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Sinn Féin MLA Jemma Dolan has expressed support and solidarity for workers at Royal Mail who are on strike for fair pay today.

The party spokesperson for workers’ rights said:

“I want to express support and solidarity to postal workers from the Communications and Workers Union (CWU) who are today taking strike action for fair pay.

“Workers are entitled to fair pay and deserve pay increases, particularly given the current cost of-living crisis.

“If Royal Mail can give £400million to its shareholders from profits last year then surely it can give its postal workers who are the backbone of this company a fair and decent wage.

“Sinn Féin will be joining these workers on picket lines today and would urge others to join us in support of these workers in their campaign for fair pay.” 

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Commenting this evening after the resignation of Fianna Fáil Minister Robert Troy, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said:

"This week the nature of the current coalition government, and in particular their failed approach to housing, was laid bare for all to see.

"As each day passed, further revelations about Minister Troy’s behaviour as a landlord came into the public domain. Properties that had failed to be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board, a property without fire certification, RAS arrangements not declared in the Dáil register, other interests not properly declared and the list went on.

"Throughout this period both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste offered their full support describing Robert Troy as a ‘first class Minister’. 

"Indeed earlier today the Tánaiste was still continuing to fight to maintain Mr Troy’s position in government. 

"Tonight’s inevitable announcement from Robert Troy casts very serious questions on their judgement and those are questions that will not go away as a result of this action.

"The provision of social and affordable housing has been sub-contracted to the private sector under successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. 

"The result for ordinary people is exorbitant rents, rocketing homelessness and the fact that the ability to purchase a home has been put well beyond reach of the majority. 

"That policy will not change with the resignation of Minister Troy. That policy will only change with a new government."

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said the funding crisis facing our education system is a consequence of over a decade of tory cuts with the situation made worse by one party's refusal to form a government.

The party's education spokesperson said:

“Reports that our education system is facing a £200 million shortfall is deeply concerning.

“It’s also simply not good enough that funding for special educational needs comes under threat under these circumstances.

"This is vital funding to support vulnerable young people in our schools. Previous education ministers have ring fenced funding and ensured it was protected. That could and should happen now.

“The British government must fund public services here properly so that we can invest in our children and young people, pay our teachers and school staff properly and provide an education system that delivers for all.

“We need all parties to commit to getting back around the Executive table to work together to support and invest in our education system.

“The DUP also need to take responsibility and stop blocking an Executive being formed and progress on a three-year budget and commit to working with the rest of us in a restored Executive so that we can support and invest in our public services.

"We need ministers in place to invest properly in our schools and to ensure our children and young people are afforded the best possible opportunities to reach their full potential.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has criticised the Government for showing no intent on tackling energy poverty despite growing numbers experiencing it and the energy crisis worsening.

The call comes in light of new energy poverty projections from the ESRI, which indicate that almost 70% of people could be plunged into energy poverty.

These projections were drawn up for the State’s energy poverty oversight group and represent modelling based on the worst case scenario resulting from the worsening cost of living crisis.

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“These projections from the ESRI are very concerning and paint a stark scenario regarding rising energy poverty in the State.

“We know many households have been struggling with the rising cost of energy prices over the past year and as energy prices continue to rise, many are worried sick about the autumn and winter. 

“These projections from the ESRI illustrate that the cost of living crisis is only worsening for many families and workers, and more households could be plunged into energy poverty over the coming months.  “Sinn Féin have been calling for further measures to prevent higher levels of energy poverty becoming a reality for over a year now. Yet, despite the urgency of this issue, the government has so far failed to act. 

"The fact that the latest Energy Poverty Strategy is out of date since 2019 and has not been updated shows an indifference to an issue which is getting worse. The failure of the Government to establish an Energy Poverty Advisory Group recommended as far back as 2016 is further evidence of this.

“The projections published today should be a wake-up call for the Government. They must get serious about addressing energy poverty in the State. An updated Energy Poverty Strategy with clear commitments and fully resourced needs to be published urgently.

