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Sinn Féin MLA Áine Murphy has welcomed approval for a new state-of-the-art health care centre in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh. 

Speaking after the business case was signed off, the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said: 

“I’m delighted that the business case for the new health care centre in Lisnaskea has now been signed off by the Health Minister. 

“I also welcome the commitment from the Finance Minister Conor Murphy that the funding is secured for this £18.5 million project. 

“Since becoming an MLA, making progress on this health centre has been a priority to deliver first-class services for the people of Lisnaskea. 

“I will continue working to ensure this centre is now delivered without any more delay for the benefit of everyone in the local area.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan has urged Dublin City Council to take action to address the ongoing staffing crisis in Dublin Fire Brigade.

Cllr. Daithí Doolan said:

"Dublin Fire Brigade's staffing crisis is felt right across the Dublin region. The staffing shortages has affected the functioning of fire stations, fire engines and the river rescue service right across the capital. 

"I raised the issue at tonight's Dublin City Council meeting. I asked the manager for an update on progress made since September in addressing the staffing crisis. The written response I received was shocking.

“No progress has been made. Dublin Fire Brigade continues to be understaffed. This puts the lives of staff and the public at risk. This is unacceptable.

"Both management and unions agree that over 1,000 personnel are required to fully cover the service. There are currently only 965 personnel in place. 

"City Council management must employ and train those waiting on the staff panel and need to immediately start recruiting as a matter of urgency to meet the demands of a modern fire service." 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that there is a need for clear guidance for employers as we move into another severe weather event; with red weather warnings in place for numerous counties.   

She said that the need to protect workers during extreme weather events is paramount.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

"In the event of a severe weather warning, there is a need for clear guidance from government as to what should and should not remain open. 

“This has started to happen in respect of State services, but employees and employers in the private sector are unclear as to their rights and their obligations. 

"During previous severe weather events we have seen non-essential workers being told to turn up for work without due regard for the potential risks. 

“On this occasion, we have again learned of a number of employers who are intent on their employees showing up for work tomorrow; in counties where status red warnings are in place. This will not be a lengthy storm and most employers will apply common sense, but guidance from government should be in place.

“We should not be in this space.

“Sinn Féin previously introduced the Extreme Weather (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018; which was rejected by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

"The government must now issue clear guidance that non-essential workplaces in status red areas should close tomorrow.”

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Sinn Féin TD Paul Donnelly has urged TDs to back his motion in the Dáil tomorrow to fully resource Dublin Fire Brigade.

His comments follow a meeting with shop stewards and fire service workers today, to discuss their concerns about conditions and resources within the fire brigade.

Speaking today, Teachta Donnelly said:

"Today I met with Dublin Firefighters and their union representatives to discuss the importance of ensuring Dublin Fire Brigade is fit for purpose.

"I thanked them for their invaluable service in saving lives and protecting communities across Dublin every day.

"Workers expressed concerns about the lack of personnel in the Dublin fire service and the condition and age of the existing fire equipment. Just last week there were 4 fire engines off the road and no reserve appliances available. 

"They also raised the serious ongoing issue of the condition of the fire stations themselves with a newly upgraded station promised for North Strand 13 years ago that has still not come on stream. 

“Workers are also fearful that ongoing staff shortages may have an impact on the service of the DFB ambulance.

"It is clear that the government must step in urgently to address these concerns and ensure Dublin Fire Brigade is fit for purpose.

“My motion would compel the government to do exactly that. It addresses these issues of staff shortages and lack of resources.

“I am calling on all TDs to back my motion tomorrow to ensure a fully resourced Dublin Fire Brigade. It’s time to support our communities and support our fire services.”

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“High input prices makes case for sustainable solutions” – MacManus visits Monaghan sustainable farm
 
Following a visit to Siolta Chroi organic farm near Carrickmacross, Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said that he believes we should take rising input costs as the impetus to change our production methods, to a more sustainable model. MacManus commented:
 
“Fertiliser prices are up over 30% and energy prices are up 22%, since September 2020. These  increases are outside a farmers control, but have a big impact on their overall cost of production.”
 
