Sinn Féin MLA Orlaithí Flynn has welcome the exposé in the Andersonstown News on the foul odour being emitted from Mullghglass landfill site.
The West Belfast MLA said:
“For the past number of years, Sinn Féin representatives in the Colin Area have been working relentlessly to resolve the issue of a foul odour in the area.
“Local residents are rightly worried about the regular foul smells wafting across the Colin area from Mullaghglass Landfill Site.
“In a multi-agency meeting convened on the issue earlier this month, I secured a commitment from the Environmental Agency that a resolution would be immediately sought.
“This afternoon I was assured that measures are now being taken to reduce the odour with canisters being introduced to the site.
“I have written to the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to request an agreed odour management plan be implemented and that a continuous odour monitor also be installed in the local area.
“We know that the landfill site is due to close next year as it is almost at capacity, as such this is a critical period.
“Residents need to be assured that this issue is being treated with urgency and that appropriate long-term measures are being put in place immediately.
“Sinn Féin will continue to work with the landfill site and statutory authorities to resolve this issue.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that solutions need to be found for Leaving Cert students affected by errors in the calculated grades system.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
"The latest debacle surrounding this year's Leaving Certificate is an extraordinary development.
"This year’s Leaving Cert students have endured much in the past year - there has been uncertainty, the repeated postponement of exams, the confusion surrounding the model to be utilised for the allocation of marks and the delay in publishing results.
"We in Sinn Féin made it clear in May that the calculated grades model was not the correct one to use because it would prove to be a blunt instrument that would cause students to miss out who shouldn’t have.
“In our view, the allocation of third-level places should have been resolved through maximising college and university places, and through assessments at third-level to allocate placed for high demand courses.
"The Minister for Education persisted with a calculated grades model and difficulty after difficulty has persisted until then. The flaws have become very apparent and this is the latest chapter in this sorry saga.
"What students deserve now is answers, fairness and the ability to progress.
"It is not credible that the Minister for Education knew about these errors last Tuesday, yet only made this information public today. That is unacceptable.
"Processes such as these should contain appropriate tests and safeguards. How did this situation come about? It isn’t good enough to say this was simply missed.
"The Minister now needs to bring clarity and certainty for students who are experiencing a great deal of stress and confusion tonight. She needs to find solutions for those affected and she needs to tell students and their families how she will fix this.
"It would seem obvious that it would be manifestly unfair to deny students who would have attained their chosen third-level places from being able to access those courses.
"The Minister has not made it clear that this is what she intends to do. She needs to do that and to spell out how that will be achieved; without penalising those who have already been allocated places."
Following a positive meeting with Bord na Mona CEO’s, Sinn Fein TD for Kildare North Patricia Ryan has welcomed assurances about employment and the future of bogs in Kildare.
Deputy Ryan said:
“I am delighted that Bord na Móna has given assurances that the facility in Kilberry bog will continue production. Despite the bog closing to peat harvesting, Bord na Móna is committed to keeping all employees working locally and retraining them in bog rehabilitation. This is a huge relief to both stressed workers and their families.
"In addition, Bord na Móna have revealed extensive plans to entirely ‘green’ by 2025. These plans include rewetting and careful rehabilitation of the peatbogs, and renewable energy production. Much of this will be in Kildare, providing much needed local employment.
“We are delighted to see, not only the retention of jobs, but an increase in both graduate jobs and general operatives. It is imperative that we encourage employment locally for our college graduates, so they don’t need to leave their communities to work.
"We must encourage jobs for our young people so they can build and grow the community they have ties to."
Deputy Ryan also welcomed the announcement that all employees, including seasonal workers would be included in Bord na Mona’s plans:
“Bord na Mona have been an integral part of our community for decades, this announcement ensures they remain part of our community for decades to come.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Regional Development and the North West, Senator Elisha McCallion has today sought clarity from the Irish Government on commitments made in the “New Decade, New Approach” agreement in January of this year.
Senator McCallion raised several commitments including the expansion of Magee, the National Development Plan, the A5 project and the North West Inclusive Growth Deal.
Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator McCallion said:
“It was very much welcome news by many in Derry and the North West that the region featured significantly in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement document.
