Speaking after the publication of a British government white paper on Brexit, the South Down MP said:
"The British government are once again completely ignoring the realities of life in the north when it comes to Brexit. There is zero mention in this white paper of the Irish Protocol which the British government has agreed with the EU and which contains vital protections for the north's economy and the Good Friday Agreement.
"This publication was drawn up without the involvement of local businesses or the elected representatives of the people of the north. This is hardly surprising given the fact the British government has spent four years ignoring the will of the people of the north who wanted to remain in the EU.
"The British government need to provide immediate clarity to the local business community as to what seamless trade, and its commitment that there will be no additional costs, will actually mean in practice.
"The Brexit clock is ticking and the concerns of local people and businesses will not be allayed by platitudes from a British government that has totally ignored them and treated their public representatives and political institutions with contempt.
"Despite weak assurances from the British government, people here know that Brexit is bad for business, bad for jobs and bad for the environment."
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said reports of a COVID-19 cluster in Limavady highlights the need for people to continue to be responsible.
The East Derry MLA said:
“Reports of a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Limavady area is of concern, particularly for the local area.
“I have been in contact with the Health Minister to enquire what measures have been put in place to ensure contact tracing and that testing is made available to those contacted as a matter of urgency.
“I have also enquired what support and assistance will be made available for anyone who may be unable to isolate in their own home due to confined space or relatives who are more vulnerable.
“The incidence of a cluster like this highlights the need for people to continue to follow the guidelines and practise social distancing and hand hygiene in order to keep people safe.
“We are not out of the woods yet and we all need to be responsible.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has written to the CervicalCheck tribunal to express concerns about ongoing delays and how this is impacting on women who are affected.
His remarks follow news that two of the three judges on the tribunal, including the chair, are no longer available and the tribunal will be delayed while replacements are appointed.
Teachta Cullinane said: “I have written to the CervicalCheck tribunal to put on record my concerns about the mounting delays in the tribunal and how this is compounding distress for the women who are affected.
“The tribunal was announced in December 2018, but is still yet to formally sit. This simply isn’t good enough.
“In April of this year, it was announced that the tribunal would be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, it has emerged that there will be even more delays as two of the three judges are no longer available and it will take considerable time to appoint their replacements.
“I am concerned that these delays are adding up. We must not lose sight of the women who at the heart of this scandal and how they and their families have been treated already. The women affected deserve to receive justice in a fair and timely way.
“They have already been subjected to an upsetting and frustrating wait. I am concerned that further delays will be compounding their distress.
“I have asked the CervicalCheck tribunal to ensure that these delays do not continue.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Louise O’Reilly TD has today published Sinn Féin's proposals to support small and medium-sized enterprises and to protect jobs; at a time of unprecedented challenges for SMEs and the workers they employ.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Investing in SMEs, micro-businesses and family businesses to support workers and families, save jobs and protect communities is a priority for Sinn Féin.
“There are over 220,000 SMEs - employing more than 750,000 people across the State - in highly or moderately affected sectors and losses experienced by many SMEs threaten their very survival.
“Without a recovery of our SMEs, there will be no real recovery.
“We must show a real commitment to our SME sector and to family businesses, as well as a steadfast commitment to workers’ rights and the creation of decent jobs with decent pay and conditions.
“To that end, we have proposed a number of schemes and proposals which if enacted would have a transformative effect in rebooting SMEs suffering because of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Sinn Féin understand that the SME sector needs additional injections of liquidity. That is why we are proposing grants of €12,000 and €25,000 for affected SMEs, as has been done in many other European States.
“We are also calling for a Back to Business Loan Scheme with 90% government backed loans carrying zero interest, with no repayments for the first twelve months and low interest rates thereafter.
“Extending the commercial rates waiver until the end of December, with a review before the end of the year, is a much-needed measure to help reduce non-payroll expenses for affected SMEs.
