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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Dublin Denise Mitchell has described the planning permission awarded by An Bord Pleanála today for a massive sewage treatment plant that with a drain just one kilometre off Ireland’s eye as ill-advised and unwelcome.

The Dublin Bay North TD said:

“Sinn Féin have long been opposed to this plan. The decision to locate this enormous plant so close to people’s homes and businesses is totally wrong. 

“While we recognise that the wastewater infrastructure of the city needs to be radically overhauled, we do not believe that this is the correct way to go about it. The use of smaller localised sewage treatment plants greatly reduces the possibility of an environmental disaster should a systems failure occur.

“We have anglers and fishermen who use this area and who are very concerned what impact this could have on fishing grounds. People are concerned about the impact on beaches and water quality.

“Irish Water have not inspired confidence of late with the two boil water notices that the people of Dublin have been subjected to in the past month, alongside reports today that sewage from 36 towns and villages is being pumped directly into sea and rivers, and they are doing nothing to restore confidence by pushing ahead with this objectionable scheme.”

ENDS

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Pearse Doherty to bring Insurance Reform campaign to Monaghan

Sinn Féin to host public meeting on Thursday 28th November

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, who has been spearheading a campaign calling for Insurance Reform, will address a public meeting on Thursday 28th November, at 8pm in the Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan.

This is the latest in a series of campaign events that Deputy Doherty has held across the state in his bid to reform the insurance industry and end the rip-off of individuals, businesses and families.

Pearse Doherty has been to the forefront of highlighting the practises of the insurance industry which rip off many families and have actually resulted in the closure of several businesses.  Several of his contributions in the Oireachas Finance committee have ‘gone viral’ as it had insurance executives on the ropes with probing questions.  This week it was announced that, on the back of Doherty’s work, the Central Bank has agreed to conduct a review into the practise of ‘dual pricing’ which is the mechanism insurance companies use to overcharge existing loyal customers.

The meeting in the Four Seasons will be addressed by Pearse Doherty who will outline his full proposals to tackle the extortionate costs of insurance throughout the state for businesses and ordinary consumers.  The meeting will also be attended by local Sinn Féin representatives Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and Matt Carthy MEP.  Crucially the meeting will provide an opportunity for people in Monaghan to tell their own stories of interactions with the insurance industry and to give their own perspective as to how it can be addressed.

Announcing details of the public meeting this week, local Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, said:

“Insurance costs have become extortionate, ripping off consumers and closing down businesses.  Since 2016 Fine Gael have sat back in the face of rising insurance costs while Fianna Fáil have let them off the hook.

“The insurance industry tells us that fraudulent claims and the cost of personal injury awards are causing premiums to rise.  But through the work of Pearse Doherty we know that their figures don’t add up.  Despite the total number of motor insurance claims reducing by 22% between 2014 and 2017, the average motor insurance premium has increased by 53% between 2013 and 2017.

“Premiums are rising.  The only other thing that is rising are insurance company profits.  Pearse Doherty is leading a campaign to take on the industry and end the rip-off.  The policies and legislation that he has produced on behalf of Sinn Féin would stamp out fraud, protect consumers, ban price discrimination and reduce premiums for everyone.

“Only this week, Pearse successfully campaigned for the Central Bank to open up an investigation into price discrimination by the insurance industry.  

“The meeting in the Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan on the 28th November is one of several engagements across the state where Pearse Doherty has been meeting with the public to discuss Sinn Féin’s plan to tackle insurance costs and end the rip-off.

“We want to hear from people in County Monaghan who are being affected by high insurance costs so that we can work to stop it.

“We will be talking about Sinn Féin’s plan to set up a Garda Insurance Fraud Unit to tackle insurance fraud when and if it takes place and ban Dual Pricing by the Insurance Industry.

“Also, we’ll be discussing Pearse’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill law which, if enacted, proposes to abolish Premium Levies and put €230 million back in consumers’ pockets while also introducing State Intervention to address the market failure.

