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Measures urgently required to deliver meaningful Beef price increase - Matt Carthy MEP

 

The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has reiterated his party’s call for urgent measures to be put in place that will secure a meaningful price increase for Beef Farmers.

 

The Monaghan based representative was speaking this week as IFA protests continued at retailer & distribution centres and following the publication of figures from the Beef Price Index reveal that Irish prices are 50c/kg behind the price in Britain.  Carthy also described the price increased announced by ABP last Friday as ‘minimal and wholly insufficient’.

 

Matt Carthy said: “I welcome the fact that the Beef Taskforce is up and running. The lifting of injunctions related to the summer beef protests is also to be welcomed but were too late in coming to secure any good will among the farming community.

 

“The images of further farm protests this week show that the fundamentals of the beef sector remain imbalanced and unfair, farmers continue to operate at a loss and this is entirely unsustainable.  Farmers, and the communities that depend on them, need a substantial and realistic increase in the base price they receive.  The small increase announced by ABP is minimal and wholly insufficient.

 

“The Beef Price Index has indicated that prices secured by Irish farmers are 20c/kg behind the EU average (€80 per animal) and 50c/kg behind British prices (€180 per animal).  This is happening in a scenario where Irish beef is among the best in the world.

 

“The differences in the prices secured by Irish family farmers with their counterparts across Europe is the difference between our farmers surviving or being forced out of business.

 

“The price discrepancies point to margin manipulation by both factories and retailers.  Big money is being made from Irish beef but it is not going to the primary producers.  Instead, retailers and factories are making a killing and it is little wonder that farmers have felt that they have no choice but to take to the picket lines.

 

“If the Beef Task Force is to deliver then it needs to quickly ensure the removal of arbitrary rules such as the 30-month upper age limit and the four-movement restriction which simply serve to distort the position of the farmer in the market chain.  

 

“Fundamentally, transparency throughout the supply chain is required so that the public can see directly who is making a profit from beef and who is being ripped off.  That is what Sinn Féin’s Beef Price Transparency Bill seeks to deliver by providing such transparency to not only farmers but for consumers too.  I am calling on both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to support our legislation to order to give farmers a level playing field.

“In the meantime Sinn Féin will continue to support those farmers who participate in protests aimed at highlighting the inequalities they face and we will join them in demanding a fair price structure for our family farmers”.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has urged all parties and none to support the Rent Freeze (Fair Rent) Bill 2019, which aims to reduce and freeze rents across the State.

 Teachta Ó Broin said:

 “Rents across the State are far too high and Rent Pressure Zones are not working to ensure rental inflation remains within 4%.

 “This Bill, if passed, would put up to €1,500 per year back in the pockets of renters, alongside freezing rents for a period of three years.

 “Renters across the State are paying inflated rents, they are trapped in the rental sector and cannot move because there is nothing affordable to rent or purchase and they cannot save for a deposit.

 “Everyone is affected by this; students, pensioners, workers, families and young people.

 “Until a programme of affordable cost rental accommodation is rolled out, there are few affordable rental homes to be found for workers and families on ordinary incomes.

 “A refundable tax credit for all renters and a three-year rent freeze provides tenants with some breathing space.

 “But this is not all Sinn Féin are proposing. We have also made it clear that we want to deliver the biggest public housing programme in the history of the State to deliver a properly functioning housing sector for all.”

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Speaking about the tragedy in Ballycastle Sinn Féin Councillor Cara McShane, who is related to the person who lost their life, said:

“From a family point of view we are shocked and devastated at this awful tragedy.

“The wider community in Ballycastle is also in shock but I want to thank those who tried to help this morning and of course the emergency services for their efforts. 

“I have no doubt the people of Ballycastle will rally round and offer support to help through the time ahead.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has said that confirmation this afternoon of the closure of Rondo Food in Arklow is 'a devastating blow’ for workers and their families two weeks out from Christmas.

Teachta Brady said:

“I have had continuous engagement with the workers at Rondo Food since news first broke of what many believed to be the imminent closure of Rondo Food in Arklow. Sadly, that news has been confirmed this afternoon.

“While Rondo Food have again alluded to their 30 day consultation period in their latest press release this afternoon, I do not think anyone believes that Rondo Food considered any other options aside from re-location. I believe that decision was made long before any consultation period.

