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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on information received from Dublin City Council which indicates that the overwhelming majority of short term lets are wilfully ignoring Eoghan Murphy’s new rules for the sector.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“According to data I received from Dublin City Council (DCC) on the 12th of December, only 13 change of use planning permissions have been received by DCC since the new regulations came into force this summer.

“This indicates that the overwhelming majority of short-term letting providers are flouting Minister Murphy’s new rules and continuing to short term let properties without seeking the required planning permission.

“Given that data from Inside Airbnb today indicates that 4,663 entire homes/apartments are being let in Dublin today, just 13 change of use permissions have been requested.

“A further 238 have applied for and been granted a planning exemption on the grounds that they are letting out the property for less than 90 days.

“Based on that information not even 5% of the short-term letting providers are complying with Eoghan Murphy’s new laws.

“It’s also concerning that only 176 enforcement investigations have commenced since the beginning of July, with just one prosecution initiated.

“Short term letting platforms should be held also share some responsibility and should not be advertising illegal short term lets.

“Minister Murphy should revisit his opposition to legally obliging short term letting platforms to police their listings.

“He must also ensure that local authorities have the resources required to enforce the planning regulations.”

ENDS//

NOTE TO EDITOR – info from Dublin City Council below. 

  1. The number of planning exemptions granted for short term lets since the regulations came into force: 238
  2. The number of planning exemptions sought since the new regulations came into force: 238
  3. The number of new planning permissions sought for term letting purposes and the number granted:

 13x Change of use applications have been received to-date.

0x Change of use planning permissions have been granted

2x applications withdrawn

2x applications invalidated

7x Change of use planning applications have been refused.

1 x awaiting decision.

4. The number of planning retentions for short term letting purposes sought and granted since the new regulations came into force: None

 5. How many planning enforcement actions are in train or have been taken to date?

Since 1st July 2019 176 investigations initiated and Warning Letters issued. 15 Enforcement Notices have been issued in respect of these cases. 1 Prosecution has been initiated.

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Insurance companies reaching peak profits new report shows

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has described today’s publication of the National Claims Information Database as a shocking indictment of the insurance industry and has criticised the Government for peddling the misinformation campaign of the insurance industry.

The report by the Central Bank shows, beyond doubt, that motor insurance premiums have gone up every year since 2013 by a staggering 62 percent. In addition to this the report has found that in the past decade the cost of claims per policy has gone down by more than 2 percent while the number of claims made has gone down by 40 percent.

Teachta Doherty said:

“Today’s publication of the National Claims Information Database is a damning indictment of the insurance industry and the campaign of disinformation it has been waging for the past number of years. It should also serve as a wake-up call to the Government and Fianna Fáil, who have been the first to peddle the lines fed by the insurance industry.

“Today we have the facts in black and white.

“Since 2009, the cost of claims per insurance policy has gone down by over 2 percent. At the same time the average motor insurance premium has gone up by a staggering 42 percent.

“In fact, since 2009 the total number of claims made has gone down by 42 percent, with injury claims falling by 20 percent.

“While this report shows that the average cost of a personal injury claim is higher than it was in the past, which is why we facilitated the passage of the Judicial Council Act, the number of claims made has gone down.

“The ‘compo-culture’ line trotted by the industry was a convenient story to cover its own price-gouging activities. That line does not stand up to scrutiny.

“The report also shows that the price of the average motor insurance premium has increased by a staggering 62 percent since 2013, increasing every year.

“On 13th November in the Dáil, when challenging the Government on the practices of the industry, Minister D’Arcy claimed that the average motor insurance costs had gone down from their peak. That day the Minister said it was important that we accept the facts.

“The facts now speak for themselves and the Minister should correct the public record.

“They also show that operating profit of the motor insurance industry in 2018 was nine percent. It is worth noting that in Britain the insurance industry reached a profit high of less than six percent in the last year.

“The National Claims Information Database confirms what we in Sinn Féin have been saying for some time.