“Government should support Sinn Féin's legislation, the Energy Poverty Strategy Bill 2022 published last month and take the opportunity in the upcoming Budget to look at widening eligibility of the Fuel Allowance.

"The cost of living crisis is placing huge pressure on ordinary workers and families, who are struggling to keep on top of their bills. The government must recognise the urgency of this crisis and act quickly to ensure people get much-needed help without delay." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said the DUP should end its ‘cruel boycott’ of the Executive and work with other parties to put money in people’s pockets to tackle the cost-of-living emergency.

Responding to the DUP economy minister's statement on the global energy crisis, the party's economy spokesperson said:

 “There are hundreds of millions of pounds locked in a Stormont bank account that can help ease the pressures people are facing, but it cannot be spent because of the DUP’s cruel block on an Executive being formed.

“The DUP’s refusal to form a government has also created uncertainty on the roll out of the £400 payment to support every household in the north. 

“So rather than looking for others to blame for their failures, the economy minister should tell his party to stop punishing ordinary workers and families and form a government now. That is the easiest way to get money into pockets. 

“As we face an increasingly bleak winter, people rightly want ministers around the table and working together to help workers, families and businesses who are struggling to pay their bills and keep their shutters up. 

“Sinn Féin is ready to form an Executive today, to work with others, and put money in people’s pockets to tackle the cost-of-living emergency. That’s our focus.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, today welcomed the Oireachtas Climate Committee’s agreement to hold a public meeting next Tuesday to hear from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), EirGrid and Minister Eamon Ryan.

Teachta O’Rourke yesterday wrote to the Chair of the Committee, Brian Leddin TD, calling for an urgent meeting to be scheduled ahead of the Dáil’s return, given the threat of electricity blackouts the state now faces.

The Meath East TD said:

“I’m glad the Oireachtas Climate Committee have agreed to my proposal to hold an emergency meeting on the serious issues facing our electricity grid.

“The meeting will take place next Tuesday, August 30th at noon, with the CRU, EirGrid and the Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan all invited to attend.

“It is very important that we get a comprehensive update on plans to address energy supply and electricity generation constraints in order to prevent blackouts this winter. We also need to hear how electricity customers will be protected.

“We have had a number of electricity amber alerts already this month, which gives rise to concern about how the grid will cope during the winter, when demand for light and heat increases due to the cold and dark.

“We also need accountability as to how the state has been left in a situation where no guarantee can be given that the lights will stay on.

“The government has chased data centre investment, with absolutely no regard for the ability of our electricity grid to cope with the huge demand they put on it.

“We need sensible and fair solutions to address the immediate challenge we are now facing.

“The recent suggestion that households be charged even more for using electricity at peak times needs to be taken off the table. Ordinary households aren’t to blame for the current situation and financially penalising people in the midst of a severe energy price crisis is absolutely not the answer.

“A plan for large energy users to reduce demand at peak times, public information campaigns, and having cheaper electricity rates at other times to act as an incentive, can all help address the current challenge.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has agreed with the president of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland that a ‘radical overhaul’ of Ireland’s mental health system is required.

Teachta Ward was speaking after Dr William Flannery’s interview with RTÉ Morning Ireland this week.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said:

“In my time as Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health I have seen this government fail service users time and again.

“We were in a mental health crisis before the pandemic, but now we are in a mental health emergency.

“I agree with Dr Flannery’s comments, that a radical overhaul is needed, waiting lists are getting longer and service users are being harmed by this.

“A recent response to a parliamentary question that I received stated that over 13,000 people are waiting on psychology treatment.

“This is a 7% increase on the first 5 months of this year and is the highest number waiting since I was first elected.

“11,000 of those waiting are children with almost 4,000 waiting for over a year.

“We have now reached a stage where parents are using foodbanks because they have been forced to pay for private services for the children.

“This is a result of chronic underfunding, mismanagement, and neglect by government.