“To provide a substantial economic stimulus to the tourism and hospitality sectors - who are facing massive challenges - we are proposing tourism and hospitality vouchers of €200 per adult and €100 per child which can be spent in hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks, restaurants, cafés, tourist attractions and theme parks. This will provide a major boost to these sectors.
“But this alone will not help SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. That is why we are proposing that VAT for services in these sectors be reduced from 13.5% to 9% until the end of January 2021; with a built-in review of its effectiveness for that date. Such a measure would allow SMEs and family businesses to either reduce costs to stimulate demand or to use monies saved through a reduction of VAT to invest in their businesses and cover losses accrued due to Covid-19.
“Furthermore, we are also proposing the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme until the end of the year and for a special fund to support alternative businesses.
“These measures will require the State to borrow and invest. However, the cost of not investing in SMEs will be far greater and will cost the State far more, economically and socially, through lost jobs and business closures.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed the PSNI’s apology to investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.
The party’s Policing Spokesperson said:
“I welcome the apology today from Chief Constable Simon Byrne to investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.
“This case should never have been pursued in the first place.
“As opposed to having been detained and their properties searched, both of these men should have been commended and thanked for their top quality service to society in exposing the collusion in the Loughinisland Massacre.
“The British state should have immediately sought to pursue those responsible for the massacre and the subsequent cover up, not those who did sterling work in exposing the truth.
“The freedom of the press is a fundamental principle in any democracy and must not be infringed upon.
"It is long past the time the British government implemented in full the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement in a human rights compliant manner."
Responding to the revelations that an East Belfast community has recorded more COVID-19 deaths than any other community across the north, Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson Colm Gildernew has said that the Department of Health must make tangible and immediate efforts to tackle health inequalities.
Speaking Colm Gildernew said:
"In recent days it has been confirmed that our more deprived and densely populated communities have been impacted most by the COVID-19 pandemic. One area of East Belfast has recorded the most deaths due to the virus, according to NISRA.
“Areas of high deprivation are known to have ongoing and largely unaddressed underlying health conditions such as obesity, respiratory disease and various cancers.
“As the pandemic took hold in recent months, it is clear that inequalities in health, housing and income have become even more deadly for our citizens who are trapped in areas of high deprivation.
“I am deeply concerned that a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the future could be even more deadly.
"A second wave would be likely to disproportionately affect deprived communities where underlying conditions are even more life-threatening and low income inhibits the ability of the poor to access face masks and hygiene products.
“Immediate action is needed across all departments, and in particular the Department of Health, to prepare our more deprived communities for the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has said that the government's proposal to announce a ‘green list’ of countries deemed safe to travel to on 20th July, while retaining current advice against all non-essential foreign travel would be a continuation of an “incoherent, contradictory and confused” message.
He said the current regime is “the worst of all worlds”. It serves neither the aviation industry, the travel and tourism industry, prospective travellers or the general public well.
Teachta O'Rourke said.
“People have been very disciplined in their adherence to public health advice relating to foreign travel, and this has come at considerable expense. Flights and holidays booked well in advance have been forgone, with thousands of euros lost.
“It appears now that a further deadline will come and go without a coherent plan for foreign travel. The suggestion that a ‘green list’ will be published on 20th July, but advice against all non-essential foreign travel will remain in place makes absolutely no sense. This approach will only serve to extend the contradictory and confused messages that people have had to live with for the last two months. It is completely unacceptable.
“We believe there should be a graduated response to the re-opening of foreign travel at an appropriate time - subject to public health advice. In addition to a ‘green list’, we believe there should be a ‘red list’ published, and that a comprehensive regime of airport checks and controls should be in place, reflective of the Covid-19 profile of the country of departure.
“Furthermore, protections must be put in place for consumers who have holidays booked to areas where travel is advised against; including those areas that may be re-categorised as the virus profile changes.
“Leaving it up to the airlines is not acceptable, given how they have treated consumers to date.
