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Speaking today in response to Arlene Foster’s speech at the annual DUP party conference, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA said: 

“Arlene Foster and the DUP do not speak for the majority of people and business across the North.

“The toxic DUP pact with the Tories at Westminster has achieved nothing for the people here other than the continuing threat of being dragged out of the EU and into a nightmare which they have not consented to and ongoing Tory cuts to public services. 

“This has caused huge anger. 

“There is no good Brexit.

“The political unionist majority is gone. There will be no unionist veto as part of any rolling consent for the Assembly as part of any deal now or in the future.

“The people and businesses across every constituency have been clear that they want a deal which avoids a crash out and prevents a hard border on this island.

“As political leaders we have a responsibility to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, and this means seamless trade and no land border checks or customs tariffs on this island.

“The DUP continues to deliberately conflate the principle of consent set out in the Good Friday Agreement on the constitutional status, with the issue of parallel consent which is in reference only to the workings of the assembly.

“The Agreement has been under ferocious attack by hard Brexiteers and I do not expect that to end anytime soon.

“Arlene Foster must recognise that human rights and equality guarantees in law are a central part of the Agreement.

“The DUP has yet to embrace these guarantees against the will of the majority of parties, MLAs and electorate.

“Sinn Féin remains fully committed to the restoration of the Good Friday Agreement institutions on a firm, fair and just basis in the short period ahead.

“This must be based on full respect for, and protection and expression of, the rights and identities of one another’s traditions which even-handedly afford our communities parity of esteem, respect and equality of treatment, and opportunity.

“What has impeded progress since April are the realities of the DUP failure to embrace human rights and equality guarantees in law, Brexit and their toxic pact with the Tories at Westminster.

“The continued stalemate is untenable and unsustainable and is quickly running out of road.

“The world is moving on, and it will move on quickly.

“Nationalists and republicans need a partner to negotiate with. 

“This will only be solved by political leadership. It’s time Arlene Foster and the DUP returned to the table to engage meaningfully in negotiations for the first time since they walked away from talks and an agreement in 2018.”

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has expressed his condolences after the death of an 18 year old man in a collision in Kilcoo.

The South Down MP said:

“The local community was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of an 18 year old man in a collision on the Hilltown Road in Kilcoo in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“Four other people were injured in this incident and were taken to hospital and I hope they make a full recovery.

“My thoughts are with the friends and family of this young man and all who knew him at this sad and tragic time." 

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has said the Irish government must ensure that EU funding for the north west area continues post-Brexit. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"The wider north west area of Derry, Donegal and Tryone has benefited immensely from EU funded programmes through the PEACE and INTERREG initiatives. 

"There is widespread concern that this funding, which amounts to €550 million in the current funding period, will be lost when we are dragged out of the EU against our will by the British government as a result of Brexit. 

"My party colleagues in Leinster House challenged the Irish government on post Brexit funding for the north west region and have been told that the Dublin government is engaging with the EU about how the current funding, which is due to run until 2020, will be impacted by Brexit and what will replace it. 

"The Irish government have confirmed that the current funding will continue even in the event of a crash-out Brexit and that the EU has proposed a PEACE plus programme to continue funding post Brexit. 

"It is vital EU funding for projects in the wider north west region continues after Brexit, particular as border regions like the north west will be among those worst hit by this reckless British government policy. 

"I will continue to press the Irish government to secure this important funding for the north west and ensure it is delivered to the areas where it is needed most."

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Justice and Equality Martin Kenny TD said that he would stand firm on his statements on racism and fascist speech creeping into Irish society.

Deputy Kenny, who has reported death threats received by text to the gardai, has pledged to stand against the growth of the “weeds of fascism” growing in Irish society, while controversy rages in his home county over the proposed location of asylum-seekers there.
Speaking in his constituency today, Deputy Kenny said:

“In the Dáil yesterday I failed to get a commitment from the Tánaiste, to challenge racism and fascist ideas within his own party.

"While the government and their partners in Fianna Fáil have a policy of locating asylum seekers in small towns around the state, it the likes of me that is defending them, while many Fine Gael members, on the ground, are opposing this policy and spreading hysteria and nonsense and creating unnecessary controversy.