“Taking fertiliser firstly, Teagasc advices a number of ways to reduce costs, such as replacing the first application with water slurry or the implementation of white clover. On some dairy farms, white clover has resulted in savings between €2,000 and €4,000. “
 
“On the energy side, microgeneration on farms needs finalisation. Farms could be producing their own energy and selling surpluses back to the grid. You are really talking about micro-solar PV, micro-hydro, micro-wind and micro-renewable CHP. In 2018, Ireland ranked 23rd out of the EU-27 countries for renewable energy from agriculture, producing just 2.6% compared with the EU-27 average of 12.1%. “
 
“It is evident that the solutions are there and it makes economic sense to make the transition now. What farmers need is strong leadership from this government. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the Micro-generation Support Scheme to be opened. “
 
“This government must understand that every delay, in times of high prices, means farmers being pushed closer to a cliff edge.” 
 
“In no other economic sector would it be common that only one third of enterprises are considered viable. Sinn Féin is committed reversing the tide on farm viability and transforming our family farm production model into the most environmentally and economically sustainable in the world.” 
 
MacManus concluded with a word of praise for the team at Siolta Croi, What Gareth, Karen and Conan have created here is a shining example of how we can create sustainable organic farming models across the island. We must support farms like this. It was a really interesting visit and I’d like to thank them for their warm hospitality.” ENDS
 
Pictured below from Left to Right Chris MacManus MEP & Cllr. Cathy Bennett with Conan Connolly, Garth Conlon and Karen Jeffares of Siolta Chroi 

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed a statement by the Irish Government to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers criticising the British government’s approach to dealing with the legacy of the past. 

Speaking following the publication of the statement the North Belfast MLA said: 

"The Irish Government has again expressed its profound regret at the indifference and total failure of the British government to facilitate independent investigations. 

"The statement was also critical of the British government’s policy intent to close down any legal remedies for families by way of legacy inquests and civil actions.

"They also note the British government’s intent to bin the Stormont House Agreement and replace it with a mechanism to prioritise information recovery and reconciliation. This is unacceptable and a clear breach of their international human rights obligations. 

"The statement expressed frustration at the lack of progress in the Pat Finucane murder case and shoot to kill cases involving British state forces. 

"Victims of the conflict and their families cannot be denied access to the courts in pursuit of truth and justice.   

"Sinn Féin will continue to press for the implementation of the Stormont House legacy mechanisms in a human rights compliant manner.” 

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MEP MacManus meets with Mica & Pyrite Campaigners in Brussels
 
The Sinn Féin MEP tells the Euro Parliament “the buck has to stop somewhere”
 
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus met with Mica and Pyrite campaigners from both the West and Northwest in the European Parliament in Brussels this week. The Midlands Northwest MEP also spoke in support of the campaigners from the Parliament floor. 
 
The Mica and Pyrite campaigners were addressing the Parliament’s Petitions Committee seeking the EU Institutions to play an active role in the scandal. The campaigners attended at the invitation of The Left Group working through MEP Luke Flanagan’s office. Both MEPs MacManus and Flanagan are members of The Left Group.
 
MacManus said:
 
“This has been going on for over a decade and rightly they (the campaigners) feel they have effectively been ignored by successive governments until only recent months, when they took to take to the streets in their thousands.”
 
MacManus who has previously visited affected homes spoke of the “trauma” felt by victims of the scandal and the subsequent government negligence. 
 
“Thousands of households have lived with this burden and it's not only the potential financial burden. It's the mental trauma of waking up day after day not knowing if part of your house is going to be there. Not knowing if the crack has widened, if a slab has fallen off the wall so to that extent we have a duty as legislators where there are gaps in national legislation for us to be able to hold those national governments to account.”
 
MacManus spoke of a historic neglect that led to the current crisis.
 
“The Mica & Pyrite issue is a legacy of the light touch regulation that came into effect during the relentless house building years of the Celtic tiger.”
 
MacManus who has previously questioned the EU Commission on the Product Liability Directive and the Consumer Sales Guarantees Directive said, “ They acknowledge the rights of consumers, in this case citizens from the West and Northwest of Ireland to be protected.”
 
The Midlands Northwest MEP added in his parliamentary contribution,  “Now it's obvious with the scale of what we're talking about, It cannot be done by the producer of the materials concerned.  So the buck has to stop somewhere and I'm glad to see that our MEP colleagues here are willing to leave the petition opened, because the people of the community I represent, the West and the Northwest need to see that we are on the side of the citizen”.
 
