Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Latest statements


Commenting on the decision by the Royal College of Nurses to take industrial action Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today:

“The Health and Social Care service’s greatest asset is its staff but workers are underpaid and undervalued.

“Years of Tory austerity cuts to frontline public services, supported by the DUP, and the cap on public sector pay has our health service on its knees.

“The safety of staff and patients alike is being compromised as a result of staff shortages.

“There is a huge hole in health and social care services as a result of pay issues which are affecting recruitment and retention of staff.

“The Department of Health has compounded the difficulties in the health service by treating the workers and their representatives with contempt.

“Nurses now feel that the only way forward to deal with their well-documented grievances is to take industrial action. That is unprecedented.

“I have spoken with the RCN and pledged Sinn Féin’s support for the workers’ efforts to improve safety and their pay and working conditions.

“I am aware that other health and social care workers are also considering strike action and I wish to send solidarity to them as well.

“I am calling on the department to immediately begin a serious engagement with the workers and their unions to address their concerns.

“The incoming British government should reverse its disastrous austerity cuts which have brought our health service to the brink.” 


Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD this morning met the new Governor of the Central Bank, Gabriel Makhlouf, to discuss upcoming challenges and the practice of dual pricing by companies within the Irish insurance market. The Governor agreed to Deputy Doherty’s request for an investigation into the practice, which punishes loyal customers and vulnerable groups with extortionate insurance prices.  

Deputy Doherty wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank requesting an investigation into the practice of price discrimination on 25th September, and on 16th October submitted a formal complaint to the Central Bank requesting an investigation and justifying a banning of the practice of dual pricing in the insurance market.

The Donegal TD said:

“On the 25th September I wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank requesting an immediate investigation into the practice of dual pricing, or price discrimination, by the insurance industry. I also got the agreement of the Finance Committee to investigate this practice.

“On 16th October I submitted a lengthy complaint to the Central Bank requesting an investigation into the practice and justifying a banning of the practice in the market.

“Insurance companies in the Irish market are using dual pricing to target vulnerable customers who are more likely to renew and less likely to switch or shop around, and then charge them with extortionate prices.

“Not only is this done without the knowledge of consumers, but it is known to target low-income and vulnerable groups, with some being charged premiums more than 100% higher than the average price for the same risk profile.

“In the United States dual pricing has been made illegal in as many as 17 states, including California and Florida.

“Irish consumers deserve the same protections as anyone else. But Irish regulators have done nothing to confront this practice.

“Today I met with Governor Makhlouf to discuss my complaint. This morning he agreed to carry out an investigation into the practice.

“We hope this investigation can begin immediately, with a clear and short timeline for its conclusion. I have invited the Central Bank into the Finance Committee on Tuesday 12th November

“Following an investigation we want to see the practice banned.

“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, discriminating against vulnerable groups and loyal customers, and undermining the integrity of the insurance market.

“While the Central Bank has no role in setting premium prices, it is able to ban pricing practices that are not complaint with 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.

“I welcome the Governor’s agreement to investigate this practice, and Sinn Féin will be calling for it to be banned.”


Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has today welcomed an announcement by the Green Party to support pro-Remain and progressive candidates across the city of Belfast.

Michelle O’Neill said:

"Sinn Féin welcome this positive and constructive development from the Green Party.

"It is a significant move to maximise the representation of pro-Remain and progressive candidates facing down DUP Brexiteers across Belfast.

"It is also reflective of the real concerns of voters from all backgrounds who are seeking to reject Brexit and its architects in the DUP.

"It further undermines clear DUP efforts to inject division into this election."


Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD, speaking in the Dáil today, has said that Sinn Féin are fighting to win in the four Dáil by-elections being in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid-West, Dublin Fingal and Wexford on the 29th November.

He said that Sinn Féin has excellent candidates in all four constituencies, who work day-in, day-out to stand up for ordinary people and deliver for local communities.

Calling on voters to vote for Sinn Féin , he said "Sinn Féin will give workers and families a break, and we are the only party that are committed to Irish Unity".