“Today is about the workers at Rondo Food and their families. These workers have given years of commitment to Rondo Food and unfortunately Rondo Food are not showing any ounce of commitment in return. The fact that Rondo Food refused to do the right thing by the 157 workers they are letting go and engage with the Workplace Relations Commission bears that out.

“The government now need to step up to the mark. Rondo Food has received sizeable amounts of taxpayers’ money over many years; €400,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland since 2011, as has been confirmed to me. We now need to see the same level of investment by government in Arklow as Rondo Food closes its doors at the end of January.

“In fact, some of that Enterprise Ireland funding should be recouped, particularly if it does not meet the terms in which it was granted to Rondo Food who have now decided to cut and run.

“All of our energy now must go into ensuring that an Employment Taskforce is established and that all available resources, including action by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, are put into ensuring that alternative employment is developed in the Arklow area. I will work with all stakeholders to make this happen.”

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Sinn Féin's Francie Molloy has condemned a gun attack on house in Coalisland. 

The Mid Ulster election candidate said: 

"This gun attack on a house in Coalisland was wrong and I condemn it utterly. 

"Thankfully no one was injured in this incident but it must have been a frightening experience. 

"There is no place for guns in our society and those behind this attack need to end these futile actions immediately."

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Sinn Féin MLA and candidate in the forthcoming Westminster election, Declan Kearney said the election on 12 December comes down to a straight choice between the strongest Leave and the strongest Remain candidates.

Speaking today the South Antrim candidate said:

“The Westminster election on the 12 December presents a stark choice for voters in South Antrim. That choice is to back Leave or to reject Brexit by voting for the strongest Remain candidate standing in this constituency.

“Brexit has been driven by a reckless Tory and DUP agenda, disregarding any concerns raised about the impact on the north of Ireland and the island of Ireland as a whole.

“It will be a disaster for the local economy in South Antrim. It will destroy small and medium enterprise, reduce funding for agricultural and rural programmes, and decimate funding for the community and voluntary sector.

“Sinn Féin has relentlessly opposed Brexit at all levels and successfully secured concrete protections, by using our political strength and influence in Brussels, Dublin and in the United States.

“Sinn Féin is the strongest and most consistent anti Brexit party in South Antrim.

“Our Party has ensured that the British government will not be permitted to leave the EU, unless there are firm guarantees for the north remaining in the Customs Union, Single Market and with full protection for the Good Friday Agreement, and our all Ireland economy.

“While others have dithered, Sinn Féin has delivered - and we have done so where it really matters - right at the heart of the EU.

“As a member of our Party's national leadership I have been to the fore in advancing Sinn Féin's pro Remain strategy across Europe, and here at home.

“On the 12 December, in South Antrim, I am calling on the local electorate to renew my mandate as the strongest opponent of Brexit in this constituency, and as the most influential advocate for remaining within the EU.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the Government for failing to deal with the growing insurance crisis which is set to see businesses, community groups and childcare providers close throughout the State in the coming months.

Responding to reports that Ironshore Europe, one of the biggest insurers in the childcare sector, is set to withdraw from the Irish market, Deputy Doherty called on the Taoiseach to immediately set up and lead a task force with key Ministers to deal with the impending crisis.

Speaking today, Deputy Doherty said:

“Yesterday we heard that one of the biggest insurers in the childcare sector, Ironshore Europe, is set to pull out of the Irish market by January. This will mean the threat of closure for thousands of providers and even higher childcare costs for parents.

“Ironshore Europe were one of two leading insurance providers in the sector. They are now set to withdraw from several Irish markets after being bought over by Hamilton Insurance of Liberty Mutual.

"With the policies of thousands of childcare providers due to expire in January, this will mean one of two things.

“Either these childcare providers will be unable to get alternative cover and close, or the lack of competition will increase their premiums still further, leading to higher childcare costs for parents.

“Without exaggerating, this has become a full-blown crisis across several sectors. Not just childcare, but community and voluntary groups, the leisure sector and small businesses.

“The Government have failed to take the failure of the insurance market, and its impact on businesses, seriously. The Minister responsible for the insurance sector doesn’t even sit at the Cabinet table.

