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Sinn Féin MLA Aisling Reilly has expressed her deep disappointment at the Belfast Trust's proposals to increase hospital car-parking charges. 

The West Belfast MLA said: 

“Today, during an evidence session to the health committee, the Belfast Trust indicated that they are ‘exploring options for increasing the current charges and/or applying charges on other sites ...’

“I am deeply disappointed at this retrograde proposal from the Belfast Trust, particularly at a time when we should all be investigating ways to make the lives of our health and social care workers and patients easier.  

“Hospital car-parking charges represent an unfair additional tax on the wages of low paid workers and are an additional burden to patients that are already facing considerable pressures, often due to serious illness.  

“They also present a distinct inequality to rural workers, patients and their families, who already experience inequalities in access to infrastructure and public transport.  

“My private members bill to abolish hospital car-parking charges across all trusts is a concrete and tangible measure that will put money into the pockets of thousands of hard-pressed health and social care workers.  

“Paying lip service to these workers for their sacrifices, especially in the past two years, is no longer an option. 

“The bill will also undo the unnecessary burdens imposed on patients and their families.  

“At a time when the entire health and social care sector is crippled by a chronic workforce shortage, it is important that we create conditions that will make the sector more attractive for workers.  

“The abolition of this unfair additional tax on workers is a step in the right direction if we want to recruit and retain the workers we need across health and social care."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the government to ensure that any inquiry into the pandemic response is wide-ranging and drawn up in consultation with civil society groups.

He also said that it must include a public inquiry into the failures in some nursing homes and pre-existing failures, such as low ICU capacity, in the health system which made the state more vulnerable.

It should look at issues in relation to poor planning, slow response times, and mixed messaging by government over the course of the pandemic.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“An inquiry into the state’s pandemic response and preparedness is essential. Mistakes were made and must be learned from.

“The inquiry must examine the government’s preparedness, poor planning, confused leadership, slow response times, and mixed messaging throughout the pandemic.

“But the inquiry cannot ignore the wide range of issues, which need to be addressed.

“Many problems that contributed to worse outcomes – such as the severe lack of ICU capacity – were known well before the pandemic.

“The terms of reference for this inquiry must be drawn up in consultation with civil society groups to encompass the wide range of concerns across many sectors of society.

“This includes, but is not limited to, a public inquiry into the shortcomings in some nursing homes and the consequent isolation, neglect, and loss of health and life in some homes. This is something we have consistently called for a non-statutory inquiry into.

“It must also look at how failures to properly resource the health service, and failures to modernise and advance critical reforms, contributed to the difficulties faced by hospitals and the health system during the pandemic.

“It cannot ignore workers’ rights, such as sick pay entitlements, and how we can make a wide range of changes across society and the economy to be better prepared in the future.

“Finally, any public inquiry must look at the ability of the island of Ireland to respond to an emergency in a joined up and efficient way.

“Collaboration between systems north and south was poor and that must be improved on.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the new government bill which seeks to place a construction industry register on a statutory footing. 

The Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2022 will be debated at second stage today in the Dáil.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2022 is a long overdue piece of legislation that was first mooted in the 1960s. The Law Reform Commission in 1977 stressed the need for a statutory register of construction industry professionals. After a review in the 1990s, the register was finally introduced in a voluntary capacity in 2014.

“Placing this register on a statutory footing is hugely important to both improve standards and to provide greater protections for consumers.

“Sinn Féin will not be opposing the bill at this stage, however, there are significant flaws in the legislation that must be addressed.

“We do not believe that the register should be located in the Construction Industry Federation. There must be a clear separation between the industry and the register. It should be in a state body such as the National Building Control Office.

“Furthermore, there is no need for a two-year lead-in to the register. The register has existed on a voluntary footing since 2014 and there is no reason why all construction professionals should not be able to register this year.

“The investigation process, as detailed in the bill, is cumbersome and the sanctions are limited. Given how this state is living with a legacy of poor construction practices there should be a zero-tolerance approach to building control. We need to see tougher sanctions in place for breaches of building regulations.

“I will be submitting a range of amendments to try and strengthen this bill. We have been waiting a long time for governments to get their act together and introduce this construction register. It is important that we make it as robust as possible.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Pauline Tully TD, has welcomed news that the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters has agreed to invite the Minister for Finance to come before the committee and address serious concerns around the Disabled Drivers Scheme.