MacManus also met with the campaigners on the day for further talks. Following the meeting he said. “Both myself and my colleague in The Left Group MEP Flanagan met with the campaigners today. Nobody should have to go through what these people are suffering. It's a disgrace. The government must listen. Sinn Féin have stood with these campaigners along their course and we will continue to do so until they find justice and that is 100% Redress, No less!” ENDS 

 
[Picture L/R: Loren Devers (Mayo), Eileen Doherty (Donegal), Luke Flanagan MEP, Ann Owens (Donegal), Chris MacManus MEP, Mary Regan (Mayo), Eamon Jackson (Donegal)

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Marking the centenary of the signing of the treaty, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said "a new and United Ireland is within sight" and that we will "see the ending of partition and the unification of all of our people, in our time".

Ms McDonald said:

"The treaty brought about the British government’s disastrous partition of Ireland. It was forced upon Ireland under the British threat of an immediate and terrible war. 

"It led to a sectarian state in the six counties and a deeply conservative state in the 26 Counties. It was a far cry from the vision set out by republican leaders in the Proclamation of 1916.

"A century on, the politics of partition have come full circle. We are living in the end days of partition. People are looking to the future.

"We can right the wrongs of the treaty by building a new and united Ireland, a home to all of our people regardless of background or identity.

"We are on the threshold of writing the next chapter of Irish history.  We need to begin to prepare for the reunification of Ireland.

“This includes both governments. The Irish government must take the lead and become persuaders rather than by-standers in the Unity conversation. 

"While the British government cannot continue with its damaging policy of resisting the appetite for real and positive change in Ireland. 

“There is an immediate need to convene a Citizens' Assembly to actively discuss and plan for constitutional change.

"The politics of division belongs to the past. This generation, from all backgrounds, is determined to move forward.

"The opportunities of Irish Unity for our people are immense. This is a moment of great optimism and excitement.

"This is our moment. A moment that belongs to everyone who calls this island home. Let's seize it together and for each other."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called for the government to ensure clarity is provided regarding access to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). 

Ahead of tomorrow’s reopening of the PUP as announced by the government last Friday evening, there is an urgent need for clear communication on which workers affected by the most recent public health guidelines will be eligible for the payment. 

As well as this, Minister Humphreys has announced today that there will be five rates of the payment available, with the highest rate of €350 retuning for workers earning over €400 per week, as well as a new rate of €150. 

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“I absolutely welcome the reopening of the PUP for workers who are impacted by the announcement of extended public health guidelines on Friday evening.

“It is crucial that workers have access to financial supports when they cannot go to work through no fault of their own.

“I called on the Minister to consider this as soon as changes were announced a few weeks ago regarding guidelines. I am glad she has seen sense on the issue - albeit at the very last minute, yet again.

“Families and workers were left wondering where next week’s income will come from should they be unable to go to work due to Covid-related guidelines.

“Sinn Féin have repeatedly said that the PUP should be available whilst it is needed. We have not emerged from the pandemic yet, but the government has been too quick to wind up financial supports, despite them evidently being needed yet again. 

“The reopening of the PUP to applicants is positive and we welcome the move to make €350 available to some workers impacted by the most recent announcement.

“We have advocated for social welfare payments which are linked to previous earnings, in order to ensure households do not fall off a financial cliff amidst changing public health guidelines.

“However, a wider group of workers were hit since mid-November, when the public health advice prompted people to reduce their socialising, cancel children's activities and Christmas parties, amongst other recommendations.

“That wider group of workers was simultaneously hit by planned cuts to the PUP scheme, which the government refused to halt at the time. The government now needs to reverse those cuts for those workers.

“The devil is in the detail, and we need to know more regarding the reopening of applications to the PUP.

“The various cuts to the PUP since September mean that households now don’t know if they will be eligible for the payment and how long will receive it.  

“The Minister indicated that she will review the situation, yet she and the government proceeded with cuts to the PUP just weeks ago.

“As we head approach Christmas, the last thing families and workers need is further financial stress around how they will buy groceries and pay the bills.

“Clear communication and ease of access to available supports is urgently needed. There is no time to waste and the government must get this right.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called on Minister Mary Butler to explain why the planned eating disorder service in  Mount Carmel Hospital, due to open by late 2021, will now not open until June 2022 at the earliest.

In October, Minister Butler said a new unit at Mount Carmel Hospital was due to open by late 2021, but the HSE has confirmed it will not open until June 2022 at the earliest.