“While Simon Coveney and the Taoiseach can sound reasonable and compassionate in the Dáil, the hysteria among their grassroots members goes unchallenged.

“Yesterday too, the four Fine Gael Members of the European Parliament voted against a resolution for EU members to step up efforts to rescue people drowning in the Mediterranean. The sound of cheering from the benches of Fine Gael’s partners in Europe was chilling.

“I agree that how the government is going about direct provision and the treatment of asylum seekers in this country could be improved greatly, I also see that vulnerable people do not flee war, famine and prosecution and take the terrible risks they do, without good reason.

“We have to shoulder our responsibilities, fulfil our commitment as EU members and show some human compassion, but we also have to stand up and challenge the creeping fascism in Irish society where hate speech and racist talk is becoming more common.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Irish Water to come clean on reasons behind the issuing of the largest boil water notice in the history of the state which is affecting 600,000 homes in the Greater Dublin Area.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Irish Water and the operators of the plant in Leixlip have some serious questions to answer.

“Days on from the issuing of the Boil Water notice we still do not know what caused it.

“A report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in March raised concerns about potential operational failures at the same plant and made eight recommendations on how to address these issues.

“So what Irish Water need to state is, is the contamination of the water supply as a result of what the EPA identified as a concern in March?

“If so, why didn’t Irish Water and the operators of the plant prioritise addressing these concerns?

“Did Irish Water implement any of the eight recommendations contained in the EPA report?

“These are some of the questions I will be putting to Irish Water when they appear in front of the Housing Committee.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has highlighted the fact that despite jobseekers aged 25 moving to the full rate of payment, the vast majority of jobseekers aged 18-24 will remain on a pitiful €112.70 per week.

Speaking in response to a reply to a Parliamentary Question, Teachta Brady said:

“Budget 2020 included an increase for certain young jobseekers aged 18-24 who have been on reduced rates of jobseeker’s payments since 2009, to the full rate of €203 in 2020. However, the actual number of those who will benefit from this measure is tiny.

“Of the 16,100 young jobseekers who are in receipt of reduced rates of jobseeker payments, all 1,780 who are aged 25 will see their payment increase to the full rate. That leaves 14,320 18-24 year olds on reduced rates of which only 300 will receive the full rate from 2020. That is according to Minister Doherty in a recent reply to me.

“The increase to the full rate for those young jobseekers aged 18-24 will only go to those living independently and in receipt of State housing supports. Of course, we know that very few people receiving €112.70 per week could afford to live independently.

“Basically, Minister Doherty has replaced one condition with another.

“The increase announced in Budget 2020 will benefit the smallest number of young jobseekers possible. The rest will remain on a paltry €112.70 and will only see an increase to the full rate if they live independently and receive State housing support.

“Sinn Féin reiterate our commitment to restore all jobseekers to the full rate of payment, regardless of their age or living situation.” 

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Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD today published Sinn Féin’s proposals to give women and their families a break.

On launching the document the Sinn Féin leader said:

“Ireland has undergone significant social and economic change over the last two decades. Much of this change has been positive, yet inequality is deepening, and families are paying an enduring cost.

“Tá athrú suntasach sóisialta agus eanamúil i ndiaidh teach tar Éirinn le fiche bliain. Athrú dearfach ar an mórchuid ach tá an míchothromas ag dul in olcas agus tá teaghlaigh thíos go mór leis.

“Family homelessness continues to rise; a full-time job no longer guarantees an affordable secure roof over your family’s head and people with a disability face inequalities day and daily.

“Each year Sinn Féin sets out ambitious deliverables in our alternative budgets that can and will make immediate differences in people’s lives. Our measures are costed by the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and our economic analysis is one that places investment centre stage. Sinn Féin’s proposals for women and their families include; 

  • Comprehensive women’s health strategy
  • A state-sponsored contraception scheme to include LARCs
  • Back to School Bonus Child Benefit Payment for all families
  • Reform of childcare provision to reduce costs to parents & ensure workers are properly paid
  • A Child Maintenance Service
  • Independent statutory multiagency domestic homicide reviews
“For government the annual budgetary process provides an opportunity to begin or progress policies that can deliver transformative change over the longer term.