Teachta Tully had requested that the committee invite Minister Donohoe to come before the committee, after it was revealed that the entire Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme Appeals Board has resigned after expressing concern that the criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Cert is too stringent.

Teachta Tully, who is a member of the committee, said:

“Earlier this week I wrote to the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters to request that committee members invite Minister Donohoe to appear before the committee and answer important questions about the Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme. I welcome that the committee has granted my request and will now ask the Minister to appear before a committee meeting.

“Last week, it emerged that the entire appeals board of the scheme resigned after expressing concern about how the scheme was being handled and amid ongoing serious concerns that it is too difficult to obtain a primary medical cert.

“These issues have been raised repeatedly with the government, but they have failed to act. The Minister for Finance is totally failing to show leadership here and it is people with disabilities who are paying the price.

“Many disabled people are effectively being denied the ability to travel due to the stringent criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Certificate.

“This is denying disabled people their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to live fully independent lives.

“This can have a huge personal impact on people’s lives, as they are less able to live independently, socialise and work without these vital supports that they should be entitled to.

“Over the last 18 months, we have seen a litany of failures in how this scheme has been handled by the Finance Department and this must change.

“In recent media comments, the Finance Department confirmed that they had not carried out the review that the Minister had undertaken to do 5 months ago and 18 months after a key  Supreme Court ruling.

“Minister Donohoe must come before the committee and answer questions about his total failure in how this scheme has been handled.

“I am determined to get to the bottom of this issue and ensure that people with disabilities are not abandoned by this government.

“An immediate review of this scheme and the criteria it sets out needs to take place with input from Disabled Persons Organisations and other relevant stakeholders taken on board and must include detailed actions to widen eligibility to the scheme and improve its administration.

“Minister Donohoe now needs to confirm that he will appear before the committee at the earliest possible opportunity and that he will engage with our questions.

“I am committed to getting progress on this issue. People with disabilities must have their rights upheld and protected.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has condemned the forceful eviction of the Salhiye family and the demolition of their home in East Jerusalem by Israeli authorities Tuesday night.

The Wicklow TD said:

“I absolutely condemn the eviction of the Salhiye family from their home in Sheik Jarrah on Tuesday night. This is the second time that this family has been left homeless by the actions of the Israeli authorities.

“In 1948, the Salhiye family were uprooted from their home in Ein Kerem. This week, in freezing temperatures, they were again forcibly removed from their home and forced to watch on as Israeli bulldozers moved in to reduce their home to rubble.

“Now a family of 15 people must face the reality of having lost their home in the middle of winter. The Salhiye family is just the latest Palestinian family who have been evicted from their homes since Christmas in the latest Israeli onslaught against Palestinians.

“This cannot be allowed to continue. The silence of the international community shames us all. We need to see political action. 

“We need to see the international community working to bring an end to the forced dispossessions, the demolitions, and the ongoing apartheid policies of the Israeli authorities.

“The Irish government must speak out. Minister Coveney has a responsibility to raise this targeting of Palestinians at the UN, and the government must speak out in Europe.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on both the Irish government and European Commission to take action to mitigate extreme fertiliser costs.

He was speaking during a hearing on Wednesday evening with Mr Fabien Santini of the Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture.

Teachta Carthy said:

“Family farmers operate on extremely tight margins.

“Increases in input prices can put huge pressure on farm incomes, but the sharp hike in fertiliser has been beyond anything that can be managed at an on-farm level.

“Urea fertiliser has increased in cost by 160% in the last 12-months, while CAN prices have increased by a staggering 228%.

“Limited supplies are having a devastating impact on the grass-based model of farming for which Ireland is renowned.

“Farmers are crying out for something to be done.

“But the Irish government has done nothing.  The European Commission has done nothing.

“That is not good enough.

“In fact, the EU is adding to the problem by imposing levies on imports of fertiliser from outside the EU and adding further anti-dumping duties of up to €43 per tonne.

“This is providing the European fertiliser industry with a protection that Irish food producers do not have.  That industry is making massive profits.

