Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA has extended solidarity and sympathy on behalf of Sinn Féin to the family and friends of Tierna McMullan, daughter of Sinn Féin councillor and former MLA Oliver McMullan.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“It is with the greatest sadness that I have learned of the passing of Tierna McMullan.
“Tierna was a truly a lovely young lady that bought so much joy to her family, friends and everyone who had the pleasure to have met her.
"I had the privilege of knowing Tierna and enjoyed her great warmth, wit and humour. She would always brighten up a room instantly and was cherished and loved.
“On behalf of Sinn Féin I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to her father Oliver, mother Sinead and all the family at this very sad and difficult time.
“Síocháin shíoraí dá haman lách uasal.”
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on the Minister for Sport to provide a support package directly to the League of Ireland in order to assist clubs facing a time of great uncertainty.
The worst-case scenario of no return to football this year due to ongoing COVID-19 containment measures is now a real fear for clubs, while even the hope that there will be a limited return this season would still entail considerably reduced incomes than had been budgeted for.
Reacting to today's news that SSE Airtricity League club St Patrick's Athletic have temporarily laid off their players and staff, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“The reality is that all sport organisations in the state are currently under severe pressure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the League of Ireland is no exception.
“This morning we saw St Patrick's Athletic announce that they will be laying off all players and staff temporarily given no return to the league is predicted until at least August or September of this year at the very earliest.
“As many are aware, League of Ireland clubs generally operate on shoestring budgets and are now facing into somewhat of an existential crisis.
"For most clubs, their commercial, fundraising, merchandise and gate receipt income has fallen through the floor during this crisis.
"Even if the league does return, it is likely that attendances, if permitted at all, could be greatly reduced to ensure social-distancing measures can be adhered to inside stadiums. This would have a huge knock-on effect to club's budgeted incomes.
“I am asking that the Minister for Sport commit to a support package for the league and affiliated clubs if it becomes apparent that we are heading for what would be the worst-case scenario of there being no return of League of Ireland football this year or the threat of clubs having to enter into processes of administration or liquidation.
“Players, staff and fans would certainly find some solace in any such commitment. It is something that the Minister and officials in the Department of Sport need to plan for and consider to see clubs through this period and to ensure we have a league in a strong position to bounce back at the end of this crisis."
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said the health minister needs to ensure errors in the reporting of the number of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 do not happen again.
Colm Gildernew said:
“I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of each and every person who has died as a result of COVID-19, particularly those whose deaths have been announced today.
“The scale of the human tragedy of these deaths and the number of families grieving loved ones is staggering and brings home the extent of the pandemic crisis we are facing.
“More than 1,000 people have lost their loves as a result of this pandemic across the island, including 250 in the north.
“It is deeply worrying however that weeks into this crisis that such an error can be made in terms of reporting the number of deaths.
“These are people with families who have been plunged into grief by their loss, not mere statistics.
“I will be raising this issue directly with the health minister at the Assembly health committee meeting tomorrow.
“The health minister and department need to take steps to ensure an error like this never happens again.” Críoch/Ends
Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights Jemma Dolan has backed calls by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) for retail workers to be given the Living Wage of £10 an hour.
Jemma Dolan said:
"Sinn Féin has long called for for all workers to be paid the Real Living Wage as a minimum standard of pay, and we back the calls made by USDAW in relation to retail workers receiving a living wage.
"While this power resides with Westminster and the Low Pay Commission, Sinn Féin negotiated that this power be devolved as part of the New Decade New Approach Agreement.
"We now need to see movement on this so that our essential workers who have risked their own health to keep the economy moving at this time are given the pay rise that they deserve.
"A new conversation also needs to occur following this pandemic around the value of work and labour. Our economic recovery must ensure that those workers who had been perceived by some as unskilled should never again short changed in terms of their pay and conditions and should be fully valued in their contribution to our economy and society."
Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended his condolences to the family of Jim Neeson.
Gerry Adams said:
“Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a ghabháil le teaglach Neeson ag an uair mhillteanach bhrónach seo i saol bhur gclann.