“The issue of insurance is such a huge one and affects the lives of ordinary people and businesses alike throughout counties like Monaghan, so therefore it’s important that we see a large turn out at this event as part of Sinn Féin’s ongoing campaign to end the Insurance Rip-Off.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his alarm at the number of children on the Paediatric Outpatients Department waiting lists in Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda.

Teachta Adams said:

“Department of Health figures released to my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD on Tuesday it has been revealed that there are 2,758 children on waiting lists for a range of specialities, including general surgery, ENT, Paediatrics and gynaecology. Across the state there are 86,625 children on waiting lists. This is twice the official figure of 46,000.

"This information raises serious questions for the Department of Health and for the Minister for Health and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) about investment in children’s specialities and the way in which official figures are recorded.

"In Our Lady of Lourdes there are 1,088 children waiting on ENT specialists. Of these over 600 have been waiting for more than a year.

"The release of this information justifies the concerns raised by parents, campaigners, and politicians who have questioned the official figures and have said that there are many ‘hidden children’ awaiting to see a specialist but are not being counted because they are on adult hospital waiting lists.

"The waiting lists for children in Our Lady of Lourdes are significant and action is needed to address these speedily.”

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Protracted delays in delivery of Carrickmacross Group home are unacceptable – Matt Carthy MEP

‘The campaign for the Group Home for persons with Physical and Sensory difficulties in Carrickmacross has been ongoing since 2004.  The delays that the families involved have encountered at every stage are an indictment of the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have been in place throughout that time.  To have the facility built and for it to lie unused, for nearly three years, is absolutely scandalous!’

So said Carrickmacross based MEP Matt Carthy this week as he confirmed that he has again written directly to the Minister for Heath Simon Harris TD calling for his personal intervention to ensure that the facility to be opened as a matter of urgency.

Carthy, who was speaking after RTÉ Primetime exposed the disgraceful situation last week, said: ‘The parents and siblings of those residents who will benefit from the Group Home have campaigned for 15 years to get this resource to Carrickmacross and now, even though the building is complete for almost three years, have been told that funding has not still been allocated for the management of the service.

He continued:

‘I have written on several occasions to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, urging him to directly intervene to get this building operational.  Like previous Ministers for Health and Housing, from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, over the past decade and half, he has chosen to delegate the issue to the HSE and his junior.  They are clearly not up to the job and therefore it is imperative that political leadership is provided.  It is the responsibility of the Minister to provide the required funding to open this facility as soon as possible and to ensure that the HSE has the management structure in place so that this facility can be opened straight away.

‘This has been a long campaign and one in which I have spent a significant amount of time on; while a member of Monaghan County Council I raised the matter on a monthly basis.  Since I became an MEP I have continued to work with the families and local Sinn Féin Councillors to keep pressure on Ministers and statutory agencies.  This is a project that I feel extremely strongly about because I know the benefits it will bring, not only for the service users but for their families as well.’

He concluded:

‘We know that when this building is finally open that we will see Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael politicians jumping to get into the pictures.  They should start jumping now and tell the Minister for Health, who is in government because of their support, stop the delays and get this building open immediately!’

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2018.

The report findings show that raw sewage from 36 towns and villages is still being released into rivers and seas across the State.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The EPA report on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2018 published this morning finds that waste water treatment is completely inadequate in many areas.

"The report highlights how in 21 large towns and cities waste water treatment did not meet mandatory EU standards, these cities include Dublin and Cork.

“The report also indicates that 36 towns and villages are releasing raw sewage into the environment.

“Worryingly 50% of the raw sewage comes from only three areas, Arklow, Cobh and Kilmore Quay, Wexford.

“This State’s historic failure to invest in wastewater treatment is damaging to the environment and to people’s health.

“The EU Commission has already commenced infringement proceedings against this State for urban waste water treatment infringements.

“Priority must be given to investment in the Arklow, Cobh and Kilmore Quay.

“I have  requested a topical issue debate on this matter today and I hope to raise it with the Minister responsible Eoghan Murphy.”

