Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD and Workers Rights Spokesperson Maurice Quinlivan TD have today introduced legislation to provide for a statutory entitlement to domestic violence paid leave.
The Sinn Féin leader and Dublin Central TD said:
“Despite its prevalence domestic violence continues to be under-reported due to stigma, shame and fear. One in five women will experience violence in their own home, and forty-one per cent of Irish women know someone in their circle of family or friends who have experienced intimate partner violence.
“Domestic violence often follows victims into the workplace. Co-workers may be aware of a colleague’s abuse but in the absence of a workplace policy are unsure on how best to support them. Managers need guidance on how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and how to respond to a staff member’s disclosure.
“Legislators must also step up our responsibility to ensure that domestic violence victims’ rights and entitlements as employees are enhanced and protected.
"Sinn Féin’s legislation enables victims of domestic abuse to take the necessary time off work they require to seek support, find accommodation or attend court in a structured and supported environment. It also addresses unpredictable absenteeism and reduced productivity for employers.
“Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention and enactment of supporting legislation were important landmarks that must be built on and Sinn Féin’s domestic violence paid leave Bill does just that."
Workers Right’s Spokesperson and Limerick City TD Maurice Quinlivan added:
“If we are to end the epidemic of domestic abuse in Ireland we need a whole of society response that both supports and protects women.
“Abuse often follows victims into the workplace. Stalking, persistent phone calls, threats or attack in the workplace can occur. Coercive control now recognised under the Domestic Violence Act can lead to abusers focusing their efforts on a partner’s workplace for the purpose of ending the employment.
“Legislators and employers have a responsibility to respond to this avenue of abuse by putting in place the necessary workplace and employment rights and protections for victims.
“Sinn Féin will be engaging with all political parties over the coming weeks to seek their support for this legislation, and we look forward to a productive dialogue with all stakeholders to advance this much needed entitlement."
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said the findings of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists review into thousands of CervicalCheck highlights lost opportunities and failures.
Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) review into more than 1,000 CervicalCheck slides highlights lost opportunities and failures in different aspects of the screening programme.
“The Review disagreed with the CervicalCheck result in 308 cases, but in 159 of these cases the Expert Panel considered that the CervicalCheck result had an adverse effect on the woman’s outcome, meaning that had the abnormalities been found during the review been recognised at the time, this might have provided an opportunity to prevent cancer or to detect cancer at an earlier stage.
“Furthermore, detailed scrutiny of colposcopy did identify cases where management of abnormal smears could have been better. The authors of the report said this reinforces the need for vigilance and adherence to CervicalCheck clinical practice guidelines.
“The aspects of the report which highlight mistakes, failures, and missed opportunities makes for difficult reading and highlight the need for the recommendations of this review, and other reports relating to the CervicalCheck scandal to be implemented as a matter of urgency.
“Funding and resources should be made readily available for the screening programme so as these recommendations can be implemented.
“However, we cannot ignore the fact that the women affected raised serious concerns about this investigation due to some review reports having to be returned by the HSE to the British team because of apparent inaccuracies or omissions.
“The report, whether it be its contents or construction, is far from satisfactory and the Minister for Health needs to allow for it to be debated in the Dáil as soon as possible."
Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal are being failed at every turn.
Speaking today, Teachta O’Reilly:
“From the very beginning the CervicalCheck scandal has been marked by failures.
“The scandal itself was a failure of huge proportions and things did not improve for women thereafter as the screening programme was marked by delays and further mistakes.
“Now we have the latest development as questions hang over the independent Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) review of more than 1,000 CervicalCheck slides over how cases were managed in the review process.
“Serious concerns have been raised by some women about the RCOG investigation due to some review reports having to be returned by the HSE to the British team because of apparent inaccuracies or omissions.
“RTÉ have reported that in some cases women’s slides were mislabelled, and other women were told their original slide was not available for review and later told their slide had become available.
“It is not on that such mistakes were made with such a sensitive issue in a scandal that has been characterised by failures and mistakes.
“The crux of the report will relay reviewers found a different result to the original CervicalCheck result in hundreds of cases. It is essential that the scale of these errors is explained so we can see if the misreading’s were within the margin or error, or if they were seriously wrong.
“If they were way off the mark then this raises more serious questions."
Newly elected Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward joined his Sinn Féin colleagues in Leinster House earlier today for his first official day as a Teachta Dála.
Deputy Ward said;
"I am delighted to be joining my Sinn Féin colleagues here in Leinster House today.
