are the people who make Ireland what it is. They need our full support at this time.
Yes of course there are some who won’t quite ‘make it’ so to speak but those people will have transferable skills that will light up our workplaces. These are talented creatives who think laterally and will bring new progressive thinking to sectors that might otherwise become formulaic and predictable. An investment in the Arts and Artists is an investment in the future of Ireland.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called for urgent action to tackle the Covid-19 crisis unfolding in meat factories across Ireland and expressed concerns that it reflects years of poor oversight of working conditions in the sector.
Senator Gavan has called on Meat Industry Ireland to engage with trade unions to deliver urgently needed, radical reform to combat the spread of the virus. His remarks follow news that 226 cases of Covid-19 have been identified in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly in the last two weeks, with many directly linked to meat factories across the region.
Speaking today, Senator Gavan said:
“We urgently need to understand why this sector is so prone to outbreaks of Covid-19. I am deeply concerned that poor working conditions, which have been present in many aspects of the industry for years, may be contributing to the spread of the virus.
“I believe it’s not only linked to the close proximity of workers in these factories but is also a result of the very low rates of pay which sees many workers sharing cars to work and also sharing accommodation.
“Furthermore, the vast majority of workers in these factories have no recourse to sick pay, which makes it more likely that they will go to work even if they are feeling unwell, as they have no other means of supporting themselves or their families.
“At the heart of all of this is the fact that most workers are paid just a little above the minimum wage in what is a very profitable industry.
“I support calls for Meat Industry Ireland to ensure there is blanket testing for Covid-19 taking place at all plants throughout the country. However, much more needs to be done. A good start would be for Meat Industry Ireland to recommend to its members that they engage with trade unions.
“Too many factories have policies of outright hostility to trade unions and this is just not acceptable. Union officials must be able to access meat factories to monitor health and safety compliance; this role is more important now than ever in the midst of this pandemic.”
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has welcomed a new Brexit
financial support package for businesses in the North, however has said the
British Government has left many vital questions unanswered.
The South Down MP said:
“In opposing Brexit, Sinn Féin have said from the outset that Brexit would create additional barriers and costs for businesses.
“Today’s acknowledgement from the British Government that this unavoidable avalanche of red-tape will have to be met in the first instance by the British state is a welcome first step in the British Government facing up to the costly realities of Brexit.
“In short, the announcement of this £200m support package is welcome news for those local businesses who are growing increasingly worried about the trading environment in the post-transition period in January 2021.
“However it’s clear that in the face of being unable to deliver upon the promise of “unfettered access” and “no additional burdens” the British Government are left with no choice but to pull a magic money rabbit out of the hat in an attempt to distract from the fact that their Brexit misadventure has created a mountain of red-tape and bureaucratic processes.
“Today’s announcement is not the long overdue border operating model that we have been promised, it is merely another attempt to create an IT system that will take care of the complex formalities in automating the customs process.
“Worryingly, no such system currently exists anywhere in global trading. So it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that the system will be operational next month when the tendering process will only have been launched this month.
“The fact remains that goods entering the north of Ireland will require a customs declaration, with the new Trader Support Service (TSS) serving as the vehicle for the British Goverment to act as the Customs Agent on behalf of businesses.
“There also remains the important question of who verifies the data that this automated system collects; verification checks by customs authorities will surely still need to take place somewhere along the process.
There is also no guarantee that this package of financial support announced today will be a permanent arrangement; in fact, there is only a commitment to support it with government money for 2 years.
“There is every possibility that despite covering the cost of this transition process, that the British Government will decide that the system should be privatised and businesses will have to pay for these services.
“Much more remains to be done on key issues such as the certification requirements for Agri-Food, and the very complex dual VAT systems that will be required.
“We also need much more information on the future additional barriers and costs for local consumers purchasing goods online - which is an increasingly significant proportion of trade.
“Perhaps most significantly, local businesses are still left waiting for clarity on what “unfettered access” will look like for exporting to Britain.
“If today’s announcement is a guide, expect more money to be thrown at the inevitable barriers that can’t be wished away by fanciful pie in the sky thinking.”
Struggling sectors and businesses that have been ordered to close until September will be forced to lay off staff unless the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is extended, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has warned.
Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said: “The Government is requiring pubs to remain closed until at least September. Yet, despite this, the Government is still pushing ahead with a one-size-fits-all removal of supports for businesses in the coming weeks.
“From 1st September, while pubs remain closed, the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will be replaced with a Scheme that will cut support by 50 percent for most employees and remove all support for low-income workers.
“For the most affected sectors, and businesses that have been forced to remain closed, this will lead to job losses.
“This does not make sense. There can be no-one-size-fits-all reopening of our economy.