“Gas prices have been cited as the cause of hikes, but fertiliser price increases have been greater than gas rises, and since gas prices have reduced fertiliser costs have not followed suit.

“We are told that this is a global problem, but farmers are paying 16% more than their counterparts in the United States.

“There are concrete actions that can be taken to mitigate the consequences.

“The first relates to addressing those import levies and anti-dumping tariffs.  While European fertiliser companies rake in profits of up to 40% and there is a supply shortage, there can be no justification for these measures.

“Equally, if required, direct state aid and intervention must be considered, as was highlighted as an option by Mr Santini.

“Because while the Agriculture Committee may come at this primarily from a farm input cost – the alternative suggestion posited by Mr Santini that costs simply be borne by consumers is simply not tenable.

“We did also hear of positive indications regarding the potential for green ammonia.  Reductions in the use of artificial fertilisers can and should be delivered but they way to do this is through working in partnership with farmers rather than forcing them out of business with extreme input cost shocks.

“Urgent action by both the Irish government and the EU commission is needed now.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to meet with representatives of psychology trainees in Ireland.

A petition of over 2,400 signatories was submitted to the Minister by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) calling for the disparity in funding for psychology trainees in Ireland to be addressed by government.

Teachta Ward said:

“I have met with representatives for psychology trainees on a number of occasions and, without fail, they mention the difficulties that trainee psychologists experience.

“The disparity in how trainee clinical psychologists and trainee counselling and educational/child psychologists are treated is a major concern.

“Currently, trainee clinical psychologists have 60% of their fees paid and receive a student salary starting at €33,000, while counselling and educational/child trainee psychologists pay fees of between €12,000 and €15,000 per year and do a minimum of 300 hours’ unpaid work throughout the duration of their study.

“Counselling and educational trainees must self-fund for the full period of their doctoral training as well as pay €14,000 per year in university fees.

“This results in many not being able to afford to enter the profession, or only a select few who can afford to self-fund, which risks the psychological workforce not being representative of the full socio-economic spectrum of the community they represent and support.

“At present, there are almost 10,000 children waiting on a primary care psychology appointment, so it is incumbent on government to do everything in its power to address this waiting list.

“Sinn Féin recognised this and included multi-annual funding for trainee counselling and educational/child psychologists in our alternative budget.

“I have written to Minister Stephen Donnelly and asked that he meet with the Psychological Society of Ireland with a view to putting in place measures to address this inequality.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Nicola Brogan has welcomed proposals to fast track flexibility for families when it comes to school starting age for some children.

The West Tyrone MLA said:

“Many families are waiting and relying on these new plans, particularly those parents of babies born from April to June.

“Cross party support for fast tracking these proposals will give some comfort and relief to these families.

“Introducing flexibility to the school starting age for children has the potential to make a huge difference to their development. 

“Sinn Féin will work to ensure that the Education Minister gets these proposals over the line and in place for families as soon as possible.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Carers Pauline Tully TD and spokesperson on Public Expenditure Mairéad Farrell TD have criticised the government for excluding carers from the pandemic frontline bonus of €1,000 for frontline health and ambulance workers. 

An equivalent payment will also be provided for relevant staff in private sector nursing homes and hospices affected by Covid-19, but this will not include carers.

Teachta Tully said:

“Family Carers do immense work all the time but they deserve recognition for all the additional work undertaken in the past two years.  

“Practically all supports were withdrawn and carers were left isolated. They are the forgotten frontline who protect our health service on an ongoing basis by providing care to very ill loved ones, saving the state billions every year.  

“They were not considered for PPE provision or vaccine prioritisation. They cannot be forgotten again. Minister McGrath must do the right thing and extend this payment to Carers .”

Teachta Farrell raised this issue with Minister McGrath today during Ministerial questions today.

She said:

“I of course welcome the moves to provide a frontline bonus for those who worked so hard and gave so much during the pandemic, having to operate in risky and often difficult environments. 

“This was badly needed and well deserved. 

“However, it is very regrettable that our hard-working carers have been left behind, especially given how much they suffered during the pandemic. 

“These people were on the frontlines during the pandemic and without their work, the government would have been in a real predicament.

“These carers lost their day service, their respite, and their unofficial respite in the form of help from grandparents and other family members when they were required to isolate at home. 