"I am here with a mandate from the people of Dublin Mid-West to tell the government that its policies are not working for workers and families and my first act as a TD will be to vote no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.
"This election was dominated by the housing crisis and the complete and utter failure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to address it.
"The public want a return to public housing delivered by councils and measures to deal with out of control rents.
"These are the solutions that Sinn Féin is putting forward.
"The vast majority of families and workers have less money in their pockets than when Fine Gael, supported by Fianna Fáil, came into government. This is despite the economic growth of recent years.
"The cost of rents, childcare, going to the doctor, the insurance rip off – these are all things that are taking the last penny out of peoples’ pockets and it is Sinn Féin that is putting forward real solutions to these issues.
"Significantly, the issue of Irish Unity and the need for a government that will begin to plan for this eventuality came up on the doors in this election with people seeing the potential to secure the economy and Ireland’s future.
"These are the issues that the people sent me here to work on and these will be my priorities going forward."
Uachtarán Shinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald said the future of Ireland will be decide on the island of Ireland, not at Westminster.
Speaking at the launch of the Sinn Féin election manifesto in Derry today, Mary Lou McDonald said:
"In this election I am asking people to come out and support Sinn Féin candidates because we have a shown that we are a national party with international influence.
"We have used that influence to make sure there will be no hardening of the border, no unionist veto, and that the Good Friday Agreement would be protected.
"We have worked with the EU, in Brussels, in Dublin and in London, and with our friends in Washington to protect jobs, protect agriculture, to protect workers and to protect communities.
"There are some who claim they will go into Westminster and stop Brexit. That's not going to happen.
"The truth is that no Irish MP, whether nationalist or unionist, will decide the matter of Brexit.
"Our future will be decided on the island of Ireland and by the people of Ireland."
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to honour the commitment he gave in the Dáil last month and ensure that immediate funding is put in place to keep the dedicated dementia care home in St. Joseph’s Shankill open.
Speaking today, Deputy Brady said:
“The threatened closure of St. Joseph’s in Shankill has come as a great shock to residents, users of the day-care facility, families and staff, many of whom are from Wicklow.
“It was announced last month that the day-care service which currently accommodates up to 120 people every week will close at the end of the year and the residential home which is home to 60 dementia patients is under serious financial difficulty.
"Last week, discussions took place with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, unfortunately they didn’t go well and the board of St.Joseph’s have had to take the unfortunate decision to cease admissions. This is despite the fact that there is a huge demand for dementia specialist care facilities.
“I questioned the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil about the threatened closure of St. Joseph’s. He gave categorical assurances that the funding would be provided to keep the doors open.
"The current situation which has been caused by the gross underfunding of St Joseph’s by the government is causing anxiety, stress and uncertainty for the service users, their families and all the staff in the facility.
“Minister Harris must honour the commitment he gave in the Dáil and immediately intervene to ensure that the staff in St. Joseph’s can continue to do the excellent work that they do and that the service is maintained and protected to give certainty to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the State.
“There are 55,000 people in Ireland living with dementia and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. We therefore, need increased funding for dementia services and we need to see the development of more services specifically for dementia care, not less.”
“Successive governments have failed to establish these investigations and have blocked the Ludlow family at every instance.
“The Garda Commissioner has an opportunity to answer some of the questions the family have regarding the conduct of some Gardaí at the time of Seamus’ killing.
“He should also provide a rationale for the continued failure of the Gardaí to question four men identified as suspects in 1979.
“Commissioner Harris should initiate a fresh inquiry, under a new investigative team, to finally provide this family with the truth into Seamus’ killing.”
Dundalk councillor Ruaírí Ó Murchú added,
“I commend the family of Seamus Ludlow for their perseverance and tenacity over two generations.
“It is very unfair that there has not been more support from the government and from State agencies to date and I hope that this family reaches the truth behind this brutal killing.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has congratulated Sinn Féin’s four by-election candidates, in particular Mark Ward who topped the poll and won the seat in Dublin Mid West.
Deputy McDonald said;
“I want to thank the voters of Dublin Mid West, Fingal, Wexford and Cork North Central. The vote was a clear rejection of the government’s housing and health policies and a vote for Sinn Féin’s proposals for the biggest public housing programme in decades, investment in public services and for planning for Irish unity.
“The result is significant for a number of reasons – it exposed a totally out of touch government which is failing to deliver for workers and families and a growing impatience among the people at a government wasting the economic growth of recent years.
