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Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has urged the exam regulators to work with schools to ensure students and their families are fully informed of the changes to examination arrangements as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Foyle MLA said:

“I have been inundated with concerns and queries from constituents on examination arrangements following the Education Ministers statement to the Assembly last week.

“In the Education Committee today, I urged officials from the Council for the Curriculum, Exams and Assessments (CCEA) for detailed communication of the new arrangements for those most affected. 

“It’s progress that CCEA have a helpline in place for schools to access and it’s my belief that this should also be available to students and parents. 

“There is no perfect solution to the issue of exams and many students and parents are rightly frustrated and concerned therefore it is essential that in the time ahead students and their parents have access to the information they need and to the necessary support where required.”


Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD while not objecting to the re-opening of small and near completed social housing construction sites, has called for a series of checks and protections to be put in place to guarantee the health and safety of construction workers

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“As the social housing building sites with homes that are near completion re-open, we need to see a series of protections introduced to protect the health and safety of construction workers on these sites.

 “The building contractor, relevant local authority, trade unions, the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority all have a role to play in ensuring that workers can make a safe return to these construction sites.

 “It is our view that the contractor must submit a written Covid-19 safety statement to the Local Authority before construction work commences setting out how social distancing and other public health measures to protect workers will be ensured on site.

“The safety statement details how workers (including sub-contractors) will travel to and from the site with due regard for Covid regulations, this will include issues such as onsite parking and hand washing facilities. 

“No construction site should re-open without an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and there should be engagement with Trade Unions to ensure full compliance on sites.

“The Health and Safety Authority and where appropriate the HSE should conduct unannounced inspections of these sites to ensure compliance with the public health advice. 

“A confidential phone line should be provided for construction workers who want to report non-compliance with public health advice but are nervous of doing so for loss of employment

“Any contractor who is found to be in breach of the HSE’s public health advice should have their site shut down by the local authority.

“These measures must be adopted by every re-opening construction site in order to ensure the health and safety of construction workers.”


Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has stated that measures to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic should be explored fully by the Infrastructure minister. 

The Newry and Armagh MLA said:

“There are concerns that quieter roads during the coronavirus could lead to faster driving. This in turn could lead to tragic accidents and extra pressure on the health service. On top of this more people are walking on the roads these days to get their daily exercise in.

“Some measures proposed to mitigate this risk include a temporary reduction of the speed limit as well as public awareness campaigns.

“Meanwhile, in other countries, extra bike lanes have been put in place to allow increased space and safety for cyclists making essential journeys.

“Sinn Féin have asked the Infrastructure Minister to consider such initiatives as a way to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at this time.

“I would encourage everyone to continue to practise good road safety habits and be responsible drivers, which in itself can help the health services efforts in tackling Covid-19."


Eoin Ó BroinSinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said that the latest Residential Tenancies Board rent report shows ‘rents continuing to rise despite the Government spin’ confirming ‘the need for an emergency three year rent reduction and freeze’.

Deputy Ó Broin said: "The Quarter4 Residential Tenancies Board rent index shows rents continuing to rise despite the Government spin.

"Every single county in the state has seen their rents rise in the last 12 months by more than 4%. 

"Nine counties have seen rent increases double the 4% cap with Kerry, Offaly, Westmeath and Clare seeing double digit increases.

"Across the state, rents increased by 6.4%, while in cities the increases were also significantly above the 4% cap. In Dublin, the increase was 5%, Cork 6.8%, Galway 5.7% and Waterford 7%.

"These increases represent real financial burdens on low and modest income renters - and that was before the COVID-19 surge in unemployment.

"No doubt Government will spin that the quarter on quarter reductions show signs that Rent Pressure Zones are working. The very opposite is the case. We now have three full years of Rent Pressure Zone failure. The game is up.

"The latest figures confirm again the need for an emergency three-year rent reduction and freeze. This could be achieved by extending the current freeze and, in Budget 2021, providing for a refundable tax credit to put a month's rent back into every renter's pocket.

"We also need the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to meet with opposition politicians and representatives from tenants, landlords and banks to put in place a plan to deal with the rent arrears debt burden that will arise during the COVID-19 restrictions."


Pearse DohertySinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty says that Ireland can avoid a severe downturn, long recession and cut to living standards if the government delivers the correct financial response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Responding to today's Stability Programme Update, Donegal TD Doherty stated that a return to austerity implemented by past governments is not an option and called for a radical recovery plan to create jobs, build homes, deliver universal healthcare and protect households from private debt.