“Their inclusion in the bonus could have made a real difference and, given recognition to their hard work, which is often overlooked, I am calling on the government and Minister McGrath to reconsider their exclusion.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has launched a new Bill which will ensure that the past bad building by rogue developers will be considered when any new planning permissions are decided. This will ensure that rouge builders or developers are prevented from securing planning permissions.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The legislation I am launching today amends the Planning and Development Act.

“It is a short and straightforward bill which aims to stop rogue builders and developers getting planning permission where they have a history of defective building.

“This change to planning law is necessary so local councils and An Bord Pleanala have the power to say no to new planning applications where the developer or builder has a history of bad building practices. 

“We have seen how negligence or failure to build to an adequate standard has affected thousands of homeowners across the state.

“From Priory Hall, the Leinster pyrite defects, the pyrite and mica defective block scandal, fire safety and other structural defects in apartments and duplexes and dodgy home extensions, homeowners have been left questioning how these homes were allowed to be built in the first place.

“This bill is a small but important measure to put a stop to rogue builders with a record of bad building by enabling local councils and An Bord Pleanala to say no."

 The Planning and Development (Amendment) (Breach of Building Regulations) Bill 2022 is available to view at this link

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the Minister for Finance for failing to meet Insurance Ireland over insurance companies pocketing taxpayers’ money that was paid to support struggling business and their staff during the pandemic.

The Donegal TD said the Minister’s failure to meet the insurance industry was a "dereliction of his duty to defend the taxpayer’s interests".

Teachta Doherty said:

“Yesterday, the Minister for Finance told the Committee that he is yet to meet Insurance Ireland regarding the deduction of State supports from COVID-19 payouts to policyholders by insurance companies.

“Once again the Minister has failed to protect taxpayers’ money.

“Last year his Junior Minister Seán Fleming warned that insurance companies who deducted state supports paid to businesses from valid claims under their insurance policies would not ‘be let off the hook.

“It is clear that both men have decided to let the insurance industry off the hook.

“This means that the taxpayer will have subsidised an insurance industry that has thrived during the pandemic, and its shareholders.

“This is completely unacceptable.

“These supports, funded by the taxpayer, were introduced on the basis that they would make their way to struggling businesses, not profitable insurance companies.

“In March 2020 I wrote to the Government requesting that strict conditions be put on all financial support provided to businesses, so that taxpayers’ money did not find its way to shareholders and those who didn’t need it.

“The Minister has made clear that he will not even attempt recover public money that has been unfairly clawed by insurers in this way on the grounds that it would be ‘retrospective’.

“This is a Minister for Finance who retrospectively taxed those receiving the PUP and how the State pursued those taking a holiday during the pandemic.

“Every effort should be made to claw this money back on behalf of the taxpayer.

“The Minister’s refusal to do so is deeply disappointing.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing has today called on Minister for State Frank Feighan to address serious concerns within the addiction and recovery sector. 

His comments come in response to the Minister’s appearance at the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Teachta Gould said:

“The Minister should be well aware of the current issues that exist with the proposed changes to the National Oversight Committee. But he could not confirm that all community and voluntary networks will retain their place on the Oversight Committee for the duration of the current phase of the National Drugs Network. Instead, after continued questioning, he agreed that this was his plan.

“In terms of addiction nurses, there has been a worrying level of disrespect shown to these clinical experts. They were removed from the NOC without any consultation, reason or notice. 

“They were then forced to go public to get an answer from the Minister and found out about a meeting they were invited to with himself via a newspaper the Minister gave comment to.

“While the Minister agreed that there were communication issues, he could not give any reasoning behind the removal of Addiction Nurses from the NOC. He has agreed his intention to reinvite this group to the Committee, but there are serious questions about the process of this.

“There were real concerns today raised about drug and alcohol issues in Tallaght, about the treatment of the North East Inner City DATF, the closure of residential addiction treatment beds, the closure of Keltoi, the failure to complete the last phase of the National Drugs Strategy and the need for movement on the Health Diversion Approach.

“The Minister did not have a clear answer to these questions. He could not explain why his Budget was only one tenth of the budget proposed by Sinn Féin and failed to offer any reasoning behind crucial decisions being made by his office.