“Recently, I reported that the HSE has spent over €38 million in training clinical psychologists without hiring them back.

“Sinn Féin would expand this funding to include trainee educational and counselling Psychologists who are currently excluded from funding.

“Sinn Féin has also called for the reappointment of a National Director for mental health which would bring authority and accountability to our services.

“Sinn Féin has also launched a Mental Health Services Experience survey to get the real lived stories of people accessing or trying to access mental health services in this state.

“Our mental health services need a radical overhaul and so does our government, people deserve much better.”

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Sinn Féin Chief Whip, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has called for Minister Robert Troy to publish fire safety certificates and documentation confirming planning permission for his properties.

Speaking today, Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:

“It has been alleged that Minister Troy does not have the relevant fire safety certification for one of his many properties. This is a very serious allegation, which the Minister must address urgently. He must publish the fire safety certification and proof of planning permission for this and all of his properties in order to clarify this matter without delay.

“He also must confirm that all of his tenancies were registered with the Residential Tenancies Board for the duration of the tenancies and publish documentation confirming this. He must also publish proof that the money he received for rent in cash was handled and processed in a way that was fully compliant with tax regulation.

“If the Minister does not publish this documentation, his position will be untenable.

“The drip-feeding of allegations about Minister Troy’s property dealings is deeply damaging and risks undermining public confidence in him. He has been repeatedly urged to be open and transparent about these matters, so that there can be full accountability. Despite this, further claims continue to emerge on an almost daily basis. 

“I am once again calling on the Minister to be upfront about this matters with the public.

“The housing crisis is having a devastating impact on people’s lives across the state. Everyday, people live with the effects of this crisis as they struggle to pay sky-high rents, or live in cramped accommodation while they try to save up to afford soaring property prices. In light of the housing crisis, it is very concerning that the Minister was allegedly buying and selling so many properties in this way and is alleged to have not had the relevant fire safety certification. People will want to know that the Minister behaved appropriately. 

“In order for there to be confidence in Minister Troy, he must urgently clarify these matters. He must make a full, public statement on these unanswered questions urgently and publish these documents.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said the Protocol provides important protections and the opportunities it creates need to be built upon.

Commenting on the statement from the Business Brexit Working Group, the party's economy spokesperson said:

“We are facing an increasingly challenging economic outlook driven by high inflation and spiralling costs for businesses, workers and families.

“The Protocol provides important protections for businesses here from the worst impacts of Brexit, it prevents a hard border on this island, and it protects the all-island economy.

“Economic evidence is showing the Protocol is helping to create jobs and attract investment and our businesses are benefiting from unique access to both the EU and British markets. This needs to be built upon.

“The British government's intention to break international law and tear up an international agreement by pursuing the Protocol Bill which the Business Brexit Working Group has today said will create a 'myriad' of risk for many businesses.

“There now needs to be renewed talks and good faith engagement between the EU and the British government to provide businesses and wider society with certainty and stability.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has today written to the Chair of the Oireachtas Climate Committee, requesting that an urgent meeting be convened to address the serious concerns about the prospect of electricity blackouts and runaway energy costs this winter.

Teachta O’Rourke said the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), EirGrid and Minister Eamon Ryan, should all appear before the Committee at the earliest opportunity, and in advance of the Dáil’s return. 

The Meath East TD has said they must give a detailed explanation on plans to secure energy supply and electricity generation capacity for this winter, and to ensure people won’t be left in the cold and dark.

Teachta O'Rourke said:

“Today I’ve written to the Chair of the Oireachtas Climate Committee, Brian Leddin TD, calling for an urgent meeting of the Committee to discuss the growing threat of blackouts this winter.

“The Taoiseach’s comment this week that we needed an earlier warning system in relation to demand constraints is simply ridiculous.

“Sinn Féin, amongst others, has a long record of highlighting the risk associated with the approach of successive Governments to whittle away energy supply at a time when demand was increasing greatly.