“The Irish insurance industry is highly profitable and highly dishonest. They have waged a public disinformation campaign that flies in the face of the facts. Cost of claims to the industry has gone down while the premiums paid by consumers has sky-rocketed, increasing every year.

“We know that insurance companies are using practices such as dual pricing to overcharge existing customers.

“I am calling on the Government and Fianna Fáil to stop defending the industry and repeating their spin.

“Sinn Féin has repeatedly held the industry to account for misinforming the public and ripping off their consumer. Only Sinn Féin can be trusted to take them on and end the insurance rip-off.”

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has questioned the effectiveness of the governments winter plan as 614 patients lay waiting on hospital trolleys today.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“With 614 people being treated on trolleys in our hospitals today, you have to question whether the governments winter plan is working at all.

“The plan and any policy changes by Minister for Health this winter appear to be having no significant effect, because at the same time he is overseeing a recruitment ban in the health service.

“This year has been the worst year for patients on trolleys, and it seems that this winter will see the health service plunged even deeper into crisis.

“Our hospitals are understaffed, and this is affecting not just those trying to get into them, but also those already in hospital. We saw reports last week that children in Crumlin could not get chemotherapy because of staff shortages.

“The recruitment ban in the health service should not have been imposed and the results of it will devastate the health service into the future.

“While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are arguing over an election date, in real life people are left to deal with the consequences of their policies.

“The Minister for Health needs to get directly involved in implementing measures to resolve this crisis and he needs to start with immediately lifting the recruitment ban, reopening closed beds in hospitals, and increasing the availability of home help hours.”

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Paul Maskey MP said:

"Last night several petrol bombs were thrown at the home of a young family on the Springfield Road.

"At the time of the attack, a one-year-old child was inside the house.

“I am relieved that no one has been killed or seriously injured in this reckless and callous attack.

"This attack comes in the wake of a campaign of sectarian intimidation carried out against families accessing social housing in North Belfast, and a vicious sectarian campaign of abuse and threats against people standing for public office.

"Organised sectarian violence in our society must be stamped out. 

“Political and community leaders have a responsibility to condemn those behind this hate crime and work tirelessly to bring these attacks to an end.

“Anyone with any information on this reckless and vicious attack should bring it forward to the PSNI.”

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Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney has condemned those responsible for a viable device discovered in a rear garden in Mayfield Village late last night.

Declan Kearney said:

“I condemn those responsible for a viable device left in Mayfield last night, resulting in twenty six families having to leave their homes in the early hours of the morning.

“This was a criminal attack on a quiet neighbourhood at a time when families would have been settled for the night. It was especially disrupting for those families forced to flee their homes in freezing temperatures to make their way to a place of safety.

“I want to thank the PSNI for ensuring the safety of local residents, and commend Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s emergency support team for its quick response, and arranging for the opening of the Lillian Bland Pavilion to accommodate those evacuated.

“I would urge the public to assist the ongoing police investigation by providing any information which may help bring the people responsible for this criminality before the courts.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said an opportunity has been missed at COP25 for countries to show the commitment and ambition to action required to tackle the climate emergency.

The party's climate action spokesperson said:

"COP25 was an opportunity for countries to show they were taking the climate emergency seriously and showing real commitment and ambition to the action required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

"Climate science is crystal clear but it is not simply enough to recognise this, real action in limiting emissions is required.

"There was an opportunity at COP25 for countries to show the commitment to act and instead it is disappointing that the can has been kicked down the road, in only recognising the need for 'enhanced ambition'.

"Time is running out, ambition alone is not enough, we need to see action now.

"In particular those countries responsible for the highest levels of emissions need to be accountable for the reduction required and they need to accept that responsibility.

"The demand for action from citizens is not going to go away, politicians need to listen and they need to act."

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today that political will is key to restoring the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement on a sustainable and credible basis.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking as Sinn Féin prepares to re-enter talks tomorrow with the two governments and the other political parties in the north.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“Sinn Féin wants to see the political institutions restored on a credible and sustainable basis.