“I will be seeking to meet Minister Feighan in the coming weeks because today raised more questions than answers. It is time for this government to get serious – let’s resource recovery and tackle addiction.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the Minister for Finance for allowing companies who received millions of euros of taxpayers’ money through the wage subsidy to pay out dividends to shareholders during the pandemic. 

Speaking at the Finance Committee today, the Donegal TD said that the Minister had allowed taxpayers’ money to be transferred from the state to shareholders while employees saw their pay cut.

On March 23rd 2020, Teachta Doherty wrote to the Minister for Finance requesting that strict conditionality be attached to financial assistance provided to companies so that government support was not used to secure dividends for shareholders.  

Teachta Doherty said:

“Today the Minister for Finance told the Finance Committee that he had considered banning dividends being paid to shareholders of companies receiving the wage subsidy scheme but decided not to.

“This inaction has resulted in millions of euros in taxpayers’ money being transferred from the state to wealthy shareholders through the wage subsidy scheme during the pandemic.

“This was at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers saw their pay packets reduced while on the scheme. 

“The Minister could not even tell the Committee the amount of money that had been paid out to shareholders of companies while they were receiving state support – all funded by the taxpayer.

“In one instance, a company received payments worth €1.8 million through the wage subsidy scheme and then paid out dividends of €1.8 million to shareholders in the Isle of Man.

“This is corporate welfare with taxpayers footing the bill.

“Workers who have lost their jobs or had their pay cut under the wage subsidy scheme will be rightly outraged that public money has been siphoned off to shareholders in this way.

“The Minister dropped the ball and failed to protect the taxpayer.

“Millions of euros of state supports have been siphoned off to shareholders during the pandemic, but the Minister can’t even tell us how much.

“Taxpayers have paid a heavy price for ministerial incompetence.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has hailed progress on the Integrated Education Bill as driving ‘positive change’ for society.

Speaking as the Bill passed to its next stage in the Assembly, the party’s Education spokesperson said:

“I welcome that the Integrated Education Bill has passed to the next stage in the Assembly today.

“Progressive parties have worked together on this legislation to help ensure that families who wish to send their children to an integrated school will have that choice and that the schools will get proper support.

“Bringing children and young people from different backgrounds together through the education system is a positive change for our society and will help promote diversity and respect from a young age.

“Sinn Féin will continue to give leadership and play our part in breaking down barriers across society and building a shared future for all.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence, Sorca Clarke TD, has reiterated her call for a commission of investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the Defence Forces to be established.

The Women of Honour group will tomorrow meet with the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.

Teachta Clarke said:

"I want to commend the Women of Honour for their bravery in coming forward to tell their story of our they were treated in the Defence Forces. Sexual harassment and violence of any kind is totally unacceptable and can never be condoned or minimised.

"The Women Of Honour have clearly articulated their view that the Minister for Defence's proposed mechanism of addressing these allegations is inadequate. 

"Any internal review will not have the power to compel witnesses or apportion blame, and I support the survivors’ calls for a commission of investigation to be established. 

"This must include an examination of the specific allegations of wrongdoing, but also the wider mishandling of the women’s complaints; including the bullying, coercion and collusion they say they were subjected to.

“I am deeply disappointed at how these survivors have been treated by the government up to now. They deserve better. 

"I hope that their meeting with the Minister for Defence tomorrow will be a productive one, and that they are listened to and their concerns taken on board.

"There can be no further delays in establishing a proper, independent investigation."


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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed an announcement that Land and Property Services have begun contacting businesses that are eligible for grants under the Omnicron Hospitality Payment scheme.

The party's economy spokesperson and chair of the Assembly's economy committee said: 

"I welcome the opening of the £40 million support scheme for hospitality businesses, which has been brought forward by the Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

"The Finance Minister has once again stepped up to support businesses impacted by the pandemic.

"This business support scheme will make payments of between £10,000 and £20,000 (based on rateable value ) and it will support 3,200 hospitality businesses that are being impacted by the latest restrictions.

"These payments will help businesses through the current restrictions and are absolutely vital as the British Government failed to reinstate the furlough scheme to support workers and the Department for Economy has failed to put in place additional business supports.