“I want to extend my solidarity and deepest condolences to Joan and to the family of Jim Neeson who has died after a long illness.
“I have known Jim for many years. He was a gentleman, a dedicated family man, a republican activist and one of the foremost community and business leaders in West Belfast for many decades.
“He is perhaps best known as a former Chairperson of the West Belfast Taxi Association.
“During his many years of leadership of that organisation he constantly challenged British government efforts to demonise and close ‘The People’s Taxis’ service.
“As a result Jim, like his colleagues, was under constant threat. Despite intense harassment by the British Army and RUC, and sectarian threats from unionist death squads the Black Taxis, under Jim’s leadership, continued to provide an essential public service.
“Over 20 years Unionist death squads killed eight black taxi drivers. But Jim refused to be intimidated and under his leadership the Black Taxi hub in King Street in the centre of the city was built.
“As a well known and respected business leader and community activist Jim was also actively involved in many of the justice and civil rights campaigns.
“Jim was also a Chairperson of the Committee that managed Conway Mill. When the Thatcher government introduced political vetting and stopped funding for the crèche in Conway Mill Jim was central to the fight back. Along with others they kept the crèche open and assisted in the successful campaign against political vetting.
“Jim was key to the redevelopment of the Mill through the West Belfast Task Force. Today this iconic building provides educational, employment and other facilities for the people of west Belfast.
“Jim also worked closely with the Falls Community Council as they put together the funding and planning for the redevelopment of St Comgall’s in Divis Street, which is now going ahead and will be a landmark building at the entrance to the west of the city. His expertise and experience was frequently called on to assist small businesses.
“As well as being a business and community leader Jim was also a republican activist. For many years he was Sinn Féin’s liaison with the republican solidarity network in Australia. For over 30 years Jim was the patron of the Casement Group in Melbourne.
“To his wife Joan and family and the entire Neeson family circle I want to extend my sincerest condolences on their loss.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
“EU support for farmers does not go far enough” - Chris MacManus MEP
Sinn Féin have said the European Commission’s plans announced to support the agricultural sector do not reflect the gravity of the situation faced by farmers.
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, who sits on the EU Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said, “These announced supports go nowhere near far enough. Allocating 80 million EUR predominantly for private storage aid will not provide price stability as Commissioner Wojciechowski has stated.
“Sinn Fein and others have been calling for exceptional measures such as private storage aid since the outbreak began. However, it needs to be part of a broader approach to protecting food security and the livelihoods of farmers.
“We have known since the outbreak began that we were facing a severe decline in demand across the board that would have a profound impact on agricultural markets. It is unacceptable that it has taken this long for the Commission to take such limited action.
“Farmers across Ireland and Europe will be extremely concerned that the Commission seems to not recognize the scale of problem the corona outbreak poses to food security and the agricultural industry”.
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs and Social Protection John Brady TD has called for the Government to scrap the unfair and legally unsound Public Service Card scheme following a 40 page letter from UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston to the Government outlining the disproportionate impact it has on marginalised communities, as well as the lack of any meaningful legal basis for the cards implementation.
Deputy Brady said;
"It is clear that the Government's dogged pursuit of the rollout of public service cards they are intent on ignoring that there are serious gaps in data protection and legal cover for this scheme.
"The fact it was dropped as a necessity for accessing State services at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak stands to this.
"Sinn Féin have been consistent in our calls for the public service card scheme to be scrapped, and welcome the support for the end of this scheme from the ICCL and the UN, both of whom have been sharply critical of the scheme.
“The introduction of a mandatory ID system by threat of limiting access to essential public services flies in the face of good governance and public administration.
"This is a critical time in the campaign against the Public Services Card. Last year the Data Protection Commissioner after a lengthy investigation stated in a damming report that the PSC project over-reached its legal parameters. Now a UN Special Rapporteur has followed this call, highlighting the severity of the situation at hand.
"It is time Minister Regina Doherty heeds the word of Special Rapporteur Alston's letter and put an end to the Public Service Card scheme once and for all."
