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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection John Brady TD has today introduced a Bill to tackle bogus self employment.

Workers are being pressured into bogus self-employment contracts in a wide variety of sectors including in the media, arts, and construction sectors.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Brady said;

“This practice has been rampant across numerous sectors for some time now. Bogus self-employment creates big winners and even bigger losers.

“For an employer who classifies a worker who is actually an employee as self-employed there is no Employer PRSI to pay, no pension contributions to make, no sick, paternity or maternity leave to pay, no redundancy payments, no annual leave or public holiday pay.

“For a worker misclassified as self-employed this means less entitlement to social welfare supports if and when they need them. It also means no access to an occupational pension, no paid sick, paternity or maternity leave, no redundancy pay, no fixed breaks or rest periods, no paid annual leave or pubic holidays.

“It means no job security and no protection from unfair dismissal.

“The winner is the fraudulent employer who dodges their responsibilities and bypasses employment law.

“The losers are those that pay the price for the actions of their employer – the workers. The other big loser is the State, who suffers huge losses in PRSI contributions meaning serious consequences for the public finances and the Exchequer 

“In the Construction sector alone, ICTU have put the loss of PRSI paid to the State due to bogus self-employment at €640 million over 8 years – that is only one sector where we know that bogus self-employment is an issue and that is the loss.

“This Bill stands up for these workers and the State. It not only seeks to make it an offence to issue a self-employed contract to an employee but it goes much further in ensuring that the self-employed receive basic rights and protections as employees do, such as annual leave and pay and rest periods.

"Basic workers’ rights that have been denied to those left to suffer at the hands of a rogue employer while the State stands idly by.”

Bogus Self Employment Bill 2019

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the government to introduce an immediate rent freeze and a refundable renters tax credit.

This comes as the Focus Ireland report published this morning shows that most homeless families surveyed in Dublin were homeless due to the loss of their private rented accommodation.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The Focus Ireland report reaffirms what they and other stakeholders have been saying for over two years now, that most families accessing homeless services were there due to the loss of their private rented home.

“The rental market is broken, and low and modest families and singles are facing the brunt of this dysfunctional system.

“Sinn Féin has called for the government to introduce an immediate rent freeze for current and new tenancies. This needs to be combined with a refundable renter’s tax credit worth a month’s rent.

“It’s is hugely unfair that landlords can benefit from mortgage interest relief, while tenants get nothing back.

“We also need for a major programme of State-led investment in affordable cost rental accommodation.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence teachta Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on the Government to ensure that Defence Force Personnel are protected under the Working Time Directive, which defines the working week for workers.

Commenting on the amendment proposed by Sinn Féin on the PMB motion discussed in the Dáil this week and legislation, introduced by the party today, to bring defence force members under the remit of the Organisation of the Working Time Directive, teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“Our amendment calls for the Government to bring forward, within a six month period, legislation to provide for the application of the Working Time Directive to members of the Defence Forces.

“While every member of the defence forces accepts the unique nature of their service to the state and understands the need to be available in times of emergency, this should not be exploited or taken advantage of.

“The rights of those in the defence forces should not be lesser than those of other workers.

“In fact, it could be argued that the State has a greater duty to those who serve to protect the people, at great cost to themselves and their families.

“We are also in the midst of a crisis in the defence forces as those serving are leaving in their droves, without being replaced to the extent needed, mainly as a result of ongoing issues in relation to terms and conditions.

“The courts have found the state to be in breach of EU law in relation to this issue and there are currently a number of cases before the courts awaiting hearing.

“Instead of dragging more cases through the courts, the Government needs to act on this issue and I am calling on the Minister to support our call for legislation on this issue."

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has introduced a Bill in the Dáil to reform the Long-Term Illness Scheme so that changes, upgrades, and additions can be made to the scheme to ensure it is always fit for purpose and delivers for those with long-term illnesses.
 
Teachta O’Reilly said:
 
“The Long-Term Illness (LTI) scheme has been a great success since its establishment and aids thousands of people across the State.
 
“However, there has not been a single addition to the Long-Term Illness Scheme in nearly 50 years.
 