“From the opposition benches Sinn Féin have called for immediate reforms in the insurance sector; from the set up of a dedicated Garda Insurance Fraud Unit to the banning of dual pricing by insurance companies. My Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which would strengthen the position of consumers in their contracts, is due to pass all stages in the Seanad this week.

"Despite a Programme for Government and four budgets, Fianna Fáil and the Government have failed to take this issue seriously or address it as a priority.

“It can’t be ignored any longer.

“I am calling on the Taoiseach to set up and lead a Ministerial Task Force to address the insurance crisis; not as just another talking shop but to take immediate action. This Task Force should include the Minister for Finance, Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation and Ministers representing the most affected sectors, including the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs.

“This Task Force should meet with the industry and affected sectors, find solutions and deal with this crisis before it ends with the mass closure of businesses and childcare providers across the State”.

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Sinn Féin Agriculture and Food spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has called for beef farmers to be given a fair price for their produce as figures from the Beef Price Index reveal that Irish prices are 50c/kg behind the UK price.

Deputy Stanley was speaking following news that the IFA protests continue outside retailer and distribution centres.

Speaking this morning, Deputy Stanley said:

“First of all, Sinn Féin welcomes the fact that the Beef Taskforce is up and running. We also welcome the fact that all of the injunctions have been lifted.

“However, what beef farmers need to see now is an increase in their base price per kg as that has not yet happened.

“The Beef Price Index is indicating that Irish prices are 20c/kg behind the EU average (€80 per animal) and 50c/kg behind UK prices (€180 per animal).

“20c/kg is the difference between an Irish beef farmer making a living out of this industry or closing down.

“Considering the superior quality of Irish beef produce these price discrepancies point to margin manipulation by both the factories and by retailers.

“Retailers and factories have run the beef sector like a cartel for decades now and it must be put to an end.

“To their credit, Aldi has met with the Beef Plan Movement and with the ICSA in recent weeks and spoke of making progress with regards to the 30-month upper age limit and the four-movement rule.

“However, what Aldi and Tesco need to do is to demand of processors that they give a fair price to farmers.

“The difficulty right now is that we have no transparency whatsoever throughout the supply chain as to who is receiving a fair price and who is being ripped off.

“That is why in September, Sinn Féin introduced the Beef Price Transparency Bill 2019 to provide such transparency to not only farmers but for consumers too.

“I’m calling on both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to get off the fence and to support our legislation to give farmers a level playing field.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has welcomed today’s announcement that Drogheda is to be allocated “significant funding” by Fáilte Ireland to develop its potential as a tourism “destination town”.   

The funding has been allocated through Louth County Council under the “Destination Towns” initiative launched earlier this year by the National Tourism Development Authority.  

The exact allocation has not been finalised yet, however the finding will connect the historic features of the town including the East-West between Old Abbey and St Lawrence’s Gate and the North-South between Magdalene Tower and Millmount Fort.

Deputy Munster said:

“I am delighted that Louth County Council’s proposal was given the go ahead, and that this funding has become available.

“Those of us who live in Drogheda are well aware of the town’s potential as a tourism destination.

"The town proved itself in the last two years when we hosted Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which saw the biggest visitor numbers in the history of the event.

“Tourism is very important to Drogheda, and this funding will go a long way in improving existing tourist attractions, as well as promoting tourism.

“I look forward to seeing further details when they are finalised in January, and I am sure that the town will reap the rewards of this funding in the coming years”.

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Speaking today after undercover reports by the Irish Independent reveal that medics and legal firms are encouraging patients to submit dubious insurance claims, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has called on the Medical Council and the Law Society to appear before the Oireachtas.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

"The investigation and reports by Amy Molloy in the Irish Independent today raise serious questions for the medical and legal professions. The actions of those uncovered by this investigation do a huge disservice to doctors and solicitors as a whole.

"The reports that some doctors and solicitors are in cahoots in order to encourage and put forward possibly bogus claims is not only wrong, but it is possible fraud.

"If solicitors have asked doctors to change medical reports and if GPs did this, then that is fraud.

"I would compel anyone with information of such behaviour to contact the relevant authorities immediately.