“One commitment was to the expansion of Magee University.
“I am today asking specifically what progress the Irish Government have made either with the North West Further and Higher Education Cross–Border cluster, Ulster University, the Executive in the North or indeed the British Government, who too referenced it in the document.
“I am too asking very specifically that the expansion of Magee is placed on the agenda of the next North/South Ministerial Council. We have political agreement for the need to expand this university. What we need now is political leadership to see this commitment fulfilled.
“The hope that was felt in Derry when this agreement was signed was immense. What none of us want is for this to be another false dawn for the city, therefore I look forward to working constructively with the Irish Government on the mountain of work that needs to be done to meet their commitments.”
Minister of State for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne reaffirmed the Irish Government’s commitment to Magee as laid out in January’s agreement.
Minister Byrne said that the Taoiseach is committed to education and expanding education access both regionally for the North West and the border counties.
“You can be absolutely assured that with this government this [Magee expansion] will progress, and it will happen.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD and spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD have today published legislation to reform lobbying law, which will give the Standards in Public Office Commission powers to investigate and sanction public officials who flout Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act.
The Regulation of Lobbying (Amendment) Bill 2020 will also extend the period in which former ministers cannot carry out lobbying activities from one to two years, and give SIPO the power to conduct inquiries into and report on breaches of the Code of Conduct for persons carrying on lobbying activities.
Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:
“Today myself and Deputy Farrell have submitted legislation to the Bills Office that will close the revolving door between Government and big business, between Fine Gael and high finance.
“The Regulation of Lobbying (Amendment) Bill 2020 will implement recommendations that SIPO made to Leo Varadkar’s Government in 2016 and again in 2019. On every occasion the Government ignored these recommendations, keeping open loopholes that allowed former Minister Michael D’Arcy to become CEO of a financial lobby group only three months after being a Minister in the Department of Finance.
“The IAIM, a registered lobby group, lobbied Michael D’Arcy while he was minister regarding generous tax breaks worth millions of euros for multinational executives - tax breaks Fine Gael have passed in successive budgets despite Sinn Féin opposition.
“Fine Gael are determined to keep the door between Government and high finance open.
“Sinn Féin will introduce this legislation at the earliest opportunity."
Speaking today, Teachta Farrell said:
“The appointment of Michael D’Arcy to the Irish Association of Investment Managers is a wake-up call.
“This appointment, whilst certainly shocking in itself, is only outmatched by the fact the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) did not even have the appropriate sanctioning powers in this case to ensure the ‘cooling off’ period was adhered to.’
“We cannot continue to allow such a revolving door system here, which allows legislators and regulators alike, those holding insider information and access to key decision makers within government departments, to transfer into important positions within the very industries they once sought to regulate and legislate for.
“As I’ve said before, it’s time for a new departure in ethical standards in this country. Make no mistake, this bill will help to shut the revolving door between politics and big corporate interests. It will also help to stop the kind of influence peddling which Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are determined to allow, but which is so corrosive to the public interest.”
The legislation is available to view by clicking here: Regulation of Lobbying Bill
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the Minister for Education Norma Foley must make a statement in the Dáil today and answer questions from TDs regarding errors found in the Leaving Certificate calculated grades system.
Speaking this afternoon, he said:
"This is an extraordinary development and my heart goes out to all students who have already endured so much in the past year.
"The Minister for Education needs to come before the Dáil urgently, make a statement and answer the many serious questions that now arise.
"According to the Taoiseach, the government knew about these errors last week. The second round of CAO offers went out last Wednesday. Did the government allow the second round offers to proceed knowing that these problems existed?
"Thousands of students will be wondering how this could affect their grades and their future.
"It has been reported that 10% of students - 6,000 - may be affected and that between 800 and 900 students may have lost out on a college place due to these errors. What does this mean for them? Will they now be able to access those places?
"I know myself from talking to students and their families that many students had put their all into their studies to get their preferred courses and could not believe the level of the downgrading they experienced.
"What does this mean for the prospect of further legal challenges?
"Right now, there are more questions than answers. A statement from the Minister to the media simply won't cut it.