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has condemned threats against 22 independent lawyers who represent the FARC at the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz - JEP) in Colombia.

Deputy Crowe said:

“I am very concerned about reports that 22 lawyers who represent the FARC at the JEP have received death threats from a right-wing paramilitary group called the Black Eagles.

“One of the lawyers threatened is Diego Martínez. He is currently providing legal support to the family of the former FARC combatant Dimar Torres who was murdered by the Colombian Army.

"In October, the UN said that at least 151 FARC members in the reincorporation process had been killed since the signing of the peace agreement three years ago.

“Martínez had been providing legal advice and technical defence to other former members of the FARC for several years. He has protectionary measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights due to previous death threats.

“Overall, more than 500 political and social activists have been killed since the peace deal was signed in November 2016.

“I am calling on the Colombian government to provide additional and stronger security measures for these lawyers and to properly investigate these increasingly worrying threats.

“The Colombian government must unequivocally and strongly reject these threats against these lawyers.

“I will also urgently raise this case with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called on all parties to support Sinn Féin’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which reaches Report and Final Stages in the Dáil this afternoon. 

This legislation would reform insurance contracts, increase transparency and tilt the balance in favour of the consumer.

Speaking ahead of today's Bill, Deputy Doherty said:

“Rip-off insurance costs are squeezing incomes and closing down businesses across the State. People are wondering how their premiums can go up every year even though they haven’t even made a claim. The insurance market isn’t working for policyholders. For the past 3 years the Government have done nothing to reduce insurance costs.
 
“At the same time, companies are making massive profits while we are charged rip-off premiums. Despite the cost and number of claims going down, premiums continue to rise.
 
“Sinn Féin want to stamp out fraud, ban unfair pricing by insurance companies, reduce premiums and increase protections for consumers in insurance contracts.
 
“Our Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which reaches Report and Final Stages of the Dáil on Wednesday, would do just that, tilting the balance in favour of the consumer. By increasing transparency and strengthening the hand of the policyholder before, during and after the terms of their insurance contract.
 
“This legislation would go further than the Central Bank’s new regulations this month. They required companies to provide only the last year’s premium for customers renewing their motor insurance. 

"This Bill would require companies to inform the customer of the past 3 years of premiums paid and claims received for all non-life insurance contracts. This would increase transparency and strengthen our hands when we look for a better deal each year.
 
“Any company that cancels a policy would have to pay the customer the outstanding balance of the premium paid and make it easier for the customer to withdraw from a contract.
 
“It would also require a company to inform customers of any claim made against their policy, allowing them to submit their own evidence and informing them of the cost of any claim against their policy that has been settled.
 
“The legislation would also make it harder for an insurer to wriggle out of paying valid claims on grounds that have nothing to do with the accident or loss incurred by the policyholder.

“In short, this would bring huge benefits to policyholders, and I am urging all parties to stop talking about insurance and start helping policyholders by voting for this Bill.

“Sinn Féin want to take on the insurance industry and ending the rip-off. By stamping out fraud, protecting consumers, banning dual pricing and bringing down premiums. Today’s legislation is a part of that work."

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Sinn Féin's Mid Ulster general election candidate and outgoing MP, Francie Molloy, has sharply condemned the British government for once again delaying justice for the family of murdered human rights solicitor Pat Finucane.British Secretary of State, Julian Smith, today refused to meet Geraldine Finucane, Pat's widow, in what Molloy described as another unacceptable obstacle in the way of truth and justice.Francie Molloy said:
"Today's decision by Julian Smith to delay meeting Geraldine Finucane until after the general election is the latest in a long line of excuses used to deny the family the truth and justice they deserve."The British Supreme Court ruled nine months ago that the Finucane family had been denied investigation and a public inquiry that satisfied human rights standards."The British government must immediately fulfil its obligation to hold a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane without any further delay."

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused Fine Gael of failing working families and young people through its disastrous housing policies. Government policy is contributing to “rent despair” as rents continue to escalate.

On Tuesday, the latest Daft.ie report was published which revealed that for the 14th Quarter in a row rents have increased.