"I would encourage businesses who previously received the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme payments to check their email accounts as Land and Property services are currently contacting eligible businesses. 

"Newly established hospitality businesses can also apply and I would encourage them to apply and submit the relevant documentation to the link below so that they can also receive these vital payments.”

https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-omicron-hospitality-payment.

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Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has welcomed the appointment of the new Chief Nursing Officer. 

The chair of the health committee said: 

“I welcome the appointment of the Maria McIlgorm as Chief Nursing Officer and wish her luck in this new role. 

“She is taking on this leadership role at a time when nursing and the health and social care systems are facing significant challenges, including, a chronic workforce shortage that is impacting on nurses and the care they are able to provide to their patients.

“The first major task facing the new Chief Nursing Officer is the urgent need for workforce planning, the recruitment and retention of nurses, and establishing safe and effective work conditions for staff across the profession.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said the hospitality sector must be consulted by government and involved in the devising of a sustainable and long-term plan for the sector to achieve a safe return to full trading.

She further called on the government to immediately engage with the sector regarding the imminent changes to public health restrictions.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The hospitality sector has borne the brunt of the public health restrictions to date.

“The restrictions they had to operate under over the Christmas and New Year period were especially difficult for a sector which was just beginning to get back on its feet.

“Thankfully, it appears that the current 8pm curfew for the sector is going to be lifted.

“With such changes to the public health restrictions in the offing, it is essential that the government engage with representatives of the hospitality sector with the purpose of devising a sustainable and long-term plan for the sector to achieve a safe return to full trading.

“This is what the sector wants, and I am sure this is what the government wants; however, it needs to be planned for, and the hospitality sector must be central in such planning. 

“The hospitality sector, and the state, are losing money while these public health restrictions are in place; the situation is not ideal for either party. 

“No sustainable reopening plan can be achieved without the consultation and input of the hospitality sector. 

“Therefore, the best way to move forward is for all parties to get around a table and come up with a detailed and long-term reopening plan, that has as its aim, a safe return to full trading.”

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 Sinn Féin Leas-Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said the decision by the British government to scrap Tory/NIO plans to bring back double-jobbing for MPs and MLAs proves once again that the DUP is out of step and the Tories out of order.

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“Plans to bring back double-jobbing were unacceptable and the British government’s about turn on this issue was the right thing to do.

“This was a cynical and crude attempt by Boris Johnson and the NIO to prop up the DUP and facilitate Jeffrey Donaldson’s return to the Assembly.=

“These plans did not reflect what was agreed by the parties and governments in New Decade, New Approach.

“They were roundly rejected and rightly opposed by the majority of Assembly parties and proves yet again that the DUP is out of step and the Tories out of order.

“Yesterday the local parties wrote jointly to Boris Johnson opposing this amendment, and today’s Tory u-turn is a result of that cross-party opposition.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has said Brexit will result in a net loss of European funds for the northern Executive totalling almost £100 million per year.  

The party’s Brexit spokesperson and minister in the Executive said:

“There is now confirmation that the north will lose £97.6m per year as a result of Brexit.

“This stark figure graphically exposes the scale of loss in EU financial support, which we have relied upon to underpin essential economic, agricultural, community, and educational programmes.

“This catastrophic loss will be felt right across our economy and society, and by all sections of the community. Previously established training and apprenticeships for our young people, supports for farmers, and educational and cultural exchange opportunities for students will now be undermined. 

“There is still no sign of the Shared Prosperity Fund which was supposed to replace EU programmes such as the Social Fund and Regional Development Fund. It is now obvious that the Tories are not prioritising meeting the financial shortfall caused. 

“The implications are very serious. The rural economy alone faces a loss of nearly £15m every year in farm assistance grants.

“The lack of a proper replacement for the Erasmus programme will cost the north over £5 million per year, and impact directly on thousands of students and academic staff, who would have benefitted from all the associated opportunities. 

“The loss of these funds will have also have a disproportionately adverse effect on border communities, and the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

"Those who championed Brexit were warned well in advance that there would be major financial repercussions for the north. 

“The DUP through its reckless pursuit of a hard Brexit is responsible for creating this financial black hole in the regional economy. The DUP is bad for business and bad for the economy. It is time for change.” 

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