"Minister Foley needs to bring clarity and certainty for students who are experiencing a great deal of stress and confusion today. She needs to tell students and their families how she will fix this. That needs to start by taking questions in the Dáil."
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, John Brady TD, has welcomed the Australian Labor party’s expression of support for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in light of Westminster’s threats to breach international law through the Internal Market Bill.
In a statement issued earlier today, Australian Labor Senator Penny Wong expressed support for protecting the peace accord and stated her concerns at British threats to breach international law through Brexit.
Teachta Brady said: “I welcome this intervention from the Australian Labor party.
“I note that she highlights that any breach of international law by Britain could have consequences for the future of any Australia-Britain free trade agreement.
“It is another sign of the growing international concern at the actions of the British Government in their treatment of the democratic wishes of the Irish people.
“Sinn Féin have been clear throughout Brexit- there can be absolutely no hardening of the border in Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement must be protected.
“The people of Ireland must not be allowed to become collateral damage in a Tory Brexit.
“The international community is watching Brexit developments with deep concern. I would once again reiterate that any breach of international law by Britain would be unconscionable and must not happen. The Withdrawal Agreement and Irish Protocol must be honoured.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the report on Capping Damages in Personal Injuries Actions, published by the Law Reform Commission today.
The Donegal TD welcomes the view of the Commission that the guidelines to be published by the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee next month should be given time to be applied in practice before any alternatives are considered.
This is in line with the views expressed by Sinn Féin in their submission to the Commission in March.
Teachta Doherty said:
“I welcome today’s report from the Law Reform Commission on the Capping of General Damages in Personal Injury Actions, which examined the constitutionality of capping general damages in personal injury cases.
“The cost of insurance is crippling businesses throughout the State; in some cases threatening their very survival.
“While a report from the Central Bank last year showed that the average cost of claims dropped by 2.5 percent in the motor insurance market from 2009 to 2018, there is no doubt that bringing greater certainty and consistency to the cost of claims is a vital part of reforming the insurance market to end the rip off for consumers.
“In March Sinn Féin made its submission to the Commission during the consultation period, and we are pleased that the Commission has echoed a number of the recommendations and views expressed in that submission.
“Today’s report considered four models for capping general damages. This included the implementation of Personal Injury Guidelines which are due to be published next month under the Judicial Council Act, which Sinn Féin facilitated.
“The report concluded that two of these models are constitutionally permissible in principle. One of those is the outworkings of the Judicial Council Act and Personal Injury Guidelines to be published and implemented.
“In our submission we stated that it was not possible to determine whether another model would be more effective in reducing the cost of claims than the work of the Judicial Council in setting its Guidelines until those Guidelines were published and implemented by the Courts.
“Today the Law Reform Commission has echoed that view.
“We now need to see the Personal Injury Guidelines published and implemented by the courts as soon as possible.
“Insurance reform cannot wait.”
A Sinn Féin motion on the consequences of the British Government breaking international law will be debated by the Assembly on the 5th of October.
Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd said:
“In recent weeks, the British Government has shown complete disdain for international law and contempt for the people of this island.
“The British Government, through its Internal Market Bill, are reneging on the Withdrawal Agreement which it signed up less than one year ago and undermining the Good Friday Agreement.
“The consequences for our Island as a result of the British Government abandoning its obligations under International law will be drastic.
“While there is no good to come from Brexit in any form, a no-deal Brexit will have a devastating impact for workers, families and communities.
“The British Government cannot walk away from its obligations and throw our future to the wind.
“The Withdrawal Agreement, which the British Government and Westminster agreed, must be fully implemented.
“The people of this island have had enough of the uncertainty created by a chaotic British Government."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the findings of a new ESRI report Assessing the impacts of Covid-19 on the Irish Property Market: An overview of the issues.
The report has echoed Sinn Féin calls for the government to increase investment in social and affordable housing.
Teachta Ó Broin said: “This special report published by the ESRI on the Irish property market and the impact of Covid-19 calls for an increase in the state provision of social and affordable housing.
“The report contends that the household supports introduced during the pandemic have helped to stabilise the housing market.
“However, once these are withdrawn and if incomes fall, there is likely to be downward pressure on the market.
“The report also indicates that the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions on housing supply might not become clear for a year and if demand does start to pick up, there will be pressure on the market due to an under supply.
