Sinn Féin spokesperson for climate action and member of the PAC David Cullinane has said that the Comptroller and Auditor General's annual report reveals a government that is hell-bent on monoculture afforestation, despite the concerns of farmers, environmental groups, and even the EU.
It shows that Fine Gael is incapable of the long-term thinking that climate action demands.
Deputy Cullinane said:
"The government's afforestation program is fixated with the planting of Sitka Spruce, an approach that is having a detrimental effect in terms of biodiversity.
"It is also one that that unduly affected Leitrim, where the rate of afforestation was just over 24 times the level in Donegal between the years 2015 and 2018 - the vast majority of which was monoculture Sitka Spruce.
"The use of this tree has been criticised by farmers, environmental groups, and the EU, yet still Fine Gael continues with the policy.
"It has missed afforestation targets, neglected native species, and underspent on road infrastructure.
"It is clear what is needed - a proper state wide investment that provides opportunities for farmers in planting native forests rich in biodiversity and broadleaf plantations.
"All of this must be done with the fullest engagement with local communities.
"The days of corporate monoculture afforestation must come to an end."
Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that a mixture of inaction and the wrong policies by Fine Gael is destroying the public health service.
Speaking this morning, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The year started off with the Minister for Health appearing in the media every single time there was a drop in the number of patients on trolleys. At the time I said the figures were being massaged, as the government were paying huge sums of money to move patients into private hospitals to lower the number of patients on trolleys.
“That money should have been spent re-opening all the beds in the public system which were closed during the austerity years. This would not eliminate all patients on trolleys, but it would have allowed for around 500 additional beds to be operational.
“Throughout the year the situation has just gone from bad to worse to deplorable – the same as Fine Gael’s tenure in government.
“Today the INMO released the trolley watch data revealing that 10,641 patients went without a bed in hospitals in September – the worst month of 2019 so far. This is simply astonishing for a month outside winter.
“What’s more is, the September figure for overcrowding is the worst for any September since records began, with the INMO pointing out that this is double the number of people on trolleys ten years ago.
“We didn’t end up in this situation today or yesterday. This government has had eight years to solve this and many other crises in the health service, but instead, they’ve actually made things worse through a mix of inaction and the wrong policies.
“Past performance is an indicator of future success, and the past performance of Fine Gael shows only more failures for the health service in the future. They are a party of bluffers and charlatans and the health service will only get worse so long as they are in control of it.”
Carthy commits Sinn Féin support for '#Gaeilge4All' campaign
Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the launch of the '#Gaeilge4All' campaign, and supported the call for reforms to the way in which the Irish language is taught in schools to ensure better access to Irish medium education for all.
The Midlands North West representative was speaking after the launch of the new campaign by Irish language organisations on Monday. He said:
“Sinn Féin are proud to support this campaign which is aimed at improving the way in which Irish is taught in schools. It is badly needed and long overdue.
“The public support for the Irish language and its role at the heart of our education system is overwhelming. Having a second language has proven educational benefits, which are unrecognised by too many.
“Irish medium education can also offer unique benefits; it keeps us rooted with our culture, our heritage and gives people a chance to develop language skills that are highly sought after.
“However, there is significant scope to reform how Irish is taught within our schools. It simply doesn’t make sense that we spend so much time in school attending Irish classes for so many to complete their education unable to converse in our native language. I therefore welcome this call for a unified vision for the role of Irish in our schools; from junior infants right up to third level.
“Irish must remain as a core subject for the junior and leaving certificate cycles, but adequate supports must be put in place to ensure this is the case, while key policy changes must be brought forward by the Minister for Education to ensure as wide a scope of people can access learning through Irish”.
“Ba chór go mbeadh deis ag gach dalta an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim agus tá sé ceart go mbeadh muid ag tabhairt gach tacaíocht dóibh. Chomh maith le sin, caithfimid tacú lenár múinteoirí agus breis acmhainní a cuir ar fáil dóibh.
“Mura dtabharfar aghaidh ar infheistíocht cheart a dhéanamh insan gcóras oideachais beidh costas i bhfad níos mó ar an stát amach anseo”.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has today published his party’s Alternative Budget 2020 saying its time to end the rip-off and give families and workers a break.
Sinn Féin’s alternative budget proposals include a provision for two free GP visits for every person without a medical card, a rent freeze and a relief worth one month’s rent, free travel on public transport for five to eighteen-year-olds and a reduction in the cost of childcare by an average of €100 a month per child.
Speaking today Teachta Doherty said;
“The upcoming budget needs to do two things: end the rip off and give workers and families a break and secure Ireland’s future if there is a crash out Brexit.
“There is something seriously wrong when the vast majority of people have less money in their pockets now than they did when Fine Gael, supported by Fianna Fáil, came into power three years ago.
“The reasons for this are obvious – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are making bad, short term decisions that are costing the tax payer billions and they are failing to intervene to deal with out of control costs in childcare, rents and essential household bills like insurance and mortgage interest payments.
“The consequence is that insurance companies, banks and landlords are making billions while workers and families are being ripped off.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget offers clear, realisable solutions to the rip-off living costs faced by countless families - sky-high insurance premiums, extortionate rents, and eye-watering childcare costs. Together, these ensure that Ireland’s cost of living is among the most unaffordable in the developed world.
“The budget cannot be just about survival, it must be about ensuring people can have a decent life and enjoy their time with family and friends.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget will give workers and families a break. We will:
· Help renters by introducing an emergency freeze on rents and bringing in rent relief which would save them the equivalent of one month’s rent each year.
· Help families by reducing the cost of childcare by an average of €100 a month per child.
· Provide two free GP visits for every person without a medical card – so nobody delays going to the doctor because they are worried about the cost.
· Ensure there is No carbon tax increase in Budget 2020.
· End the insurance rip-off - first we’re going after the government take and then we are coming after the industry.
· Invest an additional €300 million to give people with disabilities and their families a break.
· Introduce free travel for 5 to 18-year-olds on public transport.”