Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said the health service urgently needs an Executive formed to address the worsening crisis in our health service.
Speaking after a meeting with representatives from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), the party’s health spokesperson said:
“It is clear from listening to GP representatives that the situation across our GP services and health and social care is worsening.
“Our health service and our health workers are burnt out and under huge pressure from short staffing and working long hours.
“Over 12 years of savage Tory cuts have decimated our health service and stripped money out of already underfunded and understaffed frontline services.
“Health workers need political leadership. They need an Executive formed immediately to fix the problems in our health service and to invest extra money to hire more doctors and nurses.
“The real priority for now is for all parties to get back around the Executive table and work together to prevent a collapse in our health service. Our health workers don’t have the luxury to wait any longer they are crying out for political leadership.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said the British government’s legacy bill remains fundamentally flawed, irredeemable, and should be scrapped.
Speaking after meeting British Lord Johnathon Caine, Gerry Kelly said:
“Despite fundamental opposition from victims, relatives, governments, human rights experts and the UN it is clear the British government will push ahead with a number of amendments to their flawed Legacy Bill on Wednesday 21 June
“The amendments being put forward are a cynical attempt to gloss over the fundamental flaws of the Legacy Bill which is designed to deny victims and families their basic legal rights.
“I expressed concern around appointments being made to the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery when the clear intent of this bill is to halt all access to inquests, investigations,or civil actions. In this context such political appointments will not command the confidence of families of the victims.
“Also, the lack of adequate financial resources is limiting the capacity of the PSNI Disclosure Team, the Police Ombudsman and the Coroner’s Court to complete current legal processes. Restricting resources is clearly limiting the rights of victims to basic legal process.
“I am once again reiterating Sinn Féin’s call for an urgent summit involving the British and Irish governments and political parties on the issue of legacy.
“The present Legacy Bill being pushed through Westminster should be scrapped.
“The legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in 2014 should be implemented in a human rights compliant manner, without delay.”
MacManus welcomes strong EU Parliament call for collective bargaining rights for workers
Sinn Féin Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus has spoken in the European Parliament backing calls for workers in Ireland and across the EU to get full collective bargaining rights. A resolution backed by the Parliament insists on this right being brought into reality across the EU.
“I strongly welcome the Parliament’s insistence on the need for workers to have the right to avail of collective bargaining. In Ireland, this right has long been denied. The need for collective bargaining to be protected by legislation has never been greater.”
“The High-Level Group on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations has done some good work but it must translate into strong legislation for workers’ rights. Recently passed EU rules will force the Irish government to put in place a framework to achieve at least 80% coverage for collective bargaining. It is clear though that workers must keep up the pressure to make sure concrete rules are actually brought into force. I will be working closely with Louise O’Reilly TD to make sure this happens.”
MacManus concluded, “Only by giving workers the tools to bargain for themselves can they have a chance of living decent and happy lives.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said that a lack of planning and severe mismanagement by the trust has brought a number of services to near collapse.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said:
“Daisy Hill is a vital part of our Health service and both the Southern Trust and the Department of Health must make it their highest priority to retain acute care services at the hospital now and into the future.
“The lack of planning by the Trust has seen an alarming number of consultants leave their posts, putting services and patient safety in a precarious position.
“I have engaged with the permanent secretary for Health and I will be seeking further meetings to emphasise that there can be no collapse in services at Daisy Hill.
“Any collapse in local services will see pressure heaped on other hospitals across the north who are already under intense pressure.
"The current crisis has shown that the Southern Health Trust has been disingenuous and misleading in their engagement with those of us who have sought over a period of time to work constructively with the Trust to ensure Daisy Hill Hospital continues to meet the health needs of the community in the area. This is deeply concerning and undermines public confidence in the Trust.
“This also undermines the recent positive developments secured for the Hospital, including the elective surgical hub, which would help tackle waiting lists.
“These failures have also generated more negative PR around the Hospital which will make it more difficult to recruit staff to replace those lost by the Trust.
South Down MLA Sinead Ennis added:
“Communities in the Mournes and across South Down rely on Daisy Hill as their closest acute Hospital for stroke treatment and other emergency treatments.
“Sinn Féin is committed to protecting Daisy Hill and we are ready to work with everyone to achieve this.
“We need an Executive formed now so that all parties can come together with locally elected ministers to begin to tackle the crises facing our Health Service.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has condemned those responsible for painting racist graffiti in Coleraine and Portrush.