“A key line from the report echoes what many of us have being saying, which is that one of the most appropriate policy responses is for an increase in the state provision of social and affordable housing.
“Furthermore, the report concisely outlines what the government’s priority in terms of housing should be going forward which is 'ultimately, facilitating cheaper, more efficient housing supply is the primary policy concern in the housing market over the medium term'.
“Budget 2021 is an opportunity to do this. Sinn Féin in government would deliver 20,000 public homes a year and 8,000 of these homes will be affordable cost rental and affordable purchase homes.
“The government must listen to the advice of the ESRI and others and prioritise investment in social and affordable homes on public land.”
Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has today raised concerns following the news that Bus Éireann is to cut intercity services between Limerick and Galway that serves Shannon Airport.
Teachta Wynne said;
“The news that Bus Éireann is to cut its Expressway services between our cities is very worrying news.
“While it must be welcomed that no jobs will be lost, it is concerning that this may only be the beginning of the company cutting services across rural Ireland.
“The cutting of the Limerick City to Galway route that services Shannon Airport will be yet another blow to the Airport.
“These cuts in services will directly impact our older persons who depend on Free Travel on Bus Éireann routes to get around on Bus Éireann services.
“The news that Bus Éireann intend to scale up services in our cities is welcomed but it is disheartening that there has been no commitment to secure extra routes across rural areas.
“I think this shows yet another vote of no confidence in the region as we are still awaiting on a decision regarding the future on the Airport and the Shannon region.
“While we have a situation in Shannon that the Airport is under pressure to survive, we should be ensuring better connectivity to the Airport and not cutting it”.
MacManus makes special Regional Aid recommendations to Commission on behalf of Ireland
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has outlined a five point submission to protect Regional Aid for Ireland post-Brexit.
The EU is preparing new guidelines which could see Ireland and enterprise and tourism bodies lose out on the ability to invest in local economies through Regional Aid.
The Midlands Northwest MEP said it was vital that special protections were put in place to help protect citizens in Ireland from the fallout of a hard Brexit.
“This week I have submitted a detailed set of recommendations to the Commission as part of the Draft Guidelines on Regional Aid submission process. I feel it is important the Commission’s guidelines reflect the full reality for the Midlands Northwest region but also Ireland as a whole.”
“In summary, I have recommended that the Regional Aid Guidelines should take into the account the anticipated impact of Brexit on regions and reduced thresholds and extra scope for Regional Aid should be available in the worst affected regions. The North West Region for example has deep structural and investment issues in certain areas and any reduction of the eligibility of such regions to regional aid will only compound a lack of progress.”
“I have asked that consideration is given fully to the fact that Ireland’s access to the single market is now further inhibited. Post Brexit, the shortest distance by sea route between the island of Ireland and the rest of the single market (France) is over 400 kilometres while from Galway the largest city in the West of Ireland to Brest is over 600km. Increased investment will be required to offset the economic impact that will be suffered by these regions.”
“I have also recommended that due thought is given to Ireland’s newly isolated geographical position and that a more accurate GDP calculation model representative of the vast variation across this region is used and where there are known statistical distortions in the GDP or other factors the Regional Aid Guidelines take these into account and consider using alternative data.”
“My final Recommendation was that a new overall approach which champions State Aid in the regions should be implemented to make sure the Covid crisis does not develop into another factor in regional disparities.”
MacManus has previously highlighted the importance of local development authorities having their say on the review of the Regional Aid Guidelines and has regularly appealed to local councils & development agencies engage in the Regional Aid Guidelines review. ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport Darren O’Rourke TD today called for urgent government action following a report which shows the post office network will collapse unless state support is provided urgently.
Speaking today, the Meath East TD said: “This report sets out the huge challenges faced by post offices across the state, but also highlights the massive value and contribution they make to our economy and society.
“One of the central recommendations made in this report is that a public service obligation levy is introduced in order to secure the future of the network and allow post offices to continue to provide their excellent and important services, which are particularly important in rural Ireland.
“The government cannot bury their heads in the stand when it comes to the conclusions and recommendations contained in this report. As far back as 2011, Sinn Féin highlighted that a PSO arrangement would be needed to save those post offices at risk of closure.