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has urged the exam regulators to work with schools to ensure students and their families are fully informed of the changes to examination arrangements as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Foyle MLA said:
“I have been inundated with concerns and queries from constituents on examination arrangements following the Education Ministers statement to the Assembly last week.
“In the Education Committee today, I urged officials from the Council for the Curriculum, Exams and Assessments (CCEA) for detailed communication of the new arrangements for those most affected.
“It’s progress that CCEA have a helpline in place for schools to access and it’s my belief that this should also be available to students and parents.
“There is no perfect solution to the issue of exams and many students and parents are rightly frustrated and concerned therefore it is essential that in the time ahead students and their parents have access to the information they need and to the necessary support where required.”
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD while not objecting to the re-opening of small and near completed social housing construction sites, has called for a series of checks and protections to be put in place to guarantee the health and safety of construction workers
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“As the social housing building sites with homes that are near completion re-open, we need to see a series of protections introduced to protect the health and safety of construction workers on these sites.
“The building contractor, relevant local authority, trade unions, the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority all have a role to play in ensuring that workers can make a safe return to these construction sites.
“It is our view that the contractor must submit a written Covid-19 safety statement to the Local Authority before construction work commences setting out how social distancing and other public health measures to protect workers will be ensured on site.
“The safety statement details how workers (including sub-contractors) will travel to and from the site with due regard for Covid regulations, this will include issues such as onsite parking and hand washing facilities.
“No construction site should re-open without an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and there should be engagement with Trade Unions to ensure full compliance on sites.
“The Health and Safety Authority and where appropriate the HSE should conduct unannounced inspections of these sites to ensure compliance with the public health advice.
“A confidential phone line should be provided for construction workers who want to report non-compliance with public health advice but are nervous of doing so for loss of employment
“Any contractor who is found to be in breach of the HSE’s public health advice should have their site shut down by the local authority.
“These measures must be adopted by every re-opening construction site in order to ensure the health and safety of construction workers.”
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has stated that measures to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic should be explored fully by the Infrastructure minister.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said:
“There are concerns that quieter roads during the coronavirus could lead to faster driving. This in turn could lead to tragic accidents and extra pressure on the health service. On top of this more people are walking on the roads these days to get their daily exercise in.
“Some measures proposed to mitigate this risk include a temporary reduction of the speed limit as well as public awareness campaigns.
“Meanwhile, in other countries, extra bike lanes have been put in place to allow increased space and safety for cyclists making essential journeys.
“Sinn Féin have asked the Infrastructure Minister to consider such initiatives as a way to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at this time.
“I would encourage everyone to continue to practise good road safety habits and be responsible drivers, which in itself can help the health services efforts in tackling Covid-19."
Deputy Ó Broin said: "The Quarter4 Residential Tenancies Board rent index shows rents continuing to rise despite the Government spin.
"Every single county in the state has seen their rents rise in the last 12 months by more than 4%.
"Nine counties have seen rent increases double the 4% cap with Kerry, Offaly, Westmeath and Clare seeing double digit increases.
"Across the state, rents increased by 6.4%, while in cities the increases were also significantly above the 4% cap. In Dublin, the increase was 5%, Cork 6.8%, Galway 5.7% and Waterford 7%.
"These increases represent real financial burdens on low and modest income renters - and that was before the COVID-19 surge in unemployment.
"No doubt Government will spin that the quarter on quarter reductions show signs that Rent Pressure Zones are working. The very opposite is the case. We now have three full years of Rent Pressure Zone failure. The game is up.
"The latest figures confirm again the need for an emergency three-year rent reduction and freeze. This could be achieved by extending the current freeze and, in Budget 2021, providing for a refundable tax credit to put a month's rent back into every renter's pocket.
"We also need the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to meet with opposition politicians and representatives from tenants, landlords and banks to put in place a plan to deal with the rent arrears debt burden that will arise during the COVID-19 restrictions."
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty says that Ireland can avoid a severe downturn, long recession and cut to living standards if the government delivers the correct financial response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Responding to today's Stability Programme Update, Donegal TD Doherty stated that a return to austerity implemented by past governments is not an option and called for a radical recovery plan to create jobs, build homes, deliver universal healthcare and protect households from private debt.