The East Derry MLA said:
“I totally condemn those responsible for painting racist graffiti in Coleraine and Portrush.
“This is a despicable attempt to create fear and stir up hate.
“There is no place for racist displays and those behind it do not represent the people of Coleraine, Portrush or the north coast and I would like to thank Council for their speedy action to remove the offensive graffiti.
“Sinn Féin is committed to building a society based on equal rights and equal opportunities for all who live here.
“We want to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive society for all.”
Sinn Féin’s Commission on the Future of Ireland has announced plans to host a ‘Belfast Women’s Assembly’ which will take place in the Europa Hotel on Tuesday 27th June at 7pm.
This will be the fifth public meeting hosted by Sinn Féin’s Commission on the Future of Ireland. ‘The New Ireland is for Everyone – Have Your Say’, are the main pillars of the project. The main address at the meeting will be given by Seanadóir Lynn Boylan, vice Chair of the Commission.
Aisling Reilly MLA is encouraging women from the greater Belfast area to register now for the event.
Speaking this week the West Belfast MLA said:
“Today increasing numbers of citizens are realising the absurdity of partition and looking for change.
“Irish Unity is now very possible; but reunification is not inevitable. It needs to be planned for. That means those of us who want Irish Unity must plan systematically for its achievement.
“Importantly we must address the concerns of those who have not yet made up their minds, and are unsure how they would vote in a unity referendum; including those citizens who may even intend voting against Irish unity.
“Whether you are a member of a community group, a women’s group, a campaigning organisation, political party or charity, or just want to share your views on Ireland’s future; your voice is important and we welcome you to have your say.
“Despite the pivotal role women have played over the course of Irish history, too often their voices have not been heard.
“In the new Ireland women must have an equal place in society. That is the spirit in which we hold the Belfast Women’s Assembly.
“We are delighted that the event will be chaired by Eilish Rooney, Academic and member of the Constitutional Conversations Group.
“Sinn Féin believes the new Ireland should be about ambition, sustainable and decent jobs, with fair pay and conditions. It should be a world leader in climate protection, educational opportunity, and citizens’ rights. These are the discussions we all need to be having, and the Belfast Women’s Assembly aims to create a forum for such grassroots engagement.
“A letter of invitation from Uachtarán Shinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald TD was issued this week to hundreds of individuals, organisations, community groups and businesses across Belfast encouraging participation and there has already been significant interest in the event.
“This is a women only event and childcare is available on request. You can register to attend via Eventbrite: https://belfast_womens_assembly.eventbrite.ie
“In addition to the People’s Assemblies and sectoral events, the Commission is asking everyone who is interested to make a written contribution. Written contributions can be made through the dedicated Commission on the Future of Ireland page on the Sinn Féin website - www.sinnfein.ie/futureofireland, alternatively you can email your views to [email protected]”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on the government to urgently change tack in its efforts to address the climate crisis.
Speaking following the release Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest predictions, the Meath East TD said:
“Ireland should not be missing emissions targets. We have enviable access to renewable resources. The problem is we have a government that is incapable of delivering on anything.
“On every issue, from housing to health to emissions, we have a government that sets targets that it is incapable of meeting.
“We need to be ambitious. We need to have deliverable plans to reduce emissions. And we need to support people to play their part as the vast majority of people want to do.
“The problem is that on top of their failures to meet targets, this government has also focused on penalising people whose financial circumstances prevent them from retrofitting their homes or moving to electric cars rather than on facilitating and enabling people to make these changes.
“By failing to take measures to crack down on the super wealthy who contribute proportionally far more emissions than the average person including through the continued use of private jets they have created a sense of unfairness that undermines efforts to reduce emissions.
“The EPA’s latest predictions paint a very worrying picture. In the third year of our first carbon budget, we are on course to cut our emissions by just 29%, rather than the 51% we are committed to at home and the 42% we are legally bound to at the EU level.
“Ireland is way behind where we need to be. We are falling short almost all across the board. This government must acknowledge that their plan is not working, that it lacks the scale and ambition to deliver and that a new approach is urgently needed.
“In Sinn Féin, we are ready to deliver change, to bring about a genuinely just transition that ensures no one is left behind as we address the challenge that confronts us.
“We need to rapidly upscale our transition towards renewables, to unleash the opportunity that Ireland has to become a world leader in this sector. And it is essential that the benefits are shared equitably, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few.
“Massive planning delays put all projects in jeopardy and we need to urgently address these problems.