Teachta Doherty said: "Today’s Stability Programme Update from the Department of Finance offers grim reading about the impact COVID-19 is having and will continue to have on jobs and our economy.

"The report predicts that economy will not recover to where it was until 2022, with 220,000 jobs lost this year and the rate of unemployment next year to be twice that of 2019.

"The pandemic has plunged our economy into recession. But as this report makes clear, the length and depth of that recession is not set in stone. It will depend on the path of the virus and the success of public health measures.

“But it will also depend on the government's response.

"A severe downturn, long recession and cut to living standards must be avoided and can be with the correct response.

"As we have experienced at great cost, austerity implemented by past governments is not an option. A second round of austerity will result in a deeper recession, higher unemployment and emigration.

“Ireland requires a radical recovery plan to create jobs, build homes, deliver universal healthcare and protect households from private debt.

"Supporting incomes, protecting families and getting people back to work will require investment in housing, infrastructure and greater supports for sectors and businesses, such as hospitality and tourism, that have suffered most during this crisis.

“Cuts to income and job loss cannot result in increased household debt and borrowing. We have already seen banks and moneylenders profiteering from the misfortune of laid-off workers.

"Any response to this crisis must address the problem of household debt by offering liquidity supports - not just to businesses, but to families also.

"We cannot afford a recovery for the rich, big business and the banks at the expense of workers and families.

"Liquidity provided to businesses must be targeted to support employment, not shareholders. Those supports must be implemented now.

"Current schemes announced by government only defer payments or increase debts that will require repayment in challenging times.

"Further supports must be provided for our small businesses. This crisis cannot become an opportunity for the few to profiteer at the expense of the many.

"We have already seen banks seek to profit from this crisis by charging additional interest on households that avail of mortgage breaks, with more money owed to the banks after this crisis than would otherwise been the case.

"A government must ensure that its response to this crisis protects workers, families and the low paid.

“Austerity is not the answer. The answer is a stimulus package that creates jobs by investing in housing and infrastructure, provides liquidity to small businesses, increases the wages of low-paid workers and protects households from debt."


Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment David Cullinane TD has said that Bord na Móna’s decision to lay off 230 workers is a “shocking blow” to workers, families and communities reliant on these jobs.  

He said:

"News that 230 jobs are to go at Bord na Móna is a shocking blow to workers, families and communities that are reliant on these jobs.  

“These workers were supposed to be assisted by the government’s Just Transition plan, but Minister Richard Bruton has been sitting on a report from the Just Transition Commissioner and has not brought forward a plan for Bord an Móna workers.

“He must publish this report and ensure there is genuine and serious engagement with trade unions without delay.

"A Just Transition must be at the heart of our move to a more environmentally sustainable economy, but laying off workers, even on a temporary basis, cannot be tolerated. The Minister is failing in his duty to these workers and must step up to the plate."


Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Declan Kearney has said measures put in place to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place for as long as necessary. 

Declan Kearney said:  

“The measures put in place by Assembly regulations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are there to protect people. 

“Supporting measures to close businesses, protect people’s livelihoods, while restricting mobility are a necessary cost that we must all pay to get through this emergency.

“We must put the needs of our citizens first.

“Important as economic reconstruction will be, economic interests at this time cannot take primacy over public health.

“Over 2500 of our fellow citizens have been affected and more than 900 have lost their lives across the island. 

“That’s why the regulations are a vital necessity. 

“The World Health Organisation has warned governments of the dangers that easing restrictions would raise, in terms of further spread of the infection. 

“The fact is we have not beaten COVID-19. We face the possibility of new surges of this pandemic. 

“All Ministers in the Executive agree these restrictions ought not to be removed a single day before it is safe to do so; but nor should they remain for a single day longer than necessary.” 


Tá sé ráite ag an Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile gur chóir moladh a thabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta thuaidh agus theas agus lucht eagraithe na gColáistí Samhraidh as an cheannaireacht chróga atá léirithe acu;

“Níl duine ar bith nach bhfuil an ghéarchéim sláinte is déanaí tar éis dul i bhfeidhm orthu. Tá an saol mar a bhí athraithe anois.