Teachta Doherty said: "Today’s Stability Programme Update from the Department of Finance offers grim reading about the impact COVID-19 is having and will continue to have on jobs and our economy.
"The report predicts that economy will not recover to where it was until 2022, with 220,000 jobs lost this year and the rate of unemployment next year to be twice that of 2019.
"The pandemic has plunged our economy into recession. But as this report makes clear, the length and depth of that recession is not set in stone. It will depend on the path of the virus and the success of public health measures.
“But it will also depend on the government's response.
"A severe downturn, long recession and cut to living standards must be avoided and can be with the correct response.
"As we have experienced at great cost, austerity implemented by past governments is not an option. A second round of austerity will result in a deeper recession, higher unemployment and emigration.
“Ireland requires a radical recovery plan to create jobs, build homes, deliver universal healthcare and protect households from private debt.
"Supporting incomes, protecting families and getting people back to work will require investment in housing, infrastructure and greater supports for sectors and businesses, such as hospitality and tourism, that have suffered most during this crisis.
“Cuts to income and job loss cannot result in increased household debt and borrowing. We have already seen banks and moneylenders profiteering from the misfortune of laid-off workers.
"Any response to this crisis must address the problem of household debt by offering liquidity supports - not just to businesses, but to families also.
"We cannot afford a recovery for the rich, big business and the banks at the expense of workers and families.
"Liquidity provided to businesses must be targeted to support employment, not shareholders. Those supports must be implemented now.
"Current schemes announced by government only defer payments or increase debts that will require repayment in challenging times.
"Further supports must be provided for our small businesses. This crisis cannot become an opportunity for the few to profiteer at the expense of the many.
"We have already seen banks seek to profit from this crisis by charging additional interest on households that avail of mortgage breaks, with more money owed to the banks after this crisis than would otherwise been the case.
"A government must ensure that its response to this crisis protects workers, families and the low paid.
“Austerity is not the answer. The answer is a stimulus package that creates jobs by investing in housing and infrastructure, provides liquidity to small businesses, increases the wages of low-paid workers and protects households from debt."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment David Cullinane TD has said that Bord na Móna’s decision to lay off 230 workers is a “shocking blow” to workers, families and communities reliant on these jobs.
"News that 230 jobs are to go at Bord na Móna is a shocking blow to workers, families and communities that are reliant on these jobs.
“These workers were supposed to be assisted by the government’s Just Transition plan, but Minister Richard Bruton has been sitting on a report from the Just Transition Commissioner and has not brought forward a plan for Bord an Móna workers.
“He must publish this report and ensure there is genuine and serious engagement with trade unions without delay.
"A Just Transition must be at the heart of our move to a more environmentally sustainable economy, but laying off workers, even on a temporary basis, cannot be tolerated. The Minister is failing in his duty to these workers and must step up to the plate."
Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Declan Kearney has said measures put in place to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place for as long as necessary.
Declan Kearney said:
“The measures put in place by Assembly regulations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are there to protect people.
“Supporting measures to close businesses, protect people’s livelihoods, while restricting mobility are a necessary cost that we must all pay to get through this emergency.
“We must put the needs of our citizens first.
“Important as economic reconstruction will be, economic interests at this time cannot take primacy over public health.
“Over 2500 of our fellow citizens have been affected and more than 900 have lost their lives across the island.
“That’s why the regulations are a vital necessity.
“The World Health Organisation has warned governments of the dangers that easing restrictions would raise, in terms of further spread of the infection.
“The fact is we have not beaten COVID-19. We face the possibility of new surges of this pandemic.
“All Ministers in the Executive agree these restrictions ought not to be removed a single day before it is safe to do so; but nor should they remain for a single day longer than necessary.”
Tá sé ráite ag an Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile gur chóir moladh a thabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta thuaidh agus theas agus lucht eagraithe na gColáistí Samhraidh as an cheannaireacht chróga atá léirithe acu;
“Níl duine ar bith nach bhfuil an ghéarchéim sláinte is déanaí tar éis dul i bhfeidhm orthu. Tá an saol mar a bhí athraithe anois.