“This is a significant problem for thousands of people who have a long-term illness, but it is not recognised because the scheme is not fit for purpose.
 
“Many of those affected have approached me and it is for them that I have drafted and introduced this Bill which will reform the LTI scheme.
 
“In order to know the scheme is fit for purpose and to deliver for those who need it, it is important that it is monitored and reviewed on a consistent basis.
 
“The Bill we in Sinn Féin introduced will reform the LTI scheme to ensure that there are regular three-year reviews into the effectiveness of the scheme so that changes, upgrades, and additions can be made to the scheme to ensure it is always fit for purpose and delivers for those with long-term illnesses.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has today published his party’s proposals to tackle the difficulties faced by Carers in accessing social protection supports.

Speaking on publication of the document, Teachta Brady said:

“The National Carers’ Strategy was published by Government back in 2012. It committed to supporting and empowering Carers yet it is the Governments’ own policies which prevent this.

“It is not enough to complement Carers and the work that they do every day. Instead, we need to tackle the very issues that they have consistently raised. 

"The very fact that our social protection system does not support and assist Carers should ring alarm bells when its very purpose is to do just that.

“Far too many Carers are receiving no State support for the care that they provide day in and day out. 

"This is despite the fact that they save the State billions of euro every year. Those that do receive either Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit are prevented from managing their own time as regards being able to supplement their payment with employment outside the home for any more than 15 hours. 

"Many of them are punished at retirement unable to access an adequate State Pension after years of caring for another person.

“We are proposing an end to the 15 hour rule, specific and intensive supports through existing job activation schemes to assist Carers when their caring role ceases and absolute certainty that they will not be punished with a reduced State Pension because of their years spent in a caring role. 

"We also want to see changes to the way in which means are assessed for Carers Allowance, an increase in the Carer’s Support Grant and access to secondary social welfare supports for Carers who are currently denied these additional supports.

“This week is National Carer’s Week. It needs to be about more than showing our appreciation for Carers; it needs to be about listening to them, taking action and making their lives that little bit easier.” 

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Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn is demanding answers from the Government on the role of its senior members in the 2013 agreement between the British and Irish Governments, establishing a Single Maritime Boundary between their Exclusive Economic Zones and parts of their Continental Shelves. 

As part of that agreement, regardless of whether Ireland recognises British sovereignty over the rock or not, Rockall falls within the 200 mile EEZ of the UK. 

Senator Mac Lochlainn has also demanded that the Government clarify when the Scottish Government commenced correspondence with them, threatening to enforce their 12 mile limit claim around Rockall, and if that correspondence continued during the progress of the recent Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill. He called for all such correspondence, up to the present, to be published immediately.

Senator Mac Lochlainn said:

“There are serious and growing questions for senior Government figures over this latest Rockall controversy.

“The 2013 agreement was signed by then Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore. Fishing industry representatives say the agreement, which effectively concedes Rockall to the UK, was made without any consultation – either with them or the wider public. Tánaiste Simon Coveney was Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine at the time. 

“Fishing industry representatives also say that not only were they never consulted on the establishment of the boundaries, they were also subsequently not made aware of this. This is a serious situation and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste need to clarify why and how this was allowed to happen.

“Further to this, fishing representatives have stated that they were not made aware of the exchange of correspondence between the Irish and Scottish Governments over fishing rights around Rockall in recent times.

“They are flabbergasted that, just a matter of months ago, the Government signed into law another agreement which effectively allows UK registered vessels fish right up to the Irish coast, while they were in possession of this information.

“I am demanding that the Government immediately publish the full extent of this correspondence and explain why they did not make the interested parties including the fishermen and Oireachtas members aware of this when they pushed this controversial legislation through the houses earlier this year.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has said that the Government must intervene to reverse the freeze in Home Help hours.

Deputy Munster said that this freeze makes no budgetary sense as it costs €5,964 per week to care for someone in an acute hospital bed, while it costs just €160 per week with a home help support package.

Deputy Munster said:

“Every week, there are people in Louth who are receiving the bare minimum allocation of home help hours, despite it being clearly insufficient for their needs.