“Tá pleananna agus spriocanna, imeachtaí teaghlaigh agus sóisialta curtha ar athló. Tá sé fógartha anois go bhfuil na Coláistí Samhraidh ar fud Éirinn curtha ar ceal i mbliana.

“Meastar go ngineann na Coláistí Samhraidh E50 milliún don gheilleagar Gaeltachta. Is cailliúint tubaisteach é seo do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus do na Mná Tí a bheas thíos toisc nach mbeidh daltaí ar bith ag stopadh leo.

“Is cinntí cróga atá déanta le cosaint a thabhairt dóibh siúd is leochailí sa phobal agus ag teacht leis an chomhairle oifigiúil. Tá moladh tuilte acu as an chinneadh siosmaideach seo.

"Leoga, tá géarghá anois le cosaint chuí do na mná tí agus na Coláistí Samhraidh féin. Oibreoidh Sinn Féin ó thuaidh agus theas le brú ar a chur ar an Aire Cultúrtha/Gaeltachta na cosaintí cuí a chur i bhfeidhm.

“Ní mór pacáistí cearta maoinithe a chur ar fáil do na mná tí agus dp na coláistí féin le go mbeidh siad in ann íoc as árachas agus araile. 

“Beidh fáilte mhór roimh athoscailt na gColáistí ar an bhliain seo chugainn, ach tá géarghá anois go ndéanann an tAire Sean Kyne beart dá réir briathar don Ghaeilge agus do Phobal na Gaeltachta.’

Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said Gaeltacht Communities and the organisers of Irish language summer colleges deserve praise for their leadership in cancelling this years courses, as a result of the Covid19 crisis. 

Speaking today Niall Ó Donnghaile said;

“There isn’t anyone who hasn't been impacted by this crisis. Life as we know is changed. 

“Our plans and proposals, many family, sporting and social events, have all been postponed. It has now also been announced that summer courses in Gaeltachtaí throughout Ireland have also been cancelled. 

“It is estimated that the college courses bring  €50million to the Gaeltacht economy each year. This is a devastating loss to the people of the Gaeltacht and in particular to na Mná Tí who won’t have any students staying with them this year. 

“This brave decision has been taken to protect people and to adhere to the official guidance - I commend all those who’ve taken this important move. 

“There is now an urgent requirement to support na Mná Tí and the colleges themselves. Sinn Féin will work north and south to ensure ministers put the necessary protections in place - a funding package is required to ensure that the colleges and na Mná Tí are able to get through this unprecedented summer. 

“There will no doubt be great excitement for the colleges reopening next summer, but the crucial thing at this point in time is that Minister Seán Kyne adheres to his commitment and delivers for the language and the people of the Gaeltacht.”


Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the introduction of stricter legislation by the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to protect private renters impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

The North Belfast MLA said:

“I commend Minister Deirdre Hargey for bringing forward legislation to extend the notice to quit period a landlord must give a tenant from 4 weeks to 12 weeks during this public health emergency.

“Private renters must be protected from eviction in order to protect their health and their families in line with public health advice to stay home.

“Support is already in place for landlords through a three-month mortgage holiday and they too have a responsibility to play their part in supporting people during the Covid-19 emergency.

“This legislation will tighten up protections for private renters and relieve some of the burden placed on workers and families at this difficult time.” 


Over 200 job losses to be signed off on today, no Just Transition for Bord Na Móna Workers.

Sinn Féin TD and party spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs Brian Stanley says the latest developments regarding job losses at Bord Na Móna is a disaster for the Midlands counties.

The Laois-Offaly TD said Minister Bruton and Kieran Mulvey, the Just Transition Commissioner, need to intervene as it appears that there is no Just Transition for Bord Na Mona workers.

Deputy Stanley said;

"Bord Na Móna management have informed unions that they intend to issue seven day notices to between 190 and 230 workers at the company this week. This will affect both seasonal and permanent employees on the bogs supplying peat to the 3 Midlands Power Stations Shannon bridge, Edenderry and Loughree. Shannon Bridge will worst affected at 119 workers and 23 in Edenderry.

"It is proposed that the permanent staff would be put on the Covid 19 Income Support Scheme for employers and receive 80% of their basic wage. The decision is to be rubber stamped by the Board of the Company today.

"Unions are been informed by Bord Na Móna that the layoffs are due to the Covid 19 Emergency and the knock on effect regarding the demand and price for wholesale electricity. The delay of the decision by An Bord Pleanala (ABP) on planning permission for this year’s peat harvest is also been cited as a factor.