Teachta Adams said:

“Working families and those on low incomes are facing increasing pressures from cost of living increases, including rents. Daft.ie 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.

"Rental increases are impacting on families across the state and forcing increasing numbers into homelessness. Tens of thousands are trapped in rent despair as a result of government policy. In addition many others are being forced out of the rental market and out of the possibility of ever having a permanent home of their own.

"The reality is that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, their partners in government, have done nothing to reduce rental costs. Micheál Martin’s adoption of Sinn Féin’s demand for a rent freeze rings hollow given that this government only survives with Fianna Fáil support.

"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 there should be a three-year rent freeze and a tax break equal to one month’s rent.

"These are two crucial measures that would make a real, substantial difference for those struggling with sky-high rents.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan has called on the Department of Health to publish the neurology recall report as a matter of urgency.


Speaking after patients gathered to submit a letter to the Permanent Secretary for Health Richard Pengelly today Mr Sheehan said, "Sinn Féin has consistently called on the department to publish the neurology recall outcomes report as it committed to do in June.

"I am deeply disappointed that the Permanent Secretary didn't see fit to accept a letter from former patients of neurologist Michael Watt.

"In my view this was disrespectful and hurtful to those patients already negatively affected by this scandal.

"I strongly encourage Mr Pengelly agree to the patients' request for a meeting and respond to their calls for the publication of the outcomes report.

"We're also aware that the Permanent Secretary met recently with senior detectives from the PSNI in relation to the neurology recall.
 
 "The Dept of Health should share the outcomes report with the PSNI as a matter of urgency so they can consider whether an investigation into this issue is merited.

"I will be meeting with the PSNI in the coming weeks to discuss this in greater detail."

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams and Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú have called for talks between DkIT and the TUI. 

Deputy Adams commented following recent media coverage which suggests possible industrial action by TUI members at DkIT.

Gerry Adams said;

“I have met with the President of DkIT Michael Mulvey many times.

“We have discussed a range of issues relating to the Institute, including the future status of DkIT.

“I understand that DkIT is currently involved in a strategic planning process which will explore possible future designations for the Institute.

“I know that staff have indicated their overwhelming support for the pursuance of Technological University status.

“I have written to Michael Mulvey and the TUI to request that they meet as soon as possible to find a resolution to current difficulties.”

Councillor Ó Murchú added;

“Sinn Féin supports the development of Technological University status for DkIT alongside the deepening of ties to other educational institutions across the region, including in the north. 

“We have written to Michael Mulvey on this matter and I will meet with him this week to discuss further.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the decision by the Central Bank to investigate the price discrimination by the insurance industry.

Before the Finance Committee today at Deputy Doherty’s request, the Central Bank confirmed they were undertaking a review into the impact of dual pricing on consumers and provide recommendations to deal with the findings.

Deputy Doherty wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank requesting an investigation into the practice on 25th September, and warned that any review must be followed by an option to ban the practice by the industry outright.

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:

“On the 24th September I asked the Central Bank to come before the Finance Committee to discuss dual pricing by the insurance industry, and the following today wrote to the Central Bank requesting that they investigate the practice and ultimately ban it.

"Companies are targeting renewing and vulnerable customers and charging them with extortionate prices in the expectation that they will not ask questions or shop around.

“This is unfair, anti-consumer, and must be stopped. It is discriminating against vulnerable customers and another example of the industry’s unfair practices in the market.

“I am pleased that the Central Bank have agreed to my request, and will undertake a review to find out the impact this harmful practice has on consumers, with recommendations for further action.

“In the United States dual pricing has been made illegal in as many as 17 states, including California and Florida. In Britain, regulators are considering banning the practice outright. Irish consumers deserve no less.

“While I welcome the fact that the Central Bank have agreed to my request, I am concerned that the recommendations following this review will fall short of the bold action that is required to protect consumers.

“The Consumer Protection Code 2012 makes clear that insurance companies should act honestly and fairly in the best interests of consumers. Dual pricing is practiced without the knowledge of consumers and discriminates against vulnerable groups and loyal customers.

