Sinn Féin junior spokesperson on Defence, Réada Cronin TD, has written to the Tánaiste asking him to examine, urgently, any mooted closure of the fire station at the Curragh Camp.
She said a designated fire service at the camp is essential given it is already so much relied on and that there are munitions on site.
“To deprive the Curragh Camp of its fire service because of a lack of Defence-Force personnel would be retrograde and reckless. Staff at the Curragh must have the physical and psychological security of an emergency service as they, themselves, work diligently and loyally in the service of the State. ”
“The current poor working conditions of staff in the fire service reflect the wider personnel crisis across the Defence Forces. Our Defence Forces have been neglected and have been deprived of government money, respect and attention. This must change and urgently.
“I have asked the Tánaiste to make sure the fire station at the Curragh Camp remains open and that he address the wider issues of pay, conditions and recruitment in our Defence Forces with equal urgency.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport and Communications, Martin Kenny TD, has this evening responded to reports that P&O Ferries are to end their Dublin-Liverpool route in the coming months.
The current route operates twice daily, transporting both passengers and freight.
Teachta Kenny said:
“I am deeply concerned to hear that P&O Ferries are preparing to terminate their passenger and freight service between Dublin and Liverpool.
“This service has been running twice a day, seven days a week, and I understand may be ceased at the end of December.
“This is a hugely important service, and we need to see immediate action towards maintaining this route.
“I am calling on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to put every effort into saving this service. Not only is this a valuable service, but the loss of the route could see around 60 employees out of their jobs.
“As an island nation, we cannot underestimate the importance of these passenger and freight ferry services."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has responded to new Forestry Statistics published today, stating that these figures highlight the Government’s continued failure to delivery on Forestry.
The report is compiled and published annually by Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and provides key statistics on the forestry sector in the State.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Today’s report further underlines what we already know - that the Government have failed and continue to fail to deliver on forestry.
“The newly-published Forestry Sector statistics show that not only have key forestry metrics plummeted in recent years, they remain at some of the lowest levels of the past decade.
“For example, there was just 2,273ha of afforestation in 2022. This is compared with 6,652ha of afforestation in 2022.
“There is an annual target of 8,000ha of afforestation, yet we are looking at a combined total of 6,723 for the past three years.
“As well as this, the report starkly highlights the lack of confidence in the sector from farmers and foresters and the impact this has had on buy-in in recent years.
“For example, in 2017 there was 536 farmers involved in afforestation in the State. This number has dropped to just 76 as of 2022.
“The statistics published today make clear that this Government has mismanaged forestry. We are now 8 months into 2023 and desperately need the new Forestry Programme in place.
“There remains a lack of clarity and uncertainty about when that will be. Farmers and foresters have called for information to be provided on the status of the new programme but, this has not been provided.
“In fact, we are still awaiting further clarity on the approved €308m for afforestation that was announced last week.
“Given the serious challenges facing the forestry sector, which are underlined by today’s Forestry Statistics report, it is alarming that the Government have not provided the sector with further update on the status of other measures within the Programme.
“Farmers and foresters need certainty. I am calling on Minister Hackett to provide an update on the new Forestry Programme in full.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, has called out Government Ministers for failing to challenge the banking sector and support hard-pressed citizens as mortgage interest rates and bank profits have soared.
Teachta Doherty said:
“For several months Sinn Féin has been calling for action as households have seen mortgage interest soar while deposit rates for savers have remained stubbornly.
“Since February we have warned that Irish banks could accrue huge profits on the back of rising interest rates as households struggle.
“For months these warnings have fallen on deaf ears.
“In the past week we have heard Government Ministers offer nothing but empty words as Irish banks are on course to record combined profits of €5 billion this year alone.
“In the past year Irish mortgage holders have seen their interest rates soar, with 2 in 5 households set to see their annual mortgage costs rise by €3,000.
“Workers and families who had their mortgages sold to vulture funds are facing rates as high as 10 percent.
“Fine Gael and Minister Simon Harris have no credibility whatsoever.
“This is a party that welcomed the sale of mortgages to vulture funds.
“Fine Gael is a party that, together with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, reduced the bank levy and allow banks to reduce their corporation tax liability through the use of historic losses.
“This Government has been the ultimate laggard in challenging the banking sector as their profits and net interest income soar at the expense of borrowers and savers.”
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for an end to the postcode lottery of services for children attending the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Figures released today show that over 4,300 children are waiting on a first-time appointment with CAMHS, with huge discrepancies on how long a child has to wait based on where they live.
Teachta Ward said:
“Figures released this morning regarding the number of our young people waiting on vital mental health services are of no surprise.
“Under this Government, waiting lists for CAMHS have only gone one way and that is up.
“There are now over 4,300 young people waiting on a first-time appointment with CAMHS. When this Government was formed in 2020, this list was at 2,115 children.
“This is a 106% increase under this Government's watch.
“What is even more concerning is that 735 of these children have been waiting for over a year for CAMHS services which is a 209% increase since 2020.
“Access to Children's mental health services should be based on need and not where you live.
“A postcode lottery of care has developed which has led to some children waiting longer for an appointment based on their location.
“CHO 4, which includes Kerry, has the largest number of young people waiting on an appointment with CAMHS, currently standing at 976.