“Tá pleananna agus spriocanna, imeachtaí teaghlaigh agus sóisialta curtha ar athló. Tá sé fógartha anois go bhfuil na Coláistí Samhraidh ar fud Éirinn curtha ar ceal i mbliana.
“Meastar go ngineann na Coláistí Samhraidh E50 milliún don gheilleagar Gaeltachta. Is cailliúint tubaisteach é seo do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus do na Mná Tí a bheas thíos toisc nach mbeidh daltaí ar bith ag stopadh leo.
“Is cinntí cróga atá déanta le cosaint a thabhairt dóibh siúd is leochailí sa phobal agus ag teacht leis an chomhairle oifigiúil. Tá moladh tuilte acu as an chinneadh siosmaideach seo.
"Leoga, tá géarghá anois le cosaint chuí do na mná tí agus na Coláistí Samhraidh féin. Oibreoidh Sinn Féin ó thuaidh agus theas le brú ar a chur ar an Aire Cultúrtha/Gaeltachta na cosaintí cuí a chur i bhfeidhm.
“Ní mór pacáistí cearta maoinithe a chur ar fáil do na mná tí agus dp na coláistí féin le go mbeidh siad in ann íoc as árachas agus araile.
“Beidh fáilte mhór roimh athoscailt na gColáistí ar an bhliain seo chugainn, ach tá géarghá anois go ndéanann an tAire Sean Kyne beart dá réir briathar don Ghaeilge agus do Phobal na Gaeltachta.’
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said Gaeltacht Communities and the organisers of Irish language summer colleges deserve praise for their leadership in cancelling this years courses, as a result of the Covid19 crisis.
Speaking today Niall Ó Donnghaile said;
“There isn’t anyone who hasn't been impacted by this crisis. Life as we know is changed.
“Our plans and proposals, many family, sporting and social events, have all been postponed. It has now also been announced that summer courses in Gaeltachtaí throughout Ireland have also been cancelled.
“It is estimated that the college courses bring €50million to the Gaeltacht economy each year. This is a devastating loss to the people of the Gaeltacht and in particular to na Mná Tí who won’t have any students staying with them this year.
“This brave decision has been taken to protect people and to adhere to the official guidance - I commend all those who’ve taken this important move.
“There is now an urgent requirement to support na Mná Tí and the colleges themselves. Sinn Féin will work north and south to ensure ministers put the necessary protections in place - a funding package is required to ensure that the colleges and na Mná Tí are able to get through this unprecedented summer.
“There will no doubt be great excitement for the colleges reopening next summer, but the crucial thing at this point in time is that Minister Seán Kyne adheres to his commitment and delivers for the language and the people of the Gaeltacht.”
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the introduction of stricter legislation by the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to protect private renters impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“I commend Minister Deirdre Hargey for bringing forward legislation to extend the notice to quit period a landlord must give a tenant from 4 weeks to 12 weeks during this public health emergency.
“Private renters must be protected from eviction in order to protect their health and their families in line with public health advice to stay home.
“Support is already in place for landlords through a three-month mortgage holiday and they too have a responsibility to play their part in supporting people during the Covid-19 emergency.
“This legislation will tighten up protections for private renters and relieve some of the burden placed on workers and families at this difficult time.”
Over 200 job losses to be signed off on today, no Just Transition for Bord Na Móna Workers.
Sinn Féin TD and party spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs Brian Stanley says the latest developments regarding job losses at Bord Na Móna is a disaster for the Midlands counties.
The Laois-Offaly TD said Minister Bruton and Kieran Mulvey, the Just Transition Commissioner, need to intervene as it appears that there is no Just Transition for Bord Na Mona workers.
Deputy Stanley said;
"Bord Na Móna management have informed unions that they intend to issue seven day notices to between 190 and 230 workers at the company this week. This will affect both seasonal and permanent employees on the bogs supplying peat to the 3 Midlands Power Stations Shannon bridge, Edenderry and Loughree. Shannon Bridge will worst affected at 119 workers and 23 in Edenderry.