“People should be entitled to refunds from their airlines or travel insurance companies if public health advice changes and they are no longer advised to travel to a certain country due to Covid-19.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said news that Easons are to begin a consultation process around proposals not to reopen their stores in the north will be a devastating blow to workers, their families and the local economy.
The party’s economic spokesperson said:
“Today 144 men and woman have been told they are facing the prospect of losing their jobs as Easons begins a consultation process around proposals not to reopen its seven stores in the north.
“The loss of this established bookstore will be a devastating blow to the local economy.
“This is part of the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 and is the other side of the human tragedy of death and suffering.
“A new economy must recognise and protect workers and their families.
“It is vital that Easons engage immediately with trade unions and workers’ representatives and keep staff updated on all developments.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health David Cullinane has said that decisions regarding the re-opening of society and our economy must be on the basis of the medical advice given by NPHET, and that it is important we move cautiously to prevent any surge in transmissions.
However, the Waterford TD said it is vital that businesses are supported and that Sinn Féin will publish comprehensive proposals on stimulating the economy and supporting SME’s.
Teachta Cullinane said
"We welcome the decision to take heed of NPHET’s guidance and postpone moving forward to Phase 4 until August 10th, with necessary adjustments to contain the spread of Covid-19.
"With the rise in the Reproduction Rate (R Number) to above 1, and the highest recording of cases (32) in the last month yesterday, it is the right decision to move the re-opening of pubs to August 10th.
"The new guidance on the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops is welcome, people must take heed of this if we are to control this virus. Minister Donnelly must ensure that guidance is clear to businesses and the public to ensure that appropriate measures are taken.
"The decisions regarding the re-opening of society and our economy must be on the basis of the medical advice given by NPHET. It is important thaFowt we move cautiously to prevent any surge in transmissions.
"It is important that over the coming weeks, testing is stepped up to ensure that all cases are being detected to prevent community transmission and outbreaks of clusters.
“I acknowledge and understand the deep frustrations that many business openers due to reopen on July 20th will feel. Sinn Féin will tomorrow publish a comprehensive stimulus plan aimed at protecting jobs and businesses and rebooting the economy.
"It is also important that the Government publish their roadmap for the resumption of non-Covid care, and that this is not let fall by the wayside.
"Care delayed is care denied."
Sinn Féin TD for Kildare South (including the Portarlington area of Laois) has called on the Minister for Health to implement the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health recommendations on sodium valproate and foetal anticonvulsant syndrome.
Speaking today Patricia said: “Action needs to be taken now! This report is around for over 2 years and there is no point in wasting everyone’s time by not making any effort to implement it. Foetal anticonvulsant syndrome is in many cases preventable and we need to give these children the best start in life.
"Foetal anticonvulsant syndrome (FACS) is a group of malformations that can affect some babies if they are exposed to certain medicines known as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) while in the womb. Unborn babies exposed to valproate have an 11% chance of congenital malformations compared to 2% in the general population. Such malformations include: malformations of the limbs, heart and kidneys; facial and skull malformations, such as cleft lip and palate; spina bifida.
"Valproate can also have adverse effects on the mental and physical development of children. Evidence shows up to 40% of children exposed to valproate while in the womb will develop neurodevelopmental disorders. Children exposed to valproate are three times more likely to develop autistic spectrum disorder and five times as likely to develop childhood autism, compared to children not exposed to the drug. Initial studies have also revealed that exposure to valproate greatly increases the likelihood of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that it is time for the government to focus on the business of legislating, and particularly addressing the very real and big concerns affecting Irish family farmers.
He was speaking following the chaotic period of days which saw Barry Cowen sacked as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the appointment of Dara Calleary to the position.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The distractions of government formation and the subsequent controversary surrounding Barry Cowen has meant that there has been a lack of focus for several months on the very real challenges facing Irish farmers.
“On a personal level, I extend my best wishes to the Cowen family. Many questions remain regarding the role of the Taoiseach in relation to the events which led to the dismissal of Barry Cowen as Minister.