"It is also important that this behaviour is investigated further and to do that I believe the Medical Council, the Law Society and the Central Bank should appear before the relevant Oireachtas Committees as a matter of urgency.

"This behaviour is abhorrent and it undermines trust doctors and solicitors, it also does a disservice to all those in these professions, and to patients who submit legitimate and genuine claims.

"The health service is in enough of a crisis without people conspiring against it in this way."

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Following receipt of a Protected Disclosure from a whistleblower this week, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that the Arts Council CEO Orla McBride, Chairperson Kevin Rafter and Minister Josepha Madigan must provide clarity in respect of plans to relocate the Arts Council Head Office.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

"I am calling on the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, the Arts Council CEO Orla McBride and Chairperson Kevin Rafter to respond to points that I am highlighting today that have been made in a Protected Disclosure to me which alleges that the Arts Council is exposing the taxpayer to increased costs - or diverting monies better spent on the Arts - by contemplating a move to another building.

"This Protected Disclosure suggests that proper government purchasing/procurement guidelines have not been followed in the pursuit of this new premises, that the Minister and the Department have not been made aware of the move and that making minor alterations to the current premises to bring it up to the required standard represents a much cheaper option.

"I have forwarded copies of the Protected Disclosure to Minister Josepha Madigan and the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD.”

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Achieving pay justice and safe staffing levels in the health service is in the public interest, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Féin Vice President made her call after writing to the British Secretary of State Julian Smith and to the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling after meeting the leadership of health unions UNISON and the RCN with party colleague Pat Sheehan today.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“After ten years of Tory austerity our health service is at breaking point with much-needed finances stripped from the block grant and workers bearing the brunt of these cuts.

“Health workers are the backbone of our health and social care system.

“People working at all levels of the health service consistently deliver high-quality and compassionate care in extremely difficult situations. They are entitled to fair pay and safe staffing levels.

“Sinn Féin support the industrial action of the trade unions and their demand for pay parity.  

“I am very clear that the Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly does have the authority to deliver pay parity.

“The Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Act sponsored by the NIO provided Mr Pengelly with the authority to make decisions in the public interest.

“It is my strong belief that achieving pay justice and safe staffing levels in the HSC is in the public interest.

“I have expressed the view very clearly in writing to the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling and to the British Secretary of State Julian Smith that pay parity should be restored immediately.” 

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Sinn Féin's Paul Maskey has has said there is no such thing as a good Brexit for the north. 

The West Belfast candidate said: 

"Since the referendum and the ideological crusade the Tories and the DUP have embarked on, we have consistently said there is no such thin as a good Brexit. 

"Brexit is particularly damaging for business and the DUP have to explain to the business community whether are supporting this reckless agenda. 

"Sinn Féin have worked to secure unique arrangements for the north to offer some protection for the economy, to avoid any hardening of the border and to protect the Good Friday Agreement. 

"We secured these protections not at Westminster but through our political strength and influence in Brussels, Dublin and in the United States."

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Sinn Féin sports spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has said the publication of the FAI’s 2018 accounts showing net liabilities of €55million are absolutely shocking and worrying for the future of the organisation.

He said ordinary football fans across the country will also be gob-smacked at the severance package of €462,000 paid out for former CEO John Delaney.

Speaking this afternoon Teachta O’Brien said;

“The reality is that nobody was expecting good news today but what we have seen is absolutely shocking and worrying for the future of the organisation.

“The FAI now has financial liabilities of €55 million and was operating a negative cashflow at the end of 2018.

“In the 2017 accounts the FAI reported a profit of €2.8 million – that now, following these accounts, has become a loss of €2.9million.

“The auditors were unable determine whether adequate accounting records have been kept and were unable to report if, in their opinion, the disclosure of directors’ remuneration and transactions specified by law were made.

“All of this is an indictment of the former CEO John Delaney and makes a mockery of his repeated claims that the association would be debt free by 2020.

“Ordinary football fans across the country will also be gobsmacked at the severance package of €462,000 paid out to John Delaney.

“This is a bleak day for Irish football and all those fans who spend their hard-earned money to follow clubs and the National side year in, year out.

“If there are to be job losses at the association then it needs to begin with those who are responsible for this mess rather than those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to promote Irish football every day.”