“In recent weeks, we have learned that the HSE has effectively suspended the allocation of home help to new applicants until November.

“This freeze is going to have a major impact on older citizens in need of care, on their families, on people with a disability and on their Carers.

“It will also put huge pressure on hospitals because of delayed discharges and force older people into nursing homes.

“All of this is happening because the HSE says there is a need to balance their budget for 2019.

“The real measure of performance here is that there are over six thousand people on waiting lists and there are countless others who have had their hours cuts.

“Without enough home help hours, patients are forced to remain in hospitals at a huge cost, or else families are forced to pay privately for home care supports.

“The Taoiseach must commit to looking at whether funding can be found in the HSE’s budget to fund additional home help hours for the rest of the year.”

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Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said Fine Gael are continuing down a failed path as they stick to Fianna Fáil policy of allowing private clinics in the new children’s hospital.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“There have been many scandals and debacles regarding the new children’s hospital and the latest is the revelation that the hospital will include a number of private clinics for consultants to run outpatient clinics outside of their public commitments.

“The Minister for Health stated to me in a parliamentary question reply that he was doing so as ‘part of the National Contract for Consultants negotiated in 2008’ under the then Fianna Fáil government.

“It is absolutely ludicrous that the Minister would just roll over and continue down this failed path, rather than challenge it.

“The public who already being fleeced with the huge cost overrun are now being asked to pay for the building of private clinics – it is totally ridiculous.

“What’s more is this decision contravenes a fundamental principle of Sláintecare which is the removal of private care from public hospitals.

“Any Minister for Health who was up to the job would show leadership in this instance, but it is clear that Fine Gael just want to continue down the failed path of Fianna Fáil which is the privatisation of our health services.” ENDS

Note: Please see the PQ on which this statement is based below

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 08/05/2019
Question Number(s): 870 Question Reference(s): 19374/19
Department: Health
Asked by: Louise O'Reilly T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health his views on whether it is fair that public funding is being used for the construction of private clinics to be used for private medicine at the new national children's hospital; and if the inclusion of same is a direct contradiction to the aims of Sláintecare

REPLY


The vast majority of services in the new children’s hospital will be public services.   Within the plan for the hospital, an area has been planned which carries the designation of "private clinic".  As part of the National Contract for Consultants negotiated in 2008, some consultants holding specific contracts are entitled to engage in private outpatient practice outside of their public commitment and this commitment must be conducted on site, that is, in the hospital they are contracted with. As a result, private outpatient clinics may be held on the public hospital campus but these clinics must be held outside contracted hours.  The new children's hospital is obliged to provide such facilities for consultants holding such contracts.  The proposal is for consultants to pay a fee for use of the rooms and other operational costs.  

The Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine private activity in public hospitals has been received and is being examined in my Department. It is a comprehensive examination of private activity in public hospitals and contains a small number of recommendations. When the recommendations have been examined and considered in my Department and by other relevant Government Departments, it is intended to bring proposals to Government and to publish the Report thereafter.


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Sinn Fein’s Justice and Equality Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has welcomed the government’s decision to establish a Citizen’s Assembly to consider the remaining barriers facilitating gender discrimination.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“Sinn Féin has long argued that Article 41.2 of the Constitution should be replaced by a gender-neutral article that recognises the economic and social value of unpaid domestic and care work.

“We supported the demand of advocacy organisations that before holding a referendum on Article 41.2 a public consultation needed to first take place. This was also a view held by members of the Oireachtas Justice committee when considering the government’s premature referendum legislation.

“Whilst the barriers facing women in terms of caring responsibilities, low pay and the economic outcomes from excessive childcare costs are well voiced it is important that women themselves determine the solutions to dismantling them.

“It will be vital that the diversity of women’s voices be included in the Assembly process.

“Migrant women, women from the LGTBI+ and traveller communities, women with a disability, trade unionists, carers and those who have experienced domestic violence and abuse must shape the Assembly’s recommendations.

“There is also much that the government can do in the interim to progress gender equality.

“Gender proofing of government budgets needs to be rapidly advanced and positive outcomes delivered.

“Replacing the minimum wage with a living wage would be an appropriate response to tackling low pay by a modern wealthy democracy. 