"It makes little sense for Bord na Móna to proceed with this scale of layoffs when it expected that electricity demand could increase after May 5th with an easing of health restrictions and some industries and services restarting. 

"The decision from An Bord Pleanála on whether to give the green light for this year’s peat harvest is also due on May 12th. If there is a favourable outcome on both of these matters, workers will be needed quickly to restart operations.

"I am requesting that Minister Bruton who is the sole shareholder in this publicly owned company and Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey intervene to prevent this disaster for workers and their families. I have written to both of them today to urge them to do so."


Sinn Féin TD for Donegal Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed to urgently clarify what financial supports he has sought from the European Commission to assist Ireland’s struggling fishing communities through this global crisis.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s comments follow reports that the Minister is not seeking to avail of the European Commission’s recently announced temporary relief scheme, that allows European states to use structural funds to pay for compensation packages for fishers such as a tie up scheme.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“Minister Creed is fully aware of the severe impact that this global crisis has had on our fishing sector. All around the coast, boats have had to be tied up due to the collapse of their global fishing markets.

"Apart from availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, there has been no financial supports offered by the Minister and his Department to this key sector in crisis.

“If the reports are correct that he has not sought to deploy the European Commission’s temporary relief scheme, then this is a shocking dereliction of his responsibilities to our fishing communities as the Minister for the Marine.

"I understand that Portugal and Latvia have drawn down funds through this scheme and Britain has provided €11.5 million in supports to their fishing sector including €1.5 million for the North of Ireland.

"It’s now past time for the Minister to step up and stand up for Irish fishers in crisis”.


Responding to news that Bord na Móna is considering laying off 200 staff, with further layoffs on the cards, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment David Cullinane TD has said that Minister Richard Burton cannot let Bord na Móna wither on the vine.

He said:

"News that over 200 jobs may go at Bord na Móna is deeply troubling and flies in the face of previous commitments given to the workforce and their Union representatives.

"While there has been a drop in electricity demand and fuel prices, it is the responsibility of the company to come up with a viable plan that safeguards the jobs and livelihoods of their employees.

"The workers and their trade union representatives are deeply concerned about this move, and they see it as a cynical move by the company to bring forward job losses.

"My understanding is that Bord na Móna have not given up to date financial accounts to the Group of Unions, nor have they produced a credible blueprint for the future. Bord na Móna cannot be allowed to simply wither on the vine.

"There is considerable uncertainty now for workers at the Lough Ree power plant in Lanesboro and the West Offaly plant in Shannonbridge.

"Minister Richard Bruton is taking a hands off approach to this matter and must directly intervene. He is sitting on a report from the Just Transition Commissioner and must publish this report and ensure there is genuine and serious engagement with trade unions.

"We all accept we must move from a brown to a green energy economy, however a Just Transition must be at the heart of this strategy. The Minister is failing in his duty to these workers and must step up to the plate."


Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has called for improvements to rural broadband access to be prioritised in order to facilitate home working for rural workers.

The Sinn Féin Infrastructure spokesperson said:

“While tackling regional disparities in terms of broadband coverage has been a longstanding commitment for Sinn Féin, the Covid-19 Pandemic has placed a greater impetus on the issue.

“Physical Distancing and Public Health Guidelines have meant that many workers are having to complete work duties from home for the first time.

“Unfortunately for rural dwellers this has been a difficult ask, due to poor connection and coverage. Some are finding themselves questioning whether they will have to travel in order to complete their work duties.

“Like other Sinn Féin MLAs I will be raising this issue with the Economy Minister Diane Dodds and broadband providers and asking them to ensure that rural broadband improvements are prioritised as a matter of urgency.” 


Sinn Féin have called for clear and robust criteria to be outlined before any decision is made to reopen schools.

The Party was responding to comments made by Health Minister Simon Harris over the weekend, which suggested that schools could be reopened one day a week on a phased basis.

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said that no steps should be taken that could undermine public health and that no move to reopen schools should be made unless there is absolute confidence in public safety.

Speaking today, Teachta O'Reilly said: “If the Government wants to reopen schools, and of course that is a desirable thing to work towards, we need to be confident that there is a plan to ensure that it is safe to do so.