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Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman, Martin Kenny TD has said that the horrific situation of a brain-damaged, homeless man held in Mountjoy prison, on remand for more than a year, is not acceptable in any civilised society. 

Deputy Kenny said:

“We have to ask what was the Inspector of Prisons doing for the past year, while this man was held in jail, in dire condition, seemingly because there was nowhere else to put him and without basic care to his hygiene.

“This man’s situation was only brought to the attention of the Minister for Justice because of the diligence and care of his solicitor, Danica Kinnane, who wrote to the High Court to try to get him made a ward.

“Meanwhile, he was in the care of consultant psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and prison officers, while his toenails were uncut, his bed linen unchanged and was clearly in a very vulnerable state.

“This appalling case begs the question: what happens to those vulnerable people in our prison system who have no one to advocate for them. In this case it was a conscientious solicitor, but how many more such people are within the system, with no one prepared to make representation on their behalf.

“Care must be given to vulnerable people in custody. It is a basic concept.

“Where is our compassion? Where is our human decency that this set of circumstances could go unnoticed or unattended to for over a year?

“I await with interest the report ordered by the Minister for Justice from the Irish Prison Service and hope that it will result in such cases never happening again.”

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the decision by Revenue to defer a decision end the flat rate expenses scheme for tens of thousands of workers.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I welcome this decision by Revenue, that will ensure that any implementation of changes to the flat rate expenses scheme will be deferred until January 2021.

“Abolition of the scheme would have meant an effective tax hike on up to 600,000 low and middle-income workers. This is welcome news for those workers today.

"Although these workers will not face a tax hike in January, a delayed decision will only delay uncertainty for them.

“Today’s news means the scheme may still be abolished in 2021.

“It is convenient for Fine Gael that Revenue have decided to defer this decision to the other side of the General Election.

“Revenue must make a decision quickly and end the uncertainty for these workers and their families.

“It is unacceptable that this area of tax policy, which could cut household incomes in an instant, can be decided by Revenue with so little transparency.

"I look forward to the outcome of the review of the Tax Strategy Group, which will inform any decision made by Revenue, and will continue to argue that the incomes of these workers should be protected.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams is in Foyle today campaigning with Elisha McCallion.

Gerry Adams was asked about the visit of Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin to Derry. 

Gerry Adams said:

“Mícheál Martin is very welcome here and I hope he stays around long enough to listen to the voters and the very clear annoyance of people across the North at the way Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin in particular use the North for very narrow partisan political purposes.”

Commenting on the issues affecting citizens Gerry Adams expressed solidarity with health workers:

“Health is a huge concern for citizens and for Sinn Féin. Michelle O’Neill, who will be the next Joint First Minister in a new Executive, and Bairbre de Brún were Ministers for Health. They were very good at responding to the needs of staff and patients. 

“Sinn Féin took on this responsibility because we face up to these challenges. We know what affects people and you can see that in our record in the Executive – unlike the SDLP who walked out – who left the Executive.

“The Tory party is an austerity party and if Boris Johnson is returned we are doomed to another decade of austerity unless we change the game. 

“Brexit is bad for us all. We need to reject it. The people of this island have to look at how we can rule ourselves, look after our own services, the needs of workers and workers’ families, instead of being ruled by a high Tory like Johnson.”

Commenting on the possibility of a deal Gerry Adams said:

“I believe we will have the power-sharing institutions back in place. We will do that as quickly as the basis for it can be established and we will tackle these issues, like health, urgently.

“We had a deal with the DUP in February 2018 which they walked away from.  

“I know for a fact that Mary Lou and Michelle have been trying to work with the DUP to get these neuralgic issues dealt with.

“So there is a need for the DUP to face up to their responsibilities. We want to see the DUP accepting once and for all that people have rights. A deal can be done. There was a huge distraction for two years when the DUP stepped out of northern politics. They let their Westminster team dictate the pace, did a confidence and supply deal with the Tories – which I said at the time would end in tears – and it has ended in tears.

“I would like to think that ordinary working class unionists will look at the scourge of Brexit, at the fact that the DUP has rejected those who voted remain, and will make sensible judgements in this election.” 

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD will move the Rent Freeze (Fair Rent) Bill 2019 during Private Members time on Tuesday.