“Sinn Féin has also called for the dividends policies of our semi-states to be revised, to increase the level of reinvestment into renewable energy in this decade.
“This would enable them to capture a greater share of overall new green energy production, improving our energy security and positioning these companies to return dividends to the taxpayer from green energy generation into the future.
“This Climate Action Plan is heavy on additional charges for motorists, but light on detail when it comes to more buses, trains and trams. Increasing the cost of transport does not work if the alternatives are not there. Instead of front-loading investment in sustainable transport, the government has prioritised punitive charges.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget called for a €200m injection in public transport next year to help reduce emissions, by cutting fares, investing in new rail infrastructure, accelerating the rollout of rural bus services and making public transport safer and more accessible.
“The government’s retrofitting scheme needs a complete overhaul. Most people cannot afford to retrofit their home. The government’s plan fails to address this. It is socially regressive, deeply inequitable, and inadequately targeted and regulated.
“This government cannot treat this as business as usual and they cannot spin their way out of this. They must urgently change tack.”
MacManus slams Irish government housing record in EU Speech
Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus has slammed the government’s record in a speech to the European Parliament.
Speaking to Parliament, MacManus highlighted the high number of short-term lets in the West and North-West compared to long-term lets.
“According to new data, there are substantially more short-term holiday lets available in Ireland, than long-term lets.”
“Galway has nearly 20 times more short-term options than long term, while Donegal has 47 times more.”
“Successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments are pushing our young people away from a future in Ireland.”
“How can we turn the tide of our young people leaving our shores when we can´t even provide them with a home of their own?”
“When I see the abundance of holiday homes available, I have to ask myself - does our current government view the west of Ireland as anything more than just a holiday destination, for them to spend a weekend retreat? A playground for those with second and third homes whilst others go homeless?”
MacManus concluded by calling for action to help alleviate the difficulties young people are facing when it comes to housing. “It's time for action, not just words, let’s secure our youth's future.” ENDS/CRÌOCH
Below: Chris MacManus MEP addresses the European Parliament to highlight the Irish Government's housing failures
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said news that cuts to youth services and early years will not go ahead is a ‘relief’ to many families and communities.
The party’s education spokesperson said:
“News that cuts to youth services and other important projects like SureStart and the Pathway Fund will not go ahead is a huge relief today for families and communities.
“These projects are a lifeline to many and crucial to children’s development in the early stages of life, particularly young people in disadvantaged areas and it’s absolutely paramount that they are protected.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step, but we now need to see an end to cruel and heartless cuts to other services.
“Children and young people are bearing the brunt of Tory austerity and one party’s refusal to form an Executive.
"We need the Assembly and Executive back up and running with no more delays and parties working together to support workers and families facing cruel Tory cuts."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has criticised Government following the release of waiting list figures for primary care psychology services, which show a huge increase under this Government.
18,622 people are waiting on primary care psychology services as of April 2023. This was at 10,466 when the Government took office in 2020 - a 78% increase.
Teachta Ward said:
“Waiting lists for mental health services are only going one way under this Government, and that is up.
“When this Government took office, 10,466 people were waiting for a first-time primary care psychology appointment.
“This now stands at 18,622, which is a 78% increase.
“15,698 of those waiting are young people below the age of 18. This is up from 8,893 in 2020, a 77% increase during the lifetime of this Government.
“What is shocking is the nearly 6,000 young people waiting longer than a year mental health supports.
“Having one child waiting over a year for vital mental health services is not good enough, but having 6,000 is a systemic failure by this Government.
“Primary care psychology provides services for people who are experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties or mild to moderate mental health difficulties.
“We have seen the number of young people waiting on specialist CAMHS appointments rising almost every month with close to 4,500 waiting.
“Minister Butler is quick to cite an increase in referrals as reason to why we have an increase in those waiting for CAMHS but she fails to recognise it is the absolute failure to resource our primary services that is leading to the pressures on CAMHS.
“If young people get the care they need at primary care level, then they are less likely to need the more acute services of CAMHS.
“Young people are being let down at every stage of mental health care and are being left behind by Government.
“Behind every waiting list figure is a young person with hopes and dreams, and they are being denied their right to reach their full potential.
“What we need now is a change of Government. We need Sinn Féin Ministers for Health and Mental Health that will prioritise early intervention in mental health and delivering services in a timely manner.”
First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has congratulated Dáithí Mac Gabhann, his parents and all who have campaigned to deliver an opt-out organ donation system.