"Indeed, EirGrid has been issuing Amber Alerts for a number of years. It is not credible to suggest that the government has been blindsided by this worsening crisis.

“In truth, Government policy has left us in this incredibly precarious situation. Their promotion of data centres has compounded matters and exacerbated the demand being placed on our electricity grid.

“People are deeply concerned about this winter, but the Government has failed to provide any comfort or clarity. We need to hear from the CRU, EirGrid and Minister Ryan to hear the factors which have contributed to this situation.

“More importantly, we need to hear what contingency plans are now being put in place for this winter – to secure energy supply and electricity generation capacity and to protect residential and vulnerable users at a time of runaway prices.

“The suggestion that households would be charged more during a time of crippling energy costs, for example, is not a solution.

“People need assurance that there is a plan in place to ensure they will not be left in the cold and dark this winter – and they need the details of that plan. The Climate Committee should convene on these matters urgently.”

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Sinn Féin Chief Whip, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has called on the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to ensure full accountability from Minister Robert Troy.

Speaking today, Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:

“It is alarming to the public that a Government Minister is alleged to have taken rent payments in cash. Minister Troy needs to make a public statement about this alleged practice and he must be fully open and accountable.

“He needs to clarify what the total sum of these cash payments amounted to and how he handled this cash. He must demonstrate that he was fully compliant with tax regulations for any cash payments he received.

“He must also confirm if all of his rental properties were registered with the Residential Tenancies Board for the full period that they have been rented out, as required by law.

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have insisted that they have full confidence in the Minister despite these damaging and highly concerning allegations coming to light, which the Minister still has not been able to explain in full. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste must stop providing cover for Minister Troy. They must ensure full accountability and ensure that he comes out into the open and answer these important questions himself.

“The housing crisis is devastating people’s lives across the state. There are entire generations locked out of home ownership, trapped paying sky high rents for small apartments or living at home long after they want to have independence and a place of their own. In light of the housing crisis, it is very concerning that the Minister was allegedly buying and selling so many properties in this way and allegedly receiving rent in cash. People will want to know that the Minister behaved appropriately. 

“In order for there to be confidence in Minister Troy, he must urgently clarify these matters. We need to see full transparency and accountability now, without any equivocation, evasion or delay. He must make a full, public statement on these unanswered questions urgently.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the government to ensure that the forthcoming Budget 2023 addresses the cost of living crisis.

This renewed call follows data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which showed that food and electricity prices have risen further in July.

The July wholesale price index (WPI) indicates that prices continued to climb last month, propelled by the sharp rise in energy costs. This added additional costs to energy-intensive activities like milking and manufacturing.

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“Reports that households should expect higher prices for staple items like fish and dairy over the coming weeks is of serious concern.

“Families and workers are already under serious pressure with the cost of living crisis, and further price increases will only add to that strain.

“Prices are spiralling and people are understandably very anxious. They are watching their bills come in, with no idea how they will pay them. This new data again underlines the need for a Budget which supports households with the soaring cost of living.

“The Budget announcement, which will be made next month, must deliver a much needed break for households who are crippled by these costs. This is urgent. People cannot keep waiting for the Government to act.

“Sinn Féin have been calling on the Government to introduce a suite of measures in response to the cost of living crisis, which shows little sign of slowing. We will soon be heading in to the winter months and it is crucial that supports are available to people when they need them.

“We recognise that the Government cannot do everything. However, as I have said time and time again, they absolutely can do more to support families and workers.

"The Government must deliver a Cost of Living Budget, which ensures ordinary workers and families get a break from these spiralling costs. People need help now and the Government cannot keep ignoring this issue. Sinn Féin in government would stand up for families hit by the cost of living crisis to ensure they get a break without delay."

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said Sinn Féin is ready to work with all parties to form an Executive now to put money in the pockets of workers and families who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Responding to a poll which found that 9 in 10 households are already cutting back ahead of the winter, the finance minister said:

“Workers and families are struggling to pay their bills, and they are worried about the difficult winter ahead. 