“Budgets are about today, but they are also about next year and the year after. Sinn Féin’s alternative Budget 2020 document deals with the threat posed by Brexit; sets out a sustainable fiscal strategy; commits to a just transition; invests in public services; introduces new structures to support and protect women and give women a break in the here and now.

“Leis na moltaí atá againn tugtar léargas duit ar an gcineál Rialtais a bheadh ann le Sinn Féin. Bhí mná agus a gclann chun tosaigh i gcónaí agus polasaí á dhréachtú nó cinntí polaitiúla á ndéanamh againn agus is amhlaidh an scéal i gcónaí.

“Sinn Féin’s proposals give an insight into what a Sinn Féin Government would look like. Women and their families will continue to be a priority for Sinn Féin when shaping policy and making political decisions.”

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Over €800m to be spent on rental subsidies with only €789m given to councils.

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on figures received in response to parliamentary questions on government spend on social housing rent subsidies for 2020.

Between the various schemes including Rent Supplement, Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and long-term leases via the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP) the government is set to spend €806.3m, compared to the €789m allocated to Local Authorities for the build and acquisition of new social homes. 

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The figures I received in response to parliamentary questions confirm that the government will spend more on social housing rental subsidy schemes next year than it will give directly to Local Authorities to build and buy real social houses.

“The State will spend €133m on RAS, €502.7m on HAP, €94.6m on rent supplement and approximately 40% of funding allocated to SCHEP will be spent on long term leasing private sector leases totalling €76m.

“Taken together the government has allocated €806.3m of taxpayers money subsiding social housing tenants in the private rented sector.

“In contrast, Government is only giving Local Authorities €789m to build and buy homes for social housing. The State is giving more money to private landlords than to Local Authorities

”The Government has its priorities all wrong. Local Authorities should be the primary driver of social housing delivery. Unfortunately Fine Gael continue to over rely on the private sector to meet social housing need.

“This is the fourth year of Rebuilding Ireland and this government is still not building enough homes required, while putting increased pressure on the private rental market which is already over inflated.

“We need to see the inverse happen. The government must prioritise investment in real social and affordable homes, not in subsidies for private landlords.”

ENDS//

Note to editors: Please see PQ responses below and attached.

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 22/10/2019

Question Number(s)634 Question Reference(s): 43532/19

Department: Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Asked by: Eoin Ó Broin T.D.

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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the allocation for rent supplement for 2020.

REPLY

The allocation for Rent Supplement in 2020 is €94.6m, as published in the 2020 Budget Estimates on Budget Day. 

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called on Ulster Bank to identify the number of customers who have been affected by delayed credit payments to their customers’ accounts, and provide immediate emergency payments for customers who haven’t received their salary payments and face the prospect of penalties due to unpaid debit payments and standing orders.

The Donegal TD said:

“It as become clear this morning that Ulster Bank customers have not received credit and payments into their accounts in the past 24 hours.

“These customers were counting on receiving their pay last night or this morning, and now face the prospect of penalties due to unpaid debit payments and standing orders.

“This is totally unacceptable and places workers and families in a terrible position.

“Ulster Bank are yet to identify the number of customers affected by this delay.

“I am calling on Ulster Bank to notify every customer who has had a delay in payments into their account immediately, and to provide the emergency payments needed to ensure these customers are not out of pocket or in debt as a result of Ulster Bank’s mistake.

“Customers can access Ulster Bank’s emergency phoneline on 1850 424 365 from the South and 00 353 1804 7475 from the North.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called for additional resources for An Garda Síochána including the lifting of the current overtime ban over the Halloween period to prevent any increase in the level of anti-social behaviour.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;

“I raised again in the Dáil today with the Government the need for increased Garda activity over the next week to provide safe community policing. This will require additional financing to put gardaí on the streets.

“It is my understanding for my own area in Dublin South Central that a policing plan for Ballyfermot was recently submitted to Garda management seeking this resourcing. This plan must be approved to increase visibility and allow everybody to enjoy the upcoming festivities.

“The community groups, gardaí and local representatives have worked extremely well over the last number of years to develop community events and reduce anti-social behaviour.