“I want to thank our four candidates – Mark Ward, Thomas Gould, Ann Graves and Johnny Mythen. They are all champions for their local communities and put forward a clear alternative to the polices of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
“I also want to thank all of our activists for the incredible work that they put in over the last number of weeks.
“Mark Ward TD will join the Sinn Féin Dáil team on Monday morning. His first job of work will be to vote no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and show that Sinn Féin has the solutions to the housing crisis.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has extended her deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mike McKee, Sinn Féin Councillor for Shannon in Co. Clare, following his passing earlier today.
Teachta McDonald said:
“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mike McKee who passed away earlier today at University Hospital Limerick following a short illness.
“I send, in particular, my deepest sympathy to Mike’s wife Eileen, his son David and his daughter Janette, as well as two grandchildren.
“Mike was a true Irish Republican and a great champion of the people of Shannon, which was reflected in his continued election to Shannon Town Council and Clare County Council over many years.
“He represented the people with great pride for over three decades and anyone who ever met Mike knew of his sincerity and decency.
“I know that this is a very sad time for party members in Clare and the wider Mid-West region and I extend to them my solidarity at this very sad time.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has slammed the new Government Report on the Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, calling it a “missed opportunity”.
He has called on the government take the pursuit of LGBTQI rights seriously.
Senator Warfield said:
“Today, the government has failed to propose an extension of gender recognition to young people under sixteen years of age and to the non-binary community.
“The vast majority of submissions to the Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 reflected a need for an extension of these rights, as did the group’s final report.
“Furthermore, my own legislation, the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017, which furnishes these rights to transgender young people was passed unanimously by the Seanad in March 2017. Senators from all parties and none agreed in principle that gender recognition should be extended this way.
“The fault that has led to these glaring omissions lies at the door of government. They should stop denying the right of trans youth to be themselves and to have the basic human requirements of their peers. If this Government had even an ounce of the courage of trans young people, the review today would look very different.
“I am calling on Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty to publish legislation that stays true to the report of the review group and that continues the progress that Ireland has made in the past.
“Additionally, I will be writing to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to outline how today’s announcement is one of a long line of failures of this government to adequately pursue LGBTQI equality.
“Whether it be a response to incidents of hate crime, properly equipping same sex parents with equal rights or responding to our wholly inadequate transgender healthcare system - I have lost count of how many times the government has failed to act and to legislate when necessary.
“In the absence of government leadership on these issues, the National LGBTI Inclusion Strategy that was launched yesterday is merely a long list of issues that the Fine Gael government have failed to act upon.”
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said 2019 is a year of shame and failure for Fine Gael when it comes to the health service as data from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation shows 2019 is already the worst ever recorded year for hospital overcrowding and patients on trolleys.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“2019 has been a year of shame and failure for Fine Gael where it comes to their running of the health service.
“We are not yet into the month of December and 2019 has broken the record for the worst ever year for overcrowding and patients on trolleys.
“Since the beginning of the year until today 108,364 people have gone without a bed in an Irish hospital, breaking the 2018 record high, with a full month left to go in the year.
“Fine Gael have had eight years to address this crisis, but it has only got worse every year they have been in government.
“As with the housing crisis, the government think that their policies are working for the health service but, they are completely failing, and that failure is having a devastating impact on the lives of patients and staff.
“You have to laugh at Fine Gael TDs stepping out into the real world and seeing the situations in Emergency Departments first hand and being ashamed by how bad they are – does it ever occur to them that these scenes are the consequences of their own political actions?“
The situation has been getting worse for the last eight years and no one in Fine Gael has been able to come up with a single solution.
“I keep saying this and so long as there is a trolley crisis I will continue to say it – to tackle the trolley crisis you have to address the issues causing it and focus on addressing them through:
- increasing recruitment and retention of staff
- reopening closed beds
- delivering more step-down facilities
- increasing home help hours
- proper investment in primary and community care.”
Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy Leader Pearse Doherty TD has said that Fine Gael need to get their heads out of the sand and introduce a rent freeze to finally give workers and families a break.
Speaking at Leaders’ Questions today, Deputy Doherty said;
“Your Government housing plan Rebuilding Ireland is in its fourth year.
“Its results are stark; over 10,000 citizens are now homeless, a 67% increase. The number of homeless children has risen by 81 percent; nearly doubled.
“This is the new normal under Fine Gael in what is the fastest growing economy in Europe.