“Ministers have yet to deliver on the 2016 programme for government commitment to strengthen the role of the Low Pay Commission in relation to the gender pay gap and in-work poverty.

“There is no barrier that cannot be torn down if there is the necessary political will to do so.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has expressed concern at reports that the Housing Executive are set to close a number of district offices. 

The party’s housing spokesperson has written to Housing Executive Chief Executive to seek clarity. 

Carál Ní Chuilín said: 

“I have been made aware that the Housing Executive are intending to a close a number of district housing offices across the north. 

“The Housing Executive must provide clarity on these reports and make staff, tenants and service users fully aware of their next steps. 

“I have written to the Chief Executive to express concern and requesting an urgent update on the future of district offices.”

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Tourism Imelda Munster TD has welcomed the passing of Sinn Féin’s Protection of Employee Tips bill which successfully passed report and final stages in the Seanad today, and is now due to go before the Dáil.

Deputy Munster also expressed disappointment that the government voted against the bill.

The Bill will make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse. The bill will also require that employers display their tipping policy on menus or in another suitable manner to ensure that customers have transparency with regard to whom and how their tip is distributed.

Deputy Munster said:

“I am delighted that the bill has passed in the Seanad, and I would like to commend my colleague, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, for sponsoring the bill. This is a good day for workers in the hospitality sector.

“I am disappointed that Minister for Tourism Shane Ross and his Junior Minister Brendan Griffin are opposing the bill. They should recognise that they have a responsibility towards those who work in the hospitality industry.

“These workers already have to contend with low pay, uncertainty around working hours and seasonal work. Many of these workers rely on their tips as part of their weekly wage. The Ministers should protect them.

“It comes as a surprise to most people that employees do not have a legal right to their tips. I think that most people would be surprised to hear that one third of all tips are taken from workers by their employers on a regular basis.

“Employers have nothing to fear from this bill. There is no downside to this bill for anyone, other than employers who wish to steal tips from their workers.

“This bill is about fairness and basic decency. I hope that the parties who have supported the bill to date will continue to do so as it progresses through the next stages, and I look forward to having the opportunity to speak to it in the Dáil in the coming weeks. I hope that the government will have a change of heart and do the right thing.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said creating a logistics hub for the expansion of Heathrow airport at Ballykelly would create huge opportunities for the north west. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"I met today with senior representatives of Heathrow Airport at Westminster to discuss the creation of a new logistics hub at Ballykelly. 

"It was a productive meeting and we discussed the opportunities this would involve for the north west if Ballykelly is chosen as a location for one of the hubs. 

"Several industries and sectors would benefit from the significant project. 

"The tendering process will begin in the autumn and I would encourage local firms and suppliers to be ready for it. 

"I made it clear to the Heathrow officials that there is a united voice coming from the north west to secure this project for Ballykelly. 

"As well as the obvious benefits of creating employment, supporting local industries and boosting the local economy, if a hub is located at Ballykelly it could also involve opportunities for City of Derry Airport to create links with Heathrow in the future."

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today asked the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil about the planned referendum on Presidential Voting Rights which was announced yesterday.

In his response the Taoiseach said that he expects to have the Bill in the Dáil for second stage before the recess in July. This is necessary if the referendum is to be held in October/November.

Teachta Varadkar also said that citizens would register online to vote and would cast their vote by postage.

Speaking afterwards, Teachta Adams said:

“On Tuesday the Cabinet approved the Bill to hold a referendum on Presidential Voting Rights. This referendum will allow for the extension of voting rights in Presidential elections for citizens living outside of this State, including citizens living in the North. That is a very welcome development.

"At a time when the British Home Office is disputing the right of Irish citizens in the North to be recognised as Irish citizens, this is a crucially important piece of legislation. 

"It is the norm in other States that people living outside the State would have vote in elections. This is a sensible and inclusive action and I think that all of us should be calling for a YES vote.

"In his response the Taoiseach confirmed that the legislation was agreed by Cabinet yesterday and that he expects to have it in the Dáil for second stage before the recess in July.