Teachta Doherty said:

"I want to welcome the moving of the writs for by-elections in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid-West, Dublin Fingal and Wexford that will be held on the 29th November.

"I want to welcome the moving of the writs for by-elections in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid-West, Dublin Fingal and Wexford that will be held on the 29th November.

"I also want to welcome the fact that we are not waiting an undue period for these by-elections to be held - as we were ten years ago under the then Fianna Fáil/Green Party government when I was forced to go the Courts to ensure that the people of Donegal South West were afforded proper representation in the Dáil, which was denied to them for seventeen months.

"The government of the day - of which the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was a member - contended in the High Court that the Court - in adjudicating on the matter - would ‘tear asunder’ the provisions of the Constitution.

"Thankfully, the High Court found otherwise and stated that it was the ongoing failure of the government to move the writ for the Donegal South West by-election that 'offended the terms and spirit of the Constitution and its framework for democratic representation'.

"As I went on the win the by-election that ensued, I suppose you could say that I like by-elections. They are an important part of our democracy, and whilst it is high time that this government was put out of office and a general election called, these by-elections are important.

"Sinn Féin are fighting to win in all of these constituencies and we have an excellent slate of candidates; Cllr. Thomas Gould in Cork North Central, Cllr. Mark Ward in Dublin Mid West, Cllr. Ann Graves in Dublin Fingal and Johnny Mythen in Wexford.

"All four are top-class activists that work day-in, day-out to stand up for ordinary people and deliver for local communities.

"They will provide first class representation in the Dáil for their respective constituencies, and I want to send them my very best wishes and look forward to assisting them all over the coming weeks and getting out on the campaign trail.

"There is no substitute for talking to voters on their doorsteps. That is where you get a real sense of where people are at and I know there are people out there who are struggling.

"There are families here who are barely scraping by and are being burdened by the out of control cost of living, by sky high rents, by excessive childcare costs and rip-off insurance premiums.

"Those people have a voice here in this Dáil. They have Sinn Féin; a party that wants to give workers and families a break and they have in Sinn Féin a party that stands up for ordinary people and delivers for local communities.

"That is the basis on which we are seeking a mandate in these by-elections.

"We want to give people an alternative to the failed policies of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and the failed experiment that is so-called “new politics”.

"The past three and a half years have seen the housing and homelessness crisis spiral out of control. We have two parties that are wedded to failed policies and are doing nothing to improve the situation for ordinary workers and families and get us back to a position where the State and local Councils are building houses.

"We have a health service that is in a state of perpetual crisis.

"Crime is spiraling out of control, in both urban and rural areas.

"Sinn Féin would take a fundamentally different approach to the conservative alliance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in tackling the issues that affect ordinary people and communities.  

"We want to give workers and families a break.  

"To do that we would help renters by reducing rents by up to €1,500 per year. 

"We would reduce the cost of childcare by an average of €100 a month per child.

"We would provide two free GP visits for every person without a medical card so that nobody delays going to the doctor because they are worried about the cost.

"We would end the insurance rip-off.

"We would introduce free travel for 5 to 18-year-olds on public transport, so that we take meaningful steps to tackle climate change.
"And we are the only party that are seriously committed to Irish unity.

"Where the others pay lip service, we want action and preparation for unity must begin now.

"An All-Ireland Forum on Irish unity should be convened without delay; to map out making the transition to a United Ireland a success for all the people who share this island, for our economy and for our public services; and we want a referendum and to win that referendum.

"These by-elections are an opportunity for voters to vote for positive change. 

"I make the appeal today - as I will over the coming the weeks - to the people of Cork North Central, Dublin Mid-West, Dublin Fingal and Wexford to vote for Sinn Féin."


Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the government to get its head out of the sand and act to help homeowners with latent defects.

Speaking during Housing Committee hearings on the issue this morning, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“This morning we heard from the Construction Defects Alliance who are campaigning for the implementation of the cross-party recommendations of the 2017 Safe as Houses report.