“Too many of our children our facing a Christmas they don’t deserve. Toddlers are unable to walk or crawl because of prolonged stays in emergency accommodation. Their development stunted and their futures stolen from them.
“Rents have risen by 40 percent since your Government took office in 2016. The average rent in Dublin now stands at over €2 thousand a month. In Cork it is over €1,300 a month.
“This has locked a generation of young people and young families into an out-of-control rental market. It is locking them out of any aspiration of ever owning their own home.
“The first duty of any decent society is to protect its children and to protect its vulnerable.
“Your Government have refused to take responsibility for your failure to deliver on housing.
“While failing to take responsibility for the housing crisis, you have failed to listen to alternative policies and solutions.
“Solutions put forward by Sinn Féin; we have repeatedly called for an immediate rent freeze in the private market.
“Only to be rejected by this Government and Fianna Fáil.
“These solutions would put a brake on an out of control rental market while giving renters the space to save and plan for the future.
“Something that under Fine Gael is beyond their grasp.
“It’s time for Fine Gael to get their heads out of the sand and to heed the solutions put forward by Sinn Féin and implement an immediate 3-year rent freeze.”
Sinn Féin Children and Youth Affairs spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD has welcomed the news that Tusla have issued closure notices for four Hyde and Seek childcare centres, saying that the safety and well-being of children must be paramount at all times.
Speaking today, Deputy Funchion said;
"The news that Tusla have moved against Hyde and Seek and issued 4 of the branches with notices to close from December 31st is very welcome.
"It is an important step forward for Tusla in how they approach and manage situations like this. I have met with numerous parents of Hyde and Seek, since the airing of the RTÉ investigates program and challenged Tusla to take more action against these crèches when they appeared before the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs Committee.
"I am delighted that they have taken this step and now it is vital that the Minister steps up to ensure that there is quality care available to children who are still in these services. Parents will be concerned, and understandably so, given the lack of crèche places.
"Both the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in conjunction with Tusla must work to ensure childcare places for these children."
"Sinn Féin will continue our work to ensure our children are being cared for appropriately and safely – particularly when parents are often paying what amounts to a second mortgage for childcare."
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has welcomed the lifting of an injunction against beef protestors, Paraic Brady and Colm Leonard.
Speaking today Teachta Stanley said;
“I welcome today’s news that the injunction against these beef farmers has been lifted. This is long overdue.
“This issue has caused a lot of angst and anger right across the farming community and was an impediment to the Beef Market Task Force moving ahead with its work on a constructive basis.
“The fact that the meat processor refused to lift the injunction up to this point has impeded the Task Force’s progress.
“I raised this issue yesterday in the Dáil with the Minister for Agriculture and separately with the Taoiseach and asked them to use their influence the get the processor to drop the injunction.
“It’s important now that the Task Force meets in plenary session and gets all the stakeholders around the table to deal with the crisis in the beef sector.
“I also suggested to the Tánaiste in the Dáil today that representatives of the retailers need to there and that the Minister for Agriculture convene the Task Force immediately.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North-West Dessie Ellis has appealed to parents not to buy quads and scramblers this Christmas as Christmas presents for their children.
Deputy Ellis said:
“Despite recent successes by An Garda Síochana in seizing over thirty Quads and Scramblers in recent months in the Finglas area, their illegal use remains a constant danger and anti-social nuisance to the community.
“I urge parents and responsible individuals to consider the effects the illegal use of such vehicles have on their neighbours and their community. Parents should also reflect on the danger to the young people illegally using them on public roads and parks often without helmets or any other safety equipment or even insurance.
“A number of young people have died or have been seriously injured riding quads and scramblers and innocent passers-by have also been injured by the reckless riding of scramblers and quads on roads, footpaths, on greens and in public spaces.
“In some estates and parks the scramblers and quads are out every single day and people, especially the elderly, don’t feel safe walking the streets or taking their dogs out for a walk in the park.
“For many, there is no break for this activity. The noise pollution from the vehicles can run from early in the morning to very late into the night.
“I am asking people to please think before you buy.”
Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has called on the Public Accounts Committee to invite the Clerk of the Dáil, Mr Peter Finnegan to come before the committee to answer questions on the Oireachtas printing press debacle, commenting that “the report the committee received from Mr Finnegan this morning raises more questions than it answers, and only Mr Finnegan can provide those answers.”
Deputy Munster said:
“There are questions around the procurement process, in particular how a printer that was too big for the print room was successful in winning the tender.