“While the Central Bank has no role in setting premium prices, it is able to ban pricing practices that are not compliant with the principles of fairness and transparency.

“It is clear therefore that the Central Bank as the power to ban dual pricing. Irish consumers deserve no less. Sinn Féin will continue to push for the best outcome for those who are being ripped off by insurance costs.

“I am also pleased that my request to invite Liberty Insurance, AXA, FBD, Aviva and An Post before the Committee to discuss the practice of dual pricing was agreed to, and I look forward to challenging their pricing practices.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment and Workers Rights, Declan Kearney, has said that underpaid workers in the health system deserve the support of the community.

The South Antrim MLA was speaking after UNISON announced that its members had voted in support of industrial action to highlight the main issues of pay justice and safe staffing levels.

Declan Kearney said:

"The decision by UNISON members to take industrial action comes just days after the Royal College of Nursing made a similar announcement.

"There is a crisis within the health service in the north caused by Tory austerity, and which has resulted in workers, and patients, bearing the brunt of an ideologically driven agenda designed to run down the health service.

"Our health service workers have not taken this decision lightly. They have always ensured that the best possible care is given to the sick even under severe personal stress and and financial pressures.

"The present crisis within the health service has not been brought about by accident."Nine years of Tory / DUP austerity have been inspired by the worst excesses of Thatcherism; the consequence of which is now clearly focused upon running down public services, including the NHS.

"Less that two weeks ago the DUP supported the Tories in opposing protections for the NHS against further privatisation. Two years previously the DUP supported the Tories in blocking a pay rise for nurses.

"The neo-Thatcherite ideology of the Tories and DUP is aimed at driving the public towards private healthcare, by starving the NHS of funding and resources.

"I would appeal to all who believe in the fundamental right of free universal healthcare to show solidarity with our nurses and health providers in the coming weeks."

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Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on Minister for State Mary Mitchell O’Connor and DKIT management to engage with staff in the coming days in order to avoid next weeks strike action.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“I hope Minister Mitchell O’Connor and management at DKIT can this week come to the table and discuss the future of DKIT with staff in an attempt to resolve this dispute.

“It is remarkable that 99% of staff have voted for industrial action, and Sinn Féin stands with them.

“This dispute seems to be one which is relatively easy to resolve, and centres around a lack of consultation, which is not much to ask. 

“What is required is a genuine engagement between DKIT management and the representative body of the staff, who are entitled to have their concerns heard in a formal manner.

“I note the TUI have been quoted in today's Irish Times and said with regard to management, that staff have experienced ‘an increasingly autocratic and dysfunctional approach which has attempted to suppress open discussion and replace the traditional collaborative way of doing business with a culture of ill-conceived unilateral diktat’.

“It seems to me that we have reached an important juncture when it comes to the future of DKIT, and it is important that all steps are taken to ensure its future is as successful as it can be.”

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said Department of Health figures released to her show that there are nearly twice the children on hospital waiting lists to see a specialist than the official State figures.

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Reilly said:

 “The information regarding children’s waiting lists released to Sinn Féin by the Department of Health leaves the Minister for Health and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) with huge questions to answer over how they present the number of children on hospital waiting lists.

 “The figures released to me have shown that there are actually 86,625 children waiting to see a specialist in hospitals across the State - almost double the supposed official figure of 46,000.

“There is a staggering 30,188 children waiting over a year to see a specialist with 18,728 of these waiting over 18 months.

“The release of this information justifies many campaigners, politicians, and journalists who questioned the official figures and said there were many children awaiting to see a specialist but were being counted on adult waiting lists.

“In particular, there are huge problems regarding the number of children waiting to see an ENT specialist with 2,650 children waiting in Waterford, 2,370 waiting in Tullamore, 1,440 waiting in Limerick, 1,224 in Letterkenny, 1,088 in Drogheda, and 1,061 in Galway.