“The government is refusing to take action to help homeowners, in particular the Department of Housing, is deliberately mis representing the key asks of the report.

“They cannot continue to ignore the issue of latent defects and hope it will go away.

“The Construction Defects Alliance estimate that there may be as many as 92,000 Celtic Tiger apartments affected by latent defects. These homeowners are facing remediation costs of up to €900m.

“The reality is that many struggling home owners don’t have the money to pay for defects which they were not responsible for.

“We are calling for all five recommendations of section four of the Safe as Houses Report to be implemented by government.

“A latent defects redress scheme must be established to help homeowners pay for remediation work on their homes.

“This scheme will provide a number of solutions, including an information and advice service, mediation services and if this doesn’t work legally binding adjudications on cases will be made.

“Where defects are uncovered, and the builder/developer is still trading, the original developer should pay for the remediation works.

“However, in cases where the developer is no longer trading, the scheme will administer a compensation fund for homeowners that will be paid for by a levy on the construction industry and will be matched by the government.

“A State wide audit of homes built during the Celtic Tiger period should also be conducted in order to assess the scale of the problem.

“The government has already acknowledged and set up a scheme to help homeowners facing remediation costs due to pyrite and mica.

“We must also remember that it was the State’s light touch self-regulation that has left homeowners in this mess, so the State must play its part in fixing the problem.


Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has signed a declaration in support of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights.

Speaking as she supported the declaration Martina Anderson said:

“I am proud to be in support of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights.

“This group is working to end all forms of violence against children, break the cycles of poverty, inequality and conflict for future generations, invest in children inside and outside Europe and listen to children’s voices by involving them in decisions affecting them and act on children’s views.

“Tory/DUP Brexiteers are planning to scrap the Charter of Fundamental Rights post-Brexit, which means rights that safeguard children in the Charter will be scrapped.

“In my work within the European Parliament during the previous legislature, I ran a social media campaign called ‘One Thing’ for young people and hosted a delegation of young people in Brussels to have their voices heard. 

“There are around 100 million children and young people across Europe, their views and concerns need to be taken into account when it comes to developing policy and legislation that affects their lives.”


Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Workers Rights and Pay Equality Maurice Quinlivan has said today that the announcement from RTÉ was a slap in the face for Limerick. RTÉ prides itself on being the national public service, but today’s announcement from them will make it more D4 centred.

If the broadcaster truly wants to be a national public broadcaster, must maintain not just its commitment to Limerick but to regional Ireland as well.

The Limerick TD said:

“For many years RTÉ has seemed detached from many people. Licence payers were often outraged that RTÉ was asking for more money while at the same time paying many of its top presenters massive out of kilter wages.

“The closure of the Lyric FM studio in Limerick is not acceptable and abandons RTÉ commitment to the regions as it retreats to D4. What economist can tell me that it will be cheaper to produce material in Ballsbridge than at the Cornmarket in Limerick? Along with their middle class, D4-focussed output, this decision shows how D4 centric the organisation is in its productions and now in its proposed future.

“The RTÉ facility in Limerick is a world-class operation and should be retained.

"I am also very concerned at the scale of the job losses indicated. Any job cuts must be carried out in full consultation with the relevant unions.

“The Government has a huge responsibility here as it has failed to address the funding issues at RTÉ for the last number of years. As an interim measure, the Government must commit to increase the funding that is ringfenced for independent productions at RTÉ.

“This would alleviate some of the pressure on the broadcaster, while creating jobs in the regions and supporting our indigenous screen producers.

“Public broadcasting must be an incubator for local talent, and both RTÉ and the government need to re-embrace this function if we are to have any hope of creating a genuine public service broadcasting sector.

"If RTÉ truly want to be a national broadcaster, it must retain its presence in the regions and Lyric FM must stay in Limerick.”


Sinn Féin Communications spokesperson David Cullinane TD said today that while the excessive pay of presenters and management at RTÉ has long been a barrier to reform at the public broadcaster, the other cuts announced this morning appear scatter-gun in approach and lack proper consultation.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“It has long stuck in the throat of people that RTÉ was asking for more money while paying its top presenters Celtic Tiger-type wages.