“Unfortunately, since then, successive governments have done little to protect the network, allowing its further decline with hundreds of closures, impacting rural Ireland the most.
“During a 2018 Dáil motion on post offices brought forward by Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil spoke in favour of introducing a new PSO model for post offices.
“People will be watching closely whether they now deliver on this promise when in government.
“In addition to a PSO, there are additional services which could and should be delivered via post offices as outlined in the 2016 Kerr report on the future of post offices.
“These could include extended financial services, government services, maintaining the electoral register, an expanded role in climate action, SEAI and retrofitting schemes and issuing motor taxes. All this will keep jobs and services in rural areas.
“The post office network remains a highly valuable national asset, which contributes hugely to our economy and society and it must be protected.
“It’s imperative that we stop the deterioration of the post office network and this can be achieved through expanding the services they can provide in addition to a new funding stream such as a PSO.”
Sinn Féin MLA and Minister in the Executive Office Declan Kearney has said the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and the Irish Protocol fully implemented.
Speaking after meeting US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, the Sinn Féin National Chairperson and South Antrim MLA said:
“Today I met with US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, I took the time to speak to him about the major challenges posed by Brexit.
“I told the Special Envoy that it is very uncertain whether there will be a successful negotiation on the Withdrawal Agreement concluded, given that the British negotiations strategy is being ideologically driven by a core within the British cabinet, which is not even fully representative of opinion in the Tory party itself.
“I also briefed him on the serious concerns raised during the Joint Committee meeting yesterday between the European Commission and British government, by Michel Barnier Chief Negotiator for the EC, and the Vice President Maros Sefcovic.
“It is clear that the British government is trying to renege on what has already been negotiated, with serious implications for our all-island economy, the Good Friday Agreement and the decades of progress which has resulted from it.
“Irish America and American political leaders have played a crucial role in securing the Good Friday Agreement and supporting the peace process.
“The US Congress has previously made it clear that they will not support any post-Brexit trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined.
“The European Commission; has also been clear that any attempt to override the Withdrawal Agreement or Irish Protocol by the British government would be a clear breach of what has been agreed and could lead to legal action.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is an international agreement; it must be maintained and protected in order to protect our economy and our peace agreements.
“The British government should show good faith, address the outstanding issues and uphold what has already been negotiated and agreed through the Irish Protocol. The British government should honour its international obligations.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that the failure of the government to secure an extension of payment breaks from the banks will have a damaging effect on SMEs and microbusinesses, as Irish borrowers now face falling into default sooner due to government inaction.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Yesterday Government ministers met with CEOs of the five retail banks and were informed that the banks would guarantee Irish borrowers with fewer protections than borrowers in other European jurisdictions.
“The actions of the five pillar banks means that Irish borrowers will lose payment break extension protections once their six-month payment break ends.
“It is clear from yesterday that it is the banks who are in charge, and not the government.
“The response of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, the person responsible for representing business and workers, was to just accept this from the banks.
“By contrast, Governments in Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal delivered for their citizens and ensured borrowers are covered by protections on payment break extensions for up to 12 months.
“The failure of the Government to secure a protected 12-month payment break extension for borrowers will have a damaging effect on SMEs and microbusinesses as they now risk their loans falling into default and their credit rating being impaired.”
The Sinn Féin Assembly team has nominated the ‘Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade’ for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said:
“Sinn Féin is honoured to nominate the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
“Since its formation in 2005 by the Cuban Government, the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has treated more than 3.5 million people in 21 countries around the World.
“The Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has recently been to forefront in the global fightback against COVID19, sending medical personnel to Europe, Africa and other struggling nations across the globe.
“The Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has been previously awarded the Dr Lee Jong-Wook Memorial Prize for public health by the World Health Organisation – and reflecting the remarkable contribution of the Brigade to the fightback against COVID19 it is only right that they should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
"The international solidarity, selflessness and care shown by the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has been an inspiration and beacon of light in the midst the darkest of days."
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has urged the Taoiseach to raise with the British Prime Minister the announcement that 15 former British soldiers will not be prosecuted in connection with the murder of civilians on Bloody Sunday.