“A credible restored Executive must deliver on issues such as public sector pay, safe staffing levels in the health service, economic policies that deliver prosperity and invest in rural communities, and an appropriate welfare mitigation package.

“We will work towards securing agreement on outstanding issues, including an Irish Language Act, reform of the Petition of Concern, the legacy of the past and integrity in government.

“I believe they can be resolved if there is the political will to do so.

“We need a new kind of politics, a new Assembly and a new Executive.

“We need to deliver good government and properly resourced public services to all. 

“We need an Executive which is transparent, accountable and inclusive. 

“All parties should commit to being round that table, providing political leadership and setting out our own agenda and priorities, serving the best interests of the people of the North.

“Alongside this, it is impossible to ignore the reality that a growing number of people are impatient for change, and the demand for an Irish unity referendum. The Irish government should establish an All-Ireland Forum on Irish Unity without delay.

“We are entering a decade of opportunity where the freedom to choose our own future will be decided by the people on this island alone.”

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Sinn Féin’s national chairperson, Declan Kearney MLA, has thanked voters for renewing the party’s mandate to continue delivering on progressive politics.  

Declan Kearney said, 

“I want to extend sincere thanks to all of those who came out and voted for me in South Antrim, and for our party across the north, endorsing the Sinn Féin message.

“Sinn Féin went forward in this election seeking a mandate for the Remain position; for progressive politics; for anti-sectarianism, and also a vote which would positively influence the future constitutional direction of our island.

“Brexit has changed everything. It has now started a political debate in Ireland, both north and south, about the future constitutional direction of the island. 

“Sinn Féin believes that should be towards the creation of a new and agreed Ireland, which is free from division and sectarianism, and based upon reconciliation; and, in which the rights of all identities, cultures and traditions will be protected in law.

“Every vote cast for Sinn Féin in this election was also a vote for a rights-based return of the political institutions. 

“All of these positions have been vindicated by everyone who voted for the party in this election.

“Sinn Féin has been strengthened in our resolve to continue the work of promoting and delivering progressive politics for all citizens.”

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Commenting on Minister Zappone’s hosting of the Open Policy Debate on Child Poverty in association with the Children’s Rights Alliance, Sinn Féin Children and Youth Affairs Spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD said that while she supports the initiative’s objectives, Zappone must reflect on the fact that the new National Childcare Scheme launched this week is disenfranchising vulnerable children in homelessness by failing to create a new childcare system that identifies and targets the most vulnerable with critical supports via full day childcare provision.

Deputy Funchion said:

“Today’s debate focused on a wide range of issue’s relating to child poverty, including identifying systems and implementation measures that will reduce child poverty, the role of income and targeted payments in addressing child poverty and identifying key quality services that will reduce child poverty in the short-term and the long-term.

“While I commend the objective of this initiative and the work of the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Minister and her Department need to recognise the very issues being discussed today are not being reflected in the roll out of the New National Childcare Scheme which was launched just this week.

“In fact, the reality is that vulnerable children living in homelessness are not being identified and targeted with the provision of childcare services they so badly need.

“I have been told first hand by childcare providers that children who should be in receipt of support are falling through the net.

“Those working in homeless services have said it is very unclear how the process works or even who in the local authorities or the Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive is responsible for receiving and processing the applications for placements in childcare settings.

“As a result, homeless children are losing out not only on their places in early learning settings, but also vital early intervention such as AIM which is provided to children with additional needs through attendance at their designated créche.

“I have also been informed that Public Health Nurses (PHN) who are in a position to refer children into childcare settings, that the process is similarly unclear within the HSE.

“This is a massive oversight of the new system and needs to be rectified immediately by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

“I am hugely concerned that in the rush to roll-out the new NCS, the sponsorship aspect has been side-lined and adequate training and information has not been provided to those organisations who will have responsibility for administrating the system.”