“However, these cannot be allowed to distract from the work at hand. For example, Irish agriculture is facing unprecedented challenges over the coming months from the prospect of a Brexit fallout, the ongoing Coronavirus implications, impending EU trade deals such as with the Mercosur block and upcoming CAP negotiations.
“We need government’s attention to be focused on delivering in these areas and on other policies that protect families and workers during these turbulent times. There is no evidence that they are up to that task particularly in the area of agriculture.
“I congratulate Dara Calleary on his appointment. I hope that he will be willing to engage with me as lead opposition spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine, to deliver solutions to the concerns of Irish family farmers.
“Our family farmers need to see policies and measures that will deliver fair prices, a fair CAP and fair play. For our part, Sinn Féin will engage constructively with government to provide the legislative proposals to do just that. We will hold the Minister and government to account when they don’t act in the best interests of family farms and our rural communities.
“The new Minister and the government now need to move beyond the distractions and focus on those issues that matter to our farming families”.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today raised concerns over how the proposed north-south interconnector could impact on communities in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“This morning I challenged the new Minister for Climate Action, Eamon Ryan, on the controversial north-south interconnector.
“I told the Minister that the plans for hundreds of pylons and 400 kV power lines cutting through counties Meath, Cavan and Monaghan, have been met with spectacular levels of local opposition, and that this project simply won’t proceed in its current form due to the massive local opposition.
“Minister Ryan confirmed he will not be ordering a new review into this project, and that the overhead power lines and pylons remain the choice of this government.
“The new Minister is set to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors. I warned him that this approach simply won’t work. He is on a collision course with local communities.
“At the heart of this issue is the fundamental principle of public participation in decision making.
“Without community engagement, approval and buy-in to major projects, the government will end up in the same situation every time, fighting with local communities for years, wasting millions of euro and getting nowhere.
“The communities in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan don’t want hundreds of pylons and high voltage power lines running through their areas.
“Sinn Féin have consistently said this interconnector should be put underground. The technology is there, it’s entirely feasible, but the government is refusing to move on the issue.
“By undergrounding the interconnector, the two grids on our island can be connected in a way that delivers benefits for the entire island, whilst also having the consent of communities along the route.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said the Government must provide urgent clarity about when and how students will receive Leaving Cert results this year.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said: “I am very concerned that teachers, students and parents are still in the dark about when the results will be released.
“I appreciate that we are in unique circumstances, but it is unacceptable that the Department for Education have yet to set a date for results day.
“Waiting for exam results is a deeply anxious period at the best of times. I would urge the Minister to ensure clarity is provided to students by announcing a date as soon as is feasible.
“I am also concerned about ongoing confusion over how the results will be released and whether students will collect them from their teachers at school or have them emailed to them directly.
“This ongoing confusion is making it difficult for schools to know if they need to put in place arrangements for students to collect their results in a safe, socially distant manner which complies with public health guidelines as potentially large numbers of people would try to enter the school premises at the same time.
“If they are to be given out in person at schools, it is obvious that teachers would be potentially put in a difficult situation, given that students and parents who may be disappointed with the results could be present at the school. I don't believe that the approach taken every year would be the right approach this year."
"Students are very unsure themselves, and want to know when they will get a result.
“The Government must provide clarity and support at the earliest opportunity.
“The Government has been on the back foot throughout the Leaving Cert planning for many months now. This simply isn’t good enough.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has described today’s judgment by the European General Court is a likely half-time ruling in the Apple tax State aid case.
Speaking today, Deputy Doherty said:
“Today the European General Court annulled the Commission for Competition’s August 2016 decision that Revenue had granted illegal State aid to Apple by effectively reducing its tax rate to 0.005 percent.
“This case concerned tax rulings issued by Revenue in 1991 and 2007 which allowed two Irish incorporated subsidiaries, Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe, to pay little to no tax on approximately €104 billion in profits.
“For example, these shell companies recorded profits of €16 billion in 2011, paying €50 million in tax – a rate of 0.003 percent.