“Without a similar approach this year, the potential increases for violent disorder to take place like in years gone by.

“The Minister for Justice along with Garda management must work together to reduce this potential for trouble and that means lifting the overtime ban and increasing garda activity.

“This needs to be the approach in Dublin South Central and across the state to ensure everyone has a happy and fun Halloween period where activities can be enjoyed in a safe and controlled environment”.

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has criticised Fine Gael MEPs for voting against a European Parliament resolution calling for improved search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean to save refugees from drowning. The resolution was defeated by just 2 votes, with 288 votes in favour and 290 against.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“For more than a year now, humanitarian ships that rescued refugees and migrants from dangerous boats have been blocked from docking or disembarking passengers in Italy or Malta. EU countries have also ended their search and rescue missions. As a result more than 1,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe in 2019.

“These refugees are desperately fleeing conflict, persecution, and hunger. They are looking for sanctuary but tragically many men, women and children are drowning in the Mediterranean.

“This resolution was meant to send a strong message on the need to reinforce search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea and allow NGOs to disembark rescued migrants and refugees at their ports. Instead its defeat is being celebrated by the far right. This narrow defeat was possible because Fine Gael’s 4 MEPs voted against it.

“The failure of EU countries to prevent refugees from drowning and to provide safe and legal pathways to asylum is a disgrace. It is an outrage that any Irish MEPs voted against this resolution and supported the far right’s efforts to defeat it.

“I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, to immediately clarify if there has been a change in Irish government policy regarding search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean and if he directed these MEPs from his party to vote against this resolution to improve search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.”

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has said any attempts to introduce direct rule by the back door are unacceptable. 

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP said: 

"The proposal by Reg Empey to hand control of the health service in the north to Westminster is a non-starter. 

"It represents a cynical attempt to introduce direct rule by the back door and as such is unacceptable. 

"It clearly flies in the face of the St Andrew's Agreement. 

"We want to see an Executive in place delivering good government and public services to all. 

"If that cannot be secured then the British and Irish Intergovernmental Conference must come into play, not unilateral control by a British government which is mired in chaos. 

"This is yet another example of the fact that there are no solutions to be found at Westminster."

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Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley has called for cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi to be made available in the north of Ireland. 

The West Tyrone MP said: 

"Orkambi and other drugs for the treatment of cystic fibrosis will now be available in England following a deal between the British government and the manufacturers of the drugs. 

"We now need to see these drugs made available to those living with cystic fibrosis in the north. 

"Orkambi is already available in the south of Ireland and now in England and the Department of Health must ensure that access to the treatment is made available to people with cystic fibrosis in the north immediately.   

"While this serious illness cannot be cured, Orkambi has been shown to significantly slow the rate of decline of lung function. 

"I have repeatedly called on the Department of Health in the north to ensure Orkambi be made available in the north. 

"The Department needs to ensure this happens as a matter of urgency in order to provide equal treatment to those with cystic fibrosis here." 

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Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, North Roscommon and South Donegal Martin Kenny TD spoke about how racist language was becoming normalised and should be rejected by all parties in the Dáil.

Deputy Kenny, who referred to the deaths of 39 people in a refrigerated container in England, compared this with the Irish in coffin ships during the Great Hunger and what vulnerable people today resort to in an attempt to reach safety.

Teachta Kenny continued:

“Unfortunately, some people in this country peddle far right ideology and may be happy that thirty-nine fewer immigrants will be coming to Ireland potentially.

“The hatred that these people disseminate, mainly through the Internet, is regrettably taking root in some places in our society and that is what I want to talk about today.

“The language the far-right uses and the tone of speech that it normalises has taken root among people who would otherwise be decent and reasonable. That is where the greatest danger lies. It has become acceptable for some people to talk about asylum seekers being 'dumped' in a town.

“The word ‘dumped’ insinuates something is of no value. We only dump rubbish.

“This issue goes beyond immigrants and minorities. It is also an issue of class because in many places around the country where there are proposals to build emergency accommodation or social housing, there are objections from communities which are excited by hysteria that they do not want “those sort of people” around them.

“That is the challenge for the Tánaiste, the Government and all parties.  