Teachta Ward said:

“A new eating disorder unit at Mount Carmel Hospital was due to open by late 2021 - Minister for State Mary Butler said in October. But the HSE has confirmed it will not open until June 2022 at the earliest.

“There are currently just three impatient beds for adults in the state for people suffering from eating disorders and these three beds are only available to those in the catchment area of CHO area 6.

“In other parts of the HSE, adult patients are currently admitted to local general adult mental health units.

“I have spoken with families recently who feel that their loved ones do not get the specialist treatment required when admitted to generic mental health hospitals.

“What often happens is that the patient gets referred to a generic adult mental health unit and kept in until their body mass index is increased. I have reports that they are then discharged back to the community without any specialist help.

“Eating disorder services have  been hit hard by delayed funding at a time of increased demand.

“Since 2016, €5.7m has been made available for eating disorder posts — but just €1.77m has been invested.

“Figures published by the HRB show a 61% rise in 2020 in admissions of children and adolescents to psychiatric units and hospitals for eating disorders and a 32% increase among adults.

“This is yet again another kick in the teeth for those experiencing eating disorders and their families.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called preliminary figures, released to him through a parliamentary question, on incidents of self-harm as worrying.

5432 people presented to 15 hospitals with incidents of self-harm in 2020

Teachta Ward said:

“Self-harm is regarded as an indicator of serious mental and emotional distress, and repeated episodes may indicate suicidality so to see a continuing high rate of presentations to hospitals is very worrying.

“Preliminary figures released to me from a parliamentary question showed that 5432 people presented to 15 hospitals with incidents of self-harm  in 2020.

“This was an average of 15 presentations a day to hospitals for self-harm.

“It is worth noting that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated measures to address it have led to an increase in individual and population level risk factors for self-harm and suicide. 

“These include anxiety, social isolation, loneliness, sudden bereavement, job loss, economic uncertainty, substance misuse, fear of infection and restrictions on health activities, and access to healthcare services

“In March 2020, the first month of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland, there were 394 self-harm presentations to the 15 hospitals. The daily rate for self-harm presentations was 12.7. This rose to a peak of 16.3 in September 2020 just prior to more stringent public health measures.

“I do welcome that there is no significant increase in figures with 2018 and 2019, but 5432 people presenting in 2020 is still way too high.

“It is crucial to have the availability of appropriate mental health services so people can access the care they need when they need it where they need it.

“The €24 million in new spending for mental health announced by the Government does not go near far enough

“It could be some time before the impact of the pandemic on suicide and self-harm is assessed but we need to put measures in place now that will make a difference.”

Parliamentary Question Response

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Eoin Ó Broin TD, has commented on figures he received from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), which show that the termination of a tenancy before a new part 4 tenancy commences only accounts for 3% of the notices to quit issued by landlords over the past three years.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“Minister O’Brien made a big deal about how his new rental legislation would introduce tenancies of unlimited duration for private renters.

“Removing section 34 (b) of the Residential Tenancies Act, which removes an anomaly around the continuation of Part 4 tenancies, does not create tenancies of indefinite duration.

“By claiming otherwise, the Minister is being extremely dishonest.

“The data on the reasons why landlords issued notices to quit was provided to me this week by the RTB.

“The figures show that the termination of a tenancy before a new part 4 tenancy commences only accounts for 3% of the notices to quit issued by landlords over the past three years.

“The main reasons why tenants are evicted are because the landlord wants to sell the property. This accounts for 53% of evictions, while a landlord or a landlord’s family member moving in accounts for 24% of the notices to quit issued.

“The only way to create real tenancies of indefinite duration is to remove these two clauses from section 34 as well.

“Sinn Féin has submitted amendments to the legislation which seek to do this. I would urge government TDs to consider supporting them when the Bill is up again next week.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the Department of Education’s u-turn on its guidance on mask wearing that may have led to the exclusion of children is welcome, but that many issues and questions must be resolved.

Speaking this morning, he warned that the Department must urgently move on contact tracing and filtration, to ensure that schools can remain open and functioning well.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“I am glad that the Department of Education have revised its guidance. There never should have been talk of excluding any child from their education and the language of confrontation didn’t make sense

“Parents want schools to be safe. Schools want children to be in school and to work with parents. Cooperation should have been the order of the day. I am glad the Department have belatedly seen that.