"This must be an open, transparent and inclusive process. We need to have a benchmark or criteria that is reached in our response to the pandemic and this can only be arrived at after discussions involving public health officials, teachers and learners.”

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that flying kites has been an unfortunate element of the debate on educational issues throughout this pandemic.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said: “It is unfortunate that ideas that are not even half formed are floating out yet again, without any detail in them to allay concerns from parents, teachers and students about their safety.

"Of course parents and teachers want schools to open again, while children are missing their friends and social interaction they get from school.

"But the safety of students and teachers is the primary concern right now and schools should only reopen if it is safe for them to do so. 

“This is something that cannot be done on a wing and a prayer and it cannot be an issue which is left to schools to figure out themselves.

“Schools and teachers will need guidance on, for example, how to manage social distancing at the school gate, on hygiene procedures, and if for examples gloves are needed and, if so, who provides them.”

“There also needs to be consultation with trade unions and educational partners.

“None of this detail is out there now. We do not know to what extent this idea has been measured against public health advice and in the absence of that, commentary of this kind from Minister Harris is unhelpful and premature.”


Tá sé ráite ag Teachta Dála Shinn Féin do Ghaillimh Thiar Mairéad Farrell go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht agus an Ghaeilge “in áit na leathphingine arís eile ag Fine Gael agus Fianna Fáil” sa gcáipéis polasaí atá aontaithe ag an dá pháirtí sin ar mhaithe le comhrialtas a bhunú.

Dúirt an Teachta Farrell:

“Tá cáipéis polasaí 24 leathanach aontaithe ag Fianna Fáil agus Fine Gael a leagann amach a gcuid tosaíochtaí don chéad rialtas eile. Caithfidh mé a rá gur cúis mhór iontais dom nach bhfuil fiú is aon tagairt amháin don Ghaeltacht sa gcáipéis seo. Is mór an náire í sin.

“Tá dhá thagairt fánach don Ghaeilge le fáil sa gcáipéis ach is fánach iad. Ar cheann acu tá gealltanas go dtabharfar deis do dhaoine óga meas a bheith acu ar an teanga agus is é atá sa gceann eile go dtabharfar aitheantas do ról na Gaeilge maidir le leas pearsanta an duine aonair agus leas an phobail. Is ionann é sin agus siombalachas fealltach i leith na teanga nach gcabhróidh léi a bheag ná a mhór.

“I ndeireadh na Dála tá an Ghaeltacht in áit na leathphingine arís eile ag Fine Gael agus Fianna Fáil. Tá a fhios againn cheana go bhfuil ráta dífhostaíochta sa nGaeltacht ar an iomlán i bhfad níos airde ná ceantracha tuaithe eile, cúig oiread níos airde i gceantair áirithe. Deich mbliana ó shin, in 2010, bhí buiséad caipitil €18 milliún ag Údarás na Gaeltachta. I mbliana níl ann ach €10 milliún. Le linn an ama sin tá ardú mór tagtha ar an méid a fhaigheann an IDA agus Fiontraíocht Éireann.

“Tá an t-uafás bearnaí fós i leith infreastruchtúr na Gaeltachta. Fadhbanna móra maidir le soláthar uisce, bóithre, córais séarachas, leathanbhanda agus eile. Mura bhfuil Fianna Fáil ná Fine Gael sásta fiú aird ar bith a thabhairt ar ghéarchéim na Gaeltachta i gcáipéis thábhachtach mar seo, shílfeá gur beag an seans go mbeidh fuascailt in ann do na fadhbanna seo.

“Caithfear clár rialtais a aontú sa stát seo a thugann aghaidh ar na ceisteanna is mó atá ag goilliúnt ar an bpobal. Tá an ghéarchéim teanga, infreastruchtúr agus fostaíochta sa nGaeltacht ar cheann acu sin, gan aon cheist.

“Má tá an chéad rialtas eile dáiríre faoi shlánú na Gaeltachta, is é a bhéas ar a gclár oibre - Aire Sinsearach don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht; toghcháin phoiblí do bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta mar aon le maoiniú agus cumhachtaí breise; geallúint go gcuirfear maoiniú cuí ar fáil do phleananna teanga; agus plean mór infheistíochta i gcomhair infreastruchtúr na Gaeltachta.”


Note to editors: English copy below.