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

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Rents in this State are too high and are continuing to rise. It is time to freeze rents and put money back into the pockets of families and workers.

“The Rent Pressure Zones are not working. Even if they were people can no longer afford any level of rent increase.

“This Government has given tax breaks to developers, landlords and first-time buyers. It is time to give renters a break.

“Sinn Féin has been tabling proposals to deal with spiralling rents since 2016. Unfortunately, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have blocked them.

“We Introduced the Rent Certainty Bill in June 2016. If this had been enacted new rents today would be €5,000 less expensive a year and in Dublin €7,500.

“On the 12th of November 2019, during leaders’ questions, Micheál Martin said ‘It is time for the government to consider imposing a rent freeze, given the exorbitant levels of rent people are facing’.

“Next Tuesday Micheál Martin has a chance to put his money where his mouth is and decide if his party is willing to support renters.

“Renters deserve better. All TDs have a chance next Tuesday to give renters a break.

“This Sinn Féin Bill, if passed, would ensure that renters would be protected from further rent hikes and that they would get a month rent back into their pockets."

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Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has welcomed additional provisions from the Education Authority Youth Service for the Colin Area.

The West Belfast MLA said:

“My party colleagues and I met with the EA a number of weeks ago regarding provisions for the Colin Area in terms of additional support and help for young people in our community who may be feeling down or experiencing poor mental health.

“I welcome news that there will be an increase in the number of detached workers which will ensure two teams are operational on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“The Mobile Youth Unit will also give young people in the Colin area direct access and contact with youth workers in the vicinity of the transport Hub. This facility will start tonight (Thursday 5th December) from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and will be available throughout December and January.

“Young people who are engaged through youth services and who are identified as being in need can be referred by EA staff and will be able to avail of a counsellor who will be available two evenings per week.

“Promoting positive mental health and proper services is a priority for Sinn Féin and we will continue to meet with the EA to ensure young people of the Colin area receive vital services.

“This will support our existing services which are already under so much pressure in early intervention and suicide prevention.” 

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Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has today slammed Rondo Foods in Arklow for their refusal to engage with the Workplace Relations Commission. He called on the Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation to direct the owners at Rondo Food in Arklow to engage with the Workplace Relations Commission to help put in place a fair redundancy package.

The Wicklow TD also asked for an Employment Taskforce to be put in place. This follows the announcement by Rondo Foods of 157 potential job losses in November.

Speaking having met with Rondo Food workers last night, Teachta Brady raised the matter in the Dáil today;

"On the 8th November Rondo Foods announced that the 157 Arklow jobs were at serious risk and that they were entering a 30-day consultation process with staff representatives.

"Unfortunately, it is very apparent that Rondo didn’t enter that process in good faith. They have dismissed any cost saving proposals that have been put forward and have ruled out the prospect of the business being sold as a going concern.

"In fact, at the same time proposals were being put forward to save the company Rondo had engineers over from Germany in Arklow measuring up machinery to be stripped out and moved to Germany.

“I believe that Rondo never had any desire to stay in Ireland and I think their actions back that up. It's apparent that the only reason Rondo engaged in the 30-day consultation process is because they had to. It was their intention from the outset to cut and run back to Germany.

“During the four meetings that have now taken place between senior management of Rondo and staff representatives, there has been a disagreement on the terms of a fair redundancy package for the workers. The workers have asked the Workplace Relations Commission to intervene in the dispute. They are the body tasked with dealing with any industrial disputes. Rondo unfortunately are refusing to engage with the WRC.

“Given that massive amounts of tax payers money have been given to Rondo Foods in Grant aid through Enterprise Ireland, this is a disgraceful position they have adopted.    

"The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys must directly intervene and direct the owners at Rondo Food to engage with the industrial machinery of the State. They should do so in respect of their workers who have given so much for many years. It is a disgrace that they have to be forced into engaging with their workers through this process.

"Workers at Rondo Food have been left in a nightmare situation, potentially losing their jobs just before Christmas. At the very least they deserve Rondo Food to come to the table.

"In the Dáil today I also called on Minister Humphreys to establish an employment taskforce in Arklow given the fact that the town is an unemployment blackspot and the impact that such major job losses will have on the town. This needs to happen immediately."

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