ENDS//

Note to editor: The following designated statutory bodies may make referrals for childcare support under NCS, for the specific reasons outlined:

  1. Minister for Education and Skills to support parents under the age of 18 years to remain in education or training through access to childcare services.
  2. Minister for Justice and Equality to facilitate access to childcare services for applicants within the meaning of section 2 of the International Protection Act 2015 and programme refugees within the meaning of section 59 of the International Protection Act 2015, so that parents or children can access education, integration and other relevant supports.
  3. Child and Family Agency to enable participation in a childcare service as part of the provision of child care and family support services by the Child and Family Agency to promote the welfare of children who are in need of additional care or protection.
  4. HSE to enable participation in a childcare service where there is an identified need for childcare as an additional support to the home environment to meet child development needs for a child who is under the age of 4 years and who is not enrolled in a pre-school programme funded by the Minister or the Minister for Education and Skills and who would otherwise not attend a childcare service.
  5. Local authorities to support families who are homeless or moving out of homelessness, to access childcare services.

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that Fine Gael are clearly “out of depth” when it comes to handling the trolley crisis as figures show Cork University Hospital is the worst affected hospital in the State with 57 patients waiting on hospital trolleys.

Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“2019 has been a year of failure for Fine Gael when it comes to the running of our health service.

“This year has seen the record broken for the worst of hospital overcrowding and patients on trolleys.

“Since the beginning of the year until November, 108,364 people have gone without a bed in an Irish hospital, breaking the 2018 record high, with weeks still left to go in the year.

“Fine Gael have had eight years to address this crisis, but it has only continued to get worse each year they have been in government.

“Alongside their supporters in Fianna Fáil, the Government have failed to recognise that their policies are failing, and that failure is having a devastating impact on the lives of patients and staff.

“The scenes that we are witnessing in our hospitals and right across our health service are the direct consequences of their political actions.

“To tackle the trolley crisis, you have to address the issues at the heart of 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.”

“What sets Sinn Féin apart from the mainstream political parties eroding our health service is we have the solutions and political will to ensure ordinary people are treated with the care and dignity they deserve.”

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Following last night's election in the north, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said:

"Firstly, I want to thank all of our Sinn Féin candidates, our activists and those who voted for Sinn Féin."This was an historic election and a defining moment in our politics.

"Brexit has changed the political landscape in Ireland, in Britain and in Europe.

"All the old certainties are gone.

"In this election, voters clearly responded to co-operation between pro-remain, progressive parties and that has demonstrated once again that the majority of people in the north are opposed to being dragged out of the EU, opposed to any hardening of the border in Ireland and want to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the all-Ireland economy.

"Sinn Féin wants to see a successful conclusion of the talks established by the two governments and the political institutions restored on a credible and a sustainable basis.

"I and our negotiating team stand ready to re-enter talks with the two governments and the other parties on Monday and we will work towards securing agreement on outstanding issues.

"We need a new kind of politics, a new Assembly and a new Executive, which is underpinned by the resources to deliver quality public services.

"Alongside this, it is now impossible to ignore the growing demand for a referendum on Irish Unity and I want to reiterate Sinn Féin's call for the Irish government to establish an All-Ireland Forum on Irish Unity without delay." 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD has said reports that chemotherapy sessions for children at Crumlin children's hospital are being delayed due to staff shortages are “shocking” and that the Minister for Health needs to put a plan in place to ensure children get the necessary care.

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Reilly said;

“The reports coming from Crumlin children's hospital that children’s chemotherapy sessions are being delayed due to a lack of staff are extremely shocking.

“It has been reported that a number of families have been informed by the hospital that their child’s chemotherapy session cannot go ahead as planned because the hospital does not have any staff available to administer the chemo.

“If these reports are true, then this is a direct result of this government’s health policies, in particular the recruitment freeze in the health service.

“The Minister for Health needs to immediately investigate this situation and if the reports are true, then he needs to release the funding to hire more staff for Crumlin children's hospital and put a plan in place to ensure chemotherapy sessions are not being delayed."