"This is necessary if the referendum is to be held in October/November. An Taoiseach acknowledged that there is no set date yet because the legislation has to be passed through the Oireachtas."

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA has welcomed the Irish cabinet decision to hold the long-awaited referendum on extending presidential voting rights for Irish citizens resident outside the southern State in October.

Michelle O’Neill said: “The extension of voting rights to all Irish citizens in presidential elections would be a natural outworking of the Good Friday agreement, which enshrines the right of the people of the North to Irish citizenship.

“Sinn Féin has actively campaigned for many years for a referendum to be held to extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens in the North, and separately to include the Irish diaspora abroad.

“We successfully lobbied the Irish Government to include this important matter for consideration as part of the Constitutional Convention back in 2013, and were pleased that over 70% of members voted in favour of recommending to the Government the holding of a referendum to extend such rights.

“I welcome the cabinet decision that the Government is drafting legislation to facilitate a referendum this autumn. 

“It’s long past time this referendum was held, and it is very important that it is won come Election Day.

“Sinn Féin will continue to work with all other parties across the island, the diaspora organisations abroad and Irish civil society to campaign and win these hugely important rights in the weeks and months ahead.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader in the Dáil Pearse Doherty TD has said that the Government must intervene to reverse the freeze in Home Help hours. 

During Leader’s questions this afternoon, Deputy Doherty said that this freeze makes no budgetary sense as it costs €5,964 per week to care for someone in an acute hospital bed, while it costs just €160 per week with a home help support package. 

The Donegal TD said:

“In recent weeks we have learned that the HSE has effectively suspended the allocation of home help to new applicants until November.

“This freeze is going to have a major impact on older citizens in need of care, on their families, on people with a disability and on their Carers.

“It will also put huge pressure on hospitals because of delayed discharges and force older people into nursing homes. 

“All of this is happening because the HSE says there is a need to balance their budget for 2019.

“The real measure of performance here is that there are over   six thousand people on waiting lists and there are countless others who have had their hours cuts.

“Without enough home help hours, patients are forced to remain in hospitals at a huge cost, or else families are forced to pay privately for home care supports.

“The Taoiseach must commit to looking at whether funding can be found in the HSE’s budget to fund additional home help hours for the rest of the year.”

ENDS


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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but said radical and immediate action is needed to tackle climate change. 

The party’s Environmental spokesperson was commenting after the British government pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 0% by 2050. 

Cathal Boylan said:

“Today’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is welcome, but immediate action is needed to tackle the climate crisis. 

“The island of Ireland is already experiencing significant climate change with the warmest years we have experienced occurring within the last three decades.  

“In the north we must address emissions as we aim to hit the targets under the Paris Accord and this needs to be reflected in any new Programme for Government.

“We also need to see climate legislation introduced in the north which includes binding sectoral targets alongside the strengthening of existing legislation in the south. 

“Sinn Féin are committed to radically tackling climate change. But this must happen sooner rather than later. It cannot wait until 2050. Now is the time for climate action.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has warned that the planned 24-hour strike by 10,000 hospital workers, including staff in Louth County Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda “will have a significant and serious impact on the provision of services”.

Teachta Adams said:

“The possibility of a further five days of strikes, on June 25 and 26 and July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th will put an enormous strain on the health service in Louth and across the state.

“This dispute between health workers and the HSE is over a failure by the HSE to implement pay increases arising from a job evaluation scheme; health care workers involved include porters, household and catering services, healthcare assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, chefs, and surgical instrument technicians.

“This threatened strike comes on top of the recent strikes by ambulance staff belonging to the Psychiatric Nurses Association who have gone on strike seven times in pursuit of their demand for union recognition. The PNA are planning a further 24-hour strike sometime this month.

“The HSE claim that recognition of the PNA would impair good industrial relations in the Ambulance Service is a nonsense. The denial of workers their constitutional right to form or join unions of their choice is what is impairing industrial relations in the health service.

“At the same time, the HSE and Department of Health have introduced a recruitment pause within the health service and the most recent figures released by the INMO showed that 9,015 admitted patients were forced to wait without hospital beds in May. Clearly, there continues to be a serious capacity deficit.  