“It is incredibly disrespectful that yet again this guidance which is for the attention of principals was in the media before school leaders themselves received it. That is not good enough

“Even with these revisions, principals have to manage the implementation of this mask wearing policy, on top of contact tracing, running the school, and handling substitution issues.

“I am also concerned that issues facing children who are hard of hearing have still not been adequately addressed. We all know that visors are nowhere near as effective as face masks; we have been calling on the Minister for Education to provide funding for clear face masks for classes where there is a child who is hard of hearing.

“If the government are serious about keeping schools open and crucially functioning well, then every action they take must be in furtherance of that aim; it can’t be all about face masks alone.

“Now more than ever, it is essential that we bring back school-specific public health contact tracing teams, that school leaders are properly supported and are not being left to do the HSE’s job.

“HEPA filtration is also a no-brainer. The European Centre for Disease Control, the WHO, and the government’s own Expert Group on Ventilation, have all said that HEPA filtration has a key role to play in keeping schools open and functioning well.

“The Department need to act urgently here, I am worried that children could be returning to school after Christmas break and there will still be no HEPA filtration.

“Our schools are far too important to get this wrong - no effort should be spared.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has written to Minister Eamon Ryan to ensure taxi drivers are given access to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment when it is reintroduced for workers affected by the latest Covid restrictions.

The Meath East TD said:

“The new restrictions on hospitality, nightclubs and events are going to have a major impact on thousands of taxi drivers around the state.

“Many drivers depend on the late-night sector for a large portion of their business and these fares are now gone with the new restrictions.

“With concerts and other big events now being cancelled as a result of the new 50% capacity rule, this is going to impact taxis even further.

“It’s essential taxi drivers have access to the PUP when it is reintroduced for workers affected by the latest Covid restrictions.

“Taxi drivers have had a horrible two years of business with many leaving the sector for good. They have been consistently let down by this government.

“I have written to Minister Ryan and called on him to ensure taxi drivers get the support they need during these new restrictions.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin West, Paul Donnelly, has announced that the party will bring forward a motion to the Dáil to provide urgent support to the Dublin Fire Brigade.

The motion calls on the government to act urgently to end staffing shortages and lack of equipment to ensure the Fire Brigade can operate safely.

Speaking today, Teachta Donnelly said:

“Next week I will bring a motion to the Dáil to support and fully resource Dublin Fire Brigade. The service is at crisis point due to staff shortages and lack of resources. This is unsafe and unacceptable.

“The service is currently operating below agreed safe staffing levels and is depending on an over reliance of overtime by staff to reach daily fire tender and ambulance operational manning levels.

“On a number of shifts, the staff levels required to deploy fire tenders fully have been unavailable.

“Our fire services perform an invaluable service saving lives and protecting our communities. Due to the government’s failure to invest, the service is understaffed and workers feel exhausted and unsafe. 

“My motion will support communities and our fire services by ensuring a fully resourced Dublin Fire Brigade. 

“My motion calls for two back-to-back recruit classes to be scheduled immediately and supports to be in place to prevent burnout among staff. 

“It also calls for the fire brigade to be fully resourced so that it can purchase and maintain fire engines required to deliver a full service.

“I am calling on all TDs to support communities, support our fire services and back Sinn Féin’s motion.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed a decision by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to criticise the British government’s approach to dealing with the legacy of the past. 

Speaking following the latest Decision by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, the North Belfast MLA said: 

"Once again the Committee of Ministers have expressed their profound regret at the indifference and total failure of the British government to facilitate independent investigations. 

"The committee was also critical of the British government’s policy intent to close down any legal remedies for families by way of legacy inquests and civil actions. 

"They also note the British government’s intent to bin the Stormont House Agreement and replace it with a mechanism to prioritise information recovery and reconciliation. This is unacceptable and a clear breach of their international human rights obligations. 

"The decision also expressed frustration at the lack of progress in the Pat Finucane murder case and shoot to kill cases involving British state forces. 

"Victims of the conflict and their families cannot be denied access to the courts in pursuit of truth and justice.   

"Sinn Féin will continue to press for the implementation of the Stormont House legacy mechanisms in a human rights compliant manner.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has warned the government can no longer ignore the stark reality of their plans to privatise community employment services after a damning report into the failures of JobPath.

The report, published yesterday by the Public Accounts Committee, criticised the scheme for costing huge sums to the tax payer while helping few people to successfully find suitable employment.