"The government's limited policies on social housing to provide for the underprivileged is always heralded in the Dáil, but on the ground it is members of Fine Gael branches, and even Fine Gael councillors, who lead the protests to block these.

“I have personal experience of senior members of Fine Gael, including a local councillor, whipping up hysteria, demonising people and standing as a bulwark against reason and civil discourse in favour of domination and superiority.

“We have to stand for equality and justice every day on the hard days and the easy days. 

"I want the Tánaiste to assure me that he is prepared to stand against prejudice and that the government is prepared to stand against this sort of thing creeping into our society."

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The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement this morning issued a report on ‘Communities and Cross-Border Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities’.

The report examines the impact of Brexit on border communities, including Louth, and makes findings and recommendations to counter the detrimental impact of Brexit.

Specifically, the Committee listened to evidence from organisations which operate along the border area from the East Border Region – covering Louth; through the Mid and Central Ulster area, covered by ICBAN; and the North West region.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams ,whose party colleague Teachta Sean Crowe is the Chair of the Joint Committee, said:

“Whatever the outcome of the current Brexit debacle, the fact is that whether it’s a soft Brexit or hard Brexit, the implications are serious for the island of Ireland and in particularly for the border region.

"The Committee heard of the serious concerns around the future of EU funding beyond 2020, particularly the PEACE and INTERREG programmes which have contributed so much to the border region and the peace process. 

"The report recommends that these programmes be maintained. However in the event that this is not possible the Committee calls for the creation of comprehensive successor programmes is essential.

"The Committee heard how communities along the border, both north and south, are lagging economically since 2016 in stark contrast to strong economic growth and employment in other parts of the island, north and south."

Key recommendations of the report include:

·  Development of an island-wide territorial cohesion policy, which would include a Cross-Border Infrastructure and Investment Plan/Fund, to replace any loss of common INTERREG and Peace funds.

·  Promotion of the three border regions as areas of national importance.

·  Comprehensive upgrading of infrastructure, both transport and broadband, to assist connectivity in the region.

·  Both governments formally recommit to the long-planned A5-N2 Dublin to Derry dualling project.

·  If the National Broadband Plan cannot be advanced further to deliver in its current format, that an alternative solution is quickly realised for these border areas.

·  Promoting the border region as alternatives to the Dublin area for Foreign Direct Investment.

·  A Regional Employment Strategy which would form the basis for enterprise and employment creation by all stakeholders.

Teachta Adams continued:

"In the context of Brexit the reported emphasised the importance of maintaining an open, free flowing border allowing for the continued development of the all island economy.

"The Committee also endorsed the role of local authorities along the border in developing a bottom-up needs-based strategy for the Border Corridor to offset the challenges and identify any opportunities associated with Brexit.”

Note To Editor:

The eight council members of the ICBAN partnership are: Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo and Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon, Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid Ulster.

East Border Region is a local authority led cross border network comprising of six local authorities; Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and Ards and North Down Borough Council in Northern Ireland and Louth, Monaghan and Meath County Councils.

The North West Strategic Growth Partnership is a unique partnership that brings together senior Government officials from all Government departments in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to meet with Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to deliver on strategic priorities aimed at bringing real and positive change for the North West City Region.

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has today said the DUP has once again reminded the people of the north that they cannot be trusted when it comes to public services and social protection.

The West Belfast MLA said people shouldn't be fooled by the DUP's recent Brexit damage control, reminding people they will always back the Tories in attacking vital public services.

Pat Sheehan MLA said:

"We know the DUP's extremely retrograde attitude to public spending and use of public funds.

"A motion sought to protect the health service from future Trump trade deals and corporations seeking to put 'profit before public health'.

"The DUP voted instead to effectively pry open the health service for post-Brexit privatisation and the potential of further cuts.

"The DUP have reminded us of their true colours, and have once again bent the knee to a Tory government that has inflicted bruising cuts on public services and living standards to people in the north.

"Whether it's their long history of financial scandal and misuse of public funds, or their long-standing support for slashing social protection payments for those in need, the DUP cannot be trusted to protect vital public services.

"Despite recent Brexit tiffs, the right-wing DUP-Tory alliance will always find common cause in attacking public services."