“In our submission to Government for the July Stimulus, we called for the TWSS to be extended for highly affected sectors. In last week’s legislation we submitted amendments to do the same, while ensuring supports for low-income workers.
“A targeted approach to wage supports, reflecting the fact that public health measures target certain sectors more than others is common sense. It will also save jobs.
“It is not too late for Government to change course.
“I have written to the Minister for Finance asking that the TWSS is extended for highly affected sectors, instead of a blanket removal of supports that will cost jobs in sectors that have been forced to remain closed.”
Notes to the editor:
On the 1st September 2020 the Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWSS) will end and be replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
Under the EWSS, the level of subsidy the employer will receive per paid employee will reduce significantly in comparison to the TWSS.
Whereas the TWSS provided weekly subsidies of 85% of pay for low-income workers, and between €350 and €410 for other employees, the EWSS will not provide any subsidies for low-income workers, and between €152 and €203 for other employees:
Level of subsidy per paid employee under EWSS from 1st September
Employee Gross Weekly Wages Subsidy Payable
Less than €152 ZERO
From €152 to €203 €152
From €203 to €1,462 €203
More than €1,462 ZERO
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has written to the chairperson of the Dáil’s Special Committee on Covid-19 calling for the committee to be recalled to discuss the spike in Covid-19 cases, particularly the issues arising in meat processing plants.
Deputy Carthy has also called on the government to instruct the HSA to commence a robust process of unannounced inspections across the meat-processing sector and for a mass-testing programme to be initiated at all plants.
Speaking today, Teachta Carthy said: “When the Dáil’s Covid committee discussed outbreaks in meat factories on July 10th, we learned that the HSA had not carried out a single unannounced inspection at any meat plant.
"We also learned that Meat Industry Ireland had refused to meet with workers’ representatives to discuss their concerns. At that point, representatives confirmed that there was no further mass-testing taking place at their plants.
“The Meat Industry representatives refuted the contention by SIPTU and others that should there be a second wave, it would likely emerge from their plants. Events in recent days have clearly shown that the current measures in place are insufficient.
“I have written to the chairperson of the Dáil’s Special Committee on Covid-19 requesting an urgent recall of the committee to discuss these matters.
"As well as ensuring a further engagement with Meat Industry Ireland, we also need to hear directly from the trade union representatives of workers on the site.
"We also need clarification from the HSA regarding their plans to ensure adequate inspections of these sites, and their rationale for their failure to conduct unannounced inspections up to this point.
“We cannot have a situation whereby thousands of businesses, such as local pubs, are forced to remain closed while the sources of considerable Covid-19 outbreaks are not subjected to the full rigours of a robust inspection and testing regime.
“Government must regulate for the immediate closure and deep-clean of any plant with an outbreak ensuring that workers are compensated for any loss of income."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has described recent increases in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, in the reproduction rate, and the number of clusters now emerging in different parts of the state, as a ‘real concern’ and a ‘wake-up call’.
Deputy Cullinane has called for rapid end-to-end testing and tracing as well as more workplace inspections. He also called for a reinstatement of high level medical and scientific briefings for all Oireachtas parties and groups.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Cullinane said: “Obviously I am deeply concerned at the rising number of cases in different parts of the state. It is important to be guided by the medical advice at all times.
“Regional clusters may demand different regional responses. We need to prioritise testing and tracing in areas where clusters emerge, ensure quick and rapid end-to-end testing and tracing processes as well as prioritising workplace inspections by the HSA.
“We need to get first principles right - test, trace and isolate - as well as ensuring strict enforcement of all guidelines.
“I am also calling for a reinstatement of the weekly high level briefings for all parties and groups. As cases continue to rise the medical advice may change. It is important that all parties and groups are kept informed of this advice and that we can engage constructively with the medical advisers.”
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said the safe reopening of schools is a priority for all and that the Education Minister must provide clarity for pupils, patents and staff when he publishes guidance for the new school term.
The education spokesperson said:
"The safe reopening of schools is a priority for everyone.
"That will require enormous goodwill from principals, teachers, school staff, parents, pupils and everyone involved in the operation of our schools.
"The only to make this work is for money and resources to be directed to schools to ensure their safe reopening.
"The guidance announced today by the Education Minister, due to be published next week must be in line with the advice from the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Officer and it is essential that the minister works closely with all school staff and their trade unions to address the concerns they have about the safety of pupils and staff.
"Parents, teachers and school staff will have many questions based on what they have heard from the Education Minister today and it is incumbent on Peter Weir to provide clarity.
"The safety of pupils and staff is paramount in all of this."
Sinn Féin MLA Sinead Ennis has welcomed the announcement today by Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín that theatres and concert halls can reopen from 8th of August to prepare to welcome back audiences in September.