Teachta Kerrane said:

“JobPath has failed. The figures and the costs associated with it speak for itself. Yet, the Government ignore the reality staring them in the face.
 
“I have repeatedly raised the ineffectiveness of the Scheme and the blatant waste of taxpayers’ money since 2015.
 
“After years of being told that the level of taxpayers’ money being handed over to the private companies running JobPath was ‘commercially sensitive’, it took until November 2018 for the figures to be publicised through the Public Accounts Committee, at our request.
 
“In 2019, a Sinn Féin Motion was passed in the Dáil calling for an immediate end to referrals to JobPath and for resources to instead be directed at ramping up community based, not-for-profit employment services, something the Government now intend to erode even further by tendering out Local Employment Services and Job Clubs.
 
“JobPath has cost the taxpayer over €275 million since 2015. In that time over 376,000 people have been referred to the Scheme, of which just over 26,000 found employment which lasted at least 52 weeks, a success rate of just under 7%. 
 
“The Public Accounts Committee are just the latest in coming to the same conclusion on JobPath. The Government need to listen. They need to end their privatisation agenda for job activation and ramp up existing community, not for profit services which have worked for the last 25 years.”

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Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Pat Sheehan has called on the Education Minister to urgently come forward with clear guidance and contingency plans for schools.

Pat Sheehan said:

“Having spoken with many teaching staff and parents, it is very clear that our schools are under increasing pressure as a result of COVID19.

“In recent days, school leaders, trades union representatives and parents have all expressed serious concerns about the high rates of teachers having to isolate as a result of COVID19.

“As a result, some classes have been sent home and schools have resorted to blended learning.

“I have already requested that the Education Minister brings in final year students to work in classrooms to help relieve the burden on our teaching staff and to support our children.

“Over a week later, the Education Minister has still failed to respond.

“It is now time for the Education Minister to publish clear guidance for schools and to urgently prepare contingency plans for what appears to be a deteriorating situation. 

“Staff, parents and children deserve clarity without any further delay.”

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Sinn Féin chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley has said that the committee’s report on JobPath proves that privatisation of community employment services undermines their quality.

The all-party report concludes that the JobPath model has failed to deliver sustainable, quality employment for jobseekers and has not delivered value for money for the taxpayer.

Speaking today, Teachta Stanley said:

“It is clear that the decision by Fine Gael and Labour to privatise local employment services through JobPath has been a disaster. This approach has only served to hollow out services and undermines the quality of supports for people who need the services.

“The Public Accounts Committee’s report is very clear on the poor record of JobPath. 283,826 people used the service, with only 22,000 securing a sustainable job. That is a success rate of just 7.7%. In total, €247m was spent on JobPath, which means each job sourced cost the state €11,227.

“Beyond the numbers, we also must not forget the human impact of people feeling forced to take up jobs in sectors that were totally unsuitable for them, just to meet the JobPath system’s requirements.

“We must learn from the failure of JobPath and ensure that future attempts to privatise our community employment services do not go ahead. Our communities deserve better than these flawed, box ticking exercises. Lessons must be learnt from this disastrous scheme.”

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With the announcement of the government’s undocumented scheme imminent, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Law Reform, Equality and Integration, Pa Daly TD, has today outlined the importance of reaching as many as is possible with any such measures.

Teachta Daly said:

“We previously wrote to the Minister urging that the terms of the proposed scheme be expanded, and this seems to have been somewhat heeded with an assurance that those with deportation orders against them will be included.

“The four-year residency requirement may have to be approached with common sense, given how difficult it is for many to prove they have been here for that time period by virtue of their status. 

"Others who do not meet the exact criteria should have their applications also examined, and the Department should err on the side of acceptance. 

“It is appropriate and right that asylum seekers with two or more years residency in Direct Provision be included in this scheme, but the government cannot ignore the fact that many who already have leave to remain have stayed within Direct Provision, given the housing crisis. 

“An overreliance on the private rental market to house the newly regularised will only benefit landlords.

“The government must also ensure awareness of the scheme is as high as possible. A simple and affordable application process, with resources available in multiple languages and a strong public awareness campaign, must be undertaken.

“We have an opportunity to show moral leadership in how we treat refugees and migrants. 

“Our party president, Mary Lou McDonald TD, is currently in the United States, where so many Irish people have lived in the shadows also. 

“Our credibility in demanding solutions for them is only as good as what we can extend to those who are living within our borders.”

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