Speaking as Dáithí’s Law comes into effect today, Michelle O’Neill said:
“This is an historic day as Dáithí’s Law comes into effect, with all adults in the north now considered organ donors unless they choose to opt out.
“Today belongs to little Dáithí Mac Gabhann, his parents Máirtín and Seph, and all who have campaigned tirelessly to get this life saving law over the line.
“You never gave up and have given hope and inspiration to the many people on the organ donation waiting list.
“This is an example of the real change that can be delivered when parties work together in the Assembly and Executive to better people’s lives and drive forward progressive legislation.”
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has condemned the shooting of a man on the Antrim Road tonight.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“I condemn the shooting of a man on the Antrim Road tonight.
“There is no place for guns on our streets.
“This reckless attack has caused disruption for residents tonight and left people living in the nearby flats traumatised.
“Anyone with information on this attack should bring it forward to the PSNI.”
Former Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams speaking at this evening’s Ireland’s Future event in Queen’s University called on the Irish government to establish a Citizen’s Assembly and that it should agree with the British government a firm date for the unity referendum provided for by the Good Friday Agreement.
“I am not suggesting that this should take place immediately but the Irish Government should seek a date now which allows for inclusive preparation to begin. And that preparatory work should start now.”
Mr Adams also addressed the place of unionists in the new Ireland; “It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this”.
In his remarks Mr Adams said:
“The recent local government election demonstrates that huge change is happening as we speak, and more change is on its way. It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this.
Let it be very clear unionists have a place of right in the new Ireland.
And we want them to be part of what we collectively create.
Change is happening as we speak, and more change is on its way. It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this. Let it be very clear unionists have a place of right in the new Ireland. And we want them to be part of what we collectively create.
The unionist population and its political representatives working with the rest of us on this island is the surest guarantee that their cultural identity – British and unionist – will prosper and be protected in a new and independent Ireland. The safeguards that are in the Good Friday Agreement with respect to identity, cultural and language rights will continue in a new Ireland.
The DUP should take its place with the other parties in the executive. Working with the unionists in the Assembly and the other parties and independents is also part of working toward a new agreed Ireland.
But let’s be clear we have our work cut out for us. We know at this point that the British and Irish governments are against constitutional change and against the referendums. So, are the unionist parties. There are many different reasons for this.
For example, the British government is a unionist government. And the Irish government is worried about a national realignment of politics in which the establishment parties will lose their dominance.
Notwithstanding this our efforts in the time ahead must focus on challenging the Irish and British governments with the demand for the setting of a date for the referendums.
We must also encourage the governments and the Irish government in particular to prepare for the unity referendums and for a successful outcome.
The Irish government has chosen at this time to reject any proposals – including the establishment of a Citizen’s or series of Citizens' Assemblies – to facilitate discussion and to plan for the future.
We must remind Dublin again and again and again that the Good Friday Agreement created a mechanism for constitutional change through referendums. It was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people in referendums North and South.
The Irish government has a constitutional obligation, and it is also a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement - to prepare for unity. So, that means the Irish government should establish a Citizens’ Assembly to begin the work of planning.
It should agree with the British government a firm date for the unity referendum provided for by the Good Friday Agreement.
I am not suggesting that this should take place immediately but the Irish Government should seek a date now which allows for inclusive preparation to begin. And that preparatory work should start now.
The Irish people have the right to self-determination. We have the right to determine our own future, without outside interference, peacefully and democratically. That is a central part of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Justice, Pa Daly TD, has today urged the government to act on the results of a new study into familicide and domestic homicides.
The study has recommended that a national database should be established for reporting on violent family deaths.
Speaking today, Teachta Daly said:
“The review is an important watershed moment in what are extremely shocking and violent cases that tear communities apart. A piece of work such as this has been long overdue.
“I commend the families who have campaigned tirelessly to ensure that families facing devastating violence like this receive better support.
“The review covered the years 2000-2018 and only included cases where all legal proceedings had been completed. This gave a figure of at least 166 persons having died in familial violence in that period, with the State Pathologist’s office telling researchers a further 14 cases between 2014 and 2019 did not feature in public records.
“This demonstrates the urgent need for a national database on such deaths and the upcoming DSGBV Agency Bill provides an opportunity to advance policy in this area.
“Sinn Féin have long argued that family homicide review panels must be implemented, with inter-agency collaboration taking place to ensure risk factors are identified.