"Beyond that, there are 998 children waiting for paediatrics in Drogheda and 1,170 waiting in Galway, in Cork 695 children are on waiting lists for paediatric cardiology, and in Limerick 647 children are waiting to see an ophthalmologist.

“The waiting lists for children across every hospital are huge and it is only now we are seeing their true extent."

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said the  government is failing families and young people due to their inaction to tackle spiralling rents, and accused Fine Gael of "offered nothing to deal with the crisis already facing renters."

The comments come as the latest Daft.ie report today that shows for rents have risen for the 14th Quarter in a row.

Speaking at leaders' questions today where he raised the matter with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“Taoiseach, in Cork the average rent is now €1,372. In Dublin, it is now over €2,000 per month.

“This crisis is crushing workers and families. €2,000 a month equates to in excess of €24,000 a year just to put a roof over your head, never mind the cost of food, or insurance or sending kids to school.

“It’s the same story in Galway, Limerick, Waterford, anywhere across the State – sky-high rents and no action.

“As shocking as these figures are, the reality is they reflect the hardship ordinary people are facing.

“They are the mother with two kids facing homelessness because her landlord has just hiked up her rent. They are the young person desperately rifling through Daft.ie to find something, anything even remotely affordable within commuting distance to work.

“They are the couple who have no chance of saving up for a deposit on their own home.

“A whole generation are being locked out of ever having a permanent home.

“The Taoiseach is making a lot of the fact that the rate of increase in rent is slowing. What he is saying to people is that you aren’t drowning as fast as you were last month, but you are still drowning and it’s going to get worse.

“Fine Gael and their Government partners in Fianna Fáil have done nothing to reduce the cost of rents or to protect tenants from further rent increases.

“What these figures show clearly, more than anything else, is that your policies are not working. Fine Gael are normalising this crisis and normalising homelessness.

“Social and affordable housing must be built to a scale radical enough to address the housing crisis.

“We welcome the u-turn from Fianna Fáil that they want to see a rent freeze, a position we have long advocated and included in our alternative budget this year.

"Sinn Féin want to give renters an emergency three-year rent freeze and provide a tax break equal to one month’s rent.

"These are two crucial measures that would make a real, substantial difference for those struggling with sky-high rents.”

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Sinn Féin climate action spokesperson David Cullinane today slammed this and previous governments for their failure to undertake an environmental impact report for a windfarm in Galway, and for ignoring a European Court of Justice ruling for eleven years.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“It is shocking that the State is to be fined €5 million and €15,000 per day for failing to undertake an environmental impact survey on a Galway windfarm and refusing to follow a European Court of Justice ruling from 2008.

“Time and again we see government departments and semi-State bodies ignoring environmental procedures even in the face of court decisions.

“The ESB has leaked thousands of kilos of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere at Moneypoint since 2013, but failed to inform the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is on top of the one million litres of oil from ESB heavy-duty electrical cables that leaked out from under the streets of Dublin. 

“These leaks only came out due to a protected disclosure made by an individual.

“Serious questions need to be asked as to the final cost of the government’s folly.

“How much was spent on legal fees for the 2008 and 2019 cases?

“Why did successive government ministers refuse to follow EU law on these matters?

“What has been the environmental cost of these failures since 2008?

“I will be putting these questions to the Minister and seeking answers as a matter of urgency.

“It is time the Minister started taking environmental issues seriously, instead of paying lip service to a Just Transition as is currently the case with ESB workers in the midlands."

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has called for a national emergency to be called over hospital overcrowding, as the number of patients on trolleys has already exceeded 100,000 for 2019.

Speaking this morning, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The news from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) that already in 2019 over 100,000 patients have had to wait on trolleys in Emergency Departments forecasts worrying times ahead for patients and staff in the health service.

“Since the beginning of the year until today 101,064 patients have gone without a bed in an Irish hospital. Even today there are 607 patients waiting on trolleys.

“This is only the second time that annual figures have ever passed 100,000.