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Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill has thanked all those who came out to vote in today's election. 

Michelle O'Neill said: 

"I want to thank each and every voter who came out to vote in today's election. 

"This is a hugely important election and everyone we engaged with on the doorsteps during the campaign responded positively to the Sinn Féin message. 

"The votes will now be counted and we will soon know the results. 

"Whatever the results, Sinn Féin will be in the talks on Monday morning to work to secure a genuine power-sharing Executive which is credible and sustainable to deliver good government and properly resourced public services to all. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to represent people where it matters and stand up against Brexit.”

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Sinn Féin Wicklow TD John Brady has called for a full time fire service for the Bray area after revealing that manning levels for the two-pump station in Bray continues to be inadequate some twelve years after the deaths of two firefighters from that station.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Teachta Brady said;

“In February 2005, the retained firefighters in the fire station in Bray staged a day of protest over major difficulties in how the service was operated. 

“One of their main concerns was the manning level in the station. Bray is a two-pump station which means there should be fifteen firefighters, however at the time there was only ten.

“Two years later on 26th September 2007, two of the firefighters that took part in the day of protest in Bray, Sub Officer Brian Murray and Firefighter Mark O’Shaughnessy, died in the line of duty serving the community of Bray. 

“Brian had said prior to his death that unless the serious issues in the fire service were addressed someone would lose their lives, little did he know two years later it would be himself and one of his colleagues.

“Fourteen years after the protest at the station in Bray, and twelve years after the deaths of Brian and Mark there are still very serious issues with the fire service in Wicklow.

“A recent response from Aiden Dempsey, Chief Fire Officer in Wicklow, shows that the current manning level in the Bray station is ten and two of those are on long term sick leave - so out of an establishment of what is supposed to be 15, there are eight firefighters to provide the cover for a population of nearly 40,000.

“The only way to protect lives and address the serious problems in the Fire service in Wicklow is to provide a full-time fire service in the Bray area.  So, Minister what is going to be done to immediately address the serious problem with manning levels in the fire service in Wicklow?”

ENDS

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Louth TD Gerry Adams, commenting on the successful passing at second stage in the Dáil of the Sinn Féin Rent Freeze (Fair Rent) Bill 2019, has called on the government to “stop obstructing the implementation of meaningful measures to tackle the scandal of sky rocketing rents.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The passing of the Bill, by a resounding majority, is a welcome first step and I want to commend Teachta Eoin O’Broin and Teachta Mark Ward for their diligence and resolve in pushing this Bill forward.

“If it passes all stages and becomes law the bill would freeze all rents on existing and new tenancies for a period of three years. The legislation also calls on the Minister for Finance to introduce a refundable tax credit for renters, equivalent to one month’s rent.

“Having been resoundingly defeated today, any refusal by the government to allow the bill to go to committee stage would be a slap in the face to the Dáil.

“The reality for many working families is that they have been confronted over recent years with significant pressures from cost of living increases, including rents.

“Daft.ie recently reported that rents in Louth and Meath have doubled in the last ten years. Currently the average rent in Louth is €1,236 which is a 3.6% increase on last year. 

“Some households are paying up to half their income on rent. Tens of thousands are trapped in rent despair as a result of government policy. 

“Very clearly the government’s housing policy, including the system of rent control zones, is not working.

“There is a crisis in housing. There is a crisis in the rental market. Strong and effective measures are needed.

“Sinn Féin believes that the Rent Freeze (Fair Rent) Bill 2019 is one such effective measure and we will continue to press for it to be advanced through the Oireachtas.”

ENDS

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Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the refusal by the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to provide a County by County breakdown on the number of homeless families and children. Teachta Adams described the failure to provide this statistic as “symptomatic of a government which seeks to evade its responsibilities to provide housing by refusing to provide the extent of the problem County by County across the State.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The official figures produced by the Department of Housing cover regions. Louth is part of the North East region which includes Louth, Monaghan and Cavan. The most recent report for October revealed there are 144 adults and 47 children living in homeless accommodation in the North East. The report also states that 131 homeless adults are from Louth, 3 are from Monaghan and 10 from Cavan. There are 27 families and 47 homeless children in the North East region.