“Kerry was the subject of the Maskey report, which was a damning indictment of CAMHS. This report was published in January 2022 and the government has failed to act.
“There have been numerous reports into CAMHS recently, which have shown the inefficiencies by both government and HSE.
“The increase is right across the state with CHO 2, which covers Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, showing the largest increase of 600% in young people waiting on mental health care since this Government was formed.
“If children do not get early intervention mental health supports at primary care level, they are more likely going to need the more acute services provided by CAMHS.
“The Primary Care Psychology waiting list for children now stands at 16,253 with 6,129 children waiting for over a year.
“The 2020 figures were 9,689 waiting and 5,353 over a year so that’s 68% of children waiting on primary care mental health supports.
“We have gone beyond crisis point in children’s mental health care and the Minister has gone missing.
“The latest Mental Health Commission report had 49 recommendations and I have no idea if the Government will act on them.
“Sinn Féin has published a plan that will transform child and youth mental health services out of a state of crisis.
“Capital investment and accountability reforms are needed in the sector, along with planning for staff to meet the demands of the service.
“We have set out achievable policies, grounded in reality and based on evidence, to deliver the ambitious change that is needed.
“There is also a cliff-edge in our mental health services for young people at 18. There is inconsistent continuity of care, and many young people fall out of services or never access them.
“These failures mean that early intervention is passing our young people by."
Sinn Féin TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, Brian Stanley TD, has said RTÉ must act to ensure there is a change of culture within the public broadcaster.
His comments follow confirmation by RTÉ that contract negotiations with Ryan Tubridy have concluded without plans for the host to return to the media organisation.
Teachta Stanley said:
“The decision not to renew Mr Tubridy’s contract is a matter for RTÉ. It is clear that the issues at the heart of this scandal went far beyond one individual. Serious questions remain about the broader culture in RTÉ that has been unearthed in recent months.
“There has evidently been an insider culture with opaque sweet heart deals for ‘top talent’ in stark contrast to the conditions experienced by ordinary workers. We have also seen a concerning lack accountability and transparency around the spending of taxpayers’ money, with farcical revelations around luxury trips and events funded by public money. All of this is indicative of a broader culture that will not be resolved with the employment of a single individual.
“PAC has requested 58 pieces of information, some of which have not been provided by RTÉ or only provided partially. I am again appealing for them to submit this information without any further delay. This includes crucial information around exit packages for top staff, the names of those involved in the Renault deal and the details of commercial deals for other presenters.
“We need to see this information provided so that the whole system can be reformed and public confidence can be restored in our public service broadcaster. It is crucial that the public can trust RTÉ once again and know that the public money it receives is spent with the transparency, accountability and respect necessary.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Matt Carthy TD, has welcomed the passing of a motion at the Australian Labor Party's national conference supporting the reunification of Ireland.
The motion, Amendment 170A Supporting the Reunification of Ireland, was carried yesterday.
Speaking today, Mr Carthy said:
“I welcome that the Australian Labor Party's delegates have voted resoundingly in favour of a motion supporting the reunification of Ireland at their national conference. The ALP's friendship with and solidarity towards the people of Ireland, reflects the deep bonds between our two nations. Pearse Doherty and I saw evidence of this strengthening relationship during our recent visit to Australia.
“The passing of this motion is a very positive step and reflects the growing interest both nationally and internationally in the benefits that Irish unity will bring to people across the island. Just as international support was crucial in delivering the peace process so too will be be crucial in making Irish Unity a success for everyone on this island.
“It is undeniable that there is a growing, vibrant and positive conversation around the need for constitutional change to unlock the potential of communities across Ireland.
“The onus is on the Irish government to begin planning for this constitutional change. The time to engage in clear-eyed discussion about a referendum is now. Failure to plan or engage in these discussions helps no-one. The Irish government must act now.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications and Transport, Martin Kenny TD, has called on Minister for Local Government, Darragh O’Brien, to commit to a plan of action as rural communities face into the winter months and more inclement weather forecasts.
This calls come as a result of a number of Local Link operators being unable to run their services due to icy road conditions in the winter months.
Speaking today, Teachta Kenny said:
“We have a situation in many rural areas where the secondary roads are not gritted or cleared adequately during icy conditions. This is impacting on the operation of Local Link bus services which are a vital connector for many towns and villages across rural Ireland.
“As the number of people working from home or working in a hybrid model continues to rise, so too does their reliance on the Local Link service in their communities.
“In theory, the Department of Local Government and each Local Authority are responsible for ensuring roads being served by NTA vehicles are cleared and useable. In reality, this is not the case.
“I have been in contact both with Local Link operators and with commuters who use these services who report cancellations of routes because of secondary roads not being cleared or gritted during cold or inclement weather.
“Earlier today I wrote to both the Minister and the NTA to express my concern, and to highlight this issue.
"Government has time to plan for these events, and the public need to know what those plans entail. I am seeking a commitment from the Minister in particular to ensure teams are in place to grit and clear the secondary roads for use by these services.
“Those relying on public transport in rural Ireland must be encouraged to continue bringing their carbon footprint down. One of the most basic ways we can do that is by ensuring their services remain reliable throughout the winter."