Gaeltacht "in the ha'penny place" one again by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin TD for Galway West Mairéad Farrell has said that the Gaeltacht and the Irish language have been left in "the ha'penny place once again by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael" in the policy document agreed by both parties as the basis for government formation.

Deputy Farrell said:

"Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have agreed a 24 page policy document that lays out their key priorities for the next government. It came as a surprise to me to find that there is not even one mention of the Gaeltacht in this document.

"There are two references to the Irish language, but they amount to meaningless rhetoric. One commitment is for every child to be given 'the opportunity to develop their creativity, appreciate the Irish language, and learn history.' The other is to recognise 'the role of the arts, culture and the Irish language in our personal and community wellbeing'. These statements reflect the kind of deceitful symbolism towards the language that will deliver nothing in practice.

"At the end of the day, the Gaeltacht has been left in the ha'penny place once again by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We already know that the unemployment rate is a lot higher in the Gaeltacht compared to other rural areas, up to five times higher in certain regions. Ten years ago Údarás na Gaeltachta - the primary employment creation body in the Gaeltacht - had a capital budget of €18 million.

"This year it is only €10 million. During that same period, there has been a significant increase in the amount of funds granted to the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

"Many gaps remain in Gaeltacht infrastructure. There are major problems with water supply, road quality, waste water treatment systems, broadband and more besides. If Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are not even happy to include one reference to the Gaeltacht in a policy document as important as this, what hope do we have that they will go about address these various crises?

"A programme for government is required that takes on the big issues facing ordinary people. The language, infrastructure and employment crises in Gaeltacht regions have to be included in this.

"If the next government is to genuinely protect the future of our Gaeltacht, the work plan needs to include at a minimum: a Senior Minister for Irish language and Gaeltacht affairs; public elections to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta along with adequate funding and powers; commitments to properly fund language plans; and a major infrastructure plan for the Gaeltacht."


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has warned people to be wary of so-called “unlimited” telephone call bundles offered by Eir, and other service providers, which will charge customers extortionate rates once the usage cap in the terms and conditions has been exceeded. 

The Donegal TD has called on Eir and other service providers not to disconnect customers during this crisis and not to enforce any fair-usage caps which are hidden away in the small print of the contracts.

Deputy Doherty said:

“In recent days I’ve come across some harsh and unfair practices by some service providers, including Eir. These providers are offering so-called 'unlimited' calls to customers as part of their packages. The reality is very different, and these packages are in fact limited and subject to fair-usage caps in the small print of the contract.

“As people are cocooning and staying at home, they are depending on their landlines, mobiles and internet to arrange food, prescriptions and to stay in touch with family more than ever before.

“I have recently been contacted by an elderly couple in Donegal who had signed up for the so-called unlimited 'eir Broadband Talk Mobile World' package which offered them 'unlimited anytime local and national calls to landlines, unlimited calls to UK and defined international destination landlines and mobiles, unlimited anytime calls to Irish mobiles'. The couple, who are pensioners, had chosen this package to make sure they could stay in touch with family and friends before the crisis. As the crisis developed, they relied on their landline as their link to the outside world.

“Having paid their bill on time each month, they were distressed when their landline was disconnected by Eir at the start of Easter weekend, in the middle of their billing cycle, without warning. They were told that they had exceeded the fair usage caps in the small print of the contract. Eir then refused to reconnect the couple’s landline without first receiving payment in the amount of hundreds of Euro. This is grossly unfair, deceitful and is deliberately misleading and dangerous.

“As monthly bills start to come through the letterbox for the period in which people have been staying at home, I am asking people to be mindful of the small print. It shouldn’t be the case that people with 'unlimited' packages have to monitor their usage but unfortunately the recent actions of Eir have shown this to be the reality.

“I am calling on Eir and other service providers to cut the nonsense and be clear with customers. Service providers need to stop hiding behind the small print and misleading people. The package is either unlimited or it is not. During this crisis Eir and others should not be enforcing the fair-usage policies that they have hidden in the small print of the contracts. By disconnecting landlines without warning, Eir have put this already vulnerable couple at risk during a public health emergency and it is disgraceful.

“My colleague and party spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, David Cullinane TD and I, are calling on the Minister to immediately engage with service providers and with ComReg to ensure that commitments given by service providers not to disconnect customers are honoured and that the fair usage small print is not enforced during this crisis."


Speaking following the news that a member of the Irish Medical Council has resigned due to the handling of the Covid-19 crisis in nursing homes, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O'Reilly TD has said that the issues cited require urgent attention.