"The statistics do not tell us how many homeless families there are in Louth or any of the Counties or how many of the 47 homeless children are in Louth.

"I wrote to the Minister asking for this information and in a PQ response he simply e-mailed me the most recent October report on Homelessness from the Department which does not answer the questions I asked.

"This is a serious gap of information which means we do not have a complete picture of the homeless crisis as it impacts on Counties. We know there are over 10,500 homeless citizens, almost four thousand of whom are children. As we try to understand the impact of this on people and seek to provide solutions to this crisis the more information available the better.

"I intend writing again to the Minister for Housing asking that the Department provide this information which must already be in their possession.

"Minister Murphy has failed in his responsibility as Housing Minister to provide a coherent strategy to tackle the homelessness and rent crisis, as well as producing a credible public housing building programme."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Brian Stanley TD has today raised with the Tánaiste startling new information that supermarkets are taking up to 50% of all profits made on fresh meat.

This news follows several days of protests by the IFA outside a number of high-profile retailers, and would support the argument that it is not only factories taking advantage of beef farmers but also large supermarket chains.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta Stanley said:

"This leaked information that reveals supermarkets are pocketing between 33-45% of the retail price of meat is damning evidence that beef farmers are being robbed.

"Three large supermarket chains make up 75% of the retail market in Ireland and they dominate the industry by taking advantage of a lack of price transparency in the supply chain.

"Thanks to these documents, farmers now know exactly how much of the retail price that supermarkets are taking for themselves and it is almost 50% in some instances; whereas farmers are losing 60-70c on every kilo produced.

"This is completely unacceptable when you consider that farmers rear animals for two or three years while the supermarket has it for two or three days. Where is the justice in that?

"Much of the focus of the past while has been on factories and the fact that there is one big player dominating the supply chain, but what we also need to recognise is that at the other end you have three large supermarket chains dominating retail and taking the lion share of the profits.

"What we need is full price transparency throughout the supply chain. We need to know what the supermarkets are paying the factories for produce and we need a live index to show what factories are paying farmers across the country. Only then will farmers be able to make fully informed decisions.

"We also need retailers to be active members of the Beef Taskforce - these leaked documents show the dominance they have on the industry and they must be present at talks." 

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Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, has said an independent investigator should be appointed to go to the offices of Premier Lotteries and open their books, as provided for in legislation.

Teachta Doherty has also written to the Oireachtas Finance Committee requesting that the Regulator of the National Lottery and Premier Lotteries appear before the Committee under Section 47 of the National Lotteries Act.

Teachta Doherty said:

“Yesterday, Premier Lotteries Ireland - the private operator of the National Lottery - confirmed that €180,000 in prize money was left off three scratch card games.

“Two of these games - each called 'Congratulations', and sold at €5 per card - were missing three top prizes, each worth €50,000, while the other game was missing a top prize worth €30,000.

“It has emerged that one of these games was left on sale for six weeks after the issue became known.

“I play the lottery and I do so in the knowledge that many of the proceeds go to charitable causes and community projects, but also in the knowledge that the lottery is a form of gambling that requires proper regulation.

“The fact that four jackpot prizes across three games operated by Premier Lotteries were missing due to ‘human error’ or some improbable misfortune is hard to believe.

“In one of these games, the number of prizes in the game was designed to be no less than 976,500. The probability that, out of all the prizes, the jackpot prize would be missing is nearly one in a million.

“The probability that out of all the prizes, that four jackpot prizes across three games would be missing is of the factor of 1 in 167 billion billion.

“The numbers don’t stack up, and questions need to be answered by Premier Lotteries, by the Regulator and by the Government.