“Today’s announcement of a fifteen per cent reduction appears to be at least some acceptance of reality from the public broadcaster.

“It is about time RTÉ recognised the public anger that is out there on this issue.

“The other measures announced, however, are quite worrying.

“The closure of the Lyric FM studio in Limerick along with the entire digital radio network is a regressive move and one at odds with the remit of a national public service.

“The loss of 200 jobs next year is regrettable and must be carried out in full consultation with the relevant unions.

“As an interim measure, the Government should commit to increase the funding that is ringfenced for independent productions on RTÉ.

“This would alleviate some of the pressure on the broadcaster, while creating jobs in the regions and supporting our indigenous screen producers.

“Public broadcasting must be an incubator for local talent, and both RTÉ and the government need to re-embrace this function if we are to have any hope of a genuine public service broadcasting sector."


Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew has wished Lady Sylvia Hermon well following the announcement she is to step down from elected politics.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone candidate said:

“Lady Hermon was a diligent representative for the people of North Down and we have been friends since we were both elected to Westminster.

“While we held different political perspectives, I found her to be someone who acted at all times with respect and integrity.

“I want to wish Lady Sylvia and her family well in the future as she leaves elected politics at this election.”


Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín called tonight on the DUP to make clear its opposition to the sinister actions of loyalist paramilitary groups and others attempting to derail the democratic process in north Belfast.

Carál Ní Chuilín was speaking after her party made a complaint to the police that men with their faces covered removed posters from the Oldpark Road in Belfast.

Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“Only last week, the UDA threatened members of the Ulster Unionist Party simply because the party had indicated it might field a candidate in the election in North Belfast.

“Those threats were made only days before the UUP said it would not enter the contest, giving a clear run to the DUP.

“On Monday Sinn Féin contacted police about vile posters erected by loyalists in the Shankill area attacking John Finucane and his family and the memory of his father Pat who was murdered by a UDA death squad colluding with the state.

“Tonight, men with their faces covered mounted a ladder to remove Sinn Féin election posters from the Oldpark Road in Belfast

“Our party has made a complaint to the police about this criminal act of theft.

“A pattern of threats and intimidation is emerging in this contest and this latest action is another sinister attempt to derail the democratic process.

“There is a responsibility for these threats and attempts to demonise John Finucane to be condemned across the board and a duty on the police to take these actions seriously.

“It’s time for the DUP to make it clear it supports without any equivocation the democratic process and to put distance between itself and active loyalist paramilitary groups engaged in intimidation and threats to kill.”


Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has sharply criticised Fine Gael TD Pat Deering for a classist remark he made on RTÉ's Late Debate programme last night, and called on the Taoiseach to clarify his remarks.

Speaking tonight, Teachta Funchion said;

"The remarks by Deputy Deering last night where he referred to working class communities as 'underclasses' show Fine Gael’s contempt and snide attitude towards ordinary people.

“Deputy Deering was elected to represent people from all backgrounds in the Carlow/Kilkenny constituency, but with comments such as this, does he look at the ordinary working class people as being beneath him?

“Fine Gael’s mask and their elitist attitude towards Governing is slipping.

“The Taoiseach must move to clarify these remarks by his party colleague immediately."


Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Kathleen Funchion TD has said that the toxic culture of defensiveness within the agency and lack of accountability must be made a key priority for the new CEO in his role of reform.

Speaking today during the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs committee meeting with the new CEO for Tusla, Mr. Bernard Gloster, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD said:

"Given Tusla’s association with multiple national scandals involving children and families over recent years, it is reasonable that elected representatives and the public would question the agency over its effectiveness and transparency. There has been a culture within Tusla since its formation in 2014 to ‘batten down the hatches’ whenever the organisation has come under scrutiny by the Oireachtas and the public.

"This has to change if public confidence in the agency is to be improved. 