The Sinn Féin Culture, Arts and Sports spokesperson said:
“Covid-19 has been detrimental for all sections of society, in particular our arts, creative industries and culture sector have been devastated as a consequence of the pandemic.
“I welcome the indicative date announced today by Minister Ní Chuilín that theatre and concert halls can reopen from 8th of August for rehearsals and to prepare venues for the return of spectators from the 1st of September, if safe to do so at the time.
“Appropriate measures including social distancing must be implemented by the venues in order to comply with guidelines and to maximise the safety of staff and spectators.
“Practical guidance for the safe reopening of venues has been published by the Arts Council and I would encourage all venues to implement these recommendations.
“Sinn Féin appreciates the invaluable role of the arts, creative industries and culture sector to our society and our Ministers have rolled out a series of measures to support those in the sector throughout the pandemic, including a fund of £5.5 million to support individuals and organisations.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady has said that today’s 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima Bomb should serve as a reminder that Ireland must use its place on the UN Security Council to campaign for nuclear disarmament.
Speaking today, Teachta Brady said: “We have just witnessed a devastating explosion in Beirut, the magnitude of which has shocked people throughout the world.
“Today, we remember the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima in the dying days of World War II - a blast incredibly more powerful than that which took place in Beirut.
“Japanese casualty estimates of the atomic blast suggest that just under a quarter of a million people died following the bombing, many from the blast itself, and many more from the effects of burns, radiation sickness and cancers arising from the bombing.
“While it is argued that the attack on Hiroshima, coupled with the bombing of Nagasaki three days later, brought about the Japanese surrender that ended WWII, the events have left an indelible mark on our collective global consciousness.
“Today all legislators and lawmakers carry this warning from history with them. Since that fateful day in 1945, nuclear and atomic weapons have been detonated on over 2,000 instances, for testing and demonstrative purposes.
“The damage caused to the environment has been devastating. In 2017, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute stated that there were approximately 14,456 nuclear weapons in the world.
“Our country, small as it is, has had a proud history on the international stage of offering opposition to nuclear proliferation.
“And now, as Ireland prepares to take its place on the UN Security Council, it is an appropriate moment for the Irish government to commit to using its membership to continue the work to bring an end to these weapons of devastation.”
With youth unemployment at over 41 per cent, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers' Rights Louise O’Reilly has called on the government to invest in young people and ensure that they are not again sacrificed on the altar of economic recovery, as was the case a decade ago.
Teachta O’Reilly: “With Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showing youth unemployment at over 41 per cent, there needs to be targeted measures to help get young people into employment, education, training, or help foster entrepreneurship.
“The pandemic has laid bare the low wage and precarious work that many young people were engaged in, and any recovery must ensure that they have access to decent jobs.
“Over a decade ago, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, and then Fine Gael and the Labour Party, threw young people under the bus throughout the financial crash and subsequent austerity years.
“Exploitative programmes like Job Bridge and Gateway were the order of the day, social welfare rates were slashed as a means of pushing young people towards taking the boat and the airplane, and emigration was rife in order to escape austerity and a lack of opportunity.
“Many of the young were children during the financial crash and austerity years, they saw homes repossessed, parents lose their jobs, businesses go under, older siblings emigrate, and our towns and villages go silent.
“We need a whole of society approach if we are to recover economically, all the while living with Covid-19 - this means that we cannot have a repeat of the past where young people are sacrificed.
“The recovery has to include decent jobs, education and training opportunities, meaningful apprenticeships, and support for young entrepreneurs."
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called on the Economy Minister to provide additional financial support to ‘wet’ pubs unable to open due to COVID-19.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
“Following the announcement today that ‘wet’ pubs will be unable to open on the 10th August as anticipated I urge the Economy Minister to provide them with additional support.
“The Executive decision has been taken on the basis of scientific and medical advice in the best interests of public health. However the continued closure of these pubs is putting strain on proprietors and workers, and if they don’t get additional support some may be in danger of not being able to re-open.
"I have written to the Economy Minister asking her to provide further support to ‘wet’ pubs.
“I have also written to the British Chancellor asking him to look at extending or flexibility in the furlough scheme for those sectors who have been unable to reopen or who had to close again due to increased incidents of COVID-19.
"This support will be critical in enabling them to reopen and recover, and to retain workers in the months ahead.”
Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has condemned a threat against a newly formed East Belfast GAA club on Wednesday night.
The North Belfast MP said:
“Last night members of the newly formed East Belfast GAA club were made aware by Police of a report that a package had been left on their playing fields during a training session.
“I condemn this despicable threat and attempt to intimidate people who wish to take part in Gaelic Games.
“The GAA is inclusive and it welcomes people from all backgrounds and none.
“The sporting fraternity must stand together against this attack on the growth of the GAA and on a society which is moving forward. It’s unacceptable.”