“Those who buy a scratch card or a lottery ticket don’t do so in the hope of winning the smallest prize, they play to win the biggest prize; yet a private operator that deals in odds every day managed to leave out four top prizes against astronomical odds.

“Questions need to be answered and actions taken immediately.

“Under legislation, Premier Lotteries can write their own code of conduct and have it rubber stamped by the Regulator. This legislation must be fixed to provide for more robust oversight.

“Secondly, the legislation provides for an investigator to be appointed to go to the offices of Premier Lotteries and open their books and I am calling for that to be done immediately.

“I have also written to the Chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee requesting that the Regulator of the National Lottery and Premier Lotteries appear before the Committee under Section 47 of the National Lotteries Act.”

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David Cullinane TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and Seán Crowe TD, the party’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, have today introduced a Bill in the Dáil that will make it illegal for media organisations to blacklist journalists.

Teachta Cullinane said:

"We have heard many fine speeches in the Dáil recently about the need to tackle the banning of certain journalists from the airwaves by Communicorp but very little has been done by way of action or the introduction of government legislation.

"It is time to tackle this head on and I have moved a Bill in the Dáil today, along with my colleague Seán Crowe, that will address this issue by amending the Broadcasting Act 2009 to make it a breach of contract under the Act to prohibit a member of the NUJ from communications media for reason - or reasons - of occupation, employer, company or employment status.

"Most people are outraged by the fact that journalists are stopped from appearing on certain radio stations because of who their employer is and it is vital that is practice is outlawed.

"I am calling on all parties and independents to support this Bill when it comes back to the Dáil for second stage and to make sure that happens as quickly as possible.

"This practice needs to be made illegal as a matter of urgency."

Teachta Crowe added:

"We are seeing increased attacks on the rights and freedoms of journalists worldwide.

"In the past five years, the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism have reported 256 serious violations of press freedom in EU Member States; including the murder of fourteen journalists.

"Ireland needs to be a global leader when it comes to protecting media freedoms and it can start with this Bill, which is a positive and proactive piece of legislation, and I am calling on all TD’s to support this when it comes back to the Dáil in the New Year."

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Newly elected Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid West Mark Ward today called on the government to support Sinn Féin’s domestic violence paid leave legislation.

Speaking in the Dáil during today’s statements on Domestic Violence, Deputy Ward said:

“Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention was a landmark for victims of domestic and gender-based violence and abuse. Domestic abuse remains rife in Irish society. Worse still it continues to be shrouded in shame.

“Data published this week by safe Ireland tells us that nine requests for refuge accommodation went unmet every day last year because services will full.

“In my own work I have seen first-hand the incredible work of Saoirse Women’s Refuge in Tallaght. Yet this fantastic service could not accommodate 287 families last year because the refuge was full. As a result of state underfunding Saoirse have to rely on fundraising for the general upkeep of their premises. This puts added pressure on an already over worked organisation.

"Sinn Féin’s alternative budget included an additional €11.8m for capital investment to provide for additional refuge places and domestic violence housing support services for 2020, and we are committed to increase funding for refuge accommodation and specialised supports over the next three years to meet Ireland’s obligations under the Istanbul Convention.

“Saoirse have highlighted the stress a woman has to go through in the legal system. Obtaining a safety order and attending court can add to the trauma already endured by victims. They have no privacy; no space and they often feel unsafe. A simple, humane solution to this would be to allow a video link from the refuge to the family law court to apply for a safety order.

“Victims also need time off work to attend court dates, secure alternative accommodation or attend a GP or Counsellor.

“Last week Sinn Féin introduced legislation that provides for a statutory entitlement to 10 days domestic violence paid leave. This employment rights provision would give victims the time they need to seek support and also addresses unpredictable absenteeism and reduced productivity for employers.

“Victims have a right to a pathway out of abuse without fear of losing their jobs. As legislators it is our responsibility to deliver on that right and to ensure the supports and services victims access are in place and properly resourced.” 

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