"Today I raised the issues of the agency’s lack of transparency, lack of accountability and the need for improved communication with families and public representatives. The child’s voice must also always be heard and taken into account in all situations and the protection of vulnerable children and children in State care must be paramount.

"I also raised the issue of birth mothers’ access to their children in care and asked Mr. Gloster would Tusla be open to an independent review process for birth mothers where there was a call for a review. I expressed my concern over the lack of reunification plans for children in care.

"I was pleased to hear from Tusla representatives that since a review of regulations had taken place in light of the Hyde and Seek crèche chain breaches exposed by Primetime Investigates this summer, now under new regulations for the Childcare/Early Years sector, a childcare service that has been shown to have a previous criminal conviction will no longer be able to operate at any future point.

"This is long overdue and should ensure that people who have proven to be unsuitable for the running of a childcare service in the past will be prevented from working in the sector again.

"Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has a long way to go in repairing the damage done to people’s trust in the agency, but I hope that the new incoming CEO will  make the reforms that are needed.

"Sinn Féin will continue to highlight our concerns and hope to work with Mr. Gloster to assist in any way that we can to improve Tusla services for children and families."


Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to intervene to ensure that the dedicated dementia care home in St. Joseph’s Shankhill, is not closed due to a lack of funding.

Speaking today, Teachta Brady said:

“The threatened closure of St. Joseph’s in Shankhill has come as a great shock to residents, users of the day-care facility, families and staff, many of whom are from Wicklow.

“It has been announced that the day-care service which currently accommodates up to 120 people every week will close at the end of the year and the residential home which is home to 60 dementia patients is under serious financial difficulty.

“This is based on the insistence by the HSE that they cannot afford to fund the day-care service into 2020. If this funding is not allocated, then St. Joseph’s have said that the residential service will have to be wound down.

"This is a desperate situation for residents, for users of the day-care service and for families who depend on St. Joseph’s for both.

“There are 55,000 people in Ireland living with dementia and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. We therefore, need increased funding for dementia services and we need to see the development of more services specifically for dementia care, not less.

“We are talking about dementia patients who call St. Joseph’s home. It is the place that they feel safe, cared for and looked after.

"It is the place that they are familiar with. We know from the closure of other dementia care homes in the State that the removal of residents to other settings is never good for residents. In fact, it is detrimental.

“I am calling on Minister Simon Harris to intervene immediately and to request that the necessary funding specifically for the continuation of day-care and residential services is maintained and protected to give certainty to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the State.” 


Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said urgent action is needed now to tackle the climate emergency. 

Speaking after a group of more than 11,000 scientists across the world endorsed research declaring we are facing a climate emergency, the party's spokesperson on climate, energy and sustainability said,

"More than 11,000 scientists from across the globe have endorsed research published in the 'Bioscience' journal declaring ‘clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency'.

"The research shows atmospheric Greenhouse Gases (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) continue to increase, as does global surface temperature while globally ice has been rapidly disappearing.

“At the same time ocean heat content, ocean acidity, sea levels and extreme weather and associated damage costs have all been trending upward.

 "This adds to the weight of evidence already available, with the scientists stating they hope the research will 'allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of the crisis, realign priorities and track progress'. 

"We need to see urgent action now to tackle the climate emergency, including to limit our emissions, reduce consumption and promote more sustainable living.

"This action will require coordinated leadership at a global, state and local level."


This week, 14 years ago, (3 November 2005) the Interim Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow was published. The following March 2006 the final report by the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence & Women’s Rights was published.

That report recommended that the government establish two Commissions of Investigation into the Murder of Seamus Ludlow. The government has refused. The family took their case to the High Court seeking a Judicial Review of the Minister’s decision which they lost. Their appeal will be heard in the New Year.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today called again on the Government to establish the two Commissions of Investigation recommended by the Final Report on the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Gerry Adams said:

“The family of Seamus Ludlow have been campaigning for truth about his murder for over 40 years. They have been frustrated in this by the British government and its state agencies who colluded in the murder. They have also been blocked by the failure of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments that have refused to honour the recommendations of the Barron report and the Joint Oireachtas Committee. 