“They need our help now, and we need an Executive now.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds to help people cannot be spent because the DUP continues to refuse to form an Executive.

“Sinn Féin is ready to form an Executive today, to work with others, and put money in people’s pockets to tackle the cost-of-living emergency.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Rose Conway-Walsh TD has said that it is wholly unacceptable that students studying Applied Social Care at Dublin Business School have now been told their qualifications will not enable graduates to join CORU’s register of Social Care Workers.

Teachta Conway-Walsh said:

“I have been contacted by students from all over the country who received an email to tell them ‘the CORU board did not deem the programmes(s) as sufficiently meeting their requirements as listed as an approved qualification at this time’.  

“It is very clear that these students have been misled by DBS for months and years. 

“These students are part-time and full-time studying at level 7 and level 8, and have paid thousands of euros, studied for months and years, and worked for hundreds of hours in unpaid placements. 

“Many of these students are working in low-paid jobs and have taken out loans to better their education. They have made huge sacrifices to get qualifications that now may be worth very little.

“One student told me ‘I am a 43-year-old mother of three working full-time during the day with the homeless sector, studying part-time. This degree meant everything to me. Life circumstances prevented me from furthering my education until this point, and I am finally at a point where I can skill-up in an area where I have a great interest and passion’.

“Minister Harris must intervene to find a conversion solution for these students to facilitate registration to CORU. We cannot allow students to be treated in this manner.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has today launched an online service to examine the experiences of people accessing - or attempting to access - mental health services.

Teachta Ward said:

“Sinn Féin wants to hear the real-life experiences of people trying to access HSE and Community mental health services in this state.

“In many areas, due to chronic underfunding and neglect by government, our mental health services are creaking and under constant strain. This isn’t good enough and patients across the state are being forced to suffer the consequences of government failure.

“Today, I am launching a survey of patients to determine their experiences of accessing, or attempting to access, mental health services.

“The survey aims to capture these details to tell the human story and human cost of underfunding and understaffing of our mental health services.

“Care delayed is care denied, and the longer the wait is the more difficult a condition can sometimes be to treat.

“Inadequate service provision can cause huge additional emotional pressure and stress for people already suffering with their mental health. This is unacceptable.

“Behind every number and statistic is a person waiting for care that they need.

“I am asking everyone affected to take part in my survey and make your voice heard. I will be using the results to inform my policy proposals.

“Sinn Féin will stand up for people attempting to access mental health services to ensure they get the help and treatment they need.”

Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B5FGG6C

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Sinn Féin Chief Whip, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has called for Minister Robert Troy to clarify concerning revelations around his property dealings.

Speaking today, Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:

“These allegations about the Minister are deeply concerning. Minister Troy had been urged to be open and transparent about these allegations last week and had been called on to make a full, public statement on the matter at the time, so it is very worrying that he is continuing to drip feed information as further claims emerge.

“Serious questions remain for Minister Troy to answer. He must clarify the allegations about rent payments in cash, what the total sum of these cash payments amounted to and how he handled this cash. He must demonstrate that he was fully compliant with tax regulations for any cash payments he received.

"Were all of his rental properties registered with the Residential Tenancies Board for the full period that they have been rented out, as required by law?

“The housing crisis is devastating people’s lives across the state. There are entire generations locked out of home ownership, trapped paying sky high rents for small apartments or living at home long after they want to have independence and a place of their own. In light of the housing crisis, it is very concerning that the Minister was allegedly buying and selling so many properties in this way and allegedly receiving rent in cash. People will want to know that the Minister behaved appropriately. 

“In order for there to be public confidence in Minister Troy, he must urgently clarify these matters. There can be no more drip-feeding of information or daily revelations, we need to see full transparency and accountability now. He must make a full, public statement on these unanswered questions without delay.”

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Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has welcomed the publication of another poll demonstrating growing support for Irish unity.