“In the report furnished to the committee today Mr Finnegan says that he was advised in advance of his committee appearance in July that the cost of the refurbishment to the print room was in the region of €230,000. He was questioned at that meeting about the cost of the print room, but he did not divulge this information, or give any indication that there had been difficulties and mistakes throughout the entire process.
“Mr Finnegan is aware that the PAC deals with systems, practices and processes that underpin public expenditure. The omission of this information has led to a breakdown of the process of the oversight role of the PAC, and has cost the state upwards in €500,000 in overspend.
“That information, in my opinion, should have been forthcoming at the meeting in July, and I believe that Mr Finnegan has a responsibility to be fully open and forthright as the accounting officer.
“This information only came to light due to a Freedom of Information request from a journalist. That is not good enough.
“Mr Finnegan must come before the committee to answer these questions.”
Matt Carthy MEP: Incoming Commission a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has confirmed that Sinn Féin MEPs voted against the appointment of Ursula von der Loyen’s College of Commissioners, stating that the incoming European Commission remains completely out of touch with the experiences of working people across the EU.
Speaking from Strasbourg, the Midlands North West MEP said: “This is a case of, ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. The incoming Commission President praised the legacy of Jean-Claude confirming that, from personnel to policy, this is just more of the same at a time when the European Union requires fundamental reform.
“From the statements of Ms von der Loyen it is clear that her intention is to continue down the same failed path as Juncker, and she has no comprehension of the struggles facing the people of Europe.
“The incoming Commission President spent most of her speech to MEPs discussing the need for the EU to compete on the global stage when it comes to digitalisation and new technologies. Most people living in the EU are not concerned about whether Europeans invent the next big thing – they are concerned about job insecurity, the relentless increase in the cost of living while wages continue to stagnate, the likelihood of a new recession and the climate crisis.
“In the one area where she signalled an intention to advance – the Green Deal – the actual policy was left vague and undefined.
“The biggest problem here is that the priorities outlined today are totally contradictory. Ms von der Loyen acknowledged that the ‘twin transitions’ of climate and digitalisation require massive investment in the EU. But at the same time she continues to champion the strangling Stability and Growth pact and the rules of the common currency – which tie the hands of governments when it comes to making the type of investments that are desperately needed.
“She has signalled her intention to follow the Juncker plan funding model of putting up limited public funds as a guarantee for private companies. Juncker promised that this would mobilise massive private investment in the wake of the financial crisis and recession, and it demonstrably failed.
“In a period where demand is low, and consumer and business sentiment is wary, this model will again fail dismally in mobilising the kind of investment we need to meet the EU’s climate goals – no matter how many financial regulations are cut under the Capital Market’s Union.
“The endorsement of her predecessors’ vicious economic policies speaks volumes. This is the legacy that has left the Irish people with an outstanding bank bailout debt of €42 billion that it costs us a billion a year just to service. This is the legacy that means the Greek economy is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels until at least 2034.
“Until the EU final abandons its 1980s-era austerity obsession and its drive towards a dangerous militarisation agenda; serious action on climate change, technological innovation and sustainable economic growth will remain pipe dreams. Above all this commission is set to reinforce the democratic divide between EU institutions and citizens at a time when fundamental reform is required.
“For us in Sinn Féin we acknowledge that Ireland’s place is in the EU; but the EU itself most become more responsive to democratic demands and the needs of citizens. There is no evidence that this incoming commission is up to that task.”
Sinn Féin by-election candidate in Dublin Mid-West, Councillor Mark Ward, has called on all other candidates to state how they will vote in next week’s Dáil motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, if they are elected this week.
Speaking today Councillor Ward said;
“The housing crisis is the single biggest issue coming up on the doors in Dublin Mid-West.
“There are thousands of people on housing waiting lists, families paying out of control rents and people can't afford homes. That is Eoghan Murphy and Fine Gael's track record and he needs to be put out of office.
“One of the very first votes that successful by-election candidates will face in the Dáil next week will be on a motion of no-confidence in Eoghan Murphy so it is important that all candidates state publicly how they will vote on that important matter.
“If elected I will vote no confidence in Minister Murphy and housing policy next week.
“Claims from Fianna Fáil that this will cause a general election are simply not true. The Taoiseach can simply replace his Minister and his failing policy.
“The people of Dublin Mid-West know only too well the removal a minister from office does not mean a general election has to be called as we have seen previously the removal of former local TD Frances Fitzgerald from cabinet without an election being called.”