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has welcomed the news that her amendment securing priority for border counties in the allocation of Brexit supports has passed into law.

Speaking after the amendment to the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed this morning, Deputy Munster said that he is “happy that the counties on the border will be prioritised in terms of business supports ahead of Brexit."

Deputy Munster said:

“My own home town of Drogheda is a prime example of why this is required.

“Drogheda has fantastic potential. It’s located on the Dublin-Belfast corridor, its population is highly skilled and it has a dynamic business community. In fact, the Financial Times has identified Drogheda as one of Europe’s Top 10 emerging micro-cities.

“It’s very frustrating that the government doesn’t see this, as Drogheda gets overlooked time and time again when it comes to business and development opportunities. We got nothing in the National Development Plan, we lost our town council and borough status under the last Labour and Fine Gael government.

“Investment opportunities seem to go elsewhere. There were media reports some months ago suggesting that foreign businesses who were seeking to locate in Drogheda were advised to go elsewhere.

“This bill that the government presented today did the bare minimum. It doesn’t address the serious concerns that the business community have expressed regarding the Brexit loan schemes, which are not targeting the right businesses, it doesn’t addressed workers rights concerns in terms of safeguarding jobs and the supports in the bill are limit.

“That being said, I am happy that I was able to improve the bill and ensure that Drogheda, as well as other towns along the border like Dundalk, will be first in line for the Brexit supports that are provided for in the bill and it won’t be so easy for the government to pass over us in this regard.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Catherine Kelly has said new figures released by NSPCC showing a 34% rise in sexual offences against children are ‘staggering’.

The West Tyrone MLA said:

“New figures released by NSPCC reveal that over 2000 cases of sexual offences against children were recorded by police in the north over the last 12 months.

“These numbers are staggering and represent more than five crimes cases every day.

“These figures show the importance of the Gillen Review into Sexual Offences and the recent Department of Justice consultation on Child Sexual Exploitation. This work must be progressed rapidly and effectively to properly support and safeguard children.

“We worked with Judge Gillen, the DOJ and the NSPCC and others on this work. Sinn Féin recommended modernising the law and improving support to protect children from this horrific abuse which often leaves long and lasting damage on the victim. They should never suffer in silence.”

“A key element of the figures is the grooming of children online. I am renewing calls on parents to carefully monitor children’s use of chat rooms and other social media platforms.  

“I will be meeting with the NSPCC in the coming days to discuss these figures and the need for renewed action to protect our children and young people.”

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Minister Bruton paying lip service to carbon emission targets - David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for climate change David Cullinane TD has criticised the government for failing to reach carbon emission targets for the second year in a row, showing a systemic political failure to take this issue seriously.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published a report that the Irish State exceeds its emissions budget by 5 million tonnes in 2018, and is moving further from its climate commitments.

“This exposes the spin and bluster from Minister Bruton and this government on this issue.

“Sinn Féin has been saying for years that we need a paradigm shift in state investment in public transport.

“Instead, Fine Gael is selling off the network and continues to neglect investment in new rail lines, particularly outside Dublin where they are most needed.

“The shift in agricultural policy in 2015 to encourage dairy and milk production has added to emissions.

“Afforestation is also missing its targets, and has been falling since 2016.

“The sole response by the government is to introduce a regressive carbon tax, even though the alternatives are simply not there.

“Unlike this government, Sinn Féin takes climate action seriously.

“We understand it requires a systemic shift in public investment, one that Fine Gael is incapable of providing, as the EPA report shows.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the full implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in 2014.

Martina Anderson was speaking after hosting Seamus Finucane, brother of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, in Strasbourg.

“I hosted this delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg this week to raise the Finucane family’s continued campaign for truth and justice.

“In February this year, the British Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the British government did not fulfil its Article 2 obligations to human life in the case of Pat Finucane.

“We used the meeting with the Human Rights Commission to press the EU on the need for independent and international scrutiny.

“For almost five years, the British Government has dragged its heels and failed to implement legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House. It’s unacceptable. Families have been waiting too long.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Finucane family and relatives of victims of state violence in their campaign for truth and justice.”

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