“Fine Gael have had 8 years to address this crisis, but they have only made it worse and the INMO figures for patients on trolleys back that up:

  • 2012 - 66,308
  • 2013 - 67,863
  • 2014 - 77,091
  • 2015 - 92,998
  • 2016 - 93,621
  • 2017 - 98,981
  • 2018 - 108,227
  • 2019 (to date) - 101,064

“The has been getting worse year on year for over eight years and no one in Fine Gael has been able to come up with a single solution.

“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.

“At this stage you would have to ask yourself if they even want to solve the crisis.

“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.”

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Sinn Féin’s deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD has this morning published the clár for the 2019 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis taking place in Derry this weekend (15/16th November).

Speaking in Dublin this morning, Teachta Doherty said;

“This Ard Fheis comes at a critical time for our country. 

“We are on a countdown to a general election in the 26 Counties, with four by-elections also happening on 29th November, as well as a Westminster election taking place in December; with Brexit looming shortly afterwards.  

“The motions on the clár for the 2019 Ard Fheis reflect all of this.

“We will discuss and deliberate 166 motions across all policy areas and lay out solutions to the critical issues facing citizens across the island.

“These include planning for Irish reunification, the need to deliver a large-scale public housing programme and a range of measures to improve the financial situation of workers and families, from reducing sky-high rents and ending the insurance rip-off to major proposals in respect of reducing the cost of childcare. 

“There will be a number of emergency motions in relation to Brexit and the Ard Fheis will also be addressed by the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Gerry Murphy, as well as by representatives from Palestine, Cuba and the ANC. 

“More than 2,000 Sinn Féin members have registered to attend over the course of the weekend and Mary Lou McDonald will deliver her Presidential address at 8.30pm on Saturday evening.

“The Ard Fheis comes at a time when the debate surrounding Irish unity is centre stage and, as the only party seriously committed to Irish reunification, planning for unity will feature prominently over the course of the weekend.

“There will be a fringe meeting on Saturday afternoon that will discuss the economic merits of a United Ireland with Professor of Economic Research at the ESRI, Seamus McGuinness, and we will publish a paper that outlines the facts surrounding the British subvention to the north and challenges some of the myths that are regularly peddled in that regard. 

“I look forward to welcoming people to the North West for the 2019 Ard Fheis.”

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Carthy calls on Minister Creed to intervene in Beef Agreement delays or risk new protests

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised Minister Michael Creed for his failure to ensure progress is made in the implementation of the Irish beef Sector Agreement.  Carthy this week called on the Minister engage in talks with the Beef Task Force members to resolve the outstanding issues, clearing the way for a new meeting.

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:

“The Agreement was signed on the 15th of September and the farming community cautiously welcomed it.  However, any initial optimism has been quashed by a lack of implementation of a number of points of the agreement.

“Issues such as penalties and arbitrary quality rules have undermined farmers margins and have resulted in family farmers often selling to factories at a loss.  The work of the Beef Task Force is core to addressing the imbalances in the sector that has put thousands of Irish farmers in this precarious position.

“The prospect of progress in these areas has been damaged by the refusal of APB associated companies to lift injunctions against some farmers who participated in protests.  It is shameful that C&D continues to pursue legal action instead of working to rebuild the trust with farmers.

“The remaining injunctions have delayed the reconvening of the Beef Task Force and paralysed implementation of the Beef Agreement; they must be lifted immediately and MII cannot ignore the fact that they are implicated in the threats.

“It is imperative that Minister Creed moves now to break the deadlock, as Minister he is a guarantor of the Agreement.  

“If this agreement is allowed to collapse, due to a bad faith by the factories and Government inaction, we will see the prospect of new picket lines emerging.  Words of condemnation from the Minister at that point will count for little if he continues to sit on his hands during this crucial period.

“We in Sinn Féin continue to support our family farmers in their quest for fair prices and fair conditions.  We want to see a sustainable solution reached and implemented.  But, the Government’s inept approach to date has jeopardised the future of family farms and the rural communities that depend on them and is opening up the vista of a new series of protests.”

ENDS

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