"Seamus Ludlow was shot dead by a UVF/Red Hand Commando/UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) gang in May 1976. He was aged 47. His body was thrown into a ditch near his Thistle Cross, Dundalk home.

"In 1979 the RUC identified four suspects it believed were responsible for the killing. Nineteen years later, in February 1998, the four were finally arrested. Two confessed to killing Seamus Ludlow during interviews with the RUC. They were released without charge. The North’s then Director of Public Prosecutions decided in 1999 not to prosecute the four. Among the four men were two serving officers in the Ulster Defence Regiment.

"The Gardaí never interviewed the four men and never told the family. The first the family heard of the four suspects was in a newspaper report.

"The Ludlow family earlier this year went to the Belfast High Court and successfully challenged the decision not to prosecute and the failure to provide reasons for this.

"The Irish government should now move to establish the two outstanding Commissions of Investigation – which it has thus far refused to do – which were recommended by the Final Report on the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Murder of Seamus Ludlow by the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence & Women’s Rights in March 2006. That report expressed its 'disappointment at the lack of co-operation from the British authorities … the role collusion played in the murder of Seamus Ludlow'.”

Note to Editor:

The Sub-Committee recommends that a commission of investigation be established to investigate the following:

-    Whether the evidence collected at the scene of the murder of Seamus Ludlow in 1976 was available in 1979 and if not, why not?

-    Why were credible leads given to the Gardaí by the Northern Ireland police force not followed up?

-    Why were the four named suspects not interviewed?

-    Was there a policy in existence not to interview suspects in Northern Ireland for crimes committed in this jurisdiction?

-    Was a decision taken not to actively pursue the investigation of the murder of Seamus Ludlow and if so, who took that decision and why?

The Sub-Committee recommends that a commission of investigation be established to investigate the following:

-    What documents were created or maintained by An Garda Siochana including security intelligence C3 Section in relation to the murder of Seamus Ludlow?

-    Where are those documents?

-    If those documents are not available for inspection what is the reason for this?

-    What documents were created or maintained by the Department of Justice (and Departments of An Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Defence, in respectof the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Security), in relation to the murder of Seamus Ludlow?

-    Where are those documents?

-   If those documents are not available for inspection what is the reason for this?


Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the letter written to him earlier this week from the group Ireland’s Future.

On Monday over 1000 citizens from Civic Society signed a letter to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Among them are the relatives of the 1916 leaders, trade union leaders and activists, academics, people from the arts, business, the law, the media, community, education and the community.

The signatories are calling for a ‘new conversation’ about the future constitutional arrangements for the island of Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Gerry Adams said:

“The Programme for a Partnership government commits the government to fulfil its mandate as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The Brexit chaos and the demographic and political changes of recent years in the North have accelerated the conversation around the merits of Unity. In their letter to the Taoiseach they asked him to plan for the future.

"The signatories are proposing the establishment of a Citizens Assembly reflecting the views of citizens North and South, or a Forum to discuss the future and achieve maximum consensus on a way forward."

The Louth TD asked the Taoiseach if he accepted that it is the duty of government to plan for the future and will he consult on this?

In his response the Taoiseach pointed to several other Citizens Assemblies already in train but he acknowledged that he will give the request consideration.

Speaking afterward Gerry Adams said:

“While I understand the competing pressures the government faces for its attention nonetheless the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and planning for the constitutional future of the island must be a priority.

"The political, economic, societal and cultural implications of the significant demographic and political changes that are taking place are too great to be put on the back burner. I would urge the Taoiseach to give this issue the urgent attention it requires.”


Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has called for an immediate end to all attacks and threats against Quinn Group staff.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP said:

“The ongoing campaign of brutal attacks, death threats, harassment and intimidation against Quinn Group employees is wrong and I utterly condemn it.

“Local people are appalled by these attacks, which have escalated into kidnapping and threats to kill.