Commenting on findings from the LucidTalk poll, the North Belfast MP said:

“Yet another poll shows growing support for Irish unity across the island, particularly among young people.

“The reality is that conversation on the constitutional future of our island is to the fore of political discourse like never before.

“Planning and preparation must start now.

“The Irish government should lead those preparations by immediately establishing a Citizens’ Assembly on Irish unity to help shape the new Ireland.

“Sinn Féin will begin a people’s conversation from October. We want to hear from everybody on their views on the future.

“The onus is on the Irish government to prepare for referendums and reunification without any more delays.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has said an Executive is needed to address pressures facing GP services.

The party's health spokesperson said:

“Reports that up to 100 GP practices are seeking emergency support due to staff shortages and other pressures are deeply concerning .

“This week I met with GP representatives to discuss how we can work together to address these issues that are affecting both patients and GPs.

“We need to tackle the problems facing our health service and ensure people can see a GP when they need one by getting the Executive up and running today to invest an extra £1 billion in our health service to recruit more doctors to tackle shortages and lengthy waiting lists. 

“The people suffering from the DUP’s boycott of the Assembly and Executive are those patients stuck on a waiting list and those struggling to see their doctor.

“We are ready to get around the table with others today to do the job we are elected to do, that means making health a priority and working to fix the problems in our health service."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said the suggestion that households be charged even more for using electricity at peak times needs to be ruled out by the government, as they simply cannot afford further increased energy costs.

His comments come as the ESRI today said electricity supply companies may be charged more for their customers to use electricity between the hours of 5pm and 7pm.

The Meath East TD said; 

“The suggestion that households be charged even more for using electricity at peak times needs to be taken off the table.

“The government have brought about a dire electricity capacity shortage, mainly due to the uncontrolled expansion in the number of data centres hoovering up electricity here.

“70% of the increased electricity demand in the last year has come from large energy users such as data centres, but predictably ordinary households now look set to pay the price.

“I recognise the CRU’s concerns and the need to reduce demand at peak times due to the current capacity constraints, but financially penalising people in the midst of a severe energy price crisis is not the answer.

“A public information campaign, asking people to reduce their use at these times, and having cheaper electricity rates at other times, to act as an incentive, can help address this problem.

“The cost of living crisis is placing huge pressure on people. People are being hit by soaring costs from all sides across rent, childcare costs, energy costs and groceries to name just a few. People urgently need to get a break from the cost of living crisis.

"People are really struggling to meet their skyrocketing bills and are facing one of the most difficult winters when it comes to energy prices. Government needs to mitigate energy price increases, not add to them. Sinn Féin in government would stand up for people hit by the cost of living crisis, to ensure that they get a much-needed break from these spiralling costs.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said thousands of children will again be turned away from school transport this year due to a failure by the government to recognise demand and invest in extra capacity.

Teachta O’Rourke called for 10,000 extra places to be funded and made available to help meet demand.

The Meath East TD said; 

“This week parents across the state are getting notified that they have failed to secure a seat for their child on the local school bus.

“Every year the School Transport Scheme is significantly over-subscribed and instead of harnessing this demand, the government sit on their hands and let the situation repeat itself, year after year. 

“This causes huge problems for parents who are trying to juggle their work commitments.

“In addition, we are turning thousands of children away from this public transport option, which is totally at odds with our climate ambitions, as it results in thousands of extra private car journeys to and from school each day.

“While the decision by Government to eliminate school transport fees for the 2022/2023 school year is welcome, it does nothing to address the capacity constraints. More needs to be done. 

“Sinn Féin have called for 10,000 extra seats to be added to the system, in addition to investing in new school buses and eliminating school transport fees.

“By expanding this scheme, we can cut transport emissions, reduce dangerous traffic congestion outside schools, while providing parents and guardians with a convenient method of transport for their children.

“Expanding the School Transport Scheme is a win-win for parents and for the environment.“The Ministers for Transport and Education should now step in and immediately increase capacity to ensure as many children as possible can be accommodated.” 

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