"It is proposed that the permanent staff would be put on the Covid 19 Income Support Scheme for employers and receive 80% of their basic wage. The decision is to be rubber stamped by the Board of the Company today.
"Unions are been informed by Bord Na Móna that the layoffs are due to the Covid 19 Emergency and the knock on effect regarding the demand and price for wholesale electricity. The delay of the decision by An Bord Pleanala (ABP) on planning permission for this year’s peat harvest is also been cited as a factor.
"It makes little sense for Bord na Móna to proceed with this scale of layoffs when it expected that electricity demand could increase after May 5th with an easing of health restrictions and some industries and services restarting.
"The decision from An Bord Pleanála on whether to give the green light for this year’s peat harvest is also due on May 12th. If there is a favourable outcome on both of these matters, workers will be needed quickly to restart operations.
"I am requesting that Minister Bruton who is the sole shareholder in this publicly owned company and Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey intervene to prevent this disaster for workers and their families. I have written to both of them today to urge them to do so."
Sinn Féin TD for Donegal Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed to urgently clarify what financial supports he has sought from the European Commission to assist Ireland’s struggling fishing communities through this global crisis.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s comments follow reports that the Minister is not seeking to avail of the European Commission’s recently announced temporary relief scheme, that allows European states to use structural funds to pay for compensation packages for fishers such as a tie up scheme.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“Minister Creed is fully aware of the severe impact that this global crisis has had on our fishing sector. All around the coast, boats have had to be tied up due to the collapse of their global fishing markets.
"Apart from availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, there has been no financial supports offered by the Minister and his Department to this key sector in crisis.
“If the reports are correct that he has not sought to deploy the European Commission’s temporary relief scheme, then this is a shocking dereliction of his responsibilities to our fishing communities as the Minister for the Marine.
"I understand that Portugal and Latvia have drawn down funds through this scheme and Britain has provided €11.5 million in supports to their fishing sector including €1.5 million for the North of Ireland.
"It’s now past time for the Minister to step up and stand up for Irish fishers in crisis”.
Responding to news that Bord na Móna is considering laying off 200 staff, with further layoffs on the cards, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment David Cullinane TD has said that Minister Richard Burton cannot let Bord na Móna wither on the vine.
"News that over 200 jobs may go at Bord na Móna is deeply troubling and flies in the face of previous commitments given to the workforce and their Union representatives.
"While there has been a drop in electricity demand and fuel prices, it is the responsibility of the company to come up with a viable plan that safeguards the jobs and livelihoods of their employees.
"The workers and their trade union representatives are deeply concerned about this move, and they see it as a cynical move by the company to bring forward job losses.
"My understanding is that Bord na Móna have not given up to date financial accounts to the Group of Unions, nor have they produced a credible blueprint for the future. Bord na Móna cannot be allowed to simply wither on the vine.
"There is considerable uncertainty now for workers at the Lough Ree power plant in Lanesboro and the West Offaly plant in Shannonbridge.
"Minister Richard Bruton is taking a hands off approach to this matter and must directly intervene. He is sitting on a report from the Just Transition Commissioner and must publish this report and ensure there is genuine and serious engagement with trade unions.
"We all accept we must move from a brown to a green energy economy, however a Just Transition must be at the heart of this strategy. The Minister is failing in his duty to these workers and must step up to the plate."
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has called for improvements to rural broadband access to be prioritised in order to facilitate home working for rural workers.
The Sinn Féin Infrastructure spokesperson said:
“While tackling regional disparities in terms of broadband coverage has been a longstanding commitment for Sinn Féin, the Covid-19 Pandemic has placed a greater impetus on the issue.
“Physical Distancing and Public Health Guidelines have meant that many workers are having to complete work duties from home for the first time.
“Unfortunately for rural dwellers this has been a difficult ask, due to poor connection and coverage. Some are finding themselves questioning whether they will have to travel in order to complete their work duties.
“Like other Sinn Féin MLAs I will be raising this issue with the Economy Minister Diane Dodds and broadband providers and asking them to ensure that rural broadband improvements are prioritised as a matter of urgency.”