“The report must be implemented rapidly and it is welcome that a number of government ministers have responded to the report’s findings. Every second counts for families at risk of such violence and we cannot afford to see any further delays.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health and Government to move quickly to improve access to reproductive healthcare. He said that five years on from the repeal of the 8th amendment, there are still many barriers impeding access to lawful services, including geographical disparity in service provision and the mandatory 3-day wait.
The TD for Waterford said that the Minister should move quickly to implement less complex legislative changes recommended by the review rather than waiting to implement all legislative changes in a single bill.
Teachta Cullinane said that it could take months if not years to complete consultation processes and develop legislative amendments to give full effect to many of the recommendations of the review, but that some legislative barriers such as the 3-day wait could be addressed quickly before the summer recess.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“In 2018, people voted for women to have access to services. Five years on and the services are still not properly in place. Women should be able to access the services which were voted for.
“This morning was a welcome opportunity to engage with Marie O’Shea, the author of the final report on the abortion services review, who outlined how barriers such as geographical disparities in service provision and the mandatory 3-day wait are impeding access to services.
“It is clear from this engagement that there are some recommendations, including some legislative changes, that could be implemented very quickly, such as removing the mandatory 3-day wait.
“The review makes 75 recommendations, many of which are operational, and some of which will require lengthy consultation and further discussion with clinicians and other stakeholders.
“The necessary process for reaching a conclusion on those recommendations should not delay the changes which can be implemented quickly.
“The Minister for Health should immediately progress amendments to the Act to remove barriers to abortion services such as the mandatory 3-day wait rather than waiting to implement all legislative changes in a single bill.”
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said it is a huge blow that work to build 28 new post-primary schools has been paused as result of cruel Tory cuts.
The party’s education spokesperson said:
“It is hugely disappointing to learn that work to build 28 new post-primary schools has been paused by the Department of Education because of cruel Tory cuts.
“This is a huge blow to our children, school staff and communities who greatly benefit from having first-class education facilities.
“Over a decade of continued and savage Tory cuts from London is having a hugely detrimental impact on our children’s education and our public services.
“Rather than swinging the axe at our public services, the British Government should be providing more investment in services.
“The blocking of the Executive by one party must end now. We need parties working together to support our schools from the impact of these savage cuts.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that legislation in the area of company and employment law must prioritise workers' collective redundancy agreements.
Speaking after an Oireachtas committee hearing on collective redundancies, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“For nearly a decade successive governments have tip-toed around closing loopholes and lacunas in company and employment law in relation to tactical liquidations.
“Indeed, it is seven years since the publication of the Duffy-Cahill Report into the need for legal protections for workers where a company engages in a tactical liquidation to avoid its obligations to its employees.
“This report was commissioned following the tactical liquidation of Clerys department store, which made nearly 500 workers were made immediately redundant and denied them their collective redundancy entitlements.
“Despite a host of recommendations being made by the Duffy-Cahill Report as to how loopholes could be closed and workers protected, successive governments failed to act and protect workers.
"As a result, five years later Debenhams was liquidated in similar circumstances with over a thousand workers losing their jobs and their collective redundancy entitlements.
“Time and time again we have seen tactical liquidations used by companies to make workers immediately redundant and deny them their collective redundancy entitlements, and time and time again we have witnessed successive governments do nothing about it.
“For years workers, trade unions, and opposition politicians have been seeking legislative protections for workers collective agreements. Finally, the government have outlined their intentions to deliver legislative improvements in the area through the ‘Collective Redundancies Following Insolvency Bill 2023’.
“While any improvement in this area is welcome, the Bill does not address the situation whereby workers are treated as unsecured creditors for the purposes of their collectively bargained redundancy agreements.
“This means that this debt to the workers is not prioritised along the same lines as wages and statutory redundancy.
“This matter must be addressed and Sinn Féin will be amending the legislation to ensure due recognition is given to workers collective redundancy agreements.”
MEP MacManus visits Lough Allen College
Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest Chris MacManus recently visited Lough Allen College in Drumkeeran alongside his Sinn Féin colleague Cllr Padraig Fallon. They held a discussion with students there on the European institutions and the role of elected representatives at local, national and European level. MacManus commended the students for their engagement, stating that it was very positive to see young people taking an interest in politics, and thanked the staff for facilitating the visit. ENDS
Pictured are Chris MacManus MEP and Cllr Padraig Fallon with Lough Allen College students and teachers Maria Foley and Laura Creaven