“There is an onus on the government, and in particular the Ministers Harris and Donohoe to take immediate action to resolve this dispute before June 20th - the date of the first strike. The decision by the Dept. of Public Expenditure to refer this situation to the Public Service Stability Agreement Oversight Group gives no reassurance that this matter is being treated with the urgency that is required.”

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Sinn Féin’s Protection of Employee Tips Bill has passed Report and Final stage in the Seanad, despite opposition from Fine Gael.

The Bill, introduced by Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, now heads to the Dáil with cross-party support, and Sinn Féin are pushing for the Bill to be enacted by Autumn of this year.

The Bill would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse.

It would also require employers to display their tipping policy in a suitable manner so that customers and workers have transparency in the distribution of tips.

Speaking after the passage of the Protection of Employee Tips Bill in the Seanad today, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said:

“This is a significant victory for workers, there’s no doubt about it. Despite significant opposition and lobbying by the Irish Hotels Federation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland against it, the Protection of Employee Tips Bill has now passed all stages in the Seanad.

"This Bill is a great example of the fruits of cooperation when the Left works together.

“The Bill will now move to the Dáil, and we are calling on the government to get this through as soon as possible.

"The sooner this legislation is enacted in law, the sooner workers will have a legal right to their tips and the sooner customers will have transparency in how their tips are distributed.

“We must also give credit where credit is due – this Bill could never have made it this far without the tremendous support of the Trade Union movement.

"In particular, I’d like to congratulate the ONE Galway and ONE Cork movement, ICTU, and SIPTU, and all of their staff and the movement more broadly, who really got behind the Bill and made this Crusade their own.

“This issue is real, tips theft is widespread, and the public are behind this Bill. People across this island believe tips should go to workers, and workers alone.

"It is a disgrace that this is not already the case, and we must right this wrong. We call on the government to expedite this Bill through the Dáil so that customers are given the transparency they demand, and that workers in low-pay and precarious work are given the protections they deserve.”

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Europe must do more to restrict and investigate the use of controversial mesh implants and support those impacted by it, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said.

Martina Anderson commented: “I have already questioned the European Commission on what measures it is taking on this issue and it was confirmed that surgical meshes have been reclassified to the highest risk group of medical devices and will be exposed to much stricter control processes before they are used to treat patients.

“And while that is a step in the right direction, it is only a step and I will be pressing Europe to severely restrict the use of mesh and support those who have become victims of it.

“A recent report by an EU medical oversight body also criticised the poor level of testing and the failure to properly record adverse reactions to mesh implant surgery.

“Ignoring the experience of patients who suffered complications as a result of mesh implants risks condemning another generation to life changing and life-threatening injury.

“That needs to be rectified because each day that passes is another day of suffering for mesh victims across Ireland and across the EU.

“Europe must take whatever steps it can to properly investigate the impact of mesh implants, restrict its use and support its victims.” 

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Eoghan Murphy to listen to the policy demands made by organisations who are on the front line of the family homelessness crisis.  The Housing Committee this morning listened to presentations from the Mercy Law Centre, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, the Children’s Rights Alliance, and Focus Ireland.

Speaking after the Committee meeting, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Today, we heard from key charities and state agencies who work with homeless families and children and noted the policy changes they recommended to tackle the crisis.

“The Mercy Law Centre, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, the Children’s Rights Alliance, and Focus Ireland all made compelling arguments as to what the government needs to do to help these families.

“The Committee also noted the reports published recently on the issue by Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the academic paper ‘The hotelisation of the housing crisis: Experiences of family homelessness in Dublin hotels’.

“A list of common policy changes emerged from the discussion in the Committee and these include; the need for a Constitutional Right to Housing, an increase in investment in real social housing, family support workers for every family, therapeutic support for children, time limits on time spend in emergency accommodation, end of one night stays in emergency accommodation, and an end to self-accommodation, insert a reference to the child in housing legislation; and roll out an independent inspection regime of emergency accommodation.

“These demands aren’t complicated and come from those who work on these issues every day.

“The Minister for Housing must pay careful attention to what was said here today and he must act decisively to implement these changes.” 

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