She said:

"I note with great concern the news today that a member of the Irish Medical Council has submitted their resignation to the Minister for Health Simon Harris, citing his belief that the Department of Health have failed to adequately address the Covid-19 crisis in nursing homes and other residential care settings.

"It has been noted previously that Nursing Homes Ireland introduced visitor restrictions for nursing homes on the 4th March, but were criticised by the Department of Health for moving too fast in this regard.

"It took a further ten days for the Department of Health to give their approval for such measures, and, in my view, this decision has proved to be a monumental and fatal error for many of our most vulnerable citizens.

"I believe it is important that there is an acknowledgement that this decision was the wrong one, and I think the Minister and the Department need to acknowledge this.

"Nursing Homes Ireland have also stated that they made numerous requests to the Minister for Health and his officials for a meeting in the early days of this crisis, but that this was not forthcoming until the end of March. This is a point raised specifically in the resignation letter sent to the Minister, and this issue has also not been addressed up to now.

"Alongside answers to these pressing questions, the immediate priority must be to do all we can to ensure those in residential care settings are protected and cared for. That means fast tacking the implementation of staff redeployment, as well as improving PPE access without any further delay."


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Maurice Quinlivan TD has said the last few weeks has exposed the urgent need for legislation to cover the various issues thrown up by hundreds of thousands of people now working from home.

Speaking today, Deputy Quinlivan said;

“The past few weeks have shown how hundreds of thousands of people, who normally don’t work remotely, can do so effectively from their own homes.

“There is no doubt the benefits of this are huge; reduced traffic and emissions, less time spent commuting means more time to spend with friends and family, no need to rent expensive urban residential accommodation and more money in people’s pockets as a result.

“Although there are a host of benefits to remote working, some pitfalls have been exposed in the past few weeks, and legislation needs to be put in place to regulate this area and protect employees.

“Workers cannot be left out of pocket either for hardware like laptops or printers, or services required like broadband and electricity, when asked to work from home. Employers need to provide the equipment required if they want staff to work remotely.

“Data protection and the handling of sensitive information is another key issue that needs to be covered, to ensure the protection of employees, employers and third parties.

“A right to disconnect should also be incorporated into this legislation, as it is vital for people’s health and well-being to normally separate work and home life, and even more so when working from home.

“While some will be content to work some or all of their time from home, others find an office environment more appealing for a number of reasons; more conducive to their style of work, socialising with colleagues, lifestyle routine, or just simply getting out of the house.

“Workers should not be forced to work from home if this is not their preference, as this could lead to social isolation or exclusion from a unionised workplace. That’s why Sinn Féin believe it’s essential trade unions are centrally evolved in drafting legislation governing this area.

“It is clear Covid-19 is with us for the short to medium term, so the government must legislate in this area once this pandemic has ended to ensure workers can sustainably work from home without facing any widespread difficulties or issues.”


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Minister for Education and the State Examinations Commission to introduce an extended waiver scheme for Leaving Cert fees and to confirm that fees paid by Junior Cert students will be refunded.

He said:

"In the last few weeks, students and their families have been receiving demands for the payment of fees for both Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examinations.

"As the Junior Cert will not proceed in a normal manner, fees should not be charged and those who have paid these fees should receive a full refund.

"In relation to the Leaving Cert, students still face a great deal of uncertainty as to the timing of exams and demands for fees are coming at a time when people in many households have lost their jobs. 

"Asking families in this situation for €116 per student will put many of them under financial pressure and steps need to be taken to assist those who will struggle to pay these fees. In my view, anyone in need of a waiver should receive one - similar to the waiver available to those who hold a medical card.

"I would urge the Minister for Education to recognise that this is not a normal exam year and to take appropriate action by putting in place an extended waiver scheme for those who need it."


Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said businesses need further support and this should include targeted rates relief.

The party's economy spokesperson said:

"COVID19 has had a devastating impact on the economy.

"The Executive's support so far, including business grants and rates relief, has been welcome; however more support will be needed to help businesses survive and recover.

"This support should include further rates relief, targeted at where it is most needed. Copying the scheme operating in England would not be a good use of scarce resources as it subsidises supermarkets which continue to trade very successfully. 

"Sinn Féin has worked with Executive colleague to protect lives and livelihoods and we will continue to do so."

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