“Today’s ruling does not contest the fact that Revenue facilitated tax arrangements that ensured Apple subsidiaries were not taxable in Ireland or anywhere else in the world.
“What is clear is that an appeal by the Commission is likely.
“It should also be noted that such an appeal could be successful at the European Court of Justice, with previous State aid rulings with respect to tax treatment having been overturned by the ECJ in recent years.
“In 2016, the ECJ overturned a General Court State aid ruling regarding selective tax treatment involving the Spanish bank Santander. In 2018, the ECJ overturned a General Court State aid ruling regarding a Spanish tax lease system case.
“It is therefore likely that this case is to continue for some time, continuing to shine a damaging spotlight on Ireland and its tax arrangements.
“It was only after I drafted legislation in 2014 that the Government ended the practice of facilitating stateless companies with no tax residence anywhere in the world.
“This case has never threatened our national sovereignty or our tax code. It has concerned the preferential tax treatment afforded to a multinational over other companies.
“It has damaged our reputation, and will continue to do so. Regardless of today’s judgment, the practice facilitated by Revenue undermined tax fairness. It is that practice that has drawn undue attention to our competitive tax rate.”
Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has sent his condolences following the death of a woman in a road collision in Coalisland.
The Mid Ulster MP said:
"I was saddened to hear of the death of a woman in a collision on the Ballynakilly Road in Coalisland.
"My thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones of the woman who has lost her life in this tragic manner at this difficult time.
"I would appeal with anyone for information on what happened to bring it forward to the police."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has described the Government amendment to her Dáil motion to extend maternity leave for mothers as ‘deeply insulting.’
The Roscommon-Galway TD urged the Government parties to re-consider their position before the vote on Thursday.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“The Government amendment will do nothing for mothers who have asked for our help as they face extraordinary challenges during their maternity leave because of COVID-19.
“This reality has gone totally ignored by the Government parties who instead have presented an amendment that would possibly see an additional three weeks Parent’s Leave introduced some time next year depending on the Budget in three months time.
“That is the Government response to any mother who has had a baby in the midst of a global pandemic.
“There isn’t a single commitment anywhere in the Government amendment. Despite the additional three weeks Parent’s Leave being reported earlier this week; that isn’t even committed to either.
“Mothers have asked their elected representatives for their help at what is an extremely difficult time for them. The Extend Maternity Leave 2020 Campaign Group and the National Women’s Council of Ireland have been clear as to what is needed.
“The Sinn Féin Motion reflects this seeking an additional twelve weeks Maternity Benefit for all mothers whose maternity leave ends between the beginning of March and the end of November. The Government amendment is irrelevant when it comes to this issue and I am asking them to re-consider their position before the vote this Thursday."
Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD has described Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s handling of the allegations surrounding former Minister Agriculture Barry Cowen as chaotic and a failure of leadership.
He said it is incredible that the Taoiseach did not challenge the failure of the former Minister to make a full disclosure to the Dáil, when the Taoiseach had been aware of the matter for more than 10 days.
Teachta Doherty said:
"At 2pm this afternoon the Taoiseach stood up in the Dáil and defended Barry Cowen.
"It was clear from questioning from Mary Lou McDonald that the Taoiseach had been aware for ten days that there was a Garda record alleging that Barry Cowen had attempted to evade a Garda checkpoint.
"The Taoiseach said he saw this record this morning.
"Despite this, the Taoiseach did not challenge Barry Cowen’s failure to make a full disclosure to the Dáil.
"The Taoiseach needs to explain what happened between 2pm this afternoon and the sacking of Barry Cowen this evening, other than the Taoiseach himself had been dragged into the mess.
"The Taoiseach has questions to answer.
"Why did he not challenge Barry Cowen on making an incomplete statement to the Dáil?
"Why did he back Barry Cowen despite seeing the Garda PULSE record this morning?
"This chaos needs to end. There are important issues that need to be addressed - issues such as affordable housing, getting people back to work, profiteering by banks from the Covid-19 crisis and extending maternity leave."