Addressing the Taoiseach in the Dáil today, Teachta McDonald reiterated Sinn Féin’s ongoing support of the families as they fight for truth and justice.
Teachta McDonald said:
“Firstly, I want to pay tribute to the Bloody Sunday families for their strength and their determination.
“I know that this is another very, very disappointing day in their campaign for truth and justice. I share that disappointment; given the well-documented actions of the British army on that day.
“The former British Prime Minister David Cameron said what happened was unjustified and unjustifiable.
“Yet, the families have had justice denied to them for nearly half a century at this point.
“Despite this, the British government continues to block the establishment of legacy mechanisms they signed up to and that we agreed in the Stormont House Agreement.
“So, can I ask if the Irish government will also continue to support the Bloody Sunday families in their campaign to uncover the truth of what happened that day?
“And will you speak with the British Prime Minister on this, and the need to ensure that agreements in respect of the Stormont House Agreement are implemented?”
Sinn Féin MLA Phillip McGuigan has called on the DUP to take action against North Antrim MP Ian Paisley following the Commissioner for Standards finding the MP had failed to register a luxury holiday to the Maldives.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“Today the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in the House of Commons has ruled that Ian Paisley MP failed to register a luxury holiday to the Maldives.
“Ian Paisley had said the holiday was “partially funded by a long-standing personal friend”.
“The Commissioner for Standards has ruled this not to be the case, but “that a corporate body, rather than a personal friend of Mr Paisley’s, had absorbed the cost of the hospitality”.
"How many times will Ian Paisley have to display outright contempt for the public and transparency before the DUP take action against his rogue activities?
"This is the latest in a series of scandals involving Ian Paisley and is another two fingers up to the people of North Antrim by the MP.
“The DUP leadership need to take action against this MP.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty and spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell will bring forward legislation that gives the Standards in Public Office Commission powers to investigate and sanction public officials who flout Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.
The act prohibits former ministers from being employed by lobby groups within 12 months of leaving office. But the previous Fine Gael government, led by Leo Varadkar, repeatedly ignored SIPO recommendations that would empower them to enforce it.
Fine Gael’s inaction facilitated their former minister Michael D’Arcy being appointed CEO of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, which had lobbied him and his own department while he was Minister for State.
Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said: “Sinn Féin will bring forward legislation that closes the revolving door between government and big business.
“Our legislation will empower SIPO to investigate and prosecute persons who flout Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.
“SIPO has repeatedly, over the past number of years, called for powers to enforce the act. But their pleas have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears as Leo Varadkar’s government had little interest in ending the cosy relationship between Fine Gael and business leaders.
“As recently as last year, SIPO made a submission to the Department of Finance while Michael D’Arcy was minister, calling for the Commission to be given power to investigate and sanction breaches of Section 22.
“They made the same recommendations as far back as 2016. They were not implemented by Leo Varadkar’s government, and it is easy to see why.
“Fine Gael’s inaction led to the announcement yesterday that their former Minister for State and Senator Michael D’Arcy had been appointed CEO of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, three months after he was minister with responsibility for their industry.
“This organisation, a registered lobby group, lobbied Michael D’Arcy while he was minister regarding generous tax breaks worth millions of euros for multinational executives - tax breaks Fine Gael have passed in successive budgets despite Sinn Féin opposition.
“The Regulation of Lobbying Act prohibits former ministers from being employed by lobby groups within 12 months of leaving office, unless they are granted permission by the Standards in Public Office Commission.
“The guidelines also make clear that a former minister should seek the Commission’s consent before taking up employment if there is a possibility that the employer is carrying out lobbying activities.
“The former Fine Gael minister did none of these things. He flouted the spirit of the regulations, aided by his party.
“The close relationship between Fine Gael and big business cannot be allowed to corrode the job of government, which is to represent the people.
“Fine Gael are determined to keep an open door between government and private interests. They walk through this door frequently, corroding public trust in our politics.
“Sinn Féin are determined to close that door and ensure government works for the people, not the private interests or the career ambitions of Fine Gael politicians.
“We will be publishing legislation in the coming days to tighten these regulations, and close the door that Fine Gael are determined to keep open.”