“I have met with the Quinn Group to express my revulsion at these attacks and to offer our support.

"All threats and attacks must stop now.

“Everyone should be free to go to their work without threats, intimidation or fear.

“Anyone with information on these attacks or threats should go to the authorities north and south.” 


Sinn Fein has said that an amendment to the Student and Parent Charter Bill is an "important step to abolishing Voluntary Contributions".
The amendment would regulate and make publicly available information relating to how much money is collected by schools through voluntary contributions. The amendment was passed this afternoon.
Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon Senator Paul Gavan said;
“This is an amendment which seeks to regulate and collate data pertaining to voluntary contributions.
“It is an outrageous situation that schools rely on these contributions to stay open.
“Some schools are using these voluntary contributions to pay for basics such as light and heat due to underfunding via the capitation grants allocated to them.
“As it current stands the department have none of this data available to them and we think it is important that it should have access to it, and that it is published so we know how much is collected by schools on an annual basis.
“What this amendment would do is to let parents know what is being collected and what this money is spent on; and it would inform us for the first time exactly the shortfall in funding. 
“I think this is a very practical amendment which addresses a data deficit which currently within the department."
Adding to this Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD stated;
“This is an important step in the direction of abolishing voluntary contributions in schools. As of now we are unaware of how much is collected annually.
“Despite being called voluntary they are often far from that with some schools in dire needs of these funds due to under resourcing.
“This is fundamentally down to funding. A survey carried out the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association says that parents contribute €40 million per annum; but the truth is that we don’t know, and this will help us find that out.
“The Bill will proceed and the Minister needs to amend it further. We will table further amendments ensuring no child can be discriminated against due to an inability to pay the contribution; and to ensure parents are properly informed of their voluntary nature.
“I am delighted that this amendment has been passed this afternoon and hope that this can be acted on as soon as possible by the Minister for Education.”


Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Jonathan O'Brien has today raised the issue of the ever-growing problem of heroin in Cork City with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Speaking at Leaders' Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta O'Brien said that the Gardaí need to be provided with additional resources to fight heroin supply gangs and that those suffering with addiction need better supports.

Deputy O'Brien said:

"The Garda Representative Association has said in recent days that the people of Cork City are not getting the policing service they deserve because there is a shortage of 125 frontline Gardaí. That meant that just two guards were patrolling the city centre on a Saturday night in recent months. That is completely unacceptable. "Cork City is the second largest city in this State and it needs its fair share of recruits from Templemore. That has not been happening.

"This is going on while the HSE have told me that they have the capacity and the finances to do more for those suffering with addiction - and I acknowledge funding has increased in recent years - but the Department won’t sign off on new posts. Addiction is a health issue and it deserves to be treated as such."

Speaking after the exchange in the Dáil, Deputy O'Brien added;

"It is as simple as this - Cork is at the precipice when it comes to heroin use. The situation is already very bad but you cannot put the dealers out of business if you are not going to act. We need to hit the dealers now and hit them hard.

"A message needs to go out loudly and clearly - if you are involved in the supply of drugs you will be stopped and you will go to jail for a very long time. We break the heroin supply chain in Cork by breaking it at the source."


Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Minister for Health needs to publish the Winter Plan for the health service and deploy all available measures to reduce the staggering numbers of patients on trolleys.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The trolley crisis has been continuously escalating under Simon Harris’s tenure as Minister for Health. Last year saw the largest number of patients on trolleys in recorded history – 108,227.
“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
“This year the crisis has continued on the same trajectory as the last. The most recent Trolley Watch figures from the INMO show that last month was the worst October on record for hospital overcrowding.
“The figures are already staggering, and we haven’t yet hit the peak of winter season.
“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.
“Minister Harris has so far failed to deal with the issues that are causing this emergency. If he is serious about addressing the issues which create this crisis then he needs to focus on tackling five main areas:
- the recruitment and retention of staff
- reopening closed beds
- adequate step-down facilities
- more home help hours
- and proper investment in primary and community care."

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